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Found 11 results

  1. Developer: Q-Games Publisher: Double Eleven Platform: PC (reviewed), PS Vita Release Date: August 26th, 2013 (PC) EDIT: Hey, there's a 50% off sale as of right now for a week! So....hey, if you're interested now is a great time to buy! Sometimes, you just want to have a relaxing experience. Pixeljunk Monsters can bring that, or it can deliver the PAIN, straight to your doorstep....or desktop, rather, I suppose. Whatever your preference for difficulty in games, Pixeljunk Monsters, and with its new iteration of sorts being the "Ultimate" edition, may just be the perfect game for you if you enjoy a good tower defense title. Turning trees into equal-sized structures that fire various projectiles may not sound like exactly the most eco-friendly action to take to defend against hordes of monsters, but whatever, it works! This is a silly game about silly things, and thus you can play however you like. If you want to be the most hardcore defensive expert, you can feel free to do that and ace (or get a "rainbow") every level! Personally I struggled a lot on the base difficulty and considered dropping down to casual.....but I prevailed and got halfway through the second island! If I had to give any complaints, I would justify that the price (at least, on Steam) is a little too much. $20 for a game that was originally $10 years ago seems a bit odd. The game is fantastic though, and the added content is.....well, decent. You get a new randomized level generator and online co-op which is not too shabby. I had trouble getting into a game but I didn't see very many people playing either, so I'd assume this game is best to play with a friend, either online or sitting next to each other. The amount of content in the game itself is pretty massive too I might add! With only three islands to play, you may be concerned, but let me rest those concerns aside because this game rips apart your pathetic hope and tosses the remains to the curb. As I said, even on normal difficulty I was being challenged quite a bit to get rainbows, which are needed to progress. The game does let you pick and choose which levels you want to try and tackle, so if you get stuck on a certain few you can just try and do the other available levels. I would estimate that there's easily a good 30+ levels in the game, and with each taking 20-40 minutes to finish the length of one playthrough is fairly long. The medal challenges, which require the player to complete specific levels while clearing certain conditions also help to add a lot to the potential amount of time you may spend on Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate. These are fun and unique, and really require you to wrack your brain for different ways of clearing an otherwise easy level. All in all, Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate is never unfair to the player, and thus in my opinion and thus it's definitely worth a potential buy, for anyone really. Being a fan of tower defense type games helps a bit in me enjoying it, but this isn't hardcore in the slightest unless you make it be, and nor is it easy by any means unless you choose for it to be so. As the game has been out on PSN for years already at a cheaper price, I would say wait until a 50% or more sale to nab this. Even then, if you know you'd love it, this is not a bad choice to pick up at its usual price. Stop those evil monsters from kidnapping your pixel people, and contribute to global warming today! I give this game a: 9/10 Wait, what's that about a giveaway? That's right, you can win a copy right here! To be in for a chance to win, tell me what other Pixeljunk game(s) you'd like to see on Steam (hint: Eden is already on it!)! You can enter once per person until this Friday, October 5th when I'll end it sometime in the evening (PST). Good luck!
  2. DrPixel

    Pixel Reviews: MirrorMoon EP (PC)

    Developer: Santa Ragione Publisher: Santa Ragione Platform: PC Release Date: September 4th, 2013 Can endless content justify a repetitive game? Well, in most cases, sure! There's plenty of randomized games out there that are forced to seem somewhat repetitive due to their generation system having a limited number of stuff to chug in. However, if the core gameplay that makes up a randomized game isn't very fun, the satisfaction of achieving something is lost quite a bit. MirrorMoon EP makes this huge mistake, and though it is satisfying to contribute to something larger, which is the game's "cool" feature, the path getting there is filled with either confusion, utter ease, or boredom. MirrorMoon EP is a game about exploring....solar systems! Players pilot their spaceship (don't worry, it just automatically flies there for you, after a delay depending on how far away your destination is) to whichever star they want to embark upon. After they finish, the player is allowed to name the star whatever they want. Sounds pretty neat, right? Unfortunately, this game gets stale fast. If you aren't initially confused for hours like I was, you're probably wizzing by, naming every blank star in sight, and by the time you get to my playtime I would assume you are bored. Each "puzzle" consists of the player collecting items or moving over certain checkpoints for the end goal of finding some sort of egg-like device you merely have to touch. Each star is randomized of course, so some have really tough puzzles and others are incredibly easy. On my 4th star I visited I actually had the egg right in front of me and I essentially finished the star in just a few seconds! However, I'm not completely against the game's basic puzzle system. It also luckily incorporates some certainly unique manipulation of light in the puzzles. I absolutely loved that you could move the moon adjacent to your planet/star to provide light or darkness so you can see certain things you need. It's something I think that's never been done before in a game and it's very fascinating! Another thing to mention is that the game gives you extremely minimal instruction and you are left to your own curiosity to discover what to do to progress and achieve