iOS Roundup: Chemical X Edition

It wasn’t a great week for iOS, especially in what would pass for the AAA market. Miitomo was probably the most significant event, and let’s face it, do we really need to give the Internet gaming community yet another outlet for their trash? Once again, Nintendo’s late to the party; they’re going to figure out that the Internet gaming community largely consists of manchildren who can’t be trusted with anything.

Powerpuff Girls: Flipped Out!

Sugar, spice, and everything nice. These were the ingredients that Grumpyface used to create the perfect Powerpuff Girls game. Unfortunately, they forgot to buy the Chemical X. Thus, Flipped Out! was born! That’s a lot of exclamation points!!

There are two modes: Sugar and Spice, and you can switch between them at any point during a stage. Sugar mode is a clever twist on the match-3 formula: the girls are all on the grid and you have to send one of the girls to grab and throw an enemy so he ends up as part of a match. You can also chain-throw enemies, so there’s a bit of strategy in trying to get the girls positioned correctly.

Spice mode is the action mode that isn’t as polished. The controls are fine in theory: tap on a girl to select her, tap an empty space to dash there, tap an enemy to send the girl to attack, double-tap a space to tell all the girls to dash there. Unfortunately, they don’t work too well in practice: there’s no visual or aural feedback when you’ve selected an enemy to attack, so you’ll occasionally have situations where you think you’re going to attack an enemy, but your girl just sits around because you didn’t quite tap the enemy correctly. Once the game starts throwing larger enemies at you, it’s difficult to select a girl that’s “behind” the enemy because the enemy takes up the entire hot spot.

Control issues aside, the game is fun, it’s also just kind of blah. There’s a silly plot about the girls receiving a weird blocky fish as a present and overfeeding him, causing the blocky fish to grow out of control and start spawning smaller versions of himself, which are the enemies that you’re fighting throughout the game. It’s kind of interesting, I suppose, and I do appreciate that Grumpyface didn’t throw in long obnoxious cutscenes to tell this tale throughout the game. I don’t know. For 3 bucks, you probably can’t go too wrong, even if it is essentially stealth marketing for the new series.

There were also two licensed gacha games released this week: Tales of Link and Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ is not X. Both of them are your bog-standard gacha games without a lot of depth. Tales of Link has absolutely no polish whatsoever, with Japanese-only voice acting, an English translation that ranges from barely acceptable to awful, and a clichéd amnesia plot that the game feels compelled to shove in your face. It’s kind of a problem when the pre-battle cutscenes take longer than the actual battle itself. KH, on the other hand, has a ton of polish (as you’d expect from Square Enix), but it still suffers from unnecessary cutscenes.

The problem with these types of games is that the bar has been set so high by Puzzle and Dragons and Terra Battle, in terms of post-release support, general polish, and variety of units, that it’s tough to get excited about a new one. And it creates a self-fulfilling death spiral in the process: gamers are lukewarm about the game, so the company has a hard time justifying post-release support, so gamers tend to drop the game in droves, so the company has a hard time justifying post-release support, etc., etc., until the game spirals down into oblivion. I have no idea what Bamco plans on doing with ToL, but given some of their previous business decisions I suspect it won’t be good. Square Enix has some vested interest here, with Kingdom Hearts III on the horizon, plus a decent track record of post-release support. If I had to choose one to throw my hat behind, I’d pick KHXINX, but I don’t see either of these games having legs.

Oh, and before we forget:

HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

You know at Sony of America they’re all like, “Um, Vita guys sit over there. This table is for the console that people actually buy. As if!” The Vita is the Zoidberg, the Meg Griffin, the Cleveland Browns of the PlayStation brand.

Next week should be a bit better, with Warbits finally getting a release, and hopefully the Lost Socks update and Romancing SaGa 2 on the horizon. The best part of Romancing SaGa 2 is that now I don’t feel compelled to buy Bravely Second, also known as babby’s first JRPG. Plus, I still have TWEWY Solo Remix to keep me busy.

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If Joe Carter’s HR Had Happened Today…

To the Philadelphia Phillies, Baseball Fans, and Mitch Williams:

I deeply regret my actions after I hit the World Series-winning home run yesterday. I was simply caught up in the moment and I showed a complete lack of respect for the game of baseball. My actions do not in any way reflect upon the Toronto Blue Jays organization, and I can assure you that the appropriate punitive measures are being taken. I apologize to those I have offended, and I would also like to apologize personally to Mr. Williams, as I certainly did not intend to “show him up” in any way.

Respectfully yours,

Joe Carter

Non-Gaming Embarrassment

Matt Duchene, who took less money to remain with the Avalanche, by the way, is clearly not a team player, not like that consummate professional Ryan O’Reilly, who sat out an entire season over money and then was traded to Buffalo for a horrible return. Yesterday, following the Avalanche 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Patrick Roy (another consummate professional who has never showboated in his life), called out Matt Duchene for his horribly over-the-top celebration: he lifted his arms and dared to smile for a brief second. See all the damning evidence!

https://www.nhl.com/video/duchenes-30th-goal/t-279766636/c-43222603

Predictably, this caused a firestorm of rage amongst hockey fans. A 13-page thread (as of right now) sprung up on HFBoards. Here’s some choice quotes from various HFBoards users:

“Duchene’s first reaction celly kinda speaks volumes about where his head is in and before that moment.”

hirawl (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116327731&postcount=57)

I can kind of see where hirawl is coming from here. After all, no team has ever come back from a 4-1 deficit to win a game.

