Mother 3 Review

Mother 3

The legendary Mother 3 is known for never coming out in the US. Nintendo may never release it, but dedicated fans have translated this turn based RPG into English for anyone with an emulator. After completing Mother 3 I was left with a whirlwind of emotions. The emotion most prominent was anger because Mother 3 is one of the greatest RPGs ever made and Nintendo not releasing it in America is a disservice to the history of Video Games.

Mother 3 Dragos

Mother 3 opens with the disappearance of mother Hinawa and her two children Lucas and Claus. Their father, Flint goes searching for his family near their home on the Nowhere Islands. The Village of Tazmily is unique with the whole town living harmoniously with the earth and living selflessly. Everyone is kind to each other and extremely polite. This completely changes while Flint goes into the woods North of the village searching for his family. Strange men in Pigmasks set the woods on fire and begin to introduce many new concepts to Tazmily Village. The pigmasks introduce money, which therefore creates both greed and crime. Each chapter of Mother 3 stars a different character until Lucas takes over as the main character. Each new character offers a unique perspective on the ongoing change of the world around them. Eventually, Lucas and a group of misfits go against the modernized corrupted world around them and seek a way to stop the leader of the Pigmask Army (Who ties the series together.) Mother 3’s story is a roller coaster of emotions as the game explores the worth of happiness.

Mother 3 Sunflower

The gameplay is very similar to the previous game Earthbound (Mother 2). It is a turn based RPG that has a few unique twists. The health points are on a countdown so even if you take mortal damage you can still make actions or heal yourself as your health points deplete. You can also tap to the music during battles to perform combos. With the soundtrack in Mother 3 being as great as it is, this mechanic is tons of fun as you try to find each enemy’s unique beat. Each enemy is bizarre and unique just like Earthbound (Looking at you Jealous Upright Double Bass!) and the Mother series’ signature Psychodelic backdrops. It creates an experience unlike any other as you travel to many diverse locations from the crumbling ruins of a castle to the futuristic town of New Pork City.

Mother 3 Battle

The presentation is excellent with Mother 3 easily being the most beautiful Game Boy Advance game ever. The art style is timeless and the animation is top notch. Special kudos go out to the translation team for the English writing and script. It is heartfelt, hilarious, and every word keeps the player invested with this wacky group of characters.

Mother 3 is a lost classic that has found new life thanks to some dedicated fans. Mother 3 constantly keeps the player on their toes with amazing writing, active combat, and a colorful presentation that is oozing with personality. Nintendo better give Mother 3 a chance in the West because many gamers are missing out on this timeless classic.

Final Score: 9.8/10

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Bloodborne Review

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May the Good Blood Guide Thee.

It may not have “Souls” in the title, but the legacy is alive and well in Bloodborne. Hidetaka Miyazaki returns to the helm for the first time since Dark Souls (2011) and it’s once again great to see the master at work. Bloodborne takes the design of Miyazaki’s previous work and cranks the creativity and ambition up to 11. If you haven’t vacationed to Yharnam yet…now is a damn good time to do so.

The city of Yharnam is in chaos. The Gothic Victorian era city is famous for it’s special Blood. Yharnam’s blood transfusions contain mysterious healing properties and have become the city’s version of alcohol. Unfortunately, something horribly went wrong and the blood is transforming the citizens into beasts. These lycan beasts must be slain and who is better equipped to do it than you? The journey through Yharnam is just as obtuse and confusing as past “Souls” games, but Yharnam rises above Boletaria (Demon’s Souls), Lordran (Dark Souls), and Drangleic (Dark Souls II). The aesthetic is gorgeous with every location achieving a sense of dread and peril as you slowly creep through. The streets and connected districts of Yharnam are filled with brutal enemies, new weapons and armor, and numerous shortcuts and secrets. The level design of Dark Souls made Lordran feel less like a video game and more like a connected world filled with personality and history. Bloodborne actually improves on this level design and truly feels like a living, breathing city that fell into madness.

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Enemy designs are terrifying, brutal, and memorable. The most terrifying enemies are the melting students, the ghastly banshees, and the frenzy inducing Brain Trusts. Bloodborne succeeds with it’s diverse and gruesome boss fights as well. The horrifying larger than life bosses are not only intimidating, but succeed in teaching the player how to play the game without holding the player’s hand like many modern video games. For example, Father Gascoigne teaches a hard lesson to new players unfamiliar with parrying and riposte (Called “Visceral Attacks”). Each fight in Bloodborne is extremely difficult, but the signature multiplayer of the “Souls games” returns to ease the pain…or make things much harder. Using specific items players can participate in Co-op to help one another through a difficult section. However, the choice to participate in multiplayer isn’t without consequences. Other players can invade your world as an enemy and attempt to kill you to take your experience and currency. The invasions have become a lot more reasonable compared to the previous games in the serious. The famous “lag backstab” from Dark Souls is gone as backstabs can only be achieved through a lengthy charged attack, which makes them only useful for stealthy encounters.

