United Front Gaming http://unitedfrontgaming.com Puyo Puyo Tetris <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PS4)<br />Genre: Puzzle<br />Rated: E10+<br />Players: 1-4 (2-4 Online)<br />Cost: $39.99 ($29.99 Digital)<br />Release Date: 04/25/2017<br />Publisher: Sega<br />Developer: Sonic Team<br />&nbsp;<br />When I explained to friends I had purchased Puyo Puyo Tetris a couple years ago, they looked at me strange. Like &ldquo;who would spend 50ish on a simple puzzle game and have it imported from Japan to the US? Hasn&rsquo;t Tetris been released on everything already?&rdquo;. Valid questions. My respond: This guy would! As someone who&rsquo;s tired of the same old reiterations that have been released in the past few years (include the blunders from Ubisoft), I wanted something new&hellip;</p> <p>Actually, I ended up purchasing Puyo Puyo Tetris for both Xbox One and the PS Vita, spending almost $100 in the process. Yeah&hellip;this isn&rsquo;t a bad thing mind you. I love Tetris; I bought and rebought the classic game/new iterations on just about every console I&rsquo;ve ever owned. And while that may seem odd to a few, my friends included, I definitely got my money's worth over the years! Basically it shouldn&rsquo;t come to anyone&rsquo;s surprise that I planned on repurchasing Puyo Puyo Tetris when it came states side. That is until we received a review code from SEGA.<br /><br /><em>What I&rsquo;m getting at is, if you haven&rsquo;t guessed already, is that I love Tetris. Which means it might be in your benefit to take my adoration of this game with a grain of salt. I mean, you should do that anyone when reading someone&rsquo;s opinion. I&rsquo;m getting my bias out up front. Carry on.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen.jpg" alt="puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen" />&nbsp; &nbsp;</em><br /><br />Chances are if you are reading this, you know how to play Tetris, but Puyo Puyo is a bit different. For those who don't know, Puyo Puyo is HUGE in Japan. First released in 1991 for the MSX2, this spin off of Madou Monogatari found its way to multiple systems including the Mega Drive (though that version was turned into Dr. Robotnik&rsquo;s Mean Bean Machine), Game Boy, nad the Super Famicom to name a few. Each sequel added more modes and better graphics, thought the gameplay stayed the same. Similar to other games of this ilk, objects will fall from the top of the screen in order to fill up the allotted space below. In Puyo Puyo&rsquo;s case, these objects are Puyo &ndash; cute looking slime monsters &ndash; that need to be placed in a way that four or more of the same color touch one another. Once that happens, all of the adjoining Puyos will disappear, freeing up some space and netting the player some points. Simple right?<br /><br />Of course, the game was easy to learn but difficult to master. Because players are looking to obtain a high score, they&rsquo;ll try to group multiple Puyo together to create a larger chain. This would rack up the points in less time while also clearing up larger sections of Puyo. Not only that, but it helps when comes to dumping &ldquo;trash&rdquo; on your opponents (more on that later). The same rules and such apply in this game, but now gamers have to also contend with Tetriminos.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-2" /></p> <p>Like previous Puyo Puyo titles, Puyo Puyo Tetris has multiple single and competitive modes. The bulk of the fun will be had in the Arcade modes, particularly the ones geared towards local multiplayer. Fusion is exactly what it sounds: both Puyo Puyo and Tetris pieces drop into the same playfield requiring you to utilize strategies from each game to be successful. Swap Mode starts you in either a Tetris or Puyo playfield and after a certain amount of time, the playfield swaps to the other. In Party mode players can choose either Puyo or Tetris boards. The catch is the items that randomly fall on either side that, once cleared, will either help or harm your opponents. Big Bang mode has a preset field that you must clear as before your opponent does; they&rsquo;re like puzzles with predetermined paths to being cleared. <br /><br />The solo modes are more for building up your skills/high score by battling yourself or the AI. For instance, Endurance is all about going the distance against a stream of never ending CPU opponents. The Challenge mode offers special&hellip;um&hellip;challenges depending on your mood. There&rsquo;s Tetris Marathon (40-lines that need to be cleared as quick as possible), Tiny Puyo (a regular match but with tiny Puyo), Ultra (score attack mode), and more.