the end goal of leaving your footprint in dozens of stars. As I said earlier, I was completely confused as to how I actually got to other stars for quite a while and so I almost gave up on the game entirely! Going back to give it a second and then later third chance was probably a good idea though. MirrorMoon EP really does have some very interesting ideas in place that would be neat to check out later down the road. In its current state though, this is an explorative game of discovering new content through player co-operation, just not in the traditional sense. You don't physically encounter anyone else in the vastness of space, but seeing that they already did some of the work for you is very neat. Aesthetically, MirrorMoon EP is a curious one. The game's setting of....well, the unknown reaches of space causes the graphical style to take on a much simpler form. Using shapes and structures that even small children could recognize really shows that we as humans know next to nothing about the great space beyond our humble planet. The colors aren't strict reds, blues, or yellows, but more so blends and shades of these. It's also worthy to note that the game's randomized style also involves each planet/star's appearance. There can be odd plant-like things swaying in the wind, rays of light all over, or even rain. I would have loved to see more different variations in each locale, but unfortunately I will admit my patience was lacking so I didn't explore more. The music shows a sense of new, unknown thoughts. Using ambient, peaceful tunes was a good idea on the musician's part. Since the game is about exploration and discovery, this fits pretty much perfectly. The player really has no clue how huge or small each star is and because of that they don't know what native sounds may be in the background. It isn't overly impressive, but the soundtrack for this game is fairly good at capturing a sense of ambient exploration. I wasn't a huge fan of MirrorMoon EP, but I'm sure there are those out there who adore it. If exploring very basic planets and trying to solve randomly-generated worlds primarily via item collecting and manipulating light sounds fun to you, this is the perfect game for you. For casual puzzle or adventure fans though, this might be a tough game to grasp. It certainly was for me, and I just couldn't really get into it as others really have. Bold creativity and some neat ideas sadly did not hold up to the somewhat dull gameplay, in my opinion. I give this game a: 6.5/10
  3. Developer: Michael Todd Games Publisher: Michael Todd Games Platform: PC Release Date: August 7th, 2013 Having my ears blasted by intense electronic music and the occasional......uh......moan(?) is not what I would call an ideal setup for a first impressions of a game. Adding in some flashing rainbow colors might worsen my experience just a bit. However, upon playing the game that utilizes these three very unique elements, Electronic Super Joy, I can certainly say that it kinda grows on you after a while. ESJ (as I shall call it) is a strange and challenging platformer created by a guy named Michael Todd. Nice job MT, you just secured ESJ into the OPHWG (Official Pixel Hall of Weird Games). Now that's a lot of abbreviations! Anyway, on to the game. There's no end to the pumping electronic music and the flashy visuals, but luckily you can alter the moans to a more "PG" option. Definitely a great added touch right before release (the game was in Early Access for a bit). Well, I should quit babbling about the small stuff and get on to the actual game! There's 4 worlds in it, each with generally ~15-20 levels besides the last world, which only has 5 levels I believe. I managed to get to the boss of world 2 and could barely manage to get very far in the level at all after my time playing. However, I got stuck multiple times like this and after going back and trying something new or honing my reflexes almost always I could pass the levels in a try or two. So thankfully, the game isn't too hard for inexperienced platformer players! Every level is very possible to beat once you understand the weird tricks the level design is trying to throw at you. Now, this leads to the inevitable question- is ESJ really as hard as it claims to be? Well......to be frank, I'd have to say no. There's a few levels that will challenge inexperienced gamers, but for the most part I would say anyone can progress far in this game with some patience. Each level can be cleared just by carefully timing jumps, stomps, and horizontal movement of your character (who by the way, is some guy who lost his butt via the despicable Groove-Wizard, that is literally the plot). With so few levels, you may think this game is nowhere near the price, but considering that you can try and get the hidden star on each level, speedrun them, or unlock some difficult achievements may lessen the price tag. If the game ever goes 50% or more off though, this would be an instant buy if you like platformers! One thing that did manage to keep me entertained was the simple, immature humor this game throws at the player. Things in even the description are kinda funny, such as: "The Evil Groove-Wizard rules the world with an iron fist. Captain Lewis, of the 43rd Queen's Disco Troop, has vowed to resist his tyrannical rule! ...And he stole Little Anni McGee's teddy bear! Can you defeat the Groove-Wizard and end his Tyranny? Can you be a hero?" There's also another instance involving the Pope......that I won't speak of. Overall, I'd say I was fairly pleased with ESJ. It provides some great tunes and colorful visuals while very gently tearing your hair out over the moderate difficulty. It's a nice blend, and if you enjoy platformers this is certainly a game you should consider! I give this game a: 7.5/10 Also, you can win a copy of the game (on Steam of course)! Simply comment below telling me what your ideal technical combo (graphics+music) in terms of style would be for a game! An example would be: "Hardcore Rock music with cutesy graphics" I'll be closing this and choosing my favorite combo as the winner this Friday, August 30th, 2013! So get your entry in! Good luck!
