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Found 461 results

  1. Steve Bitto

    99 Cent Flash Sale on the Playstation Store

    Sony is running a flash sale on classic Playstation games this weekend! The sale includes titles from the PS1, PS2, PS3 eras as well as PSP and PS Vita. Older franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Red Faction are featured along with more current games like Braid, Tokyo Jungle and Retro City Rampage. The sale is going on now through Monday April 21 7AM PST. The full list of games is listed below: Title - (Sale Price/Regular Price) Back to the Future: The Game - Full Series - ($0.99/$19.99) Blast Factor - ($0.99/$9.99) Braid - ($0.99/$14.99) Crash Bandicoot - ($0.99/$5.99) Crash Bandicoot 2 - ($0.99/$5.99) Crash Bandicoot 3: WARPED - ($0.99/$5.99) Crash Commando - ($0.99/$9.99) CTR: Crash Team Racing - ($0.99/$5.99) echochrome ii - ($0.99/$9.99) Everyday Shooter (PS3) - ($0.99/$9.99) Everyday Shooter (PSP, PSV) - ($0.99/$7.99) Gex: Enter the Gecko - ($0.99/$5.99) Gotham City Imposters - ($0.99/$14.99) Jurassic Park: The Game - Full Series - ($0.99/$19.99) Plants vs. Zombies - ($0.99/$10.49) Red Faction 2 PS2 Classic - ($0.99/$9.99) Red Faction PS2 Classic - ($0.99/$9.99) Red Faction: Battlegrounds - ($0.99/$9.99) Retro City Rampage (PSV) - ($0.99/$9.99) Retro City Rampage (PS3) - ($0.99/$9.99) Retro/Grade - ($0.99/$9.99) "Sam & Max" The Devil's Playhouse - ($0.99/$19.99) Spyro 2: Ripto's Rampage! - ($0.99/$5.99) Spyro: The Dragon - ($0.99/$5.99) Spyro: Year of the Dragon - ($0.99/$5.99) Stuntman: Ignition PS2 Classic - ($0.99/$9.99) Super Stardust HD - ($0.99/$9.99) Tales of Monkey Island - ($0.99/$19.99) Tokyo Jungle - ($0.99/$14.99) Urban Trial Freestyle (PSV) - ($0.99/$9.99) Urban Trial Freestyle (PS3) - ($0.99/$14.99) When Vikings Attack (PSV) - ($0.99/$9.99) When Vikings Attack (PS3) - ($0.99/$9.99) World Gone Sour - ($0.99/$4.99) Source: Playstation Blog Are you going to pull the trigger on any of these discounted titles?
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: TowerFall Ascension

    Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc. Publisher: Matt Makes Games Inc. Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: March 11, 2014 ESRB: E10+ For the longest time it felt as if developers were slowly chipping away at the world of local multiplayer. It was honestly a bit frightening to see couch multiplayer suddenly being left out. Then, out of nowhere, a batch of games over the past year and 2014 have single-handedly brought back local play. TowerFall Ascension is one of these games, and definitely makes the point that local play is still tremendously fun. Of course, that requires the player to actually still be interested in local play after having grown accustomed to the online way of things. TowerFall Ascension is a very simple game. Whether you play alone or with buddies, the basics are still the same. You are an archer and are tasked with fighting off various enemies. Be it floating eyeballs, ghosts, other archers, or whatever else gets thrown at you, each can be decimated with a well-aimed arrow. Each 2D stage has its own tricks but you“ll have to spend some time with each to come up with your favorite strategies. For example, even though stages may have a gaping pit on the floor, falling through just ends up with you falling from the ceiling. It“s akin to warping from one side of the screen to the other in Pac-Man and proves very useful in tight spots. There“s obviously a lot of inspiration from retro games present here. It moves far beyond the pixel art aesthetic, as well. Characters have a limited amount of lives but they also have only a few bows in their quiver. However, unlike some classic titles, you can actually reclaim used bows by picking them off the ground - or enemy corpses. Of course, other archers can do the same regardless of who originally owned the arrows. Arrows come in a variety of forms thanks to power ups which include drill and bomb variations. Of course, this would all be for naught if the control was anything less than perfect. Despite its roots on a system with a noted problematic controller, TowerFall Ascension feels perfectly tuned for PS3 controllers. Characters move exactly as ordered, arrows shoot in mostly predictable arcs, and the experience is generally as frantic as it is exciting. Even death is fun as, upon respawning, the immediate radius around your character will explode (hopefully catching an enemy in its wake!). With all that said, there“s very little reason to go at the game alone unless you absolutely love tough, pixelated titles. Solo players will find a story and trial mode available to them but it all feels somewhat lonesome. There“s no doubt that the game was meant to be played with two or more people at once and you can“t help but feel left out. For those who are now used to online matches, well, you can“t do that here because it“s local multiplayer only. And no, there“s no intention to add in online play later. It“s weird, but the local-only standpoint has actually caused some anger. Many of us have gotten used to dictating online match times and enjoying games in that manner. If you have a small group of friends nearby who would still be willing to sit down on the same couch with you though then definitely get them in on this game. Since it“s fairly simple to control, you“ll soon find yourself locked in heated battles with buddies. Hopefully, it might even spur everyone to hang out more often for local games. Why doesn“t this game offer online play alongside local play? Without delving into the technical specifics, there“s a pretty simple reason behind it. TowerFall Ascension is a pretty fast game with precise controls and it takes place in a generally single-screen environment. Because every character is in close proximity, you will be very aware of their movements and how their bows should land. The subtle lag in online games is usually compensated for, but it would be readily apparent with such a small, quick game as this. If all lag could suddenly be abolished from games then there would be no reason to keep online out of the experience, but as it stands, it just wouldn“t work out well. Anyone who has access to both nearby friends and multiple PS4 controllers (or 360 controllers for PC) should buy TowerFall Ascension. There“s currently very little of worth in regards to multiplayer on the PS4 PSN market. Even if there were, the simple control scheme and enthusiastic matches between players make this game an easy choice. If, however, you are not interested in local multiplayer then this is much harder to recommend. The game ends up feeling very difficult and incredibly lonesome once you realize that it wants you to play with others. For that reason, solo players likely won“t find TowerFall Ascension as great a game as others make it out to be. Pros: + Simplistic gameplay proves immediately entertaining + Multiplayer matches captivate all players + Variety of power ups to shift the tide of battle Cons: - Solo gameplay modes cannot replicate the fun of multiplayer - Little done to keep non-multiplayer gamers engaged Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Fans of local multiplayer owe it to themselves to pick up TowerFall Ascension. Disclosure: This review is based on PS4 downloadable code provided by the publisher
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Master Reboot

