Category Archives: Misc.

Interview: Ska Studios – Salt and Sanctuary


Hi everyone, while going through my YouTube subscriptions the other week, I found a video by VaatiVidya who is well known around the Souls series community.  He put up a preview video for an upcoming game called Salt and Sanctuary by Ska Studios.  After falling in love with everything I saw in his video, I knew I had to reach out to the developers in hopes of an interview.  Lucky for me, the two person team were more than willing to answer a few questions for us!

 

-First off, to get formalities out of the way, could you introduce yourself to the readers who may not know who you are?

-We’re James Silva and Michelle Juett Silva, a husband and wife indie game development team. We have two cats named Neko and Gato and we create stylistic, usually violent, 2D interactive entertainment. Our games include The Dishwasher: Vampire SmileCharlie Murder and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 We’re currently working on Salt and Sanctuary, a 2D Soulslike headed to PS4, Vita, and PC.

 

-And could you tell us a little bit about Salt and Sanctuary?

-Salt and Sanctuary has been aptly described as a “2D Soulslike,” meaning it draws heavy inspiration from the Souls series. Likewise, it draws themes from PSOne and DS era Castlevanias, like Symphony of the Night and Order of Ecclesia, and it draws much of its stylistic, visceral combat and brutal difficulty from our own The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.

 

The game introduces you as a sailor shipwrecked on a mysterious and dangerous island, attempting to make rhyme or reason of the land’s creeds, sanctuaries and monsters. There’s a heavy emphasis on exploration: you’ll explore a vast interconnected world full of traps, hidden passageways, and monstrous bosses, and you’ll explore an endless variety of loadouts, build strategies, and play styles.

 

-So, looking at the material available for Salt and Sanctuary, it seems that it holds a lot in common with the Souls series of games by FromSoftware.  Are you two fans of those games? Were they an influence in the design of Salt and Sanctuary, and whether they were or not, what was your influence behind Salt and Sanctuary’s design, in both game play and art?

-We’re obviously pretty huge Souls fans, and the series has been a major influence on us and on Salt and Sanctuary, which you could say was more or less born of really, really wanting to craft and explore our own Soulslike universe.

 

-Do you have any plans to implement character customization beyond skills/equipment?

-You can currently customize gender, race, hair and eye color.

 

-How about an online aspect?  Are there any plans to implement direct interaction with other players?

-We’re working on a local co-op mode that we can almost promise, but it definitely has to feel integral and not tacked on. We also plan to include asynchronous online features similar to Souls games.

 

-And do you have any plans for replay-ability, such as a New Game+ mode? or am I starting to get too into the secret “Yet To Be Announced” details? lol

-Absolutely!

 

-Well, are there any tips you’d like to pass on to future players for when the game finally gets released?

-Take it easy! Patience is rewarded, button mashing is a bad, bad idea. Take the time to really explore the island; we’ve put a ton of time into filling it with tons of intricate details.

 

-Moving on from details about the game, Salt and Sanctuary marks the first game you have developed for a SONY system (being exclusive to the PS4 and Vita (and PC!)); All your previous games were on the Xbox or Windows phone.  What’s it been like working with SONY to bring Salt and Sanctuary to life?

-Sony has been amazing. We’re thrilled with their level of enthusiasm and support for getting our game onto their platforms.

 

-And which company do you prefer working with more? We promise not to rat you out to the big guys upstairs lol

-Working with Microsoft was always great, and we honestly owe our company’s existence—including every game, soundtrack, T-shirt and vinyl we’ve ever produced—to Microsoft, XNA and XBLA.  Unfortunately, two of those three things are no longer active, and that’s just how it is.

 

-I think we’ve reached the end of our questions, thank you for taking the time to answer them. Are there any parting words you have for the readers and anticipating fans?

-No problem! Thanks for talking with us. If you aren’t already following them, please check out our development Twitch streams that we do three times a week! If you follow us on Twitch.tv/SkaStudios, you can chat with us Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 1pm PST.

 

Our sincerest thanks to Michelle and James for working with us and answering our question.  If you’d like to learn more about them, Salt and Sanctuary, or their previous titles, you can visit their website here, or follow their twitch.tv account in the link above.  If you’d like to check out VaatiVidya’s preview video on the game, you can click the link here.  We look forward to covering more of Salt and Sanctuary as it develops, until then, stay frosty readers.

Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie


Disclaimer…not all games are officially coming out for 2015, but they’re announced and this is me hoping.

2015 so far looks to already be leaning towards a year of incredible releases, as long as the trend of releasing half finished games or delaying the games until 2016 doesn’t continue. Nonetheless, my hopes are held extremely high and I can’t wait for a few games in particular. So why not just jump into that list. This list is in alphabetical order and is not rated by how much I want the game.

Continue reading Andrew’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015: The Movie

Steve’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015 & More


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I think 2015 is going to be one of the more hype years in gaming we’ve had in a while. Home consoles are finally getting some games worth getting, and other previously exclusive games are now also being released on PC as well. Let’s see how much work my wallet is going to be doing this year. LET’S GO!

