Category: 3DS Reviews

Return to Popolocrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale – 3DS

Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Season Fairytale, is as you’d expect, a cross over between two video game franchises. PopoloCrois is a niche RPG series originally adapted from Manga, whilst Story of Seasons is an off-shoot of the famous Harvest Moon series of farming simulator games. So here we have a collision of two genres. A JRPG farming simulator.

After a brief retelling of previous PopoloCrois games, the story begins on Pietro’s 13th Birthday. He’s sneaked out of the castle to go and give a gift to a witch called Narcia who he appears to have a not-so-subtle crush on. Like many JRPG’s it begins with a cold opening, a task or situation that’s of little consequence to the overall plot.

With murmurings of dark forces in the area it’s not long before the story really kicks into gear. In an attempt find a solution to the impeding problems Pietro is willingly transported to another world although not everything is as it seems. Pietro is now trapped alone in a foreign world with even bigger problems than his own. The evil forces are infesting the fertile lands, preventing crops from being grown and leaving the population in a perilous position.

After being rescued by a heroic blue wolf (it makes sense later) and aided by two boys with mysterious pasts, Pietro embarks on a quest to not only save his own world, but also to save this new one too.

The story overall is very harmless. It doesn’t break any ground nor will it tug at your emotions; it’s simple, cheerful and enjoyable. The whole plot moves at a fast pace, moving from place to place to bring fertility back to the land and hopefully stop the nefarious plans of the Dark Lord Gryphot and his sycophants. It harkens back to a simpler, more innocent time which I thoroughly enjoyed. The corny, yet often funny, dialogue and the colourful cast of characters meant it was a welcome respite for me, although I can see this being a negative for others.

As soon as you begin to move Pietro around you’ll feel a slight awkwardness. Despite the circle pad, your movements are based on a grid of small squares meaning you can only move in eight directions. Due to the style of the game and those that have come before it, it always feels clunky and somewhat off as you can’t even walk in a circle correctly. It’s not a major complaint at all, but you’ll definitely notice it.

The battle system is interesting even though we’ve seen it before in other games. Instead of stationary characters lined up and giving out attacks, you can move your player around the battlefield on a grid. If you move close enough to an enemy you can attack it. Like the story, it’s actually a refreshingly simple battle system, maybe too simple for some, but I kind of enjoyed not having to think too much about different mechanics.

Of course you can do your normal attack, or utilise each character’s unique skills that they can learn as they level up. They range from magic attacks, more powerful physical attacks and even a team up attack between two characters who share a bond. Like most JRPG’s moving into the modern times, there’s an auto battle feature, and it’s a fast one to boot! I found this very useful when re-treading grounds I’d already passed and knew I could easily handle the monsters in the area.

Another modern JPG element is the implementation of being able to adjust the encounter rate on the fly. I found this useful too. On the rare occasion I didn’t feel like fast travelling to a nearby village, I’d ramp up the encounter rate and put on auto-battle; it was grinding without feeling like grinding.

Not that you’d ever need to grind. Return to PopoloCrois is quite possibly the easiest JRPG I’ve ever played. On the normal setting I didn’t have a single character get knocked out until the final boss battle, and that was due to my blind overconfidence from the previous 20 hours playing. Personally I enjoyed not having a taxing time playing the game, but it’s definitely something close to JRPG fans’ hearts. For those wanting some kind of challenge I recommend you choose the hard difficulty from the start (you can change that on the fly, too).

You may have noticed from the rather long title, that there’s a whole other aspect of the game to uncover. Story of Seasons can probably be described as the spiritual successor to the well-loved Harvest Moon series, with a focus on crop growing and animal rearing. While it may take the side-kick role to the JRPG story, there’s definitely the core gameplay here.

As Pietro begins to come to terms with his situation he stumbles across an old abandoned farm which he will soon call his home from home. It’s a quaint little place at first but will gradually open up to a decent size. It’s here you will do all the things you’re used to in a Harvest Moon game. You have plenty of fertile land to plant crops and modest barn to house chickens, cows and even alpacas. Because everyone loves alpacas. The last Harvest Moon game I played was A Wonderful Life on the Gamecube, so I don’t know how the mechanics have evolved over time, but they’re definitely a lot simpler than when I last played them. The farming is a very passive aspect of the game. It’s fun and cute, but for the game as a whole you don’t need to worry about it if you really don’t want to. It’s actually a more of an end-game activity, indeed, it’s the thing to concentrate on once you’ve finished the main story.

One interesting feature of the farming is that as you gradually cleanse the world of evil, you gain access to more farms in different locations, albeit much smaller than your home farm. Each farm you gain can grow different produce; in fact I’m pretty sure some of them are based of seasonal things. One farm will grow summer type produce, another will grow winter vegetables and so on. All in all there are six farming locations to manage, a healthy number.