    Developer: Wales Interactive Publisher: Wales Interactive Platform: PC (Steam), PS3 (PSN) Release Date: October 29, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen Master Reboot launched last year on PC but not that many people appeared to notice. For whatever reason, the intriguing title is one that many PC players have yet to play, even if they did purchase a copy. Now that the game is on PS3 it has another shot to draw gamer attention toward itself. But is this a game that actually deserves a second chance? Most definitely, although there are caveats to this statement. The storyline to Master Reboot is a bit hard to convey but that“s because the game itself keeps most of it under wraps to reveal as you play. However, the basic setup is that there is a company called Mysteri that has invented a new technology called the Soul Cloud. When people die, they can have their mind and memories digitized and stored in Mysteri“s servers. Once uploaded, loved ones can come and “visit” the digital version of their spouses, siblings, parents, and friends. It sounds pretty cool, right? Or maybe it sounds terrifying. In any case, players start the game as someone visiting the Soul Cloud although we aren“t sure as to why. Once inside it appears that things have gone wrong. Certain memory doors are inaccessible while others are. There also seems to be dangerous glitches interfering with the data. Your goal is to make it through various memories, thereby unlocking them all. It“s a bit harder than it sounds. Although some stages operate differently, the goal is usually to solve a handful of puzzles within any one memory. Puzzles range from figuring out how to collect a series of items, arranging objects in the proper way, and a few less obvious ones. Any player willing to put in some degree of effort will find puzzles solvable. This isn“t a classic adventure game with loopy logic, after all. Sometimes you must find the proper path through areas which can be a bit more annoying when you can“t figure out the “trick”. Exploring memories is the coolest part of the game because it leads you to gorgeous, creepy, and just plain interesting areas. For example, you“ll visit a school and playground, but also worrisome locations such as an abandoned amusement park. That“s just the start, though. Things often fly off the rails with far more unique and visually stunning areas. Uncovering new memories is always exciting as you never know what might be right around the corner. Much of the excitement to be had with traversing through memories is thanks to the excellent aesthetics. Yes, Master Reboot has a sort of retro polygonal look, but that works to its advantage. It doesn“t look like a PS1 or N64 game but instead uses polygons as a stylistic choice that lend to the strange world of the Soul Cloud. Chances are, you“ve never played a game that looks quite like this one before. Not every aspect of the game lives up to its fantastic visual design. For one, non-music audio sounds strangely poor at times. Sometimes sound effects also sound too loud or quiet. The audio being unbalanced seems quite odd and can take you out of the mood. There was also a good deal of screen tearing when playing on console which was not appreciated. In certain areas it was fine, but in others (such as a forested area at the very start) it became extreme. There also appear to be issues pertaining to this port exclusively that are due to the PS3 controller. For example, there is a segment early on where you must drive through traffic for a set amount of time without hitting any cars. It doesn“t sound too tough, and hopefully wouldn“t be when having fairly precise control on a keyboard. However, using the analog stick feels floaty and leads to one sideswiping cars far more often than should be the case. There are other times when using a controller feels like the wrong way to be playing. It“s not wrong for a developer to prefer one control scheme over another but it“s unfortunate more wasn“t done to aid the PS3 experience. Is Master Reboot playing? Most definitely. It has an incredibly unique premise and design that definitely deserves attention. However, getting the game on PS3 is not recommended as that“s obviously not the way it was meant to be played. Or, if it ever appears as an Instant Game Collection title you can test the waters there before eventually buying on Steam. In any case, Master Reboot was quite a surprising game and hopefully this recent port will give it some much-needed attention. Pros: + Excellent stylized visuals + Interesting storyline + Puzzles that are not made to confound players Cons: - PS3 controls are imprecise and finicky - Weird audio mix - Some screen tearing on more complex areas Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Although the PS3 port of Master Reboot leaves something to be desired it still manages to shine through with an excellent concept and artistic vision. Disclosure: This review is based on PS3 downloadable code of the game provided by the publisher.
  4. solid-alchemist

    Proteus Review

    Proteus (PS3) Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga Published by Curve Studios Released October 29, 2013 Review Written February 16, 2014 Originally Posted on Boss Dungeon Not really knowing what I was getting into, Proteus is one of the few games I picked up during my Playstation Network winter sale binge. Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga this artistic odyssey leaves the player, or viewer I should say, with more questions than answers. With a minimalistic art style sprinkled with a musical undercurrent, this journey makes you want to believe it has more to offer. When you first begin Proteus your character awakens in the middle of the ocean a mile away from an island. Your character is actually less of a character and more of a floating, disembodied eyeball but that is fairly irrelevant. As you move out of the waters and trek upon the nearby beaches, you gaze upon the beautiful, minimalistic art style. With every step you are given a snowballing melody that adds to the bewilderment. Musical tones spring for every movement, every creature, and every plant. Not really knowing what you stumbled into, you continue on seeking answers. I“m singing in the rain!!! Proteus creates this peaceful, relaxing experience of meandering while maintaining its ambiguity in order to grab your interest for at least one playthrough. The biggest draw of Proteus is its ability to appease your inner wanderlust in the same vein as games like TESV: Skyrim or Fallout 3. Although only resembling those games through the innate desire to roam freely, Proteus brings forth its beautiful textures and sounds to inspire exploration. With a changing time cycle, weather cycle, four seasons, and randomly generated islands it can be somewhat of a different experience for each player but by much. There is just something calming about seeing pixilated clouds glide towards your screen and slowly release a downpour of rain. Adding more upon that, the pixilated art style is very soft in its presence. I really enjoyed the first moments I spent watching trees rustle in the wind through blocky textures like some 16-bit dance. The skyline is also the most breathtaking element within Proteus as dawn and dusk flow while a rare falling star glimmers in the corner of your screen. The visuals are definitely a key point of the game along with the musical tones, as they both help develop the serene nature throughout your journey. The controls to Proteus are as minimalistic as the entire game“s structure as well. You only have the ability to move, look, sit, and save. The minimal controls are meant to help promote your wanderment but I felt it holds the player back by lacking interactive buttons and this comes off as one of the flaws within the game; your character doesn“t really interact with the environment you are viewing. Some animals will run away when you approach them, but that is the only reaction you gain from wandering the island besides the handful of moments that will leave you audibly saying, “Whoa.†Without feeling like I was truly interacting with the island or able to do anything other than walk, I felt less like I was playing a game and more like I was viewing a digital art gallery throughout my one hour playthrough. This is what you get to work with. Looking at Proteus after completing it, I“ve been trying to distinguish if it can even be categorized as a game. Sure it has some gaming elements and is fairly linear in getting to the end screen, but it lacks what you find normally within a game; an objective or at least a straightforward one. This was the most frustrating aspect for me as there“s no sense of direction, no instructions, and no true interaction with the world you traverse. What“s the point of playing if there is no goal to complete? Sure the game starts out interesting and somewhat fun while searching with reckless abandon, but that novelty wears off after completing an hour. Proteus doesn“t offer many reasons to really return to the island to replay another session. Yet digging deeper into the basis of this game I found one objective the creators had intended for the player. Albeit very basic, the goal of Proteus is to just explore and be free. Strangely the game achieves influencing the player to explore as many players will begin to do so without realizing it. Even with that realization I still think Proteus is more of an hour long visual-musical experience than a game; a digital art display. Bees!! Fact: treating a bee sting has more objectives than this game. Proteus starts you off lost and confused, searching with questions when there are no answers. From a distance it appears that it doesn“t have much to offer, yet a peaceful hour long experience is left available for those willing to take it. I took a blind leap into this game and personally don“t feel the experience obtained from Proteus is worth the money. I“d say pass on it unless it sounds like something that will artistically appeal to your inner wanderer. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist
  5. Developer: Spike Chunsoft Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS Vita Release Date: February 11, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature Back in 2010, a game with the name of Danganronpa arrived on Japanese PSPs and never left the region. With the Vita out, Spike Chunsoft decided to bring their title to this newer handheld as well. It“s thanks to this more recent port and NIS America that Western gamers can finally get a taste of the oddball adventure game - and many have been waiting quite a while for the official debut! But what exactly is Dangaronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc? Dangonronpa is a title focusing on a cast of teenagers with incredible skills. Each is the ultimate in their respective interest (such as baseball, business, and programming) and have been selected to go to an incredibly exclusive high school. Hope“s Peak Academy has long been known as the launch point for students that will make them set for life in their future careers. Unfortunately, as the introduction quickly reveals, something has gone seriously wrong at Hope“s Peak. For some reason, aside from the newest entrants into the school, it is completely empty. Windows are covered with massive metal plates, the exit blocked by a vault-style door, and there“s also a weird bear ordering everyone around. This teddy bear-like being, named Monokuma, plainly states that the group of students are to be stuck in school for the rest of their lives. The only way to leave is to kill a classmate - and get away with it. Of course, getting away with it entails fooling everyone during a trial between peers. If they peg the right person then that student is punished with death. However, point to the wrong person and everyone except the murder will receive death sentences. It seems ridiculous which is why no one wants to believe Monokuma is even capable of carrying out his threats! But soon enough they realize that the claims are real and every one of them is in mortal danger. Players take the role of an “average” student named Makoto and do their best to find clues, solve murders, and make sure innocents aren“t killed. Playing Danganronpa reveals a host of varied gameplay modes that mix point and click adventure, visual novel, and a few other things. A lot of the game is spent watching the story unfold as characters discuss topics with a static image showing who“s speaking. On occasions, you have time to freely choose who to chat with or can scour crime scenes for important clues. Segments like these are played from a first-person perspective, although navigating the school is pretty dull. There is a map function to quickly warp between areas, at least. When on the hunt for clues you simply interact with static screens by clicking on objects to learn about them. After watching events transpire and collecting clues, the gameplay shifts into a class trial mode. At this point, all the living classmates gather up and try to decide who among them has committed murder. This is a recurring event and only gets more stressful as the class body dwindles. As everyone presents their ideas (or accusations) it is your job to find the lies or mistakes and expose them. For better or for worse, almost all of your classmates are complete imbeciles meaning it“s on your shoulders to discern what really happened in each crime. In a way it sounds like a Phoenix Wright game. Actually playing the courtroom aspect of Danganronpa shows it as a completely different beast, though. To go with the theme of murder, you are granted “truth bullets” to shoot at incorrect statements being made. During another courtroom event, you“ll have to play a simplistic rhythm game while shooting down lies. Finally, you have to completely reconstruct the series of events around each murder in comic book format to prove you“ve got it down. Most of these elements seem like silly attempts to make the experience more game-like. Honestly, it would have been fine with simple menus rather than the strangely complex system that is eventually build up during these sections. Although there might be reason to gripe with some of the game“s constraints, it“s hard to get too angry about the writing. As it turns out, it is a surprisingly gripping tale filled with unique characters. Each student is completely different and almost all have their own weird quirks. A few characters fall into stereotypes, but it was nice to see more unique members among the students as well. Eventually you“ll find the students you like most and seek to spend more time with them but you never know who might be murdered next. Part of the tension comes from hoping your specific clique will make it out alive…but that is very unlikely. Another high point for Danganronpa is its art and music. The visual design of each character is fairly unique and drawn nicer than a standard RPG. Similarly, there are special scenes and a few animated ones that showcase even better quality visuals than the main game. As for the soundtrack, it is composed by Masafumi Takada who has worked on a great many Grasshopper Manufacture titles over the years. If you liked his music in titles like Killer7 then you“ll almost certainly love the soundtrack here. Danganronpa offers at least 15 hours of gameplay which spans across a handful of murders that must be solved. The main disappointment is that it isn“t all that difficult. Even when you aren“t clear on how a murder occurred, everything is written to lead you directly to the solution over the course of each case. However, an easier difficulty means this game can be enjoyed by many more people which is a great thing. The main reason to play is to watch the story unfold and see if you“re a good enough detective to pinpoint who will be murdered and by whom before it occurs! The game tells a compelling story all the while offering up a totally unique experience to players. If murder mysteries are your thing then you“d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Pros: + Dark, sometimes humorous writing, sets the tone for a very engaging storyline + Very nice artwork and animation to compliment the large amount of reading segments + Excellent soundtrack that shifts from melancholic to manic Cons: - Gameplay elements feel awkwardly tacked on - Skilled sleuths will find each murder mystery a bit too obvious, especially during courtroom segments - Some of the students are cliched which clashes with the far more interesting ones Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is quite the unusual game but its compelling plot is worth investigating. A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
  6. You might recall that PlayStation held a 13 for '13 sale on PSN last year (which consisted of 13 games on sale in honor of 2013), and now it looks like they're set to continue the themed sale tomorrow with 2014. The 14 for '14 sale includes some pretty huge discounts on recent popular games, with the normal sale price being 50% off, and PS+ sale prices being as much as 75% off. Check out the full list of PS3 games below getting the sales treatment. Bit.Trip Presents... Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien - $3.75 (PS+ price), $7.49 (sale) Crysis 3 - $5.00 (PS+ price), $9.99 (sale) Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut - $13.49 (PS+), $14.99 (sale) Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition - $5.00 (PS+), $9.99 (sale) F1 2013 - $21.99 - (PS+), $29.99 (sale) Far Cry Blood Dragon - $3.75 (PS+), $7.49 (sale) Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut (Cross-buy) - $5.24 (PS+), $7.49 (sale) Pool Nation - $2.25 (PS+), $4.49 (sale) Puppeteer - $7.00 (PS+), $13.99 (sale) Rain - $3.75 (PS+), $7.49 (sale) Rayman Legends - $35.99 (PS+), $47.99 (sale) Tales of Xillia - $10.00 (PS+), $19.99 (sale) The Wolf Among Us Season Pass - $13.49 (PS+), $14.99 (sale) Thomas Was Alone (Cross-buy) - $2.50 (PS+), $4.99 (sale) There are also also 14 Vita games on sale as well, including big games like Killzone Mercenary, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Soul Sacrifice, and The Walking Dead. You can find their prices on The PlayStation Blog. Recommendations: Puppeteer, Rain, and The Wolf Among Us received some of the most highly acclaimed games when they were reviewed last year on GP; they're all more than a bargain for the price they're going for in this sale. Tales of Xillia is hard to pass up for $10 as well, if you have PlayStation Plus.
  7. Not sure why, and not sure how long it lasts, but Arkham Origins Blackgate is $20 for a download code for the Vita version. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GGUSZVY/ref=nosim/cheapassgam08-20 It's only the Vita download, physical copies are still $35 for Vita and I think $30 for 3DS. Anyway, if $20 is your "eh, I'll try it" point for this game, there it is.
  8. Jared