“Duchene was obviously dwelling on one thing–getting 30. That’s not a guy I want as my teammate. What a selfish mindset and action.”

State of Hockey (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116328591&postcount=99)

After he was called out on his lack of ability to read Duchene’s mind, he doubles down:

“The problem is where his mind is–personal goals instead of the team. No wonder Colorado has problems top to bottom.”

State of Hockey (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116328763&postcount=105)

“Celebrating a 30th goal like that in a game that put the nail in the coffin was wrong. Duchene shouldn’t be happy, your team just blew it, you should be upset, and embarrassed that your team has collapsed upon itself during the final two weeks of the season.”

ORLY (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116329129&postcount=121)

I feel like the user name really speaks for itself here.

“I totally agree with Roy – it’s a loser mentality.”

sutekii (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116331401&postcount=147)

I totally agree here. Scoring goals is quite a loser mentality. After all, no team has ever come back from a 4-1 deficit to win a game. If the Boston Bruins were real winners, they just would have given up and cried in the corner.

“Plays for the name on his back rather than the logo on the front… you’ll never win a cup with players like this.”

Gary Bettman Fan (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116331925&postcount=150)

I totally agree here, as well. No hockey team has ever won the Stanley Cup while scoring goals.

The thread goes sane for a bit, but then the real insanity starts showing up.

“I agree that Duchene needs to put a little more stock into winning then personal milestones,”

HockeyGuruPitka (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116336363&postcount=212)

That’s right! You tell him. Scoring goals has never contributed to winning hockey games, ever.

“Duchene should know better.”

KPower (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116336667&postcount=216)

…than to score a meaningless goal. After all, no team has ever come back from a 4-1 deficit to win a game.

“Down 4-0 and reacting like you got the OT winner is not a good look.”

Hennessy (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116336903&postcount=221)

I can only assume that Hennessy has never actually seen a team score an OT winner.

“He’s jumping around like that was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup in overtime.”

Stone Marks Another
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116337539&postcount=226)

I shouldn’t be too hard on him. As a Sens fan, he probably won’t ever have the joy of experiencing a Stanley Cup championship.

“Why showboat and be selfish?”

ScaredStreit
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116343851&postcount=260)

“I’m to the point where I hope Duchene scores a big goal in the next game and skates over to the bench with his arms at his side, no expression on his face, and just sits on the end of the bench. It’d be a good **** you to Roy.”

chet1926
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116344655&postcount=271)

I would be down with this. Unfortunately, Blueton disagrees.

“Hey if he did that maybe it would have sent a message to the team that he doesn’t care what personal accomplishment he just got, the object is to win and they weren’t doing that.”

Blueton
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116345319&postcount=279)

“Jesus, it is not worth of Stanley Cup winning celebration…

I call it a disrespect to everybody. If I was at that game, I would not pay for a ticket to see Duchene hit the 30th mark. I would pay for to see team’s win and effort. I bet Landeskog and other players weren’t on the ice to support Duchene’s own effort to reach the mark. I can’t imagine what Landy and his teammates was thinking about when they saw Duchene going crazy.”

Eurolanche, HFB Partner
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116330773&postcount=1)

Based on the final score, Landeskog and other players weren’t on the ice to do much of anything.

“It’s obviously stupid to base Duchene’s character and ability to be a team player on one moment though”

MattyMo35
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116332755&postcount=30)

The voice of reason.

“The only thing Duchene cares about is his personal achievements, you would never see Toews celebrate a goal like that when his team just got practically eliminated from the playoffs.”

albator71
(http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showpost.php?p=116336355&postcount=78)

Another difference between the two is that Toews is rarely in a position to be practically eliminated from the playoffs.

So, hockey fans, what say you? How many lashes should Duchene receive for his over-the-top classless celebration?

Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo

Square-Enix probably shouldn’t have released this as the first public-facing demo because it assumes that you’ve played Episode Duscae and are familiar with how the combat will play out once you have most of your options. If this was your first experience with Final Fantasy XV, you’d be pretty underwhelmed, as evidenced by the reactions over at NeoGAF. (Unrelated note: It still makes me giddy that GAF, self-proclaimed last bastion of the “hardcore”, overwhelmingly voted Portal and Skyrim as 2011 GOTY over Dark Souls.)

The game actually gives some decent advice in the loading screens: press and hold Circle to attack, press and hold Square to auto-dodge, and that some attacks can’t be auto-dodged. It also tells you that you can perform a dodge roll by pressing Square and holding a direction. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention somewhat important things like that you can use different attacks by holding different directions while holding Circle, that you use MP for certain things and running out is bad, and that you can use a powerful charged attack that gives you invincibility frames by letting go of Circle and then holding it again after a combo string. If you’ve played Episode Duscae, you’ll be familiar with a few combat tricks, but the game could use a good tutorial (note: hahaha) or maybe gamers could learn things by experimenting (note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).

Because of that, the game looks like it has no combat depth and that you can just “hold Circle to awesome” your way through the game. And really, it’s hard to blame people for thinking that way, partially because most of the interesting combat was in Episode Duscae, and partially because that’s the way the industry is trending. Sure, the game has lots of interesting combat tricks, but it remains to be seen how many of them will be “required” to complete the main story. The game will probably have its share of bonus bosses, but the vast majority of gamers, even at the self-proclaimed last bastion of the “hardcore”, won’t ever beat them.

Overall, most demos do more harm than good, and it’s especially true with this one. It didn’t do much for people who already played Episode Duscae and it gave a poor impression for those who were on the fence. My hype remains steadily in the 80-90 range, but I can see why some gamers would be falling off.