Samurai Warriors 5 (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £54.99 (£79.99 with Season Pass, £26.99 Season Pass)
Where To Get It: Steam

The Sengoku period is one that is heavily used in Japanese media, and it’s for a good reason: There was drama, there was intrigue and backstabbing, and it was a time of great and bloody change. And Samurai Warriors, well… It’s been a long running Musou series, alongside Dynasty Warriors, and of the two?

Pictured: One of the two main draws of a good musou game.

Yeah, I like Samurai Warriors more. Sorry, Lu Bu.

Okay, primer on Musou games: They’re an action genre, involving cutting through vast swathes of weak enemies, fighting their commanders, taking territory rapidly, and fulfilling objectives to clear each mission, usually ending in either an escape or a boss fight. It’s twitchy, it’s button mashy, it loves high combos… And it’s grand. There’s a great feeling to slashing up tons of foes in an over the top fashion, people literally being juggled before your blades, slammed before your special attacks, and slammed into the ground by other specials.

Hot guys and gals, the other main draw of a good musou game… Okay, no, it’s the ease of play, but still…

So… Yeah, Samurai Warriors is fun. But is it accessible, does it look good, are there any critiques?

Accessibility wise, it’s solid. Aesthetically, it’s great, I’ve always loved the kinds of flair the game puts in (giant brush strokes, loud kanji, and soft 3d characters), and its music is solid. Mechanically? Well, it’s one of those simple in practice, hard to master type deals. With RPG elements like skill trees (and skill points shared between the entire cast, which means you’re going to be grinding a fair bit if you want to do it well), and skill gems, weapon skill upgrades, that sort of thing, it nonetheless eases you in nicely with the first campaign (With ya boi Oda Nobunaga), then branches out. And then, well, you’re going to be working out how to get certain side missions, getting skills, upgrading buildings… But the core remains walloping the shit out of people to get territory in a map.

A general, getting walloped because… Well, that’s a good 80% of what you do. You wallop things until they fall down, and it’s fun.

Overall, I really enjoy Samurai Warriors. The difficulty curve isn’t too steep, the tutorials aren’t too heavy, and I recommend it to people wanting to get into the subgenre, or musou fans.

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Potion Explosion (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £5.19 (£2.89 for DLC)
Where to Get It: Steam

My god… Actual windowed modes in a tabletop adaptation? Blessed be!

And yes, I shouldn’t be getting excited because this should be bloody normal… But it’s not as common as I would like. Anyway…

This professor… I’ve actually had one like that before. Alas, it wasn’t a potions class… English Lang/Lit, if I recall correctly…

Potion Explosion is an adaptation of the tabletop game of the same name, and… Well, due to its nature, I feel like it works better as a digital adaptation, even if the tabletop version is undeniably quite pretty. You see, it’s a game in which you’re collecting marbles containing potion ingredients, but, importantly, if a potion of the same ingredient colour as the one below your chosen marble falls, well, all of that colour then get collected, which can then chain. Using these ingredients, you can, as the game implies, make potions for points. Make five different potions? Get a merit badge. Make three of the same kind of potion? Get a merit badge. The combination of merit badges and points then decides what place you are… But there can only be one teacher’s pet for Albedus Humblescore (Yes, the boardgame was made during this period.)

Visually, it’s pretty damn clear. Even the tabletop game was clear, with four clearly differentiated colours of marbles, but in the digital adaptation, they add symbols in too. Moons (black), Fire (red), Water (blue) and Star (Yellow.) There’s DLC which adds extra rules and a fifth potion element, but that’s another beast entirely, so… Brownie points for accessibility.

Unsurprisingly, I win.

Musically, well, it’s a bit limited, but it isn’t unpleasant, and that’s about all I can say about that.

Overall? I’m okay with Potion Explosion. It’s a good adaptation of the tabletop game that plays to the strength of a digital format, the tabletop game was fun to play with friends, and I have no doubt this one is too. Oh, and for folks like me who prefer to play alone, yes, there is a Versus AI mode, with varying levels of difficulty.

So, a fairly warm recommendation from the Welshman.

