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  1. It's been nearly three and a half years since her last game but Shantae is ready for her big comeback with the serie's fifth entry, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, next week. Initially announced as an Apple Arcade title, Shantae and the Seven Sirens sees the return of fan-favorite characters such as Risky Boots, Rottytops, Sky, and Bolo in addition to a new cast which includes new half-genies and the titular seven sirens. And for the first time, you'll get to experience an interconnected world both above the sea and below. Also, new creature forms can be achieved using Fusion magic, in addition to other new mechanics such as Monster Cards, which you can use to power up the titular half-genie hero. Shantae and the Seven Sirens arrives on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 28 for $29.99. Check out the trailer below!
  2. Nearly a year after the final release of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – Ultimate Edition, WayForward has announced that Shantae 5 is officially in development and expected to release later this year. No details have been revealed about Shantae's fifth outing just yet – apparently, even the name isn't set in stone yet according to WayForward's official Twitter account. However, the developer did reveal a piece of art and a tentative logo, which can be seen above. Shantae 5 will be released later in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and the recently announced Apple Arcade. Speaking of which, WayForward also revealed that a new title called Spidersaurs being developed exclusively for Apple Arcade. Not much is known about this title either aside from the fact that it is an action game being developed by the team that made Contra 4. One of the titular Spidersaurs can be seen in the first piece of art that was released with the logo as well. Spidersaurs is set to launch later this year on Apple Arcade. Source: WayForward (via Twitter - 1, 2)
  3. After a successful Kickstarter run while supporting the game for nearly 2 years after its release, the long road for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is finally winding down, but not before some final surprises. Today, WayForward revealed that all versions of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (both the base and Ultimate edition) will receive a free content update that will include Jammies Mode and a brand new transformation. Jammies Mode will let you play through the campaign in Shantae's pajamas as well as pillow fight enemies, float on a dream-like cloud, and use sleepy sheep as projectiles. As for the new transformation, Shantae will be able to transform into Sophia III from Blaster Master Zero and blast enemies away. Interestingly enough, this isn't Shantae's first crossover with Blaster Master Zero. Last year, developer Inti Creates added Shantae as a playable DLC character in Blaster Master Zero, so it looks like WayForward is repaying the favor with the appearance of the latter title's Sophie III vehicle in Half-Genie Hero this time around. Check out both new additions in the trailer for the new update below! Source: Press Release Will you be checking out Jammies Mode or the Blaster Master transformation in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero?
  4. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: A Boy and His Blob

