Welcome to Rocky’s Reviews where we briefly review some of the old and new games we’ve played. The games are listed in the order we’ve played them. They’re more a reflection of personal experience and less like a proper review.
Here’s how Rocky rates games:
All games are marked out of five paws
Games that receive a ham are must owns! A list of the Ham games can be found here.
Avoid anything that receives a broccoli!
The Legend of Heros: Trails of Cold Steel III
PlayStation 4 – 2017
The third entry in the Erebonian saga puts us in the shoes of Rean Schwarzer once more. Following on from the second entry, Rean has graduated from Thors Military Academy and is now an instructor at the newly founded Branch Campus. As a result, we are introduced to a new, albeit, smaller Class VII. Of course, the old characters will return but it is nice to see some fresh faces. Each character again comes with their own weapons and crafts, adding to the tactical aspects of battle. Combat is very similar to previous entries, with arts and crafts being required to make your way through the game. The Overcharge mechanic of the second game is gone, replaced with “Brave Orders”. These orders can be used to increase strength, speed or reduce casting time for a certain number of turns. Getting a grasp of these quickly is key to success in this game. Arts have also seen a slight change in this game. Characters can now equip two Master Quartz to help boost their stats and allow them access to new spells. Unlike in the first two entries, these can now be levelled up to Level 7, unlocking more spells and stat boosts. Character links have also changed. Combat links are no longer connected to social links, instead combat links are strengthened through battle while social links require you to attend bonding events or give characters gifts. The graphics are improved, which is to be expected considering it was built for the PlayStation 4, rather than a port of a PlayStation 3 game. Music is much the same, for better and for worse. Its still full of grandiose themes but the music felt noticeably more repetitive. This game follows a similar pattern to the first game. Its very linear, having you move from one area to another as you complete your field exercises. It also feels like the first part of a narrative, setting the scene and characters, very much like the first game. This game links more into The Legend of Heroes series as a whole than any of the other Cold Steel games. As a result, we are introduced to characters who appeared in the Crossbell and Liberl games. For newcomers, this may be jarring as these characters’ backstories are told elsewhere and it feels like we’re not getting the full picture without playing the other games. On the other hand, it allows us to see the link between Erebonia and its neighbours much more than the other games.
PlayStation 5 – 2020
Developed by Studio Japan’s Team ASOBI, Astro’s Playroom places you in the shoes of Astro as he explores PlayStation’s history. The game is essentially a tech demo showcasing the features of the DualSense controller, from its adaptive triggers to its built-in microphone. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a fun game behind it. A platformer at heart, the game has you exploring four different worlds, each introducing a new mechanic to learn. These include rolling around, gliding in the air, using a rocket, springing around and climbing up walls. The levels are wonderfully designed, with plenty of secrets to collect and easter eggs to find. A lot of the easter eggs reference previous games to have appeared on PlayStation consoles, including The Last of Us, Uncharted, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy VII, Crash Bandicoot and more. The secrets include puzzle pieces and PlayStation accessories such as Memory Cards and controllers. Once you have conquered these four areas, a fifth, “boss battle” area will open with a nice surprise inside. The platforming is fun, really showcasing the range of the DualSense. The sounds are excellent, from the cheery music to the little clanks on metal as Astro walks over them. The game comes pre-downloaded on PlayStation 5 and is well worth your time. It might not be the longest or most indepth game out there but it succeeds at what it sets out to do while providing a fun adventure.
Nintendo Switch – 2017
Developed by SebaGamesDev, Fight’N Rage draws heavily from beat’em ups in the 16-bit era. This can be seen in its combat style, graphical designs and soundtrack. The game is a run of the mill beat’em up but three players can play together, taking control of either Gal, Ricardo or F. Norris. As you’d expect from this type of game, each character has they’re own stats and moves to master. Combat is fluid, with one button controlling you attacks, another for specials and a third for jumping. Combining these allows you to pull off in-depth combos, which will help your high-score and combo counter respectively. If you don’t have two other friends to play with you, you can unlock AI teammates. They’re not the most intelligent but they’ll get the job done. Fight’N Rage is built around replayability. There several different endings to unlock, depending on the actions you take, what routes you explore and how many characters you have with you. Different routes will allow you to fight through different areas but they all lead to the same final showdown. Outside of the different endings, there’s also new game modes to unlock, new costumes and new characters for the Battle mode. These can be unlocked by spending coins earned through the Arcade mode. Combat can be hectic at times, especially with three playable characters on screen. There are some cool features in the game. Continuing to hit an enemy after their health bar has depleted will see them explode into bones, lose all your lives and you can recover as long as another player stays alive, and there’s the usual gluttony of weapons to pick up. Visually, the game is a nice throwback to the 16-bit era but you can play around with the settings, including adding in scanlines, changing the pixel smoothness and even selecting a CRT filter. Sound wise, the game features the usual blood pumping tracks you’d expect to find in this genre, but none of them really stood out to me. There is a plot (something about humans vs mutants) but it really does take a back seat to the smooth combat.
