Weekly Haul: Week of 08/04

Welcome to the Weekly Haul, the place where we show you the new entertainment releases coming out during the week. Tales of Xillia and Dragon’s Crown hit the PlayStation 3. Elysium and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters hit the silver screen. Berserk gets it’s second movie with The Battle for Doldrey and much more. Check out the rest of the haul below! Continue Reading

Half-Ass Gaming Reviews: Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

It starts off really simple; Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are battling for the title of Man of the Year award. Bruce Wayne decisively defeats Lex and makes his way to accept his speech. His commemoration is quickly interrupted by the king of pranksters himself… The Joker. Amidst the chaos; Bruce Wayne makes his way to the exit to slip into something more comfortable. Batman arrives on the scene and promptly returns Joker and his cronies to Arkham Asylum. Normally the day would be saved, but Lex Luthor has a completely different agenda. Continue Reading

Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny Video Review (Half-Ass Gaming)

The Rune Factory series spawned from the Harvest Moon games. The farming simulation while fun, was an incredibly niche game for certain people. The Rune Factory series stepped up to the plate and put some action into the games. Soon people were crawling through dungeons, farming, and offering up a good ol’ dating simulation that didn’t make them feel girly. In each new edition to the series the games change for the better, can Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny set itself apart from the others in the series? Continue Reading

Goldeneye 007 Review

[rokbox title="Goldeneye 007 Review" thumb="" size="854 505" ][/rokbox]

It feels like a lifetime since I first slipped that Goldeneye cartridge into my Nintendo 64. Much like everyone in my age group, I didn’t know what to expect from the game. In hindsight I only purchased it due to the fact that the newest Bond movie in 10 years was coming out. What I did get changed my mind and possibly the very idea of first person shooters at the time. Which to this day is one of the greatest shooters to ever grace any console ever. So now ten years later we get a re-imagining of this game for the Wii, but can it leave up to such a great legacy without Rare behind the helm? Continue Reading

Metroid: Other M Review

[rokbox title="Metroid Other M Review" thumb="" size="854 505" ][/rokbox]

Metroid… we all know the name of the long running series. The well renowned saga known for exploration and its silent protagonist. Those who have followed Samus through previous games will be a little shocked by the changes. As Other M takes on a much more action oriented pace, with much less focus on adventure and more on the storyline for our heroine. Has Team Ninja gone too far, or is this a welcome change to the series?

We return to Samus after the events in Super Metroid, the galaxy is quiet after her success with the destruction of the Metroid species. During one of her routine patrols she receives a distress call from a nearby station. Upon investigating it she discovers her old soldier unit has arrived before her, yet instead of a reunion they soon find out that the station is flooded with aliens. So Samus must work in Tandem with the people she left behind, while trying to find out the source of the turmoil on the station.

Unlike previous games, Samus is no longer a silent hero. It is from her lips that you will learn the story of Other M. Through a somewhat emotionless voice she will narrate her feelings on current situations and her past. Most of this develops through cut-scenes similar to something out of the Metal Gear Solid series. The story however is pretty ho hum, and most of the time you will only pay attention to the action. Mostly due to the fact that story elements pop up every so often, so you’ll be more focused on combat than the story.

Metroid Other M employs a series of gameplay styles from previous Metroid games. It also introduces a lot of the fast paced action from games like Ninja Gaiden. This is mostly due to the fact that it is a much more action oriented affair. Players will have to utilize a variety of ways to defeat enemies, which consists of a lot of flipping around the Wii Remote. If you’re not holding the controller sideways and pressing the D-Pad to dodge. You’ll be pointing it at the screen trying to lock-on to an enemy to get a missile attack.

It’s a very unique way to play, and it comes off as fun and challenging at the same time. A majority of it consists of having entertaining battles with the simplest of enemies. Yet when you face a boss you’ll have to measure just when to fire off that missile. It’s good that it still retains that Metroid style while feeling like a totally different game. But do not despair fans of the series, the item collection and exploration still exists.

The bulk of it comes in the form of exploration sequences that you're thrown into before a pivotal boss fight begins. Other situations require you to look around your surroundings in First-Person view to search for openings, or areas that need to be broken into to continue. As you gain new items you'll be able to go back and access areas you couldn't before. There are also a variety of puzzles to solve which keep in flow with the tried and true Metroid formula.
The aiming system has been automated when in the standard fighting mode, it's pretty handy since shooting comes second to avoiding attacks. There are also a few platform elements throughout, and Samus can still switch to a ball to roll through obstacles. She can also drop her makeshift bombs, and she even has the ability to charge them up to decimate an area.