    Developer: Abstraction Games/WayForward Publisher: Majesco Platform: PS4, Vita, PC, and Xbox One Release Date: January 19, 2016 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the PS4 version of the game Many of the minds behind Shovel Knight helped create one of the Wii“s hidden gems back in 2009, under WayForward at the time. Then-Director Sean Velasco aimed to streamline the concepts presented in an NES game he enjoyed, and bring the experience into the modern era. Thus, A Boy and His Blob“s remake was born... and it was received quite positively. More than one person I know remembers the game fondly. And now, thanks to the efforts of Abstraction Games, folks with PlayStation 4, Vita, PC or Xbox One can experience the game again... or for the first time, like me! During the game“s initial release, I bought it for my now fiancée. Because there was only a single save file, I didn“t want to hinder her progress by playing the game myself. Thankfully, the ability to create multiple users on modern consoles alleviates that issue for the new release. All I could tell you about it at the time was how much my lady loved it. Before I even get to talking about my personal experiences: the presentation and mechanics alike are definitely something that will appeal to people of all ages and skill levels. A Boy and His Blob tells the story of a boy... and the adorable alien companion he discovers. There“s trouble on Blobonia, you see, and the titular protagonists must band together to help save it! The plot isn“t exactly labyrinthine. Much of the story unfolds in scenes that take place at the beginning of the levels you“re playing. The Blob can transform into things using an infinite supply of jellybeans the boy feeds him. The two friends journey from the treehouse base where things begin, then through a city and caves. After pushing forward, you'll finally travel through space to take Blobonia back from an evil king. Altogether there are over forty story levels, plus corresponding (optional) Challenge Levels that unlock concept art... as well as Achievements/Trophies specific to the current gen port. If you“ve already played the Wii original though, you knew most of this. Abstraction Games“ efforts don“t bring anything “brand new” to the table, outside of rewarding several Achievements for something that adds an extra layer of challenge to the final levels. You“re given Achievements if you manage to save all the blobs in the Citadel -- something the original game never really gave you credit for. Outside of that, remapped controls, and uprezzed visuals from the 480p original output, there“s nothing that should compel folks who own the original game to run and grab this one immediately. If you never got around to it in 2009, though, read on: A Boy and His Blob predates modern contemporaries like Child of Light and Ori and the Blind Forest, but its world still feels alive -- like it“s right out of a cartoon. Every last frame of animation was handled with care. The boy“s facial expressions and movements change subtly depending on what the Blob has transformed into. When he hugs his friend (yes, the game has a button specifically devoted to hugging! It serves no purpose otherwise), you can almost feel the comfort! Enemies are often repeated, but their designs take after a certain animal or personality trait that makes them stand out. There“s a “dog blob” that gets mad at you before it charges you, and so on. There“s even actual animal and plant life that moves about the level with you and serves no purpose. Different colored butterflies will accompany you; you“ll run into the occasional snake or frog... it“s the little things that make the real difference. The soundtrack pays homage to the original, but feels just as vibrant as everything else you“ll take in as you play. Music selection isn“t super varied -- you“ll probably hear about twenty unique tracks in the game, and many of them are story-based. The philosophy WayForward attempted to execute here is really simple, at its core. This isn“t a thirty hour epic quest that“s meant to break ground and be hailed as something revolutionary. It“s something that“s meant to be inventive, and reach out to all types of players to offer a unique brand of puzzle solving. The Blob is extremely versatile... because he“s a blob. He can transform into a hole, allowing the boy to drop down somewhere -- a ladder that he can climb, a trampoline to take him even higher, a jack to lift up heavy objects, even rockets and parachutes during the later portions of the game. Each transformation is introduced by a sign indicating you need it to move forward...then the signs start to go away, once the player learns each transformation“s use. A Boy and His Blob is perhaps one of the best examples out there of how to best teach someone new to video games what they“re capable of. The learning curve is steady and fair. Each level has three chests to find in it. Finding the chests unlock the corresponding Challenge Levels, which usually involve a “Hard Mode” of any one or two transformations. The story levels are about trial and error, while the Challenge Levels can only be attempted all in one go. You will die a lot, but there are no penalties and checkpoints are fair. Treasure chests are permanently kept from the moment you acquire them, too. The Challenge Levels, unfortunately, are where the game“s flaws will start to present themselves. Since I didn“t play the original game, I can“t comment as to whether or not the somewhat sticky controls are more on WayForward themselves or Abstraction Games, but sometimes the precision that some of the harder portions of levels takes will elude you because the Blob acts a little stiff during certain transformations. Sometimes you“ll be thumbing through which jellybean to pick and get stuck for a half a second (because you“re not using the Wii Remote, I suppose).The controls work 95% of the time, but that 5% will grate at you if a level is proving to be too difficult. And goodness, does the difficulty ramp up for the second half of the game“s Challenge Levels. Whoever designed the hard stuff for the planet Blobonia was having a bad week. The levels that took me just a few tries to complete at the beginning of the game were causing me to yell a string of inappropriate words by the end. The story levels are consistently fair, but those challenges seem to take a turn for the cheap after a certain point. Challenges aside, A Boy and His Blob is easy to recommend to anyone. It“s adorable, it“s accessible, it looks amazing, and each level offers unique, teachable gameplay. Even if you start out the experience knowing painfully little about how puzzle-platformers work, the level design will teach you everything you need to know about the genre... good and bad. While the port doesn“t offer anything brand new to returning players, I“m immensely happy that it“s getting in more people“s hands. Pros: + This game is appropriate for all ages and any skill level. + Beautifully animated world that goes above and beyond to make itself feel alive. Definitely where modern contemporaries drew inspiration from. + Transformations are unique, and most are used consistently. + There's a hug button. Can you think of any other game with a hug button?? Cons: - Controls are sometimes stiff, making particularly precise moments or momentum difficult to achieve on the first try. - Later Challenge Levels get downright unfair, leaving the impression that many will attempt, but few will finish. - Nothing sets the port to modern consoles apart from the original release, except for achievements. Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great A Boy and His Blob reaches out to players of all ages and skill levels, offering a beautiful world and a unique take on puzzle-solving. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloaded copy purchased by the author.
