Features

Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls III: Ranking the Series

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If you need proof that gamers don’t want just mindless entertainment spoon-fed to them, take a look at the success of the Souls games. GadgetMatch is here to look back at the recently concluded hardcore action RPG franchise, ranking every game from worst to best.

5. Dark Souls II

As the direct sequel to the industry-changing Dark Souls, Dark Souls II had a lot to live up to. It didn’t.


It has an overabundance of forgettable boss battles. It has too many levels that rely on throwing waves of bad guys at the player from all angles. It also looks the worst. Muddy, low-res textures make the environments look fake. Baddies have a wind-up toy feel because of their clunky animation.

But even as the worst in the series, Dark Souls II is still a good game. The HD re-release Scholar of the First Sin does a lot to alleviate the problems of the original. Touched-up graphics, remixed enemy encounters, a more fleshed out story, and all three amazing DLC packed in make it the definitive version.

4. Demon’s Souls

Demon’s Souls introduced a lot of elements that fans have come to love about the series: intricate castles and caverns filled with devious traps and larger-than-life bosses, calculated sword-and-sorcery combat, the risk/reward tension of exploration and self-preservation, and a revolutionary online multiplayer system that let players help or fight each other. Experiencing all this was a revelation for PS3 owners.

Going back to Demon’s Souls though after playing the later games reveals the primitive design. Ambushes are telegraphed a mile away to experienced players. Enemies can’t withstand constant pressure. Most boss battles have one neat solution that make quick work of them on repeat playthroughs. Magic is OP!

But nothing will take away the thrill of conquering Boletaria Palace for the very first time.

3. Dark Souls III

Of the Dark Souls trilogy, the final chapter is the most refined gameplay-wise. Dark Souls III cherrypicks from all its predecessors’ mechanics while presenting novel ways to overcome demons and dragons and all sorts of foul, twisted evils. This combination of quality features results in the most fun-to-play Dark Souls game.

It is certainly the grandest, taking players across distant lands and distorted timelines, and serving up the biggest and baddest bosses to conclude the epic story.

And yet at times, it feels like the creators were getting burnt out. There aren’t many surprises, especially for diehard fans who’ve played all the older games multiple times. Familiarity reduces fear, which is as much of a Souls hallmark as the difficulty. At the very least, developers From Software are leaving the series on a good note.

2. Dark Souls

Although Demon’s Souls came first, it wasn’t until Dark Souls was released did video games at large feel the seismic shift this storied franchise caused. Unlike Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls wasn’t exclusive to the PS3. It also came out on the Xbox 360 and PC, garnering a much bigger audience that was thirsty for something different from brain-dead shooters and tedious RPGs that dominated the market circa 2011. And boy was Dark Souls different.

Gamers used to the comforts of contemporary games were dropped into a mysterious land that punishes thoughtless play. You don’t get a guided tutorial that explains what you can do. There is no map with objective markers telling you where to go. Whenever you die, all the enemies you kill come back to life. Checkpoints are few and far between. You can’t manually save your progress, and the game auto-saves the moment you do anything, so you can’t just load an older save to undo a mistake. You can’t even pause the game at all!

None of that stopped millions of players from facing the game’s myriad trials, plumbing the depths of the fantastical interconnected kingdom of Lordran, and discovering the simple satisfaction of earning hard-fought victories.

1. Bloodborne

It’s only fitting that the best Souls game is a spin-off and doesn’t even have “Souls” in the name. Bloodborne takes the core components of Dark Souls, discards everything that slows things down, and turns up the dial on speed, style, and story. The result? Fast-paced, hyper-focused action in a nightmarish plane of existence dripping with atmosphere and intrigue.