  4. Developer: 3909 Publisher: 3909 Platform: PC Release Date: August 8th, 2013 "Papers, Please!" "Wait.....what's this? You weigh 5kg extra? Eh, whatever. *APPROVED*" Congrats, you just let a terrorist into your home country, and they just blew up some of the guards inside. It's the little mistakes like these that really define the monotonous and yet at the same time interesting gameplay of the recent indie hit "Papers, Please". This is not a game for those who don't pay attention certainly. However, I can say with definite certainty that this is a game nearly anyone can learn to love. You start as a random citizen pulled from the labor lottery in your fictional home country, Arstotzka, and you're forced to work at the border letting people in and out of the country. It starts off easy, just look at their passport and if they don't have the correct information you give them the deny stamp or else they pass. As the game progresses though, you really can't trust anyone. An old grandmother claiming her child is on the other side with sufficient papers may turn out to be a bomber and end your day early, giving you less potential pay so you can't feed your family. Keeping relationships maintained with others is a good way to explore the 20 different endings, actually. Siding with certain people, or keeping your family well-maintained can lead to different outcomes. I ended up with just my wife and niece alive, and I escaped Arstotzka (no spoilers) to a hopefully better place. I acquired some of the other endings, but they were all bad endings that ended up with me being killed or imprisoned. One of them was of my character being sent away because my family all died of starvation and illness. This is a moderately difficult game if you don't clearly look at everything on each person's papers so you manage to get paid. Getting mistakes too many times will seriously punish you, and just as equally awful is when you let someone dangerous in. This game isn't afraid to tug at your heart strings, for sure. However, I'll admit that the gameplay is not without fault. The monotonous nature of the job your character takes on even shows through to the player, in my opinion. I was really getting bored after long sessions of playing Papers, Please, (excuse the multitude of commas) and that can't be good. There's some excitement in the game, but it's few and far between I suppose. A lot of the characters seem like repeats, for example. Also, your job is 30 days long- with each day taking anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete. Some days are event-less with just randoms being accepted or denied, while others have "fun" characters like the above gentleman (he is seriously the best, I swear) or the heartwarming couple (if you take certain actions like I did). I just wish every day was filled with at least one amusing or serious situation. Perhaps then I could have played through the game in one or two sittings. Aesthetically speaking, Papers, Please is a unique game to look at. The colors are bleak, dull, and there isn't much to look at. Sounds are mostly papers moving around, certain effects like gunfire or explosives, or people "talking". I don't remember any music besides on the endings and in the title screen. However, all of this combined precisely fits the tone and setting of the game, so while it might be a little lazy to have this little technical polish, at least the gameplay is fine-tuned. If this completely makes up for that is up to the player though. Personally I think the pixel art is great but the inclusion of no music is disappointing, though maybe that's just personal preference. Papers, Please does not disappoint, however if you want an experience that will last with you I doubt this would be one. While the story is very interesting and full of both humorous and shocking events, the dull gameplay and unnaturally quiet background noise may be turn-offs, if you enjoy a good adventure game or want to try something unique this is the perfect title to add to your library. I give this game a: 8/10
  5. Developer: Tribute Games Publisher: Tribute Games Platform: PC Release Date (of Early Access on Steam): July 22nd, 2013 There's just something about nostalgia that makes us want to go back to older games, games that we played as a kid or in our teens. Games on the SNES or Neo-Geo had vibrant colors, great music, and some addicting gameplay. Mercenary Kings nearly perfectly catches this same vibe of nostalgia and uses it the max with some fresh, more modern gameplay ideas. Mercenary Kings primarily takes from two games about 10 years apart- Metal Slug and Monster Hunter. Is this a bad thing that it copies concepts from two equally classic games? Well, for the most part, not really! Gameplay consists of your slightly customizable character running around, shooting your weapon in the four basic directions (up, down, left and right), killing baddies. Crafting new, fancy weaponry is also a key part of being successful in the currently ~60 missions in the game. If you don't have a bigger gun, you can't defeat the bigger enemies, right? The gun crafting, while not too complex, seems pretty neat from the start. You have a wide variety of "parts" that you can attach to your little base weapon that make it larger and more cool-looking. Do you want to make a pistol that looks like a shotgun? Get a pistol base and put tons of shotgun parts all over it. You can also have different ammo for your gun, but certain guns will only take certain ammo, which makes sense. The way you get different materials to craft parts is through killing enemies and picking up what they drop. Beyond that, the RPG elements sort of stop, which is a bit unfortunate. You have a military rank, which is like a level, but all you do to rank up is just complete missions for a flat XP grab each time. There's 60 missions in the game currently (with a confirmed 40 more to be added by release), and each is fairly long, so the game isn't really lacking in length at least. Depth? Perhaps, but if you play with friends the fun can be endless. It doesn't really feel like a game meant for co-op though, so playing by yourself is perfectly fine. Each mission for example tasks you with a different objective, but if you watch your map it isn't too hard to find where to go. Well, the game is still fairly challenging. You can only take a few hits before dying, but you merely respawn at the last infirmary you passed by. The time limit, however, is your greatest enemy. Can't find all 8 hostages before the 15 minute limit is up for that mission? "Mission failed!" The somewhat low time limit on some of the harder missions and how the game doesn't seem to be meant for co-op are my only two major complaints however. Every other aspect of the game is stellar! The gorgeous SNES/Neo-Geo style graphics are lovely, and