  5. UPDATE: A pinned tweet on WayForward's Twitter timeline refers to "Cadet Wagon," giving further evidence that the new Mighty Switch Force game will in fact be a prequel. ORIGINAL STORY: It's been a few years since the release of Mighty Switch Force 2, but if a recent image WayForward recently tweeted out is any indication, there's a chance that a third game may be announced sometime soon. The image showcases Patricia Wagon in more formal clothes as opposed to her usual crime-fighting or firefighting costume, as well as the words "Academy enrollment opens soon!" Mention of an "academy" brings up the possibility that this game might actually be a prequel to the first two games, showing how Patrica Wagon came to be the crime and firefighting heroine she eventually becomes. We'll have to wait a little bit longer for WayForward to spill the beans on what the image ultimately means. The good news is the image implies that we'll be hearing more sometime soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you haven't played it yet, be sure to check out our review for Mighty Switch Force 2. Source: WayForward (via Twitter) What do you think WayForward is teasing?
  6. Developer: WayForward Publisher: Little Orbit Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS Release Date: November 18, 2014 ESRB: E 10+ This review is based on the PS3 version of the game Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is the third WayForward-developed video game in the series in three years, but the first with newer publisher Little Orbit at the helm. It also represents yet another genre spin on the series; whereas Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! was inspired by Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, and last year's Explore the Dungeon BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW was a riff on Gauntlet and dungeon-crawlers in general, Nameless Kingdom turns once again to Zelda for inspiration in its design—this time, the classic, top-down formula. What results is possibly the best Adventure Time game to date, even if it doesn't reach the Zelda series' lofty heights. Let's get one thing straight—The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom isn't just inspired by Zelda; it could rightly be called a re-skinned Zelda game. There are many glaring similarities to the series in general, but even more so to one specific title—The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I won't list every similarity in this review, but WayForward definitely walks a thin line between paying homage to the source material and producing a very close reproduction of it. All that said, this isn't necessarily a terrible thing as far as gameplay goes; not at all, especially given the Zelda series' high pedigree. And given Adventure Time's general outlandish and spoofy nature, much of the game's design could be seen largely as an affectionate parody. Nameless Kingdom's plot sees Finn and Jake traveling to the eponymous land at the bequest of Princess Bubblegum. It turns out the kingdom's three princesses have gone missing right before the coronation ceremony to determine which of them will be the ruler, and it's up to Finn and Jake to find them and make things right. Cliche story aside, I actually enjoyed the three princesses and their differing personalities a lot, especially the hippy dippy Slumber Princess, and the Lullaby Princess, who sings all of her words. Outside of the three new princesses and the Peppermint Butler (who acts as a sort of royal officiary), all other characters are basically familiar faces from the TV show that you'll encounter around the Nameless Kingdom. The whole overworld is laid out in a somewhat similar fashion to Hyrule in A Link to the Past, where the main castle is dead center in the middle of the map; only three different areas surround it here, though. And much like the aforementioned game, only part of the overworld is available to explore at first as Nameless Kingdom follows the same system of gradual progression and unlocking areas through the use of new abilities and tools that the Zelda series is known for. In this aspect, the game succeeds extraordinarily well; there are enough characters, hidden areas, and sidequests (usually fetch quests) to keep things relatively interesting for the most part. The only issue is that I regularly found it difficult to figure out what the game wanted me to do in order to proceed to the next area or dungeon; it was only after scouring the entire available area and seeing much of everything that I was able to determine exactly what to do. There are few hints available and such, which the game definitely needed at times. Dungeons themselves (of which there are four altogether) play out exactly in the same formula as Zelda dungeons do. You'll explore different rooms to find keys that unlock doors elsewhere, fight and defeat all of the enemies in certain rooms so that the door unlocks (or so that a chest appears), push boxes onto switches that deactivate spikes or barriers, and more. There's even a unique skill that Jake will learn in each that will help Finn get past an obstacle that he might not have been able to pass by before. And, of course, there is a map, compass, and boss door key to be found too. That said, the dungeons themselves aren't half-bad; they don't quite have the same memorable quality that some Zelda dungeons do, but Wayforward could have done a lot worse. While the game does a competent job of imitating Zelda's gameplay, the best aspect of it is its representation of the Adventure Time world. There's much more interaction with different characters from the show than in previous titles and they're all fully voiced by the show's voice actors, which really helps to sell the experience of being in that world. It also nails the humor and attitude of the show as well; there are a number of great moments in the game that are pretty hilarious, from a teddy bear rave cave to many of the inane things Lullaby Princess and Slumber Princess say, riffs on classic Zelda tropes, Marceline's interesting cameo, and much more. The whole game feels like it could be an episode of Adventure Time, and that's a great thing to see. On the downside, some assets are re-used from last year's less-than-stellar Explore The Dungeon BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW, including most character sprites, enemy sprites, and items, though the environments are all-new. Character sprites in particular still have a somewhat pixelated look to them, even in the console version, which makes me think that the lead version being developed was the 3DS version. In fact, the game looks to be built on the same exact engine as Explore the Dungeon's, which is understandable given the short amount of development time between games, but somewhat disappointing as the two do look extremely similar because of this. In the end, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is easily the best of the three Adventure Time titles that have come out on major consoles and handhelds thus far, even if its gameplay and design doesn't reach the Zelda series' level of greatness. It's entertaining, humorous, and there's a surprising amount of secret areas to explore and sidequests to take on in the overworld, which makes uncovering all of The Nameless Kingdom's secrets a lot of fun. In fact, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it by the time the credits rolled. That said, if you're merely looking for a great Zelda experience, you may want to hold out for the next Zelda title in development for Wii U to release, but if you're a fan of Adventure Time itself and want a fairly good game that represents the show well, you may find a lot to like here. Pros + Great voice-acting and presentation + Great use of Adventure Time characters and gags + There are a number of secret areas and sidequests to undertake, which help give the game more depth and exploration. Cons - Some reused assets from the last game - Game doesn't always make it obvious what you should do or where you should go. Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is the best Adventure Time game so far, and a competent, if uninspired, Zelda clone. But what it lacks in unique gameplay design, it makes up for with its great presentation, humor, and interaction with different Adventure Time characters. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS3 code provided by the publisher.
  7. Jason Clement

    Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

    Developer: WayForward Publisher: WayForward Platforms: 3DS, Wii U (in December) Release Date: October 23, 2014 ESRB: E 10+ Shantae and the Pirate's Curse has been a long time coming. The debut of a new title in the series is a pretty special event, not just because they're exceptionally fun and well-made, but also because they don't come often. Having released some 12 years ago, the original was one of the very last Game Boy Color games, and arguably one of its best. It would be another 8 years before the half-genie returned in Shantae: Risky's Revenge on DSiware in 2010, and now, 4 years later, the story that began in the first game is finally coming to a close. Does it live up to the high expectations set by the first two titles and send the trilogy off in a suitably epic fashion? Yes, I'm happy to report that it absolutely does. For anyone that hasn't played a Shantae game yet, be forewarned—Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is not an ideal starting point for getting into the series for the first time, mostly because the game picks up after a major spoilerific plot twist happens at the end of Risky's Revenge. If you intend to go into the story wanting nothing spoiled, stop reading now and go play the first two, or at least Risky's Revenge. If you've already played the latter mentioned game or don't care about spoilers, read on below. The game begins with a bang, literally. Picking up on a plot point that was first developed in Risky's Revenge with one of its ancillary characters, this scenario provides for one of the most entertaining introductions I've experienced in a while. It does a great job of throwing you right into the action and reacquainting the player with Shantae's moveset, all the while kicking off the story with some major gusto. After the situation resolves to a point and things calm down, a new threat emerges; one so big that it sees Shantae having to resort to a reluctant team-up with the villainous pirate Risky Boots. The whole fiasco, as you might have guessed, involves the titular Pirate's Curse, which would see a revived Pirate Master (Risky's former superior and pirate master) threaten to take over the world. To help prevent his return, Shantae must travel to 5 different islands with the aid of Risky and her boat in order to defeat the source of dark magic in each island's Den of Evil. Pirate's Curse's gameplay continues the same action-platformer vibe with a splash of Metroidvania (i.e. heavy exploration and backtracking) that Risky's Revenge had before it, though with one notable change. Due to the events of the previous game, Shantae is no longer a half-genie with magic and thus is relegated to just using her hair and various support items to attack; that is to say, there are no dances and such to be learned this time around. Instead, Shantae will get to act a bit more like a pirate as she acquires different weapons and items of Risky's that will give her new abilities to help her progress through the game. Due to the fact that each of the islands you visit are only accessed from Risky's ship, the game does unfortunately lose some of its Metroidvania feel and instead feels a bit more linear rather than interconnected like the previous game. However, each island has its share of unique story and gameplay scenarios which really help to deter from that fact. It should be noted that at least two of the islands are very similar thematically, which I found slightly disappointing. Still, they do have very different story arcs that play out, and each island's Den of Evil is also different in look and design. Speaking of which, the level design throughout is just as sharp as ever, with plenty of clever scenarios and laybrinths that will test your mettle. None of the Dens of Evil (this game's version of dungeons) are truly that difficult to figure out when it comes to actually getting through them, but they're full of challenging platforming sections and also make great use of each area's new unique item that is acquired by Shantae. There are also interesting quests and scenarios (usually fetch quests in nature, but disguised well) that play out before Shantae will have access to a given island's Den of Evil. Though sometimes the nature of the task you need to perform isn't always entirely clear (I was stuck on one or two occasions briefly), the game generally tries to give you a hint without holding your hand at the same time. This installment in the series also keeps up the trademark off-the-wall humor, and while not every joke is necessarily hilarious, more often than not the writing is often very witty and funny. There is also some mild character development to be found with certain characters, which was great to see. The supporting cast of Bolo, Sky, Uncle Mimic, and Rottytops all return to lend a hand in some way or another, and even characters introduced in Risky's Revenge are developed upon and get some time in the spotlight. And while the story's plot about reviving the Pirate Master may be a little cliche in nature, it serves as a good conclusion to Shantae and Risky's story arc over the past two games. Of course, I have to bring up Pirate's Curse's visuals and presentation, which are, in a word, outstanding. Though it uses the same pixel art style that originated with Risky's Revenge on DSi, WayForward was able to use the 3DS's extra horsepower to give the visuals some extra oomph. Beautiful, detailed, multi-layered backgrounds and foregrounds aside, one of the most interesting new visual additions is the use of stereoscopic 3D to help character portraits appear as though they're popping out and have depth to certain areas of the body; it's a fantastic effect. The development team really went all-out to make the game look as alive as possible with its art direction. Even Shantae herself will become more ragged looking and tired as her health wears down; a small detail but one that really helps sell the experience among other things. Jake "Virt" Kaufman also once again contributes an excellent soundtrack that manages to stands out just as much as the visuals. Despite some minor flaws, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is extremely well-made, fun, and sets the bar for quality third-party titles on 3DS eShop. Its outstanding presentation and visuals are the cherry on top to a rollicking adventure that lasts longer than previous games, clocking in at some 7-8+ hours or so by the time the credits end. If you need to know whether it's worth playing, the answer is absolutely, though make sure you play through Risky's Revenge first to get the whole story. And be sure to savor the experience while it lasts; this may not be Shantae's last handheld adventure (the upcoming Half-Genie Hero is console/PC-bound only), but it may be some time before we get another title like it again. Pros + Great visuals, use of stereoscopic 3D + Compelling level design, both within Dens of Evil and out + Most amount of content in a Shantae game yet; worth the $20 price tag + Charming writing and humor throughout Cons - Some quest objectives aren't entirely clear, may be confusing - Use of a "world map" makes it a little more linear (level design-wise) than Risky's Revenge was Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is one of the best eShop titles out there right now and sets the bar for quality for future third party games to follow. If you enjoy action platformers and Metroidvania titles, don't miss this. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable 3DS eShop code provided by WayForward.
  8. Next week 3DS owners will get to experience the long-awaited sequel to 2010's Shantae: Risky's Revenge with the release of WayForward's Shantae and the Pirate's Curse when it releases on the eShop. After the events of Risky's Revenge, Pirate's Curse sees Shantae teaming up with her nemesis Risky in order to save Sequin Land from a deadly curse, but whether she can trust her is another question. Players can also look forward to brand new weapons, tools, monsters, and more to experience throughout. While the game is also slated for release on Wii U, WayForward has mentioned that that specific release will come at a later point. And of course, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (which will be available on a large number of platforms) is still on the way as well though more will be announced about its release at a later point. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse sails to the 3DS eShop on October 23rd for $19.99. Source: WayForward Are you excited for this Shantae sequel?
  9. Shantae: Risky's Revenge originally released on DSiware nearly four years ago, and then on iOS in 2011, and now WayForward has announced that the game is officially coming to Steam with an all-new Director's Cut version next week. The Director's Cut will feature new additions such as a new mode called "Magic Mode" which gives Shantae a new costume that lessens magic consumption but also cuts defense in half, giving players a different kind of challenge. There's also a new map and warp system, achievements, Steam trading cards, and more. It's worth noting that the visuals seem to be the same as they were on DSiware and iOS but appear to be upscaled here; even still, the game looks great. In other Shantae news, two other new games in the series are slated for release later this year—Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which will release on 3DS; and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, which will be coming to every major platform except 3DS and OUYA. You can check out a trailer for Shantae Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut below. Source: Youtube Are you interested in checking out the Director's Cut version of Shantae: Risky's Revenge on Steam?
  10. What time is it? You should probably know by now, as Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW released in-stores today and has a brand new trailer to boot. For the uninitiated, this new Adventure Time title features a brand new storyline that takes players into the Secret Royal Dungeon beneath the Land of Ooo for some 4 player co-op, dungeon-crawling action. Also, the cast of the TV show is lending their voice talents this time around. The Steam version of the game will have some exclusive content in the way of Peppermint Butler being available as a DLC character for $1.99. Also available is the Collector's Edition for 3DS, which features a glossy premium Steelbook BMO case. Check out the launch trailer for the game below.
  11. It seems like only yesterday that the announcement of a Regular Show game was being made, and now the game is finally out for release! Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-Bit Land has the titular stars and buddies getting transported into a variety of different video games, where they'll have to use their wits and unique skills to escape and get back home. You'll experience everything from action platforming, sidescroller space shooting, top-down perspective games, and more. Of course, what would a licensed game be without the licensee's creator being involved? The good news for fans is that Regular Show creator JG Quintel has been involved with the development so that the game stays true to the series' formula and humor. Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-Bit Land is available on 3DS for a suggested retail price of $29.99. You can check out the official launch trailer below.
  12. Jason Clement