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />There&rsquo;s also a single-player Adventure mode. The game&rsquo;s story doesn&rsquo;t offer the greatest of narratives &ndash; it unfortunately didn&rsquo;t translate well and it shows. That said, it&rsquo;s a puzzle game. No one is buying it strictly for the story. And at the very least the English-speaking actors tried to capture what the Japanese-speaking actors achieved in both inflection and style. The Adventure mode is worth playing through though. Completing each level will help unlock different characters to be used in the rest of the game. There are also level goals that act as optional quests. Most are pretty straight forward, like trying to reach a certain score within an allotted time limit. If you reach the goal, you&rsquo;ll get three stars for your trouble. If you just beat your opponent and pass on the goal, you'll only get one star. After some practicing on the levels, three stars is a normal occurrence. Some levels will be harder or easier depending on your skills though. Being a game that mostly about getting a lot of points, the stars add a bit of replay value; there&rsquo;s something else to chase. <br /><br />The Online modes is where the game really shines! The portability of a puzzle game is great in itself, but when you tack on online multiplayer, well let&rsquo;s just say this is the reason why I decided to spend the amount of money to import the game in the first place. There are five main game types available to play online: Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, and Big Bang. Leaderboards and stat tracking are also available, depending on if you play ranked or not. Because of how fun the game is, you will never be without an opponent &ndash; and yes, I say that knowing the game isn&rsquo;t out yet. There was still people to play against thanks to the worldwide pool of players!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-4.jpg" alt="puyo-puyo-tetris-review-screen-4" /><br /><br />The Nintendo Switch has absolutely taken over my Puyo Puyo Tetris addiction, by offering both portability and the home console experience. This brightly colored, animated mashed up of iconic puzzlers is truly made better on this console. I&rsquo;d recommend to everyone, even if you&rsquo;ve never heard of Puyo Puyo. Before you know it, you'll be clearing combos like the pros. <br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />Both Puyo Puyo and Tetris plays as expected by themselves, but combined, they overachieve. I especially like the Fusion mode! <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />The vibrant colors seem to literally pop off the screen. The animations in Adventure mode are reused over and over again, which kind of drags the story a bit&hellip;at least, visually. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The soundtrack is amazing, Sonic Team still has not skipped a beat! The story in Adventure mode is undeniably Japanese in origin, but they hired pretty good voice actors to emulate what came before.<br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />I've been playing Puyo Puyo Tetris for over three years now. I don't think I'll ever stop.<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.8<br /><br /></p> /nintendo/post/puyo-puyo-tetris Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Sonic Forces /nintendo/post/sonic-forces Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers /nintendo/post/ultra-street-fighter-ii:-the-final-challengers Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition /nintendo/post/minecraft:-nintendo-switch-edition Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Nintendo Talks ARMS & Splatoon 2 in New Direct Video! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 04/13/2017<br /><br />Nintendo has been doing a decent job marketing their latest console. That&rsquo;s not to say that they haven&rsquo;t also relied on old tricks &ndash; they recently released a new Nintendo Direct &ndash; just that they are doing much better than when the Wii U launched. I believe one of the reasons we&rsquo;re hearing more about the Switch than we did with the U is due to the games. There are more &ldquo;new&rdquo; titles coming in a shorter amount of time. This list of games ranges from new IPs like ARMS to new-ish games like Puyo Puyo Tetris. Hence the recent direct video; Nintendo was kind enough to release more information about what&rsquo;s to come. <br /><em><br />We&rsquo;ve provided a brief highlight of the games that were mentioned during the direct video. Feel free to watch it below for a more detailed look: </em><br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EDedvre19es" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br />For instance, they revealed that ARMS is getting a 2v2 mode. Players will be able to team up with a friend to bash to other friends into submission. Throw in the various &ldquo;arms&rdquo; each character can use and you have the makings of a chaotic battle. Those of us looking to jump into the fray will have to wait till June 16th, when the game is officially released (I assume Nintendo will release a demo). In addition, Nintendo is also launching new Neon Yellow Joy-Con controllers/Straps and a Joy-Con AA Battery Pack accessory, making sure players don&rsquo;t run out of juice during intense fights. There&rsquo;s been no word on how much this new accessory will cost. I&rsquo;m betting it won&rsquo;t be cheap given how expensive the Switch&rsquo;s other <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/nintendo/post/3675/nintendo-reveals-pricey-switch-accessories">accessories</a> are. Still, it&rsquo;s nice to have this option as opposed to charging with a grip; while connected, they can&rsquo;t be used separately.