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Found 71 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Mercenary Kings

    Developer: Tribute Games Publisher: Tribute Games Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: March 25, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature You might not remember it, but in 2012, Tribute Games ran a Kickstarter for an awesome-looking arcade action game called Mercenary Kings. It took a while to release but certainly not as long as some other crowdfunded projects out there. Now that the game is out we can appraise how successful it was at meeting its goals, or more importantly, how fun the game is regardless of intent. Mercenary Kings is a 2D action platformer with roots in classics such as Metal Slug and Contra. The spirit of these titles is kept alive thanks to pixelated artwork and similarly fast gameplay. After selecting from a list of missions, you set off to a stage to complete its given goal. Usually, orders are pretty simplistic. Find a certain amount of item, person, or take someone out and then head back to home base to select a new mission. The basics are simple enough, but there“s definitely more to it than that. Between missions the player can upgrade their weapons, get their goods modded, and stock up on other supplies. One weird facet is a simple crafting mechanic which facilitates upgrades. No, it“s not like Minecraft. All you have to do is collect craftable objects during missions and then bring them back. Items are all over the place, either popping out of enemies as they die or locked in easily-breakable chests. Thankfully, there“s no limit to how much of the crafting stuff you can carry. The same is not true for more mission-imperative items. With that said, you can easily ignore most of this stuff and simply get to shooting up everyone in sight. Enemies come in a handful of types such as sniper, robotic snail, and other obvious cannon fodder. Each has their own tactics for efficient termination, but often you can employ the same general ones. For many characters, simply ducking and waiting between bursts of fire is good enough. It“s a shame that "waiting" is at all a part of the gameplay, though, considering Mercenary Kings wants to be a totally frantic experience. When the game is at its best, you feel like a real badass. After getting the basic mechanics down it is easy to work through enemies without a scratch. It“s not too hard thanks to the fact that enemy bullets apparently fly in slow motion. For whatever reason, there is an active reload mechanic, though, which can lead to trouble. During each reload session you can cut down on time by hitting the reload button at the right time with an on-screen prompt. Because the prompt always shifts the "best" spot, you“ll need to keep an eye on it. As such, you might be thrown temporarily out of whack with the rampant destruction around you. This may be just one unfortunate design decision but the more glaring issue is the missions themselves. As previously stated, there are a few types that reoccur a ton. They could effectively be considered "fetch quests" in many instances since you just need to find their markers on the map and head there. With little variety in general gameplay, Mercenary Kings can become a very tiresome experience indeed. It“s a tremendous shame considering the game otherwise has a great deal of visual polish. With art by famed pixel artist Paul Robertson it stands as one of the most attractive pixelated indie games to date. However, there is a weird proclivity to make nearly every female character in game have tremendous, jiggling breasts despite characters“ otherwise chibi-style frames. If you don“t mind (or, instead, enjoy) that then the art will probably appeal as 100% awesome. The soundtrack is also suitably awesome for a modern 2D action game. Although the gameplay is incredibly repetitive, you may find it a ton of fun when getting together a group of friends to play. Local co-op includes slots for four players and amps up everything. As bullets spew all over the screen, you“ll find accomplishing missions much easier than before. This changes them from being chore-like to entertaining experiences. You can also play online but, again, you“ll want to set up a time between friends. Strangely, the online player base seemed quite dead - or I was just online at all the wrong times. There was so much work done to make Mercenary Kings look and feel like a very cool retro game for the modern age. But there are still points where it falters. Those who enjoy (or can look over) repetitive missions cannot ignore the bugginess. On nearly every gameplay session the game would crash. This is purely in regards to the PC version. Thankfully crashes were always upon mission start rather than during one, but it was still an annoyance. In many ways, Mercenary Kings is a polished, entertaining product. It has excellent artwork, imaginative bosses, and fun references to other games. Gameplay is also easy to get a grasp of. However, thanks to the decisions to limit the game in scope via dull missions, the appeal quickly starts to wear off. Those who have the option to should play local or online co-op to enjoy the entire game. Otherwise, you“ll likely find yourself worn out before long. Pros: + Mastering the game feels very rewarding + Lovingly detailed pixel art + Online and local co-op for increased mayhem Cons: - PC version seems prone to crashing - Missions are far too repetitive - Active reload mechanic is an unneeded annoyance Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Mercenary Kings had a lot of promise and partially lives up to expectations. Just don“t go into it anticipating the next Metal Slug and it“ll satisfy your 2D action platformer needs. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher
  2. Jason Clement