  • Grim Fandango: Remastered – This game is one that has been on my “To Play” list for a quite a while now. Fortunately, thanks to the upcoming remastered version, now is the perfect time to finally give this much acclaimed game a shot.
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse – I’m glad to see that the underrated “Canvas Curse” for the DS is getting a sequel. But this clay art style…it’s too much for my heart to take…HHNNNGGGG
  • Mortal Kombat X – Mortal Kombat (9) took me by surprised. Content-wise, it was one of the most fleshed out fighting games I’ve seen. The gameplay is also extremely accessible, which allowed for me to play with my more casual friends on equal footing…who am I kidding, I suck at the game. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see how ridiculously brutal this game turns out to be.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Android) – I know, this game has been out for a while now for PC/Mac/iPad, but I’ve been itching for a decent mobile game to play. Emphasis on ‘decent’. I can only play so much ‘Threes’. And don’t even get me started on ‘Peggle: Blast”. I’m ashamed about how many hours I sunk into Peggle Blast, so much that I just had to delete it from my home to make sure it didn’t get any worse. However, I think I’ll be OK with Hearthstone…right?
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Like Peggle Blast, I sunk a lot of hours into this game, both on the 3DS and Wii U. Thankfully, this game will have online enable for the 3DS, so hopefully, I’ll be able to find a group to go a huntin’ with.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker – I actually have this game already, but only the original version that was released for the DS. I didn’t want to play it until I have beaten Devil Survivor: Overclocked completely…but it turns out that I never managed to that yet. Nevertheless, I’m going to finish it before this new version comes out. The version practically doubles the content, along with added voice acting as well. This tactical JRPG is a great entry point for SMT newcomers…but be forewarned, many have claimed it’s pretty tough.
  • Splatoon – I haven’t really played any shooters in 2014, aside from some Halo 4. But I didn’t play Destiny, Titanfall, or COD: Advanced Warfare. I think Splatoon should remedy that. It counts, right?
  • The Legend of Zelda (Wii U) – This could wind up being the biggest and most ambitious Zelda game yet. I just hope it turns out better than Skyward Sword.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D – Like Grim Fandango (and Devil Survivor 2), this game is still on my “To Play” list. I finally got around to beating Ocarina of Time, thanks to the 3DS remake. Can’t wait to play this one.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X - Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii is an incredible game in both gameplay and scale, that I feel more people should get to play (and they’ll get the chance with the New 3DS port). But Xenoblade Chronicles X… is FLOOPING HUGE! You can battle in mechs and traverse this massive world. You can even play online with friends. This game is absolutely in my Top 3 most hyped up games…but number one can only belong to…
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – 2015 is the year of the bigger and massive sequels for great franchises. I’m not talking about the ones that churn out a game yearly, like Assassin’s Creed, but games that the gaming audience have to really wait for. And a majority of the time, the game is absolutely worth it. No game better represents this than Metal Gear Solid V. Playing Ground Zeroes has made me even more hype. The series has never felt so great to control. You are given an insane amount of freedom in regards to how you want to conduct an infiltration, with multiple ways of sneaking in or going guns ablazing. You can fulton just about anything. Of course, there’s no way I can talk about MGS without mentioning the story. This time, the story has never been grim. We’ll be witnessing the fall of Big Boss, what corrupted the world’s greatest soldier, and what led him to create Outer Heaven. I CAN NOT SUPPRESS MY HYPE LEVELS FOR THIS GAME.

Also worth mentioning is the next Zero Escape game (the ‘Virtue’s Last Reward’ sequel). As much as I want to believe the rumor, I can only get hype once we get a confirmation.

As an added bonus, Alex was kind enough to also submit his own list of anticipated games. Even though not all of the games on his list are confirmed for 2015, that doesn’t mean you can’t get hype for them!

  • MGS V
  • GTA V for PC (even though I can’t play it on max)
  • The Division
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Evolve
  • The Witcher 3
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • The Order 1886

So what are your most anticipated games? Let us know in the comments!

2015 In Preview – Brad’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2015


With 2014 behind us, it’s time to look towards the future.  While there are numerous titles already scheduled to be released in 2015, and even more that are not, let’s look at the 15 titles I’m looking forward to the most.

