Leveling Up: Adventure On Ghost Island From One Piece Pirate Warriors 3

Level Design is one of the most important aspects of game development. It’s effectively the glue that holds a game together. All the work you put into programming the game’s mechanics, drawing the game’s art and writing the story is all for nought if you don’t know how to put it all together and make it into something focused and coherent. While a good level can enhance the gameplay and the fun you have playing the game, a bad level can stick out like a sore thumb and taint your memories and experience of an otherwise great game. Today, I’m starting yet another new series(I swear this is the last one): Leveling Up. In this series, I seek to look at some of the best and worst-designed levels in video games and talk about what makes them so good or how they can be improved. To start, I’m going to be talking about a horrible level in a game I love based on a series I love: Adventure on Ghost Island from One Piece Pirate Warriors 3.

Let me start by giving a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the One Piece manga and anime series. One Piece follows the adventures of Straw Hat Luffy and his pirate crew as they travel in search of the One Piece, a treasure of unimaginable value hidden somewhere on the seas by the late, legendary Pirate King: Gol D. Roger. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3’s main story follows the story of the series all the way up to the recent Dressrosa arc. Adventure on Ghost Island is a level based off the “Thriller Bark” Arc, an arc where Luffy faces off against Gekko Moriah of the Seven Warlords and his zombie army. Thriller Bark was a mixed bag for me. It had some great comedy, and some epic fights, but suffered from one of the weakest villains in the series as well as some stupid moments(Sanji’s ‘fight’ vs Absalom). Adventure on Ghost Island reflects this, as it’s easily my least favourite level in the entire game. So, with that out of the way, let’s go over why I hate this level so damn much!

Upon starting the level, things don’t look promising. The entire lower part of the map, the forest yo start in, is shrouded in a thick fog, covering all of the paths and making your minimap pretty much useless. This doesn’t make things challenging, it just makes it frustrating as you wander around trying to find where to go next. There are also very few enemies making it quite dull. Once you defeat Perona, one of Moriah’s commanders, you finally get rid of the fog and get out of the forest. Unfortuntately, things don’t get much better from there. You soon find out that the forest isn’t the only place lacking in enemies; the entire level is. There are ZERO keeps to spawn more enemies in, meaning that the level gets progressively more empty and more boring the longer it goes on. This isn’t helped by the fact that Pirate Warriors 3 generally has long levels, and Adventure on Ghost Island is by far one of the longest. It’ll take you at least thirty minutes to complete, and that’s if you’re rushing. Eventually, the map will be a hollow husk with only a handful of enemies and the bosses you need to fight to progress.

Speaking of the bosses, there’s one in particular that you’ll quickly come to despise with every fibre of your being: Oars. I’m honestly convinced that Oars was designed by the devil himself, as every single part of him is made to be as infuriating as possible. You first encounter him shortly after getting out of the forest. He’s bad enough then, but at least he’s manageable. You have to wait for him to attack, dodge the frustratingly large hitbox, and damage him while he’s pulling back to get ready for his next strike. This is a task that’s easier said than done thanks to the camera’s indecision on just what exactly it wants to focus on, and the fact that you can be knocked off the platform and forced to do some legwork to get back. Fortunately, you only have to get him to about half health, after which he retreats temporarily. Then you need to escort some engineers so they can build a bridge to the next area. Escort missions are usually the bane of gamers, but with very few enemies to deal with, it should be a piece of cake right? WRONG! Oars comes back again, preventing the engineers from moving forward. And this time, you have to fight him twice!

But after that, it still isn’t the end, no! That would be too easy! After fighting off another warlord(Bartholomew Kuma), you must now fight Moriah along with, you guessed it, Oars! Yet it somehow manages to be even WORSE! No sooner have you got to Oars and started dealing some damage, than he decides he’s going to move to the other end of the map for absolutely no reason. After around every two attacks, he’ll jump and move somewhere else. So you run around trying to take him down as fast as possible, and you get him to half health. As if you didn’t have enough on your plate, now Moriah as well as several of his doppelgangers appear in random places around the map. If you don’t defeat the right one, well, Oars will be back to FULL HEALTH! If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to defeat one of them before this happens, and there’s no way of knowing which is the real one. You get past this, and finally finish off Oars, only for Moriah to do the same goddamn trick again! By this point, I was about ready to throw my laptop out of the window. Fortunately, I got lucky and got the right Moriah, finally defeating Oars for good… but not Moriah! As a final “fuck you”, you have to fight a powered up Moriah. By this point, your character is probably on the brink of death because of Oars and as a result, you have to be extremely careful if you don’t want to repeat the whole nightmare all over again.