    Review: Mighty Switch Force! 2

    Developer: WayForward Publisher: WayForward Platform: 3DS (eShop) Release Date: June 13, 2013 ESRB: E10+ A download code was provided by the publisher for this review Mighty Switch Force! 2 has the innate honor of being WayForward's second original IP to get a sequel, only behind the purple-haired genie Shantae herself. As such, it's easy to assume the first Mighty Switch Force! was a pretty big success, or at least large enough for WayForward to consider building it into its own series. Not only was it one of the best games to release on the eShop in its time, but it also had one of the best soundtracks as well (thanks to composer Jake Kaufman). Can this sequel leave up to the original's legacy, though, or is it up in flames? Once again, protagonist Patricia Wagon is on the call to save the day, but this time she's suiting up to fight some fires and rescue some people rather than chase down escaping criminals. Ironically enough, the same girls she had pursued in the last game, the Hooligan Sisters, are now reformed and the table is turned as you attempt to rescue them from a blazing inferno around them. And instead of your trusty energy gun, you'll be using a special fire hose to douse flames and break apart mud blocks with. Initially, I was a bit worried that this slight change in mechanics would result in only a marginal difference from the first game, but as I kept playing, it was apparent that there's a bit more than meets the eye. While it's true that the box/barrier switching mechanic is still very much the same here (and there are some reused ideas), the fires and flames themselves introduce an interesting new mechanic into the mix. There are fires that you can permanently put out, and then ones that are actually stoves which will only put out temporarily before reigniting; some of the newer puzzles use these as an impetus for faster problem solving and thinking on your feet (especially if you're standing on them) while you try to figure out the switch mechanics for a puzzle. You'll also use Patricia's hose to spray a path through pre-defined switch puzzle openings that you need to arrange in a proper order so that the water reaches through to break apart mud blocks and the like. It's a fascinating new way to create puzzles and obstacles at the same time. Speaking of which, the focus in this game is still on speed-running, to a degree. It's still optional, as you can play through without it, but a lot of the replay value comes from trying to best the "par" time, and for the most part, it's quite a challenge. Also new to this game is the addition of Ugly Secret Babies, which players will remember this joke started in the first game with the Ugly Checkpoint Dog, who still continues his job here. The USB (as he's called for short) is an easter egg of sorts that becomes increasingly harder to find and get to in later levels; it's another challenge that WayForward has tossed into the game should speedrunning prove to be too much of a breeze for you, and it's a welcome addition as it really does introduce some really tough puzzle solving later on. If there's one thing that I have to dock against MSF2, it's that it reuses a lot of the enemies from the first game. There are a few new enemies here and there, but for the most part, it's the ones you've seen before or slight variants on them. Otherwise, the game still looks and sounds fantastic. Composer Jake Kaufman's sizzling soundtrack in this game is arguably better than even the first game's, which is a huge achievement in itself. Most are retro-inspired tunes intermixed with some dubstep and electronica, and almost all are incredibly catchy and pretty great; I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can download it on Kaufman's bandcamp page. Even with new mechanics, it can often be tough for a sequel to one-up its predecessor, but WayForward has seemingly done it here. Almost everything in the original game has been made even better here, even if the switching mechanic isn't as fresh as it was in the original. Mighty Switch Force! 2's biggest downfall is that it's still a relatively short game, but if you can stomach that, you'll find a lot to like in this charming little sequel. Pros + New hose mechanic changes up puzzles in a meaningful way + Controls are tight; visuals have a great aesthetic + Soundtrack is fantastic; one of the best of the year Cons - Still a short game - Some assets were reused from the first game, like certain enemies Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Mighty Switch Force! 2 is a great example of a sequel done right. It's still short, but manages to introduce a great new mechanic that changes things up in a challenging new way. Plus, the soundtrack is bangin'.
  13. In what is a first for the company, WayForward (of DuckTales Remastered and Mighty Switch Force fame) have turned to Kickstarter to help fund a brand new entry in the Shantae series called Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. WayForward has announced that Shantae will retain all aspects from previous games, such as hair whipping, belly dancing, platforming, exploring, storytelling and more. Essentially, everything that made the game into a cult Metroidvania game will be there and more. The story sees Shantae discovering the fabled Genie realm after being roused awake one night and wandering into the forest, only to discover that a powerful evil is about to break free from its seal. So far, WayForward has introduced some interesting stretch goals, with 500k marking the production of Risky mode, in which you'll be able to play as the villainous Risky Boots in her own campaign. 600k will guarantee the inclusion of a bonus chapter, where Shantae will compete in a Magic Carpet Race; a new transformation is also included in this stretch goal as well. As for what platforms it'll be released on, WayForward has stated that the game is already confirmed for Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Steam. Shantae Half-Genie Hero will be funded if it reaches its $400,000 goal, so be sure to check out the Kickstarter if you're interested. Are you excited for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero?
  14. Jason Clement

