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Developer: Upper Byte Studio Publisher: Neko Entertainment Platform: Wii U, PC Release Date: July 24, 2014 (Wii U) ESRB: E 10+ This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Japanese settings don't seem incredibly common in today's games (at least the ones developed outside of Japan), especially in the platforming realm, but Wooden Sen'SeY attempts to rectify this with its focus on a heavily feudal Japanese-themed landscape and scenario infused with a bit of a goofy plot. Add in some impressive visuals and art, and it seems like the combination would be a no-brainer, but unfortunately the game's mechanics make it more than just a bit difficult to enjoy. You play as Village Chief Goro, who is out for revenge at the outset after his alcohol is stolen by shadow creatures. It's the thinnest of plots but it becomes evident that Wooden Sen'SeY isn't exactly the most serious of games anyhow. Axe in hand, Goro sets off to eliminate any shadow creature in his way. It's worth noting that the game doesn't really give the enemies a name, so I just call them that due to the fact that they look like shadow creatures. Some are small, round, and float in the air while others are more human-like and wear Japanese garb and wield weapons such as spears and the like. The game itself is a mostly by-the-books platformer where you run to the right, jump between platforms, and attack anything in your way, but there is an interesting gameplay element that makes the experience a bit more unique. At certain points, you'll make use of Goro's grappling hook to get across large gaps or even to scale walls and such; these are by far the most interesting parts of the game, especially since much of the rest of the game's levels are very vanilla in design. What makes this aspect more interesting is that Upper Byte Studio attempted to include some unique functionality regarding this in the Wii U version with the Gamepad's accelerometer, so shifting the pad in the direction Goro is swinging in will help him gain momentum. Also included as Gamepad functionality is the ability to quickly thrust the the Gamepad forward and downward (as if you're putting a book down) while jumping for a ground pound and higher jump; however, the same can be achieved through the use of buttons as well. Unfortunately, the game stumbles majorly in one big area—the reach of Goro's axe(s) is virtually non-existent and requires you to be literally right next to an enemy in order to damage them. I'm unsure if Upper Byte did this intentionally (perhaps to increase the difficulty level) but more often than not, this design makes it difficult to tell when you're getting too close and thus damaged if you touch an enemy. Because of this, some enemies are extremely difficult to land hits on, especially bats or other flying enemies. Fortunately there are some secondary weapons you can collect and use in certain levels, such as throwing stars and bombs, but these often come in short supply. Further aggravating the point about the combat being too close for comfort is the fact that there are usually several areas in each level where you'll have to fight a number of various shadow creatures before you can proceed (much like old-school 2D brawlers used to do). It isn't that the combat is near impossible; it's just extremely irritating and was easily the lowest point of the game for me, especially in the later levels. A shame too, because while the combat leaves a lot to be desired, the rest of the game's design during levels is mildly enjoyable between bouts of platforming and grappling across gaps and up the sides of walls. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are the visuals and art direction, which add up to being one of the game's best aspects. This is especially the case early on with the Japanese-inspired countrysides, colorful backgrounds, and bloom effects (incorporating such things as falling cherry blossom buds and such) all of which create a wonderfully cartoonish-looking world. Even the game's menus and GUI have an appealing look to them. Wooden SenSeY is a game that I really wanted to like, but unfortunately its unbalanced gameplay and combat really hinders much of the experience. It's completely playable, but a lot of it is aggravating and feels rather unoptimized for the best experience possible. The actual design isn't incredibly inspired either, but there are flashes of good moments throughout; namely, the grappling sequences. It's also quite short; you can finish the game's 9 stages in as little as 2 hours or less, though Upper Byte did include achievements for those who want to extend the game a bit longer. For what it's worth, Wooden Sen'SeY could have been so much more and, unfortunately, the experience ultimately ends up feeling true to its name: wooden. Pros + Some beautiful artwork and backgrounds throughout + Certain aspects can be fun such as using the grappling hook Cons - Most of the platforming is rather dull - The short reach of Goro's axes make combat unbearable - Plot is barely understandable; no explanation of anything Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average Wooden Sen'SeY looks nice during certain sections throughout, but has glaring issues with its gameplay. Look elsewhere if you're wanting a competent platformer to play. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher.