It’s questionable why Omega Force went out of their way to make this level so infuriating. There’s no other boss like Oars in the game, meaning they had to make it from scratch, and it would have been much easier and better to make it similar to the other levels in the game. But if they really wanted to go down this route, there are a number of ways they could have made the level more bearable and even fun. First of all, the level needs a LOT more enemies for the player to fight. The entire reason people play Warriors games is for the satisfaction of mowing down hundreds of enemies with brutal combos. There should be a few keeps around the map to keep enemy numbers up. As for the forest simply have the player take over keeps to advance and reunite with the rest of the crew with no fog obscuring the map.

Most importantly, reduce the amount of times you have to fight Oars drastically. At most, you should only have to fight him twice; once when he first appears and at the end of the level when you fight him and Moriah. Moriah’s heal should only replenish a quarter of his health at most, you should get a little more time to stop him, and there should be no doppelgangers whatsoever. Oars should also stay in the same place instead of constantly moving around so it doesn’t get annoying having to go from one side of the map to the other. The engineer mission can still be there, but instead of Oars, have enemy captains stop them and prevent them from moving forward. After Oars is down for good, you can then have Moriah do the doppelganger trick(with no healing) before entering into his final “Shadow’s Asgard” form. With those changes, the level would certainly be a lot less rage-inducing and time-consuming to complete. Be sure to tell me what you think of this new series in the comments below, as I’m interested to hear your opinion! And with that, Adventure on Ghost Island is successfully Leveled Up!

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Review: A Breath Of Fresh Air For The Open-World Genre

Game Name: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: £59.99 or $59.99

I’m confident most of the people reading this know what Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is. I mean, it got Game of the Year last year, it’d be hard to miss if you’re a gamer no matter what type of games you play. When the trailer was unleashed upon the world back in January 2017, it made quite the impact. An impact that we’re still feeling the effects of today more than a year on. The hype was astronomical, and fortunately, it managed to live up to the majority’s expectations. Recently, I had the pleasure of getting a Nintendo Switch with a copy of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and although it took me a bit longer than I expected, I finally feel ready to give my impression on the game. So, over a year after release, how is the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

A lot of the praise directed at Breath of the Wild is focused on how the game affords you the utmost freedom in how you want to play it. This praise is certainly warranted; the amount of ways in which you can approach anything from a small Bokoblin skirmish to a full on boss fight is staggering. Most of your powers are given to you right at the start of the game, meaning you never feel limited in what you can do. You have the exact same powers at the end of the game as you had at the start of a game, save for some extra hearts, stamina and better equipment. What you can do is limited only by your creativity. I once took down an entire Bokoblin camp in one fell swoop by using my stasis to launch a felled tree into the encampments explosives stockpile.

Unfortunately, Breath of the Wild is still flawed in this regard. And yes, I AM talking about the durability system. I can see what they were going for, I really can, but the mechanic as a whole just discourages combat altogether. Pretty much every weapon you get breaks in a certain number of hits, making battles seem more like a waste of time and resources than anything. Why should I attack that enemy camp and use up half of my weapons if all I’m going to get for my troubles is a club or two that’ll break in five hits? Why should I go out of my way to get that treasure chest if all I’ll gain from it is a few arrows? Opening chests in previous Zelda games was a momentous occasion. But in Breath of the Wild, I find myself avoiding them on purpose because opening them is dull and often provides very little that is useful.

So how’s the story? Well, it’s your typical Zelda affair and a bit more. I have to say, I was impressed by the more detailed story this time around. It’s still saving Zelda and defeating Ganondorf, and compared to a lot of other stories, it’s nothing special. But BOTW goes the extra mile with some interesting new characters and plot points. You start the game waking up from a century long slumber with a major case of amnesia. After a bit of exploration and puzzle-solving, the ghost of the former king of Hyrule explains the situation. When Ganon awoke, he corrupted the Guardians, Hyrule’s robot army, and turned them against Hyrule’s people. But that’s not all. The Divine Beasts; four hulking machines modelled after various animals and commanded by four powerful Champions were also overtaken. Overwhelmed and injured, you were sent to sleep and recover from your injuries, while Zelda stayed in the castle to keep Ganondorf confined to its grounds, preventing him from annihilating the rest of the world. Now, you must retake the four Divine Beasts, returning them to the control of its people and the spirits of the Champions before confronting Ganon and saving Zelda.