  • Evolve – While originally slipping under my radar, watching people play the beta has gotten me pretty hyped for this team based first person shooter, especially with the ability to play as the giant monster being hunted.
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD – I’ve been wanting to play Final Fantasy Type-0 since it was coming to the PSP and title Final Fantasy Agito.  After a name change and years of silence about a western release, we’re finally getting an HD remake of the game for next gen systems, and I couldn’t be happier.
  • Bloodborne – Bloodborne is just about the game that I’m most anticipated for in 2015, an easy but close second.  With a more aggressive stance on the Dark Souls combat, and being made by the quintessential “A” team responsible for Dark Souls and Demons Souls, there’s no reason a Souls fan shouldn’t be excited (unless they don’t own a PS4, sorry Xbone owners).
  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin – It’s no secret that I love the Dark Souls series, heck, Dark Souls 2 made it to my GOTY list.  But it’s also no secret that the original release of Dark Souls 2 was lacking in comparison to the first and even the prerelease footage we saw of the game.  Promising enhanced visuals, better balance, tweaked enemy placement, and more story elements to bring some of the more confusing parts to light, I’m excited to dive into Drangleic again in this definitive edition.
  • Mighty No. 9 – One of the few Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, Keiji Inafune’s love child Mighty No. 9 finally makes it to release this year.  Hopefully after this he’ll finish up that Animal Pirate Dynasty Warriors 3DS game he announced oh so long ago.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight – I’ve always been a fan of the Batman: Arkham games, even Origins was a decent entry despite not being developed by the original team.  Boasting a bigger city and the ability to drive the Batmobile around, I’m looking forward to dawning the cape and cowl once again.
  • J-Stars Victory VS+ – Probably the only time you’ll see a fighting game on a list of games I’m hyped for (with the exception of portable Smash bros, but we’ve already got that).  I’m a big fan of the Jump All Stars game series, and seeing this PS3 entry being ported to the west makes me one happy gamer.
  • Kings Quest – Only recently have I acquired respect and interest for the old school point and click adventure games, from Monkey Island to Sam and Max, from Day of the Tentacle to Kings Quest.  Seeing how wonderful the game looks at the VGA a few months back has got me all aboard the Kings Quest Hype Train.
  • No Man’s Sky – This game holds a lot of promise, with it’s procedurally generated worlds and boasts about how it will never run out of content.  In all honesty it may not even be a game I play for long, but just based on what it’s promising I can’t help but be excited.
  • Soul Saga: Episode 1 – Another Kickstarter game I backed, Soul Saga is shaping up to be a mighty fine turn based RPG.  With the promise of Airship Combat, numerous playable characters, and voice acting from known voice actors Todd Haberkorn and Kira Buckland, Soul Saga is shaping up to be one fantastic product of Kickstarter.
  • Star Fox – I’ve been wanting a new Star Fox game for years now, something more in the vein of 64 instead of Adventures or Assault.  While no substantial information is known so far, the fact that one is in development has got me excited.
  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U – I’m just going to say this: Skyrim Sized, Open World, HD, Non-Linear Zelda.  Who wouldn’t be excited?
  • The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D – Ocarina of Time 3D was the reason I got a 3DS, and since I’ve been waiting for them to announce Majora’s Mask 3D.  Now that they have, and the possibility that it could be bundled with the New 3DS, I’m actually going to have a reason to pick up the new handheld.

 

  • Yakuza 5 – I picked up Yakuza 4 around November of 2013, and while it still sits uncompleted on my shelf (as do most games), I absolutely love it.  The characters were great and the combat brutally fun, and if Yakuza 5 is even just more of the same I’ll be happy to pick it up.  Maybe I’ll even beat 4 before it comes out…

And my most anticipated title of 2015…

  • Rumored Virtue’s Last Reward Sequel – While nothing official has been said, rumors of the final installment in the Virtue’s Last Reward series coming to 2015 have been buzzing around.  In an article that interviewed a bunch of Japanese developers about what is coming in 2015, series director Kotaro Uchikoshi stated “It’s looking like 2015 will be the year where everything I’ve built up over the years will come together and be let out into the world in one fell swoop”.  It’s been stated in the past that the Virtue’s Last Reward series will be a trilogy, taking place between 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors and Zero’s Escape, so with a statement like that I’m highly anticipating news of this final installment coming to our doorsteps soon.

That’s my list, how about you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

If you haven’t already checked out Steve and My 2014 GOTY Lists, go ahead and click the respective names to check them out.

The Only NUReviews Top 10 GOTY 2014 That Matters*


Man, what a year, am I right? I mean, I haven’t posted any articles in a year, but if you follow our FaceBook page you’ll have seen we were at least semi-active this year.  But really, all that matters is the last post of the year, the traditional 2014 GOTY Top 10 List.  I’ve played a handful of games over the year, mostly good, some bad, and then there’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, but narrowing down what I could consider my Top 10 was certainly harder than I thought it’d be.  I’ll provide a small insight into the game and why I think it deserves the place on my list for each game, and much like The Octopus from The Spirit, I like to start from the bottom and work my way up.  So let’s start with the metaphorical toes of my Top 10 List, entry number 10.

NUmbeR 10 – South Park: The Stick of Truth


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South Park: The Stick of Truth finds you, the new kid on the block, in the middle of a war of the imaginations between the children of South Park, Colorado.  Initially enlisted alongside Cartman and Butters, you eventually team up with Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and even Jimmy as you fight to try and reclaim the all powerful Stick of Truth, a weapon so powerful that anyone who wields it can bend all of reality to their whim.  Written by the brains behind the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and animated to look just like the show, the game blends wonderful visuals, crude humor, and simple yet solid gameplay mechanics to craft a game worthy of praise.  My biggest complaint with the game, however, is that it’s so short, in just under 12 hours, I was able to complete the main campaign and most, if not all of the side quests. For an RPG, that certainly leaves things lacking.  Some will say that making a 40 hour RPG out of South Park material would be stretching the source too much, and you know, they’re probably right. But I wouldn’t let this issue deter me from recommending people buy the game.  However, if you can’t get it for anything less than $15, I’d highly recommend you hold off on it. That really is the best way to get the most bang for your buck for this otherwise great game.

