Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a 90's style RPG by WaterMelon. It was released in 2010 on a SEGA MegaDrive/Genesis cartridge. This was the last Genesis game ever made, and it pushed the hardware to its limits, from what I've read. An NPC in the game even makes a joke on SNES games having loading times. Recently, though, the game was given a brand-new set of graphics in HD, and released for modern home game platforms, OUYA, Android, and even the old Dreamcast. I Read about it on Wii U Daily. Until then, I had never heard of this game, but it looked cool, and I Had to have it. It's the only Wii U game of its kind not in the category of Virtual Console. The Wii U version is basically the same as the other versions, but people claim that it's best played on Wii U, for a reason I'll explain below. But if your Wii U is not your main game console, then you may rather want to get it for your PC or 8th gen console for the convenience.
The game starts it's story with Hoston and his dad, Rudy, who is dying of an illness that a certain doctor hasn't shown up to heal yet. Hoston wants get the legendary Meinshu herbs to heal him, so he treks into the forest with his friends to find them. But this triggers a chain of events leading up to the uncovering of The Society, and their desire to obtain a device that can rewrite time and space.
Each character has HP and MP, and various spells he/she can use. The Battle command system has commands like "attack" and "spell" that cycle in a wheel when a directional input is used, similar to Paper Mario 2. An Auto Fight feature is there, but how and if you use it is up to you. Each party member can "gather" on a turn, accumulating a point of gather each turn. Each member can hold up to five of these at a time, and can even "send" his gather to another party member when needed. Gather is important because it increases attack power and Magic potency, so ice blasts get colder and healing feels better. Some attacks and spells require a certain quota of gather, too, to be used at all. And if a character falls in battle, he gets 1 HP when it's over, so HP recovery can be done as normal without needing to cure unconsciousness (that's one thing I really appreciate as an EarthBound fan).
apart from fighting, the towns and dungeons are layed out in an elaborately designed mix of sprites and modern graphics. The cutscenes combine both sprites moving around and the usual RPG-style dialogue boxes, with some events being depicted with drawings of certain events, like a manga. Even on old CRT TVs and monitors (my TV), Nintendo fans like those on Digibutter must agree that the game looks gorgeous. Even if you don't like the HD graphics, or are a longtime fan of the original, the game has all the original 16-bit MegaDrive graphics included just an option away. The Story has pretty good/sassy humor, on par with EarthBound's, but has some very serious, and unusually disturbing moments for games of the genre, it had me hooked especially near the end. The Soundtrack? That's in HQ too! The music of Pier Solar HD was beautiful, went well with the story, and makes for a good YouTube listening playlist. As with the graphics, the original 16-bit soundtrack can also be chosen if you would like. On the Wii I Gamepad screen, you can put a Status screen showing your HP and MP, and a radar .
While Pier Solar is a great game, there are still several flaws and quirks. The Battle system is especially tedious and repetitive. The Animations do take some time, and I, being a somewhat attached EarthBound fan, became fidgety when I got impatient with these. (There's a spell that gives temporary amnesty from encounters, but it's MP cost isn't feasible for repeated use)Areas have like 4 enemies in them, and the random-encounter rate gets annoying when you are trying to solve a puzzle. Halfway through the game, I started running away from like a third of these fights! An sabes que? Later into the game, enemies get recolored an reused. In fact, late in the game the same sprites from earlier in the game aren't recolored at all, and though they look like oldr enemies, their stats are updated to keep up with yours. Also, you may find yourself wandering aimlessly a lot: this game is anything but linear. I consulted a walk through sundry times because there were moments that it just wasn't obvious or findable what to do next. The Save system is...weird. If auto-save is enabled, the game will automatically save at the entrance of certain buildings or caves. This makes the game lag sometimes. (Even if Auto is not enabled, you can still use manual save points. Don't fret) for these reasons people call Pier Solar mediocre, and say that its genre did not age well (it's a 90's game in 2010's)
In my own opinion, I think that this game is great. It is commendable for the developer's first game, and if you like games like Breath of Fire and Chrono Trigger, this game is perfect for you!