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/arms-screen-2.jpg" alt="arms-screen-2" /><br /><br />The direct video also revealed a new mode to be featured in the upcoming Splatoon 2. Called Salmon Run, this new cooperative mode puts players against a new Salmonid species. Up to four players can work together to quell the Salmonid&rsquo;s attacks, all while collecting golden eggs. Doing well in each match will net players rare loot. It&rsquo;s basically a horde mode with a focus on collecting. Seems fun. Gamers will be able to jump into Salmon Run and the competitive modes when Splatoon 2 launches on July 21st! <br /><br />While ARMS and Splatoon 2 where the main focus of the direct, Nintendo did showcase other games. They talked about Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania (to name a few). They also mentioned a ton of games that were coming to the 3DS, including some fun looking Kirby games and a new Pikmin title. The last thing Nintendo revealed was the ability to purchase a standalone dock. Beginning May 19th, gamers will be able to purchase another dock, that way they can jump to another TV without having to remove their main setup.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/splatoon-2-screen-2.jpg" alt="splatoon-2-screen-2" /><br /><br />All and all, the direct was very informative. It&rsquo;s nice to hear about the games coming later this year. And by the looks of things, there seems to be something for everyone!<br /><br /></p> /nintendo/post/nintendo-talks-arms---splatoon-2-in-new-direct-video- Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Sine Mora EX & Battle Chasers: Nightwar are Coming to the Switch! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 04/13/2017<br /><br />Nintendo announced a lot of titles on their recent <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/nintendo/post/3766/nintendo-talks-arms---splatoon-2-in-new-direct-video-">Direct Video</a>, many of which were worth exploring further. Two of those titles come by way of THQ Nordic&hellip;<br /><br />The first game is Sine Mora EX, a shoot&rsquo;em up developed by Grasshopper and Digital Reality.&nbsp; We had the pleasure of <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/post/1089/sine-mora">reviewing</a> this title back when it released on the Xbox 360 (and again on the Vita). It provided a challenging, yet enthralling gameplay, an interesting concept centered on time manipulation and an assortment of leaderboards &ndash; for the &ldquo;highscore&rdquo; chasers out there. This EX version will feature local co-op, three new versus modes, improved rending, new challenge levels, full English voice overs, and 16:9 aspect ratio. Basically, it&rsquo;ll be the best version available.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/sine-mora-ex-screen.jpg" alt="sine-mora-ex-screen" /><br /><br />Sine Mora EX will be released on the Switch, alongside the PS4 and Xbox One, this summer. The second title that was mentioned was Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Based on the Battle Chasers comic series, Nightwar is a turn-based RPG inspired by oldschool JRPG titles. It looks great and seems like it&rsquo;ll be entertaining; there are some modern elements that&rsquo;ll make it stand out. RPG fans should take note. Like Sine Mora EX, Battle Chasers: Nightwar will be headed to multiple platforms sometime this summer/autumn. <br /><br /><em>&ldquo;We are extremely excited to be amongst the first to bring third-party games to this stellar and innovative platform. We feel like both, Sine Mora EX and Battle Chasers: Nightwar, are perfect fits for Nintendo Switch in terms of gameplay, style and looks."</em> says Reinhard Pollice, Business and Product Development Director at THQ Nordic. <em>"We are already looking forward to enjoying these games on our Switch as well!&rdquo;</em></p> <p><em></em><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen" /><br /><br />Sine Mora and Battle Chasers seem like two titles gamers should look out for. Especially if they own a Switch, given its ability to be used as a handheld!</p> /nintendo/post/sine-mora-ex---battle-chasers:-nightwar-are-coming-to-the-switch- Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Nintendo Switch<br />Genre: Puzzle<br />Rated: E<br />Players: 1-4<br />Cost: $19.99<br />Release Date: 03/03/2017<br />Publisher: Nintendo<br />Developer: SFB Games<br /><br /><a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/nintendo/post/3744/the-legend-of-zelda:-breath-of-the-wild">The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild</a> is the obvious choice when purchasing a Nintendo Switch. I mean, if we had to attribute the system&rsquo;s early success to a particular game, Zelda would be it. But what do you do when you have a friend over and want to show off the console? Have them watch you play one title &ndash; you know you aren&rsquo;t going to pass the controls back and forth all night. This is why I bought SFB&rsquo;s Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together.