Hell to Pay 2: Diablo Makes a Comeback

Excellent. After years of requests for a legitimate re-release, Blizzard and gog.com have teamed up to get the classic PC game Diablo out exclusively on the popular DRM-free digital platform for a measly $10. That tenner it costs gets you the original 1996 version as well as a separate build updated to run on Windows 7, 8, and 10 that includes “a host of bug fixes and high-resolution support via aspect ratio-correct upscaling”. While Mac and Linux versions are currently not available, I’d imagine someone clever will figure out a way to get those up and running for those fans who may want them. At this point, you won’t get that much-requested Hellfire expansion in this deal and I’d gather that will never be a thing to buy as that content wasn’t created by Blizzard

Blizzard and gog.com will also be getting both Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft 2 out as digital-only re-releases at some point in the near future. As for the still superb Diablo II? Well, there’s no news on an updated version at this time, but both can currently be purchased through Blizzard’s Battlenet online store. Personally, I’m hoping for this one to get the same treatment along with the Lord of Destruction expansion, as it’s pure hell trying to get them to run from the original discs without some mucking around with a bunch of config options. The last few times I played DII, I used the amazing Sven’s Glide Wrapper to make the game look better (as well as add a clock to the game screen so I could keep track of time, as DII is a total time-sink).

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There’s going to be a hot time in the old town tonight…

I still recall way back in 1996 when I walked into an Electronics Boutique to hunt down a few Sega Saturn games and saw a playable demo of Diablo with no one at the kiosk, stepping up to try the game and being floored by the dark tone and gloomy soundtrack. The game felt like a meaner, more complex version of Gauntlet that required a more methodical style of play and yep, I was hooked in. Even the less stellar PlayStation port was a thrill to play multiple times (and yes, I still have that here in the library). While Diablo II never got a console port, it sure would be very nice to see one appear for consoles in the not too distant future just so a bunch of us who want to check that off our wish lists can be giddy for a spell (even if there won’t be mods to mess with).

-GW

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Hell to Pay 1: Warhammer: Chaosbane Update

It’s Beta time for those of you who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane on PC and console, so those of you who’ve plunked down that deposit can dive right into the thick of things and let all hell break loose. That beta time only lasts until the 13th of March. so get busy betting busy on that, folks.

Set for launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 4th, 2019 for the Standard Edition and on May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions, the game looks to fuse Diablo-like action/RPG with the classic Warhammer setting and if that trailer is any indication, Bigben and developer EKO wll have a huge hit on their hands. It’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the still mighty Diablo III on consoles, but it’s safe to say that genre fans will be well served if all the pieces fall into place.

-GW

Capsule Reviews: You Need That Cute and Busy Stuff These Days

Foo. In addition to hating being ill, I’m kind of really hating on the general level of discourse we’re often forced into on random occasions when one is not even thinking of doing any feather-ruffling and someone you barely nod at gets their feathers quite ruffled. Boo. Anyway, some games are actually quite perfect at boinging away the nonsense thanks to crafty devs who just want to share what they’ve created with anyone and everyone who wants to have a good old time and maybe end a day with a smile. Submitted for your approval are the following indies, all at a nice enough price point to recommend to even the cheapest of cheapskates:

 

 

ihugu boxIHUGU (Nintendo Switch, $3.99): The first time I turned on Kool2Play’s simple and offbeat game, I was greeted with a quote from Ronald Reagan about peace that made me nearly spit out the sip of water I’d just taken. The second time I fired up the game, it was a quote from Jimi Hendrix that was in the same peaceful vein. While more or less a basic memory match game, the concept works well enough thanks to a wacky factor that more than makes up for its repetitive nature. Hug as many different folks as you can in assorted levels set around the globe and try for high scores by not hugging the same person twice. A few brief mini-games of the non-violent sort are dropped in every so often and are the same simplistic fun, but complexity and depth aren’t supposed to be strong points here.

 

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It ain’t rocket science, folks: huggin’, not thuggin’ is the way to do it.

 

Then again, the idea of a simple hug making someone’s day is almost a luxurious thought these days, a pipe dream of sorts if you think about it in this climate. But some of you may be very surprised to know that in real life this action (when done in a non-creepy and pure manner) is actually a great way to greet friends new or old. The game’s positivity and bright, cheerful visuals make it something to dip into if your day has been chick full of gloomy types angst-ing at your ankles with their low attitudes. Besides, you can custom create a bizarre looking character that only a mother would love who gets to spread a bit of joy as it zips from stage to stage spreading the love. What’s to hate about that? Also, the new 2-player mode is pretty neat for what it is even though the game never sets its sights above novelty status.