    Review: Chicken Wiggle

    Developer: Atooi Publisher: Atooi Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: August 17, 2017 ESRB: E for Everyone Chicken Wiggle is Atooi's second game since studio head Jools Watsham started it last year and, at a first glance, the game's core is a lot like Watsham's biggest claim to fame: Mutant Mudds. It's a platformer, the visuals are retro-inspired and 16-bit, and you make your way to the goal while dodging/defeating enemies and nabbing 100 collectibles and other hidden objects along the way. But a deeper dive reveals something much more; so much so that this could be Jools Watsham's and Atooi's best game yet. The story begins with the titular chicken setting out to rescue his fellow fowl friends, who have all been captured by a witch on a pogo stick and whisked away into the sky. And, recognizing that chickens can't fly (at least not normally; more on this later), Chicken immediately spots and teams up with a nearby worm named Wiggle. 'FRIENDSHIP!' the game exclaims; a rather endearing sentiment, and the first of a few aspects to indicate this title is focused on positivity. Right after, you're immediately introduced to the game's core mechanic: using Wiggle as a sort of hookshot/whip to pull you toward walls and ceilings. Additionally, you can whip enemies with the worm to stop and simultaneously stun them, then subsequently peck them with Chicken to defeat them. One minor gripe about this is it feels like you need to get a little too close to enemies to peck them for the game to register it. On many occasions, an enemy would end up taking out poor Chicken because I was trying to get close enough to peck it, which was a little frustrating. In any event, the hookshot mechanic isn't necessarily groundbreaking since games like Bionic Commando originally pioneered it and it's been a staple of Zelda games over the years, but Chicken Wiggle manages to combine it with a variety of different abilities and level designs to make something pretty memorable in the end. Each in-game world is a tower based on a different theme, with one ghost level in each bunch (carrying on the ghost theme inspiration from Mutant Mudds Deluxe). Whereas I felt that some of the level design in Mutant Mudds began to feel a little bit samey, Chicken Wiggle does a great job of varying the design by introducing new mechanics and obstacles frequently. For example, in one level you'll have to navigate your way around certain enemies and their movement patterns, or figure out how to defeat them before proceeding, while in the next you'll have to deal with traversing a gel-like substance that's suspended in air around spikes. As mentioned earlier, there are also special abilities for the chicken that make the game a lot more interesting, including a superhero suit that allows the chicken to fly, a jetpack that enables a double jump, a hot air balloon that allows movement in any direction for a limited number of spaces, an ability that turns the chicken ghostly and enables it to walk through spikes and attack ghosts, and even a hard hat that allows it to peck through just about any wall. The latter especially changes up the game, giving you a lot of leeway to essentially find your own path through the level. What also gives Chicken Wiggle amazing lasting appeal is the ability to create and share your own levels, effectively giving it a Super Mario Maker vibe. As the game continues to live on, you'll get access to potentially hundreds or thousands of user-created levels, giving the game an incredible scope of content to play through, even if creating levels isn't your thing. If you do enjoy designing levels, however, Chicken Wiggle offers a robust level creator for you to play around with, giving you access to all the game's assets to use however you see fit. Also pretty nifty is the option to change the level objective from rescuing your friend to grabbing all the loot, beating all of the enemies, destroying blocks, and more. It must also be said that the soundtrack in Chicken Wiggle is fantastic and easily one of the best in Atooi's library of games to date. Matthew Gambrel's music is evocative of older mascot platformers such as Mickey's Magical Quest, and fits the whimsical world of Chicken Wiggle extremely well. From a ghost level theme with marimba/balafon beats to a hot air balloon theme with retro NES vibes, there's a lot of variety to love here. Chicken Wiggle makes a strong case for being Atooi's best game yet; Jools Watsham has touched on something extremely special here with its combination of a charming mascot duo, hookshot platforming, and a fully-fledged level creation suite. All this and more add up to a great package that's well worth the price in the end. If you enjoy mascot platformers, retro games, and/or designing and sharing your own levels, Chicken Wiggle is a must-buy. Pros + Lengthy campaign to play through + Gameplay is reminiscent of 2D '90s mascot platformers + Levels mix things up a lot with different abilities to use + Robust level creation suite and player-created levels will keep you busy for a long time + Soundtrack is great Cons - Pecking enemies can be hit-or-miss due to how close you have to get to them, causing this to be the most common (and needless) cause of death in the game. Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Chicken Wiggle is another great addition to Atooi's stable of excellent retro-inspired platformers, and makes a real case for being the best of the bunch thanks to its added level creation and sharing capabilities. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable 3DS code provided by the publisher
  3. Chicken Wiggle, the newest brainchild of game designer Jools Watsham (formerly of Renegade Kid, now of Atooi), is coming to 3DS eShop soon and finally has a release date: August 17. For those not in the know, Chicken Wiggle is a platformer in the same vein as Watsham's previous games, such as the Mutant Mudd series -- in which you run, jump, and overcome platforming obstacles in order to make your way to the goal in each level while attempting to pick up collectibles along the way. One of this game's key elements is using the chicken's wormy friend as a sort of grappling hook mechanic which will pull you toward walls and ceilings. You'll also be able to create and share your own levels as well. Check out the action in the game's release date trailer below! If you're interested in checking out more screenshots and videos of the game, you can head over to Chicken Wiggle's website. And if you missed it previously, check out our review for Watsham's last game, Mutant Mudds: Super Challenge. Source: Atooi Are you interested in checking out Chicken Wiggle?
  4. A new trailer was revealed for the upcoming 2D platformer Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom this week at Gamescom, showing off the titular hero's animal transformations and abilities. Monster Boy will be able to transform into five different creatures, each with their own unique skills and abilities that will help unlock more of the world as you progress through the game. Also noticeable is the game's incredibly crisp 2.5D visuals; definitely one of the highlights of the game so far. You might remember that this title actually began development as Flying Hamster II: Knight of the Golden Seed, but the project changed into Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom when developer Game Atelier brought on publisher FDG Entertainment. In any case, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. A release date still has yet to be announced at this point. Are you looking forward to Monster Boy?
  5. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins

