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Found 14 results

  1. Jonathan Higgins

    Game of the Year 2015: Jonathan's Picks

    It seems this year is nearly over. Thinking about all the games I“ve played fills me with determination. To be completely honest, I“ve spent more time playing old games than new ones this year. One of my fondest memories of 2015 will no doubt be playing through every Kirby game I own to honor Mr. Iwata. I glitched out Link“s Awakening, got one of my childhood-favorite games from a friend, and more. Still, this list is about the present! Like last year, though, you won't find any Pokémon games on this list. I have a million more Individual Values to give those games some love. Without further ado, here are the ten greatest games I've played that were released this year, and a few reasons why I adore them so. 10. Gunman Clive 2 I never thought panda physics would be a concept to worry about in an action game. But Gunman Clive 2 has a handful of obtuse surprises! I liken Bertil Hörberg“s games to the ones I mastered during childhood -- short and sweet; ones you“ll replay over and over again. Gunman Clive 2 in particular is about the length of any given Game Boy platformer, but remarkably varied and surreal. It improves upon precedents set in the first game, with enough crazy moments to properly set it apart. You really can“t beat the price, for what you“re getting. I feel like that“s the case with at least one other game on my list this year, too. Maybe sticking with games of the past has me attached to simplicity. Gunman Clive 2 is proof you don“t have to make your platformers overly complex adventures that last forever and overstay their welcome. 9. Tembo the Badass Elephant Official GP Review When Game Freak & SEGA announced they were partnering for a new project in March, I so wanted it to be another Pulseman. What we got instead was a zany action game whose graphical stylings and appeal are torn right from the pages of comic books. It“d been awhile since I last played the game after reviewing it towards the end of July, but picking it up again brought me back to the many challenges and laughs it provided: I showed my friends the game after reviewing it. The sarcastic one in the group kept making quips about my platforming skills as I struggled through some of the trickier objectives in the game“s penultimate world. She likened the experience to Donkey Kong Country -- a game whose difficulty could frustrate the heck out of the person playing, but be hilarious for backseat gamers to watch and comment on. That kind of fun is what“s going to make Tembo have some lasting appeal, to me. 8. Bloo Kid 2 Official GP Review I was playing both Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash and Tri Force Heroes at the time winterworks dropped the free update for this game, and I totally dropped both of those to go running back to the fun I remembered having in May. As it turns out, I“m among the first to 100% complete the game by gathering all 360 stars and collecting every last little thing in both the original and added levels. Bloo Kid 2 is absolutely stratified in the 16-bit era. It feels like playing it will transport you back to the past and offer a handful of challenges many of those developers weren“t creative enough to think of at the time. A majority of players will only remember the mine-cart levels and the game“s lack of originality. But me? I“m going to remember that this game outdoes plenty of big name Nintendo releases of this holiday season despite its flaws. It says something when you can get a perfectly competent experience for less than 10% of the asking price for many 3DS retail games out there. 7. BOXBOY Official GP Review I was browsing my 3DS library looking for something to play to pass the time recently, and I noticed something unique about BOXBOY. Most of the 3DS title cards on our systems, even the ones for the most elaborate games available, just feature some variation of a spinning logo. BOXBOY dismisses this in favor of displaying a cool little animation that demonstrates a basic game mechanic over just a few seconds. Everything about BOXBOY hearkens back to the very beginning of HAL Laboratory -- dismissing complex visuals in favor of a minimalist approach that focuses almost entirely upon gameplay, but that has enough charm to make its characters memorable and its players want more. I hope this great game becomes one of the next great franchises for Nintendo. 6. Ori and the Blind Forest Turns out the next great Studio Ghibli movie is a video game. Ori and the Blind Forest isn“t just a beautiful Metroid-like with masterfully-crafted mechanics: it“s got a story with as much emotion as games six times its size and sixty times its budget. Most music sets the mood for a level or environment in a game; this one“s helps better tell its story. The crescendo of a powerful melody will typically hit right at the same time Ori accomplishes a breathtaking platforming feat. The visuals and soundtrack combined help this forest to feel like one of the most vibrant worlds I played in this year; it“s truly alive. If this game hadn“t been released on Steam, it would have sold me an Xbox One. And to be honest, the “definitive edition” kind of has me thinking along those lines again. 5. Tearaway Unfolded My love for the original Tearaway is well-documented at this point. I got hands-on with the new PlayStation 4 game at both E3 and PAX Prime this year. By the end of the Vita version, I had my lady snuggled beside me to see just a tiny piece of what the game had to offer on the small screen. As I made my way through Tearaway Unfolded, it was just as much her adventure as mine. She helped me create rainbow snowflakes (pictured above), a dinosaur flag, a Pikachu scarecrow, and more. Pictures of both of us -- not just her -- are on the books devoted to the study of the You, and the banner on Gibbet Hill. This game is worth experiencing on PlayStation 4 not just because of the brand new content tailored to it, but because seeing that world on a much bigger screen allows it to be shared with others easily. The world of Tearaway that you help create should be proudly shown! I“ll never forget the experiences I shared with other Messengers this year -- and that includes both my lady and showgoers at E3 & PAX Prime who played the demo. I've put one of their creations beside my own. 4. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review At just over 115 hours total, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is my second most-played game of 2015, behind only Pokémon Omega Ruby. And that shouldn“t surprise anyone, considering how in love I am with the original. As mentioned in my review, the revised script and voice cast helped breathe new life into the game I love, and the new story just proves these characters don“t overstay their welcome. I still play this one regularly to this day, trying to accomplish every last one of the post-game challenges. This game“s design, particularly in the Triangulum story, is one of the best examples of starting a character out virtually powerless, then allowing him to effectively (and purposefully) break the game by the final boss fight. I think this game should be played by everyone, not just because it“s welcoming for everyone (with DLC that helps alleviate the grind and challenge of the original game), but just so more than just me can see what wonderful things a bizarre combination of Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, and Pokémon is capable of. 3. Yoshi“s Woolly World Official GP Review I expected Good Feel“s efforts to be worth the wait, but I didn“t expect to have as much fun as I did playing Super Mario Galaxy -- or the original Yoshi“s Island, decades ago. The wonderful world of wool makes for one of the best Yoshi games to date. If you even mildly enjoyed Yoshi“s Story or the many games to come after the SNES original, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick this one up. This is another experience my lady and I shared -- both of us have each completed our own file of the game. It was cool to see the things Mellow Mode allowed you to do as I watched her play, and I love that the game never punished her for keeping things at a difficulty level she could enjoy. We each have our own favorite Yoshis we unlocked, and she may have adopted one of my Yarn Yoshi amiibos as her own -- but our memories of Yoshi“s Woolly World are definitely shared between us. Long live Poochy! 2. Axiom Verge Official GP Review This game is better than Super Metroid. I know that“s going to make me a lot of enemies over time, but I“ll never stop saying it. I didn“t play any Metroid games back when they originally released -- I have no strong feelings of nostalgia for Samus or her world. I played both games back to back obsessively, drawing comparisons between their respective mechanics and boss fights. Tom Happ is the clear winner because he was so heavily inspired by Super Metroid. He knows exactly how to mess with your expectations and turn tried and true formulas on their collective giant robotic head, inside out, and then some. I gave it a perfect score. I stand by it. I“ve played plenty of Metroid-likes this year, but I“ll only call one revolutionary. I“ve handed out this game to several friends and told them to pay it forward and pass along good words, if they like it and agree with most of the praise I“ve given it. Considering I had no idea this game existed prior to it being handed to me, Axiom Verge is definitely the single biggest, most critically acclaimed surprise hit of my year... ...except for... 1. UNDERTALE Restraint is the ultimate character builder. If you“ve ever felt guilty striking down your enemies in an RPG, Undertale will teach you mercy. If you ignore its lessons and choose to kill or be killed, the game will show no mercy. You will be judged. You will be judged for your every action. I“ve tried for the longest time to convince my brain to find the words to give this game justice in my eyes -- to allow me to write some review or editorial that perfectly conveys my feelings. But it refused. You all have no idea how many times I“ve saved and reloaded documents filled with the right words and the wrong ones. This is the space where I“m going to make it count. I can“t describe what Undertale does without spoiling the plot and all the bad skeleton jokes. But I can tell you how meaningful its message was to me personally. When I was a kid and I sat down with a Final Fantasy game for the first time, I vividly remember asking my parents why I had to kill everything. They watched me get a Game Over when I tried to run and couldn“t escape. RPGs aren“t like Mario games where I can just avoid foes as I work towards the goal. There“s typically no avoiding combat when it comes to achieving victory. Running away will only hurt you. Showing restraint or finding a peaceful route didn“t just make winning more challenging; it made victory impossible. Undertale is the first and only RPG I“ve played where you can choose to finish the game without lifting your stick, frying pan, or dagger. You can choose to engage monsters by simply talking to them or picking actions tailored to their likes and dislikes. You can spare them by selecting Mercy and moving on. Some enemies are difficult to run from, but it can be done without dying. Every boss fight is passable without an actual fight. Everything has a peaceful option. And yet, even a Pacifist route has consequences. Undertale isn“t my game of the year because I think it's the ideal game for everyone, even if it is critically acclaimed. I'm not going to demand all of you play this game, and experience everything the world has to offer. I don“t think other developers should follow Toby Fox“s lead and create games like it. Honestly, I hope people experience the game blind -- just savor it like the perfect bowl of spaghetti. It“s my Game of the Year because it let me show mercy. It affected me like few games ever will... because I was comfortable being myself -- a Pacifist at heart.