For the plot of a Zelda game, it’s seriously impressive, and I found myself invested in the world and its character; especially the champions. There are even some optional ‘memories’ for you to hunt down which provide more background to your relationship with Zelda a hundred years ago through some beautiful cutscenes. Sadly, the story is let down somewhat by a number of factors. The memories are an absolute pain to hunt down. You find them through pictures of various locations throughout Hyrule. Some are in clearly landmarked locations, but others are extremely vague. There’s one which is literally just a picture of a few trees. Wow, it’s not like there are a thousand different places in Hyrule with trees! Even with the help of a certain NPC, they’re still frustratingly difficult to track down. A much criticised aspect of the story is the voice acting, and as much as it pains me to say it, it’s horrible for the most part. Some characters have decent voice actors(Revali and Urbosa), but others ruin the atmosphere and immersion completely with their laughably bad performances(Mipha and Zelda). Zelda is one of the worst, and she probably has the most development and dialogue in the entire game! Her character was completely ruined for me by her “American girl trying badly to put on a posh British accent” voice.

But what about the dungeons? Dungeons are arguably the biggest part of a Zelda game, acting as huge challenges and hurdles the player has to overcome to progress. Personally… it’s a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, the dungeons have some of the most creative mechanics in the series. Rather than providing you with an item such as a boomerang, the dungeons themselves act as solution to their own puzzles. Once you get inside them through an epic boarding sequence, you can control certain aspects of the Divine Beasts through your Sheikah Slate(map screen). This allows you to do stuff such as rotate the Beast(and the entire dungeon with it), move parts of their body(such as a trunk), and generally manoeuvre the dungeon layout to get to your destination. On the other hand however… there’s a lot of wasted potential here. The dungeons take about 15-20 minutes to complete, and all you do is activate a few terminals around the Beast before fighting the boss. As well as this, the bosses themselves are boring and uninspired. Every single one is just a black mass with a few mechanical parts and a different weapon. All of them are also woefully easy compared to minibosses you can fight outside of the main quest. What happened to the King Dodongo’s, the Gohma’s, the Twinrova’s?

Thankfully, the Divine Beasts aren’t the only source of puzzle-solving fun in Breath of the Wild. When you have such a big open-world, you need plenty of stuff to put into that world, and Breath of the Wild isn’t lacking in that department at all. First of all, there are the shrines. Mini dungeons with a self-contained puzzle or two to challenge your brain. There are a LOT of these, and I don’t just mean a few dozen or so, there are a total of 120 shrines scattered across Hyrule. Each one manages to be different enough so that doing them doesn’t become a chore. Most contain puzzles, but some have you fight a miniboss as a sort of combat trial, and for others, simply getting into the shrine is a quest in itself. Suffice to say, they make up for the lacklustre main story dungeons. There are also a large amount of sidequests for you to undertake. While decent as a distraction, they aren’t exactly Bethesda or Witcher level material. Most are simple fetch quests that you’ll probably complete the second you take them on because you already have what they need. As well as this, there are a staggering 900 Koroks(little tree men) hidden in every nook and cranny. Finding one gives you a Korok seed which you can use to expand your weapon inventory, however trying to get every single one can be a fruitless and boring endeavour. Unless you have the Korok mask from the DLC, there’s also no way of tracking them down. And these are only the main tasks Breath of the Wild heaps on your plate; there’s plenty of other miscellaneous things to do as well.

In conclusion, Breath of the Wild is an amazing game, but also a flawed one. While the stuff it does good is done spectacularly, it has the added effect of making its problems sting all that much more. The gameplay is excellent, but the dungeons are mediocre and short-lived, the story has the potential to be one of the best Zelda stories if it wasn’t for the abhorrent voice acting, and the world, while expansive and full of adventure, doesn’t have a magnificent soundtrack to accompany it(for the most part). I really wanted to give it a higher score, but after taking a step back and looking at its glaring faults, Breath of the Wild is a game that could do with much improvement. Breath of the Wild is a weird game, managing to be one of my favourite games of 2017 but nowhere near the best game of 2017 simultaneously. Breath of the Wild is a breath of fresh air for the Zelda series and the open-world genre as a whole, but as a result, the game is left gasping for air.