    Developer: K Bros Games Publisher: K Bros Games Platform: PC and Mac (Steam) Release Date: October 28, 2015 ESRB: RP for Rating Pending Official Website In the realm of video games, the independent scene has opened the door to a countless number of developers who otherwise would probably not have gotten the chance to release their dream games. Sometimes the result is a masterfully-crafted, one-of-a-kind work of art, while other times you get quite the contrary. And then you get games that are somewhere in-between. Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins -- episode one of a four-episode game -- is somewhere in that gray area. Speaking of gray areas, the game itself has plenty of those. That's one thing you'll notice right away, and you'll love it. In fact, Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins has quite a few things to love about it. But as it's floating somewhere between a masterpiece and a pile of garbage, in a Limbo of sorts (the similarities with the game Limbo is purely a coincidence and had no bearing on what I wrote here), the game also has quite a few things to hate about it. So then, is it worth playing? Albert & Otto's plot is both darker than I expected and better than I expected. The game opens up with the sister of the protagonist -- the Albert of the game's moniker -- sitting outside their house with her beloved stuffed bunny Otto before a mysterious shadow comes by and whisks her away. And so Albert, armed with a gun for some reason, sets out to save her. Early on, you find Otto, alone, and take him along for the ride to help you on your journey. But throughout that journey, through letters picked up along the way with pictures drawn by none other than your sister, you start to learn that what's going on goes much deeper than a simple damsel-in-distress story. Much like Limbo, the story of this game is told very quietly. There's no text or voice that tells you what's going on, and yet it's not all that difficult to figure it out. You can piece together what really happened to your sister fairly easily (as much as episode one reveals, at least), and if you're perceptive enough, you can also tell that the game is set in pre-World War II Germany. Although, I kinda just told you, so I guess you don't have to be all that perceptive... Anyway, the dark nature of the plot and setting make the story of Albert & Otto quite compelling. And even though there are aspects of this game that will infuriate you to no end, you might find yourself too interested in the story to call it quits until the credits roll. I mentioned before that you'll love the grayness in the world of Albert & Otto. And while you may have a different taste in art styles, it's most certainly what I liked most about the game. Inspired by the early stop-motion works of Tim Burton, nearly the entire game is in black-and-white with a few exceptions, such as Otto himself being red -- reminiscent to the little girl wearing the red dress in the movie Schindler's List (which interestingly also takes place in Germany, only during World War II). The minimalist aesthetic adds a lot to the game's somewhat depressing tone, which all makes for a pleasantly atmospheric experience. The music in Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins also does a nice job in complimenting the plot and setting, lending itself well to the atmospheric nature of the game. It's nothing that really stands out as anything more than the game's background score, but it's a score that fits the experience nicely. Especially when you hear who I assume is your sister humming every so often, which I find to be beautifully eery. But not all is well with Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins. While the story is intriguing and the aesthetics beautiful, where the game falls short lies within its gameplay. Look, I'm up for a challenge and all that, but there's a difference between a well-crafted challenge and a cheap, unfair challenge that relies less on thought and skill and more on trial-and-error. I liked some of the puzzles, since the game does have some well-crafted, skill-based ones, but I found myself dying far too many times while attempting a lot of them. Mostly because quite a few puzzles give you very little time to think about the solution. Like with the two bosses in this particular episode. It's infuriating that you have to keep dying just to solve a puzzle. And in the case of the second boss, once you FINALLY beat him, a task made unnecessarily difficult thanks to the game forcing you to move almost impossibly fast, the game throws a bird at you that you can't see because it's off-screen until it attacks you and you can't hear because the end of the boss song is too loud. And it wouldn't be that big a deal if the checkpoint system was thought out more logically. There are simpler moments when checkpoints are very close together, but then when you need a checkpoint the most, you don't get one and have to restart way, way back if and when you die. It also doesn't help that there are some problems with the game's physics. Your ability to levitate objects gets extremely frustrating when the object you grab starts moving around wildly and it takes too much time to calm it down. It's not that bad during puzzles you can solve at your own pace, but it becomes a grave annoyance during the ones with very short time limits. There's also one aspect that I just found oddly sloppy from a development standpoint, where when you die and go back to the last checkpoint, you start moving again before the previous event is even over. I appreciate fast loading times, but at least give the world time to catch up with the player. With all of this game's downsides in terms of gameplay, though, I will give it kudos for one thing; there's an area where you have to use a burning sheep as a torch to see in the dark. Now THAT is awesome. I can't say I've done that in any other game before. Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins isn't a bad game, but it does have problems that unfortunately weigh it down, keeping it from being as great as it potentially could have been. The story is great, though, the game has a gorgeous art style, and the score compliments the game's atmospheric tone nicely, so it certainly has its upsides. It's just unfortunate that I didn't like this game as much as I was hoping to. Hopefully the problems are dealt with and episode two turns out better. As for episode one, I'd say if you have $5 to spare, it's a decent enough investment. If you like Limbo, then this game is worth trying. Pros: + Very deep and symbolic story, however quietly it is told + Gorgeous Tim Burton inspired art style + Beautiful score that compliments the atmospheric tone + USING A BURNING SHEEP AS A TORCH Cons: - Cheap, unfair challenges that rely too much on trial-and-error - Problems with the game's physics - Some sloppily-developed parts Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent With an intriguing story and a beautiful aesthetic, Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins has its upsides. Unfortunately, its downsides keep it from being as great as it potentially could have been. A downloadable code was supplied by the publisher for this review
  6. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: JumpJet Rex