  2. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Tembo the Badass Elephant

    Developer: Game Freak Publisher: SEGA Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam Release Date: July 21st, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen Official Website Note: This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game It“s difficult to associate Game Freak with anything other than Pokémon. But they“ve actually created a handful of unique experiences before and since that craze began. Before Pikachu, there was Pulseman (funnily enough, the first collaboration between Game Freak and SEGA) and Mendel Palace. And more recently, they created two unique 3DS eShop titles with Soriti Horse (a horse-racing...solitaire game exclusive to Japan) and HarmoKnight. I“ve dabbled in all of them, and I quite liked the approaches each game took. Tembo the Badass Elephant caused the Internet to go into a frenzy when it was first announced, because it“s the first title developed by Game Freak that has managed to skip Nintendo consoles entirely — so far. Does Tembo“s quality match his larger-than-life Internet infamy? In terms of how the game has been presented — from its menus, how each of the game“s levels are presented on the world map, and other various nuances — it definitely feels like it takes a page or two from HarmoKnight. The aesthetics match the premise quite well; don“t get me wrong. But it“s immediately apparent that the same design team that took on HarmoKnight definitely helped out with Tembo the Badass Elephant. Whether that“s a good or bad thing depends on how much you liked the game that came immediately before it. If you“ve not yet tried HarmoKnight, or if this is the first time you“ve experienced what Game Freak can do for your eyes outside of the Pokémon games... I don“t think you“ll be disappointed. The wacky, comic book style visuals — to the point where every move Tembo makes is accompanied by action-text font such as “BOOM!” or “SLAM!” or “BADA-BADA-BADA” appearing under his feet as he tramples his way across stages — definitely suit the game. Its attitude and identity are wildly consistent, and its presentation has a fair amount of polish to it. I“m not really the world“s biggest fan of the soundtrack, though. While each level“s theme definitely fits well with its accompanying music, the songs themselves sometimes feel unnecessarily repetitive or samey. Tembo the Badass Elephant“s gameplay is its defining quality, in my eyes. It has the standard platformer objective of "get to the end in one piece," but there are a few bonus initiatives thrown in, and the gameplay often works hand-in-hand to aid the game“s presentation. It“s super satisfying controlling an elephant that looks like Rambo as he ground-pounds down entire skyscrapers (windows break, cars are destroyed, there“s just absolute mayhem) with several satisfying crunches. Eradicating enemies by using the environment around you sometimes leads to humorous design choices as well — such as watching a giant bowling ball roll over your foes as they run away in terror — to simply hit a switch above you. Or the fact that an enemy could be running at you with a knife, then you jump and watch him hit an explodable box face-first and die. There are so many small, humorous touches that it makes good level design better. Tembo has a wide variety of moves at his disposal that let you destroy everything in your path, as well as extinguish any exploding fires you“ll create. There are even bosses at the end of each world that are a genuine challenge, but won“t leave you stuck or frustrated from a poor sense of design. Everything about what makes Tembo work handles well, and offers its fair share of surprises. The things that hold Tembo back from breaking metaphorical ground, though, are some of the choices the developers made that fit vexing stereotypes found in many modern-day “score attack” platformers. Take away the side objectives of destroying every enemy in a level, plus finding each stage“s 10 civilians needing rescued, and you“re left with a $14.99 game with just a hair over fifteen levels. You“ll finish the purposefully bare-bones story by lunchtime and almost feel like you paid too much, if you don“t approach Tembo with the right mindset. This is a game where the levels are meant to be replayed, as you aim for the highest scores to hit online leaderboards and what have you. The game even forces you to replay levels if you don“t perform well enough, because... each world“s last stage is locked