Review: Bee Simulator (PS4)

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You’ll bee a busy bee and like it a lot here if the premise hooks you in.

Bee Simulator coverSneaking in its well-written and simple to grasp science and nature lessons in little bits over time (the loading screen and ever expanding journal are excellent), Vasrav Games Studio and publisher Bigben Interactive have a superb and beautiful game in Bee Simulator ($39.99). It’s not without its flaws, but it’s definitely a game worth a few plays in single and couch co-op modes. Come into this with an open mind and you’ll bee pleasantly surprised and even perhaps learn some important things in the process.

The main story is a bit of fluff where you’re a new honeybee who has to help save her hive’s tree from being chopped down, but here’s a game that gets more mileage out of its basic gameplay than its more basic plot when all is said and done. That loose flight control you’ll discover takes a bit of getting used to (you’ll likely bounce off and into many things at first), but it’s entirely doable once you practice (go watch a few real-life bees do their thing if you’re safely near any and it’s bee season). The attention to detail is phenomenal (well, despite the talking insects and a few other “game-y”elements) and enough to make me think a certain two Japanese developers could make their own insect-filled and far more explosive bug and ‘bot-based series a bit more impressive it they added more realistic giant bug nests to the levels. But I digress (EDF! EDF!)

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“Hi, those big horns are are meant for playing, right? Oh, they’re not horns, but you’ll play anyway? Cool!”

Back to the game at hand, it starts in and around a honey bee hive with a few tutorials that get you buzzing about and pulling off a few moves, learning to fly and boost, use a bee sight power that allows you to see and locate certain flowers and other items you’ll need to progress. If you’re not in the bee camp because you think they’re somehow awful or terrifying menaces to humanity (you’d be wrong on the honeybee front, at least), the tutorial drops enough info on you to get you curious and the main game will have you beeing so much of a helpful bee that you (and the kids, if you have them play) might bee-come bee cheerleaders each time you boot this up.  I think the bees would like that, by the way.

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Review: Monkey King: Hero Is Back (PS4)

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“Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind…”

Monkey-King-Hero-is-BackTo the point: I really liked the old-school simplicity in Monkey King: Hero is Back ($39.99) because it feels like a bit of late 90’s or early 2000’s era nostalgia and it’s not a game where modernity rears its head with overly complicated “soul-crushing” gameplay and normal (i.e. now crazy tough these days) enemies that take an annoying amount of time and patience to kill. Yes, I found the lack of “git gud” here a and nice oddly refreshing change of pace because you don’t need to break a controller or stress yourself trying to figure things out. You can indeed kick back with this and have at it without cheats or clicking around online for a guide. The game does get a bit funky monkey with a busy boss-packed section, and a bit of repetition and intentional slowness in spots can be pesky if one has a short attention span or dislikes long  exposition. But overall, there’s a feeling of laid-back pure fun here missing from more seriously themed fare.

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What’s big, pink and easy to hit when it gets dizzy from it’s attacks?

More to the point: As a kid’s game (and it IS a kid’s game when all is said and done. Remember those? Or being a kid, for that matter?) or something fun and light to zip through between other, heavier titles, it does a pretty solid job and impresses on that front with it’s pick up and play style and lots of stuff to collect. The sometimes cinematic loading (in areas where camera takes over like when ladders are climbed) throughout will be an issue for some, but it’s not a game killer at all. The fact that it’s a licensed movie game that hearkens back to those days where so many games like it were made that didn’t offer more that a retelling of the film’s plot makes it a game that might not be appreciated even when it’s doing what it does right. For those that haven’t seen the film, the game can be seen a sort of a playable way to do so, if you think about it.

You can get through this in about 5 hours or so (some kids might take a bit longer), but I chuckle at this when I think of an old licensed game like Virgin’s The Terminator, a game that took less time to play that it did to buy for me (I think the bus ride took one hour each way and the game was done in within 45 minutes with a few restarts when it was gotten home!). Anyway, If you want a long, educational read and don’t know the history of the character, feel free to bookmark the pages here and/or here before settling in for the evening with your beverage of choice (well, after reading the rest of this review!).