It’s pretty hard to die in Metriod: Other M, and that’s due to the fact that Samus can usually save herself by using a move called “Concentration”. If her health gets into the lower numbers, players can tilt the Wii-Remote up and press A to regenerate her health. This also works for refueling your missile supply if you’re running low. Don’t be fooled though, there will be plenty of times where you won’t have the option of using this tactic.

Samus will unlock features for her suit as she gets deeper into the station world. She can still find a variety of items scattered about different locations. But a majority of the time her suit functions will be limited by the orders of the squad leader, Adam. Which Samus will follow to the letter even if it puts her at significant disadvantage. Like the lava level for instance… where she has to take fire damage before finally being ordered to use her heat resistance.

The graphics are pretty good for the most part, even if some of the character models could use some work. Samus on the other hand, looks amazing with her armor adorned body. The game also has some pretty good visual flair for special abilities, or the sense of speed when Samus is rolling through a duct. Even the backdrops come off as impressive, with some gorgeous outside locations and creepy underground dwellings to explore. It’s just a shame that most of the enemy models come off as unimpressive.

It’s good that you won’t be worrying about the models as you blast them into oblivion. It’s all about Samus and how she defeats her enemies. Samus can now get up close and personal with her opponent and finish them off in one blast. She can also latch onto flying enemies and tear the wings off of them, or bound from multiple enemies to for a quick finisher. For the most part, Samus has become a much more entertaining fighter to watch.

It also helps that the sound plays an integral part in the gameplay, especially the music which does a good job at keeping things suspenseful. You will get used to the sound of screeching enemies, and your blaster charging from the Wii remote. There are even a few cues like listening to the sound of rustling bushes, to the familiar Metroid theme after you load a saved game. It’s just a shame that some of the voice acting can come off as dull.

Metroid Other M is a great addition to the series, and even though it has a few issues like the voice acting. It’s still an extremely fun game to play, especially due to how amazing the boss fights can be. If you’re looking for a new Metroid experience, or have just been introduced to the series as a whole… Other M is not to be missed. It receives as B from Half-Ass Gaming, it reaches a good balance between all of the Metroid games.

Arc Rise Fantasia Review

[rokbox title="Arc Rise Fantasia Review" thumb="" size="854 505" ][/rokbox]

Arc Rise Fantasia follows the story of L’Arc Bright Lagoon, a Mercenary hired to fight off the destructive Feldragons. He’s saved from certain death by a strange woman named Ryfia, and with that meeting the two are bound together in a long journey. As soon as L’Arc discovers that he has a hidden power within him, his world immediately turns upside down as he begins his journey to discover the meaning of his gift.

Arc Rise Fantasia’s story is standard fare for RPG’s, you play as the destined hero who leads a group across the world. L’Arc is the Child of Eesa who is supposed to be lead by the Diva Ryfia to create a new country. He becomes embroiled in a war with the Empire versus the Republic… sounds familiar doesn’t it? You’ll discover more about your party while traveling through the over world as random dialogue events appear. This is similar to the skit system you would see in the Tales series, where the party will interact with each other at certain times.

The world is a colorful one, with some impressive detail paid to a lot of the cities in the game. The art style can mostly be likened to Rune Factory: Frontier, but things take on a much larger scale in Arc Rise Fantasia. The character models won’t blow any minds, but they do have that anime character stylized feel to them. Though most of the time you’ll see animated stills of the characters talking inside of a dialogue box. The problem with the graphics would have to be the Aliasing issues in the over world and towns. Things are incredibly jagged in Arc Rise Fantasia and it is a bit of an eyesore. What makes things worse is the fact that the game will have occasional slow down issues. This could be from just running around in town, or right after a battle in one of the dungeon areas in the game. It’s odd how the game has slowdown in these areas where nothing is happening, but everything is fine during the combat sequences.

The most unforgiving of the problems though would have to be in voice-work. This is probably one of the worst English dubs since Resident Evil one. It is incredibly hard to take anyone serious in this game at all, it sounds like everything was done in one take when they recorded each character. You can’t care about a storyline when the characters themselves don’t sound into it. What makes matters worse is that there isn’t a Japanese language track to switch to. To add insult to injury, the English voice track isn’t aligned with the in-game models either. So it’s either endure the voices of the characters, or turn the volume for them down to zero and read text.