Score: C+ (75%)

Review code provided by the publisher

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Review: Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds (Nintendo Switch)

spintires switchAs with the PC and other console versions, Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds ($39.99) on the Switch is a pretty outstanding technical achievement, although this latest version isn’t without a few caveats. Packing in all the original game’s content along with the American Wilds expansion, it’s pretty amazing to see this simulation arrive on Nintendo’s hybrid looking and playing so well. Granted, it’s running at half the frame rate of the PC version and you’ll likely enjoy docked mode more than handheld mode if you’re a total visual purist. But it’s still amazing to see the Switch pumping out everything the more powerful consoles can with mostly relative ease.

If you’re new to the game, expect a hefty challenge the simple and quick tutorial deftly dances around because the game is meant to hook you in and have you figure out what you can do at your own pace.  This isn’t some fast-paced arcade monster truck fest with power-ups or turbo boosts galore. Nope, it’s a methodically paced simulation that demands practice and patience galore, but despite the learning curve manages to be incredibly fun and rewarding when all is said and done.

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“Keep on truckin’, baby…. you got to keep on… truckin…”

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Gallery

Now, this looks pretty entertaining and yes, it’s really good to see this legendary series tip its weathered cap to the speedier gameplay found in the Diablo series. Don’t get me wrong, though. I so love the tactical approach to both the Warhammer board games and PC/console games as well as most of the pure action games that have popped up in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Warhammer: Chaosbane feeds that need for my isometric games loving side and if the gameplay videos are any indication, it’ll also be a game that spends some quality time in my play list and perhaps even rise to the top if all it promises works as planned.

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My brain says “SOLD!”, so this one’s added to the bucket list. Thank you, brain. Also, thank you EKO Studios and Bigben for making this a reality as the first ARPG in the franchise.

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Capsule Reviews: Rooms of Gloom and Doom and Such

Hey, I’m still here plinking away at a few health issues, but here’s something to read while I’m in recovery mode.

There’s a certain type of gamer I call “Trophy Hunters” who seem to rely solely on video and/or text walkthroughs of certain games in order to snag easy rewards in the form of digital Trophies or Achievements. Yes, this style of play kind of saps the fun factor out of games by breaking them down to into easy to digest “how to” posts. But there’s an odd benefit to this in the net effect of selling quite a few budget to fully priced indie to AAA titles that might normally not even get a sideways glance.

That said, when played as they “should” be, there are a number of these inexpensive titles that are really worth the effort it takes to complete them using one’s brainpower and maybe a pen and notepad for some of the trickier puzzles. Anyway, without further adieu, Here are a few indies that kept my old grey matter cooking that are worth a look:

 

 

PRIX_13Planet RIX-13 (PC/PS4/Vita/Switch): Indie developer 9 Eyes Game Studio (with a big assist from Sometimes You for the console ports) takes it back to the good old adventure game days with this simple-looking and somewhat straightforward sci-fi yarn about a space pilot who crashes on an alien planet and needs to find a way off… or else. Without a walkthrough, the game can be a bit of a mind-bender when you come up against situations where your character is killed and your brain is not wanting those deaths to transpire. The amusing thing here is dying in all the possible ways allowed by the game is a big part of netting those Trophies, so get used to expiring in a few ways as your adventure progresses.

While the game isn’t lengthy at all, it’s replayable if you decide you want to see every choice via playing in a linear manner. As noted, a few of the trickier puzzles may stump those who tend to think to literally or who don’t quite grasp that this isn’t a conventional narrative when it comes to how certain sections play out. For the record, I did cheat on one puzzle because it involved going in and out of a certain doorway in a certain order and yes, I ended up face-palming myself when I looked up the solution and discovered that a number of players had also gotten waylaid by that one spot. Hmmm… I guess there’s something to this trophy hound stuff after all?

Score: B (80%)

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Clock Simulator: Seconds Count in This Addictive Oddity

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This little piggy’s maybe gonna run out of time… unless you can help out  a little bit.

cs_boxSo, yeah. There’s a new game called Clock Simulator for the Switch, it’s a port of the PC version, that adds two mini-games to the mix, it’s a mere $3.99 and you should give it more than a few minutes of your time because it’s strangely addictive, that being a clock thing. No joke here, this is a pretty impressive variant on the rhythm game where you need to be even more precise with your button pressing than usual. Perfection is not an overrated thing at all, at least as far as this deceptively basic time sink goes.

