Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD Hands-On: It’s in the Monkey

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I’d be lying it I said I was good at this one right out of the gate, but that’s because it’s been a while since I’ve touched a Super Monkey Ball game. That said, I’m currently having a blast with the Switch review version of Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD (set for a US release on October 29). Sure it’s a HD rework of a 2006 Wii game with a nice HD fix-up and yes, some mini-games are MIA, but the story mode is quite lengthy, there’s online leaderboards and and couch co-op content and the core mechanics are pretty darn fun when you settle in for a spell. Here’s a trailer to look at for the Switch version (the game is also set for release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems):

So far, I’m grinning like a loon and sweating like a pig when I safely make it through a stage, but as things get twisty and the maps get tougher, I want to give up for a few seconds each time I fail. But dang it, if the game keeps pulling me back in for more every single time. Must be those bananas or something. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure the second boss out – back with a review shortly.

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Feel free to go bananas if you like with a physical version of the game.

-GW

 

 

 

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Neo Cab Preview: A “Survival” Game I Want to Play

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“Some day, a real rain wi…” no, wait, oops, wrong Taxi Driver reference!

Well, this is different. I’ve downloaded the free Neo Cab demo onto my Switch (there’s a PC demo for STEAM users here) and will say I’m more than impressed with what’s here so far. The art style is pleasant to look at, the writing is fine and there are elements to the gameplay that just simply work really well. As Lina, one of the last human drivers-for-hire on the streets of Los Ojos, you’ll find yourself caught up in a friend’s disappearance after she takes what’s supposed to be a short detour. Developer ChanceAgency has a few things going on here, all of which gel into a memorable game so far.

Trapped in the city she hates for a few reasons, Lina is forced to keep driving in order to keep her Star rating up and her sanity up, as she more or less has to love in her ride thanks to having to more or less live in her car until she finds out what happened pt her missing roommate. The demo is enough of a solid tease to make me stop here and let the developer tale the floor for a bit: Well, after the trailer and below the jump.

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Review: Warhammer Chaosbane – Magnus Edition (PS4)

WHC_PS4While not without its minor flaws (which can be patched in future updates), Warhammer Chaosbane ($59.99) is a solid and worthy ARPG genre fans should absolutely take for a spin. EKO Studios has cooked up a pretty addictive game that, once you’re hooked into it, delivers exactly what it intends and does it well enough that some if its issues can be overlooked thanks to the core gameplay, which works even better in co-op if you’ve a few friends to play with.

As a solo experience, it’s also quite entertaining, with a sort of Dungeons & Dragons Heroes vibe (as in longish levels and plenty of tough foes to vanquish when you go it alone). Okay, so it’s more or less a Warhammer version of the original Diablo, but this ends up being an excellent thing overall thanks to ten difficulty levels that mean you’ll never get to say this game is too easy if you’re at all serious. With the extra modes (Expedition, Boss Rush, Relic Hunt) and the developer planning more free and paid content in the future including at least one additional chapter expansion pack and a load of bonuses, this one’s going to be an evergreen game for ARPG fans who want more of what it delivers.

I noted Diablo over Diablo III because to me, EKO seems to have wisely went back to the grimmer version of Blizzard’s classic over the more colorful (yet still quite grim) third installment. Despite the repetition in layouts and static level art, there’s a gritty, nasty vibe in the first two chapters that feature either gloomy sewer maps or a ravaged village packed with kill-crazy demons of a few varieties. The third chapter’s outdoor map, a forest area full of deadly creatures, almost looks too clean, but the somewhat linear library maps with their menacing vibe more than make up for that flaw. That said, the fourth chapter knocks it out of the park with what I’ll describe as the world’s richest kid’s brand-spanking *new* dungeon play set, Deluxe Version. in other words, I love this map, folks:

Where the other maps tend to have a static look to them despite a few destructible barrels and such, Here you get a sort of Castle Grayskull maze dungeon on steroids with stone, shiny metal of a few types and gracefully writhing tentacles all vying for attention with the fiercest enemies in the game outside the main bosses. Although the game ends up reusing one re-lit familiar setting for that final push to the end boss, that final fight is set in a wildly ornate (albeit tiny) arena where you’ll need to be fast and determined to take down a pretty dangerous foe (Protip: don’t die!).

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Dying during a boss fight allows you to start from the beginning, which is a better alternative that quitting and replaying a map. Interestingly enough, on my first play, the game crashed during the last boss fight after I died twice, but when I fired up the game again, I was surprised that I was able to continue from the beginning of the battle with no penalty.  The hilarious thing was I did beat the boss on that last try with a measly 12 HP left. I thought I was a goner as the boss was about to lay down a hit, but it died and I nearly died myself from thinking I’d made it that far only to have to try again.