The Mad Welshman loves making potions. His family, however, do not, ever since his childhood thought of “What happens when I mix all the ingredients of an 80s chemistry set into one test tube?”

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Monster Hunter World (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 base game, lots of gubbins including Iceborne, which is the big DLC wot costs £35+ quid)
Where To Get It: Steam

Oh, how I’d wanted to do this one when it first came out. And Iceborne. Oh, and Rise when it comes out on PC next year. But, alas, a small thing called “My Computer Was Dying Just A Little Bit” stopped me, and the pricepoint for a while thereafter.

This is pretty much mandatory in any coverage of the game.

But now, I’m here. Now, I’m rekindling my love fo- Haha, just kidding, I don’t have to rekindle my love of MonHun. After all, a game in which you live in a monster filled world, hunting them for resources and safety, and going on to bigger and bigger monsters? I like it. I’ve loved its take on progression, where yes, monster get beeg, but you don’t get big. Your equipment does, in a sense, but that’s the arms race between you and monsters, one you have to keep up with. But picking good equipment, learning about the monster from the mistakes you can make and come back from, taking educated guesses based on what it is, and then using these tools to take down a monster, alone or with friends? Heck yeah.

Let’s get a thing out of the way though. Monster Hunter World is doing a colonialism under thin pretenses of study. It’s an improved, quality of life added, and bigger MonHun than I’ve seen (although next to none of us here in the West ever really saw the actual MMO), it’s gorgeous, and it plays well according to the rules of MonHun. Learn thy weapons with the cat in the house, traveller, or just test them out where you aren’t going to get flattened. Each is unique. Each is pretty damn cool. Dual blades are the best and I will fight you on this.

I remain Easy To Create In Videogames.

But yes, its story can’t help but be framed as colonialist af, considering yes, the Fifth Fleet are trying to force their methods to work here as they do elsewhere, and… Well, I think this is the first title where we actively screwed up with the Big Elder Dragon, rather than “Ohshit, it woke up for some unknown reason, is causing disasters and/or heading directly to our village/town, it’s them or us!” (Well, except the first bit. That first bit was classic MonHun “Ohshit it just turned up”)

So, aesthetically, it’s good, it’s got some wonderful tunes, including a new rendition of that iconic theme, “Proof of a Hero”, the monsters are animated wonderfully. I mean, they’ve had a lot of experience here, but the monsters fighting each other… Sometimes, I just get out the popcorn and yell “HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIR!” from a safe distance, and the UX is… Somewhat changed. I won’t say it’s all for the better, it’s still a bit of an issue finding things, and the scoutflies feel like a necesssary addition, considering how certain plants and items blend into the landscape as well as, well, a native plant should!

And mechanically… Well, the formula got refined. There’s an always available weapon called the Slinger (y’know, that thing you use to look cool as you ride pterodactyls), but the weapon types, from my personal fave, the lightning fast dual blades, to the lumbering Greatsword, or the swag pseudo-hammer that buffs everyone, the Hunting Horn, have added little mechanics from previous games…

THE TOP ROPE’S RIGHT THERE, HE’S DOWN, PEOPLE’S ELBOW THEM IN THE FORK!

It’s somewhat hard to talk about Monster Hunter games precisely because they are, despite their simple formula, A Lot, but yes, overall, I would in fact recommend MHW. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty likely I’d recommend Rise a bit more, although part of that is on the grounds that we haven’t seen this flavour of village in MonHun since Portable 3rd (Technically Generations, but Generations is a mashup.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take down The Dread Pickle.

Or, as is just as likely for the overconfident like me, to be leapt on from a mile away, and gored.

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Paperback: The Game (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £3.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Words are great. I love words. Especially words that make sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, then books… Yup, I love words. I mean, they’re double edged swords, like the…

Wait, game, what do you mean Estoc isn’t a real word? Or Wales? (There was actually a better example, but we’ll leave that…) I’ve wielded the former, and lived in the latter, so…

I agree, past me, this dictionary sucks if it doesn’t acknowledge Wales.

Yes, Paperback, the digital edition, has the same flaw you’d find in, say, some versions of Scrabble online: The dictionary doesn’t accept some words you know damn well are real. There goes my dream of making a novel set in Wales about aliens and 50s sensibilities clashing with modern ones in a videogame!