    Rain PSN PS3

  9. Jason Clement

    PlayStation Store Update: Week of 11/19/2013

    We're slowly but surely approaching the end of the gamut of Fall releases as November passes the midway point. Still, there are plenty of new games coming out, and today is no exception. Here's a look at the latest big as well as small releases out on the PlayStation Store this week. Full PS4 Games NBA Live 14 - $59.99 Full PS3 Games Farming Simulator 2013 - $29.99 Need for Speed: Rivals - $59.99 Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW - $39.99 Air Conflicts: Vietnam - $29.99 Aquapazza - $29.99 (check out our official review) Arcania: The Complete Tale - $29.99 Blood Knights - $14.99 Dynasty Warriors 6 - $19.99 Young Justice: Legacy - $39.99 PSN Games Contrast - $14.99 Stick It to the Man - $12.99 Soul Calibur II HD Online - $19.99 PS Vita Games The Amazing Spider-Man - $39.99 Demos Blood Knights (PS3) NBA Live 14 (PS4) New PS Plus Instant Games Binary Domain (PS3) Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (PS Vita) Are you interested in anything on the PS Store this week?
  10. Jason Clement

    Review: Rain

    Developer: PlayStation C.A.M.P. Acquire, SCE Japan Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Platform: PS3 (PSN only) Release Date: October 1, 2013 ESRB: E 10+ A download code was provided by the publisher for this review PlayStation C.A.M.P.'s Tokyo Jungle was one of last year's most unique and undeniably unorthodox titles, not only for its unique premise (survival of the fittest among animals in post-apocalyptic Japan) but its interesting game mechanics as well. Similarly, the developer's newest title, Rain, seeks to continue that same out-of-box thinking. Its premise is a bit similar to a Hudson Wii game from several years back called Lost In Shadow, but in this game, the protagonist is an invisible boy whose outline can only be seen in the falling rain. And, like Tokyo Jungle, it's an experience quite unlike anything else. Rain begins with a somewhat lengthy prologue detailing the events that lead up to the protagonist's current circumstance. During the night, a boy witnesses an invisible girl being chased by a similarly invisible creature outside his window; their silhouettes being the only thing visible in the damp, pouring rain. Feeling a need to help the girl, the boy jumps out into the night after them, only to find as he is caught up in the chase that he too has become invisible. The antagonistic bipedal creature is revealed to the player as The Unknown, a being whose design is almost straight out of one of Tim Burton's many works. Overall, the plot revolves around uncovering the mystery of why The Unknown is chasing the girl (and eventually the boy) and why both children are invisible. At its base, the game can be considered a puzzle platformer, but it's almost better described as a piece of interactive fiction, as the driving force behind the game is its narration and story. Right from the get-go, Rain's storybook intro (with its painterly images) segues into the endless rainy night, with words appearing on the walls and streets to narrate the events that are happening as you progress through different scenes. And like other smaller titles such as Papo & Yo and The Unfinished Swan, Rain is an extremely linear, guided experience, which means there is almost no room for exploration beyond what the game wants you to see in its story, save for some extras which I'll mention further on. The gameplay itself is relegated to running, jumping, and occasionally interacting with an object. Much of the experience revolves around stealth and sneaking around to avoid being detected by different invisible creatures that are on the prowl. Seeing as the boy is only visible in the rain, you'll use this fact to your benefit by finding roofs, awnings, and other overhead protrusions that provide a dry shelter in order to stay invisible and undetectable to enemies. You'll also use the environment and objects around you to progress as well; the nice thing is that the game continually adds new mechanics into the mix with each new chapter to keep things interesting. What starts out as a seemingly endless chase to catch up with the mysterious girl then becomes a more Ico-like experience once you do meet up at last. Together, you'll help each other overcome obstacles and challenges, and distract the invisible creatures from the other. There are some interesting visual devices that PlayStation C.A.M.P. introduces to ensure the player can always see where the boy and the girl are, from mud that sticks to their pant legs and only washes off upon stepping into a puddle of water, to smaller cues such as splashes in the water or small clouds of dust that are created when running in dry areas. Some of the most interesting aspects about Rain to me are the mood it sets with its atmosphere and the themes it draws on during the narrative. Music in particular plays a huge role in setting the atmosphere. Claire de Lune serves as the game's main theme, beautiful and haunting at the same time, and serves to inspire the rest of the game's reflective, orchestral soundtrack, which is quite good. Much of the game instills a loneliness in you due to the streets being devoid of life, other than you, the girl, and the invisible creatures. Hopelessness, uncertainty, and fear are other interesting themes that are explored, especially toward the end as the mystery begins to unravel. Not unlike Tokyo Jungle, Rain looks nice but isn't necessarily a graphical powerhouse; it doesn't push the PS3 in any noticeable way, and the invisible creatures' design (or outline, in this case) aren't all that inspired. Yet, like C.A.M.P.'s post-apocalyptic animal game, the dev team did some interesting work in researching and replicating the early 20th century look of the city's surroundings. Since the game is played with a fixed camera angle that pans slightly at certain points, there are a lot of different shots of the city; hundreds, if not thousands, and they all recreate a very authentic urban feel in the buildings, streets and cars. In this way, the art direction is supremely well done. If there's one thing that I found disconcerting about Rain, it's that the story can be a bit complicated to follow, especially toward the end. Often it will get lost in metaphors and allegories, leaving you to wonder what is meant to be taken literally and what isn't. Even still, its climax recalls some of the powerful notes that games such as Journey, Papo & Yo, and The Unfinished Swan closed on. And even after the story is over, you'll be able to replay and find hidden "memories" that expand on the characters' backstory, giving the game some replay value. For all its worth, Rain is an interesting and engaging experience. At just over 3 hours, it's a little short, and it isn't necessarily challenging either, but its premise and plot make it one of the more unique titles that manages to stand out among the rest this Fall. Pros + Narrative and plot keep you interested and hooked throughout + Interesting visuals, nice effects with the rain and invisibility + Music is well done Cons - Not particularly challenging - Short experience (3 hours or so) Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Rain is a very different type of game, but its unique premise and narrative lend itself well to what can be considered one of the year's most intriguing artsy game experiences.
  11. Jason Clement