</p> <p>I had watched a few trailers prior to purchasing and wasn't really impressed at first. Then I saw a couple of the Nintendo Treehouse videos where they showcased people actually playing the game and I was hooked. Snipperclips looked like exactly what I was looking for. A fun co-op puzzler where arguments could happen, but the sense of completion/accomplishment makes it all worth the strife&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/snipperclips-screen.jpg" alt="snipperclips-screen" /><br /><br />For those of you who&rsquo;ve never seen Snipperclips in action, the idea is to take two shape characters, Snip and Clip, and use them to solve an assortment of puzzles. This is done by altering their shaped bodies via overlap &ndash; you can cut out a unique shape by &ldquo;snipping&rdquo; out the overlapped portion of their bodies &ndash; and by moving about the small play area. Some of the puzzles are seemingly normal tasks like throwing a ball in a hoop or bursting a balloon. Others are more difficult, like finding a way to pick up your partner using a crane or cutting each other up to fit into a shaped space. There are roughly 60 puzzles in all, none of which require a &ldquo;right way&rdquo; of being solved. To progress, you just have to figure out a way to beat each puzzle. <br /><br />Teamwork is key to solving each puzzle. This is easier said than done of course as just getting people to play with you can be difficult. Take the time I brought Snipperclips to work with me. We booted it up and the looks I got when the music started playing, a silly repeated motif with high pitched kidlike cheering and exclamations, were quizzical in nature. I told my coworkers to give it a chance. We all did the simple 3 to 5 minute tutorial and before diving in. Now, I&rsquo;m pretty sure I made a few enemies during our playthrough. What I do know is that we celebrated whenever we completed a difficult puzzle. Boisterous laughter and high fives were happening all around. We had others come by to see what the big deal was and they joined in as well. Pretty soon, we had an audience all cheering and giving advice for how to solve a given puzzle. This was the magic of Snipperclips. Even those who have never played a game in their life could at least watch and enjoy the on-screen shenanigans.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/snipperclips-screen-3.jpg" alt="snipperclips-screen-3" /><br /><br />The co-op experience is amazing. The single player, well, that's lacking. You can switch between the two characters to solve the same puzzles, but it's pretty boring. I don't even play it by myself, it's that tedious. Snipperclips is absolutely made for multiplayer experiences. That being said, my score won't take a dive for this; think of it as a digital board game, you wouldn&rsquo;t say it&rsquo;s bad just because it isn&rsquo;t intended to be played alone.&nbsp; The music is also great for the first five minutes or so. Then it repeats in a loop, and depending on how long it takes to complete a puzzle, you will get sick of the Nick Jr.-like music.</p> <p>All and all, Snipperclips is one of the best early adopter games available for the Switch. It's a must have to show off the system's convenient use of Joy-Cons and a definite party game. Just be prepared for infuriating shouting, followed by thunderous celebrations!<br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />Simple to learn, hard to put down. This game is perfection for the young and the old.<br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />Bright, clear, and kid like. At first it feels too kiddy, but everyone quickly gets attached.<br /><br />Sound: 9<br />Music repeats but matches the atmosphere.<br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />As long as you are with friends or family, this game will be a staple for a time to come. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.8<br /><br /></p> /nintendo/post/snipperclips:-cut-it-out--together Fri, 7 Apr 2017 12:00:00 The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Nintendo Switch<br />Genre: Action/Dungeon Crawler<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1-2<br />Cost: $39.99<br />Release Date: 03/17/2017<br />Publisher: Nicalis<br />Developer: Edmund McMillen/Nicalis<br /><br />When it was announced that the Binding of Isaac DLC, Afterbirth, wasn't going to be released on the Vita, I was devastated. I understood. The CPU just couldn&rsquo;t handle all of the extra content &ndash; Tyrone Rodrigues of Nicalis explained how the game didn&rsquo;t run at the performance level that he was happy with. So I trucked on, continuing to play until I got tired. Thing is, I never got tired of it. The roguelike elements kept the game fresh and exciting. The random items and map generation made it a different experience every time. But, I still wished for the DLC to be released in a portable setting. Enter, the Nintendo Switch! <br /><br />I've personally logged over 1000 hours on my PSVita version of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I still had a few more achievements to finish up prior to reading the news that Afterbirth+ would be releasing on my newly pre-ordered Nintendo Switch. I was elated. Binding of Isaac quickly turned to my go-to portable time waster. I absolutely loved