    Developer: TreeFortress Games Publisher: TreeFortress Games Platform: PC ( Steam) Release Date: April 22nd, 2015 ESRB: Not rated (E recommended) It probably has a lot to do with my inner-child, but... tell me a game has dinosaurs in it, and you“ll win me over pretty quickly. Whether we“re talking Adventure Island III, Radical Rex, or games with Yoshi as a central character, there are plenty of decent dino-platformers out there. So, when JumpJet Rex came my way—a game whose premise is “you play as a cute 16-bit-looking dinosaur with a freaking jet-pack”—it piqued my interest, to say the least. This game has all kinds of subtle allusions to the kind of mascot platformers of the 90s. Its presentation will remind you of everything from noteworthy classics like Earthworm Jim to the more obscure variants like Zool or James Pond. Your T-Rex character puts on a pair of sunglasses and does a little victory pose when you beat a level. There are dinosaur-branded Mountain Dew and Doritos clones in the game“s hub world. TreeFortress have certainly given us a game chocked full of charm and old-school references. Even their logo that appears before you“re brought to the title screen does so with the Game Boy“s trademark “ba-ding”. The game“s story isn“t really worth expanding upon. Stop an asteroid from eradicating the dinosaur species by... taking to space, beating robots, and more—completely off-the-wall stuff. About what you“d expect, given the game“s premise. Beyond the very start of the game, there“s not much story to behold. I really dig the game“s aesthetic, though! It“s cute, and you can tell care and attention were given to the game“s characters and environments. There“s nothing particularly memorable about the soundtrack, in my opinion, but it“s certainly catchy at times. And it“s consistent with the game“s identity. The “Stage Clear” music is this kind of rocking guitar riff that plays as the dino puts on his shades and congratulates you for completing the level. Levels that take place in space sound spacey. High-impact moments are accompanied with high-impact music. Overall, the presentation is good, maybe even great...and definitely consistent. JumpJet Rex reminds me a lot of Silver Surfer from the NES era. Enemies are plentiful, and your movement (via the jet-pack) is pretty free-range, but you can“t really touch anything in most levels (walls are electrocuted or something similar, and they hurt you). Unlike Silver Surfer, though, you“re virtually defenseless. It“s kind of like going through a water level in a Mario game as a much more nimble, small Mario—over forty times. The objective of the game is to pass through these yellow hoops while avoiding both enemy obstacles and (usually) the walls themselves. You“re awarded three stars at the end of a level based on what you“re able to accomplish: one for beating a level, one for beating the level without dying, and... one for beating the level in a set time. Indeed, there is a time-trial twist to JumpJet Rex. Getting all these stars adds a level of replay value to the game... when you“re not using the game“s currency to customize the heck out of your dinosaur, or trying to go through the game with a friend via co-op mode. There are various levels of difficulty, and even collectibles hidden in almost every level. Lots to do, and lots of achievements (even some super eclectic ones) to try and justify an intimidating $14.99 price-point. For all the game“s charm and replay value though, there“s a little lack of polish that leaves me more inclined to call this game "good" versus "great." JumpJet Rex is a game whose cute exterior hides a diabolical difficulty level. It starts out easy enough and makes you think the whole game is going to be this fun, cute romp. But then—good gracious, does it get tough. It“s not too tough; don“t get me wrong. There are ample checkpoints to make sure beating a level is always possible, but beating it quickly or without dying is the tough part. Still, some of the level design feels like it“s luck-based versus skill-based. In the later levels, there are these really tight squeezes that make me think whoever designed them wanted to frustrate the player intentionally towards the end. I get difficulty, but I think some of the later levels choose luck-based mechanics instead of a more polished platforming experience. It“s stuff like that, and the fact that your (highly customizable) model is sometimes replaced with the basic one... like on the world map, and in the ending screen, that make me think a little more polish would push this game from “good” to “great” territory. Also, I had to put down my controller every time I paused the game (a lot... because I wanted to restart levels to get the fastest time) to move my mouse and click in the menu. Overall, JumpJet Rex is worth looking into. It does a lot well, and there“s plenty to try and get the most out of your purchase. I spent a good eight hours with the game from start to finish, learning its bells and whistles, and sometimes struggling with it. A bit more polish would have me recommend this experience to a lot more people. But for what it“s worth, I had fun. Pros: + Tons of charm, tons of customization, tons of gameplay modes, and tons of replay value bolster an otherwise simple premise + Gameplay mixes itself up enough to never get too boring. Sometimes getting two stars out of three is simple, while getting that third will take effort Cons: - There is a noticeable lack of polish in terms of both design and presentation. - The later levels and endgame felt more frustrating than functional. Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good JumpJet Rex offers a unique platforming experience with a lot of replay value. But it's a little held back by a lack of polish and some questionable design decisions. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher
  7. Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Publisher: NIS America Platforms: PS Vita, PS TV Release Date:February 24, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen Lumen and Umbra. Polarities such as these help illuminate the primary themes for Vita's newest puzzle-focused exclusive: htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. It is a creative concept brought to light by a designer behind the popular strategy-RPG series Disgaea and it attempts to make its deceptively dark presence known on the often overlooked Sony handheld hardware. Whether this chronicle actually deserves to be written upon anyone“s Vita system, however, is another story. The adventure has very little in the way of direct exposition. The young girl Mion wakes up in what seems like some sort of dark underground facility and shortly thereafter encounters two fireflies. These two fireflies: a green one referred to as Lumen; and also the purple firefly, Umbra, who presides in Mion's shadow; both attempt to help guide the strangely obedient Mion through these unknown depths. Both fireflies are the crux of its puzzle-focused gameplay with its light platformer elements in-between. Lumen very directly guides Mion where to go and is controlled via touchscreen in the foreground, while Umbra is controlled by the Vita's back touchpad, and moves about from shadow to shadow in the background. You control both separately depending on the circumstance to navigate the terrain in a mostly linear fashion. For example, you may use Lumen to direct Mion to climb ladders or push boxes/switches, while Umbra can trigger normally inaccessible objects from afar when moving between various shadows. Beyond light and dark comparisons, disparities is a recurring theme in almost every facet of the title, even down its aesthetic. The visuals will probably seem cute and innocent despite the bleak setting. Well, until you see Mion mangled by shadow monsters, sliced by saws, accidentally hit by boulders, incinerated by flames, or fall to her death. While the visuals do tend to cut out just before it gets into gory territory, the implied imagery in The Firefly Diary is definitely much more unsettling than it leads on to be from a first glance. Yet, it is for that reason that the presentation manages to be so distinct, because it balances two such different tones with one captivating 2D style. Even if, unfortunately for Mion, it feels like everything in the world is out to kill her, and it frankly shall—many times. If it wasn't obvious already, HtoL#NiQ is a very, very difficult game. No, really, I don“t think you fully understand. I had a PSN trophy congratulating me on dying one hundred times less than halfway through the main campaign. I dare not think about my total death count by the time I finished it. Of course, higher difficulty is not inherently bad, and the Vita is no stranger to challenging titles like Dokuro, or plenty of other ports like with 1001 Spikes. Problem is, HtoL#NiQ is not as good as either of those as a game and it is difficult for all of the wrong reasons, and this is made more obvious in regards to its cheap level-design and disjointed control scheme. Puzzles and platforming situations have brief bits of novelty with their occasional variety in theme but are quite frustrating in execution. It's not even that the puzzles themselves are tricky, they are either completely obvious or feel kind of random. But, what makes the gameplay go from middling to awful at times is the awkward, unwieldy controls and the incredibly strict trial-and-error design that just doesn't work with it. Difficult games tend to work when the controls are spot-on and there is skillful level-design around it, but this title has neither. On the most basic level, there is simply a jarring slowness/lack of responsiveness to moving Lumen around and having Mion (very slowly) follow behind to the gameplay that becomes increasingly more apparent over time, and will be the source of most player deaths. That, and inconsistent boss fights and the generally unfair feeling level design. Some of the most egregious examples of level design are probably two repeating segments that are almost guaranteed leave most players stuck. The first offensive portion is when you control only Lumen after being separated from Mion. However, Lumen cannot touch anything without dying during these segments, including walls. The already questionable responsiveness and the level's obnoxious automatic screen-scrolling is bad enough, but your own hand can easily obscure navigation in these segments as well if playing via touchscreen. The second is that for nearly an entire chapter later of the game, in which there are four of (five if we include "True End" content), the title completely reverses the controls (for no real rhyme or reason behind it) for what is an already difficult part. If it weren't for the somewhat frequent checkpoints these parts would be near unmanageable. Even if you were smart enough to choose one of the different control schemes (one centered around using the analog), and certain portions were less glaring, I don't think htoL#NiQ is compelling enough on its own as a game. As stated before, most puzzles don't feel smart or satisfying, they are just strict trial and error based that love to toss at least one unfair gimmick before reaching the next checkpoint. And, for whatever narrative intrigue that is hidden through out-of-the-way unlocks, or rather "memories", it is not really worth the hassle of repeating certain levels just to see the true ending when playing through them once is already too much. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot that is worthwhile in htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary aside from those starving to try something that looks different. Whatever interest it piques through its captivating presentation and dark setting it botches it nearly every step of the way with its incredibly poor control scheme and frustrating, unsatisfying level design. I can respect that Nippon Ichi wanted to try something beyond their over-the-top RPG comfort zone, and it feels like they were on the right track, but perhaps with more controlled guidance lighting htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary's way, it would've been much better for it. Pros: + Captivating setting that mixes both cute and disturbing + Light and dark fireflies lend themselves to interesting puzzle mechanics Cons: - Extremely clumsy, unwieldy controls for touchscreen in particular - Infuriating level design/bosses that generally feel cheap - Way too many hurdles required to unlock the "True End" - Mion moves and reacts really slow… Overall Score: 4.5 (out of 10) Below Average Whatever intrigue that is built up from htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary's captivating setting and visual style are completely lost due to its frustrating controls, cheap level design/bosses, and generally unsatisfying gameplay. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher.
  8. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Castle in the Darkness

