Reflection: Tearaway (PS Vita)

This type of article is reflecting on games I played a long time ago or recently to completion, but this is not a review. Reviews are, well, me being critical on games and giving feedback on whenever people should get them or not. Reflection articles are going to be about games I have a deep connection too and I want to talk in great detail about. More or less, they are like reviews but more personal.

Now that is out of the way, lets talk about Tearaway. This is a 2013 title released on the PlayStation Vita in November 2013. This game was developed by Media Molecule, developers behind the LittleBigPlanet series. Considering that background, they make creative games that offer lots of level designing and creative aspects. But they are more or less creative tool sets with the game part being secondary (though still strong).

With Tearaway, I get the impression they wanted to blend both those elements but in a stronger fashion; you still create in the world but the gameplay itself is focused on core elements, mechanics and features. Creativitly caries the game, but not the driving force.

Tearaway in many aspects, feels like a great Nintendo game to me. The world, the character designs, the music, and the creative elements; it screams Nintendo. And that must be a factor to why I love the game so much, as I grew up playing Mario and Kirby.

Going into the gameplay, it is a mixture of LBP creative elements but also more in line with a game like Banjo Kazooie or Mario 64. Its core gameplay mirrors those 3D platformers; you run around, jump around and collect everything in sight. The difference is that unlike those great platformers, platforming isn’t the major focus.

Like how LBP has the skeltion of a 2D platformer but it was more of a creative tool set, Tearaway has the skin of a 3D platformer but its core mirrors adventure games. You complete simple tasks, take pictures, draw objects and more to solve the NPC’s problems and that is what pushes the game forward. The game does have platforming and by the final world things kick into high gear with more challenging level designs but that isn’t the focus with Tearaway. Its about interacting with the paper world around you and to be honest, I’m glad the game focuses on its strongest aspect.

The way you interact with the world is through using the PS Vita as a tool; you draw using the touch screen, bound on drums using the rear touch pad, take pictures with the camera and the blow/speak into the speaker to control wind.

These elements sound gimmicky, but they are not. They feel natural and intuitive. The game accomplishing this when many other Vita games failed at this aspect is not only impressive, but allows the game to define the Vita.

Vita is mainly used for JRPG’s and other games from Japan, with the odd indie game here and there, but Tearaway shows what the system itself could do; its important to the system’s identity I feel.

The games visuals and music is nothing like any other game. Games like South Park: The Stick of Truth and the Paper Mario series explore paper worlds but nothing on the level of Tearaway. Every part of the world is made of paper; the water has paper ripples when you jump on it, paper sticking out sinks into the ground when you walk on it and even parts of the world move around when you press a button or move the analog stick. It creates this living place and the fact it looks so polished & clean on the Vita screen makes it pop.

The music is some of the systems best too, and here are some examples of that:

Really great tracks that highlight the strong, storybook-style sound the game provides.

I really love this game and it was a personal 2013 Game of the Year for me and considering I got my Vita this very year, it was a nice insight to the strong software the system has.

 

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Review: Rayman 3 HD

My first review for the blog and its on a game series that I have a lot of respect for. Rayman 3 is the third Rayman game but its the second 3D platformer in the series coming after Rayman 2.

Rayman 2 is a very important game, as it was one of the early 3D platformers that many future games in the genre like Psychonauts follow. And for good reason; Rayman 2 is one of the best controlling 3D platformers I have ever played and considering how it came after a strictly 2D platformer, that is very impressive.

Rayman 3 has some big shoes to fill and in my opinion, the game does its job well.

Rayman 3 takes place after Rayman 2 with it opening with Rayman and his friend Globox sleeping in the woods (something that happens a lot in the series; they just some good naps I guess). But an evil Lum called Andre is created and its up to Rayman to save the day.

After playing both games, Rayman 3 has a similar sense of humor to Crash Twinsanity. Both break the fourth wall at points, some of the humor is just really odd and the game goes in directions you don’t really expect it to take. It allows what is a simple story to be quite engaging and very enjoyable.

Going to the gameplay, Rayman 3 follows the core foundation Rayman 2 set up; Rayman can hover in the air, shoot his fist at objects to fight or interact with them, and platforming is a major focus. However, some small differences between Rayman 2 and 3 make the game stand out. One thing is that Rayman uses his fist to fight, not balls of light like in Rayman 2. This allows you to have more dynamic fights, as you can curve your punches and have an easier time charging up attacks. In addition, you get powers thanks to special cans that give Rayman different abilities with his fists.

You can use a chain power-up to create a stream of lighting that continually attacks foes or use a wind power-up that makes your fist throw tornadoes that spin your foes around. These spice up the combat and make it quite enjoyable.

The games level design is more streamlined in comparison to Rayman 2. Where in Rayman 2 you would go from level to level and collecting Yellow Lums while fighting and jumping around, Rayman 3 has a lot of platforming but you go from section to section within the games specific worlds. This allows the worlds to be created in ‘chains’, and thus giving you the impression this is a living world you are a part of, not a series of levels to get through.

The level design is also more speed-focused due to two elements; timed power-ups and a point system. The power-ups I mentioned before run on a timer and due to that, you have to use them fast while getting through platforming sections. Need to get from hook to hook in rapid succession? Gotta use that chain fist power-up before it runs out. This pushes you to keep on moving and due to this, the game feels faster than Rayman 2.