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Endgame Plans – Big News For Those Wanting More

I’m currently playing through the PS4 version of Warhammer: Chaosbane for review and yes indeed, developer EKO Studios and publisher Bigben Interactive have big plans for even more content for the upcoming ARPG in terms of free and paid additions. Check out the video above for the roadmap and go get your controllers warmed up for the game’s release date(s) of May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions (pre-purchasers get early access to the game) and June 4 for the Standard Edition.

-GW

Warhammer Chaosbane Story Trailer: Tales, Neatly Bundled, Please

Those who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane will be getting an early tasting when the game rolls out and beginning May 31st for PC and console pre-purchasers of the Magnus Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition, while others will need to hold out for the Standard Editions for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that will be available on June 4th, 2019. Those who played that beta will see that this story trailer slightly resembles the one each of the playable characters gets when their respective stories are started and this ties the overall experience together nicely, I’d say.

A week or so may not seem like a long time, but it sure is an eternity when you’re lurking in front of your mailbox for a physical copy or lurking around on a digital store for a pre-load to kick in. Go do something else if that’s your particular case, as the game won’t at all mind you getting distracted by stuff before it launches.

-GW

Review: Project Nimbus: Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)

project nimbus switchGameCrafter and GameTomo‘s formerly PC and PS4-only indie Project Nimbus blasts onto Nintendo Switch with a few tweaks as Project Nimbus: Complete Edition ($19.99) and it’s a near total blast for mecha fans who crave dynamic action and some pretty cool-looking well-armed and armored machines to zip around in. The game looks and sounds great, runs quite smoothly and has three distinct play modes that add to the experience and make it infinitely replayable. While it’s not a flawless game, it’s definitely well made and entertaining enough that it’s going to keep those hooked into it busy bees whenever they need that mecha fix they crave.

Campaign mode is a four-chapter story arc that’s pretty much a Mecha 101 course packed with a ‘we’re making war to have peace’ political narrative (there’s an AI named after a certain former US President!) told though audio logs and in-game engine CG sequences. It does what it does well enough and keeps interest high throughout the campaign’s twists and turns. Gameplay here has you piloting a few different Battle Frames as the story progresses and sometimes your loadouts will be limited for the plot’s sake, while other times you’ll have access to a number of pretty tricked out BF’s to deal with the more impossible odds. There’s also a first-person option (in campaign mode only) if you’re wanting to get a cockpit view at the expense of some tactical advantage. I don’t own a Labo VR kit, so I can’t comment on whether the game supports Nintendo’s cheaper DIY Switch VR solution, but if there’s an update for this, I’m sure it’ll get love where it’s needed.

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Some very bad children need to be taught a lesson. Let’s start by taking them to school…

In terms of controls, they’ll be initially daunting to some players, but once you do a few missions and adjust to the on-the-fly weapons switching and learn when to manually reload your equips, the game clicks into high gear. Expect a few types of automatic rifles, shotguns, missiles and even swords, the latter which are great to see, but may be underutilized by those who prefer exploiting purely ranged combat options. The three difficulty levels do make a huge difference, as your reaction speed and aim need to be on point in the harder modes. The more casual mode is great for learning the ropes and blazing through most missions with little to somewhat fierce opposition and yes, you can change that difficulty before any mission in any game mode.

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Now Playing: Project Nimbus: Complete Edition

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Wow. So, Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is out NOW for the Switch and so far, it’s pretty spectacular for that $19.99 price point. While not as visually sharp its PS4 older sibling, it’s still a great-looking game, there’s extra content in this version and the fact that it’s an Unreal-4 powered game running so well on the hardware makes it a must-buy for fans of mecha games in the Gundam/Macross vein. There’s also a solid Ace Combat element in the speedy air-based gameplay and even a dash of Armored Core in some of the customization elements.

Is there a thrilling trailer? Oh, you bet there is, folks:

So far, the game’s quite a blast to play in each mode I’ve sampled. in Campaign, a quick tutorial gives you the basics as a playable mini-mission before the festivities truly begin. The game is meant to get you playing as quickly as possible, so there’s little downtime during missions unless you deliberately hold back or are wanting to do a bit of exploring as enemies are targeting your mecha with all sorts of ordinance. In English: don’t dally too much here or you’re getting turned into scrap metal in rapid time.