Probably to compliment a soon-to-be-announced Amazon cloud-gaming service (only playable on Fire devices, of course)
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Editor's Note: As a reminder, this is a spoiler-heavy discussion of the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us. Those who have not played the episode but intend to probably shouldn't read this.
The episodic structure of Telltale's The Walking Dead franchise is arguably one of the best things about it. As a series that deals regular moments of sheer soul-draining sadness, there is a feeling of emotional reprieve that comes with the end of each episode. Maybe you're still itching to see what's going to happen in the next chapter of the story, as I often am, but more times than not, I'm also grateful that I get a break after two hours or so of constant character deaths, tough decisions, and abject misery pouring in from every corner of the game's world.
The Wolf Among Us is a game that certainly deals in moments of dread and unexpected death, and comes with a generalized feeling of depression that permeates every personality you come into contact with. But it's nowhere near as pervasive as in The Walking Dead. After all, this is a noir-flavored detective procedural, and not an apocalyptic survival tale. Yet the two series offer similar gameplay designs and an identical release structure, and only one of them directly benefits from either of the above. Unfortunately, it's not The Wolf Among Us.
Overall, I've been enjoying The Wolf Among Us so far. Visually, it manages to bring together the neon-tinted grime of 1980s New York with the fantastical world of Fables in a stunning way, and the story has plotted out some nifty twists that I never saw coming. But its third episode, "A Crooked Mile," finds this first season suffering a bit from its own structure and game design. Lacking that sense of relief one gets from finishing an episode of The Walking Dead, every episode feel like it blows past, like you're just getting to something good before the rug is pulled out and you've got another month-long (or longer) wait until the next story piece. That's especially true of "A Crooked Mile," and episode that laser-focuses on Bigby's hunt for the vile presumed murderer, Ichabod Crane. While it makes sense from a storytelling perspective, that intense focus on investigation puts the onus on the game's investigative mechanics to pick up the slack left by the lack of surprises in the episode's plot, and that's just not something this series' gameplay is well-suited for.
After episode two left him standing in a blood-soaked hotel room, glaring angrily at a photo of Crane molesting a prostitute "glamoured" to look like Snow, it's no surprise that Bigby becomes hellbent on finding his former employer. But even with that reveal at the end of the last episode, it becomes clear early on that Crane as the murderer of Fabletown's working girls still doesn't make a ton of sense. Crane's twisted way of sating his unrequited desire for Snow certainly deserves some justice (as does the reveal that he's been embezzling money from Fabletown for years), but nothing about the guy strikes as a cold-blooded killer. Still, with Crane being the only available suspect, it's no wonder that "A Crooked Mile" becomes all about finding him before he skips town.
I've been playing Bigby as a character always on the verge of unchecked rage, allowing him to express his frustration with the constant stonewalling by the other Fables he encounters, while only resorting to actual violence in the most dire circumstances. At the beginning of "A Crooked Mile," as Bigby storms off to find Snow so he can tell her what's been going on, I was initially worried that room for that kind of nuance might be lost in favor of an anger-fueled revenge bender. Thankfully, as you show up at Lily's funeral looking for Snow, the game continues to offer you nicely varied choices for how to proceed. No matter how mad Bigby might have been, I wouldn't have felt right barging into the funeral service, so I chose instead to let Snow continue her speech and inspect the tributes people had brought to honor their fallen friend. This is the first of the "big" choices the game offers you, though it also seemed like the least consequential. Regardless as to how I chose to proceed, the thuggish pair of Dee and Dum would inevitably arrive to cause a commotion, apparently on the hunt for the same man that I was. I tried to play the sequence as coolly as I could, allowing Lily's sister Holly and her friends to intimidate the pair. Yet I still ended up with a gunshot wound for my trouble. Of course Bigby survives, thanks in no small part to the help of a kindly doctor, but it wouldn't be the last wound I'd suffer over the course of the episode.
