Mary Skelter 2: Switch-Bound in September

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Excellent. One of my favorite Idea Factory RPGs is getting a very nice looking digital-only sequel that expands on what made it a solid game in the first place. While there are only four screens to share (so far), I’m gathering Mary Skelter 2 will get fans of the first game quite psyched for its September launch, but new players should also be in the same boat, as the upcoming Switch version also has the first entry included as a BONUS (woo and hoo!).

Read more on what’s in store below the jump.

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Lornsword Winter Chronicle: That Certain Something Piques My Interest (Again)

 
(Thanks, zbencz2!)

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You know, it figures.

Here I was, about to slip away from some of the busier genre games that involve some hybrid elements in favor of more streamlined gameplay and here comes indie dev Tower Five’s Lornsword Winter Chronicle popping up on my radar. Great. Not only is it a brand new game make by former Creative Assembly folks, it’s got that lovely mix of ARPG and strategic elements going for it and as a final kicker, it looks really great. Actually, the kicker for me is even though it’s headed to Steam soon, it’s also coming to PS4 and Xbox One at some point and that’s going to be something I’m dying to see because yes, consoles are my platform of choice these days. Let’s take a look at that trailer, shall we?

(thanks, Lornsword!)

Hmm, maybe the real kicker is the game supporting drop in-drop out co-op play?  That’s also certainly more than enticing to me.  Maybe it’s my ears and eyes perking up and being thrilled to see something like this doing things in a somewhat different manner? Or perhaps it’s just that oddly poetic text that accompanies that trailer that sounds like a song if you think about it long enough? Okay, that’s a smaller but welcome detail more than a selling point. Still, it’s a good sign for what’s ahead, I think.

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Well, not that I’m back IN, I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays, so yes indeed, I’ll be checking out the Steam version and hoping the PS4 port can keep up because this sure looks like a game that I’ll be playing for a while. Yeah, go wish list it, I say.

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-GW
 

Review: Dark Quest II (PS4)

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Nostalgia alert: This one’s great stuff.

You’d best believe I uttered out loud (to no one in particular) “Wait, there’s a Dark Quest I out there somewhere?” as soon as that email I recently received about Dark Quest II ($14.99) landed in my inbox. I took a look at the brief trailer on YouTube and yes indeed, put in a code request because all sorts of nostalgic switches were flipping in my brain.  A few days of playing this later and I’m very pleased developer Brain Seal Ltd took the time to craft this hard to put down throwback of a keeper.

If you’ve been around the RPG block for any decent length of time, you know the drill: Evil sorcerer doing evil things socked away in his castle, a hero strolls up to the gates, yadda, yadda, yadda – you’re in deep dungeon doo-doo, make new allies along the way and it’s a fight to the finish against that mad magician and his kill-crazy minions. Granted, this game will be a hard sell to some stubborn ones out there who think console or PC RPGs started sometime in the 90’s or early 2000’s, or who’ve never played either classic Dungeons and Dragons, the old board game HeroQuest, or Hero Quest II: Legacy of Sorasil on the Amiga.  DQII wraps these three influences together, adds in some lovely artwork and ties everything together with an appropriately nifty audio experience that seals the deal.  The stripped-down to the basics gameplay here had me grinning through surviving encounters by a hair and even relishing a defeat or three just so I could retry a quest and try new strategies to win.

For players new to this particular style of game, you’ll need to be aware of a few things such as despite the isometric viewpoint this isn’t a “Diablo-style” chase ‘n chop nor any sort of action/RPG in that vein. Combat is turn-based and there’s an invisible sort of dice roll happening where you and your enemies will hit or miss attacks based on a few factors such as active or passive skills and potion use. You can take your time while playing this, as enemies will patiently wait for you to act and yes, this also means when you’re in a room packed full of them, you’ll likely be attacked one by one as their turns roll up.

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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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Ematic Switch Controllers: Solid Alternatives For Budget-Minded Gamers

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Surprise, surprise – these two budget controllers are pretty awesome.

 

Generally, when it comes to peripherals, I’m mostly a first-party OEM guy, particularly when it comes to controllers. That said, once in a while I’ll stumble across a third-party item that not only does what it needs to do well, it does it well enough to recommend without hesitation. I’d initially planned a review of the otherwise decent officially licensed Horipad Wired Controller ($19.99) and was just about done writing when I got an email from an Ematic PR rep asking if I was interested in taking their Wired N-Switch ($19.99) and Wireless N-Switch ($27.99) Switch controllers for a test drive. Of course, I said I’d love to and shortly afterwards, both arrived and were indeed, taken for a few spins and assorted tests over the past two weeks.

switch horipadI’ll say first and foremost, that licensed Switch Horipad is an excellent official controller that’s lightweight, simple to set up out of the box and a really well-manufactured unit that works fine with every game I tested it with* with no real weaknesses outside the lack of vibration, NFC, and motion control functions that give certain Switch games that extra kick. Yes, that low price point means you get not a hint of feedback which is disappointing unless you really don’t care and just want a solid, inexpensive and very reliable controller for yourself or the kids.

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For some reason, the Horipad looks as if it’s got a slight frown, while Ematic’s has a “Hey, check me out – I’m cool!” smile thing working for it.

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Review: Vaporum (Nintendo Switch)

Vaporum_switchAs a well-aged (I prefer the term “vintage”) fan of old school dungeon crawlers, I knew Vaporum ($24.99, worth every penny) was going to be right up my alley. With its dark thematic elements, Dungeon Master meets BioShock vibe and plenty of play and replay value, the very worst thing that I could think of as I sat down to type out this review was simply only being able to get through the game once for this post and having to move onto something else thanks to my stupidly large backlog.