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Review: Children of Morta (PS4)

Children of Morta - cover artwork

COM_cover“Outstanding” is the first word that springs to mind in Dead Mage and 11Bit Studios spectacular Children of Morta ($29.99), a game I didn’t want to stop playing. I dragged out the gameplay intentionally, clocking in about 25 hours in because between the lovely visuals, great action-packed gameplay, and often heart-tugging story here, I didn’t want to leave this gorgeous action/RPG’s world. Yes, it’s a slower paced story and some may think it’s heavy use of deliberately paced narrative and the narrator’s Bastion-like delivery slows the game down. But as someone who’s a reader of stories (and sometimes a teller of them when properly prompted) this didn’t bother me one bit. Besides, every game one plays need not be the same as another and the focus on family here is welcome for a change.

This is a game where sentiment is an important plot device, but the action is also well implemented and sometimes very challenging in a product that took five years to craft. Both the art and artistry on display are to be properly commended, so hats off to all involved in this. I got a digital code to review, but I’m surely and sorely tempted to buy this as a physical release just to have if it ever disappears from PSN for any reason. Yeah, I’d play this again even though it’s more or less a “one and done” game to some extent, but a great one worth checking out a few times for its randomly generated levels and some neat side missions (“Who’s a good puppy? You are!” is a hint I’ll give). I was thrilled by most of what’s here to definitely say I’d revisit it like a good novel because it works well as enough of a memorable visual and aural treat with a good story, to boot.

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Pixel perfection, plus the animation is always fantastic.

The Bergsons are a family that discovers a corrupting force has come to their land and fortunately, the spirit of adventure runs in the family. That we’re dealing with a tight-knit family where you can choose to play as a few classes is a fine touch and surprise, much better that the sometimes generic hero types (that too often have some form of amnesia) in RPGs. One fun thing here is the Bergsons have nicely normal names that seem dull, but I say that’s more the player than the game wanting to choose a “McHero” or original sounding name because they think it makes for a better experience. This game, for me works because no one person is the star – they’re all great and necessary characters here. Even the ones that seem a little strange in some areas (Lucy, I’m taking about you and that laughing of yours).

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There’s a Switch Lite on the Way (Pros, Meet Cons)

So, Nintendo is going to be releasing a slightly smaller and lighter version of the Switch called (what else?) Switch Lite specifically for handheld play starting on September 20, 2019 with a $200 price tag (plus tax). While I’m not planning on getting one (despite my little Dawn of the Breakers fetish), this is going to be grand news for a certain group of players who may do a load of traveling, aren’t interested in connecting the new handheld to a TV of any type, or just want to snap up this all-in-one unit for any number of other reasons.

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I said I wasn’t going to buy one… but I may change my mind.

Oddly enough, not being able to switch to TV play makes the name a bit wacky, but Nintendo wasn’t going to NOT use the Switch name here.Also, this isn’t going to replace the 3DS Xl or 2DS at all, so those of you worrying it will have nothing to fear (yet). Nintendo is still making a chunk of cash from those handhelds, and games made for them although it’s possible we’ll see even those still popular units get phased out over the next few years, specifically is Nintendo ever figures out how to get them ported over to some other system with the dual screen functions intact.

Don’t expect the cost of the current Switch model to drop, either, as Nintendo rarely price drops its hardware (especially on a model that’s as selling extremely well as the original Switch). As for games that won’t run on the Lite, well, it’s only going to be any titles that require docked play from what I can gather from info on the official site. Also, no HD Rumble may tick off some gamers used to it, but I think that won’t stop the Lite from becoming a big deal must buy for parents with kids, casual users and new people who want in on the new thing with the rather large (200+ games and counting!) library.

-GW

 

 

4D Cityscape Makes For A (Not So) Puzzling Last Minute Gift Idea


 

Need a super cool last minute gift and you just so happen to be within fast traveling distance of any of these retailers? Well, here you go. 4D Cityscape’s wonderfully awesome and complex takes on some pop culture faves. I personally haven’t put a puzzle together in too many years, but these all stand out as more than welcome chances to get by brain firing up in spots where it’s been snoozing too much. Someone get these guys a few more licenses, as I bet Star Wars fans would love to see some iconic locations represented in 4D puzzle form.

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-GW

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Retro-Bit Generations In Action: Or, SOLD!


 

So, yeah. This thing’s getting bought before that NES Classic Mini for sure. Over three times as many games AND SD card support for the same low $59.99 price point? Yeah, that’s a sale and SHOULD be to any gamer no matter how loyal they are to the house that Mario built. Check out the new and complete list of games below:

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Yep, SOLD. Or sold out well before the holidays, I bet.