    PlayStation Store Update: New Games for 11/5/13

    This week's PlayStation Store update is bustling with a number of new game titles, with at least one notable highly anticipated release in the form of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Also, The Guided Fate Paradox looks to satisfy RPG enthusiasts (we should also have a review for soon), while CastleStorm heads to PS Vita. Check out the full list below! Full PS3 Games Call of Duty: Ghosts - $59.99 Call of Duty: Ghosts Hardened Edition - $119.99 Ben 10 Omniverse 2 - $39.99 The Guided Fate Paradox - $49.99 PSN Games A-Men 2 (Cross-buy with PS Vita) - $9.99 CastleStorm (Cross-buy with PS Vita) - $9.99 Final Exam - $9.99 How to Survive - $14.99 PS Vita Games A-Men 2 (Cross-buy with PS3) - $9.99 CastleStorm (Cross-buy with PS3) - $9.99 PS2 Classic The Adventure of Cookie and Cream - $9.99 For the newest sales, check out this thread. See anything you might buy this week?
  12. Jason Clement

    You Can Now Use Paypal to Pay on the PS3 PS Store

    Ever wanted to buy a game on the PlayStation Store but couldn't because you didn't want to use your credit card or didn't have a PSN card handy? It seems Sony has heard your pleas because they've now integrated Paypal support into the PS3 PlayStation Store. Technically, this isn't entirely new; Paypal support was integrated into the web version of the Sony Entertainment Network earlier this year, but no doubt most of us probably buy PSN games and such through our PS3 so it's a nice convenience to have. All you have to do to get to the Paypal option is click on "Add Funds" after checking out from the cart on the PlayStation Store, than you can add any amount from $5 to $150 into your SEN wallet to use on games, TV shows, movies, and more. Of course, you'll need to set up a Paypal account first if you don't already have one. Have you been waiting for Paypal to come to the PlayStation Store?
  13. barrel