Once Bigby is patched up in the main Fabletown office, the game branches in a way that calls back to one of the choices in the series' first episode. Here you're confronted by an enraged Bluebeard, a magical mirror that can't be repaired (due to Crane stealing a piece of its shattered glass before skipping out), and multiple locations that must be investigated prior to 2 A.M., when Crane is apparently going to be meeting the witch that's been supplying him glamours. The three locations--Crane's penthouse apartment, the offices of Dee and Dum, and the bar managed by Lily's sister--would each take a considerable amount of time to poke around. For my part, I opted to go to Crane's apartment first, which led me to find Jack Horner robbing the place blind. Jack pleads with you not to arrest him, and despite being given multiple opportunities to ruin the guy--especially after Snow shows up asking what's going on--I decided to not reveal that Jack was burglarizing the apartment. For all I know, that may have zero impact on the story going forward, but I preferred the idea of him owing me a favor. Jack does give some useful info about the witch, who is named Auntie Greenleaf, but not enough to indicate where she might be.
For the second location, I chose to go to Holly's bar. There I found Grendel and the Woodsman, drowning their sorrows following the funeral. To me, the relationship between the trolls and the few Fables who frequent the bar has been the most interesting. They're the hardest luck cases among the Fables, it seems, and their contentious relationship with Bigby (and any authority figure, for that matter) has resulted in some of the most interesting dialogue in the series thus far. You don't get quite as much out of the conversation that follows here, due mostly to the time constraints and your singular desire to look through Lily's belongings before Holly burns them, but there are a few good moments here with both Grendel and the Woodsman, who seems far more defeated than in previous episodes. This is another opportunity for the player to be a dick, or extend an olive branch to a group of people who seem utterly wary of him. I chose the latter, as I often have, and once again, it's debatable whether I made any inroads with them at all. The mistrust these Fables feel toward you seems to run incredibly deep, and I'm beginning to wonder if this series has any designs on allowing the player to ever repair those relationships.
After talking to them for a while, and a bit of conversation with a barely-awake Holly, I was allowed to go through Lily's things. Among some other trinkets, I find an address book that points you directly to Auntie Greenleaf's location. By the time I got there, it was past the 2am deadline, and a little girl opened the door, playing confused in a way that had me immediately suspicious. Like, who leaves a little girl all by herself in a seedy apartment in the middle of the night? Plus, this is a witch who supplies glamours, the cloaks that Fables wear to keep themselves hidden from the real world. The game seemed like it really wanted to surprise the player by revealing that, yes, this girl was Greenleaf in disguise, but I had that feeling from the moment she opened the door, so it fell a little flat for me. Still, Greenleaf is an interesting new character that, unfortunately, you don't get very much out of here. Snow makes a lot of threats, demanding that Bigby put her under arrest and burn the sacred tree she uses for all her magical spells. That's certainly a change of pace for Snow, but makes sense considering how violated she must feel knowing what Crane was up to. Still, being a dirty hippy at heart, I couldn't bring myself to burn the tree. Instead, I made Greenleaf an offer: report to the officially licensed witches of Fabletown and work for the good guys, or lose her tree. Begrudgingly, she accepted, and told us that Crane was on his way to the Pudding and Pie, AKA the Fable-owned strip club we uncovered in the last episode.
Why would Crane go there? Evidently he meant to brace the girls working at the club to try and find out the identity of the true killer. He'd taken a ring from Greenleaf, one designed to make anyone tell the truth--even those with spells cast upon them to keep them from saying anything. Unfortunately, the ring's magic has long since been drained, and when you arrive, you find Crane futilely trying to shake the truth out of one of the girls. With every utterance of "my lips are sealed," Crane becomes more frantic, but eventually he has no choice but to give up. He knows he's screwed, and when faced with the prospect of fighting a very angry man-wolf, he gives himself up.
Unfortunately, you never get the chance to properly question him, as you're immediately greeted outside by Dee and Dum, alongside a new character to the series: Bloody Mary.
