Friday, August 7, 2015

Trying Some 3DS Demos

Some titles on the eShop have demos, so I've tried a couple that looked interesting.  Of course, the existence of this post means I'm about to tell you what I tried, what the games are like, and my opinions of them.  If your opinion is different, then... good for you!  If you read this post and decide you want to purchase either of the games, do note that they will both transfer save data from the demo to the full game.

Witch and Hero

I downloaded this demo because the game looked similar to Protect Me Knight on the Xbox 360.  It's got the same retro graphics style and the same occasionally broken English.  The graphics and music are quite good.

However, it's a defense game.  Typically, I don't like those.  Yet, here I am giving one a try anyway.  Unfortunately, I still don't like it.

The difficulty seems to follow an exponential curve, wherein it gradually goes up for a while, and you'll occasionally have to repeat a stage due to some stupid error or whatever, and then suddenly on stage 8 it becomes a brick wall.  You know what doesn't help?  If you fail a stage, your rewards get cut in half.  At first, it seems like it's there to provide a penalty for losing, which is fair.  However, when you lose, it's because you need better stats, and the loss of half of your reward means it takes you twice as long to get better stats.  I must have played stage 8 for about 15 minutes, upgrading whenever I could, and I still couldn't beat it.  Because I couldn't beat that stage, I don't know how far through the game the demo will take you.

Also, the game has no sense of accomplishment.  As you power up, so too do your enemies.  You'll never reach a point where you feel powerful because you're always struggling to complete a stage.  The game's battle system compounds this issue by having you run into enemies in order to attack, despite the mass of unused buttons on the system.  As you run around the screen nudging everything to death, you gradually take damage from some indeterminate source.  Once you die, you stay down until your health bar refills, which takes an annoyingly long amount of time.  Occasionally an enemy will leave a chest behind, but they're annoying to open.  This is because every time you nudge something, you get knocked back, seemingly a random distance.  Usually it's pretty small, but sometimes it's upwards of half of the screen.  The chests seem to always knock you back a long distance, making getting their contents difficult at best.

The witch stays at the center of the stage and can't move because she's been turned to stone.  If she dies, you fail the stage.  However, past a certain point, you can power her up with enemy drops, and when powered up all the way, she'll momentarily revive and perform one of two attacks, either an area-of-effect storm, or a fireball that you have to aim using the L and R buttons.  Powering her up so you can have these attacks going constantly seems to be key to victory.

However, I just didn't find it fun repeating the same stage over and over again, only getting half of the reward, and trying to upgrade myself to the point where I could beat the stage.  The shop where you buy upgrades also charges you more and more for each level of each upgrade, so it takes longer and longer to upgrade each time.  Now do you see why I disagree with the whole "half rewards on failure" thing?  It really only serves to add tedium.  It's just not fun.

The Legend of Dark Witch

This is an action platformer in the style of Mega Man, where each stage ends with a boss fight and you get the boss' weapon when you beat them, and each boss is weak to a specific weapon.  However, it also has a powerup mechanic in the style of Gradius, where drops from enemies fill a gauge and you press a button when the upgrade you want to get is selected.  There are also permanent upgrades that can be purchased between stages.  One of them basically acts as an income multiplier, which I highly recommend grabbing (and maxing out) first.

The graphics are great, the music fits, and the controls are perfect (and re-bindable!).  The character designs are anime-style, which may turn off some of you out there.  For the open-minded, though, it's an excellent blend of two classic games.  The demo has one stage available.  I jumped straight in on Normal difficulty (the highest, Lunatic, isn't accessible in the demo) and had a good experience.

The game has a number of extras that are unlocked by doing various things in-game.  Only a select few (I believe only two) are obtainable in the demo, and I've gotten one of them, for defeating the one boss available in the demo without taking damage.  The way the unlock methods are chosen seems to encourage replaying the game with different strategies, to make it different or more challenging.  For instance, one of them is obtained by completing the game getting no upgrades other than speed upgrades.


I think I'm gonna buy The Legend of Dark Witch, and delete the Witch and Hero demo.

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