Survival mode is as you’d expect, fly ’til you die fun for kicks and yes, it’s also solid as well as a good way to test your growing arsenal. Finally, Warfront mode is an excellent sort of rogue-like experience that randomizes missions and awards resources to spend on mecha upgrades. There’s an addictive RPG loop at work here as even a loss counts as a gain as any gear and rewards earned are kept. I fully expect to spend more time here than in the 26 campaign missions. Amusingly enough, I currently have the game paused as I type this out, so I’m going to sign off here, get this posted, get back to the game and get to knocking out a review over the weekend. So far, I’m finding very little to gripe about.

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Uh… those aren’t fireworks, pal. A celebration IS in order, but you’re gonna have pigeons littering the landscape when those homing missiles find a target.

Back in a bit.

-GW

Warhammer Chaosbane Hands-On: Eko’s of the Past Bode Well for the Future

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I’d hate to be that guy who has to clean those stained glass windows every other day…

WC_cover PS4Way back in 2013, I recall going to a 505 Games press event to play Eko Software’s impressive How to Survive and noting to a PR rep that the developer needed to make an isometric RPG at some point because that game had all the makings of an instant classic despite the overdone zombie theme and copious survival elements. Two years and a new 505 press event later, I’m playing How to Survive 2 and noting to another rep that Eko really, really needed to do an iso RPG just to get it out of their system and how I’d love to see them do something original or even revive a more fantasy-themed game like a Champions of Norrath or some other similarly beefy (and long forgotten) IP.

Four years later and I’m playing through the closed beta version of Warhammer Chaosbane on my PS4 with a huge grin plastered on my face. Although it’s a beta, it’s a mighty fine one full of promise once the dev team adds and tweaks some elements.

In its current state, it’s certainly got some excellent visuals, gameplay that’s immediately fun and what’s looking to be a fairly lengthy campaign just based on looking at the overworld map in the second of two playable chapters. But a bit more polish in a few areas will help put this game into that rarefied air a certain few other isometric games are floating around in. One great thing about the beta is Eko’s willingness to take into account every bit of reasonable feedback from those who’ve pre-ordered the game and have sunk some time into the builds they’ve made available.

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Modus Operandi: Getting Games Out When They’re Good and Ready

While they’re not a household name yet (but they should be), publisher Modus Games has a number of current and upcoming titles that should please those looking for a bit of variety in their gaming lives. From the return of the Trine series to its side-scrolling origins to three new (or new-ish n one case) IP set to arrive on the scene between this year and 2020, all four games I saw at their press event in NYC were looking great and are well worth waiting for.

ary-logo-colorAry and the Secret of Seasons (in development, PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One)- My first stop was a game with an intro trailer had me laughing out loud for a few minutes because it hit my particularly oddball sense of humor right in the sweet spot. It turns out the game in question is actually a bit more serious in tone yet looking like quite a blast to play. Co-developed by eXiin and Fishing Cactus using the versatile Unity engine, the game intentionally recalls classic mascot character action games of the 90’s and early 2000’s with what’s looking like a strong emphasis on both story and gameplay.

While the demo wasn’t a hands-on one, watching Ary get put through her paces by eXiin’s Sébastien Le Touze kept me smiling constantly. Her season controlling powers allowed for some great puzzle-solving solutions as well as some thrilling combat moments and yes. those powers sure looked great in motion as they affected the environments around then in real time. The ability to change the weather in an area to rainy meant lightning zapping those pesky hyenas or ice hindering them briefly while Ary’s slingshot and sword skills knocked them for a few loops. Granted, the demo had all her powers unlocked at the start, but that was simply to show how versatile she’ll become as the adventure progresses.

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The aforementioned puzzles can be solved in a few creative ways such as creating a large bubble of water to hop into and swim up to a high spot in order to flip a switch, or temporarily freezing an object or obstacle in order to pass safely before you free it and let it take out some baddies. Combining season powers is also key to some areas and Le Touze certainly did a stellar job in showing off what Ary could do. While it’s not set to launch until 2020, it’s a sure bet to be on quite a few watch and want lists, mine included.  If and when eXiin can get a demo of some sort up for everything this will appear on, I’m betting the game will find quite a few more eager fans ready to explore its pretty game world.

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Road Trip (Of Sorts)!

MODUSHey. Now, I’d normally be posting something as we speak, well, something more game-y or film-y, but I’m getting ready to go out (“Fresh air! Times Square!”) and take a look at some upcoming titles from the fine folks at Modus Games, who certainly have some nifty-looking titles to show off. There’s an embargo in place, so you won’t be able to read my impressions until the 10th, but I fully expect to have some rather nice things to say about what I’m going to be seeing. Wait, that’s quite game-related, so I did my good deed for the day, huh? See what happens when you let a realization sink in?

Speaking of seeing, I’ll be seeing you all later this evening, as I’ve a few reviews to get to posting and some potential whining about a movie trailer I didn’t much like. Back in a bit.

-GW