At first glance, Bloodborne’s gameplay isn’t much different from previous games within the series. Bloodborne is a third-person action role playing game that emphasizes precision, timing, and crowd control. What differs from previous games is the absence of the shield. Players can no longer hide behind the toughest shield they can find. Bloodborne’s best defense is a good offense. The shields are replaced with firearms such as pistols, flamethrowers, torches, rifles, etc. However, don’t expect to sit back and snipe your enemies as these firearms do very little damage. They (brilliantly) are used to stagger attacking enemies or to lure foes out of their comfort zone. Without many defensive options Bloodborne requires players to act on their feet to the ever changing situation by dodging, timing your strikes, staggering enemies, and the new mechanic of weapon transformations. With a press of a button each weapon can transform into a different weapon that changes the fighting style immensely. For example, the Threaded cane can transform from a thrusting weapon to a crowd controlling blade whip that can stop groups of enemies in their tracks.

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Unfortunately, Bloodborne doesn’t have many weapons or attire to choose from, which reduces the experimentation and replay value of character builds from past games. From Software makes up for this with the extremely challenging Chalice Dungeons. These Chalice Dungeons offer new enemies, new bosses, and new loot to obtain. However, the randomly generate dungeons are …well…random. It creates a tough of nails, bare boned “Souls” experience that lifts the frustrating reward system from Destiny. Bloodborne is also filled with many technical issues such as some questlines glitching out and the now infamous long (LoadBorne) loading screens dampen the experience. Many players are also experiencing bugs and glitches that effect enemy AI as well as make the co-op multiplayer fail. Bloodborne requires players to spend a precious material called “insight” to summon co-op help. Unfortunately, many bugs cause players to waste their insight as summoned help either never appears, or takes 15-20 minutes to summon. It’s an incredible test of player patience sometimes to deal with the flawed summon system.

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These flaws are minor in the grand scheme of things as Bloodborne is an awe-inspiring experience. One part Gothic Victorian, One part Lovecraft homage, and 10 parts incredibly ambitious. It’s rare to see a game succeed in it’s ambitious scope, but Bloodborne is that rare exception. Gorgeous, emotional, atmospheric, and rewarding, Bloodborne’s challenges await any who wish to open the doors to Yharnam. It’s a wonderful night for a hunt.

Final Score: 9.1/10

Super Smash Bros. 4: Game Jam’s Tier List (With Explanation)

Smash Bros. is out for WiiU and we are loving it. We’ve played it enough to put together our own tier list for the 49 characters. Obviously we will not include the Mii Fighters since they are all equipment based.

Please voice your disagreeing fanboy rage in the comments below.

SS Tier

rosalina

  • Rosalina and Luma: Think Ice Climbers, but you can actually control Nana. The power and possibilities are incredible.
  • Yoshi: Oh god…the Eggs. So Many Eggs.
  • Zero Suit Samus: Super Fast with OP range…oh and she has multiple stuns….
  • Lucario: Amazing recovery and good god Aura Sphere.

S Tier

  • Greninja: Very quick, strong recovery, great counter, and tons of tricky moves.
  • Peach: Two words. “DAT ASS” (Side B)
  • Robin: The Levin Sword makes every smash attack hell for opponents as well as some awesome projectiles.
  • Sonic: Sanik Goo Fazt
  • Sheik: Don’t…Blink….Don’t.

A Tier

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  • Marth: When has Marth NOT been good?
  • Lucina: (See “Marth”)
  • Fox: It’s Fox.
  • Bowser: Speed boost + Same massive attack power= Oh God No.
  • Diddy Kong: Quick with attacks that just seem to have a lot more Umph to them than other fighters.

B Tier

littlemac

  • Cpt. Falcon: Much improved from the float-i-ness of Brawl, but still wishing he had his glory days of melee back.
  • Little Mac: On the ground = OP…In the Air = Useless
  • Duck Hunt: SO MANY PROJECTILES.
  • Shulk: He’s REALLY feeling it.
  • Dark Pit: He’s like Pit, but Dark.
  • Link: DASH SMASH

C Tier

  • Pit: He’s like Dark Pit, but shit.
  • Ness: Still iffy on this placement. Expect Ness to rise in the future.
  • Mario: Decent, but still has FLUDD.
  • Toon Link: He’s just Better Ok!?
  • Pikachu: Good, but still has the same move set since the very beginning so he’s Pika-Predictable.
  • Bowser Jr: Oh yeah…he’s in this game.

