Should I Buy? – Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Alright, finally a new videogame review! This one’s a little different. It’s for a new, AAA title. It it a cut-price title, however. So, a full decade after MvC2 Capcom got back together with Marvel to make MvC3. They planned to release a whole host of content as DLC, but the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 forced them to rethink their plans. Instead, they created a new version, with twelve new playable characters, eight new stages, two new online modes, the ability to play as Galactus and rebalanced gameplay. All for less than the price of the original game.

And it’s awesome. See, me and fighting games fell out sometime around Tekken 4, when actual skill became a necessity, rather than being able to have fun with plain ol’ button mashing. Soul Calibur, Street Fighter, all of them were suddenly not catering to guys like me. But MvC3‘s bright, fun gameplay intrigued me and the inclusion of PHOENIX GODDAMM WRIGHT made me put my fears to one side and buy the new version.

While straight up button bashing still doesn’t work, at least it’s discovered a way to let casual fighting fans like me still have fun with the game and pull off awesome moves. When choosing your characters, you can choose between Normal or Simple modes. In Simple, the controls are a lot easier, with one button for combos, one for specials and one for hyper combos. This makes the fighting closer to Super Smash Bros than Street Fighter, and means even the most inexperienced gamer can pick up a controller and have fun. Though this does mean not having access to a bunch of the characters moves, it does help you learn the basics of the game and how to use a character before trying Normal mode.

But if what you want is an in-depth, complex fighting game then UMvC3 will really deliver. Capcom has made a very fast and fun game where you have to consider all kinds of factors beyond the two guys on screen. There’s X Factor, Hyper Combos, Assists and tagging out amongst your group of three. This isn’t a side I’ve been able to get into yet, I’m still just having fun on Simple mode, but it is pretty much unique in making me want to learn the game better so I can use a character’s full range of tricks.

The cast is now a full 48 excluding the two DLC characters. They all have their own style and are very characterful. The little snippets of dialogue between the different characters where’ll they’ll talk smack to each other is great. Ghost Rider even makes an evil lawyer joke to Phoenix Wright.

Although talking of the world’s most badass lawyer, he and several other characters lose their access to the abilities and gimmicks that make them truly useful in battle. To be fair, they are too complex for the Simple mode control scheme to translate, but it can be frustrating if you find yourself using a highly limited version of your favourite characters.

The character choices are deliberately strange in some places, and it’s good to see a game that’ll use characters like Rocket Raccoon and Arthur rather than just loading the roster down with more famous characters that’d play a lot like some existing cast member. And like I already mentioned, PHOENIX GODDAMM WRIGHT. There’s a member of the cast for every play style.

The game has a mission mode that asks you to pull of different types of combos and special moves which I imagine is designed to help you learn the game, but it’s pretty limited. It doesn’t teach you basic combos, when it’s a good idea to use what kind of moves or let you test these skills in a combat situation. It seems to assume you’ll learn all these things yourself. And well, it’s hard to. Those button combinations and combo streams can be hard to remember and pull off.

There is a much more pressing criticism than anything I’ve said above. All sorts of little design choices make me feel like this game is really intended for online gamers. Everything, from little phrasing choices to larger things. It’s a game that you’re clearly expected to play on Normal Mode online, and is just placating others. Only having an arcade and training mode for single player. It’s like I’m being locked into a playpen at an amusement park while everybody else goes to ride the rollercoasters. It’s still fun as hell and I really love it, but it feels like it’s not really *for* me in some ways.

If you’re a really big fan of the original, this is a no-brainer. If you never played 3 and are just interested, then yeah, give it a try. But if you had three and just liked rather than loved it, you may be a little disappointed to pay as much as they’re asking for it.


Should I Buy? – The Night Circus

I know it may seem like I’ve forgotten this site, but I really haven’t. I’ve got no computer of my own right now and I’ve been swamped with work. But now, here it is. A new review. For a book. Alright, so it’s only almost service as usual.

Erin Morgenstein’s The Night Circus is a recent romantic fantasy novel, in which the titular Night Circus is a magical, traveling circus of dazzling sights and experiences. Against this backdrop two rival magicians are pitted against each other in a mysterious game their masters force them to play. The easiest way to find if this is for you is to ask yourself one simple question: do you like romance stories? If so, then this is the book for you. A pair of star crossed lovers in immaculate and beautiful setting with immaculate and beautiful clothes get all gooey eyed over each other.

Alright, so that’s overly simplistic and a little unfair. The characters are deeper than that, although of course the romance does eventually consume the plot at the expense of all the interesting secondary characters, mind bending circus acts and subplots. I can’t really call this a criticism, because it’s kind of the point of romantic fiction. And despite how I’d have preferred the plot to go in a different direction given its internal mythology, I was still interested enough to read until the end.

Looking over what I’ve done on this site, it may seem strange that I picked this book up, but I was hooked by the failbettergames online game version which I believe is still open. It’s a great supplemental experience to the novel. Go check it out.

Morgenstein’s certainly got a knack for description. She makes everything seem beautiful and enchanting without it ever descending into over flowery purple prose. The characters never really sold themselves to me, but the rotating cast don’t contain a single grating member. The pace is kept up nicely with the short chapters, though the book will quite happily jump around between 1901 and 1902 at times, meaning that it can be a little difficult to keep the internal timeline in your head.

My verdict? A-. Really good, could have been great if it’d expanded on its own world and characters a bit more. However, it is a well paced, well written fantasy novel that’ll hook you in for the ride given half a chance.

A Very Special Episode – Movember and Men’s Health

This is a bit of a break from the norm. I generally try to keep personal issues like politics and stuff out of this site, but this is a special case for an unambiguously good cause. My friend and occasional buythatgame writer Neil is taking part in Movember, a special event to raise awareness (and some cash) for men’s health.

Here’s the link to his donation page. Even if you can’t afford to give anything, at least click the share buttons to let others know who might be willing to help.

Should I Buy? – Professor Layton And Pandora’s Box

Also known as Professor Layton and the Diabolic Box because apparently Americans will buy games based around logic and puzzles but Pandora’s Box is too obscure a reference. Then again, the box in the title is never called the Diabolical Box and very rarely as Pandora’s Box. I can understand how the Elysian Box (as in the Elysian Fields of the Greek Paganist afterlife) would be a tad too obscure though.

I really do admire Layton's hat

Mythology aside, this is the sequel to Professor Layton and the Curious Village. The differences between this game and the last are mostly in the areas of plot as you’re still wandering around solving puzzles on the slightest justification.

How British is Professor Layton (despite being a Japanese game)? Brewing tea is a gameplay mechanic. Yeah.

The ones on offer are all new and test the same wide variety of mental skills like spatial awareness, knowledge of mathematical formulae etc. So if that’s your kind of thing then so is Professor Layton.

The plot this time around concerns Luke and Layton investigating the mystery surrounding the titular box, which leads them onto a train with a destination not marked on any map. The art and music haven’t undergone any significant upgrade, everything’s just a vehicle for the puzzles. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still fantastic, just nothing has changed significantly between the first game and this.

The puzzles are all fine and rely less on tricky wordplay, but the story doesn’t pan out as well as the first one. It has the same big ending twist, but its fraught with logical problems and doesn’t have the same kind of foreshadowing that the first one did.

If you want puzzles wrapped in a charming package any entry in the series would do, personally I’d say start with the first game. Not as a matter of continuity, I’d just say it worked better.

Give this one a try

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