Review: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Switch)

 

mario and sonicSega, on a roll, II: While its appeal might seem to be more towards super-fans and younger gamers, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 ($59.99) is quite a fun game overall for all ages. That said, you’d better have a few Switch controllers in tip-top shape and prepare to do a bit of of a workout with your fingers in some of the trickier events. 24 zippy mini-games are here with bright and colorful visuals and a soundtrack that’s suitably Olympic-sounding.

Nostalgic fans who may be a bit older or keen on old-school visuals will very likely love the retro 2D goodness found in the time traveling (via oddball game console trap) Tokyo 1964 storyline and its additional 10 events. The nice thing is the game lets you play through its story modes in order and also lets you have at it in any mini-games here if you just want to grab a few friends and family members (up to 8) and play together. Online play and cloud saves are of course, all aboard if you want to play with a few folks online. That said, it’s good to see the game supports couch play (something more games need).

While it’s kid-friendly, and only supports the less fancier means of control (well, Joy-Cons, motion controls, and some first and third-party game pads), the game doesn’t skimp on the challenge for new players in some events where every bit of precision counts. The 2D retro mode’s games are far easier, bit everything here is well done any guaranteed to get you grinning. You can stay on the couch, too in either mode, but prepare to work those controllers in some events where a bit of precise button pressing, some rapid jamming and other moves need to be pulled off. Notably, there are no voices for the characters outside some generic grunts, but there’s enough of a plot that ties things together if you’re into it and prefer not to skip through short cut scenes and dialog segments.

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Featuring… a cast of DOZENS!

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Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris Gets A Wonderfully Depressing New Trailer

 

Geez. Take my time and money, already department, deluxe edition: Teamkill Media’s upcoming game, Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris makes Demon’s Souls classic and mighty downbeat intro seem as if it’s unicorns and rainbows, but with a bit more winning on the part of of the lead here. I like it for that. That said, it’s hard to get a gauge on enemy difficulty in the newer game, as some enemies seem to go down too fast. Then again, this is likely the developer wisely hiding the challenge level until the masses get their hands around a controller when the PC version is released on November 22 2019.

This almost looks too frightening to finish (and no, that fantastically dour music isn’t helping one bit). If that’s going to be the aural force that’s coming, the already mind-blowing visuals will have some stiff competition as far as what’s going to keep me freaked out the most. I can’t wait, but I also want to see how the console versions stack up (PS4 is my preferred way to play, thank you).  Oh, here’s the earlier E3 trailer (in case you haven’t seen it yet). Go wishlist this now… or it’s coming to get you.

-GW

The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature – Arte For The Masses

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This one’s special, folks.

Publisher and co-producer ARTE and indie game studio La Belle Games have a really surprising treat for gamers and non-gamers who just might be intrigued by a wonderful take on a literary classic. The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature ($15.99) is out now on PC and Mac on Steam and coming soon to mobile platforms in November. In addition, ARTE is bringing the Nintendo Switch version of the adventure in Q1 2020. There’s a playable prologue here (click, scroll, enjoy) that does a wonderful job of giving you a taste of the experience as well as introducing the writer and a few important acquaintances on one fateful night where a few terrifying tales were told.

Here’s a trailer to peruse – screens and game info are are below the jump.

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Ghost Parade: If Ever There Was a Game Made for Halloween, It’s This One

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As soon as I saw Aksys Games‘ gorgeous looking game Ghost Parade (created by the fine folks at Indonesia’s Lentera Studio), I knew it was going to be something extremely cool and very Halloween themed with its mix of Tim Burton meets Vanillaware style artwork at the forefront. It’s also a peek into another culture, as Indonesian ghosts are the subject and yes, it’s a great thing to see some more of what’s scary overseas coming to US audiences. Granted, I’ve played a few games with some of that countries’ terrifying spirits or horror themes in them (DreadOut and My Lovely Daughter being the standouts), so this game is going to be right up my dark alley once I get to playing it.

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Love the art style here.

Here’s a look at the trailer. The game is out NOW for PC, PS4 and Switch and Aksys has run a nice digital comic on the game’s official site.

I hope this gets a wide enough audience, as I’d love to see Lentera become a household name among gamers here. As usual, we shall see.

-GW

FAITH: The Unholy Trinity – A Reflex Test For The Senses

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Creepy is coming a third time (and to consoles at some point, too).

I was jumping under the furniture a while back when I first played indie developer Airdorf Games’ Faith, a very frightening game that blended old-school visuals and the sheer shock of horror and jump scares plus some clever use of synthesized voices, all in the service of terrifying the player. Let’s just say it worked, as I’ve had the second game here for a while on my laptop, but haven’t touched it since I downloaded it. My excuse of having too many games to play in my backlog keeps me hiding from that sequel, but it’s now the case where there’s a third game in the series coming soon that’s probably goijg to get me to play all three in one shot.

Or, say hell-o to FAITH: The Unholy Trinity, coming to PC and eventually, consoles:

As you can see, it’s pretty unsettling stuff when you get hit with the blending of old and new here. There’s a nice layer of crazy here when the game comes at you and you don’t know what to expect next, but this is good in a game that’s a mix of horror, adventure and a few abstract elements that will have you hooked in and trying to run away simultaneously. Go wishlist this this one if you’re into the horror stuff – it should run on most Windows 7 and up (64-bit) PC’s with zero issues. I’m going to hold my breath until I turn blue that this is coming to consoles sooner than later (starts holding breath).

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Appropriately Halloween color scheme? CHECK.

-GW

Lost Ember Gets a November Release Date

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“All the animals come out at night…” Well, to be fair, in this game they’re out anytime they want to be.

