Thoughts on games 2016/2017 edition

I've been playing way too much this year and don't like the way updating this blog works. Already started work on a new blog software, but I keep getting stuck on stupid stuff since I'm using a framework I'm not experienced with so it's taking some time. Therefore it's hard finding time to write an elaborate review for every game I play, and I decided to make a couple of posts containing my main sentiments on the games I've played in the recent past. This way I also don't have to worry so much about getting a couple of screenshots for each and every game.

Armed Blue Gunvolt Sou

This one's a disappointment in the sense that it doesn't evolve or change the core gameplay of its predecessor much. It's still really easy unless you go out of your way to make it challenging, and the improvements lie outside of the direct gameplay. For example in Gunvolt 1 you had to select your quests before starting a mission, but this time quests are accomplished automatically without the need to select them. However most of them can't be accomplished the first time you play a stage so if you want to collect upgrades you'll have to replay stages over and over. It's cheap filler since the main game is pretty short and there's no real need for any of the upgrades and equipment items anways since the game was designed around your initial equipment.
There's a new playable character which is a bit more fun to play than Gunvolt because he doesn't rely so much on a skill that slows him down and covers almost the whole screen making it hard to see, but all the other issues from the first game persist. Lots of (optional) story text that covers half the screen, bosses with moves that are hard to read, monotone background visuals that make the game seem like a cheap mobile game.
I still like the series a lot though, even if the games are style over substance. There's a surprising amount of new characters in the sequel and playing as Acula just feels as "cool" as it can get. Gameplay is still not up to par with the Zero and ZX series. I wish they'd at least make the protagonist voice his thoughts and give the option to listen to the voices without the portraits and textboxes covering 70% of the screen...

The Alliance Alive

3DS JRPG from the developers of Legend of Legacy, which I didn't play so there won't be any comparisons from me. It's pretty classic. A large cast, an overworld and turn based battles. However there's no traditional leveling system. Characters gain HP and SP boosts every few battles and skills get stronger as you keep using them. There's some tactic to the battle system as you can influence character stats by giving them a role and putting them in specific positions. It's fun to fight tough enemies.
The visuals are kinda flat. Characters are portrayed with chibi-style models and there's not much color in the game because it plays in a post-apocalyptic world without any sunlight. Thanks to that the worldmap unfortunately misses that feeling of comfort I always liked about them in '90s RPGs.
The story is nothing special, but the characters are well written, pretty and have very expressive faces giving the game at least some kind of charm. This aside it feels pretty bland overall. It's worthy of note that the Creator of the Suikoden series wrote the script for this. If it wasn't so dry and colorless it would be close to a must-play for JRPG fans, but as is it's sadly not a noteworthy experience save for the fun character interactions. The OST isn't bad, but also doesn't really strike out.

Blaster Master Zero

This was a nice surprise. I never played the NES original or many NES games in general, so came in with the expectation that it would feel too dated. However that wasn't the case. It doesn't stand out much, but is a fun game to play a stage at a time. Very recommended.

Sonic Boom Fire & Ice

I gave this a shot because SEGA seemed very keen on making a good Sonic Boom game. And they almost delivered. Fire & Ice isn't a bad game, but it's not really good either. Plays too repetitive and there's only 1 or 2 noteworthy tracks in the game. Felt to me like a phone game - and so I wasn't surprised when I checked and learned that it was indeed developed by a company specializing in mobile games.
It's probably cool for fans of the Cartoon Series since it comes with a bunch of cutscenes in the style of the TV animation, but the game itself is just fun for the first couple of stages and quickly starts to drag. It's just running forward, pressing A when you see an enemy to home in on and using a character's special skill when necessary. It's the same from start to end.