    Developer: Matt Kapp Publisher: Nicalis Platform(s): PC (Steam) Release Date: February 5th, 2015 Official Website I“m a glutton for punishment. I“ve cursed aloud and thrown controllers at maddening, yet skillfully designed action-platformers since the days of Shadow of the Ninja, DuckTales or Little Nemo: Dream Master. I“ve played through most, if not all the essential games that bring “Nintendo hard” to the modern age like LA-MULANA, Shovel Knight, 1001 Spikes, and Rex Rocket. So, when I saw the trailer for Nicalis' Castle in the Darkness, I knew exactly what to expect. I“m going to get gray hairs in my thirties because of developers who dig driving you insane with a few meticulously placed spikes. These are the kinds of games I can“t help but analyze as I play through them (because I spend so long dying over and over in any given level). There are two schools of game design when it comes to evoking nostalgia. The first includes games that seem to be inspired by the past, but wish to evolve tried and true formulas with modern ideas. The second are those games that do everything short of teleporting you back to the past, because of limitations developers/designers impose upon themselves to make a game feel like it belongs in the late eighties or early nineties. Castle in the Darkness is definitely an example of the latter. There“s not much to the game“s story beyond what you see in the trailer or the first five minutes. In terms of protagonists, there“s a surviving soldier, a princess, and a frog. There“s little development to be had between them because the game“s script is purposefully confined to match any original Nintendo game you've ever played. With that in mind, the game“s writing still has its humor and charm; developer Matt Kapp definitely knows his audience. There“s more than one Legend of Zelda reference sprinkled into your adventure, and there“s even a few nods to other Nicalis-published games if you do a bit of exploring. Staying with talk of the game“s presentation: the visuals manage to successfully emulate the intended era, as well as push the envelope a bit. In fact, the word PEE is written out in stars on the night sky of an area; you can spot that subliminal humor if you“re looking hard enough. The soundtrack is definitely quality work as well, but while each tune is catchy, Castle in the Darkness lacks the musical variance you“d typically find in recent games like it. Still, I think the game“s presentation as a whole is purposefully limiting, to make you feel like you“re in 1987. I can“t fault it for being consistent with its identity. I could write a novel on the things this gameplay does to a person—both good and bad. To prevent myself from doing so, I“ll first address this—there are plenty of things to do outside of the “main” experience. The title menu has a whole section of secrets...from an “Easy Mode” that mocks you if you die enough, to a “Prologue” of sorts and other early game builds from early development. Of course, there are achievements too. There“s even a New Game+. For just under six dollars in price, there“s certainly a lot to play. Mechanically, though, you“ll start to see why the game is priced like it is. I recall looking at my game time somewhere close to the end. The game itself had my total playtime at around two hours at that point, but Steam told me I“d been playing the game for over nine hours. That“s the kind of experience this is—few hours actually registered, but many hours will pass as you attempt to conquer its plenty of torturous trials (there“s an actual part of the game called the Torture Chamber that almost frustrated me to the point of putting the game down). Your character is extremely fragile at the start of the game, but by the time you make your approach towards the final boss, you'll have collected sufficient health, armor and weapons to hold your own. The most frustrating aspect of the game isn“t the difficulty of the level design itself, but the lack of proper save points in the later portions of the game. In the beginning, the means to save and equip your items are fairly placed, giving anyone brave enough to play the game a fair chance to pace themselves without becoming frustrated. But by the time you reach a point where the game“s entire world is open to you (and trust me, it“s a big, bad world...and it includes plenty of levels, many optional and built for those who backtrack after getting key items that allow you to do so), save and warp points are placed in downright cruel spots. The cheap tricks that some of these level designs and bosses play will leave a great many who want to become more skilled by playing these kinds of games far too aggravated with Castle in the Darkness to see it through to the end, in my opinion. Without speaking volumes: At the end of most of these purposefully punishing games, I often find myself grateful for them. Despite their flaws, I kind of feel like I“ve been hardened as a veteran platformer-guy for having taken up their challenge. The thing that makes me hesitant to recommend this game to everyone is the fact that you really don“t feel hardened by the end of it. Your ability to overcome obstacles in Castle in the Darkness isn“t necessarily determined by an increase in skill—it“s more due to an increase in stats. Whether you“re getting more health by beating bosses or going way out of your way to backtrack and grab a more powerful weapon, I think it“s less about acquired skill and more about acquired stuff. At the end of the day, Matt Kapp knew what kind of game he wanted to design, and he was definitely successful at it. In the land of games that are indeed "Nintendo hard," Castle in the Darkness won“t be forgotten. The reason I can“t call this game essential, or perfection, is because most who challenge it will remember it for the frustration it made them feel versus the many things that make it a good game. Pros: + Appealing presentation overall, with just as much humorous nods as it has confidence in its identity. + Reasonably priced. There's plenty of content to enjoy outside of the main game. Cons: - Has major pacing issues overall, with some later areas feeling more unfair than challenging. - Overcoming obstacles may sometimes boil down to acquired equipment versus platforming skill. Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Some games shine a little light on the past. Castle in the Darkness hearkens back to an era so challenging, it will chip away at your soul as you attempt to conquer it. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by Nicalis
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Funk of Titans