I’d write more, but I’m still wiped out from jury duty an even though I had today off, I woke up with a nasty scratchy throat and a cough that’s not gotten much better despite most of the day spent resting and treating. Damn courthouses are just as bad as conventions for catching buds, I say. Yuck. Okay, off to bed for me, as I need to drag myself back down to the halls of justice for what I hope is the final day of service. Good night, now!

-GW

Retro-Bit Generations Update: Getting Closer As Stiff Competition (And Then Some)


 

I’ve said this before, but after seeing this (too) brief teaser for the upcoming Retro-Bit Generations game console, I’ll say it again. While Nintendo clearly has brand recognition, a years longer and extremely loyal fan base, and an instant smash hit with its upcoming NES Classic Mini, the Retro-Bit may be a better fit for gamers looking to play more classic games, period.

Pre-orders are open and for that same MSRP, you get a more flexible system and over 60 more games including arcade, 8 and 16-bit classics. If the build quality and controllers on this are tight, I’ll be grabbing one of these first and going for that Mini once the frenzy over nostalgia beating sheer value dies down. These days, it just makes sense to go with value first. Well, at least in my book.

-GW

Retro-Bit Generations Games List (So Far): Better Than Expected Makes It A Better Deal

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Click this. CLICK IT NOW!

 

While Nintendo isn’t quaking in their boots at all (this morning’s 3DS Direct was pretty magnificent), the fine folks at Retro-Bit.com have released the not quite final list of NES and SNES games appearing on their upcoming Retro-Bit Generations console and it’s a doozy:

 

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Bring the power and entertainment of an arcade to your living room with the Retro-Bit Generations – Plug and Play console. Since 2007, Retro-Bit® has been at the forefront of the retro gaming world, introducing innovative and exciting platforms to re-experience a treasured vintage gaming era. Continuing with that tradition, Retro-Bit Generations is packed with titles from world-renowned pioneer videogame developers.

 

Revisit and replay these classics on your own or with a friend with two retro-style six button controllers, for an authentic retro re-experience. Designed with a sleek user-friendly interface and an HDMI port, Retro-Bit Generations brings a new look for the old school gamer and delivers fun for all ages!

Features

Packed with popular retro games from world-renowned developers
2 USB Retro-style six button controllers
HDMI and AV Outputs
SD card slot to save and transfer game progress (SD card not included)
Sleek compact design
Intuitive user interface
Internal game save feature – Save your progress anywhere, any time!

 

Remember, this thing is supposed to retail for $59.99… and that games list isn’t even complete. If the RBG works as advertised and the controllers are solid, that already pre-sold out NES Classic mini may have a bit of competition. We’ll see, of course.

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Retro-Bit Generations Just May Give That NES Mini A Run For Its Money

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Remember that big news about the Nintendo-produced NES Classic Edition coming in November? Well, say hello to some actual competition. Gaming accessory manufacturer/distributor/sourcing agent Innex Inc. is planning to distribute a rather and looking quite essential cool mini console of its own called Retro-Bit Generations this year for the same $59.99 price point as Nintendo’s system, but with a much larger on board games lineup (100 titles!), two controllers, and a VERY handy SD card slot.

INNEX logoCheck out the details below the jump. I’d never heard of Innex before today, but they just cracked my radar screen with this news. Click away here to check out their other Retro-Bit consoles. Thanks, Mika!

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Want a LEGO Build to End All LEGO Builds? Here You Go.

Not that you’d have the time or space to actually build an life-size Death Star out of 435 TRILLION (yikes) LEGO bricks (not to mention the only way to get that many bricks in the first place requires a working time machine and a black hole suitcase to hold all those bricks), but the folks at Ebates decided to figure out just how many LEGO it would take to whip up some of sci-fi’s most recognizable items. I’m gathering certified LEGO expert, Matija Puzar has access to those two items noted above, as he’s actually crunched the numbers and came up with those insane figures in the infographic below:

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WHAT?! no Serenity from Firefly? How do you have The freakin’ Heart of Gold, a Borg Cube, AND Spaceball One but not Serenity? Boo. Ah well, maybe next year. I’m actually not all that inclined to the construction business, as I prefer to watch stuff being built or get someone a lot less easily distracted to tackle the heavy lifting. Of course, those planet-sized builds would require a lot of labor and an actual planet to build them on, so perhaps there’s something to all this “we’re going to Mars!” nonsense after all. The moon is a better idea, as it’s closer and you could probably watch the construction from your roof with a good telescope. That and my own storage space is limited here at the home office. As in I only have room left here for stuff like Santoki’s extremely cool and very useful LEGO Stationery lineup, coming to a store near you soon.