the animations are very fluid and sometimes amusing. I swear, Tribute Games and whoever does their art do some amazing retro stylized graphics! The rockin' chiptunes are equally great too though. I made sure to listen to some of the catchy tunes while I worked on this review and sometimes even while just sitting at my computer doing nothing. That main theme on the title screen is gold! The music will not disappoint! One thing I'll say before concluding this look at what will probably be one of the best pixel-art games this year is that the keyboard+mouse controls are pretty bad. The options menu is blocked so you can can't change anything yet, and the default keyboard controls are really strange. I immediately switched to just using a controller because it felt way more natural and not awkward and weird. This is definitely a game that you can only use a controller on for now, so keep that in mind before you check it out! Honestly, Mercenary Kings feels much more like a finished game with a few small nitpicks that can be patched in with "version 1.1", if you get what I mean. This doesn't seem like an early alpha that is barely playable, no, it's a full game pretty much. So, I highly recommend you play it! It's not an insta-buy as is, but if you can wait for the price to drop or don't mind the $15 price tag, this is a fantastic game to check out!. If you aren't into platformers with a lot of shooting in them like the Metal Slug games, this isn't for you most likely. If you're fine with that though, this game is a ton of fun and with friends it's even a bit more. In it's current Early Access state, Mercenary Kings gets a: 8.5/10 "Whether its solo or with friends, move out, cut down CLAW and save the world!"
  6. Developer: Size Five Games Publisher: Size Five Games Platform: PC Release Date: June 28th, 2013 Sometimes, when you first hear about a game, you seem to go "Ooh, ooh, ah........AH......." as you read more about it. The premise might sound interesting right off the bat, but your expectations falter the more you think about it or read a few reviews. Gun Monkeys is a game about monkeys vying for cash and power, and really I have no clue why. Apparently, you the player are a CEO of a company in the present and you have to send legions of expendable monkeys into the future to retrieve power cubes because human life has ceased to exist by that time? Seriously, if that premise doesn't either intrigue you or confuse you I don't blame you, you can't really get a neutral sort of reaction out of that kind of description! The game is all about the brisk matches and nerve-wracking gameplay though, I promise. There's a tutorial included, but I skipped it because a friend told me the controls and I was ready to go. As the game is meant for multiplayer, you have some unique options available at your disposal even at the server browsing menu. You have the regular servers, such as US 1 or US 2. However, something that makes this game stand out a bit is its inclusion of private lobbies for any groups you're in on Steam! DEFINITELY a neat feature, even if it's small. We managed to get a few nice GamePodunk games going, though later on we encountered a bug where no group servers popped up so we had to resort to US 1 (I believe this has been fixed by now, it was only for a day or two). Upon playing my first few series of matches, I failed miserably. This is a tough game if you don't know what to do, and I learned that fast! I eventually got the hang of things and went on to achieve an almost 80% win rate from 30+ matches played. Pretty good, huh? The matches themselves consist of quick 1v1 fights between you and another monkey. You can jump around, climb walls, shoot each other, blow each other up with mines, and most importantly, pick up power cubes or mystery cubes. Well, not quite most importantly as your actual objective is to deliver the cubes to your little base. Getting the maximum you can carry at once delivered (three) will net you a nice bonus. Also, when you drop off a cube you gain a bit of power and your opponent loses a bit. However, both of your power levels are constantly dropping steadily (and if the match takes too long, quite fast!). Killing a monkey or dying will also drop or raise both of your power levels. Now, you may be wondering what those mystery cubes I mentioned were, though it's easy to guess. They're powerups! These range from unique weaponry to some annoying effects for your opponent, such as being frozen or being heavily slowed. Probably my favorite part of each match is the randomized stage you fight on. You can fight underwater, on odd tunnels layered with mines right outside your base, with jetpacks (on the extremely rare change you manage to find one, I never did), or perhaps a pleasant snowy mountain.......eventually to be coated with the blood of battle. Speaking of that, this game is fairly bloody, but it gushes out like a pastry oozing with jelly. No, I don't care for those if you're wondering, yuck. Anyway, the blood is all cartoonish, so it fits the game's theme. Graphically, this is a nice game to look at. Nothng spectacular, but the animations are good and the visuals are vibrant and pleasant to look at, not counting when your opponent's mine blows up in your face in slow-motion. The sounds are tolerable and the music is not really noteworthy though I like it. After a match, you either earn or lose some money, which you can spend (or not!) at the shop. The only items there are "perks"- think of these as upgrades. They make the match slightly skewed in your favor if you happen to face a new player, but they make it a-little-less-unfair-for-you if you face a player with hundreds of matches. Some of these are things such as "extra damage to your gun" or "mad hops", so they really can change the way you play, for good or for worse. There's achievements and TRADING CARDS *gasp*, which are nice additions though they aren't anything spectacular. A few of the achievements, particularly one for "breaking the tutorial" seem very amusing, which is a nice touch. Is this game worth your time and money? Well, yes I'd say. You have to have a friend who has it to actually have a fantastic time though, but even with the few random players you meet you can still have a blast. It's more fun with friends, but the solid gameplay and quick matches makes this a game worth checking out if you have the money to spare. Be aware of the bugs, but buy it for the stylized atmosphere and wonderful 1v1 action. I give this game a: 8/10 Want to win a copy of Gun Monkeys on Steam for yourself or a friend? Comment below saying what your favorite color of monkey (you can customize them in the game, you know!) is for a chance to win! The winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013. That's in just a few days! So, make sure to enter before then! Good luck!
