Review: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4)

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The Chaos Engine, or Circle of Life in action, if you will…

fall-guys-ultimate-knockout-boxartWell, this one’s a pleasant and goofy surprise. Sometimes the silliest and most simple games ideas just work and Mediatronic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout ($19.99 on Steam for PC, Free this month on PSN) reinforces this perfectly. The 60-person enter, one person wins element is pure battle royale insanity (a genre I usually avoid), it’s weaponless mix of puzzle, sporty and trap packed levels offer up some tough and hilarious navigational challenges and overall, it’s just about as good as it gets for a game of its type.

Sure, there are micro-transactions here, but they’re not at all necessary to jump in and start playing. You can get some cool cosmetics with currency earned from just playing the game, or you can pay real money for stuff if you’re in a hurry to look cooler as you fall or get knocked off assorted hazards multiple times. In other words, there are no performance-enhancing purchases here (so far and I hope there won’t be in the future). Besides, the developer and publisher need to make SOME money with this one, but it’s actually nice that PSN users at least get to more or less play free and not choose to pay… well, until they need some of the stupidly cute skins and outfits that pop up.

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It’s all fun and games, especially if someone gets cartoon hurt.

A constantly rotating set of 24 levels means you can’t predict what’s coming, but loads of dying and plenty of practice await. You just need to hope you can survive the chaos as it happens. Yes, there are some super-skilled players out there who can dive and dash through areas and as you play, some tasks get easier to plow through than others. But the lack of voice chat thankfully keeps one’s ears from burning off from what I’d imagine is some hefty amount of creative cursing taking place at some ignominious last second defeats. Although, yours truly actually screamed “Oh, Bugsnax!” at my TV after one terrible but funny loss because I’d exhausted every curse word I knew and that upcoming PS5 game’s name just popped into my head.

Then again, this is a game where you’ll watch someone winning a match and then lose it by accident when a platform vanishes suddenly, or they get beaned by a falling slice of parachuting fruit. Some players seemingly try to take out other players by lurking near an exit (grrrr!) and lunging at them or maybe hoping to be as threatening as a giant jellybean in a funky getup can. It’s all good though – sometimes you get the last laugh (well, until you lose in a future round) when the game decides to drop random survivors at the results screen to get the next stage kicking.

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Ghost Grab 3000 + Singled Out Coming to Switch in July

(Thanks, Matt Glanville!)

Here come two more fun little arcade style titles from Matt Glanville, the maker of Switch ‘N’ Shoot, a cool and challenging single button retro-inspired game you should also get, by the way. Ghost Grab 3000 is a game where you trap and zap ghosts while trying to avoid their shots and get that high score. Singled Out has you identifying and neutralizing Galactic Supercriminals with a sniper rifle and yes, there’s a family friendly mode where you can cage those goofy-looking space aliens instead. Both new games are now available for pre-order on the eShop with a limited 10% discount and a July 2nd street date for both, but if you already own Switch ‘N’ Shoot or any of Matt’s games on the eShop, that discount becomes 15% off.

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Go get these, I say. I’m playing through both games as we speak and can report they’re both fun little games that play and feel like they’re been transported from the 80’s, but don’t try and look for a coin slot on your Switch.

-GW

Review: SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hedgehog 2

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They’re NOT social distancing, but the game is from 1992, soooo…

Switch_SegaAgesSonic2_STI knew I’d like M2’s revisiting this Sega Genesis classic a lot, but the extra mile (or Miles Prower, heh) the developer went here makes the experience even more enjoyable. SEGA AGES: Sonic The Hegdehog 2 ($7.99) is a solid enhanced port overall even with a touch of occasional glitchiness. Not only do you get the original game, but you get the inclusion of Knuckles the Echidna from Sonic and Knuckles as a playable character (as if you inserted a Sonic 2 cart into Sonic and Knuckles’ unique cartridge add-on slot back in 1992), a single stage Challenge Mode (I wish it had more stages, though), the Drop Dash move from the stellar Sonic Mania added, excellent HD rumble, online leaderboards and a few other nice touches like the ability to save anywhere.

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Review: OVERPASS (PS4)

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Grandma needs to move to a place less hard to get to…

overpass ps4There are a couple of ways to play Zordix Racing’s super challenging and very (very) methodical off-road game OVERPASS ($59.99). You can go into all the tutorials and learn the ropes, failing and retrying as you go, then hit the Career Mode’s many racing events in a few ways, earning sponsors, a team to manage along with race-earned cash to repair rides and purchase plenty of gear and upgrades. You can just hop into Quick Race, Custom Race, or hotseat-based Multiplayer and play on an assortment of tracks with any ride, learning as you play. Or, you can just mix in all the game modes and get an extreme and extremely lengthy experience that’s part driving sim and part puzzle game where you’ll need to successfully navigate some deviously designed courses that will test your skills and patience.

The game could use some patching to fix a few bugs with the physics and free up camera control (holding R3 down to look around is a pain), but even still, a warning comes for casual players: it’s definitely not for everyone, especially those expecting something purely arcade-like. This definitely isn’t a Motorstorm or Baja: Edge of Control despite its announcer’s twangy voice and a bit of genetic soundtrack action. When you approach the game from a simulation aspect, it’s a lot more enjoyable, although as they say, your mileage may vary when all is said and done. There’s definitely a LOT of game here for that money, although the day one DLC might be a bit of a pesky bit of business for some players resistant to that sort of thing.