NUmbeR 9 – Hyrule Warriors


tumblr_ndz1m5nS6h1rf0hsxo4_250Stupid Sexy Link-senpai

When announced at E3, Hyrule Warriors looked to just be a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda skin, which if it were only that, would still have made my list.  But instead, what we got was a game crafted around both the gameplay elements of the two completely separate series, while maintaining the feel that comes with a game that the developers truly loved to make.  The Tecmo Koei people have perfected the Dynasty Warriors gameplay to an art, almost, being able to create these spin-offs of the series while lovingly crafting them around the source material that they’re being based on.  Each of the characters hold weapons that are pulled from the 3D Zelda Games (with the exception of some 8-bit weapons to throw in as a treat to fans), along with giant boss monsters that sometimes invade the field require a bit of easy puzzle solving to do massive damage to them, as it would take with any Zelda game.  Packed with hours of content past just the main story, as well as a gameplay style that doesn’t really get old in my eyes, it’s one of my GOTY titles.  You may be wondering why, with such high praise, it’s so low on my list. Well, the reason is because at its core, it’s still a game from the Dynasty Warriors series, whose games aren’t for everyone.  Many people get tired of the Hack-n-Slash, mow-down-an-entire-army gameplay the series provides, rather quickly.

If you love Zelda, it’s worth the look just for the care that was put into the game. But if you’re not a fan of Dynasty Warriors as a whole, you won’t be able enjoy the game to its full potential.  Also, how can you not include Groose? He demands to be let loose.

NUmbeR 8 – The Evil Within


THE NOPE WITHINI really feel you SeaBass

I guess it’s time to admit one of my greater gaming sins: I have never played Resident Evil 4, the last Resident Evil title before the series went, objectively, to the shitter (though I still liked RE5 a little, despite its terrible AI).  When The Evil Within started showing it’s face in the gaming world, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention. But towards release, I started to get pretty hype by trailers and screens, and post release the hype was intensified by watching other people play. It ended up being one of my better purchases of the year.  Following the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, you find yourself in a life or death struggle against crazed, zombie like people and a mad man with mysterious powers called Ruvik.  If you’re wondering why I had to start this by bringing up Resident Evil 4, it’s because anyone who has played the two will tell you of the huge similarities the two games hold.  Even putting aside the fact that they share the same director, gameplay elements and sections, which  The Evil Within seemed to have almost carbon copied from Resident Evil 4 (though they took out the ability to do sick suplexes on stunned enemies, the fools).  The story is a bit of a cluster-fuck and doesn’t explain a whole lot, but the visuals are great and the gameplay is solid.  Despite my terrible skill at the game, I enjoyed every minute I play of this wonderful title.

NUmbeR 7 – Jackbox Party Pack


hqdefaultShameless ripping of Steve’s image

You’ll start to notice something from this point on, so I’ll give you the heads up now.  Starting with this entry, I really don’t have many negative things to say about the rest of the games on this list.  While clearly all these views are subjective and your thoughts may vary, if I can make a top ten list, and run out of negative things to say by number 7, then I’ve clearly had a good year.  The Jackbox Party Pack is exactly that kind of game. It’s a collection of five games by the developers behind You Don’t Know Jack (which is also included in this collection).  Each title can be played solo with a controller, or with multiple people with each person using a smart phone, tablet, computer, or anything that has a browser as their controller.  Because of this set up, some games are able to support up to eight consecutive players. One game can even supporting up to 100.  It’s a perfect game to have when you have a lot of people over, as none of the games require any real amount of skill. I guarantee that everyone will have a great time playing it.

NUmbeR 6 – Mario Kart 8


YoshicolorsSo much wasted potential in a single roster, wheres my Rawk Hawk?

What is there really to say about this that’s not already known? If you just read the title of the game, you would know what you’re in for.  Mario Kart 8 brings the classic karting fun the series is known for to the Wii U, in beautiful high definition.  The worlds are lovingly crafted and each race is a load of fun, no matter how good you are at the game.  Another great game to play with your friends, fun for all without as much of the relationship crushing nature that comes with Mario Party.  If I had one complaint for the game, it’d be the waste of character slots (seriously, who thinks putting every Koopa Kid and Pink Gold Peach in was a good idea?), but I’m not going to let that ruin my view of the game.

