Kirby Star Allies: First Impressions

Finallyyyyyy today I had some time to play videogames! I’m still in the middle of Bayonetta 2, which I love. (If you like some action and bad ass sexy witches, definitely check out that series.) But when it comes to Kirby, I can’t say no. Just like Kirby can’t say no to another delicious cake!!! (OK I can’t say no to that either lol!)

The latest Kirby installment was just released for Nintendo Switch. I haven’t had a ton of time to play it yet, but I wanted to share my first impressions of the new changes in Kirby Star Allies. There are new features that breathe fresh air into the series and make it feel more modern, and a lot of fun!

Mixed abilities are back! You can add up to four allies to your team by throwing a heart at an enemy. If that team member is an elemental abilitly, like fire, you can combine this element with all of the other teammates! Fire yo-yos! Icy curling Kirby! It’s really fun to try out the different combinations.

The stage selection screen has an open world feel, with stars hiding in secret spots around the world. It’s big and fun to explore. You can easily see which stages need to be revisited and where a secret stage might be hiding!

Puzzle pieces!!! As you play through the game, keep a look out for puzzle pieces hiding all over the place. Then after you beat the stage, you fill in puzzles – just like in the StreetPass game on 3DS. That includes harder to find pink puzzle pieces that are in the center and I’m sure will be a challenge to complete! I love how something so cute and simple can increase the difficulty of this otherwise simple platformer. Kids and adults alike can have fun with this game.

There are lots of new friends to make, too! I’ve only added Waddle Dee so far, but Nintendo has announced that lots of cool characters will be added soon in an update coming at the end of the month. I’m super excited because some of the characters that are being added to Dream Friends are the helper friends from Kirby’s Dream Land 2 which I loved when I was a kid!

So are you a Kirby fan? Have you been playing this game too? What are your thoughts about this cute puffball fighter?

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Game Review: Return to Popolocrois

Well, I’ve never been to Popolocrois before, but this game Return to Popolocrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale has been impressing me from the minute I started playing!

This game was a little treat I bought for myself while holiday shopping. I bought it ‘used’ from GameFly using member coupons, so it only cost me $6! Not too shabby, not to mention that ‘used’ is a status that doesn’t really matter with 3DS cartridges, so it’s basically a brand new game for cheeeeap! Awesome.

Anyway, if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of Harvest Moon games for several years. It’s my kind of game, low key collection and simulation – great for “escapist” gamers like me! However, sometimes HM games (and the new Story of Seasons title, which is the newest iteration from XSEED games) can get a little… bland. The most action you normally can get in a farming game is the mining dungeon crawl. However, Return to Popolocrois fixes this with a new twist!

In Return to Popolocrois, you are a young prince who has been sent to a world that has been taken over by an evil Dark Lord, while the prince’s home kingdom is now at risk of being the Dark Lord’s latest victim. Prince Pietro must now save BOTH kingdoms because it is the right thing to do! And of course, what is deeply affected by the Dark Lord’s evil ways? Farmlands, of course! How can the people survive if their farmland is not able to grow crops? (And there we have our tie-in to the Story of Seasons background lol!) In order to save the farming lands, we must work with the local fairies, battle evil enemies, and explore dungeons to clear out the Dark Lord’s hold on the land. Then you can use this freshly cleared land to plant crops!

What’s great about this game is that the farming is much easier than in SoS or older HM titles. The crops won’t wilt, and the game will even give you notifications on when the crops need to be watered or harvested. Same goes for farm animals (available later in the game) who won’t die but simply get hungry if you forget about them. There aren’t any fancy ‘maker’ machines (so far) in RTP – yes I’m going w/that abbreviation lol – but you can Synthesize different crops and other items to create cooked dishes, new weapons, etc. The only thing I really miss is the seed maker. At least at the point I am in the game, the only way to get seeds for crops is to buy them, earn them, or receive them in an item drop after defeating enemies in the right region.

If farming isn’t really your thing, you can do the bare minimum to get by. But if you don’t like farming, what are you doing playing an XSEED game lol? Anyway, the battle system is pretty fun. You can move around the battle field, similar to “Fire Emblem” games. The battles look and feel very similar to the game “My Fantasy Life.” You can level up your characters, purchase or synthesize new armor and weapons, and each character has special skills. These skills have elemental powers, and if certain characters are playing in the same team, there are also Partner Skills that can be unlocked. If that wasn’t cool enough, in the game settings you can adjust the frequency of the random battles, so if you want to grind and level up you can change the number of enemy encounters to high! (Or if you want to just run through an area without being bombarded, change it to low and/or use a special item to ward off these enemies.)

Fans of the Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon franchise will also be happy to learn that you can also have a significant other (kinda) in this game. Prince Pietro is only 13 after all, and won’t be getting married anytime soon. But he does have little ‘girlfriends’ across all of the in-game regions, and you can visit them and give them gifts. The game even gives you a notification if one of them is missing you! Cute!

So far I’ve really been enjoying the game. The only thing that makes me nervous is that since this was a used game, the cartridge I received already had a completed save file. And that completed game save file only had 53 hours played in total. This tells me that the game is fairly quick to beat, and possibly doesn’t have much post game. I haven’t completed the game yet myself, so maybe this person wasn’t a hardcore farmer. (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to play that game file and see spoilers lol!) Once I finish the game, maybe I’ll report back. But to play it safe, if you’re interested in trying out this game, I recommend buying it used like I did. I think the game is SERIOUSLY fun and if you like cute farming games with some fun action and battles, definitely give this game a try!