In order to cleanse the world you and your gang must travel the world and free the fairies that protect the farmlands. It may sound ridiculous, but your fairy companion shrinks you down to a tiny size so you can go in the undergrowth and destroy the monster that is causing the ruin of each field. Doing this to all the fields in one area gives you access to the ruins, which in turn gives you access to new farmland and an imprisoned fairy. It sounds rather long winded but during play it’s very simple. These ‘undergrowth’ sections and ‘ruins’ are actually what you’d say are the dungeons of the game. They’re also the worst part of the game by far. They’re only long corridor mazes with nothing interesting in them at all. There are a lot of these kind of dungeons, dozens in fact, but for the most part they are only one floor and don’t last long at all. It gets pretty repetitive to be honest which is a shame. When there’s the odd dungeons that’s actually like a proper dungeon, the game really picks up a lot and it’s a shame there wasn’t more like those ones.

Like any farming simulator worth its salt, Return to PopoloCrois let’s you do the whole dating-sim thing. Even though you practically have a girlfriend already and are very much in love, the game still let’s you cringe at the awful flirting by giving gifts to cute girls in every village. If you give them enough presents, over time they will like you more and more until eventually they ask if they can live on your farm. “The more the merrier!” Pietro expresses with a twinkle in his eye. To be honest, while it’s all cute and innocent I feel the dating-sim part is over simplified. There’s no depth to it which makes it a little superfluous. Turning up at their village once in a while and handing them a spare turnip has no satisfaction to it at all.

There are still plenty of better things to do however. Around the world you can go bug catching, mine rocks and you even have a synthesis machine in your home where you can fuse things together to create better items. I actually really enjoyed this part and it proved useful for getting some awesome weapons. Even after I finished the game I still wanted to carry on synthesising and find all the recipes.

There are also plenty of side missions to be getting on with. Wandering through a town you may see some folk with a green face above their heads. This indicates they will have a mission for you to do. Sometimes they can be simple and mundane things like killing five of a certain monster, delivering an item to someone or even grander missions that involve solving mysteries and such.

So all in all, while the main story stretches just over the 20-hour mark, you can definitely extend that if you so wish by doing the many things available in Return to PopoloCrois.

Visually it’s nice and colourful and in the over world, every place has a unique look to it. As mentioned though, the dungeons are either repetitive or just completely bland and boring (i.e. the ruins) which tends to suck the life out of it a little. The music for the most part is good with lots of variation between different tracks. Unfortunately many of the tracks seem to have repetitive five-second melodies and don’t really develop into anything.

Overall, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Season’s Fairytale is a simple experience with plenty of things to do and enjoy. It combines two franchises seamlessly as though they’ve always been this way with a very fun cast of characters and an enjoyable story. It may be overly simple for some, which is understandable, and dungeons can be a bit of a downer, but I really enjoyed playing through it and I plan to keep on playing to get all those pesky recipes.

Good points

– Simple, old-fashioned story

– Plenty of things to do

– Funny dialogue

Bad points

– Superfluous dating aspect

– Most of the dungeons are dull, though thankfully very brief

Dementium Remastered – 3DS

Originally released on the standard DS in 20XX, Dementium was unusual for its time; a first person horror game on the DS! It was quite the cult classic from cult classic specialists Renegade Kids and now here it is spruced up with a few tweaks and nicer visuals ready to download on your 3DS.

As it’s a horror game, you’re dumped into a hospital completely defenceless without much in the way of explanation. Terrible things have happened. Blood and ruin dominate your surroundings and eerie groans of nasties aren’t far away. Fortunately you begin to pick up weapons and tools rather quickly. First is the flashlight which you’ll be using most of the time since the areas are pitch black. Not long after you’ll pick up truncheon, a pistol, a shotgun and quite a few more later on. Naturally these are weapons to take out the numerous monstrosities that plague the hospital. One of the scariest aspects of the game is the combat because in order to fight off the enemies you need to switch out your flashlight for your weapon and as a result you need to fight in almost complete darkness. It’s tense. Even with your handgun and shotgun, you need to fight in close quarters because you can’t see too far in the darkness.

Whether it’s intentional or not, the combat is actually quite clunky especially with the early melee weapon you acquire. Swinging to attack always feels rather weightless and you don’t really know if it will connect or not because the hit detection feels quite off. Judging the distance of where to attack from is quite difficult because if you leave it too late you will take damage. I often found myself taking damage almost at every encounter which was a little annoying, especially near the end game. I could have used guns but one of my biggest fears of horror games is running out of ammunition before I need it the most. My advice is don’t worry about it. Ammunition is plentiful, as are pills to restore your health. On the normal setting the game is almost apologetically generous with its supplies, which as a coward, I’m not complaining about. Dementium has different difficulty settings for you to choose if you want more of a challenge.