NUmbeR 5 – Dark Souls 2


tumblr_naux25S9pP1sxoyxro10_500I really have nothing clever to put here, but I’m on a roll and won’t stop now

There is so much that can be said about Dark Souls 2, it’s a little hard to think of a place to start.  Even if I started with a rough overview of the story, that in and of itself is complicated.  You play an undead, someone who can not die, who is on a quest to try and find a cure to your condition.  You find yourself in the land of Drangleic, an ancient kingdom that has all but fallen apart, where you are tasked to seek the king of Drangleic, for it is he who will have the answers.  Your quest takes you all around this strange world: from deepest darkness of The Gulch, to the strangely high and seemingly geographically misplaced Iron Keep. As your quest goes on so does your goal.  However, it is not the ideals of the character that changes, it feels more as if the world is just guiding you on your way, and as you continue on, you start to forget why you set out on the journey to begin with.  Featuring the action RPG combat that started way back on the PS3 with Demons Souls, Dark Souls 2 is refined in some matters while faltering in others.  Many will argue on how the game compares to previous entries in the series, but I enjoy it all the same.  Where it falters, its previous entries rise to the challenge, and where they falter, Dark Souls 2 sits high above them.  The inclusion of the DLC is easily the best part of the game, showing design and artistic methods that show what the team is truly capable of.  If you haven’t played this game yet, then I would highly recommend you do, don’t let the claims of its insane difficulty deter you away.  The key to playing any “Souls” game is patience and learning. Keep those in mind, and you can overcome any obstacle in your path.  Dark Souls 2 will be re-released around end of Quarter 1 and beginning of Quarter 2 of 2015, with the Scholar of the First Sin edition, which will include new story elements, NPCs, and gameplay balances.  This edition will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC with DirectX11 support, which will include enhanced visuals and alternate enemy placements. So if you’ve been putting off playing the game or are just considering playing it, wait for this definitive edition to be released.

NUmbeR 4 – Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix


braigYes, good, that’s the word.

When I was constructing this list, I found that there were a couple of HD remakes that I played over the year that I considered for the list, but I really couldn’t put any of them above Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.  While its close contender, the FFX/X-2 HD Re-master, was an excellent remastering of some excellent games, updating their visuals for more modern systems, I didn’t really get all that much more out of it.  While the editions did come with the extra content from the “International” editions of the game (which were kind of like Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, except only not released in the US), all of that extra content was end-game, so I didn’t see any of it until well into my playthrough.  Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix brings the Final Mix version of two of the best games of the Kingdom Hearts series stateside for the first time, and these versions are of course the reasoning this has made it so high on my list.  Kingdom Hearts has been my guilty pleasure game since its release. I’ve played every title, save for the Japanese only mobile game, and at one point even imported Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.  To be able to play these enhanced version with new forms, gameplay balances, difficulty levels, cutscenes and secret bosses in a language I understand, is almost like a childish dream come true.  As a fan of the series, there’s no reason for you not to own this game. If you’re looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 3, but don’t quite grasp the story, these HD Remix versions are the best place to start.

NUmbeR 3 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc


imagesIt’s Un-Bear-able~

Danganronpa: Goodbye Despair is another example of many of why the Vita is actually a handheld worth investing in.  While the number of big named titles doesn’t reach the expectations one might have for it, the sheer force of the niche Japanese titles is what really drives the system.  When I first bought Danganronpa, I didn’t expect to really enjoy it, since I heard it was kind of like Phoenix Wright, but that’s all I had known about it.  What I got was another entry into the small list of Visual Novel-esque titles that have become some of my favorite handheld games.  Danganronpa is about a class of “Ultimates”, students who are the best of the best in their given field, trying to survive imprisoned in the very school they thought they were safe in.  You take on the role of Makoto Maegi, the “Ultimate Lucky Student”, that is to say he has no particular skill of interest, he just got accepted into the school because he won a lotto drawing.  Inside the school you’ll encounter your fellow “classmates”, including the “Ultimate Programmer”, “Ultimate Martial Artist”, “Ultimate Otaku” and more. You’ll be lead by the sadistic, pun throwing, monochromatic mad-bear, Monokuma.  There’s only one rule to surviving this dark situation: Murder your fellow classmates.  The gameplay is split between two different states. There’s what I’ll refer to as the “Peaceful State”, where you spend your days spending time with your classmates, getting to know them and building friendships ala the Persona Series.  And then there’s the “Murder State”, which takes place when ever someone has been murdered.  Your job in the “Murder State” is to find clues as to who committed the murder, and then bring them to justice in a trial.  If you win, the murderer gets punished and you continue playing, however if you pick out the wrong person, everybody but the murderer gets punished, and the murderer gets set free.  The story is full of twists that even I didn’t quite see coming(And I’m pretty good about spotting twists, I figured Vader was Luke’s father a whole minute before he said that line), and the characters are eccentric to the point where you can’t help but feel love for all of them, even the sadistic asshole that is Monokuma.  If you want a game similar to 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors or Virtue’s Last Reward: Zero’s Escape, but with a more light-hearted tone to it, be sure to pick this up.

NUmbeR 2 – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


shadow-of-mordro8 out of 10 witty comments isn’t too bad right?

