Capsule Reviews: Ghost Grab 3000/Singled Out (Switch)

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You can’t be afraid of no ghost when you have the ability to use a nuke as an option.

I’d like to think that Matt Glanville (@crowbarska) has a working time machine permanently set to 1983 he’s not telling anyone about, as his games I’ve played to date all look and play like solid arcade hits of around that time. Switch ‘N’ Shoot is still one of the more thrilling and flawless uses of single-button gameplay I’ve experienced and now you have two more retro-inspired titles to  blast away with, both quite good and deceptively simple on their surfaces, but each will have you hooked in for as long as you’re playing.

Ghost Grab 3000 ($4.99) is a nifty shooter that’s a hybrid of bullet hell and strategic shot placement as its lead character needs to line up or gather well-armed ghosts and blast away as many as possible while trying to survive each round. There are a couple of weapons to whip out in an emergency situation, plus a nice upgrade system with over 100 combinations allowing you to tailor your ghost grabber as you like. Part of the fun is buying those upgrades and enhancing your character, as you can create a hero that makes the game easier or, if you want to play with as few upgrades as possible, harder. That’s a bad idea, by the way – go buy and use those upgrades, I say.

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Review: Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary (PS4)

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Just make sure you stick the landing, Miss B.

BVYou’re not buying that excellent Bayonetta/Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle ($39.99) from Sega strictly for the plots of both games, that’s for sure. Both titles hold up mostly excellently in terms of visuals and controls, but the writing is more of an excuse for some lengthy and visually lovely in-game cinemas that pad out both run times. Granted, both games are made to be highly replayed, especially Vanquish, which seems short at about six hours, but there’s a lot more to it once you mess with the difficulty and as with Bayonetta, play through like the bad-asses both characters are. If you’re into both games, they’re far from “one and done” experiences.

 

 

The two stories here actually enhance how wonderfully crazy and brilliant the gameplay is for both titles, especially when you go from hanging onto every word in cut scenes and free yourself from simple button-mashing to pulling of perfectly timed strikes of all sorts in the flagrantly sexy Bayonetta to taking down enemies and bosses with the fast slide and shoot moves from Vanquish. That said, the latter’s plot about Russian-led forces commandeering a huge US-built microwave-powered space cannon to decimate California and threaten to do the same to New York might be something a few players might find blows their minds a bit. Bayonetta’s still phenomenal opening just throws you into battle as it plays out, then teaches you the ropes before the real challenge begins. Trying to explain the plot here? Good luck – just enjoy the cut scenes instead and kill a lot of enemies and bosses when they’re done.

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“I thought you just used microwaves for Hot Pockets and cold coffee!”

Both games allow for unskilled players to get in their kills although the latter game is more punishing if you try and flail through it and refuse to pick up on all it’s trying to teach you. Then again, it may take a bit of getting used to the controls in both titles for some who’ve not yet played both games – your mileage will vary based on how adept you are at picking things up and dealing with the forced camera angles in Bayonetta. Vanquish has a bit more freedom in its camera, but on the harder modes (there are four difficulty settings), speedy, precise play becomes a must. Continue reading

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III: Finally, It’s On PS4

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Yikes. I know Hungarian studio Neocore Games have been a bunch of busy bees over the years what with creating, changing for the better and supporting with content its excellent Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor, but I’d actually thought they went and forgot the series that helped put them on the map for a hot minute. Nope, they were just pretty occupied for a while, but wouldn’t you know it, out of the blue, they went and finally released the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III for a very reasonable $14.99, while dropping the price on the first two games to $7.99 and $5.99 respectively.

Those prices on the two older games expires on February 5, 2020, so go get them now and fast, as they’re quite fun and a bit amusing, packing in a few surprises along the way. I’ll shut up here and let you get to it, then.

 

 

-GW

SALES: Spike Chunsoft Wants You To Switch It Up

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Well, this is good news if you own a Nintendo Switch and want a few good deals on some mighty fine games particularly video novel adventure games and a really solid tower defense title. Developer/publisher Spike Chunsoft is running a sale on a small collection of digital-only games from now until February 10, 2020. Check out the list below the jump.

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Review: SEGA AGES Shinobi (Switch)

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Hey, that’s NOT a ninja weapon!

Switch Shinobi boxAnother flawless and essential port by M2 with a few excellent modern options, the 1987 arcade classic Shinobi ($7.99) sneaks onto the Switch, and it’s just as hard as ever. There’s an easier AGES mode that changes lead Joe Musashi’s garb to white and lets you take more that a single hit (as in the Genesis and Mega Drive follow-up Revenge of Shinobi) and you can choose to use the new rewind function if you like to make things a bit easier. I’ll admit that I didn’t touch it for a few days until it was tested for review purposes and yep, it helped a lot in a few areas. But it’s not necessary to clear the game if you’re averse to it and want to do it the old-fashioned way. Well, minus the feeding the machine part.

 

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SEGA AGES Sends Shinobi and Fantasy Zone Westward

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Get ready for the tough stuff…

SEGA AGES on the Nintendo Switch gets more classics with developer M2 offering up two more Sega hits of yore with the developer’s stellar ports, and yes, each will arrive with new enhancements in tow that offer more accessibility options and new ways to enjoy these titles. First up, it’s the Ninja-packed action classic, Shinobi:

Ninjutsu master Joe Musashi returns in this classic side-scrolling platformer. He has been sent on a mission to single-handedly find and rescue all the children of the Oboro clan who have been kidnapped by a criminal syndicate known as ZEED. Utilize your sharp sword, shurikens, throwing knives, and even magic to defeat the enemy and free the hostages.