Pros:

  • The game looks absolutely stunning with gorgeous graphics bringing the world to life
  • You have complete freedom in how you approach the game. You can go straight to Ganon and fight him with a mop if you want to.
  • Passable(though not amazing) story and plot
  • Huge amount of replayability
  • Gameplay is solid and fun
  • Shrines provide interesting puzzles and challenges that often have more than one solution
  • Random miniboss encounters outside of the main story are thrilling
  • Amazing atmosphere
  • Interesting characters that make the world feel more lively(Revali, Kass and Sidon are among my favourites)
  • The Divine Beasts are a great idea, and they have some of the most interesting dungeon mechanics in the entire series

Cons:

  • Sidequests are mostly dull and uninteresting
  • The big dungeons, the Divine Beasts, are short and don’t hold a candle to your typical Zelda dungeon. They’re great, but they take about 15 minutes to complete.
  • Memories are a chore to hunt down
  • Abysmal voice acting for the most part(Looking at you Zelda and Mipha)
  • Lack of good music. There are some amazing tracks, but for 95% of the game it’s just silence or forgettable atmospheric music.
  • Bad weapon/shield durability system that interrupts the flow of battle and discourages combat altogether
  • Frame rate drops in certain areas can be jarring

Nitpicks:

  • Divine Beast bosses are boring and uncreative appearance-wise. They’re all exactly the same except for the weapon they wield.
  • The ‘True Ending’ only has a single extra cutscene that adds almost nothing to the climax
  • Flurry rushes are cool, but seem to have no rhyme or reason to their activation. I’ve dodged an attack a microsecond before it hits and not had it activate, and I’ve dodged an attack before the enemy even lifts their weapon and had it activate.

Verdict: 8/10

Buy the game on the Nintendo Eshop here: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Wii-U/The-Legend-of-Zelda-Breath-of-the-Wild-893260.html#Overview

Something Is Wrong With My Fiancee Review: Something Is Wrong With The Quality of This Story

NoSleep is a fantastic subreddit for horror stories. Some of the best horror stories ever written have been birthed here. From “Tales From the Gas Station” to “I Dared My Best Friend to Ruin My Life” to “I’m a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service and I have some Stories to tell”, there’s no shortage of talent. One of the reasons these stories are so successful is because of the rule that every single story on the subreddit must be considered true. Suspension of disbelief is a powerful tool, and nosleep knows this. When people comment theories and thoughts on what might be happening, they can help find flaws in the story and give the author a chance to improve upon their work. However, this can also be risky. This golden rule means that authors need to work extra hard to make their story believable and keep their audience engaged. When the story gets too ridiculous and nonsensical, there’s the danger of your story falling flat on its face. Unfortunately, this a major problem with the Creepypasta we’re going to be looking at today.

Something Is Wrong With My Fiancee isn’t exactly the most creative name. If you’ve been reading Creepypasta’s as long as I have then the concept won’t exactly be new to you. I don’t think I have enough fingers to count the amount of times I’ve seen a similar title or story. But let’s not judge a book by its cover. Cabin Getaway revolves entirely around a fiancee behaving strangely and  it’s one of my favourite Creepypastas of all time. I won’t deny it, “Something Is Wrong With My Fiancee” starts off strong. The story focuses on Nikki, a woman engaged to a “wonderful man” named Mark. She takes to nosleep to share her thoughts about Mark’s sudden, strange change in behaviour after going missing for a weekend. At first, she thinks she’s simply being paranoid, but the situation soon escalates. Mark’s behaviour only gets stranger and stranger, she’s constantly contacted by a mysterious detective, a man named Samael appears to be stalking her and it’s all somehow connected to the disappearance of a man named Ian Smith.

This story does a great job of setting the stage and building up to the next big reveal. More pieces of the puzzle are constantly introduced, but you never feel any closer to putting it all together. You feel the desperation and confusion of Nikki as she’s overwhelmed by everything that is going on. A villain isn’t really made clear until halfway through, but this only adds to the intrigue as a clear cause of Mark’s change is not defined. When I first started reading this story, I thought it was going to evolve into another memorable favourite of mine. What I’m trying to say is…

**SPOILERS FOR SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY FIANCEE! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!**

I liked the story… well, at least until the 7th part that is. Parts 1-6  were quite slow in terms of pacing, but it managed to keep my interest despite not being anything amazing. After that however, it all fell apart. Part 7 is written by Mark, and it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Apart from the “evil guy” taking over the main character’s account being an incredibly tired cliché, there are so many problems that I don’t know where to start. We’re supposed to believe that Mark, a supposedly decent guy, ran into the devil or some other kind of demon and make a deal with him without any hesitation or pause for thought whatsoever. He then murdered his apparent ‘doppelganger’, Ian Smith to steal all the ‘luck and wealth’ they had been sharing. That was why he was gone for an entire weekend. What the actual fuck? In these kinds of stories, suspension of disbelief is everything, but honestly, any kind of belief I might have had before that was completely shattered. There’s no kind of explanation for why Mark did this, why he changed so suddenly. No explanation for the whole doppelganger deal. And why the fuck is Mark telling us this? He has absolutely no reason to other than that he’s stupid for the sake of the plot. He even mentions the fact that a detective is investigating him in regards to Ian Smith’s disappearance, as well as one of the terms of the deal he made being that he wasn’t to speak of the murder to anyone.