Let’s be frank with each other: franchise games are rarely good.  I’m, of course, not talking about video game franchises. I’m talking about video games based around franchises that pre-existed in other mediums, such as movies or books.  Short of an original story not told in other mediums, or being a LEGO game, franchise games are essentially doomed to be at the bottom of the barrel for eternity.  So it comes as a surprise that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a franchise game that takes gameplay directly from two of the biggest AAA game franchises on the market right now, can do it better than both of them and come so close to my personal GOTY.  The story of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor follows Talion, a ranger in charge of defending the Black Gate.  All is going well with him and his family, but everything changed when the Fire Nation… I mean… the Black Hand of Sauron attacked.  After watching his family killed before his eyes, Talion himself is killed, but his spirit remains in the world of the living.  An Elvish wraith tells him that his soul is cursed, much like the wraith, and that if they were to team up, they could take down the armies of Sauron, the Black Hand, and then finally reunite with their families.  So begins a quest across the lands of Mordor, slaughtering Uruks and retrieving fragments of the Wraith’s memories to discover his hidden past.  Exploration in Shadow of Mordor is taken almost directly from Assassin’s Creed, with the ability to stealth at will and climb up buildings like a professional climber.  The similarities in this system are so abundant, that sometimes I thought I might have actually been playing an Assassin’s Creed game (which was quickly rectified by the fact that it wasn’t Assassin’s Creed IV and I was having fun).  Meanwhile the combat is a carbon copy of the Batman Arkham games of recent fame.  In combat, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Uruks that will try to attack you one or two at a time. You can press ‘Triangle’ to counter their attacks at the last minute, ‘Square’ to issue strikes, ‘X’ to bound over your enemies, and ‘Circle’ to stun them, which, while stunned, you can issue repetitive blows using the ‘Square’ button.  After you get a high enough combo, you can press a combination of two buttons to perform a finishing move, which does things like knock out a single opponent or stun enemies in a radius around you (seems pretty familiar huh?).  The inclusion of a Bow with a bullet time mechanic allows you to take out a group of enemies swiftly and from a distance.

But the real meat of the game comes from the much acclaimed Nemesis System.  Each Uruk captain is generated to look and sound different, to fight differently, and to have different strengths and weaknesses.  Killing a captain opens up his spot in Sauron’s army, allowing another captain to move up in the ranks.  Combine this with the late game ability to turn Uruks into your own minions, the game quickly becomes finding Uruks you particularly like, beefing them up and turning all of Mordor under your control.  The game is loaded with side challenges to distract you from the very few main quests (only 20 total), so much so in fact that I had completed all the side challenges I could complete in the first half of the game before I was even done with the first half of the story missions.  It never feels like a chore to do these side quests, unless you wait until the end and that’s all you have left to do.  While the story isn’t particularly engaging, the gameplay is almost perfect in all aspects.  If I had two complaints about the game, it’s that you don’t get the ability to control enemies until very late in the game, and that the DLC they added trophies which ruined my 100% completion rating.  I worked very hard for that Level 25 Rune, damn it, and you took away my pride!!

NUmbeR 1 – Shovel Knight


 276752-SN2221It’s both cozy, and lonely at the top.

Here we are, Numero Uno, The King of Kings, the 100%, Indisputable** 2014 Game of the Year: Shovel Knight.  What a game, where can I even start?  So often Indie games try and pander off their work by giving it that “retro” look, but rarely is a game so expertly crafted as Shovel Knight is.  Taking elements from the classic side scrolling action games of the 8-bit era (see Megaman, Ducktales, etc), Shovel Knight is as much a love letter as it is a stand alone title.  You play Shovel Knight, a once proud Knight of the Spade who, after the loss of his companion Shield Knight, retired to a life of easy digging.  However, after an evil Enchantress started rising to power with the aid of the Knights of No Quarter, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to bury these evil doers and dig up some Justice!  Starting off fairly weak (classic 3 heart containers), each level sees Shovel Knight traversing the 2D planes, defeating enemies and collecting cash, which he can then use to buy relics and upgrades.  If you die in a level you lose a percentage of the gold you have on you, but similar to games like Dark Souls, if you make it back to the place you died you can reclaim all that lost gold.  While a single playthrough won’t last you too long, the game has a New Game+ feature, which allows you to start again with all your upgrades and stronger enemies.  Attached onto that are a number of challenges and achievements that will have you playing the game for hours on end.

Despite being an 8-bit Indie Game, the difficulty matches and, in some cases, exceeds modern AAA titles.  Enemies make platforming perilous yet fair, and Bosses do large amounts of damage but have fairly predictable move sets.  The game is perfectly balanced to be both fair for those who are possibly new to games, but also challenging and rewarding to the more experienced gamer.  There is nothing I can possibly say wrong about this game, which makes it a one of a kind diamond in the desert that has been 2014 in gaming.

*: NUReviews does not stand by that this is the only GOTY list that matters, there are a lot of lists out there and they are all respectable opinions, NUReviews doesn’t condone the idea that we’re better than everyone***

**: It is completely refutable if Shovel Knight is indeed GOTY because this is based off Brad’s personal preference.

***: Except Kotaku, we’re better than Kotaku

Steve’s Top 5 Games of the Year (2014)


GOTY2014

I have had an extremely busy time this year. Unfortunately, most of that times was dedicated to academics and other life stuff…and Peggle Blast for Android OS. Don’t worry, no way I’m letting a mobile game get on this list. I did manage to get to a good number of games I’ve been eying for a while, but unfortunately, time (and funds) didn’t let me get to other games I been putting off (Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, South Park: Stick of Truth, etc). It’s actually why I had to do a Top 5, rather than a top 10. I guess those are left to my eternal backlog. Oh well, anyways, to the list.


