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Bravely Second: End Layer Review

Bravely Default is still a personal favorite in my RPG game collection. The impressive story followed up with the addictive side quest kept me playing for the longest time. When Bravely Second: End Layer came out, I couldn’t help but see if the sequel could keep my attention.

Square-Enix had some hit and misses with their RPGs in the past 15 years. The company struggled to make think of new gameplay mechanics and artistic directions, but their plans left customer asking more questions regarding the games. The Bravely series goes back to simpler turn based JRPG style that gamers can love and follow. Bravely Second’s story picks up where its predecessor left off. The Heroes of Light saved the world and Agnes, one of the four heroes of light, ushered a new era of peace until a mysterious villain kidnapped her. It is up to Yew and his team to rescue Agnes before things spiral out of control.

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Fans of the first game will enjoy revisiting the world and seeing familiar places. Not much has changed when you visit town and locations. The story may not entice you, but Bravely Second’s gameplay is what hooks you in. The JRPG follows a turn based combat with a BRAVE option, a move that allows you to use multiple turns in one use, and DEFAULT option, a defensive move that stores extra moves for you. Using the Brave and Default options creates a new strategy to combat and boss battles. Bravely Second creates a new gambling challenge in combat. Meeting a certain battle requirement sets you up for another round of combat with a chance to get extra experience and money.

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Bravely Second contains multiple job classes for the four heroes. Acquiring and leveling up the different jobs is a challenge all on its own since some jobs can only be obtained through side quests. Some fans might get intimidated by how many jobs there are and how to maximize each job class. Knowing how to set up the right job will take some work but can be rewarding.

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Bravely Second contains a bunch of extra mini games and features that add onto the gameplay. Acquiring Street Pass helps summon friends in battle and build/improve a moon base that gives you added bonuses for combat.
Bravely Second may not hook you with the story, but it picks itself up with the artistic style, combat, and different job systems for a fun change.

I give Bravely Second: End Layer a 7 out of 10! For more news, previews, and reviews, stay tuned to Provengamer.com

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3DS Reviews Reviews

Exploring Final Fantasy Explorers: Monster Hunting Eidolons?

Final Fantasy Explorers looks like a great Monster Hunter game wrapped around final fantasy themed elements. That one premise alone peaked my interest since I am a fan of many Final Fantasy games and the popular Monster Hunter series. After playing for a couple of hours, you will soon realize you probably won’t finish Final Fantasy Explorers.

The game features a story, but don’t get too enticed by the plot. You are an explorer (go figure) and you are tasked with completing missions for the resident of the island as you save the world. As you complete quest, you eventually battle giant monster, eidolons, that control certain areas of the island. That pretty much sums up the entire plot for Final Fantasy Explorers. The lack of story for the game was probably a smart move considering certain plots in the previous Final Fantasy series have missed their mark.

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When you’re done wondering what Final Fantasy Explorers is about, you can start focusing on some of the better features of the game. As I mentioned, the game is a bit of an homage to the Monster Hunter series:

Customize your character? Check

Go on short quests? Check

Collect items from fallen enemies and the landscape? Check

Use items you collected to create new weapons/armor or upgrade current weapons/armor? Check
Complete more quests and capture monster? Check

These elements are great to copy but Final Fantasy Explorers falls short on uninteresting creatures to fight and dull landscapes. The landscape can be boring to travel an sometimes you have to venture aimlessly throughout the entire island just to figure out where you need to go for your quest. The game provides you a fast travel airship after 3-4 hours of gameplay but the fast travel fails to deliver you to your desired destination. The airship can only travel to certain areas near your desired location.

The gameplay mechanics of Final Fantasy Explorers is easy to understand and simple to use because of the game’s vast tutorial quests that teach you how to play. My main concern is how the game does not have the ability to control the camera at any point in the game. The 3DS XL has a ton of unused buttons in this game and the c stick is one of those unused buttons. Why Square-Enix decided not to let you fully control the camera angle is beyond me.

Final Fantasy Explorers still retains the elements of job system where you can change your job to equip certain weapons and apply different strategies. I would play one job to see how one strategy worked until I got bored and changed jobs to see a different playing strategy.

You can learn and apply different Magical abilities and techniques to customize your abilities for variety and personal affect. The fun with all the abilities is when you activate Crystal Surge, a function that provides you with random status altering options on a temporary basis. Crystal Surge can affect your physical attacks, magical defenses, recovery abilities, or speed, but they do cause a Mutation (actual word used in FF: Explorers gameplay) which alters all your magical abilities and techniques.

Experimenting with the different abilities, mutations, and Crystal Surges is fun to try out but is often unnecessary when taking down enemies. The only problem is you can use them anytime because you have an AP system for your techniques that regenerates with ease. I never had to use any items to restore my AP points.