the replayability and setting. It was so different than other games out there at the time of its release in 2014. So it&rsquo;s understandable that Afterbirth+ became my most anticipated game, even more so than Zelda. However, at a price tag of $40, is it worth the money for additional items and modes? I mean, I did already own the Rebirth&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-3.jpg" alt="the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-3" /><br /><br /><em>The short answer is yes. Also, I purchased the physical copy, which included a Legend of Zelda NES style instruction booklet, a couple pages of stickers and a reversible case cover. These are only to be included with the initial first batch of Isaac. Any subsequent purchases will be game only, as far as I know. This doesn&rsquo;t change my view on the game itself of course. It just made my decision to rebuy it that much sweeter. Carry on!</em><br /><br />The Binding of Isaac, for those that don&rsquo;t know, is a randomly generated dungeon crawler that uses a twin stick mechanism. Think Legend of Zelda meets Smash TV. Using a top-down viewpoint, you&rsquo;ll explore rooms, beat baddies, and collect items as they appear; all culminating to a floor boss showdown before going to the next level. Each level map gets progressively larger and enemies get tougher. Items collected throughout your journey stack, which can dramatically change your gameplay (good or bad depending on how you play). Because it&rsquo;s a roguelike title, permadeath is a thing. Meaning, if you die, you&rsquo;ll have to start over in a fresh dungeon. Players can unlock different characters to play as, each with different starting attributes. There are options to progress as you gain more experience and time in the basement. You can choose different paths with optional bosses, all dependent on how you play.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-2" /><br /><br />As far as the plot&hellip;well, the content of Isaac will offend some due to strong religious themes that&rsquo;s somewhat sacrilegious in tone. Isaac's mother hears the voice of God telling her to murder her son. As you progress through towards the ending, it does make the story clear that this is not the case. The constant bombardment of demons, feces, angels, and blood does make the actual visual and audio content of the game offensive to some. If you can look past this you'll find a very enjoyable game with unique and addicting gameplay.<br /><br />In Afterbirth+, 20 endings exist (raised from Rebirth's 13 endings), along with Greed Mode, daily runs, three new unlockable characters, four new dungeons, two new final bosses, 240 new items, and local co-op. This is a huge upgrade from the vanilla game or even Rebirth. Gameplay has been tightened, with more stacking available between items. The game runs at a buttery 60 frames/second on the Switch, however it does take a slight hit when the player has multiple stacked items and the screen is full of enemies. I've encountered it twice, specifically with a charge shot while the retrovision pill was enabled in the later Utero level &ndash; you&rsquo;ll understand once you&rsquo;ve gotten there. Hopefully this is something that can be patched later on.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-4.jpg" alt="the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-plus-screen-4" /><br /><br />Is Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ worth the hefty price tag? It depends. For me, absolutely yes! For others I know, they won't even give it a look given that it&rsquo;s been released multiple times now. If you like unique games with different experiences every time you play and aren&rsquo;t easily offended by religious undertones, definitely give it a chance. You won't regret it. And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to push through and see if I can get to where I left off from the Vita version.<br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />Extremely responsive and a smooth 60fps makes this an almost flawless experience. Certain item combinations cause slowdown in specific circumstances.<br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />The game looks the same as it did three years ago. Functional, but nothing new. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />Music and sound are driving elements that encourage you to punch through to the next level. <br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />Every experience is different. If I could give this category an 11, I would!