Hamburg-based Mooneye Studios absolutely gorgeous looking game, Lost Ember, now has an official release date (November 22, 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One), a nice new trailer and more lovely art to look at. I’ll just shot up here and let those images and trailer do all the talking:

Some images for you? Okay, then:

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There’s a load of other images to run, but I stopped with these because I was taking too much time poring over the rest. I’ll get the rest up closer to the games release. Oh, a Switch version is in the works, so we’ll see how that turns out at some point.

-GW

Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Switch)

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You better have those banana grabbing skills down, folks.

SMB_SwitchSega, on a roll (Part I): Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD ($39.99) is a pretty fun time on the Switch, but you better have steady hands and steadier nerves if you want any chance of completing this game. Yes, the multiplayer is a ton of crazy fun here (that could have used a few more games) and that’s a reason some will jump all over this with a few friends. But this is a game where the solo play can be as hair-raising as it gets because it’s too easy to fail (and multiple times at that) some courses if you’re susceptible to anything from an itchy body part or any sort of issues with your controller.

If you’re new to this, it’s a game that will have you cracking up and pulling out hairs in equal measures. There’s a goofy plot here, but all you need to know is you’re a monkey in a big plastic ball and you need to roll, jump and quickly grab bananas as a clock is ticking down, fighting bosses a few times along the way.  You probably won’t be good at this initially, but practice makes perfect, as they say. Paradoxically, both Zen-like calm and lightning reflexes are absolutely necessary in this game where courses are tightly timed, bosses require super-quick pattern recognition and you need to play and replay stages to nab those bananas without falling off some deviously designed courses.

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“This is bananas, and bananas is good!”

Well, you do have to fall off some courses, but onto a lower part of a level, or to shave seconds off a course time, missing a few bunches of bananas in the process (until you figure out how to get them later in a different run). Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (yes, the folks behind the excellent Yakuza games as well as a few others) took the 2006 Wii-only game and have tweaked it into a multi-console game that’s quite good and yes, maddening when it needs to be. In addition to reworking the interface and adding online functionality, 40 of the Wii-specific mini-games are gone (well, 50 was overkill way back then and the Wii remote was a pain to use for some of them), cut down to a mere 10 that keep multiplayer games a faster-paced chunk of mayhem for up to four players.

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Review: Into the Dead 2 (Switch)

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Well, it’s a good thing that forklift isn’t a zombie. Uh, that’s a Killdozer reference, sort of.

ITD2Confession time (again!): I’d never heard of the mobile game or its sequel here until I fired up the review code I got for Into the Dead 2 ($34.99 digitally, base game), but that really made a difference when it came to my overall enjoyment of what’s here. Developer PikPok and publisher Versus Evil’s game is a pretty good one overall, with simple to grasp mechanics, great looks, plenty of levels and a few modes to kick back with for endless zombie-killing fun. The removal of the F2P elements is also a big key here because despite the cost, it’s actually a case where one is getting a better value on the Switch once you whip out a calculator and tally things up.

Yes, on mobile, it’s a free to play experience… at least if you want to play wthin the limits imposed on you and buy in for more weapons and content with cash. From a few spins with the mobile version this week thanks to a friend who’s got it on his phone, that mobile game jumps on your face with ads and offers for new content (as mobile games do to get you to spend more than that “free” you didn’t spend). Argh, but so goes some mobile gaming on devices.

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“Hold up a sec, pal! I’m NOT a zombie – I just spilled my coffee before I could even take a sip!”

The Switch port drops this in favor of unlocking content as you go with no payment needed (outside the 2 DLC packs) and you can play all 60 story missions and 36 side missions as as the previous areas are cleared, In Arcade mode, 21 levels await getting a set number of kills per mission to proceed. The two spends for digital users are the optional Night of the Living Dead and Ghostbusters-themed missions ($4.99 each), but those come in the physical version as part of the package for $39.99. You can actually save $5 by not buying the extra content separately and buy the $39.99 Bundle that has both the game and extra DLC as a digital or physical version, if you like.

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Zombie Army 4 Wants YOU (Or Else)

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Rebellion’s intense and gruesomely gory (and fun as hell) Zombie Army series (a mutated spin on its Sniper Elite series) is getting a fresh take and some icky, fitting enemies (the zombie shark demands attention!) in the Zombie Army 4: Dead War trailer below that’s definitely not for the squeamish. Me, I got a big grin on my face seeing what’s coming and yes, that game engine Rebellion has got me in awe of the zombie carnage on display. Uh, carnage to the zombies, that is. Nope, this game isn’t for the wee ones and sort of needs to be played at night with a good pair of headphones on for best results.

Some early alpha gameplay footage is below the jump, but yeah, it’s not for everyone. I also kind of doubled down and ran Rebellion’s older introduction to the franchise so you can see what to expect with the fourth entry. Hey, I was cleaning out my inbox as I’m almost out of space. I guess it’s a good thing I found that after all.

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Red Dead Redemption II PC Trailer: A Tease of What’s Coming

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Jaw, meet floor.

Ha. Of course I lost my internet connection for a few too many hours (FiOS was a bit sluggish in responding here) and missed posting this when it was fresher, but here you go. While it’s a tease of what’s to come for PC users who have access to the game (via the FREE Rockstar Games Launcher is the best bet), Red Dead Redemption II is looking mighty wonderful. I fully expect those who are running the highest quality games with all the settings maxed out will consider this a new showpiece, an already great looking game on console, to be their go-to game for a while. November 15, as I’ve already noted, will be quite the busy day for those who get this.

(Watch this teaser on the best quality you can for maximum results)

 

-GW