You also have a points system where you collect yellow objects in the levels to get points, and you also get them from combat encounters, get bonuses when using power-ups and get graded at the end of every level with starts based on the points you get.

The design of the game does this to push for you to keep on replaying the game to get the highest scores, but it really does nothing but unlock enjoyable but ignore-able mini games/levels to get through. Wanted to point this out due to how much of an inclusion it is in the game.

Rayman 2 was a beautiful looking and sounding game when it came out and many expected Rayman 3 to match that high expectation. Rayman 3 does this well and is one of the better looking platformers form the PS2/GC/Xbox era.

The colors in many of the levels are just enchanting, with the world mirroring a fairy tale or a storybook. While Rayman 2 hits this look better than Rayman 3, a number of levels like the first world and the Land of the Livid Dead World create such an atmosphere that you can’t help but get sucked into the games world.

The music score in Rayman 3 is very strong as well, mixing in a large number of music styles but hitting a nice balance. This melody of the Land of the Livid Dead World highlights the strong elements of the games score.

The game however does have some performance issues in latter releases of the title. Rayman 3 came out on PS2, GC, Xbox and PC at launch (with a GBA version coming out too, with it mirroring the original Rayman in terms of core gameplay mechanics and design) and those versions ran at a smooth 60FPS. But the PS3 and 360 versions of Rayman 3, while running in HD, 60FPS have dips that can be detracting at points. The PS3/360 port also has visual bugs with the water but otherwise is a decent port.

Overall, Rayman 3 is a strong platformer that does a number of elements right. The core gameplay feels great in comparison to Rayman 2, the platforming and combat got improvements, the power-ups give the game a faster sense of pace and the presentation is very strong.

I enjoyed my time playing this game and I hope many of you readers give the game a shot in the future :).

The title is available on PS3 and 360 right now as a PSN/XBLA game and is priced at 10$.

Considering this is my first review, want to establish a rating system here. I will not be giving games a score, as that is not fair, considering how many have differing view points on games. So, will do three ratings: Buy, Wait for Sale, Skip.

Buy is well, get the game; strong package that I highly recommend to anyone. Wait for Sale is when a game is strong but has a number of issues, bugs or other factors that I cannot recommend for full price. Skip is just ignore the game, as it has too many issues to have any level of enjoyment in.

Rayman 3 falls under Buy, as the game has a lot of strong elements and is a title I feel anyone can enjoy.

First Impressions: Crash Bandicoot – Twinsanity

This game is quite something honestly and before going into its development history, I want to talk about the game itself.

Crash Twinsanity is a game developed by Travelers Tales Oxford and is about Crash and Cortex working together in stopping the Evil Twins, new villains in the Crash series. The story itself is really damn funny, with smart writing from people behind Invader Zim and Ren & Stimpy. So, if you loved those shows, the humor here will feel right at home!

The gameplay is interesting, as its a hybrid of semi-open levels and the core gameplay you know from past Crash titles. Crash himself controls just like in past games; he can double jump, slide, belly flop and spin. But he has more interaction with the world around him, being able to spin into objects and said objects interacting with the world or him moving a ball around. This opens doors to new kinds of puzzles to solve and can lead levels using these mechanics.

But the game is very smart about one element; taking from past Crash games and at its very core, being very similar to them, but twisting and playing with them in completely fresh and new ways.

This ties into Cortex’s role in the game, as he despite hating Crash, works with him. Thus, Cortex becomes Crash’s tool for the majority of the game and its gold. Crash can throw Cortex, spin him into objects, smash his head like a hammer and more. When I say more, I mean using him as a snowboard, fighting in a cartoon ball, and even playing as him at points in the game.

The game has traditional gameplay and none of its mechanics are new; the team work aspect has been explored in other platformers and core gameplay mechanics have been executed in other games. But HOW the game does them makes them feel so fresh and creative.

Controlling Cortex like a snowboard is something you never saw in any platformer; the simple sight of grinding on rails….some of the funnest moments in any 3D platformer I have ever played. And controlling a cartoon ball fight was mechanically explored in Traveler’s Tales other Crash game, Wrath of Cortex but using those mechanics again but presented vastly different, makes it completely new.

The games level designs feel like the best mix of something more open but still being linear enough to feel like Crash. Its a strong mix and because of this, the game is a lot of fun.

Every level has side paths to complete and each world has a large hub (counts as a level) to explore with side paths that have gems to unlock. The gems are found in every level and these gems unlock a lot; concept art, animations, story boards, cut content and more.

But this is when the seems start to fall apart; the game is not finished. The game was badly rushed and levels, assets and playable characters are either cut or heavily cut down. So, the game has glitches and feels ‘off’ at points.

Unlike a specific Sonic title that was rushed out the door though, Crash Twinsanity feels good. Crash, Cortex and Nina feel great to play as, the level designs are fun, the visuals look great and the music is some of the series best. Just listen to some of the tracks here:

Have you listened a platformer sound like this before?! Completely unique and different from not just other platformers, but from past Crash games as well.

I love my time with this game and while I didn’t beat it yet, I highly recommend you give it a shot.

Welcome to the Site!

Hello, my name is Rob and this is my WordPress :). I hope you all enjoy my posts and feel free to give feedback on anything I post.

I made this as I want to talk about a lot of different topics; video games, novels, movies and more. Hope my view points on these topics are enjoyable to everyone.

Thank you for you time and have a great holiday!