But it somehow gets even worse. Mark tracks Nikki down and SOMEHOW gets her admitted to a mental health facility despite no previous history and despite the fact she talked to the police about how she was worried about Mark before. Once Nikki gets out, she searches the house with the detective and finds the dagger that was used to kill Ian Smith, finally putting an end to the intelligent, smart and totally threatening supervillain that was Mark. And that’s it. Oh, they also explain how Mark apparently had an abusive, prostitute mother as if it has anything to do with the story at all.

**SPOILERS END**

Although “Something Is Wrong With My Fiancee” starts off relatively strong, it suddenly plunges in quality just when it’s getting to the good stuff, leaving you laughing at the stupid plot instead of quaking in fear. The mystery was intriguing and the writing solid at first, but it does nothing to aid the dull, boring characters and slow pace. Whether the author will post again in the future and tie up all the loose ends remains to be seen. However, I simply don’t see how it could ever make up for the laughably bad seventh and eighth chapters. As much as it pains me to say it, this is one story you don’t want to get engaged to.

Verdict: 2/5 MoonsMoon (1) (1)

Read the story here: https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/8515hj/something_is_wrong_with_my_fiancee_part_1/

Or listen to it on Dr. Creepen’s Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z2Lgrt_MOI

Inside Number 9: A Quiet Night In Review

**MINOR SPOILERS FOR A QUIET NIGHT IN! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!**

Inside Number 9 certainly managed to impress me with its opening episode! I bring up the similarities to Black Mirror quite a lot, and although there are a lot of them, Inside Number 9 still manages to carve out its own identity. I definitely get a very different feeling watching this show to Black Mirror, and both have their own good and bad points. Both also suffer from episodes being of varying quality due to the anthology format. Some are masterpieces, some are duds, and some are somewhere in between. Thankfully, the episode I’m talking about today is in the former category. In fact, out of all the episodes of the show I’ve seen so far, this one easily takes the prize as the best.

A Quiet Night In focuses on two completely incompetent robbers as they attempt to steal a priceless painting from the house of a rich man. Despite the hilarity of their idiotic heist attempt, the two bumbling fools soon find themselves witness to something dark and twisted. While the previous episode took place entirely within a single wardrobe, A Quiet Night In distinguishes itself by having almost no dialogue throughout the entire episode. That’s right, the only times a word is said is when characters are off-screen and their voices are muffled and once right at the end of the episode!

It’s honestly amazing just how much can be communicated through visual information alone. Everything is done through gestures and facial expressions. While for many directors this would be a limitation, Inside No. 9’s crew manage to turn it into a selling point and a creative triumph. The actors do an outstanding job of conveying their character’s personalities and feelings throughout the entire episode, and I felt like I understood each character perfectly despite not hearing them make a sound. It was clear which of the two robbers was the dumb oaf and which one was the easily-agitated smartass. The austere and serious nature of the rich man was made clear to me barely a minute into the episode. Like Sardines, there is no shortage of acting talent in A Quiet Night In.

The lack of dialogue is also used for the series’ signature comedy. In this episode, it’s almost exclusively visual for obvious reasons, but it by no means suffers because of this. Just the robbers alone, a perfect slapstick comedy duo, make this episode worth watching for the laughs. Sardines was funny, but its humour simply seems dry in comparison after watching this episode. As the robbers stumble around, bumping into funny failure after funny failure, fitting classical music plays in the background to perpetuate their goofiness. This episode was a joy to watch, but there’s one problem I have with it…

On it’s own, the plot isn’t all that interesting, and if it wasn’t for the raucous comedy and superb acting, it very likely would have fallen flat. The episode is about two robbers trying to perform a heist and failing, and that’s about it. There’s nothing wrong with a simple plot, but there are several moments where the episode makes a baffling attempt to make it seem like there’s more going on. Instead it ends up adding unnecessary fluff to the episode that is questionable at best. So the rich man’s wife is transgender and has some kind of weird sex doll under her bed… what does this have to do with the plot again? Fortunately the ending ties everything up nicely in a climatic, if shocking, turn of events. Some moments had me rolling my eyes but I’ve definitely seen worse plots.

Overall, A Quiet Night In is a phenomenal episode with a unique concept that the writers, actors and directors make full use of. While the darker aspects of the episode were fairly weak in my opinion, the comedy aspect is executed flawlessly, with some moments causing me to howl like a hyena having a laughing fit. Each character has a place and an assigned role that is acted with enough gusto and exaggeration to give the excellent cast of Sardines a run for their money. A Quiet Night In is the epitome of “actions speak louder than words”, reverberating in your brain long after it ends despite the lack of sound waves.