Right away, it's apparent that Mary is a psychopath. She cracks a twisted smile at every utterance of potential violence, and she's here at the behest of a mysterious figure known as The Crooked Man. We don't know much about The Crooked Man yet, though it's strongly implied that he's something of an underworld boss in Fabletown, and likely Georgie's benefactor in his club management and prostitution schemes. Whatever his role, Mary makes it clear that he wants Crane. Ostensibly, he wants him because Crane owes him a goodly sum of money, but the implication also seems to be that he doesn't want Crane talking to the cops, which probably means that Crane's a dead man if he's taken by Mary. So naturally, Bigby and Snow resist giving Crane up. That goes very poorly right away, with gunshots ringing out and Bigby down on the pavement.
But then it happens. The moment the series has been building to for a while, where all of Bigby's defenses go down and the wolf truly comes out. Even with all the diplomacy and dialogue I've been making Bigby engage in, I knew eventually he'd lose it, and what better time than with a pair of ugly twins peppering you with shotgun blasts as you creep ever closer to them. This is maybe the most awkward moment of gameplay in the series yet, unfortunately, as you're required to keep mashing a button to shrug off the gunshots and make your way to Dee and Dum. It goes on for a weirdly long time, and it's not especially fun. It becomes more fun once you finally get there and extract a bit of revenge on the twins. Yet, even while going full bore on the two of them, I was able to stop myself from killing one of them outright. As (justifiably) angry as Bigby was here, I still can't see him as a reckless murderer, so I let Dum live. Not that Mary was looking to afford me any such mercy. The episode ends after Mary shoots Bigby with a silver bullet (one of those mythical methods of monster slaying that apparently proves true in this world), and Crane is sent off to The Crooked Man, possibly to never be seen again.
It's an appropriate enough note to close things out on, though I couldn't help but feel like "A Crooked Mile" was missing something. In the first episode, the writers spent a great deal of time just introducing you to, and explaining the basic mechanics of the Fables' world. In the second, all of the investigative work was bookended by two big twists that managed to shake up everything you thought you understood about what was going on. "A Crooked Mile" introduces new characters and throws a couple of curveballs in the player's direction, but nothing seems to land with much impact. As a result, the gameplay is forced to do more heavy lifting, and that's not something Telltale adventures ever excel at. The Wolf Among Us is at its best when the story is driving the player forward, and while the hunt for Crane had its moments, it never felt like it was terribly important in the grand scheme of things--why would you reveal the true identity of the murderer this early in the story?
As a result, much of what you do in "A Crooked Mile" feels like investigative busywork. It's connective tissue, meant to bridge the first act of the season to its eventual conclusion. Having those kinds of episodes in your seasonal structure isn't by itself a bad thing, but as I mentioned at the top, The Wolf Among Us already has this issue of feeling a little light as each episode comes to a close. At least in the first two episodes, I felt like I learned quite a bit about the world and characters I was interacting with. In "A Crooked Mile," the solitary focus on tracking down Crane ensured that I wouldn't be learning much of anything new, and the introduction of Bloody Mary and Auntie Greenleaf didn't do anything to counteract that. While I'm certainly very curious to see what happens to Crane, what The Crooked Man's true role is, and what will ultimately become of Bigby, "A Crooked Mile" is ultimately the least satisfying episode of The Wolf Among Us yet.
Well, this was unexpected. Bungie's in-house composer, Marty O'Donnell, is no longer part of the studio.
The news broke last night on Twitter, and O'Donnell characterized the departure as not exactly amicable.
I'm saddened to say that Bungie's board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014.— Marty O'Donnell (@MartyTheElder) April 16, 2014
Bungie has not publicly commented on the nature of why O'Donnell has left, but the company did publish a brief blog post entitled "there are those who said this day would never come..." that wished him well.Destiny will be released on nearly every platform under the sun later on this year.
"For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans," said the company in a statement. "Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors."
O'Donnell was responsible for composing the Halo games, a series with one of gaming's most memorable modern themes. He was also scoring the studio's upcoming Destiny, which included a collaboration with Paul McCartney. Destiny isn't scheduled to be released until September 9.