Ace Combat 7 Came Out; is Good

Ace Combat is a beloved series to me. I have a box full of the collector’s edition joysticks from a decade and a half ago when I found out how great the series was on PS2 and graduated to the Xbox 360 version. Dogfighting doesn’t require those sticks, it’s perfectly fine on any gamepad since the Dual Shock 2, but it felt even more glorious to fly through the arcade dogfighting skies of Ace Combat with joysticks and throttles.

After the ignominious spinoff Assault Horizon distanced the series from the shores of the strangereal eight years ago, Ace Combat 7 is finally available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows via Steam after a short period of console-onlyness. Brendan Caldwell called it well, for Rock Paper Shotgun:

…the story explodes outward like an expanding foam, into a complex sequence of nonsense and counter-nonsense. There is a space elevator. There are deadly drones. There is a princess. At one point you, a professional fighter pilot called “Trigger”, are relegated to a prison base, yet still expected (and trusted) to pilot an immensely expensive instrument of war over hostile AA guns. “Your mission,” says your new commander, “is to atone for your crimes.”

I won’t say why this line is uttered to you, because one of the biggest joys here is laughing out loud at the wall of batshittery that hits you with each mission, like a volley of missiles. But I will say this: Ace Combat 7 is the best JRPG so far this year.


There’s a brief VR mode that is exclusive to the PlayStation 4 version, Edmond Tran enjoyed it in his review for GameSpot:

The PlayStation 4 version of Skies Unknown also features an exclusive VR mode consisting of an Ace Combat 4-inspired mini-campaign. There are only three missions, and their objectives are less complicated than those of the main campaign, but even so, the experience of flying from the cockpit of a plane is engrossing. The feeling of speed and height is literally dizzying, the ability to freely look around and track a target with your gaze is terrific, and the act of pitching and rolling your plane is so effective at eliciting a feeling of actual g-force that I personally had a hard time doing more than one mission at once without breaking out into a nauseous sweat. It’s a shame that there’s no option to play the main campaign in VR–the head tracking and freelook alone would be incredibly useful–but the mode is a great addition nonetheless.

Ace Combat 7 is out now for your typical $60 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam for Windows. The “launch edition” for the Xbox One includes a digital copy of the 360‘s Ace Combat 6 and other goodies. The PlayStation 4‘s version of the “please don’t wait until there’s a discount” edition includes the aforementioned VR mode, Ace Combat 5, and the goodies. Sadly, Steam users on Windows only get the goodies and are told to get fucked if they’d like to play the older games. All launch editions expire on the 18th. There are also some kind of season pass shenanigans with three missions exclusive to it.

Somehow, it’s still not as bad as the Anthem purchasing grid. Although Anthem doesn’t support real-world weapons manufacturers, Ace Combat 7 is at least veritably fun. Hm.

I am Irrationally Excited for Ace Combat 7

Let’s be honest. Ace Combat Assault Horizon was awful. Ace Combat is best when it is a goofy self-serious exploration of flying silly jets in the sky and menus that have cyberpunk military noises and briefing voiceover guy telling you about Oscetia’s latest invasion along with the inevitable pretend surprise at whatever the latest gigantic airship is that you have to shoot down. Also there is usually a ground base that you can literally fly your jet fighter through to blow up. Assault Horizon had almost none of this and felt like it was trying to be more like a Call of Duty spinoff than an actual Ace Combat.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown looks like a return to the ridiculous Ace Combats of yore, and for that I am excited for when it comes out later this year on Steam for Windows and various consoles.

Touch my Katamari Review (PS Vita)

The king talks about a “hobo stew” later on.

The King of the Cosmos is back in Touch my Katamari from Namco on the PlayStation Vita, but this time he’s all about breaking the fourth wall and talking about how fans are upset with the more recent games in the Katamari series. It’s a nice setup. However it is not exactly welcome when this game doesn’t make up for six weak sequels.

So much of Katamari’s status was due to the original game’s surprisingly fun and original gameplay. When I first bought the Playstation 2 game I had no idea what to expect, my local retailer had only one copy and they were surprised anyone was going to buy it. But I’d caught word that it was something special. Not much has changed since then despite sequels for every platform. Rolling up every object in sight into a huge ball is still your overall objective.

The few unique levels in the game don’t really stand out, but there is a new gameplay element that is actually kind of fun. Or it would be, if there were more opportunities to use it while playing. For the first time you can stretch or squish the Katamari using the front or rear touch screens while rolling to fit into places the regular ball-shaped Katamari couldn’t.

Like the game’s few unique levels, this touch feature is underutilized. The most time you’ll spend using it is during the tutorial. Sure you could use it during regular gameplay, but there aren’t enough situations to do so. I’d hate to be forced to use touch features, but it’s almost worse that Namco actually came up with a good idea and then didn’t use it.

I wouldn’t really mind the lack of innovation in this iteration if there were more stages to play in. This is really the crippling blow to the game. I saw everything there was to see in a little over an hour.

That’s OK when there’s some kind of amazing narrative or replayability, both of which are missing from this game.

Katamari games have always had this great colorful texture palette that is a nice change from most every other game out there. It’s combined with fairly simple graphics which is why it’s a surprise when the game can get a little choppy in the frame rate department while you’re rolling your Katamari on the larger levels.

I had a few laughs at the King’s expense and enjoyed what I played, but I just wish there was more of it. Katamari games have never been super challenging, and they shouldn’t be so all the game really needs is more stages. I’m usually hesitant to equate gameplay hours to money, but in this case it’s impossible to ignore. King of the Namcos, lets put a little bit more effort in next time.

3 out of 5 Calamaris

Keita Takahashi is Awesome.

noby_noby-pacmanHe updated the Playstation blog today with this image, and the following text, plus some other stuff:

This photo was taken on January 1st when I came in to work to fix bugs.

As you can easily imagine, there was no one in the office that day except for the security guards. I had a lot of fun freely taking pictures with Boy! I remember carrying him to the main entrance laughing and taking pictures of Boy wrapped around the Pac-Man statue. When I was planning on using this photo for the banner, I was told that Pac-Man stood out more and the picture made it look like it was a Pac-Man game. I just answered back saying, “Players may buy the game by mistaking it for a Pac-Man game! Wouldn’t it be nice?”

Also, I finally have an internet connection in my new apartment and have tried Noby Noby Boy for myself. It is quite the thing and should be demonstrative of why more people should own Playstation 3 consoles. Other consoles may have a few interesting games on their digital distribution platforms, but none are as original or creative as Noby Noby Boy Poop it out.