  7. DrPixel

    Pixel Reviews: DLC Quest (PC)

    Developer: Going Loud Studios Publisher: Going Loud Studios Platform: PC (reviewed)/Xbox Live Indie Games Release Date: March 18th, 2013 (PC) NOTE: Continuing on with reading this review will require you to buy the "DLC Quest Review DLC", provided to you through DrPixel Inc. for the cheap price of only $7.99! It will add 95% more content to your base review page, I promise! In all seriousness though, DLC is somewhat a problem I would say in today's gaming industry! It seems like nearly every single major publisher and even some smaller game companies now are hopping aboard the downloadable content train. They provide you with the base game for the same price as before, but then "nickel n' dime" you for what precious remaining spare change you have by making you pay for extra, more fancy features in your game. Sometimes it's just costumes, a tiny extra level or something, and that's pretty tame I would say. However, some businesses now have full expansions or mini additions to games that really should have been there in the first place- and they cost your hard-earned cash that you could have spent on another game or two. DLC Quest was born to provide a nice little relief to those who are frustrated with the greedy (though smart) business decisions gaming developers and publishers are making in today's society. It's a joke game, and not meant to be more than that! I'm just not so sure if it's worth the entry fee though. You see, DLC Quest is an incredibly short game. Both the base game and the fantastic spiritual successor/sequel "Live Freemium Or Die", which is included, only took me 1.6 hours total, including getting nearly all of the coins, wasting a ton of time, and browsing the Steam forums for the game whilst in-game. That is incredibly short for a game, indie or not, and I can't say I'm 100% satisfied with the amount of content included in the game. The jokes are there, yes, and they are great, but when the experience is over I instantly forgot about most of the game, which is a shame because I wish it would have had a lasting impact on me. The jokes may be top-notch, yes (including one that seriously made me burst out laughing), and the satirical nature of the game is amusing, but the gameplay is just....so awfully shoddy that it pains me. You run around collecting coins in a boring, repetitive sort of environment, and basically do fetch quests for each NPC. One particularly annoying part of the second game involved the player having to run back and forth between an underground cavern and the surface, then to another area high above, and then back to the very far right side of the map. Some might say these are just small hinderances, but for a game of this length it's saddening to see that unfortunately the gameplay isn't fresh. At least I love the hilarious DLC packs that the game offers! Want to buy a "sexy outfits pack" so you can deck out all the NPCs in the game with skimpier outfits? Go ahead! Care for some incredibly useless zombies? I mean, every game nowadays has a zombie mode, so why shouldn't this one? Go right ahead! One thing that I both like and dislike about this game is the coin system to be honest. Collectables are another staple of popular games, and unfortunately this one is littered all over with them, easily a thousand or two if I remember correctly. I think if they'd gotten rid of the ridiculous collecting required to even progress in the game and did something funnier, like making each part of the game cost actual small amounts of money adding up to the game's real price, $3, it would have been much more memorable in the end. The graphics and music, while unimpressive, somewhat fit the theming of the game still. This is a much smaller-scale game developed by a much smaller company, so nothing is meant to look like it runs on Unreal Engine 4. The music doesn't stick in my head, minus , but that is fine for how big the game is. By the end of it, DLC Quest isn't the incredibly entertaining piece of amusement that it sets out to be. However, there's still a lot of great laughs to be had with this game (none of which I will spoil!), and if you don't mind coughing up the $3 (or $2 XBLIG version) PC version asking fee, you'll certainly enjoy it. I give this game a: 7/10
  8. DrPixel

    Pixel Reviews: Monaco (PC)

    Developer: Pocketwatch Games Publisher: Pocketwatch Games Platform: PC Release Date: April 24th, 2013 Sometimes, games and game developers specifically just go and do whatever they want. Instead of making the usual multiplayer shooter or the equally popular singleplayer RPG, Pocketwatch Games decided to try the unusual and make a co-op game about heists. It's meant for co-op, designed for co-op, no, DESTINED to be played in co-op! Does it actually hold up to the huge standards for co-op games left by such classics like Left 4 Dead or the mod "Sven Co-op" for the original Half-Life? To start off, I'll say that Monaco is odd- but odd in the good way though! The graphics are uncoventionally retro and "simple", the music is classy and not head-banging at all like today's tunes, and even little things like the dialogue and lighting in levels is done to perfection while other areas of the game, such as the plot, are kept basic. I've often thought about why this might've been done. Is it to even further bolster the uniqueness level of the game? Or, perhaps Pocketwatch Games (which is a name I love, I might add) just likes to focus on the little things in games! The two questions asked above can't really be answered in full- which is why I love