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“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

 

Of the two disciplines, the assorted buggies are the most fun to drive here, especially once you get a few upgrades and start fiddling with crafting the fastest and better handling rides. You’ll need to try and damage your rides as little as possible in Career, as repairs stack up and get costly, affecting performance to often great degrees if you don’t repair. Quads are a totally difficult thing to get used to throughout as you need to control the driver as much as the vehicle here, adjusting his or her body on the fly lest you go tumbling down a slope or over a steep hill. The unforgiving nature of the physics here means you’ll feel as if a stiff wind could send your driver flying off that ride, but they’ll fall off before the wind starts blowing anyway. This is clearly NOT a game about stunts and flashy moves and it doesn’t pretend to be. Add in the manual transmission options if you like, and parts of the game get really teeth-gnashing even when you get better at them.

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OVERPASS Launch Trailer: Time To Get Really Dirty

…And a roll or two in the mud is GUARANTEED:

Zordix Racing’s OVERPASS is now available on PC via the Epic Games Store, with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions arriving on March 17. If you want a challenging simulation racer where learning the literal ups and downs of courses that will have you rolling in the aisles when you’re too careless, this game was made to suit you.

I’ll get a review up shortly, but from the hands-on time I had earlier, it’s clear that this isn’t some simpler “accelerate, pull off crazy stunts and win!” arcade experience at all.  That’s going to he hard for some to swallow like a handful of pebbles when they’ve rolled over a few times too many, but I liked the hardcore challenge of the game when I played the demo.

-GW

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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Review: CATS (2019)

CATS_MPSo I did something out of the ordinary (for me, as least). I went and saw a film I didn’t like the first time with hopes that the second time would me somewhat more enjoyable. It wasn’t, but at least what I saw was a bit more polished and I kind of got it a tad more. Yeah, I saw CATS again. Granted, the first time was a freebie, as a friend had planned to take his wife when the film opened. They went to see the last Star Wars film together and CATS was her pick for the next film they were to see, but she got sick, so I got called up as a last minute substitute player. I still haven’t seen that Star Wars movie yet, by the way.

Anyway, I was astounded by how very well-made but very off-putting this expensive film was and started writing a review in response, the opening paragraph which is below:

I was planning to save this one for when my writer’s block was slamming a book down on my fingers, but this review is practically writing itself for me as we speak. CATS is so very memorably atrocious that if we ever get visited by alien life in the future, I think those aliens will somehow unearth a print that’s been buried somewhere and may think we were ruled by a feline race that we made extinct because we got to see them as they really were.

There was more, but after looking at the finished review, I ended up trashing it it because it wasn’t constructive at all and even though I managed to make it a tidy 501 words, not too many of them were positive. So, I decided to chalk it up to the unfinished quality of the first run print’s unacceptable CG and yesterday afternoon, I flipped a coin and went to see it again, as the fixed version was out making the rounds. Mistake, meet blessing in disguise, as there was a blind person in front of me using a folding cane buying a pair of tickets to the showing.

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An Animated Discussion (Part 3)

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So, here we are again. Let’s see how, this time, we’ll see what else was in the bag of cartoons I loaned a friend. I added some stuff that wasn’t animated or not quite cartoons, but they all fit a theme.  So here’s the final countdown with a few surprises for good measure:

roujin-zRoujin-Z:  Here’s the thing. Both kids don’t like anime, but I decided to pop this into the lot because it’s a family film of sorts and I know both parents would be into it because  they’d “get” it and enjoy it even if their two Teen Titans didn’t. Lo and behold, not only did the kids take to it, they were both deciding that the genre was much more that what friends at school were hammering them in the heads over endlessly.

I should have gone with Ghost In The Shell as well, but this Otomo flick was more of an acceptable choice and I didn’t want to overwhelm them, although, yes, I had to field a few questions regarding the crazy ending. That said, I wonder how Akira or something as nuts as a Fist of the North Star would have gone over. That said, I think a Miyazaki film might be a better thing (I’m looking at YOU, Lupin!)

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An Animated Discussion (Part 2)

Now, where were we…

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Cutting to the chase, maybe? Right, then. Here’s what was in that care package that was retrieved by a friend for his two kids as they were struggling with a no internet challenge. I’d say that package worked for its purposes pretty well, but we’ll see what the kids thought:

flintstonesThe Flintstones The Complete First Season: This one went over big because neither kid has seen the older version of the show in any sort of order before, but they definitely got it’s influence on The Simpsons and Dear Old Dad said he went out and got a Honeymooners collection DVD from a local pawn shop at some point so they could take a deeper dive down the road.

I’ve always thought the first three seasons were the best, as the animators were still working on a few things and the some of later seasons’ episodes felt a little stale. That said, every season has quite a few stellar episodes, and on the while, it’s a classic series worth seeing in full.

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An Animated Discussion (Part 1)

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“Oh nooooo, another post! RUN!

A while back, a friend of mine made a bet with his two teens that he could stay off the internet longer they they could and he noted that after a bit of “sure, Dad, whatever…” snickering and such, they took him up on the offer for a month. Well, I think it may have been the lure of less to no chores for the month as a reward and I think there was a small amount of financial bribery (which isn’t really “bribery” if it’s in kept the family and it’s agreed upon, right?). CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I got a kick out hearing this because I know for a while he’d been trying to get them to spend more time with each other and less time glued to tiny screens when they were in the same room. I knew he and The Wife were big fans of board games and silly outdoor fun, but the kids? Well, they were when they were younger, they were. But now they did school activities and were busy with them (a few clubs and team sports, from what I understand). But at home, phones, tablets and teen gossip ruled the roost so much that on some days, even the TV went un-watched by the kids. Neither of them is into video games as a hobby, although there is a PS4 in the house that gets regular use (Hi, Dad!). Anyway, it seems that things were going well for about a week, when I get a phone call asking if I had any cartoons in the movie library…

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