Except not, because, essentially, Paperback is simply about making words with the letters you have in your hand (for lo, it is card based), and either buying better letters, or the wild cards that give you fame. Some letter cards have special effects, like giving you more money if it’s first or last in the word (Maybe the editors have a thing for Ts, or a hangup about Ss), or allowing you to trash cards, and making a word with 7 letters or more gives you props too. Run out of two wild card piles, tot up the fame points for your Great Welsh Novel, and the winner’s the one with the most fame!

I vaguely remember this getting through and being shocked it did. Or it didn’t, and I went for Ennui, which definitely works instead.

Life. Don’t talk to me about life…

So… Accessibility wise, it’s okay. It’s windowed, but it can be made a window that fills the whole screen, and you can click on a card to see what the hell it does if the text is a bit small (which it is when you’re not zoomed in.) Both of these are good points. Less good is that there is no volume slider, only on… Or off for sound and music. And while Paperback has a chill, elevator music style track to play to, it is… A track. Or if it’s multiple tracks, they blur together that well.

In any case, paperback has a hotseat mode (always a plus, I find) and an online mode with a signup and login (I can’t really speak as to how well that works), it plays alright, it’s okay, accessibility wise, and as a game? It ain’t bad. If you want a chill word game with friends, this is a solid pick.

Panty, toilet, dirty devil! Words are trouble, words are subtle…

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Tanto Cuore (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

“So, Who wants to collect maids competitively with me so I can review this sucker?”

She is, presumably, very good at maiding. Also at card battles about recruiting maids to keep the Fake Masters out.

Firstly, this is emblematic of game reviewing, where, occasionally, you will say a sentence that not only makes no sense to the listener without context, but also gives you major side-eye if you say it in a public place.

But yes, Tanto Cuore is the digital adaptation of a card game in which you are hiring maids with Love, and either sending them to your Private Quarters for Victory Points or… STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT, I’M DESCRIBING THE GENERAL GOAL, DAMMIT..

It will not surprise the manga/anime fans to know that yes, this is a Japanese game. And musically, it shows. Bright, pumping beats full of cheer and the promise of shoujo storylines, equally bright visuals… Maids. Maids.

This, this is the screen you’ll mostly be seeing. Partly obscured by a card animation captured too late, but that’s only obscuring where you play your love cards and special ability maids you haven’t put in your chambers.

…Maids… There are, in fact, several different types of maids, and employing them either as general maids (in your deck), Chief Maids (on the top of your Private Quarters, with their own special abilities, and indeed Victory Points), Chamber-maids (placed into your private quarters for their Victory Points), or… Crap, I forget the name of the maids with the green outline on the card, but those stay in your deck and count for victory points at the end, at the cost of stuffing up your deck with maids you can’t play. And, indeed, there’s tactics here, because some maids will give you stuff for playing them as cards, not private maids, others give you victory points so long as there’s a certain number in your deck, you can set bad habits and illnesses upon your opponent, and even ending the game is a tactical decision, requiring you to completely clear two stacks of maids… Something I didn’t learn for a while because of one of the flaws of the game.

There are rules. You can look at the rules via the book icon, that’s about as obfuscatory as the UX goes, nice big letters, clear presentation, bright and cheerful… But you will only gain this information near the end of the rulebook.

I knew, errr… None of this while I was playing, beyond “Oh, thank god, I turned all those bad habits back on them!”

And you will definitely gain no information (that I can find) about how far ahead or behind you are. Other flaws include that there is no hotseat (just versus AI, a single player “story” mode, with cheevos per battle against the maids of the house), and that there is one piece of music. And it plays a lot. And your brain is already melting from trying to calculate victory points, and…

Look, this is a gem. A flawed gem, but a gem nonetheless. And I would recommend this to people who want a light-hearted, simple once you understand what the heck you’re doing, and yet competitive game.

But trying to say this without sounding like a massive pervert is extremely difficult, okay?

I mean, The Mad Welshman IS a kinkster, but seriously, explaining this game without getting side eye is hard.

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