    Review: DuckTales Remastered

    Developer: WayForward Publisher: Capcom Platform: PlayStation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA) Wii U (eShop), PC ( Steam) Release Date: August 13, 2013 (Sept. 11 for XBLA) ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game The original DuckTales game for the NES is perhaps one of the best known and most beloved games based on a license. So strong is the nostalgia fans have for it that many would declare it to be one of the very best platformers of its time, only rivaled in superiority by Super Mario Bros. and a few others. Based on a modified version of the engine used in the Mega Man games, DuckTales had a unique gameplay premise - protagonist Scrooge McDuck would use his cane as a pogo stick both as a way to defeat enemies and to reach higher areas in addition to traversing dangerous terrain. Now, some 24 years after its original release, Capcom and Disney Interactive have teamed up with WayForward to develop a recreation of the original game with all-new, HD art and design as well as other modernizations such as voice acting and even story elements. But this isn't just DuckTales the way WayForward wants to do it; Remastered is incredibly faithful to the original, thankfully. Right from the get-go, WayForward pays homage to the original game by opening up the title screen with what sounds like the original NES theme but is actually a remixed version. Upon starting, you're thrown into the game's brand new tutorial level, which not only serves as an introduction to the gameplay, but to the story as well. Scrooge's money bin is once again broken into by the Beagle Boys, and it's up to him to stop them. From there, a treasure map is found, and Scrooge, along with his three nephews, Huey, Louie, and Dewey; his niece, Webbigail (or Webby, for short); and lovable (but clumsy) pilot Launchpad are thrown into an international search for five lost treasures across five very different locations. Similar to the Mega Man games DuckTales' engine is based off of, you're able to select which of the five levels you'd like to go to in any order. And in an attempt to modernize certain aspects of the game, certain areas are expanded on and added to in each level. In fact, all but one level have a subplot that must be dealt with, usually involving a fetch quest where Scrooge must find a number of unique items before moving on (more on that in a bit). Only one of the levels really felt a bit tiresome in this regard (the Amazon), but the rest made it feel as if the fetch quest lent to the natural exploration of the level instead of wandering around aimlessly. While much of the platforming is pretty straightforward stuff and relatively "unimaginative" compared to many of the modern games today, it's still quite a bit of fun, and there are some interesting level designs that make good use of your skill with Scrooge's cane, especially the new final level that was added. Another thing you'll be on the lookout for in each level are diamonds (big and small) and rubies, which can either be found in treasure chests dispersed throughout the level or by walking in certain spots and having them appear out of thin air. By collecting them, they'll add to your money total, which you can then use to buy art and music outside of levels to view and listen to in the Gallery section. As mentioned earlier, in each level is a new story that ties the events and the level's boss together. In a way, each level plays out almost as its own cartoon episode, with the beginning setting up the plot, different cutscenes dispersed throughout, and the boss battle tying things up and resolving the plot. WayForward even thought of clever ways to explain strange bosses such as the Moon Rat and the Terra-firmie King. It's also a joy to see secondary characters like Bubba Duck, Fenton Crackshell/GizmoDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, and others make appearances and contribute to the story. There's no shortage of voice talent in the game as well; in fact, DuckTales Remastered reunites much of the cast of the original TV show, including voice-acting legends Alan Young as the greedy but lovable miser Scrooge; June Foray as antagonist Magica De Spell; Russi Taylor as Huey, Louie, Dewey, and Webby; and Terry McGovern as Launchpad. Such talent really lends to the authenticity of the whole experience, even with Young and Foray in their '90s now. As for the music, composer Jake Kaufman introduces some new arrangements of the old, classic songs from the original game that help bring them into the modern age, including the beloved Moon theme, which is absolutely done justice here. If there's one thing that truly shines above everything else, though, it's the game's outstanding visuals. WayForward went the extra mile in recreating and re-drawing all of the original assets in HD, with the backgrounds recreated in 3D, and the characters and enemies all beautifly hand-drawn in 2D. They even contracted Mike Peraza and Rick Evans, who worked on the original TV show, to work on the backgrounds and layouts, showing extra care and attention to ensure that everything is as authentic as possible. The only downside in the visuals department that I would mention is the lack of lip-synching to the voices; it's understandable why it was omitted (since that would require much more time and animation) but it's still a shame, if only a small one. Fortunately, the characters do a fair bit of pantomiming when they talk, so the illusion of them speaking is still there to a degree. In all, it's hard to imagine another developer (perhaps save for Nintendo) who has gone above and beyond when remaking a classic game. Whereas other developers might have gone for the quick and easy route, simply recreating character models and calling it a day, WayForward went the extra mile in striking a fine balance between paying homage to the TV show by adding new material, and honoring the original game by keeping most of what made it so great. It isn't perfect in every regard, and the gameplay is far from innovative in this day and age, but for anyone who was a fan of the show and the original game, DuckTales Remastered is like revisiting an old friend. It's well worth visiting for both those who are nostalgic for their youth and for anyone looking for a fun and charming platformer. Pros + Animation and visuals are top notch, beautiful + Remixed songs from the original game are quite catchy + Game genuinely feels like a series of DuckTales cartoons + Almost all of the original voice actors return and do a fabulous job Cons - Story scenes can get bothersome during repeated attempts to beat a level - Platforming is a bit basic beside some of the more difficult areas - Game is still short (around 3-5 hours on first playthrough) Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great DuckTales Remastered is a must-play for fans of the old show and NES game. The gameplay might not feel as fresh nowadays, but it still holds up and feels as charming as ever, especially with the addition of newly animated and voiced cutscenes.
  15. Leah