At least the combat in Arc Rise Fantasia is pretty good, it takes on the basic turn-based game play we’ve come to love from RPG’s. Most of your time is spent out in the open field areas of the game. You’ll run into enemies here for your grinding needs, this includes experience, weapons, and money. Each weapon you purchase has a chance to level up and open new skill slots. With this system you can swap out gems from other weapons into your newly acquired one.
You can also upgrade each characters magical ability, this consists of purchasing new gem slots, increasing mana, and upgrading magic levels. When in combat you have plenty of things to work with, from basic attacks to more powerful abilities like the Excel Acts. These can range from powerful buffs, special attacks, or even healing effects. Add in the ability to use Arm Forces, which are skills gained from leveling up various weapons in the game.

Finally we have the Rogress ability that L’Arc can use to summon a powerful creature to decimate his foes. The only way to use any of these abilities however is by having enough AP to actually use a skill, but players only get one AP bar to spread across multiple characters. So you have to decide how much AP is actually worth using for that turn. Now I know that sounds a bit complicated, but in most fights you can just hit the C button and choose adaptive tactics and win a battle. With this function the game becomes more RPG-Light, as most of the time instead of messing with the clunky combat menu. You will most likely just choose one of the 3 tactics and be done with it. It is only in boss fights where things will probably become more hands-on. Since a good majority of the bosses will use extremely powerful moves, and you’ll have to properly measure your heals and damage to win those fights.

Yet if your aim is to play a game where grinding isn’t much of a chore, Arc Rise Fantasia is it. Since there are various quests you can receive from the guild that sends you out into the world to fight monsters. Being that just spamming the C and A button while in combat versus mediocre monsters usually yields a win. This pretty much takes the strain out of all of the pain that comes with grinding. Now is any of this actually fun when you get down to it… probably not. I mean it’s good that I can automate everything, but the story is so dull that I don’t think it is worth it.

Especially when you realize there will be portions of the game where you have to walk back and forth constantly through a town. This usually entails listening to constant events of horrible voice acting… it really isn’t something that the game play can overcome. Even the music comes off as a bit uninspired… I mean there are some interesting songs here and there… but nothing that really comes off as a masterpiece. it’s a shame too… but even after playing this game for about 20 hours… I still couldn’t find a reason to continue playing. With that… the final grade for Arc Rise Fantasia is a D… the dull story accompanied by horrible voiceover really put this over the top.

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor Review

[rokbox title="Star Successor Review" thumb="" size="854 505" ][/rokbox]

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is the sequel to a game released on the N64 in Japan of 2000. It was then re-released back in 2007 on the virtual console for the Wii. It was a very simple rail shooter that followed the story of rebels fighting back against the Ruffians. It wasn’t exactly the best game on the market, but it is still a very enjoyable shooter. Now about 10 years later it finally has a sequel, so is the next Sin and Punishment a true successor?

Sin and Punishment was created by Treasure, who are also known for such games as Ikaruga and Gunstar Heroes. You play as either Isa or Kachi who are on the run from A group named Nebulox. Isa was tasked with killing Kachi an artificial being running loose on earth, but instead for reasons unknown he decides to protect her. So a majority of the story is basically you running from Nebulox and trying to keep Kachi from being killed. It’s a very straight-forward story that keeps you interested through cut-scenes when you’re not shooting things out of the sky.

The game play is very similar to that of classic on rail shooters like Panzer Dragoon and Space Harrier. So all the control is left up to the scrolling environment, while you use the analog stick to evade the various projectiles in your path. The Wii remote is used to target the countless enemies on the screen, while the B button is used to dispatch them with well placed fire. Holding down the B button will make sure that you keep up a steady rate of fire, while tapping it while make your character use a melee attack.

This attack is useful for knocking objects out of your path that you cannot shoot. While locked on with the A button, you can use the melee button to knock projectiles back into the faces of enemies for increased damage. The A button can also be held down to start a continuous lock sequence on multiple targets, or a heavy lock sequence when you need to take down something extremely big. The movement comes off very fluidly for the most part, the only problem is that the game can lock on to certain objects on its own when you wish to shoot something else. It’s not a big problem since releasing the B button and pressing it again will select your next target.

Things can easily get very challenging in Star Successor, you’ll have to use all of your reflexes to get out of a mixture of situations. More than likely you’ll be using the evade button a lot, seeing as most of the bosses have rigorous patterns that you have to memorize. It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game with such classic boss battles, and on the higher difficulties it really puts your reflexes to the test. It’s good to see a shooter that is as fun as it is challenging. Not to mention that this game can be played with another player, it’s just sad that you can only play locally. Either way though, if you have a friend around… crank it to hardest level and have a great time.