Enemies vary up nicely as you progress through the chapters of the game. You begin just warding off your standard zombie type enemies that will shuffle towards you. You’ll soon come across more creatures such as big ugly worms, screeching medusa heads, venom-spitting crawlers and more. One issue is that some enemies are such a pain to kill, especially the smaller ones where your accuracy needs to be spot on. This is where the clunky combat rears its head again and to be honest, I just ran past a lot of them. It was less painful.

You’ll even run into some boss battles every now and again. Thanks to the already awkward combat, boss battles are by far and away the most difficult thing in the game. If you beat a boss on your first try you’ll get a pat on the back and a thumbs up from me. Bosses are faster, more persistent and a lot more difficult to avoid than the standard enemies you’ll be used to facing so it may take you a few tries. I actually liked the boss battles despite the spike in difficulty. They add welcome variety to the standard gameplay, even if they can be a little frustrating.

While the combat is awkward I actually really loved the exploring parts. You move in a very horror-esque way, but it feels natural. You walk with the circle pad and you aim with the stylus or the face buttons on the standard 3DS. I initially used the stylus as I thought it gave me more precision, but once I realised this game was compatible with the ‘New’ 3DS (and Circle Pad Pro) I tried with the dual sticks and it worked a treat.

The game isn’t just about mowing down enemies though. As a survival horror game you’ll be tasked with solving a few simple puzzles here and there, usually involving collecting keys or finding passcodes. It’s actually these slower moments that I appreciated the most, although I did feel there was a little too much backtracking which isn’t helped by the scenery.

The game does look fairly nice for a 3DS game but the locations often reuse assets so at times different locations look exactly the same and it’s pretty easy to be lost. It’s a hospital, so it’s understandable that there’d be uniformity to the building, but it doesn’t make for an interesting gaming locale. It’s only a minor complaint though.

I found the plot of the game to be very vague. There’s no real indication of what’s going on here, at least which I could find. There seems to be a creepy little girl you’re chasing after, as well as trying to survive and the bosses just appear out of nowhere, they don’t really have anything to do with the plot. I wasn’t expecting a fleshed out plot with over arching subplots or anything, but just something to keep you going aside the will to survive.

The music is nicely done, it’s very simple and atmospheric for the most part and at times genuinely creepy. I think certain environmental noises and enemy screeches, are a little too loud and often annoying rather than adding anything to the game.

Overall, Dementium Remastered is an enjoyable survival horror game. From what I’ve heard of the original, this one has ironed out a lot of the creases although there are still a fair few present that prevent it from being a must have title. I don’t see a lot of room for replayability and it’s not a long game at all so I think the current asking price is a little too much for some people, but I do recommend it if the price is okay for you.

Good points

– Lots of atmosphere

– Puzzles are simple but nice

Bad points

– Repeated environments

– Hit detection can be frustrating, especially near the end

Word Puzzles by POWGI – 3DS

You may have missed our review of Word Puzzles by POWGI for the Wii U. This article is considering the 3DS version of the game, which has exactly the same content as the Wii U version. If you want a full lowdown of the game, please check the Wii U review, this article will just be regarding minor comparative things between the two versions.

So what does the 3DS version have to offer that the Wii U doesn’t? Well I’ll get straight to the winning point: Portability. The 3DS version offers the same content and gameplay but on the go. In fact the two screens are used more effectively here as information is spread between the two. The Wii U doesn’t do this as the TV and Gamepad are mirrored (not a complaint as it’s an understandable decision) so it’s a little more cluttered.

Despite being a 3DS game, there is no actual 3D to use, not that there would be much point, but it’s worth noting.

It still includes amiibo functionality if you have the “New” 3DS or the amiibo reader thingy at hand, and apparently the game makes use of Street Pass, which due to me seemingly being the only person in my city with a 3DS, I can’t try out.

Sure, the 3DS has the smaller screen, but it’s a lot more comfortable to hold and play compared to the Wii U gamepad. I’d rather sit on the sofa playing it on my 3DS than the Gamepad any day of the week. So not that there’s anything particularly wrong with the Wii U version, it’s just much more suited to the 3DS. Luckily if it’s cross buy, so you’ll automatically get both anyways.

RV-7 My Drone – 3DS

While drones are becoming ever so popular, it’s surprising that up until now, there haven’t been any games about them, at least that I can think of. EnjoyUp Games, one of the most prolific game developers on the eShop, has come to fill that gap. For the meagre asking price, it’s genuinely not a bad option.