Unlike Monster Hunter’s challenging AI, which required you to study enemy AI and plan your attacks, Final Fantasy Explorers’ AI and difficulty in the game is dull and simple to defeat. I went up against multiple bosses and I felt like they weren’t a real challenge to me. In all my battles against Ifrit, Shiva, and other bosses, I died only once and I was able to use a Phoenix Down on myself to finish the fight. I had multiple potions and items that I never had to use. Certain Missions, have options to increase the difficulty of the mission (like, damage to enemies is reduced by 50%) but even all the difficulty options still didn’t provide me with a challenge.

It wasn’t until I beat the game under 30 hours did I have the ability to unlock a harder mode which allowed me to feel like these cute little monster and bosses where going to stop me on my quest.

Final Fantasy Explorers does possess cool functions that can appeal to the Final Fantasy fans. The game allows you to create monsters, fuse them for cool abilities, and have them join your party during quests.

This feature is particularly cool when you see Cactaur or a Chocobo deliver some cool and fun attacks. The game allows for you play with other people in online coop gameplay which can provide a new outlook to gameplay. If you don’t have enough players online, and you are the lead party member, you can call in one of your monsters to join in your fight. This was fun until the creatures in your party take up the entire screen.

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Most fans will enjoy the cute homages to previous Final Fantasy games such as temporarily summoning and controlling Cloud during a mission or collecting clothing and weapons from other Final Fantasy games. It took me a while to get Sephiroth’s cloak (from Final Fantasy VII) and it was pretty cool to see my character wear it.

Final Fantasy Explorers isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a great game either. It is a cool and simple game to enjoy with friends but it is very simple and repetitive to play. There feels like nothing is at stake when I play this game. When I beat the game, it simply made me want to play Monster Hunter all over again.

I give Final Fantasy Explorers a 6 out of 10.

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3DS 3DS Reviews

New Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the newest big titles released on the Nintendo 3DS. This time around, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach, but besides that, the Mushroom Kingdom is overflowing with coins! Now Mario must rescue her, and also collect 1 million coins! Why? Who knows?

When it comes to the story, there is nothing new what so ever. I would try to put the coin side quest as a main plot point, but besides you trying to get 1 million coins, there’s no backstory to it, and no explanation on why we must get that many coins. It’s an incredible challenge. Not because of difficulty, but because of the time consuming grinding you will be doing. The whole game was incredibly short. I beat all of the worlds in less than 4 hours.

Gameplay is still the same. Control is still fun, and the levels are designed the old Mario way: some fun and entertaining, and others a bit lazy feeling. The core system used now is based around trying to get coins. There are now golden Flowers, which turn anything Mario fires at into gold coins. There are also gold rings, which make enemies turn to gold at your touch, letting you get a bunch of coins when you defeat them. Even with this though, getting to 1 million will take you a long time. I’ve spent exactly 8 hours on the game, and I’ve collected a little less than 50 thousand coins. I loved playing this, but getting to that million is just too much of a grind for me. You will end up playing only a handful of levels over and over, just because they give the most coins the fastest. It’s a shame. If they just increased the amount of coins from defeating golden enemies, and maybe increased the frequency of golden flowers, it could have been faster, easier, and even more fun. It still is fun if you play it in small chunks of time.

The soundtrack of this game doesn’t sound any different than previous Mario games. That isn’t a bad thing, but a bit more originality would have been appreciated. I really loved the visuals however. The 3D still gives a bit of a head ache after a while, but the style of the game was really easy on the eyes. Besides that, nothing is new.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a risk of buying. If you love grinding for hours and hours, then this is an absolute must-buy. If you hate repetitive game play, chances are very high you will have wasted your money. Even with the grind, in my opinion, NSMB2 is a must have in anyone’s 3DS collection.

 

3/5

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Sonic Generations Review

It’s been a long time since I have looked forward to playing a Sonic game. To be fair, I was never fond of any of his 3D outings with the original trilogy the stand out games. When I first seen Sonic Generations image and video coming from E3 I thought it at least had a good chance of reinvigorating the Sonic franchise. The promise of playing as classic Sonic and new age Sonic appealed to me. Although it wasn’t on my must buy list, it was one of those games I hoped I would get around to playing.

The story starts with a birthday party being thrown for modern Sonic with many of the characters we know in attendance. The party doesn’t last long when the Time Eater appears throwing Sonic and his friends into separate portals in time. When Sonic comes to he finds himself in “white space”, worlds with no color where he and classic Sonic must race through levels to return color to the worlds and restore time.