Jordan Haygood posted a article in Wii/U ReviewsDeveloper: Neko Entertainment Publisher: Ynnis Interactive Platform: Wii U, PC, 3DS, and iOS Release Date: November 21, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A Wii U downloadable code was provided by the publisher for this review I have a confession to make - before going into this game, I honestly had no clue what The Mysterious Cities of Gold was. And for those of you who don't know about this 1980s animated series, you might want to catch up if you plan on playing this game, as the story is a bit more confusing if you're new to it all. Nonetheless, there are plenty of other factors to this kickstarted game that you don“t really need to fully understand the story to enjoy it. But while The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths does have pleasing visuals, decent music, and a few tricky puzzles, is it really worth it? The game follows Esteban, Zia, and Tao – three children who have some connection with the Cities of Gold – and the (adult) navigator Mendoza. Though to put it bluntly, the story itself is pretty uninteresting. At least as told by the game. As I stated earlier, The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is based on an animated series from the 80s. Or should I say, it's the video game adaptation of its second season. The original anime series had only lasted a single season before concluding, with its revival finally happening after about 30 years. And while the footage I“ve seen of both the original first season and the newer second season make the show look awesome, the game simply doesn“t do it justice. One reason I found the story so disappointing is due to the game being severely rushed. Each 30-seconds-or-less cutscene has a billion things happening and it gets to the point where you wonder what the hell is even going on. One thing happens in five seconds, and before you know it, the story just jumps ahead to what may very well be a few episodes later in the show, and then it jumps again in another five seconds. They rush through the story too fast in order to get to the levels, which might not sound like a big problem considering this is a game, but it often feels like the cutscenes should have just been left out. Another reason, albeit a small one, are the minor characters. Characters are randomly introduced before they just disappear. Perhaps the cartoon gives these characters a bigger, more on-screen role, but they seem to matter very little in the game itself aside from merely helping the main characters out with something in order for them to continue their journey. This may be linked with my previous criticism about the game rushing through the story, as these characters might have an episode or two dedicated to them for all I know. The voice acting is pretty laughable in this game - the English voice acting, at least. Other languages could have it much better for all I know, but in the language I speak, the voice acting hurts my ears and soul. The music is good, though, with some pretty nice Chinese-style ambiance during levels, but nothing really stands out too much aside from the opening theme song, which is the very same one from back in the 80s with a Chinese spin on it. Not that that“s a bad thing, as that song is actually kinda catchy. As far as the gameplay goes, it can be fun. There's indeed some level of challenge, which rises as the game progresses, yet it still never becomes all that challenging. The puzzles are sometimes pretty creative, with each of the three playable characters (seriously, Mendoza, why don“t you ever help them?) having their own unique abilities, although they can typically be solved without a whole lot of brain power. There are also enemies you have to sneak around, but it's damn near impossible to get caught by them. You could literally be seen by several enemies at once, hide in a barrel, and then it's like you were never there. Guard 1: "Hey, I just saw some kid jump into that barrel, and now they're suddenly gone! I also heard a parrot screaming, but the sound mysteriously disappeared!" Guard 2: "What? Well, I don't see them, so just turn back around and stare at that wall for a few seconds before turning around again. At the same time as me, of course." Seriously, these lousy enemies don't feel like a threat at all. Especially since, once caught, they put you back merely a few seconds before the capture. The only real challenge here is if you're a completionist, as there are certain objectives to fulfill in order to 100% a level - one for keeping from getting captured a certain number of times, one for clearing the level under a certain time limit, one for collecting all the scrolls scattered throughout the level, and one for finding the secret chest in that level. There are two different ways to play this game, for the Wii U version at least. One way is to go the point-and-click route and use the Wii U GamePad's touchscreen to tap where you want the characters to move after tapping their icons to switch between them. The other way is to use the ol“ stick-and-buttons layout to control each character. Both ways are fine, but the latter control scheme is a little flawed, as moving a character along certain paths seem to be really clunky, with the characters themselves moving strangely as if confused. The art is probably the game's strongest point, with its cartoony nature being quite pleasing to the eyes. In addition, the cut-scenes look nice, as are the assets used during actual levels. They seem to have taken the art style of the first season back in the 80s and updated it for modern times without changing it a whole lot. Though from what I understand, the cutscenes in the game are simply clips from the show's second season (although maybe jumping ahead in the story a bit too quickly). The art in each level is exclusive to the game, though, and it still looks nice. Oh, and by the way, lemme take a moment and point out that THEY CUT THE GAME SHORT UNTIL THE ENTIRE SHOW IS DONE AIRING! Now, I'm not about to factor that silly decision into my score, as it has less to do with the quality of the game itself and more to do with them not wanting the last third of the story told before the show told it (maybe), but if you don't like getting incomplete games, feel free to subtract a point for that. Although I will have to cut the score down a tiny bit due to the bugs this game has, such as one that causes the camera to jump to a completely random part of the level on its way to show you what a switch does, and another that causes a character to just run through walls. I guess there were certain kinks the developers failed to work out, though thankfully not a whole lot. The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths isn“t a terrible game, but it“s not that great, either. It“s just pretty average. It has its good points, such as some pretty good music, cartoony visuals that are pleasing to the eyes, and puzzles that can be pretty tricky at times. However, its bad points weigh it down. With a poor way of telling a possibly great story, bad voice acting, lack of challenge, and some various bugs and control issues, Secret Paths is really just a game for fans of the series and kids just now getting into it with its revival, rather than gamers looking for a quality experience. Pros: + Nice, cartoony visuals that are pleasing to the eyes + A pretty good soundtrack that matches the game's mood + Puzzles can be fun and tricky at times Cons: - A potentially great story told pitifully - Laughable voice acting - Lack of any real challenge - A few noticeable bugs and control issues Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average While not a terrible game, The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths isn't that great, either. It may have its good points, but the bad points weigh the experience down.
Puddle launched earlier this year on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, but recently became available for the Playstation Vita. This physics-based game challenges the player to manipulate the environment in order to allow liquid to traverse various obstacles. NintendoLife reported a few weeks ago that Puddle's French developer, Neko Entertainment, intended on bringing its hit puzzle-platformer to the Wii-U's eShop. The developer stated that Puddle for the Wii-U should be a notable upgrade to previous versions by featuring game pad accessibility, a new achievement system and fresh coat of polish as the primary upgrades. Neko Entertainment also wanted to address concerns regarding the difficulty curve, which has been adjusted to promote a more fluid and enjoyable experience without sacrificing the skill required to attain top-tier ranks. Puddle's developer spoke more specifically this week about their first venture on the Wii-U. One of the Wii-U's major selling points has been the ability to play games directly through the game pad without the use of a television, however a large concern with this capability involves potential frame rate loss. According to GamersXtreme Puddle will not only run at full 1080p on the Wii-U, but will also deliver a consistent 60 frames per second through both the television and game pad. The game is scheduled to be available during the Wii-U's launch window, but no official date has been announced. Have you played other versions of Puddle or do you plan on downloading this title on the Wii-U?