Honorable Mentions:

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Mario Golf: World Tour

I’m not the biggest sports guy. I would only watch big events like the Super Bowl or World Cup( dat 7-1, eh?). That also applies to sport games, so don’t expect to see me talk about the latest Madden or MLB game. However, there are exceptions. Games like NBA Jam or NFL Blitz, mostly those zany, arcade styled games, are more my speed, since they’re a bit more hectic and allow for more creativity. The Mario sport series certainly falls under this category. Mario Golf: World Tour is a great portable game. You can play the game for a few holes, take a break, and then resume later with no hassle at all. Even the online mode is pretty fun and helpful for picking up some swing techniques. My major gripe with the game is that despite having a decent chunk of content, there’s little to no replay value. The lack of a single player RPG mode, which were featured in previous portable versions of Mario Golf, left me desiring more out of the game. But still, the mechanics and courses were solid enough for me to recommend this game to any casual golf fan…but perhaps when it’s discounted though.

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The Jackbox Party Pack:
If there’s one thing I love, it’s playing party games with my friends. At $25, this can’t be passed up…unless you are not the type of person who likes this sort of thing. Anyways, this game contains a bunch of great games, like You Don’t Know Jack 2015, which has a bunch of new episodes with everyone’s favorite virtual game show host, Cookie Masterson,  and Fibbage XL and Drawful, where you have to create deceitful answers believable enough for others to choose in order to win points. What’s great is that everyone can play using their cell phones, iPad, or computer, so no need for extra controllers. Brad actually did a livestream a few weeks ago where viewers can actually play too. If we get enough of a response, we’ll try to do something like this again.

And now to the list!


#5- Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season TwoWDS2_KeyArt_Logo-650px

Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is one hell of an emotionally impactful game. Although there were not many, the decisions you had to make drastically affects the sort of experience you were going to have. And, of course, as Lee, you had to decide what kind of role model you were going to be for Clementine, which made decisions so much tougher. This element allowed players to become more involved with the relationship between Lee and Clementine, which made the ending so effective.

In Season Two, the primary dilemma for Clementine is what she values more: survival or loyalty? This question creates a number of dire situations in Season Two, which resulted in me asking “Well there is no way this is going to end well” on many occasions. However, I felt that the writing may have been weaker in this season. A number of the hard choices were virtually pointless, since all decisions end with similar results (Season One had this problem as well[i.e. illusion of choice ]). I also wasn’t as emotionally involved with this season, since I wasn’t as fond of the majority of characters in this season, which lessen the impact of their potential deaths. All of the endings except one, which was the one I received during my first playthrough, felt disappointing. Even though the ending I got left me tearing up, I had the feeling Telltales won’t be able to continue the story in Season Three successfully. They have to somehow tie in the multiple endings of Season Two into a one cohesive plot for Three, which could mean that the choice the play made at the end of Season Two meaningless.

Nevertheless, I still recommend this series, both Season One and Two, to people who desire decent stories in a zombie infected world. Even now, I prefer this game over the TV Show and the comic series. This series has the compelling human drama that I desire in zombie stories, and fortunately for me, it shows up in the entertainment medium I enjoy most: video games.

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#4 – Mario Kart 8

I’m not sure how much more I can say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn’t been already said by others. This game is the best Mario Kart game yet. It built upon the superb foundation of Mario Kart Wii & 7, bringing back key features like gliding, underwater driving, motorcycles, and a great online system. It’s also the best looking MK game to date as well.  Even the DLC is great, drawing inspiration for new characters and track from other Nintendo franchises like F-Zero and Excite Bike. Despite some gripes with the roster, this is a must have game for the Wii U. ‘Nuff said.

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#3 Super Smash Bros for 3DS

I’ve said this once, when I managed to get Smash Bros 64 working on a Nintendo 64 emulator app for my phone, but I’ll say it again: if I were to show my younger self that I was able to play Smash Bros just about anywhere in the world, without the need of a home console, kid Steve’s mind would explode. That’s how much I love Smash Bros, and I can firmly say that I love this version of Smash Bros.

Smash Bros for the 3DS doesn’t compromise much on content, despite being on a portable console. Anyone familiar with Super Smash Bros’ director, Masahiro Sakurai, knows that his game philosophy includes having an insane amount of content in each of his games. This game features many returning modes from previous iterations of the game, like Classic mode, Stadium mode, All-Star, and, of course, Smash. But this game adds a few good modes as well, such as a completely playable online mode that puts Brawl’s to shame(which sadly, isn’t a difficult task to do). Smash Run is a mode that has the player run through a giant maze fighting enemies from various gaming franchises and collecting stat boosts in order to strengthen the player’s character before playing a final round of Smash after five minutes.