behind a “total enemies killed” counter that reaches lengths that demand great playthroughs that could leave beginners frustrated. I“m not necessarily going to knock the game down six pegs for following these conventions, I just would have preferred to see more content for that asking price versus locking levels behind “Have you destroyed enough?” progress points. Even HarmoKnight, which is on the 3DS and priced the same, feels like it has more content than Tembo in the end. That said though, the experience Tembo the Badass Elephant offers up is great. It feels conventional in some ways, and totally surprises you in others. It“s a humorous, fun action game that feels as zany and explosive as a Saturday morning cartoon. The problem with Saturday morning cartoons, though, is that they don“t last long enough. At the end of the day, I“m not sure I“d recommend everyone buy Tembo right away, and I think these various discounts tied with pre-ordering or PlayStation Plus are there to make the sticker shock a little easier to absorb. It“s a solid, confidently designed experience that feels a little too short for its asking price. Still, if you“re willing to give Game Freak and SEGA a chance, I really don“t think you“ll be disappointed. Pros + Tembo's sense of design is stellar and consistent. Presentation often works hand-in-hand with gameplay to create humorous moments. + Difficulty is reasonable, and there are a wide variety of platforming situations spread across all the levels. Cons - Rather than offer more content, some levels are gated to (more or less) force multiple playthroughs. - Not enough content for the asking price. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Tembo the Badass Elephant has a consistent identity, great gameplay, and a handful of surprising moments. Whether or not all that's worth an inflated price is up to you. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloadable code provided by the publisher
  3. Back in March, gamers were in for a surprise when it was made known that Game Freak (known mostly for their work on core Pokemon games) was working on an action platformer for SEGA based on a Rambo-style elephant, called Tembo the Badass Elephant. The good news is that you won't have to wait much longer to play it. Even better — each platform will offer 10% off discounts. Here's what you need to do on each platform to qualify: Steam — Preorder anytime from now until launch PS4 — Be a PlayStation Plus Subscriber Xbox One — Be an Xbox Live Gold member Tembo the Badass Elephant will make his big debut on July 21 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for $14.99. Will you be picking up this game?
  4. A while back, there were a handful of sites that got a strange postcard hinting at a partnership project between SEGA and Game Freak. While my eager heart jumped immediately to a Pulseman sequel (I'm quite fond of that game, as a SEGA Channel kid), it turns out we're getting something brand new. Tembo the Badass Elephant is an action-platformer coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, as a digital download. It's target release is sometime this summer. What's the game all about? Feel free to check out the trailer below, but here's a quick summary: Shell City is attacked by the PHANTOM Army, who terrorize the city with skull-clad tanks and various destructive things. Shell City's General calls upon the only force capable of standing up to such a threat...Tembo, whose name sounds like "Rambo" and "Commando" for a reason. It's up to this commando-badass elephant to jump, smash, swing and butt-stomp his way to victory. Based on the trailer...it's as crazy of a premise as it sounds. But considering how bonkers Pulseman was in its day, I'm optimistic. Of course, Game Freak and SEGA not co-existing on Wii U is definitely jarring to some. Here's a piece from an interview with the game's director that might explain why PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam are its intended platforms: "When I was writing the presentation documents for this game, I drew a mockup poster, and I put the Steam, PlayStation, and Xbox logos at the bottom. It seemed to fit, and it happened to stick that way. We thought about other hardware during development, but our hands were pretty full with those three platforms!" We'll offer more information on Tembo the Badass Elephant as it comes. Source Are you excited about Tembo? How did you feel about HarmoKnight, the last new endeavor to come from Game Freak? Be sure to share your thoughts with us!