    Developer: A Crowd of Monsters Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters Platform: Xbox One Release Date: January 9, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen When thinking about Greek mythology, a great many things come to mind: gods like Zeus and Apollo, titans, sirens, Medusa, and a whole host of other beings. One word that doesn“t typically come to mind is “funk.” Yet, developer A Crowd of Monsters created an oddball concoction of mythology and music with Funk of Titans. This platformer puts you in the role of Perseus, Zeus“s son, who must travel and defeat titans. They aren“t just any typical titans, though, and instead represent the musical genres pop, rap, and rock. Can you win and ensure funk always presides over the land? Sure, but you may tire of it before your work is done. Funk of Titans is a 2D platformer which appears inspired primarily by mobile game trends. Although there is a story, it is incredibly light and your main goal is simply to burn through around 40 levels. When you begin, the stages seem incredibly simplistic mechanics-wise. Some of that comes from the fact that it is an auto-scrolling runner of sorts. The main difference from other titles in that genre is that you can actually turn around if need be and run the other way and are given multiple chances at certain jumps if you miss the first time. This incredible simplicity is built upon as the game progresses. By the time you“re in the second world, though, most every feature is unlocked. By that point you“ll have to deal with moving platforms, flipping switches, wall climbing, and a few other bits. Oddly, enemies (which appear on every stage) are perhaps some of the kindest in any game. They never attack you or even pace back and forth. All they do is simply dance in place before you slice them to bits. In any case, the point is that the gameplay should not in any way be challenging. Yet it is. The problem with the game“s difficulty is that it is completely unearned in most instances. For one, there is a slight delay between pressing buttons via the controller and seeing them register in game. With everything feeling a bit slow, you can“t help but misjudge timing that seems so easy. Poor Perseus also only happens to have two hit points per level. On more than one occasion he was hit, only to be flung directly into some other dangerous obstacle immediately afterward. Simply adding in a brief period of invincibility would have helped to avoid cheap deaths such as these. Even though it might sound like a complete wash at this point, Funk of Titans still offers some high points. After a variety of samey stages, you finally get to experience different styles of worlds. Beyond that, they also open up in ways that allow for multiple playthrough routes. It actually becomes challenging to collect all 100 golden records in one stage due to expansive levels. There“s also a goofy Flappy Bird ripoff included for some reason, but it“s a fair refresher between courses. Finally, you“re able to customize Perseus with new hats/masks and weapons. Weapons are purely mechanisms to help 100% a stage, though. If you“re not aiming for completion, though, the game takes around 2 hours to finish. Players should expect some degree of funkiness while playing but even that is lacking. Some aspects, such as level and character design definitely fit in with the theme. In particular, boss titans are creative representations of modern pop stars. However, beyond that nice dash of visual polish there“s simply little else to hold the experience up. Stages are primarily repetitive and even the music is reused a tremendous amount. Speaking of which, it feels more like royalty free tracks than the incredibly funk tunes I was hoping for. All of these negatives weigh down what could have been a perfectly competent platformer and make Funk of Titans an unfortunate slog. Pros: + Fun graphics mix Greek mythology with musical themes + Multiple paths for many levels Cons: - Game slow to respond to controller input - Simplistic stages made unnecessarily challenging by problematic design and control - Lack of engaging soundtrack for a supposedly “funky” game Overall Score: 4 (out of 10) Below Average Funk of Titans looks like an odd, but amusing concept on paper. In reality it proves to be an imprecise (and oftentimes annoying) platformer with a lot of heart and little else. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  10. barrel

    Review: The Swapper

    Developer: Facepalm Games/Curve Studios Publisher: Facepalm Games Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U Release Date: November 6, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Every time I heard about The Swapper after it arrived on PC mid-2013 it was almost always met with unanimous praise. But, because of my general anti-PC gaming sentiment, I stubbornly managed to ignore those positive voices until more than a year after. By now the cult-classic The Swapper has made its way to various other platforms including the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and now finally the Wii U, and has left me with no more excuses to not play it. Was it finally worth abandoning my ignorance under a rock or would my consciousness have been better placed elsewhere? For something that shares the E rating, The Swapper somehow manages to feel very unsettling. It“s not unsettling because the game is necessarily scary, but because it has a real strong sense of isolation and foreboding. This is communicated in a lot of ways from intriguing journal entries, ambiguous messages placed throughout, and the in-game visuals. The Swapper does a great job at crafting a real sense of atmosphere and smartly, but gradually, introduces you to its world and nuances. This carries over to the gameplay as well in regards to the puzzle/platformer focused design. There are two primary mechanics to keep track of, those being the Swap and Clone mechanics. The first of these introduced is the Clone mechanic in which you are able to create up to four duplications of yourself, and the second allows you to Swap between which of these clones you want to directly control. Though neither of these mechanics are completely unique to video games individually, it is how they are cleverly handled together that makes them feel consistently fresh during the experience. The crux of the gameplay is centered around exploring a space station and implementing those key mechanics to progress. The general flow of this involves collecting specific orbs, which are obtained in what are essentially puzzle rooms, and reactivating parts of the facility with those same orbs in order to help escape. Having said that, it does feel much less straightforward in the midst of actually playing because of the ambiguity of the setting and its many branching areas. What I like the most about the game design in The Swapper is how it doesn“t deliberately tell you what to do. From exploring the space station to learning more about what is going on narratively to naturally allowing you to figure out puzzle solutions for yourself, it generally respects the player's own ability to progress forward. Almost every puzzle adds an extra layer of depth to the established mechanics and smartly inverts how you arrive to solutions, sometimes literally. Puzzles get surprisingly complex, but they also become that much more satisfying when they are complete because the player knows full well what they did in order to figure it out. Still, the game does lose a bit of steam near the end for both puzzle design and, arguably, narratively as well. Some of the later puzzles feel rather devious because their solutions can be undone very quickly. This can be rather annoying considering how much prep work is required, including precision Clone placement and quick Swap timing, so you may inadvertently have to start over and not really feel like you entirely figured out what you did wrong. Another wrinkle is the abrupt endings. I'm sure they can spur philosophical discussions among more enthusiastic fans, but by themselves it feels like they aim more for the initial shock of a twist than addressing prior intrigue that is built up. These are both minor in the grander picture of its generally quite satisfying and smart puzzle design, but it is disappointing that it slightly undermines what is built up prior to it. As with Wii U port tradition, the gamepad serves as a multi-use secondary screen. It can be used to view the map, unlocked story logs, and can also be the primary screen. It“s nothing complicated, but it generally works well and I found it neat for the story logs in particular. When using the gamepad as the primary screen you can have the touchscreen replace commands that require the shoulder buttons, like the Swap/Clone mechanics. I occasionally used the touchscreen for Clone placement, just because analog placement can be rather fidgety at times, but its touchscreen usage is pretty negligible otherwise just because of the gamepad's inherent lack of quick multi-touch responsiveness. The Swapper is a refreshing take on puzzle-focused gameplay. It respects the player's own ability to progress by weaving some truly complex, yet satisfying puzzles while crafting a really strong sense of atmosphere to accompany them. It may have its head in the wrong place near the end due to some minor pacing missteps, but everything prior to it does a great job of playing with expectations as a rewarding, if not a bit ominous, puzzle/platformer title. Pros: + Strong sense of atmosphere that is both very interesting and unsettling + Very clever uses of its puzzle mechanics + Game design is pretty seamless and allows the player to naturally learn its nuances Cons: - Some puzzle solutions get pretty devious later on - Not very long and endings feel abrupt Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great In many instances The Swapper exudes intricate, rewarding puzzle design and an immersive sense of atmosphere that certainly warrants the curiosity of puzzle fans Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher.
  11. Jordan Haygood

