Gaming

Trials of Mana review: A nice glow up

Something for both old timers and newcomers.

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It’s the year of fantastic remakes and this game is no exception. Trials of Mana gets a glow up that should make it enticing to both old timers and newcomers.

For the unfamiliar, Trials of Mana was originally a 16-bit game first released in 1995. In Japan, it’s known as Seiken Densetsu (聖剣伝説, lit. The Legend of the Sacred Sword).

The game series revolves around the “mana tree” or the world tree. It’s a source of power containing nine elements: water, wind, fire, wood, stone, dark, light, metal, and moon. As with any valuable resource, it attracts forces of evil that want to use the power of the mana tree for darkness.

Having played other gamers in the Mana series, this certainly is an amazing job by Square Enix to modernize a classic. The colors are gorgeous and striking. You can easily tell this modernization was treated with utmost love and dedication.

Choose your party

At the beginning of the game, you are asked to choose your main character and the supporting cast. The game gives you six classes to choose from: Warrior, Priest, Thief, Beastman, Mage and Lancer.

Each character you pick will have her/his own unique story. My first run through in the game was about 25 hours which I think is excellent. It’s enough time to feel like a complete adventure, but not too much that the player can do multiple playthroughs to learn about the story of the other five characters.

As the game progresses, the character can change classes. This can happen after reaching levels 18 and 38 (with class items) using the mana stones or the mana statues that are spread across the map. Naturally, you’ll be able to unlock more powerful spells and skills that can help take on the harder bosses as you go through the game.

If you’ve played other JRPG titles under Square’s umbrella like the Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts, you’ll know that your party needs to have all the essentials. That means striking a balance among defense, attack, support, and offensive magic that fits your play style.

The characters have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on their class. The combos and spells depend on the skills you unlock as the story and the level progresses. The higher the level, the higher the rates of combos and skill chains that can be unlocked to make grinding and boss battles lean more in your favor.

Get ready for a lot of button mashing, quick triggers

The gameplay adopts the chaotic feel of the Mana series. Every move is in real time. The way the player moves, dodges, hits, casts a spell or uses an item makes every step crucial in every facet and situation in your battles.

During battles you get a ring menu that almost feels like you’re pausing the game. This gives you ample time to strategize and plan your attack or how you want to approach each battle.

Here you can select what items you want to use as well as the skills that are available to your class of character. You also have a quick trigger that you can customize to fit your play style depending on the kinds of characters your party has.

You can switch with your support characters at any point during battle. This lets you maximize the potential of your party, most especially through the tough fights of the game. AI for your party members is also pretty good when you’re not controlling them. They act based on their skillets instead of mindlessly launching melee attacks.

Special techniques can be triggered by filling up a “CS GAUGE”. There are two ways to fill it. First, you smash all the enemies lurking around every dungeon on the map. Second, find some vases that will fill the gauge for you.

Personally, I prefer the first method because I like to do some ass kicking especially during this pandemic. A really good way to blow off some steam is to kick those rabites (hopping yellow and pink-tailed leporine monsters) in the beginning of the game.

A lot of traveling and being shot out of a canon

During your travels, you will encounter different stages across the Trials of Mana world. Each stage is unique and offers different kinds of NPCs that make you feel like you’re in another world.

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As you proceed in the game, you will find different ways of traveling: with ships, riding a water monster, flying and being shot out of a canon???

Verdict

Trials of Mana is a beautiful game based on the Old Mana Series. The game is straightforward and offers an easy learning curve. It’s simple and anyone should be able to catch the play style even after just an hour of going through the game.

It does run the risk of sometimes feeling too simple due to the lack of side quest. Harder side bosses and secret items or ultimate weapons could have made this beautiful game even better.

One thing I didn’t particularly enjoy were camera views and angles. Battles can be chaotic especially during boss encounters. It makes it difficult to properly plan your attack especially during stages that have plenty of obstacles.

I also encountered a lot of issues in focusing on targets that can either delay or break the momentum of your attacks. You can control the camera view with your shoulder buttons but it takes some getting used to especially in high pressure situations.

That aside, Trials of Mana is an excellent game overall. It has all the makings of an awesome game thanks to its storyline and gameplay. There’s enough here that Square Enix can build on to make another Mana game that will appeal to both old and new players.


This game was reviewed on a PS4 by Ron Erik Rivero. Ron is an ESL teacher, chef, and businessman who is passionate about gaming. When not playing, he spends most of his time teaching Japanese students business English. He is also a foodie, a loving husband and a doting father to his five-year-old son. You can contact him at [email protected]

Computers

LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build

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I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

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Gaming

2K Sports shows off NBA 2K21 running on current-gen consoles

The first of many reveals leading up to the game’s launch

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NBA 2K21 is set for release next month, so why not start a hype train towards that? Earlier this week, 2K Sports released a full trailer showing off its latest NBA 2K title running on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. And honestly, it’s a good way to start the hype.

What they showed us was a “lights-out” gameplay trailer, which is somewhat an ode to the current NBA bubble situation. As the trailer goes, lights are out and arenas were quiet but a ton of focus still shines on basketball. The majority of the trailer showed off highlights from some of the brightest NBA stars — most of whom currently reside in the bubble.

There’s even a portion that shows off gameplay with the Black Mamba himself, donning the number 8 from his first few years with the Lakers. From high-flying dunks to the now-famous Logo Lillard buzzer-beater, this trailer has me hyped for what’s to come.

NBA 2K21 will be available on September 4, 2020 for both the Standard and Mamba Forever Edition. It will be playable on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch upon launch. For those who will purchase the current-gen Mamba Edition, you will also receive a copy of the next-gen Standard Edition.

You can view the full trailer below:

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Gaming

Nintendo made five-fold profit thanks to Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Why are we not surprised!

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Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

While most companies are ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic, digital or internet-based companies are posting record-breaking profits. Popular game maker Nintendo is one of them. The Japanese company’s quarterly profit jumped a whopping 428 percent year-over-year.

It reported an operating profit of 144.7 billion yen (US$ 1.4 billion) in the April-June quarter, beating all street estimates and predictions. Much of the credit for this massive jump goes to its new game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game directly contributed to increased Nintendo Switch sales.

The financial announcement noted that out of all the new Switch units that were bought and played on for the first time, more than half played ACNH on the first day. For a game, that’s a lot of demand, and this indirectly encouraged more Switch sales.

The game single-handedly contributed a 167 percent rise in new members who joined the Switch community. In total, the company managed to sell more than 3 million Switch and 2.6 million Switch Lite.

Nintendo also confirmed that it’s having delivery and supply chain issues due to the ongoing pandemic. However, it meant that supply is running slightly behind schedule and the company should be able to meet the full demand soon. Supply was hit in March but the company was able to bridge the gap in the coming weeks.

Due to the global lockdowns and travel restrictions, gaming companies have noticed a huge surge in games as well as console sales. Nintendo too benefited from this with a 230 percent rise in revenue from digital sales, accounting for about 56 percent of total software sales.

Japanese conglomerate Sony, which manages the PlayStation lineup, also reported positive results earlier this week.

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