D Tier

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  • Ganondorf: Too slow to be of use…but God tier when it comes to tanking Master Core…or home run derby.
  • Game and Watch: Powerful, but too much of G&W is based on chance.
  • Dr Mario: Who actually plays as Dr. Mario….
  • Villager: Little shit who has a ton of unique moves that just don’t have much impact or range.
  • Jigglypuff: Still too light to survive even with recent melee wins.
  • Palutena: A strong defensive character…in a game that only rewards strong skill and offense.
  • Pac Man: More like…Namco Cameo Man with generic moves.

E Tier

  • ROB: Just…ugh.
  • Kirby: Pink puffball is predictable, slow, and too light to survive.
  • King Dedede: He has his moments of being awesome…rarely…I think.
  • Meta Knight: Meta Nerfed.
  • Falco: This bird fell from grace…

F Tier

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  • Mega Man:…64
  • Samus: Somehow more power and armor…is worst.
  • Ike: Besides his up-tilt….useless.
  • Zelda: Where’s your B-Down Now!?
  • Olimar:  Disappointment…
  • Luigi: It is not the year of Luigi anymore.
  • Wii-Fit Trainer: At least she has the Best Taunts in the game.
  • Wario: Fuck Wario.
  • Charizard: He’s like a larger more useless version of Pichu.
  • Donkey Kong:  No style, No grace…

Review: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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Every 7-8 years high lord Sakurai blesses us with a fighting game that doesn’t hold back. From polished gameplay to an overwhelming number of gameplay modes to a plethora of fan service, Nintendo’s mascot fighter is back. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for Smash Bros.

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Smash Bros. on 3DS raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced since it will be the first time we can smash on the go and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. With a staggering 51 characters this iteration of Smash Bros. has easily the largest roster with many of the newcomers proving their worth. The 31 stages however, don’t have the same impact with many stages returning from past games and the new stages are dull in design. Luckily, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has left it’s mark on Sakurai since every stage has it’s own “Final Destination” version for more competitive play.

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The game modes have also been tweaked for the 3DS hardware. The main attraction this time around is “Smash Run,” a 5 minute rush through a massive level grabbing stat boosts to prepare yourself for a final showdown. Unfortunately, this mode is a novelty at best with the big finale being only a minute long rendering the previous 5 minutes pointless. Classic mode returns with an overworld map similar to the “Find Mii” minigame on the 3DS. All-Star mode is here as well with a unique twist where the player smashes through each character based on the year they were created. Customization is now much larger than it was in Brawl with the ability to change character’s stats and special moves. This goes one step further with the inclusion of Mii’s for complete customization. These new options can make fights pretty hectic if Bowser is running faster than Sonic and Jigglypuff hits like a truck on steroids.

Upon first glance gameplay is pretty solid with the thought of “Yup. It’s Smash.” running through your head. Dig a little deeper and the flaws begin to surface. The game itself doesn’t have any flaws gameplay-wise, but instead the 3DS hardware is the main problem. The circle pad on the 3DS isn’t as precise as the accepted smash controller (Gamecube) and can lead to some frustrating moments of “That’s not what I meant to do!” as you play. The game’s camera doesn’t do any favors either with it pulling out so far sometimes that you can easily lose the small dot that resembles your character on screen. When these issues are absent Smash Bros. is Smash Bros. You will beat the daylight out of other Nintendo Mascots with a massive grin on your face as the game runs smoothly at 60 fps.

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To many Smash Bros. is a multiplayer fighting game and this is where Smash Bros. on 3DS falls apart. Couch multiplayer is still accessible with local wifi, but the lag is unbearable at times. It happens so frequently that the game becomes unplayable. Things only get worst when you go into full online matches. Their heart is in the right place with online modes emphasizing party play as well as competitive play, but the lag on this precision fighting game ruins everything. This was a problem 7 years ago with Brawl’s multiplayer on the Wii, but the fact that 7 years later the online functionality is just as bad is unacceptable. With so many issues plaguing Smash Bros. multiplayer I can’t imagine this game having the same longevity as previous games in the series.

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Smash Bros. for 3DS is good, but it should be great. Hardware limitations and poor online hold it back from reaching the heights of previous installments. When it works Smash Bros. is a blast and will put a massive grin on your face. Even with the flaws Smash Bros. is still Smash Bros. and shouldn’t be missed by any 3DS owner.