    Review: Shantae

    Developer: WayForward Technologies Publisher: WayForward Technologies Platform: 3DS eShop Release Date: July 18, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A woman“s hair is something that she can be very proud of – so why not use it as a weapon? Okay, that seems a little weird, but Shantae is much more than that and has some history to it. Late in the Game Boy Color“s life, the eponymous half-genie girl made her debut. Unfortunately, it was a quiet one and Shantae did not receive another game until 2010. With Shantae having gained popularity with Risky“s Revenge, fans wanted to play her original game. It took some time, but WayForward finally made it available for download on the 3DS. Was it worth the wait? Has this platformer aged well at all? Trouble starts immediately for Shantae in the little fishing village of Scuttle Town. Risky Boots, the lady-pirate, is tearing the town apart in search of a treasure! It is Shantae“s ultimate goal to catch Risky Boots and get that treasure back before it“s used for nefarious purposes. How“s a simple half-genie supposed to do that? She whips her hair back and forth. Duh. It“s not the best way of destroying enemies, though (you“re better off avoiding enemies and running away from them). Her hair attack has incredibly limited reach. Enemies are also merciless and tend to spawn on top of you. Because of this, an already difficult game becomes even harder. Thankfully, money is easy to make in this game if you abuse the Dance Parlor. Thus, you“re able to buy the equipment that gives you access to special moves sooner rather than later. You can also use your newfound riches to buy health vials and whatnot to make things a little more manageable. Eventually, you“re able to transform into different animals such as a monkey and harpy. It“s a neat concept, and cute to see Shantae in these different forms as well, but it quickly becomes stale and tedious. Dancing to transform every time you need to climb? No, thanks. These animal forms are used, of course, to solve many of Shantae“s puzzles and navigate around dungeons. While challenging in a good way, dungeons can become confusing with the lack of an in-game map. Sure, these areas are no walk in the park. They are truly a test of skill for seasoned platformer enthusiasts, though! Although the gameplay could be a bit better, Shantae is nonetheless wrapped into a nice little package thanks to its graphics and music. As a Game Boy Color game, it“s beautiful, colorful, and high-quality. The animation is also very smooth. The music is just as good with catchy tunes everywhere you go in Shantae. For $5, you can“t go wrong with adding Shantae to your digital download collection on your 3DS. It“s an absolute steal compared to how much you“d have to pay for a physical copy nowadays anyway! Shantae is a great game to play to this day and definitely deserves a chance if you“re interested. Pros: + Some of the best graphics and music you“ll find from the GBC days + Challenging platforming and puzzles Cons: - Enemies are frustrating and unfair - Easy to get lost Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Shantae is a platformer that has aged pretty well thanks to its graphics and soundtrack, even if the gameplay may need some fixing up.
  16. Leah