this game! This isn't your traditional co-op experience, and I think the game completely embraces that. Other games meant to be played together with friends instead of against them often just let you play through the game together like the singleplayer campaign or try the "horde mode" path. Creativity is the essence of a non-bland, fun time, and Monaco captures that perfectly. Teamwork is key in Monaco, but surprisingly it's actually fine to play by yourself. It's a bit different than sneaking around, telling one friend to go collect the extra gold at the end of the map while you go take out a guard and another friend watches your back. Instead, you are all alone in the war on those who have gold. This just makes the game both harder and easier though! Having poor teamwork can quickly get your whole team led to doom in the later levels, so being on your own is actually still equally sneaky and intense. Speaking of intense, this game really loves to pressure you when the heist goes awry! The music tenses up, exclamation points pop up above the guards' heads, totally not like the Metal Gear Solid games, and your team of elite heist wannabes must flee to safety. In fact, death is pretty common in this game it seems. However, defeat isn't punishing in Monaco- in fact I'd say that it encourages the player to keep at it and try a different plan of attack for the mission. The aracade-sy feel of Monaco comes is just fantastic. Collecting coins makes you get a better time at the end of the level which is a great incentive to collect them all, and to even use your gadgets you need to collect coins. That in itself is an awesome idea that should be used more in retro games such as this! In addition to that, the graphics are crisp and pixelized, and while the music is more modern-sounding I think Austin Wintory (yes, the guy who did Journey's music!) still did a lovely job with it, keeping to the frantic old-timey arcade feel of the game. Probably the one thing I was concerned about when looking at the game at first was how long or how varied the gameplay would be. Luckily, the game is pretty long, as I'm about 40% through I'd estimate and I'm 3 hours in. That sets you at about an 8-10 hour game I'd guess, given the game gets harder as the levels go on so you'd keep at each one longer. Each level is fairly different too, and there's even a bonus level at the end that I had spoiled for me but I won't for you- just know that it is awesome! Unfortunately....the amount of tools isn't quite as big as I'd like it to be, but this is a small complaint really. While I wouldn't go as far as to call it "the best co-op game of all time", Monaco succeeds heavily on what it tries to do. For $15, you could certainly do better, yes. If you're looking for a nice, fun time with some friends though, Monaco is a great choice for a Friday night session of playing robbers. Remember- What's Yours....Is Mine! *insert obligatory game subtitle reference here* I give this game a: 8.5/10
  9. Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment/Ensemble Studios Publisher: Microsoft Studios Platform: PC Release Date: April 9th, 2013 Age of Empires has gone through a good number of games by now, including a spin-off or two (Age of Mythology, anyone?), but it hasn't really touched on its roots at all. That's changed now with the release of Age of Empires II HD on Steam this week. It boasts adding new features and a nice little coat of HD paint, but are they actually worthwhile additions to spend $20 on? I'll be honest- I've never played an Age of Empires game before. I did play (the fantastic) Age of Mythology quite extensively when I was younger, but that's a whole other diamond in the strategy game mine. The Age of Empires series, particularly the first 3 games, are simple to the core yet still incredibly fun to play. You try your hardest to take out the enemy, which can be AI bots, other players online, or a mix of the two. You build hordes of units to first collect resources for your soon-to-be mighty kingdom, and then either smash, diplomatically ally with, or sneak in a victory with your wonder against your opponents. There's tons of units, buildings, and civilizations to play as. Also, there are plenty of map choices, with randomization being the most fun option of course. I can definitely see why everyone and their pet horny toad seems to love this game, as I do too now! This new HD edition comes with some new and some old extra tidbits of course. Firstly, the Conquerors expansion pack is included, which basically adds to every aspect of the game. Next up is the general modernization of the game. It now runs on modern versions of Windows with no problems, has widescreen support, support for resolutions up to 1920x1080, and even support for multiple monitors. Oh! Who could forget the "HD" tag too? The lighting is improved apparently and the textures look a bit better. It's not awfully much but overall it is definitely much prettier to look at. Steam Workshop is included with the game to help making downloading or uploading maps, campaigns, and mods for the game loads easier than it was in the days of the 90s and early 2000s. I'm glad more games are using Steam Workshop, and this seems like a great canidate for it. At the cost of this comes a few things that did end up annoying me a bit. To start with, the graphics themselves haven't seen much of a "HD" change as to be expected by the title. It still looks great for a late 90s game, but an actual HD overhaul would've been great. The resolution also seemingly can't be changed, as it takes whatever your desktop