<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.5<br /><br /></p> /nintendo/post/the-binding-of-isaac:-afterbirth- Fri, 7 Apr 2017 12:00:00 N/A /nintendo/post/n-a Thu, 6 Apr 2017 12:00:00 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Nintendo Switch (also on Wii U)<br />Genre: Action Adventure<br />Rated: E10+<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $59.99 <br />Release Date: 03/03/2017<br />Publisher: Nintendo<br />Developer: Nintendo<br /><br />Time is invaluable. An obvious statement, yet I&rsquo;ve only just come to realize that this constantly draining commodity has to be managed better the older you get. Family, friends, work, play &ndash; balancing your priorities is key to not feel like you&rsquo;re wasting time. This is why when I hear a developer talk about how expansive their open world game is, I groan. There are only a few open world games that aren&rsquo;t needlessly bloated to satisfy the delusion that a game&rsquo;s quality is (only) synonymous with how long it takes to complete or how many activities are available within a given space. And while that is true to some degree, the reality is that this type of design can come off as anti-consumer. It&rsquo;s as if developers don&rsquo;t value our time the same way we do. Thankfully, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild doesn&rsquo;t suffer from this sort of thinking. At least, not entirely. <br /><br />Like every Zelda game, Breath of the Wild (BotW) follows the exploits of Link, Zelda, and Ganon; a constant struggle that is depicted in a slightly different manner with each title. However, BotW is somewhat more unique, given how it plays into this cycling idea. Here, Calamity Ganon (his latest moniker) is perpetually routed by a princess and legendary hero. Thousands of years later, he would rise again, only to be defeated once more by another princess/warrior pair. That is until he wised up, attacking from the ruins beneath Hyrule Castle. In doing so, Ganon was able to take control of the four Divine Beasts, living vessels that helped seal him away centuries prior. He then laid waste to the entire kingdom, gravely wounded Link and ended their ongoing conflict. Or so he thought. Fast forward one hundred years later and Link is found sleeping in a sacred Sheikah Shrine of Resurrection. Awakened by a familiar voice, he is instructed to grab a piece of ancient technology (the Sheikah Slate) before leaving the makeshift tomb. Unable to remember anything from his past, he follows the voice&rsquo;s commands and makes his way to the surface.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-4.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-4" /><br /><br /><strong>Side note:</strong> <em>Due to the nature of reviewing such a respected franchise, I wanted to take this time to get all of my&hellip;hyperbolic statements out of the way. You know, the ones that offer praise while totally overlooking any of a game&rsquo;s flaws because of how much you love the series? I want to be fair but feel the need to geek out a bit. So, here goes. Breath of the Wild is easily, one of the best Legend of Zelda games I&rsquo;ve ever played. And in some moments, I&rsquo;d argue it&rsquo;s one of the best open world games ever released. While I don&rsquo;t recommend buying a Nintendo Switch just for this game (given the fact that it is also on the Wii U), I couldn&rsquo;t find fault with that action after experiencing the game in &ldquo;full&rdquo;. And&hellip;breathe. Now that that&rsquo;s done, back to being critical!</em><br /><br />Upon leaving the shrine, gamers will be greeted with a ruined Hyrule.&nbsp; From here they&rsquo;ll learn the state of things &ndash; how Calamity Ganon has been trapped within the walls of Hyrule Castle, yet his influence still permeates throughout the land. Monsters frequent the open plains, the once great kingdoms and revered cities have been made low, and the Divine Beasts are running amuck. Basically, Hyrule has become a very dangerous place since Link&rsquo;s departure.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s also a wonderful place to explore. This is, in part, due to the world&rsquo;s design and how it correlates with different gameplay elements. For instance, in a lot of open world games, quests are placed in important locations (villages, cities, some rural area, etc.) while the spaces in between are peppered with activities that are of no consequence to the game&rsquo;s narrative. A lot of them don&rsquo;t even reward the player with anything significant; the slight experiance boosts gained from dispatching a group of enemies to rescue an NPC become less and less attractive over time. After a while, they start to look like what they are, diversions. Their inclusion, of course, isn&rsquo;t inherently bad. It can be nice having stuff to do before the next big quest, as long as they aren&rsquo;t used as a crutch to hold up a weak campaign.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen" /><br /><br />BotW has its share of extracurricular activities as well. The difference is in their implementation and overall saturation. For one, the developers didn&rsquo;t flood every square inch of available land with mini-games, destressed NPCs, or enemy outposts. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong, there are a ton of places to see and things to do while traversing Hyrule. It&rsquo;s just that the developers made sure to better spread these elements across the map, making their presence seem more meaningful. Stumbling upon a cave made from a giant skull during a sandstorm in the desert is thrilling. It didn&rsquo;t matter that there was another giant skull located at the base of a mountain given the distance between the two. The placement of these elements made discovering them seem like a rare find. Not only that, but there would usually be something inside these places; likea chest of goodies that&rsquo;s unlocked once all of the surrounding monsters are slain. This &ldquo;less is more&rdquo; approach actually encourages exploration, something a developer would want after creating such an open world.