It’s also a very cool way to learn a specific skill (pressing a button exactly one second at a time) that may not seem as if would come in handy at all, but in fact, is quite helpful if part of your job is clock-watching. Granted, if you work at any job with a clock nearby or are one of the many who constantly check their favorite timekeeping device, this game may either cone in quite handy or make you wince a tad. Either way, just don’t tell your boss about it (unless you’re the boss, of course).

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“Time enough, at last…” but don’t stop pressing that button, pal.

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OUTWARD: Here Comes The Harder Working Hero Type

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Nice hat you have there, friend. Er, just don’t go and lose your head in that coming battle.

While it’s not set for a release until March 26, 2019 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, developer Nine Dots Studio and publisher Deep Silver are getting the word out that OUTWARD is going to be quite a special RPG worth playing multiple times. As you’ll see from that trailer right below, the game aims to combine fantasy elements, survival simulation and what looks to be a fairly challenging game world full of many things that want your chosen character pushing up daisies at every opportunity.

 

 

Your character is going to be a standard non-hero type who needs to make their way through the game’s unforgiving sandbox world that continually auto-saves progress (meaning you can’t sneakily replay an old save file when you get waylaid by some big bad whatever). Here’s a very brief rundown on what to expect in the final product:

Key Features

Survive in the wilds as you explore a vast and harsh land
Play solo or cooperatively, split-screen locally or online
Ritualistic, step-by-step approach to spellcasting
Constant auto-saving means you must live with your decisions
Encounter dynamic defeat scenarios
A unique experience with every playthrough

The game will also ship with two-player split-screen or online modes so you can share the pain with a pal on the couch or at a distance. SO far, so good, I say. Of course, the proof will be in that tasty-looking pudding (or: the game does look really nice from what I’ve seen).

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Now that I think about it, March is kind of right around the corner, so getting the good word out now will be a huge key to this game’s success. My fingers are crossed for some hands-on time with this one, as if everything it attempts can be pulled off, genre fans will have a whole new obsession that’s got what could be endless replay value when all is said and done.

-GW

Review: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Nintendo Switch)

superbrothers switchSuperbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP ($9.99) is pure brilliance in every area, but the game wisely notes in its end credits it’s probably not going to be for every taste. Still, if you’re wanting a nicely droll, somewhat cerebral, amusing and completely hip masterpiece, you’ll just love what’s here. For example: Right after its opening section (which takes between 15 to 30 minutes to complete), a cigarette (or is that a cigar?) smoking character called The Archtype appears and tells you to return later after taking a break as a pair of curtains close and you’re sent back to the title screen. I actually didn’t go back to the game at that point. Instead, I put my Switch back into its dock, turned it off and went to make lunch. When I came back about an hour later, I felt as if that break was indeed justified because the game did such a clever job of getting me hooked in enough that I followed that silly instruction.

That silly instruction turned out to be a lot less so when later on, the game asks you to come back to it when the in-game moon phase is at the right spot to activate a certain task. Again, brilliant. The game is an adventure/puzzle hybrid that pays homage to The Legend of Zelda, a bit of Robert E. Howard, Carl Jung and a bunch of neat other things you may or may not see on the surface. Not to sound overly pompous or anything, but here’s a game that cleverly nods and winks at those who get it, but is totally playable by just about anyone who can use a Switch and is a bit curious about what’s in store for them.

 

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SEGA AGES Phantasy Star: Pretty Much, Perfection

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And quite well, in this case (Ha and ha-ha).

As soon as I heard that Phantasy Star was making a return as a digital exclusive on the Nintendo eShop, there went that not needing to ask for a review code stuff. Yeah, I  immediately bought it outright (it’s a mere $7.99) because back on the Sega Master System, it was the first JRPG I played and it’s been a game I’ve gone back to a few times, the last being om the Game Boy Advance where we got three of the first four games squeezed onto a single cart (to mixed results). Yes, I still have that one in the library, but I’m not even going to bother comparing it to what’s here (just yet) because once you fall down the Phantasy Star rabbit hole (Rappy hole?), you’re not coming up for air anytime soon.

 

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