resolution is. With this being an expanded version of an older game, I'd expect it to at least let you change what resolution you want the game at, but this is just a small nuisance really. I'd also like to say that the multiplayer is absolute gold in this game. There's a new system in place just for the HD version, and while I'm not sure how it differs from the original multiplayer system, it is certainly quite stable, if a bit laggy. Playing with a fellow GP buddy (Ludono), we had a cubic kilometer of fun in the few games we played. Each game takes multiple hours to finish usually, though it is possible to save and re-load games you've played with others luckily. The experiences we had were both ridiculous and awesome at the same time (have YOU ever seen massive armies of Spanish conquistadores plowing their way through anything in their way? I bet not!). There was only one time when we weren't really enjoying the game, and that was when we teamed up against 6 A.I. opponents who promptly ganged up on me early on in the game, forcing us to quit early and start anew. This was completely due to the randomization of the map though I think, as my buddy was on the opposite side of the fairly large map. However, every other moment of our time spent in the multiplayer portion of the game was very fun and we really enjoyed bashing each other's brains out in one game and then teaming up to fight fiercesome A.I. opponents the next. Anything goes in a game of tactics and while Age of Empires II HD isn't overly heavy on it, how you win (or don't!) is up to you. Is Age of Empires II HD still a worthwhile addition to the very prestigious series it's a part of? Definitely! The new additions might not be that huge, but they serve their purpose well for making the game actually playable on modern computers. The game is a classic by far, and while it may not be the most HD-realistic, ultra-modern portrayal of combat in the Middle Ages, it's still an incredibly fun one. Check it out here if you're interested: http://store.steampo...com/app/221380/ I give this game a: 9/10 Want to win a copy of the game? Register (if you haven't already) and comment below telling me your favorite strategy game of all time- or, if you don't have one, tell me your favorite ancient (let's say, pre-1500 A.D.) civilization! Contest ends Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Get entered now to win this great game before it's too late!
  10. Difficulty. It's something I'm sure all of you have come across in your lives. I'm not talking about games here. You know what I mean- that F you just scored on your English test, or that pay decrease you just received. Maybe something even so small as having to walk up the stairs in your house after a long afternoon of track practice. Why is life so tough? And more importantly, why do many games try to emulate that? Let me ask you, the reader, a question. Why do you play games? Is it for the challenge? Multiplayer madness with friends? Loot? BOOTY? Maybe, and maybe not. However, one thing stands out among the "code of games" to me. If you make a game, your goal is to make it fun, and make the player enjoy it. Any which way you do this is up to you, however, your goal should be for the player to maybe laugh a bit, cry a bit, or even smile when they reach the end. So why are some games just so frustratingly hard? Why do they insist on giving you the most extreme challenge in video game existence? To me, it's still adding to the fun factor and enjoyment of the game. The extremely easy difficulties even help with that. For instance, is playing on the "easy" difficulty going to change much of the original game? Probably not, but it lets anyone who is new or struggles with tough games to still thoroughly enjoy the same game that a more experienced or "hardcore" gamer can also love and enjoy. Consider most modern games. They usually have at least three difficulties, and you probably usually pick normal. However, with both easy and hard as options, you could pick to have a harder challenge or a creamy-cake-easy time. It's this freedom of choice that's great for us gamers. Well, game difficulty is great, you probably already knew that. However, what about those games that ONLY let you have an extreme or incredibly easy challenge? You know what I mean....opposite ends of the spectrum, such as "I Wanna Be The Guy", or "Barbie Horse Adventures". I've played both I'll admit, and for me personally, Barbie just isn't that fun. It's too easy, and the horse looks lame anyway, really. But, I Wanna Be The Guy is all like....*death*. You can't win in that game unless you are very skilled at platforming games and can memorize the traps. It's very tough. However, I've come back to both of these games multiple times. Why might that be, now? Well, truthfully, both offer very different experiences. You get different satisfactions from both games. In Barbie, I get to experience the joy of washing my great, mighty stallion. In IWBTG, I get to experience the joy of trying again and again to even get to the next screen. It's normal to get frustrated while trying to get there, but if you focus on having fun, even extremely hard or easy games can be made into an enjoyable experience. We'll never know what went on exactly inside the heads of the early video game developers when they were considering the difficulty of their games, but I can say from the player's point of view that no matter how tough, games are still fun. There may be extreme games that can really push your nerves, but through it all, I have a feeling you're still having a good time.