Some people would argue that this version of Smash was merely a glorified demo for the Wii U version. But I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time with this game (partially because I’m not home often enough to play the console version). This game, along with Wii U, has the largest roster of any Smash Bros yet. The stages, although smaller in scale to compensate for the size of the 3DS’s screen, were quite creative, like the F-Zero and Earthbound stage (although I’m sure no one likes the ‘birdmin’). The controls work well for the 3DS, although some may free lost since the 3DS control scheme is rather different from the Gamecube controller, which many Smash players have become more than fond of. Once again, this is one of those “must own” games for the system.

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#2 – Dark Souls II

The Souls series is infamous for its difficulty. I’m sure just about every modern-day game enthusiast knows this. But I argue that the game series is manageable, as long as you always display caution around every corner, along with having a firm grasp on the combat system. If you still run into trouble, there’s one piece of advice I have for you: “Git gud.”

Any souls veteran should be able to pick up this game with ease. But Dark Souls II is even accessible for newcomers as well, thanks for the optional tutorial at the beginning of the game. Of course, there’s new bosses, new weapons, armor and spells, new enemies, and a whole new land to explore. The game also allows for online co-op and “invasions”, when you can warp into another player’s game, uninvited, in order to fight and vanquish them. Dark Souls II allows for many ways to go through the game, whether you wish to create a character who is a tank, a nimble ninja, a sage, or somewhere in between.

One of the issues I personally have with Dark Souls II is that the game didn’t have as many memorable moments as DaS1. The different areas in the game are all branched off of Majula, the hub area. But in Dark Souls I, there was more of a connection between different areas, such as seeing older areas in the far distances, or shortcuts that can take you to areas on the complete opposite site of the map. The bosses, although plentiful, were quite forgettable, some even being recycled from DS1. Finally, the atmosphere felt a bit duller, due to some of the blandness of the areas found in the game.

But I went into Dark Souls II for primarily one reason: to put up a good fight and eventually kick its ass. And that I did. I found the challenge I was looking for. If you are brave enough to test your skill as a ‘gamer’, absolutely give this game a whirl. There’s a new edition coming out soon for the XB1 and PS4, along with an updated PC version. I recommend checking those out when you get the chance. And if you struggle…”git gud”.

Smash+Bros+Wii+U

#1 – Super Smash Bros for Wii U

Reasons why this is my GOTY
1.) 8 Player Smash

2.) Glorious HD

3.) Solid Online Mode

4.) Dat Roster

I really can go for a long time, singing praises about this game, but I want to grab some food, so I’ll try to keep this brief. This is the game Brawl should have been. The gameplay is solid enough for competitive and casual players to enjoy. The roster has someone for everyone. Who would have imagined that Wii Fit Trainer would be so fun to use? A lot of the single player modes now have co-op options, giving this game more options when with friends. Smash Tour is a fun mode that brings some of the zaniness found in Mario Party and Fortune Street to Smash Bros.

BUT 8 PLAYER SMASH! It’s a fantastic way to make the already chaotic local multiplayer mode even crazier. The fact that you have a lot of controller options (Wii U GamePad, Pro Controller, Wiimote, Wiimote and Nunchuk, Wiimote and Classic Controller, and , shockingly, the GameCube controller). If you are a Nintendo fan, you should have no problem gathering enough controllers for some 8 player fights.

The Amiibo functionality is also worth noting as well, since it allows for extremely weird virtual Smash Bros Cock Fights. You can personally train your Amiibo to level 50, who will pick up your technique and fight style along the way. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy an Amiibo for every character in the game, and you’ll be able to use these Amiibos in other games as well. Just a warning though, it may be difficult to find some of the Amiibos since they are actually rather popular, and Nintendo underestimated how popular some of them would be.

Nevertheless, Smash Bros for the Wii U is a great reason to get a Wii U. As mentioned before, Sakurai’s games always have loads of content that’ll last you a good, long time. Now that it finally has a decent online mode (and a tournament mode coming soon), you’ll be able to play people from all around the world with little to no lag. Who would have thought that ‘smashing’ would bring people together?


Now that I have some time, I should finally be able to catch up on some games that I missed during 2014. But overall, it was a solid year, especially for the Wii U. I’m glad to see that Nintendo’s console is finally getting the games it’s been yearning for a while now. I’ll be doing a list for ‘Most Anticipated Games of 2015′ soon, because uh…wowzers, it looks like my wallet is going to going into overtime.

A Happy New Year to all of our followers. Let’s hope that 2015 and all following years has games for all of us to enjoy.

NUReviews @ New York Comic Con 2014


It’s our favorite time of the year…besides all of those other times that are just as cool. But New York Comic Con is still pretty cool! And we were there! Check it out!
Music Credits

Midimachine – Forever South

http://v-road.bandcamp.com/album/perpetual-motion

Abra Sounds – Parallel and Simultaneous

http://abrasounds.squarespace.com/listen-to-abra/

8-bitheroes – My 8bit destiny

http://8-bitheroes.newgrounds.com/follow

Schematist – Neon Arcade

https://www.youtube.com/user/CrimsonAzure7