    Review: Chaos Code

    Developer: FKDigital Publisher: Arc System Works Platform: PS3 Release Date: September 3, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review 2013 has been a sort of dry year for fighting games. Sure, there has been Injustice, and the more overlooked Yatagarasu, as well as certain other titles getting re-releases to expand their fanbase, but not too much that is particularly new. This is sort of odd, especially after what feels like a sort of genre resurgence for the past couple years. Still, that doesn't stop what will most likely be an underrated gem, Chaos Code, from making its downloadable debut. Chaos Code is a Taiwanese fighting game by FK Digital with a surprisingly troubled development history dating as far back as the very early 2000's. Beyond that, though, the game was released in arcades in 2011 and finally saw a PS3 downloadable port at the tail end of 2012 on Hong Kong's PSN . Now, as you may have guessed, the title has been recently released on PSN in the US and for the fair asking price of $12. As a fighting game, Chaos Code seems to borrow a decent amount from various others, but it doesn“t really seem to lean too much on any one style in particular. Having said that, if anything, it has probably been influenced the most by stuff like King of Fighters and Guilty Gear in terms of mechanics. It has the mobility and character variety of an "anime" fighter, but the various meter/gauge rules of more traditional ones. Chaos Code treads an interesting fighting game middle ground that isn't as intimidating to learn as the two examples I directly compared it to, and it also that has several unique mechanics as well. At a first glance, the game may not immediately impress, especially if you've been spoiled by 2D sprite-based marvels like Persona 4: Arena or Skullgirls, like myself. Upon closer examination, however, Chaos Code does sneak in lots of personality in its characters and shows off plenty of visual flair. I was amused by the attention to detail they paid to certain characters like Bravo and Catherine, who are just riddled with visual gags. Bravo, who is a chef and waiter, exaggerates both professions with every gesture of movement, and there is also Catherine, an... eccentric cartoonist, who plays on various anime/film cliches with almost every frame of animation and switches outfits constantly to accompany it. Even if the game doesn“t have the visual fluidity or detail of recent works by Arc System Works or Lab Zero Games, the game still shows plenty of character with its visuals. After selecting one of many varied and fun to play characters, the player can personalize their moveset by choosing two of four moves - two of which are special character commands, and the other two which are "Ultimate Chaos moves" (or supers), and you can mix and match based on preference. I“ve noticed the moves you select (particularly their character commands) sort of dramatically change many character's general game plans as well as combo potential. The different modes present in the game are rather standard: There is a Story Mode, Vs Mode, Survival Mode, and Practice mode, and that is pretty much it. It covers the bare essentials but doesn't really try to go beyond it. Unfortunately, the story in Chaos Code is pretty much incomprehensible, if only due to a more than confusing (Read: “Engrishy”) localization. The very best I can tell you about it is that the ”Chaos Code“ is something that has the potential to control/change the world and each character has their own aspirations to go out of their way to obtain it. Apparently the English script is supposed to get patched in the near future, but it isn't present as of this review. It's a shame, because the title shows hints of humor in its story and some pre-battle banter (that is Japanese only), but the player will very likely find themselves laughing at the game as opposed to with it, because of the current silly translation. Like myself, I will continue poke fun at the, erm... gems of dialogue like: “Create a doll and act like the God. What a stupid!" In regards to the other modes, this actually leads to other more serious complaints I have with the game. Chaos Code doesn't really have much of what you'd expect of more modern fighters in terms of mode structure, since it is so bare bones. This means there is no in-depth tutorial like Dead or Alive 5:Plus (or Ultimate) and like standard, and unfortunate, fighting game tradition, you will be forced to consult to online resources to even learn a lot of the game's mechanics: like Tactical Guard, Chaos Shift/Cancel, and Chaos Exceed. Actually, since the game won't explain what those do, I will. First is Tactical Guard, which is a defensive parry that uses a bit of special meter to completely throw off an opponents offensive momentum if the player who uses it has good timing. Second is Chaos Shift/Cancel, which are more technical mechanics to extend combos, where you cancel normal attacks into special moves with Chaos Shift or you use Chaos Cancel interrupt super moves to other actions. Lastly, is probably the most complex with Chaos Exceed, which uses three bars of meter to temporarily have the character recover health and also dramatically increases their combo potential for a brief period of time. So, like most good fighting games, there is definitely plenty of depth for fighting game enthusiasts, but much of it will be lost on many newcomers who don't look into it since there are no tutorials on execution. In addition to that is my biggest complaint- No online multiplayer. Now, in this game's defense, it has been confirmed by the developer that they are working on their own netcode and trying to implement into a later patch. However, unlike the localization patch, details surrounding the online multiplayer seem rather vague, and may very well not be in the immediate future. This means, especially for individuals like myself who scare off local competition in fighting games too much, I'm severely limited in the long-term replay value until I see it added. Also, without any competitive drive, I can't really justify sitting down and trying to master its mechanics, when I can just as easily play various other fighters I really enjoy (P4A) online. Which is a shame, since I really enjoy playing Chaos Code and would love to make it my next go-to fighter. Last, but certainly not least, to mention is the soundtrack, which is truly great and a real treat to listen to. Unlike a lot of fighting games which tend to favor one musical style, like rock or techno styled songs, this one utilizes a lot of different types. That isn't to say Chaos Code doesn't have stuff like rock and techno tracks, since it certainly does and really well at that, but it does seem like they've personalized various musical styles for the varied cast of characters and it complements them well. As of current, Chaos Code is in a odd position in the fighting game space. The title is more than a solid fighting game by itself, and is certainly fun to play, but it lacks core aspects to make it last long-term for many players. This is partially due to how the game lacks any real tutorials to train newcomers and much more so how it lacks any online multiplayer, despite how the latter is supposed to be added in the future. If you can get past that, or are patient enough to wait until the online multiplayer is patched in, Chaos Code is an engaging fighter and most certainly should be on the radar of fighting game fans. Pros: + Fun to play and varied cast of characters + Excellent soundtrack + Plenty of depth for higher-level play Cons: - No online multiplayer (as of this review) - Minimal story mode with a very Engrish-y localization (as of this review) - Does not explain its higher-level mechanics at all Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Chaos Code is a very solid, fun fighter to play but, until the online multiplayer is implemented, it will unfortunately be limited in its long-term appeal for anybody who can“t rally up competitive play locally.
  14. Developer: SEGA Studios Australia Publisher: SEGA Platform: PS3 (PSN), XBLA Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E for Everyone This game was reviewed using a PSN digital code provided by the publisher It's a strange time for Mickey Mouse. The last decade has seen Disney's mascot step back from the limelight somewhat, with his role in games mostly limited to a supporting one in the ever popular Kingdom Hearts series. Epic Mickey, itself a critical mixed bag, its even more controversial sequel (its poor reception led to the closure of developer Junction Point), and a somewhat less-than-stellar 3DS sequel in the Illusion series were pretty much the only games where he appeared in a starring role. This is a stark contrast to the '90s, which saw some of Mickey's best games, and one above all was considered the very best by many - Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. SEGA was apparently aware of this as well and put SEGA Australia Studios to work on a remake of the game, complete with new bells and whistles. Not only has the game been recreated with entirely new HD visuals, but the in-game engine is all-new and certain aspects of the game have been expanded, altered, and modernized. What results from this is possibly one of the best remakes of a classic game in some time. Castle of Illusion begins with a cutscene in which Micky and Minnie are having a picnic, only for it to be interrupted when an evil witch named Mizrabel kidnaps Minnie in order to steal her beauty. Of course, Mickey won't stand for this and tracks Mizrabel to her Castle of Illusion, but it's soon made known that he'll have to explore the castle's illusions and areas in order to find 7 rainbow gems that will create a bridge to the tower where Minnie is being held captive. While the original game was strictly a 2D platformer, this remake is mostly 2.5D with some areas that feature full 3D gameplay. In fact, when you first start out in the castle, the main hub area is similar to Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64, where different rooms house different levels. In Castle of Illusion, each room houses a different illusion world consisting of three stages, with the third being a boss stage. The worlds you traverse range from a forest to a toy land to a library and more. Despite the move to a more dynamic camera that will shift around the level (much like Klonoa) and sometimes turn the playing field from 2D to 3D, this new remake retains the same spirit of gameplay as the original. You'll run, jump, bounce off of most enemies to defeat them, and also throw different items you come across such as marbles and other projectiles. For the most part, the game plays pretty spectacularly. It genuinely feels like an old-school '90s era platformer that was given modern visuals and gameplay conventions without sacrificing what made the original so special in the first place. Each of the different worlds and levels feel different enough in their layout and mechanics to where you don't feel as if you're just going from left to right with different backgrounds. Some levels are designed like a giant U, some have you traversing up or down, some have 3D elements to them, and yet others are designed like mazes. There are some great action sequences built in as well, including chase sequences where Mickey is running toward the screen away from a giant rolling apple, a jaunt through ruins with collapsing platforms and swinging ropes, and more. As far as visuals go, Castle of Illusion looks stunning for a remake. SEGA Studios Australia really gave the game a nice sheen to it, with attractive 3D character models and layered backgrounds as well as dynamic camera shifts that twist and pan as Mickey traverses each level. And of course, it's chock full of color and really stands out in certain levels such as the Candy Land-themed area in one of the worlds. As a remake, it really sets the standard for similar games in the future that look to recreate older, classic titles. Taking over the reins for the music in this remake is none other than the legendary Grant Kirkhope, who is famous for his work with Rare during the late '90s and early 2000's. Kirkhope's influence is immediately felt as soon as you enter the Castle of Illusion, with its whimsical overworld lobby music sounding like something straight out of Banjo Kazooie. It's classic Kirkhope through and through. Also of note is the fact that Richard McGonagle (voice of Sully in the Uncharted games) lends his soothing voice as narrator throughout the story, creating sort of a bedtime fairytale vibe. In all, Castle of Illusion is a great throwback to an era when Disney games were among the best out there. It's got enough action and platforming to it to satisfy kids as well as adults, and while it's not the most difficult game, it never comes across as too easy. However, the game's biggest fault is that it's way too short; you'll likely finish it in 2-3 hours in your first playthrough. And though it has a little bit of replayability in the way of some collectable items, it's a shame that such a great remake has to be cut short like that. Still, if you're pining for the old days when Mickey's games were great or you're looking for a good platformer to play, definitely check out Castle of Illusion; it's a short but sweet experience. Pros + Attractive visuals + Simple yet fun platforming + The switch from 2.5D to 3D areas adds more flavor to the gameplay Cons - Extremely short Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Castle of Illusion is a great remake that unfortunately is a bit hampered by its short completion time.
  15. Marcus Estrada