Forget the hundreds of useless gear that only have the slightest variations. Each weapon in Bloodborne is wholly unique, with “trick modes” that add another dimension to fighting. Guns replace shields, and lost health is recovered when you immediately strike back against foes, forcing more aggressive play. Toss out the tired “grimdark Lord of the Rings” aesthetic. Bloodborne goes all Brutalist Victorian, deftly mixing the Gothic stylings of werewolves and vampires with the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

There are no weak, throwaway, and unfinished levels. All the bosses have something special about them. The optional Chalice Dungeons present a series first with their ever-changing areas and randomized loot. The Old Hunters DLC is a masterclass of expansions, supplementing the main game with lengthy and meaningful content. The music is sinister and stirring.

Most important of all, Bloodborne recaptures the essential sensation of trying to survive in an unknown, uncaring, and uncompromising world.

SEE ALSO: Best Video Games of 2017 (Q1 Edition)

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Hands-On

OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful

For every kind of junkie

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OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.

With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!


Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design

It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear

You can find the power button here…

…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot

Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port

It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera

The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.

Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.

Going big and definitely not going home

Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.

For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.

Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.

OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.

Smarter, smoother

The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.

It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.

Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.

Cameras for all angles and scenarios

The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.

On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.

More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:

Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.

The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.

For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.

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Features

Huawei’s Nova is the brand for the rising youth

And the Nova 5T the perfect companion

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Google “Gen Z self expression” and you’ll come up with several results on how the youth of today values self-belief. Technology and innovation sit comfortably in the middle of a contextual generation: Generation Z. It’s the generation that knows little to nothing outside the digital age — which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing.

Technology and the digital space are the contexts our lifestyles adapt to. From the accessibility of online shopping, various news platforms to diverse online friendships, it’s not that difficult to see how this generation, our generation, has unique views and perspectives: self-belief.


Nova and self belief

Huawei’s Nova brand is stepping up to the plate to cater to this advocacy of self-belief and self-expression instead of a uniform marketed identity. Huawei is bringing cutting-edge technology worthy of flagship titles while decking out phones with stunning and exquisite designs.

This is meant to give people the chance to work, express and discover themselves through optimal technology customization and innovation. The goal is essentially to allow users to not just integrate their tech-savvy lifestyle through the Nova series, but also foster the core values of individuality and collaboration.

Want to keep track of your creative progress and teetering your interest into making a daily vlog? Huawei is way ahead of you. With the fundamental significance of self-expression, Huawei equipped the Nova 5T with five AI cameras for users to take drop-dead gorgeous shots of themselves and the view.

Cameras that empower your self expression

If you want to test out your photography skills, take photo proof, or a photo and video journal of your creative progress, the Nova 5T is your best companion. It has you covered from quality super-wide angles, bokeh, and macro shots.

The phone has one camera for super-wide angles, a main 48-megapixel camera, one for macro shots and lastly, depth assists. If you’re worried about how shots of other people and everything else around you will look more stunning than your selfies, drop the silly worrying. The front camera will make sure you step up your selfie game. It’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera with portrait lighting.

Huawei didn’t quite stop there with the Nova 5T. They cased this photography powerhouse into a 3-dimensional holographic design that just makes anyone strut with confidence.

A design that stands-out

And, you might wonder, “what’s the holographic casing got to do with catering to our philosophy?” We honestly thought it was a bit of a pain to figure it out and make something up, but you’ve got to give it to Huawei for sticking to purposeful design.

If you isolate the elements of how it looks — and forgive us if this is a bit of a silly stretch, the holographic design depicts an intention to represent collaborative diversity.

Holographic designs reflect different colors. Sounds a bit familiar? Well, it sounds like the perfect casing to represent the philosophy of individuality, self-expression, and collaboration.

Nova is a brand for the rising youth

The idea of self and embracing individuality doesn’t mean stomping over everyone else. It allows for a deeper understanding for other people. It fosters a community with depth and character and that’s exactly what this holographic designs emulate. Lastly, it also shows movement in its rigidity all while looking beautifully futuristic. This makes sure you and everyone else don’t feel apologetic about being yourselves.