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Secret locations and special items had me gleefully rounding hills and jumping off cliffs. What was great was that my curiosity usually paid off. Like &ldquo;this just seems like a place someone would hide buried treasure...oh look, a new sword imbued with electricity!&rdquo;. This sort of thing happened even if you didn&rsquo;t wander around like I did. Most quests are placed in such a way that traveling to them often leads to interesting finds. A side quest involving a missing Gerudo warrior lead me straight to a hidden fairy fountain. This was a welcomed site at the time considering that the great fairies in BotW can upgrade Link&rsquo;s clothing, therefore increasing his defenses.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-2" /><br /><br />Interestingly enough, another reason why this version of Hyrule is so inviting is because of how difficult it can be getting to where you need to go. Sometimes you&rsquo;ll have to deal with a changing climate. Climbing a snow-covered mountain or sand surfing in the desert without the proper clothing will result in a loss of hearts. Other times it&rsquo;s Link&rsquo;s limited stamina, which governs how high he can climb and how far he can run or swim. There are also powerful monsters (mini-bosses) that roam the land, all of which can kill an inadequately equipped Link in one blow. Now at first, I thought these types of elements were just there to slow the player down. I mean, they are to a degree. But after spending a significant time in Hyrule, I found them to be a welcomed addition. Instead of having long, boring treks back and forth between places of interest (I&rsquo;m looking squarely at you Final Fantasy XV), we get a real sense of adventure. Safely arriving at the Goron village beneath Death Mountain after narrowly succumbing to the incredible heat and a giant rock golem, is a feat in and of itself. <br /><br />Moving away from the open world trappings for a bit, I really enjoyed how Nintendo changed some of the staples this series is known for. Take the way dungeons are designed. Gone are the sprawling labyrinths of old, where players would solve puzzles using newly found items before facing a boss. In BotW, they have been modified into two distinct types: small dungeons and large ones. Shrines, scattered all over Hyrule, act as fast travel points once activated by the Sheikah Slate. Travel down inside one and you&rsquo;ll venture into one of the small dungeons. One of the first differences, besides the its size, is that you never have to locate items to solve its puzzles. Most of everything you need is given to you fairly early on with the Sheikah Slate; once you&rsquo;ve unlocked its few abilities (remote bombs, water manipulation, freezing time), you&rsquo;ll use them for the rest of the game. The second difference is that there are no bosses to face.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-5.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-5" /><br /><br />There are 120 shrines in the BotW. All of them are designed around using the three to four abilities found in the Slate. So, Nintendo had to find a way to make each and every one of them stand out or risk them becoming a dull diversion. To my surprise, every shrine I conquered felt unique. Somehow Nintendo was able to create a significant number of well-crafted puzzles that didn&rsquo;t require a lot of items to solve. These bite-sized dungeons are fun in their own right, but they also provide Spirit Orbs. By collecting four Spirit Orbs and visiting a statue of the Goddess Hylia &ndash; an ancestor of Princess Zelda &ndash; you&rsquo;ll gain either more heart containers or a longer stamina meter. Basically, they are dungeons that don&rsquo;t require a large investment of time to complete, yet still reward you with something valuable. Awesome! &nbsp;<br /><br />The larger dungeons are actually the Divine Beasts themselves. Each beast will need to be subdued via a boss fight before Link can enter them (think Shadow of the Colossus and you&rsquo;ll be close). Once inside, Link will need to connect his Sheikah Slate to different nodes in order to regain control over these mighty living weapons. These dungeons are great because of the way the Slate helps to solve their puzzles. Once you&rsquo;ve found the map/blue prints for the one of the beasts you&rsquo;ll be able to alter its innards, changing your surroundings. Raising Vah Ruta, the trunk of the elephant-like beast, above its head will create a waterfall of sorts, causing a series of platforms to rotate like a Ferris wheel. These dungeons do come with bosses, namely, four different Ganon apparitions. A keen eye and quick reflexes are required to take these foes down. Well, most of the time &ndash; as you go about your journey, you&rsquo;ll naturally get stronger making later encounters easier to deal with. All of them provide an enjoyable experience however.