    Review: KickBeat

    Developer: Zen Studios Publisher: Zen Studios Platform: PS3, Vita Release Date: September 3, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review, which is based on the PS Vita version of the game For a while, it seemed that “traditional” rhythm games were gone. Peripheral-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were king for a few years before things shifted again. In the present, we see some traditional games eke out, but more often than not there are more creative uses of music in the modern rhythm game. Zen Studios have created a title that requires definite rhythm to play but have meshed it with a fighting game. The idea is certainly creative but does it succeed? First, we must discuss the basic control scheme of KickBeat. You play the game as a young martial artist. As this character, you work through nearly twenty stages which are filled with enemies. These baddies gather around and eventually circle you before going in for the kill. Your goal is to retaliate just at the moment they“re primed to attack you. As long as you can hit enough of them without getting demolished yourself then the stage will end successfully. Of course, hitting them properly depends on the music playing during the stage. Sure, it could be possible to time the hit by staring at them carefully, but it“s much easier to just go with the beats. Each enemy is color-coded as well as a hint to how they“ll approach. Some enemies only come on the main beats, while others jump in between them. It“s important to be able to read their style or else you“ll be making a lot of missteps. Enemies swarm around you but can only attack from one of four directions. These are mapped out by the four face buttons of the Vita or PS3 controller. On Vita, you can actually use the touch screen to initiate attacks but it“s not very useful. This is because having your hands on the screen is less precise, harder to reach for some, and also obscures the view of incoming enemies! In any case, hitting the buttons should be done with proper timing, but you can still get a kick in even if you“re a little off beat. There are some other aspects to fighting as well which task you with double tapping on specific enemies. Guys with items floating above their head should be hit twice in order to collect said item. Such goodies involve shields, score multipliers, and health. It“s kind of hard to get them at times, though, as enemies easily crowd up in bunches near you. At that point, it can be hard to discern which one has the bonus. Double tapping on a bonus-less enemy grants no rewards and can instead reset your multiplier. What about the music? After all, that“s kind of a big point in regards to a music/rhythm game. There are eighteen songs that include artists Marilyn Manson, Pendulum, and Rob Zombie. The song selection is definitely unique to a rhythm game of this type. Some may dislike the soundtrack, but then there will be a whole other group who enjoys it. My biggest issue with it was simply not being accustomed to the songs which made it harder to predict beats initially. In any case, it“s definitely not fair to diss the game via the soundtrack since it definitely has an audience. Things that I cannot accept are various gameplay decisions. There seems to have been a definite attempt by Zen Studios to create a more “cinematic” or active rhythm game. As such, the camera sometimes slides or shifts which slightly alters the player“s view of the screen. This is an issue because rhythm games tend to rely on having the hit zone be static. Seeing it slightly turned from what you are accustomed to makes it harder to immediately judge where to hit. The issue is compounded with later difficulty stages. On normal, the hit zone will light up with the corresponding PS face button when an enemy approaches. Other difficulties remove this notifier. If the screen were in a static position all the time then this wouldn“t be a huge deal. Since it does have some change, though, it means you have to be incredibly aware of each enemy. In most music games, there is an ability to get into a ”zen“ state with them. It doesn“t seem this will ever be the case with KickBeat. It“s not that the game is just difficult, because that is entirely admirable to pursue. The problem is that some of the difficulty is artificial, such as what was just described. It also doesn“t help that sometimes enemies fly directly at the screen, obscuring the view for a bit. The way enemies animate and wander around is also a bit confusing to deal with when innumerable ones pour in. Players have to keep track of a lot of goings on. Perhaps part of the problem was playing it on the small Vita screen instead of a TV set. Those who play the demo and enjoy the gameplay (but not necessarily the music) might still be interested thanks to a mode called "Beat Your Music." Here, players can input their own songs for playing. After inputting the BPM on your own, the track can be saved and played through. They rarely turn out as good as official songs but it“s great to see the option available. A lot was done to extend player time commitments to KickBeat. For one, there are two story modes to play through. Then there is the fact that most features are locked until beating the game once. Survival mode in particular is off limits until you completely master the game at its hardest difficulty. This is definitely easier said than done since proceeding to any new difficulty requires beating the preceding one first. If you can manage that then you“re well on your way to climbing the Leaderboard. It seems that KickBeat succeeds at being different from most other games but is perhaps too different for genre fans to accept. Then there are players who are new to rhythm games but then wouldn't they just find this game even more difficult due to having no prior experience? Although it is not impossibly hard, it is harder than it needs to be due to unfortunate design choices. What makes rhythm games fun is the mix of music with addictive gameplay that you know you can master. In the case of this title, we“ve got a game better suited toward annoying the majority of players. Pros: + Interesting take on rhythm games + A tracklist of well known artists Cons: - Design decisions that negatively impact gameplay - May be hard to find a large market with songlist - Why implement touch controls at all when they're a poor choice? Overall Score: 4.0 (out of 10) Below Average KickBeat is a game with a definite audience but manages to chip away at it via a host of gameplay grievances.
  16. Sega and Disney Interactive recently revived, remade, and released an HD version of the beloved Genesis classic Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. Does it hold up to the fan-favorite game everyone knows and loves, or is greatness just an illusion for this high definition Mousecapade? Keep reading to find out! Developer: Sega Studios Australia Publisher: Sega/Disney Interactive Studios Platform(s): Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC (via Steam) Released: September 4, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the PSN version Before I start this review, I need to be honest - I've never played the original Genesis version of Castle of Illusion. Or, more specifically, I have played it, but only the first few levels. There's certainly nothing wrong with the game, but something about it just never captivated me. Still, due to an unhealthy obsession with all things platformer, I knew I had to give the HD remake a shot. Surely, with the graphical prowess of current-gen consoles, they could capture the whimsy and wonder that the original version always should have had but couldn't process? The good news is, yes, they did, very much - this is, through and through, a vibrant, wonderful journey through Disney-inspired lands starring everyone's favorite mouse in red shorts. The journey starts with Mickey and Minnie, having a serene picnic, as one often does in the bright and happy Disney universe. Their picnic, however, is ruined when a witch named Mizrabel snags Minnie away with plans to drain Minnie of her beauty, which will then be transferred to Mizrabel to make her attractive, because apparently there are a lot of warlocks out there that need courting. Anyway, Mickey naturally responds by following Mizrabel to her Castle of Illusion, where he must traverse several distinct areas in and around the castle in search of the Rainbow Gems, which will form a bridge to Mizrabel's tower where his dear Minnie is being held. Mickey's quest takes him to a number of strange locales, aptly demonstrating the "Illusion" part of the castle name. Mickey runs, jumps, and bounces his way through forest trees, crumbling temples, and lands made of candy and sweets in his search for the Rainbow Gems. The mechanics work much like the original game, where enemies are dispatched by bouncing off of them - which has been tweaked to only require a regular jump rather than two button presses - or by throwing items collected through the levels at them. Thrown items are tied to the theme of the level, such as apples in the forest, which is a nice touch. Still, the bounce is the main method of dispatching enemies, mostly because bouncing off enemies is the only way to reach higher ground, resulting in simple level progression or even finding secret areas of the level. One place where the remake really deviates from the original are sections where the camera shifts to allow MIckey full 3D movement throughout a certain area. This is used to great effect in some boss fights, as well as the Castle itself and small sections of other levels. If you have any experience with platformers, none of this will be new or even particularly challenging, at least at first. Some of the secret areas do throw some curveballs at you, but failing to navigate these areas usually just results in getting booted back to the main area of the level. It's not really until the later levels that the challenge ramps up pretty considerably, which is a bit jarring, but admittedly a welcome change for those who found the early stages lacking. Of course, the reason that the change in difficulty is so jarring is because the game is so short - it can be beaten in as little as 2-3 hours, with only the challenging final levels and possibly the quest for secret collectibles (which unlock new costumes and statues depicting enemy characters) adding a little extra playtime. There is also the option of running each level in Time Attack mode with leaderboards, though this will really only appeal to a certain subset of players. But, while the adventure may not last long, it certainly provides a host of great visuals along the way. While the game is rendered in full 3D, it's done in such a way that most everything looks like it's out of a particularly detailed cartoon. Mickey himself appears like he was plucked straight out of a drawing, looking quite like the mouse we all know and love rather than the serviceable but slightly off-putting rendition from the Epic Mickey games. The soundtrack is also wonderfully whimsical as well, with newly re-arranged music by Grant Kirkhope (composer of numerous soundtracks for Rareware games) complementing the visual stimuli with some great tunes. Or, if that doesn't take your fancy, you can always revert back to the original Castle of Illusion soundtrack at any time, to give your adventure a more retro feel. All in all, the game comes together to form a package that is sure to appeal to not only fans of older Mickey Mouse games, but to anyone who has an itch for a light-hearted platformer that needs scratching. While the game is short and offers limited reasons for replayability, this is one of those games that players will want to come back to again and again, whether to challenge themselves to complete the game 100% or just to have another fun romp through the Castle. Where most developers are content to simply port an older game to new systems and call it a day, the developers at Sega Australia have done an amazing job crafting the game with love and reverence to the source material while updating it for a modern audience, and the end result is no mere illusion - it's bona-fide magic. Score: 8/10 TL;DR comments: If you're looking for a fun, whimsical platformer, look no further. The $15 price tag may be a little hard to stomach for such a short game, but it's highly unlikely you'll want to just play the game once and forget about it - you just might find yourself returning to the Castle of Illusion to deliver another bouncing beatdown on Mizrabel, just for the fun of it. The game looks great and plays great, and offers tribute to its past not only in the original Genesis game, but classic platformers in general.
  17. barrel

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    From the album: Chaos Code

  18. barrel

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    From the album: Chaos Code

  19. barrel

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    From the album: Chaos Code