    Shantae - 3

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © WayForward Technologies

  17. Leah

    Shantae - 2

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © WayForward Technologies

  18. Leah

    Shantae - 1

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © WayForward Technologies

  19. Wayforward announced just over a month ago that development had come to a close on Mighty Switch Force 2, and now they finally have a release date confirmed for the much anticipated sequel - and it's closer than you think. You'll be switching things up once again next week as the game releases on June 13th in North America and then on June 27th for Europe. Mighty Switch Force 2 will have protagonist Patricia Wagon trading in her police badge for a fire hose as she attempts to save the newly-reformed Hooligan Sisters from a blazing inferno in each level, and the addition of fire should make for an interesting new take on the switching puzzles this time around. And of course, the game is also slated to have new weapons, enemies, music, unlocks, and more. Check out the latest trailer for Mighty Switch Force 2 below.
  20. Marcus Estrada

    DuckTales Remastered Also Coming to PC

    When DuckTales Remastered was announced it seemed like gamers everywhere were almost ready to give up their Capcom hate. Instead, they lavished praise primarily with the developers - WayForward - and began the long wait for the game's release on consoles. Those who don't have a Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii U don't have to worry about how they'll play the game as Capcom announced it is coming to a great deal of digital PC storefronts as well. Steam is the biggest name on the list. Of course, Capcom didn't need to work its way through Greenlight for that. Aside from Steam, DuckTales Remastered was also confirmed as coming to GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Impulse, and Origin. There are going to be more as well, but these were the only sites the blog post named. DuckTales is still shooting for a summer launch. What system will you play DuckTales Remastered on?
  21. Jason Clement

    Development On Mighty Switch Force 2 Finishes

    WayForward announced earlier today that Mighty Switch Force 2, the upcoming sequel to their 2011 3DS eShop hit, has finished the bulk of development and would be proceeding with QA from this point forward. This news seems to reaffirm WayForward's release schedule for the game, which is slated to release on the 3DS eShop sometime this Spring. Of course, it's up to Nintendo to set the final release date for the game, in which case it could incidentally fall into a Summer release if things get postponed on that end. As detailed earlier, Mighty Switch Force 2 features the return of protagonist Patricia Wagon as she fights fires this time around. Source: WayForward Are you excited for the release of Mighty Switch Force 2?
  22. It was almost two years ago that WayForward expressed their interest in bringing the original Shantae for Game Boy Color onto the 3DS's Virtual Console service. Since then, they've remained pretty quiet about it. Thankfully, Matt Bozon of WayForward has given us an update after so long! You can view the tweet below: Hopefully it includes the GBA enhanced features and brings down the price of physical cartridges! The third game in the series, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, will also be releasing for 3DS sometime this year. Will you get Shantae when it comes onto the 3DS Virtual Console?
  23. Marcus Estrada

    WayForward On Board for... Smurfs 2?

    WayForward is one beloved developer that only seems to gain more fans with each new release. Recently, gamers were excited to hear of their work on Duck Tales Remastered during PAX East. What is the next game on their plate? No matter what you may have been guessing, it's likely that you didn't expect it to be Smurfs 2. For the 2011 release of that CGI Smurfs film, two video games (The Smurfs, The Smurfs: Dance Party) were produced and then published by Ubisoft. Now that Smurfs 2 is set to hit theaters, Sony Pictures requested a brand new game. Possibly due to the idea that they can do something positive for the brand, Ubisoft managed to snag WayForward to develop it. Here are some select comments from the press release about the upcoming game to get an idea of what WayForward is coming up with: "Players assume the role of a Smurf and immerse themselves in an interactive adventure through the movie's enchanting environments including New York City and Paris, and expand their movie experience into worlds exclusive to the video game such as The Arctic Tundra and The Lava Jungle. Fans can follow the Smurfs adventure solo or by playing cooperatively with friends. As players progress in the game, they will be able to choose between nine Smurfs featured in the movie and can join each other in a fun multiplayer experience of up to four users playing simultaneously. Exclusive on Wii U, a fifth player will be able to join in on the action by controlling Clockwork Smurf on the Wii U GamePad." Smurfs 2 is coming to 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, and DS (not 3DS). Time will tell if WayForward will deliver something good or are simply trying to make some cash on the side.
  24. If you somehow missed out on the launch of Shovel Knight on Kickstarter then let's go over some of the basics. This is a game which gained interest due both to its name but also the people behind it. The studio, Yacht Club Games, is comprised of many from WayForward. Of course, WayForward is known for having put their stamp on many games recently (Adventure Time DS, Double Dragon: Neon, DuckTales Remastered). The game itself takes on an 8-bit aesthetic and features a knight with shovel for a weapon. Yacht Club Games were asking $75,000 for their game and reached it easily. With twelve days to go, they have begun whittling away at stretch goals. So far, one stretch goal has been reached which simply adds a an in-game sound test mode like many retro games had. Other stretch goals that will probably be met in time are ones for achievements, a new game plus mode, and playable boss knight. There are twelve days left to go for Shovel Knight so you can still jump in and back the project. A $10 pledge is rewarded with a PC download of the game. Shovel Knight is coming to PC, 3DS, and Wii U.