MARS: PDP Brings Lightgun Arcade Fun Back For PS4 And Xbox One Players

VOTD_art

Talk about a vacation from hell…

I’m smiling too much while playing a detective on holiday (and on a few replays, a cheery British gal pyromaniac) aboard a huge cruise liner that’s suddenly become filled with zombies. A few comically big-headed biters go down with ease, M-rated blood splashing and splattering when they’re hit, but I’m soon jumping out of my skin when I spend too long on a large pack of undead that suddenly appear to my left (oops), and I get waylaid by some swarming in from the right (double oops, and GAME OVER). Ah well. A few shots to the menu later, I’m trying again and yes, having a blast. Yeah, some pleasure cruise vacation this is turning out to be, huh?

The game is called:

voyage-of-the-dead_logo_600pxIt’s an Unreal engine-based rail shooter downloadable PS4 or Xbox One title from developer Gaming Corps Studios, one of three games currently available for PDP’s new MARS LIGHTCON (lightgun) peripheral and IR STATION camera setup ($99.99, game included).  The wireless LIGHTCON is sturdily built and came with 2 AA batteries installed that gave it a nice heft, but it’s light enough to be comfortable for long play sessions. It’s not cheap feeling at all, mind you, but something that’s very well-made and made to work precisely for the games that come out for it. I did replace the alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones because that’s how I roll these days.

Oddly, you need to have a wired or wireless controller handy to initialize or pause the games and definitely a wireless one if you happen to have an external hard drive plugged into a USB like I do. The IR STATION requires one port, your main controller another if it’s not wireless. PDP also sent over a nice controller charger set (I’ll review that in a separate article), but the PS4 has always suffered from a lack of USB ports. Personally, I think the console should have shipped with an extra side port and/or one on the rear because of peripherals like this and the fact that heavy users like myself need a larger storage.

mars lightcon

The Orangesicle color scheme is familiar, but the tech is modern.

Back to the game, it’s quite fun overall and offers up enough zombie types to keep things interesting (aliens, voodoo, and magic using undead pop in as the missions go on). The PS4 version generally runs smoothly, but there are a few areas with hiccups in the frame rate, and some scene transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be. That said, it’s got a certain charm and makes a good first impression.

The game also packs in eight characters to play as (some unlocked via mini-games), a single-player mode, a versus mode, six mini-games for up to four players (I’m especially fond of the quirky pinball , UFO, and “golf” games here). Overall, it’s worth a look if you like all things zombie-related. While it’s not rated for kids, given that there are a great deal of wee ones that find zombies awesome and kind of hilarious, if you’ve got them (kids, not zombies!) and you’re OK with the gory stuff, they might find this pretty cool.

While the campy voice acting gets repetitive, the audio design and soundtrack are quite excellent overall. You can expect about 2 hours or so in Story mode (well, experts will probably blow through in less time and nope, I’m no expert). unlocking everything in every mode depends on a player’s dedication to seeing it all as soon as possible or on their own time. While you need to restart the game each time (like most arcade games, there’s no save system in place), the game does track all your stats so you can see that progression if you’re curious.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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

Logo_Red

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.

Continue reading

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

ghost parade title

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.

GP block

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

Lost Ember Gets a November Release Date

LE header

“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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)

Switch_SuperMonkeyBall_03

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.

Switch_SuperMonkeyBall_02

“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.

Continue reading

No Turkeys Or Stuffing In Arrow Video’s November Feast

While it’s a small selection this month, everything Arrow is shipping next month has my seal of approval. Your dinner is spread out across the month of November and includes an appetizer of murder and mayhem, while the main course gets you a somewhat Gothic mystery, a classic western and a spicy side of 70’s horror. As for dessert, how does TWO scoops of a great sci-fi/action film suit you? Well. I’m starving now, so let’s see what’s coming next month:

Here a bit about each film (in case you’re scratching your head on a few of these):

Apprentice To Murder (11/05/2019)

Flowers In The Attic (11/12/2019)

The Far Country (11/12/2019)

Hitchhike To Hell (11/19/2019)

RoboCop (Limited Edition) (11/26/2019)

RoboCop (Steelbook) (11/26/2019)

Hmmm… I wonder if that RoboCop Steelbook is ED-209 proof? All those special features will definitely have me watching this film again, that’s for sure. I’ve actually seen everything here back in the day except Hitchhike To Hell. The Far Country I think I recall from a TV edit many years back, so it’ll be interesting to see the remastered version. This selection from Arrow and Arrow Academy is definitely making me quiver in anticipation.