You control your drone with the circle pad as you fly around each mission setting which is set out vertically. You can move horizontally, but only within the width of the actually screen. You begin the game with very simple missions such as supply and rescue. Supply has you picking up medical supplies from one base and transporting them to another, while Rescue has you scouting the area for stranded people, having you pick them up and then sending them back to base.

It’s all very harmless at first, you dodge and weave around environmental hazards such as trees and large boulders, as well as avoiding enemies and rockets that can appear from the ground or flying across your path from the sides. The game likes to surprise you with these enemy hazards right up until the last second. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to avoid them in the early stages.

As you complete each level you can also gain extra medals for completing it within a certain time frame and by not taking any damage. While they don’t add anything to the experience it’s nice to go back and challenge yourself to these once you know how the level works.

As you make your way through the game, it’s not long before your drone comes equipped with a gun. Firing the gun is as easy as hold the stylus on the touch pad, wherever you have the stylus, the gun will fire there. It’s basically a form of the twin-stick shooter genre. Bullets are infinite so you don’t have to worry about running out. You will need to almost constantly fire your weapon anyways as new enemies will appear who will shoot right back at you, be-it a tank or a fellow drone.

One thing you may need to worry about is running out of energy. You have a battery meter at the bottom of the screen indicating how much energy you have left, it looks like it runs out pretty quickly but you don’t need to worry so much. In fact there is at least one recharge point in each mission where you can fully recharge at no cost, as much as you want. Even so, it will take you a lot time to run out completely as when it’s bleeping red, you still have a lot of time before you crash and burn. It’s almost like a false threat.

A bit later on you will acquire another ability. I’m not sure what one would call it, as it serves a few purposes. It gives you the ability to stop time and warp to any point on the screen, even bypassing most enemies. At first you will only be using this to pass through small passages that are moving too quickly to go through at normal speeds, but later on you’ll probably be using it all the time just to traverse most of the stage. It’s a much faster and safer way to progress through the level.

One function it has that either the game didn’t express, or at least express very clearly, is that you can actually freeze some objects. If you press the L button to freeze time, you have hover over certain objects and press B to freeze them. Once you resume normal time, the object will still be frozen.

A stage later in the game had me very frustrated. A wall completely blocked the road ahead, with occasionally an opening appearing to reveal a core. My initially thoughts was to just keep shooting it every time it opened up. It looked like I was doing damage too since it kept changing colour but the battle kept going on and on and on until I finally ran out of energy and crashed. Left scratching my head a little I tried the same method again a few times until I knew I was wrong. My next thought was to stop time as soon as the core appeared, hoping to warp through it. Nope.

I had to ask the developer what to do. Only then did I notice that when I hovered over the core a small prompt appeared on the touch screen (something you won’t be looking at during the game) to press the B button. Doing so froze the core in real time, enough for me to blast it to bits.

I feel somewhere along the way EnjoyUp may have tried to communicate this technique in a previous mission. Unfortunately communication isn’t really a strong point as all tutorials are one-off visual signs here and there with no actual words.

When you get these new abilities, new kinds of missions will be put forward. There are escort missions, defending, destroying and even collecting pieces to build a bridge and putting out fires by collecting water. The variety is one of the strong points of the game to be honest. Especially when they introduce multiple objectives into one mission. Although even with this variety I think they used the “rescue” mission too many times.

These missions are packed into 5 “worlds” each with 5 stages, plus a final boss. So that’s 26 missions overall, which is a nice amount considering most missions are a decent length, especially as the game progresses. Finishing the game took me just over 3 hours, counting when I got really stuck on that later stage.

It has a decent difficulty curve in it. It starts pretty easy but by the later stages it actually becomes a challenge, and not just when I got stuck not knowing what to do. Enemies and hazards can become overwhelming to be honest. So many different hazards can confront you at once and to be honest in the latter stages they became more annoying that anything. You’re dodging rockets coming out of the ground, you’ve got drones and tanks shooting bullets at you, you’ve got a wind machine blowing you way off course, lava plumes and mountains next you, lasers spinning round and round and all the while you’re trying to land and pick up one little dude. It can be pretty brutal.

Now I seem to be complaining a lot, but that’s because it’s these few small issues that prevent RV-7 My Drone becoming a must have title for your 3DS. There’s a good game inside here. It’s simple and cheap looking, but there’s a lot to like. It has enough mechanics and variety to keep you entertained along the ride. I had to double take when I looked at the price. £1.99 is actually a really good price point for this, almost at an impulse purchase level. And if you’re getting the twitchy finger syndrome above the purchase icon, like I often do, then at least you’re not going to get a bad game. You’ll get a decent game with just a few flaws that will keep you occupied for a good few hours at least.

Good points

– Mission variety

– Nice amount of content for the price

Bad points

– Enemies can be annoyingly overwhelming later on

– Presentation and communication are lacking