Video Game Review: Pokemon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra

Details: You need to own either Pokemon Sword or Shield in order to play this. Spent about five hours playing through it. This expansion is identical for Sword and Shield, but I played the Sword version. More information can be found at https://swordshield.pokemon.com/en-us/expansionpass/the-crown-tundra/

Score: 5.7/10

The Crown Tundra was mostly a disappointment to me. It lacks story, something the Isle of Armor downloadable content (DLC) had a lot more of. Crown Tundra is simply an excuse to send players out to catch more Pokemon, often times with little to no context. If that is appealing to you, then you’ll enjoy this.

Crown Tundra takes place south of the main continent in Pokemon Sword and Shield. You walk in and are instantly asked to go on an adventure.

There is a short bit of story involving a new legendary Pokemon. That takes about an hour at most. Other than that, you’re basically told to explore this new area and catch more Pokemon. Almost no other context is given, which just doesn’t work for me. If the main thing you like about Pokemon is simply catching more Pokemon, then you’ll love this DLC. If you need a little more story and motivation, this content will fall flat.

The biggest dissapointment to me are the visuals. You need to keep in mind that the Nintendo Switch is an objectively, technically inferior video game console when compared to the Playstation 4 or the XBOX One. And that was the truth years ago when the Switch first came out. Now, the Playstation 5 and XBOX Series X are coming out and the visuals for this game look even more inferior by comparison. This is not a good looking game. It looks like it was made for the Playstation 3, at best. This wouldn’t be so bad if the gameplay made up for it, but the gameplay doesn’t.

One of the biggest complaints most critics had of Pokemon Sword and Shield is that it did nothing new. It took the old Pokemon formula and copied and pasted it into this game in its entirety. This was a system of gameplay that was developed in the 1990’s. It’s old and boring. I wish they would’ve done some kind of overhaul or big upgrade, but they didn’t. With Crown Tundra, the monotony of this gameplay is exacerbated by the passage of even more time. This game just isn’t that fun.

The game does try to add a few new features like Dynamax Adventure, but that’s just a slightly altered rehash of the preexisting Max Raid battles.

To make matters worse, the music wasn’t that great. There’s still not voice acting also, which sucks.

Overall, this was a disappointment. I do not recommend The Crown Tundra to anyone but the most ardent Pokemon fans who love to do repetitive, monotonous tasks and enjoy bland, outdated visuals.

Video Game Review: Lost Sphear

Details: Played on the Nintendo Switch. howlongtobeat.com says that most playthroughs take about thirty-four hours. More information can be found at https://lostsphear.square-enix-games.com/home/

Score: 6.4/10

Lost Sphear is the follow up game to the mostly successful I Am Setsuna. The goal of both games were to recreate the feeling of old fashioned Japanese role playing games.

The biggest issue I have with this game is that the game was boring until about halfway through. Keep in mind that the game averages to about thirty-four hours per playthrough, so to get to the interesting part, you’d have to get through about seventeen hours of boring stuff just to get to some stuff that isn’t that boring. It’s a big ask for a player and I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Lost Sphear takes place in a fantasy world of magic and monsters. You play a young boy named Kanata. When people in the world start disappearing and becoming “lost,” Kanata must now use his new found power to restore them and tackle a threat that seeks to destroy the world.

It’s a deliberately generic role playing game story that mimics the basic story structure of most Final Fantasy games. As said above, my biggest issue with this game is that the story is mundane until about seventeen hours into it. That’s a lot to ask of players to deal with before the game gets good. Even when the story gets good, it merely becomes tolerable from when it was intolerable. By the end of the game, I did find myself enjoying what was happening, but not enjoying half of the game was a lot for me to deal with.

Gameplay is a lot like I Am Setsuna, but with improvements. It was as if they listened to all the complaints fans had with I Am Setsuna and then published a patch which addressed them all. It’s not big changes, but many small changes which improve the experience overall.

Other than these small improvements, the gameplay is almost identical to I Am Setsuna. You explore a world map with smaller areas that you can further explore littered throughout the world. Enemies exist throughout the world and if you walk into them, you start a battle. The battle system uses the well known active time battle system. All this means is that each character in the battle has a bar that fills in real time. When the bar is filled, you get to take an action. An action can be attacking, casting spells, using items, etc. All characters have health bars and the goal of battles is to whittle down an enemy’s health bar before they whittle yours down.

This is all standard stuff. Again, this game seeks to emulate old Japanese role playing games. There are a number of new systems though that worth discussing.

First is the Vulcosuits. Basically, during a battle, you can morph into a mech robot that increases your power and gives you some new abilities. The problem with these Vulcosuits is that they don’t really become useful until much later in the game when you have more artifacts.

Artifacts are places on the world map that you can restore with Kanata’s power. Each artifact gives you a passive ability, like improving the duration of Vulcosuits, increasing damage providing a minimap in the top left corner. Many of the artifacts later in the game improve the use of Vulcosuits and without these artifacts, the Vulcosuits are mostly useless time wasters.

Altogether, the gameplay in this game is unoriginal, but satsifactory.

The visuals in the game are its weakest aspect. The game looks like it was designed for smart phones, from the menu’s to the layout of the world. It is not a pretty game and lacks much of the art direction that made I Am Setsuna so appealing. Lost Sphear looks cheaper. In a role playing game, presentation is everything and the presentation here isn’t great.

The music is fine. There’s not voice acting other than random quips made during battle. Also, all the quips are in Japanese since they didn’t bother recording English versions.

Overall, this game isn’t great. It isn’t terrible either. However, I do not recommend this game because it wasted so much of my time before becoming tolerably interesting. This game just isn’t worth the time.

Video Game Review: I Am Setsuna

Details: The game takes about twenty-five hours to beat according to howlongtobeat.com. More information can be found at https://iamsetsuna.square-enix-games.com/us/

Score: 7/10

I Am Setsuna was released in 2016 and is a call back to the Japanese role playing games of old. It doesn’t innovate in any way. It just tries to recreate what came before.

Video Game Review: Fire Emblem Three Houses: Cindered Shadows

Details: More information can be found at https://fireemblem.nintendo.com/three-houses/downloadable-content/

Score: 7/10

Cindered Shadows is the only narrative downloadable content (DLC) released for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. There was a bunch of other DLC, but all of it was cosmetic or some minor addition. Cindered Shadows offers a greater challenge than the main game offers and even offers some incentives to play through the game again and see some new stuff.

Video Game Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Details: Played on the 3DS. The main game takes about 25 hours to beat, and completing everything takes about 37 hours according to howlongtobeat.com. More information can be found at https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/the-legend-of-zelda-ocarina-of-time-3d-3ds/

Score: 5.5/10

Unlike many video gamer players, I did not play this game growing up. I played this game recently and I did so without the bias of nostalgia. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a game that is simply too old. Playing this game was a chore and was not fun enough for me to continue playing it.

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