Design: 7/10
Gameplay: 8.4/10
Presentation: 9.0/10

Final Score: 8.1/10

Destiny Review

destiny-hp-fb-og-share-img Destiny is like an ex girlfriend you hate, but you keep coming back to because you have low self esteem. Fundamentally, there are some great moments, but enough flaws to remind you why you broke up in the first place. Yet, I keep finding myself playing Destiny despite it being one of the most frustrating gaming experiences in recent memory. Destiny is a first person shooter/MMO hybrid. Bungie refuses to call it an MMO and refers to the game as a “Shared World Shooter,” but lets be real…it’s an MMO. You will do quests, explore dungeons, play multiplayer, and go on raids. It is kinda cool at first glance to see how well these two genres mesh, but after you reach the level 20 level cap you will find nothing but an underwhelming hollow experience. 10_1_Guardians_1_shot Destiny’s story is the biggest train wreck with every plot point falling flat and a sense that no one at Bungie was on the same page on what the story should be. The plot revolves around the guardian who meets a robot companion named ghost. The guardian sees the seeker and finds out they must stop the darkness. The plot is so basic that I can’t even remember the names of anyone within the game. Stars like Peter Dinklidge and Nathan Fillion are voice actors, but their performances are so poorly written and phoned in that I wouldn’t be shocked if they actually recorded the lines over the phone. It’s hard to even criticize the plot of Destiny since there is so little to the plot that I can’t criticize anything. Destiny’s design is of a standard MMO with some twists to fit the FPS genre. Some design choices are great such as playing with friends and the well- established factions within the game. On the other hand Destiny makes so many mistakes that it makes the entire game a boring chore. Simply put, this is the most lonely MMO I have ever played. Matchmaking doesn’t exist for many strikes and there’s is no player auction house or even public chat. Everyone just stands around and no one talks with each other because they can’t. destiny-law-jungle The loot system is horrendous with the concept of end game being revolved around what loot you have on. This wouldn’t be a problem if loot drops ever occurred at all. Many players have already resorted to exploiting the game’s checkpoint system to farm loot since it happens so rarely. The worst part is when you obtain an engram. Engrams are blueprints for higher-tiered weapons and armor, but every time I would obtain a rare or legendary engram it would give me either useless currency or a much lower-tiered weapon. Destiny’s grind for better loot is so tedious since 50% of the time you won’t be rewarded for it. The same goes for the Crucible, which is Destiny’s standard multiplayer arena. Skill isn’t a factor since a legendary item has the same chance of going to the dead last player as well as the first place player. It’s so unfair and unbalanced since the reward system is random, players with better gear will always win in PVP, and most of the tasks in Destiny require a good 45 minutes to an hour to complete sometimes. Putting in that much time and effort only to not be reward is a slap in the face from Bungie. The repetitive nature of the game as a whole means that unless Bungie does a quick turnaround with Destiny expect NO ONE to be playing this unrewarding disaster in 3 month’s time. destiny_e3.0_cinema_640.0 Destiny does retain the great shooting mechanics from Halo and crafts a believable world that you initially want to explore. The problem is while gunplay can be a blast…exploring is basically non-existent. There are chests everywhere with crap loot and currency. The world of Destiny doesn’t do anything with its lore and actually hides the game’s lore behind grimoire cards, which you can only view on Destiny’s app or website. This leaves us with a faux open world, AI that constantly respawns and never changes their tactics, and some of the worst boss fights in gaming history. Regardless of your level boss fights within Destiny are incredibly tedious with each boss being a bullet sponge that takes upwards to 45 minutes to take down. The worst part is the boss’ checkpoint system, which starts the whole fight over if your team dies. Most strikes I’ve been in where our team dies everyone ends up quitting since we don’t have the patience to shoot the same boss over and over again. Destiny looks beautiful on the PS4 with a great sweeping orchestral soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also has no art. The locations, character designs, and atmosphere come across as every single shooter and space game I’ve ever played. The game is generic and has some of the worst cutscenes in gaming history with flat acting, poor writing, and most never move the plot along. The worst offense with these cutscenes is how they’re impossible to skip and given the repetitive nature of Destiny you will be forced to watch their mediocrity over and over again. It was almost as if Bungie had a checklist while making Destiny, but never looked at the finer bullet points. Story? Check. Loot? Check. PVP? Check. Everything about Destiny works on a basic level, but the experience is so frustrating and so hollow the further you dive into what Destiny has to offer. It does have moments of brilliance since I am somehow still playing it and it has the potential to get better with numerous patches, but in its current state Destiny is destined for mediocrity. Story: 2.1/10 Design: 4.2/10 Gameplay: 8.4/10 Presentation: 7/10 Final Score: 5.4

Final Fantasy X HD Remastered Review

Guardians of  Yuna ready to rock!

Guardians of Yuna ready to rock!

The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.

Hell is Real...

Hell is Real…

The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.

In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.

Summons are still awesome!

Summons are still awesome!

The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.

Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.

SD versus HD

SD versus HD

The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.

Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.

Story: 9.3/10
Design: 8.4/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

Final Score: 8.9/10