Confusion Story

I’ve been a fan of Natsume games for a few years now.  For a while there was really only one game franchise I was interested in: Harvest Moon!  I’ve blogged about my various HM games plenty of times in the past.  I find them to be a lot of fun!  So when I saw Natsume’s huge booth at E3 last June, I was ecstatic to see which new games were coming out!

Hometown Story is the latest 3DS title from Natsume (aside from Rune Factory 4.  I dunno, I never got into Rune Factory.  Maybe I should?) and it looked extremely cute from the game demo I played at E3.  In fact, Hometown Story’s characters were designed by an animator who works on Pokemon games, so I knew I was going to like the art style before I even touched the game.  I think that’s how most people felt.  Until they started PLAYING the game, that is!

Unfortunately, Hometown Story lacks direction.  It lacks any sort of explanation at all.  The game manual does little to explain the facets of the game.  There is absolutely no walkthrough or guide to speak of.  I joined a Hometown Story group on Facebook and found that everyone else is suffering from the same problem.  In Hometown Story, you’re on your own… quite literally.

In Hometown Story, you don’t grow veggies, chop trees, catch bugs and fish… all you need to do is stand in your shop and sell things.  When you run out of things to sell, you wait for a vendor merchant to come into your shop (2PM in-game) and he’ll sell you more things.  If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon some wild edibles if you spare some time to walk around town, but they are hard to find.

The game is basically like a cross between the bazaar aspect of Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar and the shop-running aspects of games like Cake Mania and Diner Dash.  Only, in all of those games, your daily tasks are pretty transparent.  In Hometown Story, what you do is up to you.  However, there are quests that you must complete to further yourself along in the story.  Unfortunately, there is no in-game list of tasks, so if you didn’t take notes on the quest when it happened, you are pretty much out of luck.  Because not only will you have to go blindly to find out who wants to buy some particular item, but you can’t even consult an online guide walkthrough… because it doesn’t exist.  GameFAQs has nothing.  Fogu doesn’t cover this game because it’s not a Harvest Moon game (that was kinda smart of them).  There’s no Prima guide to buy in stores.

Another issue I have with this game is it’s complete lack of connectivity features.  There’s no WIFI, no SpotPass, no StreetPass.  You can’t have friends or visit other people’s shops.  Like I said before, in Hometown Story, you are on your own.

Despite all of these issues, part of me refuses to give up on this game.  I’ve only played about a week in-game so far, and it’s not been what I’d expected.  The online group that I joined doesn’t give me much hope that I’ll ever figure out what’s going on in this game.  I figure I should play through at least a month in game and see if my luck changes.  But I won’t keep my hopes up.  This might be a trade in.  😦

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Gates to Infinity!

Have you picked up the latest in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series?  The newest game, which came out on March 24, 2013, is called Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity.  It was released exclusively on the 3DS system.  As someone who never got into the Mystery Dungeon spin-off series before, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this newest game, but since I had a gift card I figured I’d give it a shot.

What makes a Mystery Dungeon game different from regular Pokemon?  Lots of things, actually.  First of all, you don’t play as a human character – you ARE a Pokemon!  There is still a ton of battling in this game; in PMD you lead a team of 4 Pokemon through various Dungeons, where you encounter all kinds of wild Pokemon to fight.  Battles are still turn-based, meaning that you can’t launch a second attack on a Pokemon until everyone in your party, and your opponent, has taken a turn.  You can still learn new moves and collect some TM’s, but the full Pokedex and TM selection is not available (as far as I can tell).  One bonus is that as you battle, everyone in your team gets experience points – including Pokemon who are sitting in Pokemon Paradise doing nothing!

This game is not just battling, however.  There’s an interesting story line (which I won’t give away much of, you can learn more by downloading the PMD game demo from the Nintendo eShop) in which you help your partner (I chose Pikachu in my game to be my partner) build and create a Pokemon Paradise.  The Pokemon Paradise is a town which you can develop and expand, add new shops and you can invite more Pokemon to come and stay with you and the gang.  There are mini-games, training dojos, berry and seed fields, and other shops too!

In addition to all of this, PMD has two game modes.  I don’t know if this is the case in the older games, but in the 3DS version you can switch to “Companion Mode” which allows you to battle in dungeons using some of the Pokemon who are living in the Pokemon Paradise.  This mode runs parallel to the main story mode, so if you’re stuck in a tough dungeon in the main Story Mode, you can switch to Companion Mode to play around and level up your team.  There is a local wireless co-op option for the Companion Mode as well.

On top of all this, you have beautiful 3D graphics, StreetPass features, and you get to learn a little more about the personalities of the different Gen V Pokemon.  It’s a very cute game, and while it’s definitely kid-friendly, I am having a lot of fun with it as a grown-up gamer!

Rather than just tell you about everything, here’s a little gameplay footage from my game, courtesy of StreetPass Long Island’s Twitch TV Channel!  (Btw, if you aren’t a member of StreetPass Long Island, what are you waiting for?  You don’t have to live in NY to join, and there’s always room for more friends!  Join us on Facebook!)