The graphics in game are really well done, with very nice lighting effects, to some strange psychedelic water textures. The game is a delight to look at even with all of the glowing bullets flying at you constantly, from the various enemy types, to the over-the-top boss battles you’ll encounter in each stage. The only real issue with the graphics would have to be the cut-scene animations. With most of the models moving like robots being pulled by puppet strings, but luckily this doesn’t happen during actual game play.

The voiceover is simply passable if that, the only one that genuinely sounds like he is trying would be Isa. Everyone else is hamming it up, especially all of the enemies that you’ll fight throughout the game. Luckily the music makes up for all your sound problems, with vivid rock and electronic music that penetrates the senses and fuels the combat. When the bullets and explosions start to go off all around you, you’ll feel like you’re right in the heart of the battle.
At the end of the day Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is an amazing shooter, it brings back that classic feel of shooter that has been missing in games for awhile. The story won’t necessarily drag you in and the difficulty won’t appeal to everybody. But those that are interested in classic shoot-em ups, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. So Half-Ass Gaming gives Sin and Punishment a C-, and enjoy the game.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

[rokbox title="Trauma Team Review" thumb="" size="854 505" ][/rokbox]

Mario has long since become a household name, and he’s gone through many different changes in his life. He’s risen up from a simple head squashing plumber, to becoming something out of this world. Mario is second to none for Nintendo, even Link would bow down to this small Italian man. Mario is the king of his throne, but will he continue to watch out for his subjects… or is it finally time for him to be usurped?

The game starts with Mario off to meet Peach for a bit of cake and stargazing. On the way Mario runs into a star named Master Luma who can only speak in playstationese. In Exchange for hiding under his hat he teaches Mario to spin through objects. While this may have seemed like a gift on any other day, unfortunately this is the Mushroom kingdom and things always go terribly wrong. Bowser is back again to kidnap the Princess for love, cake, who knows anymore? He spouts off some nonsense about needing a place to fit his ego, and blasts off into space with the princess in the palm of his hands.

Mario meets up with the rest of the Luma stars who are eager to help him blast off into space and take down Bowser. Of course there is a tiny little catch, they need Mario to collect power stars to fuel their ship. With no other choice but to accept, they turn the ship into a flying Mario portrait and set off to rescue the Princess. That’s about all there is to the story, if you want more… well you’re out of luck cause that’s all Mario needs to save a princess. Duh!
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an extremely active game, you’ll be waving, shaking, and swinging your Wii remote everywhere.

It is also very responsive for a genre that usually makes you work for it, and if this is your first time playing a Mario Galaxy game. It doesn’t take long before you’re using the remote like an expert. The control scheme starts off simple with “A” being the jump button, Z being crouch button, B being the action button. Aka you can use this to fire off stars as Mario, or eat anything in your path as Yoshi. The Wii remote plays into this considerably, as the cursor on the screen is used to target items, enemies, and pick up stars scattered about.

But as you get farther in the game and start to pick up items and costumes, Mario will have much more flexibility in his repertoire. With options to drill through a planets crust, use a vine to swing across the planet, or simply throwing a fireball into the face of an unsuspecting Goomba. Mario Galaxy just throws tons of interesting play styles in your face, and one after another you’ll be happy it did.

Now let’s get to the level design of this game, and all I have to say to that is “WOWWWWW”. It’s not just in the graphics either, it’s the way that each planet introduces something new and intriguing to the game mechanics. From simple stuff like avoiding saws cutting holes in your path, to more challenging instances like spinning in the air to create a walkway. Need I say more about this? That’s not even mentioning the look of the planets , which show nothing but the utmost creativity. This includes gravity shifting 2d levels, swimming levels that transform into ice skating levels, and so much more!
It’s astonishing how diverse this game really is, it packs the creativity of at least 10 different games into one. I’m completely blown away at how every level has something different for Mario to do, it’s like dying and going to gamer heaven. Nintendo really did a bang up job with Super Mario Galaxy 2, and it doesn’t just end at the game play either. The soundtrack is epic, with orchestrated pieces to remixed classics. There are songs that channel Smash Brothers, Earthbound, and even the Legend of Zelda. You’ll never get tired of hearing these tunes during your quest for Power Stars.

To sum all of this up, even if you don’t own a Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a must have for your collection. Even if you’re just going to put the box on your table and stare at it longingly… it’ll be worth it. It’s a game that’s brimming with content, but doesn’t force you into playing it for long periods of time. So Super Mario Galaxy 2… receives an A+ for being a creative, challenging, and just an outright fun game. Now let us bow before Mario, because he is still a king worthy of our admiration.