Verdict: A

Bit.Trip Beat Review: Certainly a Trip, Very Little Beat

Game Name: Bit.Trip Beat

Platforms: Wii, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Gaijin Games

Publishers: Gaijin Games, Aksys Games, Arc System Works, Namco Bandai

Price: £6.99 or $9.99

There are hundreds of Indie games out there, with almost every single one doing something different. The level of variety is simply astounding; take any two Indie games, and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll look anything alike. Even when they’re in the same genre like the ever-popular Roguelike genre. Usually however, these games are one-hit wonders. Sure Binding of Isaac got one sequel and Super Meat Boy is getting a new game for Switch, but can you really see that working with something like Braid or Terraria or Crypt of the Necrodancer? Yet there is one Indie game series that seems to have no end of ideas and games to spare: the Bit.Trip series. Very few Indie games get a single sequel, yet Bit.Trip has seven games with an upcoming eighth. This leaves one question: are the games distinct from each other? Or is there truly only so much one developer can do? I intend to find out, by playing through each game in the series and reviewing them individually, starting with the first entry in the series: Bit.Trip Beat.

Bit.Trip Beat plays like the most extreme game of Pong ever created. You move the paddle up and down using the mouse to knock balls, or beats, back the way they came. Sounds easy right? Well, not exactly. While the game starts off simple enough, things soon escalate and you’ll find yourself frantically jerking the paddle up and down in a futile attempt to avoid a game over. Despite first appearances, this game is hard as nails, like most rhythm games are. Simple left-moving yellow beats soon turn into unpredictable, flickering green beats into ricocheting orange beats into blue bouncing beats that all come at you with the speed of a raging bull.

You may be wondering where the rhythm part of this rhythm game lies in all of this, and here’s the simple answer: there is none. Sure, the beats make different sounds when you hit them, but there’s very little rhyme or reason to them. Although the music is great, it’s very subtle, and it’s barely connected to the gameplay at all. If you were thinking you could listen to the music as a guide for how to get through the level, you’re sorely mistaken. And this links to the core problem with Bit.Trip Beat. Most Rhythm games test your reflexes, reaction speed, memory and pattern recognition. Bit.Trip Beat tests your ability to try and figure out what visual trickery the game is employing in the heat of the moment.

Once you get to the second level, it becomes a challenge to even see where the goddamned beats are coming from. They either flash, have confusing visual effects, or just move around so damn much that your eyes can’t keep up with them. This isn’t helped by the admittedly beautiful background visuals that often obscure the beats causing you to screw up. It feels like very little of the game is reliant on skill, instead the game is reliant on your ability to look up a perfect run of the level on Youtube so you can figure out the pattern of the beats at this one part of a twenty minute level that keeps causing you to fail even after fifty attempts. Even then, victory is not guaranteed because the controls are so finicky and sensitive that you’ll often slightly adjust your hand only to cause the paddle to jerk out of the way of the next beat like it’s a cat spotting a very angry dog and taking every measure to avoid it.

Once you get past these problems however, the game can be quite fun. It has a perfect understanding of what makes retro, arcade games so fun. Everything has a dazzling pixely style to it that makes every individual beat hit gratifying. The game changes based on your performance. Get a large amount of misses in a row and you’ll be sent to the Nether where everything is quiet and dull, and the only sounds are those of the beats hitting your paddle like the original Pong. Rack up a combo of 100+ beats and the stage will become much more lively and animated with the music ramping up to reflect the achievement that is your current beat streak. The music itself is brilliant and fits the retro theming. However, I just wish there were more levels. Although they’re quite long(around 25 minutes), there are only three of them as well as a short bonus level, so most of the replayability comes from trying to get a high score on the leaderboards or completing the levels perfectly for some achievements.

You’ve probably got the impression from this review that the game is a mixed bag, and in some ways, that’s true. Its numerous frustrating flaws will probably put off plenty of people, especially those who are unfamiliar with the challenge of the rhythm genre. However, when Bit.Trip Beat is good, it’s really good. Despite the game’s annoyances, I found myself coming back to play more and ended up logging just over twenty hours. Beat is best when you’re embracing its retro, arcade feel and when you’re simply playing it for the satisfaction of racking up an impressive combo and high score. Just don’t try to perfect it. You’d be better off bashing your head on a Pong paddle over and over again.