  11. DrPixel

    Pixel Reviews: Beat Hazard (PC)

    Note: I played on PC (with a bit of iOS here and there), and only with the "Ultra" DLC already installed. The game is also available on PSN and XBLA. Beat Hazard is quite the unique game. I'd like to call it an music-based arena shooter, but that just doesn't really seem right for what it is, so I'll just call it "one of those music games, but different". When you first start playing, you're greeted with a warning about photosensitivity in this game. Now, I highly doubt anyone with epilepsy or a sensitive to flashing lights and colors would even buy this game, but the warning IS there, and it certainly does its job well. You have to actually confirm that you want to continue, which is good because once you do, you're sent to the menu screen. On that menu screen is many flashing lights and colors, and they all change in time to the background music, which is one of the many songs that comes with the game. From there, your basic options are Singleplayer, Two-player, Online Play, Manage Perks, Ranks & Stats, Achievements, Leaderboards, and Options. Within Singleplayer are multiple game modes: Standard Mode, Survival Mode, Boss Rush, and Chill Out. I did not play Chill Out so that won't be covered in this review. Upon choosing Standard Mode (the game's main mode basically) you are greeted with some options for your game, and your song selection screen. Beat Hazard does come with multiple songs to start off with if you just want to try the game out or don't have songs in your collection, but the main bulk of content in this game is the songs that you have, not the game's songs. In your game options section you can pick the intensity of the colors and lights that appear on screen. I can barely manage 100% intensity without dying (as there's too many things on screen at once for me to keep track of), so almost every time I played I chose 50% intensity. Now, on to the game! Depending on what perks you have, you may get different things at the start. Some give you missiles to fire, some lasers, and others extra lives even. I like to play with the laser, extra lives, and extra multiplier perks, so I had all of those at the start. Enemies fly at you usually slowly at the start of the song, and progressively get faster and in greater numbers as the song gets more and more intense. Occasionally the game will throw a boss or two at you, and often enemies won't appear while the boss is around, which is nice. Some of the bosses can be pretty tough, but they're manageable once you get their tactics down. Powerups also appear and you may collect these to get more lasers, shields, a higher multiplier, more cash to buy perks, or missiles. It might seem like forever or barely anything depending on how long your song is and what type of genre it is. And that's where the game might be a little lacking. It seems to me that the game does an excellent job with providing a challenging and fun experience when you play a more fast-paced song, like a rock or techno song, but if you play something more slower and relaxed like say, trance or jazz, the game barely gives you anything to challenge yourself with and thus the game becomes too easy. The majority of players of Beat Hazard probably do play faster-paced songs, but that minority of slower-paced players are left out of the game's fun, which is the challenge of trying to survive. Okay, well that's a bit bad, but the rest of the game is great I assure you! Survival Mode lets you try to last as long as you can, and it sure can get hectic having no lives left while trying to beat a friend's score. This was actually one of the parts of the game that I played the most just because it was so fun. The Boss Rush game mode is also pretty fun. It pits you against an increasing quantity and difficulty of bosses, and if you aren't able to beat the boss(es) you're up against in a round, you have to finish them off while another boss (or two) tackles you as well. It's not as fun as the other modes in my opinon, but it works decently for what it does. The Two-Player mode works very well. Co-op on one screen works fantastic whether you are sitting next to someone or doing it online. Even when playing with a guy from Romania (I live in the USA), I was able to get little to no lag because the game's online connection works so well. The one complaint I have about co-op is that there is no option to change the difficulty. It's a bit of a doozy being forced to play on hardcore even when both you and your partner suck at the game. I also want to add that there is a head to head mode that I saw, though I didn't touch it because my co-op partner only wanted to play with me, not against me, and when I looked for public servers I saw none. Technically speaking, there are little to no flaws in Beat Hazard. The sound and picture quality both sound and look great respectively, and the game runs great on my older laptop. There were no errors anywhere I could find in the Singleplayer mode, though while playing online there were two bugs/glitches that happened to me. I assume they were only because of the high ping I had when playing at a place with a bad internet connection though, so otherwise the game is fine in the technical aspect. Graphically, Beat Hazard is a game that impresses for sure. The flashing lights and many moving shapes may take some time to get used to, but after a while, it just seems to flow together very smoothly. You'll notice that the color transitions just effortlessly blend with the game and can be very pretty sometimes even. Perhaps it's just personal preference, but I very much so liked Beat Hazard's graphics. Overall, Beat Hazard is a game that I really did enjoy playing. It's one of the better music-based games in my opinion, and definitely deals with the concept of having music power your game in an interesting way. The multiple modes, perks you have to progressively unlock with money that you earn in-game, leaderboards, 47 achievements, and most importantly, an unlimited number of songs you can choose, allow the game to have a lasting amount of content that certainly won't dissapoint. There are a few flaws and even two bugs I encountered while playing online, but the game is well worth your $10, especially if you can get it for even less (although paying more always helps out a game developer perhaps struggling to pay the bills ) I give this game a: 8/10
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