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-6.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-6" /><br /><br />There is so much to talk about when it comes to the Breath of the Wild. I can go on and on about the how I enjoyed cooking different dishes with collected ingredients, granting me temporary boosts in power, speed, etc... Or how great the world looks &ndash; a flowing river that splits the region in half looks majestic from atop an ancient tower. It would be easy to continue bombarding you with the game&rsquo;s praises. Unfortunately, BotW isn&rsquo;t as perfect as some make it out to be. <br /><br />There are two game mechanics that should have never been borrowed from other titles of this ilk. The first being breakable weapons. I don&rsquo;t understand why this is still a prominent feature in video games. At one point, it was about realistically building tension; a weapon breaking while trying to stop a zombie may have provided an &ldquo;oh $%^!&rdquo; moment in the past. But nowadays, the fragile weapon concept has gotten out of hand. This is especially true with the BotW. Why are my metallic weapons breaking with only a few skirmishes? I mean literally, some of them will crack after ten to eleven swings, some sooner. What&rsquo;s worse is that most of Link&rsquo;s enemies can take a good beating before dying. And the boss battles&hellip;while it might be exhilarating to defeat a powerful foe with your last rusty sword, having multiple weapons shatter in the middle of the fight is beyond frustrating. Thankfully, there are a few special weapons that can be repaired after breaking and one unbreakable weapon. Still&hellip; <br /><br />The second mechanic that should have been left by the wayside to die involves the Sheikah Towers. Also acting as fast travel locations, these towers must be climbed before they can be activated. They don&rsquo;t add anything to the game whatsoever &ndash; no unique puzzles, crazy encounters, nothing. They&rsquo;re more tedious than anything else. If it wasn&rsquo;t for the fact that they are needed to fill in portions of the map, revealing key locations and landmarks, I would have avoided them entirely.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-7.jpg" alt="the-legend-of-zelda-botw-review-screen-7" />&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />These two annoyances can&rsquo;t possibly derail the entire experience as most of BotW is great. What did cause me major concern was the sudden drop in frames whenever the Switch was docked. For some reason, when I was using the Switch as a handheld, it was smooth sailing. When I started playing it as a console, during action packed moments, the frames would stutter about. At one point the game froze while I was battling some lizard creatures, resulting in my death after it snapped back to action. To be fair, this is probably more of a system issue given the nature of the problem. It also wasn&rsquo;t a constant occurrence. That said, it was frequent enough to make me consider keeping the system mobile. <br /><br />The last thing that ruffled my feathers was in the game&rsquo;s plot. I understand that Zelda has never been known for the deepest of narratives. But with the inclusion of voice acting, I thought we&rsquo;d get something with a little more oomph. Really, most of the plot is doled out at the beginning and end of the game with little bits of exposition sprinkled in the middle. Flashbacks, manuscripts, and talkative NPCs do help to establish a back story. I just wish there was more substance besides the normal Princess and Link vs. Ganon theme. That could be asking too much. Then again, this is the 19th release in the main series. Baby steps. <br /><br />The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is great game. There&rsquo;s no doubt about that. At the same time, it does have some game mechanics that wore out their welcome years ago. An inconstant frame rate that affects gameplay can&rsquo;t be looked over either. That said, I feel that most people will thoroughly enjoy their time in BotW. Even if they aren&rsquo;t diehard Zelda fans who kind of, sort of, only bought the Switch for this title!&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Gameplay: 8<br />This is one of the best Legend of Zelda games I&rsquo;ve ever played. That said, I believe Nintendo borrowed some bad elements from other open world games. <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />Zelda is certainly a pretty game. The drops in frame rate when docked is a problem, and while the Switch itself might be to blame, other titles we&rsquo;ve played didn&rsquo;t suffer from this issue. &nbsp;<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The music and (surprisingly) the voice acting was great!<br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />I&rsquo;ve beaten the game but I haven&rsquo;t &ldquo;beaten&rdquo; the game. There is a plethora of secrets that I&rsquo;ve yet to find and I do enjoy exploring Hyrule.<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.3</p> /nintendo/post/the-legend-of-zelda:-breath-of-the-wild Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:00:00