The challenging side-scrolling action title Shinobi strikes back with an AGES mode that gives a white-robed Musashi extra health and damage, and an added Melee button that lets you dispatch enemies up close and personal. And if the hordes of ZEED are proving too much of a test, difficulty and stage select options have been implemented, along with a reverse time feature.

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Bayonetta and Vanquish Come to PS4? Sign Me Up!

I did a double take at first because I hadn’t seen the trailer when I found this out and thought for a second this was a new game with both characters in it. Nope, but it’s still thrilling news here for PS4 fans who didn’t pick these games up when they came to PC or when they debuted earlier on certain consoles. To be frank (Hi, frank!), I know I’m going to prefer the new console versions over playing on PC if the frame rate is stable and I don’t need to sit there and tweak settings to get something acceptable. That said, I may need a PS4Pro at this point just for the performance upgrade alone, *sigh*.

Ah well, we’ll see what happens with that particular wallet fight. In the meantime, PlatinumGames, you keep on what you’re doing – I’ll see you in February.

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Talk about a certified Platinum hit…

-GW

Super Capsule Reviews: Are GO (Part 2)

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Well… try not to get hit (too much).

The ever long debate I see over indie games being “as good as” or “better than” AAA content is a bit silly because at the end of the day, both types of games are welcome and necessary for a few reasons some folks would figure out rather quickly if they kind of shut up and played stuff more than they do rolling around in the internet alley fighting about. Me, I just love seeing what a dev team (or single developer in some cases) can whip up because hell, playing a well-made game created with passion that can be seen on screen is a good way to get anyone who loves a wide range of visual and gameplay styles to go spend some of that hard-earned cash on some really fun titles like the ones below.

Xenon Valkyrie+ PS4Xenon Valkyrie+ (PS4/PS Vita Cross-Buy, $9.99): Fabrice Breton (dba COWCAT) has worked on some pretty hardcore pixel art game ports that provide a hefty amount of challenge for the money. Xenon Valkyrie, originally created by Daniel Fernandez Chavez and published by Diabolical Minds for PC, was improved and ported to consoles by Breton, is dripping with retro charm and packs in a mix of rogue-like, light role-playing, platforming, and fast-paced combat action that’s somewhat addictive even after multiple deaths. Part of the thrill comes from surviving the levels and their randomness, part comes from earning new gear as you go and using it to beat maps that seem impossible and impassable until you get that gear.

The cool thing here is you learn as you go what works and what doesn’t and runs will be, thanks to the randomness, a mix of small and large victories against enemies and the destructible maps. You’ll be using every skill and tool in a growing arsenal here, and the way each character plays will make some areas tricky to complete, but you’ll get better with skill and practice. There’s a lot of game here if it hooks you in and you don’t mind the learning process. As with the COWCAT ported game below, there’s some serious replay value here if you’re brave and willing.

Score: B (80%)

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Neverwinter Nights Comes to Consoles (And Why You May Never Go Outside Again)

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If you only get one game this holiday… you’ll likely still be playing it a year later.

Oh, good gravy, I forgot this was coming out (and guess who’s really happy about that?)

Firmly camped in the “Now, this brings back memories” and “Well, there goes another 180 or so hours!” departments, I have the feeling the console version of Neverwinter Nights ($49.99, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) will be a Game of the Year contender simply for the sheer amount of content it delivers. The press release below the jump will get you grinning if you’re a fan who remembers spending too many hours in these worlds, but I bet a copper that a new generation of players will want to dive into this in single player and co-multiplayer modes.

New, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go move some time around and figure out when I’m going to play this and you need to go read a press release. For the record, I’ve been storing excess time in the closet, but it keeps disappearing, grrrrrr. Must be the monsters in there eating it, I think…

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Super Capsule Reviews Are GO! (Part 1)

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“Do not adjust your television set…”

Well, between getting sick a few times and kicking myself back into gear (or restarting things when I get better – “Prowler needs a jump!”), quite a lot of smaller games have been filling my backlog over a bit of time. For most of these, I’ve done notes on them and have even a few incomplete drafts, but it’s been a bit of minor hell in sitting down to complete some of them when one gets into “Hmmm, so what’s going to hurt today?” mode when some of the usual aches get a bit fussier. That said, as I’m currently in decent shape  (Whee! Ow.) and sure, you do need to read a bit more on my writing (I guess?), I’ve resorted to a bunch of short form reviews on a bunch of budget-priced games that may interest you if you’re curious and want to expand your horizons.

the tower of beatriceThe Tower of Beatrice: (PS4/PS Vita, $5.99 each) Puzzle-filled point and click adventure, anyone? Developer Fairy Forest and publisher/port house Sometimes You have a pretty basic, short game here where if you’re a fan of these types of games,  you don’t want to look up solutions because the fun comes from figuring out what goes with what as the things you need to do get more obtuse. You play a thief in search of a magic book now trapped in the titular tower by a witch who first tests you, then wants you to work for her. The potion making stuff is nice, but a bit underused for my tastes. Still, it’s nice to see used here in a pretty well-done manner.

If you’re and point and click veteran, much of this will be routine stuff that you can play with one eye closed. On the other hand, if you’re just in it for fast trophies (a lot of folks seem to be into that), the game may fluster you into cheating to net everything in a hurry when things get the tiniest bit confusing (some puzzles in the game can be a bit perplexing when they’re not explained well and are counter-intuitive on purpose). The translation is also a bit jarring, as seems to be the norm with so many imports these days, but I liked a few things about this one. Still, it’s more of a time killer between better titles at the end of the day.

Score: C- (70%)

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