Huawei’s Nova 5T enables people to play around and be creative on their journey towards self-discovery, self-identity, and inevitably, self-expression through its specifications down to it’s thought-out striking design.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Automotive

2019 Kona 2.0 GLS: Mr. Extrovert

Feeling flashy

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Is it a crossover? Is it a hatchback? Is it an APV? I, too, was confused when I first laid eyes on the 2019 Hyundai Kona. It was one of a kind, unique from any segment I was familiar with.

In line with the Mazda CX3 and Honda HRV, the Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV.


This vehicle is a true head-turner. I highly appreciate car companies whose designs are bold and thought of outside the box. In short, designs that make a statement.

The sleek and futuristic look of the Kona is best complemented in the flagship color Acid Yellow that gave my child-like imagination the impression of a glowing radioactive spaceship.

From the front, its fascia is exciting and modern in style with the growing trend of separated headlight design (like the Nissan Juke), streamlined daytime running lights, and low set fog lamps all go together with Hyundai’s trademark grille design.

Side profiles are matched with dynamic character lines as well as accents of matte black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and rocker panels.

Walking around to the back, you will find a design that is very consistent with the front. It’s almost identical and probably has one of the best looking rear-ends in its segment.

If we were to personify this Kona, it would undoubtedly be an extrovert. He’d be that kind of guy who’s not afraid of being a little flashy and would confidently come up to you to get your attention.

What I’m not a big fan of is the unnecessary amount of plastic cladding. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle with this type of material will agree when I say it demands high maintenance since it tends to fade quickly.

Overall, the exterior feels exciting and fun, but stepping inside is a different story.

The interior is, well, basic. Scratchy-hard and soft plastic, fabrics, and polyurethane are the main materials used for the interior. It doesn’t give you the same exhilaration as the exterior and sadly feels like it stepped out of character.

Mounted on the dashboard, you will find a somewhat unappealing infotainment system — A non-touchscreen mono LCD unit that’s initially confusing to use while underneath is its manual climate control. Oh, and its instrument panel didn’t help spice the interior up, either, as it seemed a little too straightforward for this car’s asking price.

On the up-side, cabin space and comfort are not lacking whatsoever. With head and legroom to spare and plenty of cargo space for everyone. Cup holders, USB ports, and 12V sockets also come as standard.

When it comes to safety, Hyundai didn’t skimp on this crossover as it earned a high safety rating in the United States. With a score of 9.8, it has been given the Top Safety Pick+ award. It has Anti-Lock Braking System, traction control, dual airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard.

The ride is decently high with a ground clearance of 170mm, nearly as much as its bigger brother, the Tucson. Firing up the engine via keyless push-start button, you hear a smooth running 2.0 DOHC engine.

This is then mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 147hp and 179nm of torque. It’s not the most powerful but is definitely one of the most economical, giving you up to 20km per liter (at best) on highways.

The Kona has three different driving modes you can shift through with a push of a button. You have Normal, Eco and Sport modes which just basically times gear changes differently to give you better responsiveness.

Driving this vehicle is very simple with no unneeded drama. The ride felt smooth and quiet while steering felt properly firm. You do get a bit of body roll around the corners, though.

Lacking from this vehicle is a reverse camera and proximity sensors and, from its price point, you would expect these features as standard. A feature I didn’t find necessary was the hill descent control which would be useful on its AWD variant but not on the FWD version that we have.

For now, the 2.0 GLS is the only variant available here in the Philippines. A straightforward, rather basic but economical ride that would make a perfect daily driver. Although if I were to choose between the two Kona models, I would probably go for the higher AWD 1.6 turbo Ultimate trim model which is a better option than the GLS trim.

To sum it up, it’s a bit of a bummer that it lacks a reverse camera, proximity sensors, and still runs a sub-par infotainment system in this age of touchscreens and Android Auto.  What I do like, though, is how it looks. This car unquestionably wins in the looks department. And factoring in its safety achievements and fuel economy, we can easily overlook its shortcomings.

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