  20. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

    Developer: Otomate Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PSP (PSN) Release Date: August 27, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review Chances are, even if you“re reading this review, you“ve never played an otome game before (or only one). Otome games are most generally equivalent to dating sims. Except instead of focusing on a cast of datable girls, you play as a young woman who is surrounding by a bunch of guys. Dating sims themselves are quite the niche, so this genre is a niche of a niche. So far, it seems Aksys Games is the most willing to venture into otome territory. Their most recent otome release is Sweet Fuse: At Your Side by developer Otomate. It“s far from the cute and cuddly title you might be expecting, though. As the story begins, it all seems goofy enough. Your lead character, Sake Inafune, is actually the niece of real life game developer Keiji Inafune. He has just opened up a theme park based around video games and of course you“re excited to check it out during an exclusive opening event. Alongside other curious parties, you arrive, only to see Keiji kidnapped by a strange pig-looking monster. From there, things get weird. This pig guy, named Count Hogstein, is an apparently insane creature who has decided to turn the entire theme park into a massive diabolical game. He requires a cast of seven people to engage in his game and Saki jumps right into the mess. Alongside six men, she learns that the Count is forcing them to solve puzzles as a group. If they fail in their attraction-themed puzzles then they“ll all be caught in explosions rigged to each attraction. The cast of men is pretty varied, even if their presentation harps a bit too much on stereotypical types. There is a musclebound man calling everyone his “bro”, a shut-in gamer with greasy hair, a boy band idol, and a few others. With the vast differences between each character it“s likely that everyone will find one they like more than the rest and wish to focus on. Even if they don“t, the game will eventually push them down the path of whoever they are closest to. Those without interest in the romantic components still have the rest of the game to enjoy, which focuses primarily on the drama of making it through each puzzle alive. One of the most interesting facets about Sweet Fuse is the gameplay. The way Aksys marketed the game made it almost sound like an otome version of 999: Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors. However, there is never a point in this game where you are actually solving puzzles on your own. Instead, it plays purely as a visual novel. Characters will slowly come to conclusions about the solutions to puzzles, and likely you“ll come up with them beforehand, but there“s no way to act on them yourself. That doesn“t mean all you do is read, read, and read some more. As with other visual novels, your interactivity is based on making choices at specified times. These choices tend to be focused on what you“ll say to characters next. You might make someone happy, sad, or start yelling at them. Some of these choices affect very little, but others will put you on the path toward romancing one character over the other. There are also special times in puzzles where you must choose the proper hint to move on. Failure to guess the right hint will lead to everyone“s doom - and a game-over screen. But, for the most part, you“ll be doing a ton of reading. It takes five to eight hours to get through Sweet Fuse on a first playthrough depending on your reading speed. Of course, if you like the game enough to get through it once you“ll probably be excited to go through again. There is a lot of replay value simply for the fact of being able to romance a variety of men. A second playthrough in particular even yields an entirely new romance option. Since there“s not too much gameplay to handle, the main point of interest is the characters and their interplay. Thankfully, the translation is engrossing, even if not completely accurate to the original Japanese. Saki herself is an incredibly strong-willed character who serves as a stable base to the more fiery attitudes of some of her team members. It“s fun to see them play around and all that, although it does come across as a bit odd they would be capable of being silly in such a dire situation. Also, one unfortunate aspect is the amount of typographical errors to come across. It seems likely the game just wasn“t enough of a priority or something as it“s rare to see this much wrong in a published title. With that said, the game and its characters are primarily enjoyable. The puzzles are also pretty neat even if you never get to actually “solve” any yourself. With so few otome games out in the West it would even still be worth supporting if the game were not so great. Thankfully, Sweet Fuse is fun and offers a great deal of replay value. Definitely grab it on UMD or as a PSN download and then get to work with Saki and her crew on PSP or Vita. Pros: + Interesting cast of dateable characters + Multiple characters allow for a bevy of playthroughs Cons: - Fair bit of typos to be found - Puzzle interactivity severely limited Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great With such a small amount of otome games easily available to the American audience, Sweet Fuse shoots up to the top of the top of the list.
  21. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Do Not Fall

    Developer: XPEC Entertainment Publisher: XPEC Entertainment Platform: PS3: PSN Release Date: July 23, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A download code was provided by the publisher for this review. Did you ever play Q*Bert and think that it was far too easy? Unless you“re an arcade maestro the chances are that you instead found the game infuriatingly difficult. By the end, you might have even been swearing like Q*Bert himself. The reason this game is brought up is because Do Not Fall utilizes a similar gaming concept. As you explore environments, the floor disappears under you, leaving many frustrating moments in its wake. Let“s dive right into what makes Do Not Fall an unusual little game. You play the game as an anthropomorphic rabbit dressed up in some clothes who for some reason needs to make drinks. No, he“s not a bartender or an alcoholic, but just really likes sparkling water, milk, green tea, and the like. This oddball setup is basically all you get for a story. Of course, this is primarily a puzzle platformer so there“s no need for a long, drawn out narrative. Gameplay takes place on a 3D plane although the world itself is in a fixed 2.5D perspective. The first thing one notices is that the ground is comprised of floating blocks. For the most part, these blocks will crumble under foot after you stand on them for a few seconds. A few blocks will never break and you can tell these apart by their distinctive designs (grating, stone blocks, etc). Of course, the whole environment isn“t just one big batch of blocks. There are many segmented platforms, some of which are just one or two blocks floating out by themselves. Other times, there are objects and enemies blocking your path to blocks. On these occasions, you“ll need to carefully jump across chasms. With monsters, you have to time yourself to make sure you can weave between them without getting hit. If an enemy bumps into you then the poor bunny will get propelled in the opposite direction - often falling off a platform. These elements combined cause a great deal of strain on the player. Although beginning stages aren“t too tough, things completely change once you proceed to later areas. With blocks disappearing fairly quick, you don“t have time to think about where to go next. Then, with enemies making their rounds in quick, tight patterns you must also hurry along your path. There is also a timer on each stage which furthers this need for speed. Because of this, players are incredibly likely to make many errors while playing. It would be tough enough to deal with the monsters and platform disintegration, but adding time into the equation just drives it over the edge. Another unfortunate aspect is that a player maxes out at two lives. Even if you find new lives during play they won“t get added on. With so much stress to perform perfectly it“s practically impossible to do so on the first few attempts of many stages. That“s not to say the game offers nothing to aid players. It tries to some degree with the likes of checkpoints and the aforementioned extra lives. Checkpoints in particular can be helpful to get you back to a certain part of the stage instead of starting at the very beginning after death. Beyond that though there“s little the game can help with. You just have to be incredibly focused or have stages committed to memory. One reason that the difficulty of Do Not Fall is extra grating is simply because the rest of the game seems like it was designed for children. From the bunny who breakdances for an idle stance to cute ladybugs there is just nothing about this game that screams “frustrating”. It“s only when you sit down to play that it becomes apparent how insidious it is. Though, anyone who makes their way through can then play the game in hard mode. There is nothing inherently wrong with a game being difficult, but there are other reasons that people may choose to ignore it. For one, the visuals don“t really stand up to other PS3 PSN releases. They would appear much more at home on the Vita and it“s a mystery to me why this isn“t a Vita game. Similarly, the writing in this game is fairly odd. This likely has to do with the fact that the developer hails from Taiwan. Although it is not completely broken English text, it is awkward at times. Anyone with a strong desire to get consistently destroyed by a cutesy little game might want to pick up Do Not Fall. But if you“re someone who caught word of this title and though it looked like a nice diversion for a child should definitely think twice. It is not a cute little puzzle romp. It“s a puzzle game with real teeth and underwhelming production values. Pros: + Responsive control + A large amount of stages Cons: - Few methods of help within a stage - Awkward translation Overall Score: 5.0 (out of 10) Average Do Not Fall may be worth it to the keenest puzzle platforming players but turns into an exercise in frustration for most anyone else.
  22. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Ibb & Obb