    Plok SNES Box Art

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Software Creations

  12. Jason Clement

    Review: Wooden Sen'SeY

    Developer: Upper Byte Studio Publisher: Neko Entertainment Platform: Wii U, PC Release Date: July 24, 2014 (Wii U) ESRB: E 10+ This review is based on the Wii U version of the game Japanese settings don't seem incredibly common in today's games (at least the ones developed outside of Japan), especially in the platforming realm, but Wooden Sen'SeY attempts to rectify this with its focus on a heavily feudal Japanese-themed landscape and scenario infused with a bit of a goofy plot. Add in some impressive visuals and art, and it seems like the combination would be a no-brainer, but unfortunately the game's mechanics make it more than just a bit difficult to enjoy. You play as Village Chief Goro, who is out for revenge at the outset after his alcohol is stolen by shadow creatures. It's the thinnest of plots but it becomes evident that Wooden Sen'SeY isn't exactly the most serious of games anyhow. Axe in hand, Goro sets off to eliminate any shadow creature in his way. It's worth noting that the game doesn't really give the enemies a name, so I just call them that due to the fact that they look like shadow creatures. Some are small, round, and float in the air while others are more human-like and wear Japanese garb and wield weapons such as spears and the like. The game itself is a mostly by-the-books platformer where you run to the right, jump between platforms, and attack anything in your way, but there is an interesting gameplay element that makes the experience a bit more unique. At certain points, you'll make use of Goro's grappling hook to get across large gaps or even to scale walls and such; these are by far the most interesting parts of the game, especially since much of the rest of the game's levels are very vanilla in design. What makes this aspect more interesting is that Upper Byte Studio attempted to include some unique functionality regarding this in the Wii U version with the Gamepad's accelerometer, so shifting the pad in the direction Goro is swinging in will help him gain momentum. Also included as Gamepad functionality is the ability to quickly thrust the the Gamepad forward and downward (as if you're putting a book down) while jumping for a ground pound and higher jump; however, the same can be achieved through the use of buttons as well. Unfortunately, the game stumbles majorly in one big area—the reach of Goro's axe(s) is virtually non-existent and requires you to be literally right next to an enemy in order to damage them. I'm unsure if Upper Byte did this intentionally (perhaps to increase the difficulty level) but more often than not, this design makes it difficult to tell when you're getting too close and thus damaged if you touch an enemy. Because of this, some enemies are extremely difficult to land hits on, especially bats or other flying enemies. Fortunately there are some secondary weapons you can collect and use in certain levels, such as throwing stars and bombs, but these often come in short supply. Further aggravating the point about the combat being too close for comfort is the fact that there are usually several areas in each level where you'll have to fight a number of various shadow creatures before you can proceed (much like old-school 2D brawlers used to do). It isn't that the combat is near impossible; it's just extremely irritating and was easily the lowest point of the game for me, especially in the later levels. A shame too, because while the combat leaves a lot to be desired, the rest of the game's design during levels is mildly enjoyable between bouts of platforming and grappling across gaps and up the sides of walls. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are the visuals and art direction, which add up to being one of the game's best aspects. This is especially the case early on with the Japanese-inspired countrysides, colorful backgrounds, and bloom effects (incorporating such things as falling cherry blossom buds and such) all of which create a wonderfully cartoonish-looking world. Even the game's menus and GUI have an appealing look to them. Wooden SenSeY is a game that I really wanted to like, but unfortunately its unbalanced gameplay and combat really hinders much of the experience. It's completely playable, but a lot of it is aggravating and feels rather unoptimized for the best experience possible. The actual design isn't incredibly inspired either, but there are flashes of good moments throughout; namely, the grappling sequences. It's also quite short; you can finish the game's 9 stages in as little as 2 hours or less, though Upper Byte did include achievements for those who want to extend the game a bit longer. For what it's worth, Wooden Sen'SeY could have been so much more and, unfortunately, the experience ultimately ends up feeling true to its name: wooden. Pros + Some beautiful artwork and backgrounds throughout + Certain aspects can be fun such as using the grappling hook Cons - Most of the platforming is rather dull - The short reach of Goro's axes make combat unbearable - Plot is barely understandable; no explanation of anything Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average Wooden Sen'SeY looks nice during certain sections throughout, but has glaring issues with its gameplay. Look elsewhere if you're wanting a competent platformer to play. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher.
  13. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty

    Developer: Just Add Water Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants Platform: PC, PS3, PS4 (Reviewed), Vita, Wii U, Xbox One Release Date: July 22, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen In 1997, Oddworld: Abe“s Odyssee arrived on the gaming scene as something completely different. Sure, it was a 2D platformer, but its incredibly distinctive world, characters, and overall charm caused many to fall in love. Since then, the Oddworld name has been invoked a few more times. Oddworld: New n“ Tasty is a remake of Abe“s Odyssee. But it“s a remake of the best sort. Instead of recreating everything in the same exact way with slightly glossier graphics, everything has been completely reappraised. These tweaks both make it accessible for new players but also a worthy revisit for longtime fans. New ”n“ Tasty centers around a strange little Mudokan named Abe. Throughout his years he“s had a fine janitorial job at Rupture Farms. This food processing plant takes various species and turns them into kibble. Unfortunately, their business practices have led to many creatures going extinct. After this happens yet again they decide to use Mudokans in their latest food concoction. Abe, rightfully frightened, rushes to escape Rupture Farms. He also may (depending on the player“s inclination) save his Mudokan buddies along the way. Abe“s escape fuels the 2D puzzle platformer gameplay which takes him through a factory, caves, wilderness, and more. The first rule of playing is learning exactly what is an enemy and how it behaves. For example, some creatures pace back and forth but will charge upon seeing you. On the other hand, objects like a land mine can prove either helpful or deadly depending on how they“re used. As Abe has little weaponry of his own most of the time it becomes crucial to use the environment itself. Even platforming fans found Oddworld an intensely difficult game back in the day. Although much of this has been remedied now, Abe“s jumps still feel pretty stiff. This requires players to know exactly how Abe jumps to use him to best effect. Thankfully, three difficulty settings allow the player to enjoy platforming at their skill level, whatever it is. Hardcore fans might be peeved with an improved checkpoint system. This cannot be turned off and tends to save at the start of every new room. Most will likely find this a positive. Perhaps the largest tweak in regards to accessibility is a new quicksave feature. This allows you to save at any point on any stage and come back to that exact point later. It“s a real boon for players like me who lead Abe toward one too many deaths. However, it has been reported by some that quicksaves have mucked up their saves overall (on PS4). Some users have gotten around it by using cloud saves, but non-PS Plus subscribers don“t have such an option. Puzzling sections also proliferate the journey. Some puzzles are simple while others require players to pace back and forth before getting that “Aha!” moment. A feature that always stood out about the Oddworld games was a communication feature. This is still intact and allows Abe to converse with other Mudokans. By waving and telling others to stay and go, they can be commanded to safety. Later on there are even more ways to converse with friends, such as farting. It“s certainly silly but very charming to hear their weirdly cute voices. One thing that stood out about Oddworld at the time was its stunning visuals. Although they are still distinctive today, New ”n“ Tasty made sure to ratchet visuals to an entirely new level. Now, they feel amazing to behold alongside PS4 and Xbox One contemporaries. Everything still retains the feel of the old games but with gorgeous recreations of original areas. Now there is even a dynamic camera which provides great sweeping views of everything. Yes, it“s still a ”2D“ game at its core, but one of the most beautiful available today. If you have never played an Oddworld game then New ”n“ Tasty should serve as a delectable introduction to the world. Even those who already mastered the game years ago should check out the new version. It“s readily apparent how much love and care went into developing a remake. Other developers should be careful with what they remake now as Oddworld: New ”n“ Tasty proves remakes can (and should) be much more than simply HD revisions. Pros: + Tremendously fun platforming and puzzle gameplay + Features to make the game more accessible (added difficulty selection, quicksave, etc) + Gorgeous new graphics Cons: - For all the tweaks, Abe still jumps in a stiff fashion - Some reports of saves getting messed up Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty is a downright magical game that does a great job at recapturing exactly what made the Oddworld series so loved to begin with. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PSN code provided by the publisher.
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Oddworld Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  15. Marcus Estrada

    Oddworld Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  16. Marcus Estrada

    Oddworld Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Platformines

    Developer: Magiko Games Publisher: Namco Bandai Games Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: March 28, 2014 ESRB: N/R (T suggested) Platforming is one of those genres that is just never going to die. Even when most big budget games pursue realism, guns, and cinematic presentations, there are always going to be fun new platformers on the scene. Case in point, Platformines has brought yet another 2D platforming game to PC. At first glance this might seem like a title to overlook, but nothing else in Steam“s marketplace plays quite like it. In Platformines, the overarching goal is to repair a spaceship. For whatever reason, all the tools you require are scattered across a massive map. You“ve got to go out and recover them one at a time, and do so by exploring a massive randomly-generated landscape. Because the game is crawling with enemies, you“ve also got to mow down everything in your path along the way. Areas closest to your base have wimpy enemies and they grow tougher the further you venture away from home. There are tons of guns to collect and buy along your journey and they come in four types: Pistol, machine gun, shotgun, and bazooka. Sometimes enemies will drop various weapons and so you“ll do well by always nabbing them. If the newly-acquired weapon has stats lower than your own they can always be sold to the shopkeeper. If, on the other hand, you“re in desperate need of an upgrade then she“ll sell you weapons (or character upgrades) instead. The player can upgrade their energy belt which is this game“s way of showing your health. Along your trek through windy caves, you“ll often come across glowing minerals. These can serve as either energy or as a way to make extra money from the shopkeeper. Using them as energy will restore health, although each type grants a specific amount back. The mechanic works well for most of the experience, although once you get near the end, even a fully-upgraded belt isn“t enough. With a need to collect goodies, there“s also the ability to upgrade backpack space. It isn“t as pressing an upgrade, though, as there are copious amounts of warp portals around so you can quickly pawn off items. Sometimes enemies drop masks, hats, and hair which all serve as temporary upgrades. One wig might offer an additional jump (you have five “double jumps” by default). Others increase reload time or power of specific gun types. Kicking butt is what Platformines is all about and it definitely succeeds at this goal. Once you“ve got a few good weapons and have a handle on the controls, you can tear up enemies along your path with ease. Of course, certain areas grow tougher, but they prove to be a worthy challenge. Only by the end does it feel like the game has cranked the difficulty up too high. It“s a shame because, up to that point, it felt like a very fun, challenging game rather than an unfairly challenging one. One unusual thing to note is that there are no boss encounters or otherwise really special enemies. Instead, you“ll see about a dozen or so types that reappear in different color combinations and weapon loadouts during the journey. Still, the enemies are varied nicely with humans as well as creepy cube monsters. Beyond collecting parts to repair your ship, there are also random treasure chests scattered all over the map. Grabbing these is something you“ll do most often while on the path of a necessary item. They have a bright hue that helps you pinpoint them when near, although there might be spikes and saws that require careful dodging to reach one. Although required items aren't typically as well guarded, just getting to them can be a pain. The sprawling caves do connect, but often only via specific paths which means sometimes you end up encountering dead ends for quite a while before finally getting on the right path. Despite these issues, Platformines is still a heck of a lot of fun. Over the course of playing it, I intended to play for only an hour at a time and ended up playing for multiple in one sitting. Theoretically, you could probably even beat it in a day if you had 7 hours to spare and your hands don“t cramp up. The vast majority of playtime is fun thanks to its gigantic environment and tons of collectable loot. Platformines is highly recommended for players who have an itch to explore alongside blasting enemies to bits. Pros: + Fast platforming meshes well with shooting gameplay + Simply enormous map just begging to be fully explored + Loads of loot to collect on your way Cons: - Unexpectedly intense difficulty spike near the end of the game - Not enough upgrades to keep pace with said increasing difficulty - Randomly generated caves lead to many dead ends Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Platformines excels at being both an enjoyable 2D platformer and shooter as long as you don“t mind a few hiccups along the way. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the developer.
  18. Marcus Estrada

    Platformines Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  19. Marcus Estrada

    Platformines Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

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