-GW

Review: Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (PS4)

trine 4_01

There are a few ways to handle this…

Trine 4_covAbsolutely beautiful and back to its 2.5D roots (although I did like the last game, I seem to be in the minority, so I’ll shut up about it), Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince ($29.99) is a wonderful and wonder-filled visual treat. Solo play is excellent, but It’s also great to play with a few friends for the engaging co-op and unlimited modes, which become more of a blast when you get new players in on the fun who’ve never tried this series before yet manage to come up with some quirky and/or intelligent out of the box means to solve some of its puzzles. Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief are back and in an even more stunning to look at game packed with enough content outside the story to last a while. The main game has a pretty basic story, but there’s a good deal of replay value when you get a few friends and get to messing around.

Developer Frozenbyte’s choice to let players cook up their own solutions to puzzles is a genius move where the game never gets dull because there will be those moments when someone pulls of a nice move and discovers either through trial and error or just mucking around for fun how to proceed. In solo mode, the game is great stuff, as switching between its trio of characters and using their powers comes off easy. Well, battle sequences aside where some solo players may want to rely on switching to Pontius and his trusty sword and shield until because he’s usually best at dealing with those shadow beasts quickly. The other team members do fine here (and as you play through the game, all get some nifty skill upgrades), but for my tastes, I used Pontius whenever I could for combat.

Even though the game world is presented as a side-scrolling affair, developer Frozenbyte has lovingly packed so much rich detail here that some areas feel as it you can travel out of the boundaries and go off in the distance if you wanted to. The gorgeous fairy tale looks and excellent character animation help bring the game to life and it’s all family friendly stuff right down to a few exaggerated, oversize boss enemies which manage to be both somewhat comical and scary (well, not that scary). In the game, a young and somewhat reckless prince tries to learn some powerful magic outside his skill level and our heroic trio get reassembled as a team and have to go after him. Unfortunately for them, he’s actually got a few tricks up his fancy embroidered sleeves. Can you say dipping our three heroes’ minds to bring forth nightmares, folks?

Continue reading

Games I Need to Play 2: Beamdog’s Classics Come to Consoles

 

Good gravy, Skybound and Beamdog, you’re going to kill me thanks to my withering away indoors with your ports of the two Baldur’s Gate games, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment games. One definitely can’t gripe about the cost, as each game and their expansions (plus new content that was missing in the PC versions) cram in more that enough play and replay value to justify the price ($49.99 each). Pretty much, each one may will take a few weeks or months to play and hell, you can’t say that about many games outside the genre that don’t require an online connection or double-dip you (or more) with fees and micro-transactions.

As I noted in my preview a few months ago, there goes my free time forever. Amusingly, I’ve not requested a review code yet because from experience, games like these games are professional time eaters (I’ve played them all before on PC years back), and well, as I sand, my free time (and hell, all of my work time) would necessitate a format change to an all-Beamdog, all the time blog. That, and yeah, I’ll likely support both companies with a purchase because I have the feeling some wags out there will feel these enhanced ports won’t be worth full price because of the dated looks and other biases against things like the length and maybe the mobile ports (which cost less, but the console versions have a number of changes that make then worth playing and then some).

(Thanks, Warner Bros.!)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out when I’ll play these and work on my time machine so I can play them. At least Neverwinter Nights isn’t out until December on consoles, so that gives me time to play the other games.

-GW

Zombie Army 4 Wants YOU (Or Else)

zombie-army-outline

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.

Continue reading

Review: Monkey King: Hero Is Back (PS4)

Monkey_01

“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.

Monkey 5

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!).

Continue reading