Nintendo Switch – 2019
Taking inspiration from the beat’em ups of the 80s and 90s, The TakeOver sees players take control of one of three characters (with a fourth unlocked later) as you attempt to rescue a kidnapped child. The plot isn’t exactly riveting but games like this are much more about their gameplay than narrative. What story that is present is told through comic book cutscenes, complete with voice acting. The gameplay is incredibly smooth, with the characters easy to control. Like many games of the genre, it can be easy to get surrounded but the gameplay controls are so tight, you’re able to seamlessly switch between attacking those in front of you and those behind you. The combat system is wonderful, with a button for kicks and another for punches. Alternating between these can help you rack up impressive combos. The only issue I had with combat was that you can sometimes become locked into a combo, leaving yourself open to attack so timing your button inputs is a must. Like many of its predecessors in the genre, there are weapons to pick up but it also includes guns. These can be drawn by pressing one of the triggers then using the punch button to fire. They come with limited ammo but can get you out of a sticky situation. The game also features special moves. One you can use any time but it will drain your health, the other has to be built up but when used, unleashes a barrage of missiles across the screen. There’s also a “RAGE” meter that fills up as you attack. Once full, you can unleash it, become invincible for a short time while doing more damage to your enemies. There are two “special” stages. One has you driving down a highway, shooting enemies, while the other draws inspiration from After Burner. They both control well and help to break up the gameplay. The graphics look great, presenting 3D models that are well detailed in a 2D plane, similar to the likes of Streets of Rage or Final Fight. The stages look fantastic, with stage hazards all around, from lightning bolts to arrows. These hazards can even be used to take out enemies. There is a good variety of enemies, each with their own weapons and attacks. The music is fantastic, with tracks from Little V Mills, Richie Branson, James Ronald and Yuzo Koshiro. Yes, that Yuzo Koshiro. It’s a fantastic game that harkens back to the 16-bit beat’em ups but is strong enough to stand on its own two feet and well worth any beat’em up fans attention.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
PlayStation 4 – 2014
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is another entry in Traveller’s Tales long running Lego series. As such, you’ll find all of the usual tropes here, from the minikit collectables to the Gold Bricks. The game features sixteen levels, each with three characters, ten minikits and one Adam West to collect. These are accessed through hub worlds such as the Batcave or the Justice League Watchtower. Also within these hub worlds are sort side quests to complete. They range from following a character around to beating up enemies to dressing up in a particular outfit. Its nothing too taxing and it can be a bit repetitive. Later on, you’ll gain access to the Lantern Homeworlds. These have their own missions as well as races to complete. It’s all fairly standard for these types of games. It has a huge selection of characters to choose from, from the usual Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to the odd Green Loontern, Bat-Cow and even Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith). The games length seems to be a nice balance, never feeling too long but has enough to keep you invested. The main plot follows an invasion by Braniac. Here, you’ll have to acquire the help of the other Lanterns to stop him. It’s not really deep but it does have some humorous moments. The voice acting is top notch, with Batman’s grumpiness and Robin’s over eagerness played to perfection. The sound track is good too, with special songs kicking in depending on who you’re controlling in flight. Flying is also massively improved over the second game and makes a lot of the later exploration so much easier. One thing I really liked is how all of the Trophies can now be gotten in co-op. Most Lego games award a lot of the Trophies or Achievements to only the first player but this game allows both players to get that coveted Platinum in one playthrough. The game isn’t without its issues. One save file I have has me locked out of 100% because of an Adam West glitch, I did experience 3 crashes during my playthrough, and the music randomly changed volume after I completed a side-mission. It’s a fun game to play with a friend or by yourself and it is definitely the best of the three Lego Batman games to date.