The team at Cypronia has converted developer Fatbot Games’ stellar PC game into a mostly excellent home console version and yes, when I say home console, I kind of mean it. While you can indeed take this on the go as a Switch owner, you’ll have to deal with somewhat smallish onscreen text and controls that can be a bit complex as they’ve been translated from keyboard and mouse to a controller with a lot less buttons to operate. Everything works as it should, but there are a few fiddly moments that require a trip to the options screen to adjust things to your preferences.

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Shocker! Just about everything wants you dead in this game – expect traps and tricks galore as you get deeper into the thick of things.

Personally, though – this is exactly the sort of game you’ll want to play while socked away on a rainy vacation at home in front of the TV in docked mode. That way, you’re all into the visual and aural experience (the game both looks and sounds fantastic) and not having to be interrupted by outside distractions such as some kid walking up to you and asking “Hey, is that a Switch? Can I play, please because my mom won’t let me take mine outside and… blah de blah, blah, blah..” (true story, that). This is the sort of game where concentration, planning and execution are all urgent forces vying for your attentions.

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Sega Genesis Mini: Finally, It’s Worth Going Back to the Past

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Welcome back, buddy. Well, soon…

Hey, Sega.

qualitymarkWe have some history together, so I’ll be totally honest here and admit that some of the stuff you’ve done over the years in the post-16 bit era has royally worked a nerve or three. Too many years of seeing and occasionally playing those AT Games systems of often questionable quality that had me hanging on to a couple of your older, better made handheld and home console systems because they simply worked better even after almost two decades of use? Yeah, those are a reminder of the days when stuff was reliable and worked every time it was switched on.

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Derp. Someone forgot to switch his camera out of portrait mode. Eh, consider this a filter like some people use to make their faces all smooth like a plastic doll, OK?

These days, my old Sega Genesis and Japanese Mega Drive still work fine, but of late, they’ve been pouting in a corner because I’ve been all excited about Sega getting fully on board the retro mini console scene with their upcoming Sega Genesis Mini. Set to launch on September 19, 2019 for $79.99, the Mini will pack in a whopping 40 titles that will thankfully, not all be the same games found on those PC and console versions many Sega fans own (and a few of us own those collections on multiple consoles).

Sega of America has wisely put together a neat FAQ that should help you and your wallet see that money will be well spent, so peek below the jump and get ready to watch that credit or debit card pop right out of wherever you keep it.

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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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Capcom Home Arcade: Someone’s Dream Collection, With Caveats


(thanks, Official Capcom UK!)

Hmmm. I kind of have no idea how to feel about this other than agree that yes indeed, those gorgeous Sanwa sticks and buttons and what is looking like rather sturdy construction will insure that the Capcom Home Arcade will indeed find a niche in the homes of collectors and Capcom and/or arcade enthusiasts who’ve always wanted such a product. On the other hand, that price point more or less assures that this one will be out of reach for those gamers who may want this set of classics sans the fancy design as a far less expensive physical console disc or game card or as a basic digital download.

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Oh, it’s an exercise in ego, but it’s kinda cool to look at, that’s for damn sure.

Granted, perfect arcade ports (or hopefully flawless ports) do exist for folks running emulators on all sorts of devices, so the lure of an arcade setup going for less than an arcade machine is going to be a big draw. But I can’t see Capcom committing to this as the sole way to play these games as while it’s probably going to sell out as a collectible (and yep, make a load of cash for eBay sellers who snap up as many as they can charge up on a few credit cards so they can resell them at a massive markup), it’s just not a very good idea to make these titles exclusive to this device. Yeah, some folks say *any* publicity is good publicity, but I disagree when much of that noise is of the negative variety that may eventually hurt any traction this item needs to be a success outside the collectible marketplace.

As usual, we shall see what happens as that October release date approaches, but if some of the brutally salty responses to that UK trailer are any indication, I’m betting that we get some sort of compromise where anyone who wants to play this collection gets to on their console of choice. Well, hopefully that’s one outcome that should please the gaming masses to some extent. Yeah, I’d want one if I could afford it and yep, we also got some of those licensed Marvel titles to make an appearance in the near future (he said, remembering how hilariously fun The Punisher was back in the day).

-GW

Review: Feather (Nintendo Switch)

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Because sometimes you really really need to relax, games such as Feather ($12.59, $9.99 on PC) exist and should thrive because they do what they do well enough to recommend to those with more open minds. Melbourne-based Samurai Punk‘s super-chill experience is as much of an art project as it is a highly playable stylized bird flight simulation and it works on a few levels some won’t immediately grasp. Its open world setting couple with the simple to pick up controls allow free exploration of the map which reveals a few nifty secrets for those willing to take the time to dive in and discover.

This is a game where the intentional low-poly look blends seamlessly with its lovely soundtrack that does a great job of transporting you and your brain into a comfortable place for as long as you need that respite. As there are no big goals other than enjoying the ride and locating all nine music tracks (accessible via circular gateways placed in select locations), it’s a case where if you want to end the game, it doesn’t mind when you quit because any “progression” you’ve made isn’t saved. Yes, that seems strange in this era of auto-saves or games recalling your last position before a huge event. Feather itself is the event, and it’s a low-stress one at that. Jump in at any time and fly until you’ve had your fill.

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Oh, the places you’ll go: Just explore everything, as you’ll fly into some odd spots worth seeking out.

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