Each act in the game is taken from a different Sonic game starting with Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. There is only one zone per act, but the game play is doubled as you have to play through the acts as classic Sonic and modern Sonic. Thankfully, there is a different experience depending on which Sonic you are controlling. Playing classic Sonic shows the world level in 2D while only using original moves spin attack and spin dash. Switching over to modern Sonic changes the world into pseudo 3D environment where the camera will pan from a view behind sonic hurtling forward to side-scrolling sonic. The developers also included moves taken from recent sonic games. The homing attack from Sonic 4: Episode 1 makes an appearance when playing as modern sonic. This is a great inclusion as it helps Sonic flow with speed through the 3D levels easier. And lets face it, Sonic is always better when you are able to glide through the act as fast as you can. Other notable mechanics are available in Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. It maintains Wisps allowing Sonic different properties to reach other parts of the level.

 

Using the Wisps is by no means bad game play, but it does distract from the game and feels much less of a Sonic game. I found most acts that were based on pre-Dreamcast games felt excellent whereas post levels didn’t have the same flow to them and broke up the pace of the game. This may be down to level design as latter levels feel less colorful and it loses its cartoonish charm. With only nine acts in the game, the main story is very short and can be completed within a few hours.

To give the game some longevity, there are many challenges in each act. The challenge levels vary from speed runs, ring collecting or using a friend’s skill to complete the mission. Although there is no need to complete all challenges, one per act is required to release a key. After every 3 acts, Sonic will have a boss battle activated by using the key from each of the acts beforehand. Further time can be spent gathering the elusive chaos emeralds. Three of these can be obtained by locating the familiar faces of Shadow, Silver and Metal Sonic between the challenge areas. Each has a test for Sonic to pass. Although it fleshes out the game somewhat, it still feels incredibly short.

 

This may not be the full return to form that the Sonic team at SEGA were hoping for, but it is definitely a huge leap in the right direction. If you are interested in Sonic, I would recommend this as a rental or maybe picking it up if you are able to get it in the £15/$20 range.

Sonic Generation garners a 3/5

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3DS 3DS Reviews

Radiant Historia Review

What if the world, you know, was about to end during your lifetime? What if the decisions you made were pivotal in the salvation or destruction of the world? How would you react? What if you had the ability to go back in time to those pivotal decisions and change your response creating a new outcome (but creating further problems down the road that can still lead to the end of civilization)? How would you react?

In Radiant Historia, for the Nintendo DS, you are confronted with this concept. In this turn based RPG, you play as Stocke, a special intelligence agent from the nation of Alistel. You’re assign to help your kingdom as it is at war with another nation called Granorg.

During a dangerous missions, you unlock the power of a mysterious book called the White Chronicle. The White Chronicle allows you to determine a critical event in your past travels and choose another path. If you chose to go north on a fork road and you got your party members killed, travel back in time and go south (allowing you to keep your newly acquired stats, skill, currency, equipment, etc.) .

In Radiant Historia, you are resetting the events of the game without pressing the reset button on you DS. There is a catch in the storyline of Radiant Historia. Changing an event in time gives Stocke a vague premonition about the future (that can be a pleasant prediction or a dark foreshadow of things to come).  Unfortunately the game does not give you any indication was to what path will lead you to those premonitions or what future consequences will come altering your past decisions. In saving a friend, during a bad decision, your kingdom may be in danger of losing the war and you will be forced to make another tough decision ahead.

With foreboding events appearing before you, the end of days riding on your decisions, and the ability to go back in time to take another route (whether it’s 2-4 different decisions for 1 event), Radiant Historia definitely gives you replay options without having to start a new game. You are granted the ability to take the road less traveled without wondering What if I took the other road?

The concept of Radiant Historia has a unique ability to grasp for the RPG lover. If you are an RPG fan that enjoys turn based RPG combat, then this game is up your alley. The combat is very generic, but does have some new unique tactics to help. You don’t have the ability to go back in time during a battle (it would be a great addition for a possible sequel) but you can cluster enemies together in battle allowing one player to attack multiple enemies at once.

The game also introduces change turns mode in battle, which allows you to change a character’s turns with another character’s turn in combat. This give a new approach to combat when you want your healer to fix up a party member before an enemy attack or when you want your strongest fighter to deploy the most damage with the cluster enemies function.

When you are not in turn based combat, the game switches to an over the top view (much like you have seen in early final fantasy games or the dragon quest series) which can be a rather frustrating part of the series. This type of the game wants to play, like the legend of Zelda series, where you can move objects around to get to new paths and items, but doesn’t entirely work.

With that being said, the story of war and changing the end of the world is intriguing and complimented by the nicely designed illustrations of characters throughout the games. If you’re an RPG fan looking for an RPG to try on your DS, Radiant Historia is worth giving a try. I know, after buying the game, I have never though, What if I spent my money on another game.

I give Radiant Historia a thumbs up for our ProvenGamer fans.