Pros:

  • Great music
  • Gameplay is solid, fun, and satisfying
  • Colourful visuals and graphics
  • Plenty of replayability for perfectionists who want to 100% the game and get a high score
  • A number of challenging achievements
  • Great, retro aesthetic
  • Relatively cheap, especially if you get the bundle with the other six games
  • Game becomes more or less stylish depending on your performance

Cons:

  • Not much in the way of actual rhythm
  • Paddle is way too sensitive and it’s too easy to make a slight movement with your wrist which causes you to miss a ball
  • The games relies on frustrating visual trickery to be challenging
  • May be too difficult for a lot of people
  • Quite short if you’re not a perfectionist with only three levels and a bonus level

Nitpicks:

  • Background visuals can obscure the balls sometimes
  • The menu screen unnecessarily wastes your time

Verdict: 6.5/10

Buy the game on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/63700/BITTRIP_BEAT/

How Powerful Is… Usopp From One Piece? (April Fools 2018)

One Piece is no stranger to extremely powerful characters. Everyone, from the unnamed fodder marines and pirates to the Yonko have at least some amount of durability. In the One Piece universe, it’s not uncommon for someone to be blasted through a wall with the force of a tank shell or have their skull fractured and still be able to stand and fight afterwards. It’s not the most ridiculous anime in terms of character strength, but it’s definitely still up there. There are plenty of debates about the most powerful character in the series: Which Yonko is the most powerful? Could an Admiral defeat a Yonko? How strong is Shanks really? But I’m here to settle the score once and for all. The actual most powerful character in the series has been hidden in plain sight. Through trickery and lies, he averts our eyes from his true power. His name is God Usopp, and he’s godly in more than just name.

Let’s start with Usopp’s most terrifying power: the ability to manipulate reality as we know it! Usopp is well-known as a trickster and a liar; but is he truly as dishonest as he’s made out to be? The answer is no, because so far, almost all of Usopp’s ‘lies’ have turned out to be true! From as early in the series as Usopp’s first appearance where he claimed pirates were attacking to as recent in the series as his claim that he had 8,000 followers coming to fruition. It’s clear he has some kind of unimaginable power hidden deep behind that otherwise innocuous face of his. There are two possibilities: Usopp can see into the future, or Usopp can manipulate the reality of the One Piece universe as we know it. Either way, this makes Usopp incredibly powerful. At first glance, the former seems more likely. After all, the recently introduced character Charlotte Katakuri can see a few seconds into the future using his haki. But I’d argue that it’s actually the latter.

Luffy’s voice actress once said this: “no matter who joins, he always wants Usopp to be the weakest’ since it would upset the balance of the story.”. Why am I saying this? Isn’t that discrediting my argument that God Usopp is more godly than we think? Well, take a look at that last bit: “it would upset the balance of the story”. What does Oda mean by that? I think I know the answer. Oda is hiding Usopp’s true power. My theory is that when Oda was working on Usopp’s character, halfway through the process, he realised that he’d made Usopp too overpowered. However, he couldn’t just nerf him because his reality-altering powers were vital to the plot! Oda then changed it so that Usopp’s ability to change reality itself was limited to his lies, to give the illusion that he was actually a weak character. In reality, it’s all just a facade!

And that’s not all, there’s evidence to suggest that Usopp is immune to death. Yes, I’m being deadly serious. Let’s go all the way back to the Thriller Bark arc and his fight with Perona. He was shown to be the only one immune to the ghostly powers of her Negative Hollow. How does Usopp explain this? He’s always negative anyway. Simple right? Actually, this is a lie, a red herring! The One Piece wiki states “When a person has a ghost pass through them, they are drained of all their will to live”. So why is Usopp immune? The answer is that he isn’t immune to the ghosts, Usopp is immune to death itself! When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense why spirits of the DEAD can’t affect him! But that leaves another important question…

Why did Usopp lie about this? Usopp said that he’s always negative, and if his lies always end up true, then that means he’s going to be ‘negative’ in the future. But what does this mean, and why does Usopp want to be ‘negative’? Isn’t it obvious? Usopp doesn’t want to be negative as in pessimistic, he wants to be negative as in a detriment to all who face him! By simply being negative, he can ensure the situation always takes a turn for the worse for his enemies! Simply being there would mean he would never lose a single battle! Eliminating the ability to lose and the ability to die would make him unstoppable even without his reality-altering powers!

Despite his goofy appearance, when looking at the evidence and the countless clues Oda has left inside and outside of his story, Usopp has got to be the most powerful character we’ve seen on “How Powerful Is…” yet! We’ve seen Gods and Demigods before, but none have been able to manipulate reality and death itself to the extent that Usopp has. There are very few characters in the entirety of media that could take him on, and the only one who has a chance in the One Piece universe is the super strong Pirate God Buggy! It just goes to show how powerful Usopp actually is. He’s even tricked us with his lies. He wants us to think he’s weak, but in actuality, that’s just his biggest lie of all.