    Developer: Sparpweed Publisher: Sparpweed Platform: PS3 Release Date: August 6, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A download code was provided by the publisher for this review. Note: Similar to the nature of the co-op gameplay in Ibb & Obb, we decided to tackle this review with two people. As such, the body of the review is mostly written by Marcus Estrada, while the blue text added indicates Jason Clement's thoughts on the game as well. It seems there is a new found resurgence in co-op gameplay as of late. First we saw the indie debut of Wyv & Keep and now we“ve got another game by the name of Ibb & Obb. Of course, aside from similar naming and two player co-op functionality, the two games are completely different. So let“s get into what exactly Ibb & Obb is and what makes it a uniquely fun experience! Ibb & Obb is a physics-based puzzle platformer with some real charm. In the game, you play as one of two Pac-Man ghost-like characters (the resemblance is definitely there, though I would also say they are very gumdrop-like as well), and though the game is especially designed for co-op, you can control both if you are alone. The two little characters must traverse through attractively-designed locations and make it through a series of puzzles. These puzzles represent the main unique draw behind the game, in that they play mainly on polarity and gravity while also drawing on the power of teamwork between the two characters. Each of the levels are divided by a playing field line where traveling above it results in a normal, rightside-up plane, and traveling below it results in an opposite, upside down plane. Both characters are able to traverse between the two planes by means of white portals. In the path of Ibb and Obb are often portals which can only be accessed by one or the other. The green or pink beings have associated doorways (that correspond to their color) which only they may enter or exit. Oftentimes you may need to hoist another player up to an area (that is otherwise out of reach), jump off platforms to increase momentum as you speed through a pathway, or even just carefully tread through enemy-infested territory to the other end. Puzzles are clumped up into different areas and offer save points at the end of each level. As players progress further, new concepts are added to the puzzle mechanics. Of course, puzzles increase in complexity as well. Each character is controlled with an analog stick on the PS3 controller. When playing with a friend in either local or online co-op, this is pretty easy to handle. However, if you“re hitting up the adventure solo, then be prepared for some seriously infuriating moments. Honestly, some puzzles require such precision timing for two players that they are even more demanding on a single player. After all, by yourself you have to negotiate and carry out your plans with pinpoint accuracy on two characters instead of just one. I decided to try a few levels on single-player to see just how different the game plays when you're responsible for controlling both characters. While it's definitely playable in solo mode, the learning curve here is steep. Even though I only played through the first two levels this way, I can't imagine playing through some of the later, extremely difficult levels that require precise movements in most cases, as Marcus mentioned. Because of this, the game is best played with another player, whether it's a friend or a random person online. Playing solo is better left as a challenge to complete after you finish the game at least once. Regardless of play mode, all fifteen levels and their puzzles remain the same. One of the hardest things to handle with a single player is taking care of enemies. Monstrous beings such as spiky birds or saws pepper the landscape at times, tempting you to fail a jump or run too slow. You“ll immediately notice that these beings are colored black and white in a 50/50 split. This is due to Ibb & Obb“s playfield including the top world as well as the underside of levels. Yes, sometimes you“ll be playing the game in a standard, upright platformer style while other times you“ll be platforming upside down on the lower half of the screen. Initially, playing on the reverse polarity (or lower half) was incredibly difficult - at least for me! My mind had to work extra hard to work out how exactly to jump and move when my character was hanging out upside down, but it isn“t as hard as you might think. One great design choice was to make sure that, even when upside down, pressing left still moves the character to the left side of the screen and the like. You simply have to get accustomed to experiencing platforming from a different perspective. There“s a good mix of puzzles you“ll fly through as well as ones that will tax the minds of one or both players. One helpful (but not quite helpful enough) feature in co-op is the ability to draw with a continuous line on screen. Need to direct a player to go and jump off a certain platform? Simply draw a line pointing there on the screen to get their attention. Of course, this feature requires both players to be of the same mindset for what various markings might mean. Drawing a series of loops across the level might make perfect sense to you but utterly confound your partner. No voice chat is available so either get good at scribbling on screen or seek out a secondary mode of conversation if it“s not local co-op. This was an interesting aspect of the game, as there were times when we would use the drawing line to direct the other, and for the most part, we did understand what each meant for the other to do, but there were definitely times where one of us just didn't get it. There were also points at which a puzzle was so tough and required so much thinking that one of us had to coordinate with the other by outside means on what to do (unfortunately, this means we did have to resort to instant messaging each other at certain points, much to the chagrin of what the game was likely hoping to achieve with voiceless communication). One other unfortunate aspect of online co-op is the fact that a certain amount of lag is present. This is the downfall of many modern online games and can never be entirely stomped out. Between two fairly good internet connections, I found that my game still showed some lag with syncing my partner“s actions. In some games this may not be a huge deal but it is problematic here when you“re trying to synchronize jumps or a variety of other time-based actions. The lag wasn“t continuous through play but did seem more prevalent in certain areas. I seemed to experience a little bit less lag than Marcus did, but it was still definitely something that happened at certain points. It was never so bad that it prevented us from getting past certain parts, but it did make things more difficult. Fortunately, it wasn't too common. Probably the strangest design misstep in the game occurs during parts where players must jump to great heights to reach the next area. At some points, you can jump high enough where when you change polarity into the opposite plane, you fly out of the visible gameplay screen. This is a huge issue as you do not get enough time to see where your character is as they plummet back down. Usually these massive jumps are followed by a need to land on a specific spot and you“re not going to be able to do that easily when having to guestimate their landing position. Of course, gameplay is not the only aspect of Ibb & Obb; the visual design is quite fantastic as well. It may not look like much in screenshots, but playing through the game on PS3 is quite the experience. The minimalistic design is attractive as are the various worlds to come across throughout. Although enemy designs never get very interesting, level design sure does and feels progressively more epic the further you go. The developers definitely have an excellent grasp on understanding of color and paint levels to appeal to players. Visually, it simply doesn“t look like any other platformer out there. I concur with Marcus on this point as well; the visuals are stunning and a joy to look at it. Ibb & Obb is a great example of the "less is more" adage, opting for a simple look, yet infusing the design with a plethora of gorgeous colors and gradients. One level in particular that really stood out has the entire level turn dark, with Ibb and Obb glowing and providing an aura of light around each of their bodies in order to light the way. The resulting level is like few things I've experienced before. Audio is another high point of the game. Composer Kettel provides a soundtrack which meshes perfectly with the minimalism present in visual design. Often quiet and reserved, players will likely be drawn further into the game without even realizing it thanks to the music. If you take the time to listen to it without focusing all your attention on puzzles then you“ll be able to recognize just how good it is as well. If the soundtrack is made available for purchase it comes highly recommended from me (thankfully, Sparpweed has confirmed to me that the OST is indeed on the way!). Like last year's Journey, the music is a pretty defining aspect of the game; it really does marry well with the gameplay itself. If you're into electronic groups like Boards of Canada, you'll be quite at home with the tunes found here. Ibb & Obb is a primarily good experience marred primarily by technical issues outside of their control. Even though some puzzles are incredibly cruel, they all are defeatable. If anything, the game might just be too difficult for players determined to go it solo. All things considered, Sparpweed probably didn“t even need to create a single player mode considering the game seems defined by its co-op. With that said, if you have a friend willing to go through Ibb & Obb with you then definitely check it out. In this incredibly full genre of puzzle platformers, Sparpweed accomplished the difficult task of making a fun, stylish platformer which stands out. Time is a precious commodity in this day and age, and with many of us being so busy, I don't give my time freely to just any game. This means I'll only play the indie games that really stand out as different. As such, I'm happy to say that Ibb & Obb is absolutely one of those games, and not only that, but it's also one of the most unique and memorable experiences I've had so far this year. It isn't perfect in every regard (and really, what game is?), but if you love platformers, physics-based puzzlers, unique games, or all of the above, you definitely owe it to yourself to check out Ibb & Obb. Pros: + Interesting mix of easy, medium, and difficult puzzles designed for two players + Awesomely simple visuals + Great soundtrack accompanying gameplay Cons: - Not going to be the kind of game you want to play alone - Lag can mess up important puzzle timing - Screen sometimes fails to show both players Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Ibb & Obb is a fun, if sometimes confounding, puzzle platformer that will easily keep you and a friend entertained as you progress through a multitude of puzzles.
  23. Marcus Estrada

    BreakQuest: Extra Evolution Headed to Vita

    If you have a thing for classic arcade games such as Breakout and own a Vita then you might be downloading a new game this week. Developer Beatshapers took over the PS Blog today to announce their next game - BreakQuest: Extra Evolution. You may heard the name BreakQuest before and that's because it was initially launched on PC in 2004. However, it took all this time for Beatshapers to recognize that this is a game which would work perfectly on the Vita. As such, they've upgraded the graphics, redesigned level selection, and added in various PSN features such as use of Near. There are other new features as well such as ten boss levels, new elements such as shields, and Trophies. Basically, this is the ideal version of BreakQuest to get in regards to features. Unfortunately, this is a freemium game now which means you have to pay after exhausting 33 free balls. Although there is an infinite ball unlock there are also packs of 100s of balls. It's unclear why both these options exist but maybe it means the infinite unlock is fairly expensive in comparison. It'll be out this week on PSN.