List of Powers:

  • Extremely durable and resistant to damage
  • Immune to death itself
  • Can manipulate reality with his lies
  • Master trickster
  • Negative power means he cannot lose
  • Can traumatise any who displease him simply by making a face
  • Is friends with the superhero sniper “Sogeking”(Sniper King)

Power Level: OVER 9000/100

Power Level In Own Universe:

OVER 9000/100

Tier: Immeasurable

Inside Number 9: Sardines Review

**SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST EPISODE OF INSIDE NUMBER 9 AHEAD! DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE ENTIRE EPISODE**

Bet you all thought I’d forgotten about this show didn’t you? Well, I can’t really blame you. Last time I talked about Inside Number 9 was back in December when I was waiting with bated breath for the next season of Black Mirror to come out. It did a good job of keeping me satiated until Season Four’s inevitable release, at which point I got a little sidetracked. However, now I’ve finished with Charlie Brooker’s terrifying technology-oriented British anthology series, I now finally have the time to go back and look at this dark comedy-oriented British anthology series. While the series did initially impress me, I didn’t really go into much detail about why it impressed me in my First Impressions post on the show. So, let’s take a look at the episode that got me enthralled by this show: Sardines.

Straight off the bat, this episode’s title is very noticeable. It’s unassuming, innocent, and disguises the darkness hiding in the corners of the episode. It also keeps the episode’s focus incredibly vague. But don’t worry, “Sardines” isn’t about an evil tin of sardines that poisons whatever poor soul eats one of them, it’s about the game Sardines. You know, the game where one person hides and whoever finds them has to hide with them until everyone is hiding in the same place? This particular game takes place during an engagement party in a mansion, sorry, a single wardrobe in a mansion. The show’s creators literally had an entire mansion at their disposal… and it takes place in a single wardrobe. Looking into the episode a bit further, it’s a wonderful creative choice. It instils a sense of claustrophobia, one of the prominent themes of the episode and highlights the characters and their personalities.

Speaking of the characters, the acting talent in this episode is seriously impressive. To be honest, it really needed to be because of the lack of interesting environments and the sluggish pace of the episode. Although the episode is only thirty minutes long and, as such, there isn’t much time to develop the characters, the actors manage to make their personalities stand out, even when they’re all crowded together. Almost every character gets a share of the spotlight, implanting themselves into your memory and making sure you remember the episode clearly even long after you finish watching it.

The aforementioned comedy aspects are also top-notch, and fortunately do not detract from the horror or tension in any way. It’s a good thing too, because without the hilarious comedy, the episode would be mind-numbingly boring. You can feel the awkwardness as well as the tension in the air, and this acts as the basis for most of the episode’s jokes. The jokes are a bit repetitive and predictable but that doesn’t take away from their impact much at all. It contrasts well with the episode’s darker themes and is woven and intertwined into the episode’s plot perfectly. By the episode’s end, the lightened atmosphere gives the shocking plot twist much more oomph.

Unfortunately, this episode still has its problems, and the biggest one is the sheer amount of plotholes the episode has. And I don’t just mean a few. “Sardines” is USS Callister levels of plotholiness, and like USS Callister, the plotholes almost all relate to the villain’s plan. It’s revealed at the end that one of the people at the engagement party is not who he says he is, and is actually someone from Rebecca’s Father’s childhood, out for revenge for something he did to him long ago. At the end he locks the wardrobe with everyone inside and lights a lighter as the episode cuts to black. So, it can safely be assumed that he was going to kill them all as an act of revenge. That would be alright if there wasn’t so many goddamn flaws with his plan! What if someone else hid first and chose a different place which couldn’t be locked? What if they weren’t all in the wardrobe by the end; several of them hide in other places such as under a nearby bed for the majority of the episode? Hell, he wouldn’t have even been able to infiltrate the party if Ian, the man he was impersonating, wasn’t running late, or if someone who recognised Ian had found him first! Like USS Callister, it feels like the plot is trying to be too clever for its own good, and as a result, numerous leaps in logic rose from the writing like weeds growing in an otherwise perfect flowerbed.

Overall, Sardines is a great introduction to the series. Everything advertised is here. Compelling characters, a great plot with a twist ending, some funny, comedic moments and a dark overtone. If it wasn’t for the slow pace of the episode and the fact that it has more plotholes than a swiss cheese then I’d give it a much higher verdict. Despite this, Sardines is definitely worth your time. The other episodes of the show however? That remains to be seen.

Verdict: B+