Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Switch)

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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.

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“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.

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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

Stuff I Need to Play 1: Mary Skelter 2

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It’s allllmost here…

Oh, it’s a long list, but let’s discuss what I’m thinking of at the moment. Yes, this will come in a few parts over the month, so bear with me as I go through my overstuffed inbox. I loved the first Mary Skelter enough to play both the PS4 and PC versions. so the inclusion of the first game for free in the Switch-only sequel has me wanting to play it all over again. Well, after the sequel, of course.

From the just released gameplay trailer, the game looks great and the oddball beautiful ugliness of the creatures your party will encounter as friend and foe look great (with the assorted Nightmares shown so far being especially Yeesh-worthy, Yes, the gals are cute here too, but that’s expected in a game like this. I’m moe (ha, I left a typo in because it fits!) thrilled by the dungeon crawling, what’s probably going to be a tougher game and any endgame content that this has. But I fully expect my poor Switch getting a workout from the main story alone.

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Review: The Tiny Bang Story (Switch)

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“Ma’am, could you tell me where you keep the puzzle pieces, please?”

Tiny BangWant a teased brain and some very pleasant and relaxing tunes to chill out to? Do you like puzzles and hidden object games? Well, here’s a game for you, then. Colibri Games’ The Tiny Bang Story ($9.99) finally comes to Switch and while it’s quite lovely to look at, some older gamers  (raises hand) might want to play it docked thanks to some very intricately detailed environments that make playing in portable mode a little tricky.

That’s not to say it’s unplayable undocked, mind you. This is a game where a larger TV screen not only shows off the great art to its fullest, some of the tiny details are harder to spot if you can’t see them (and there are a lot of tiny details here). I did make it through a hour or so through in portable mode before going docked and not looking back, but your own mileage may vary.

That and the onscreen pointer is super small, which helps seeing things, but also hinders things a bit because it’s so minuscule and you need to do a bit of hunting and pecking here. This is really the only “bad” thing about the game. Some of the search bits are yes, a lot of trial and error searching or tapping, but that’s par for the course in this sort of game. The puzzle portions are set up and balanced overall between those that make you think and a few where you might pull a few hairs figuring them out, but that’s also part of the deal you get with these games.

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Skybound Games Has Me Talking to Myself (Again)

“And it goes like this.”

Me: Uh, hey, man.
Me: What?
Me: I need $200. Plus shipping, I think.
Me: For what?
Me: This (look down):

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Me: HOLY $#!+!
Me: Well, SOLD, huh?
Me: Um, hold on a sec.
Me: Awwwww, come onnnn…
Me: Look, we made a deal, remember? We’ve no more room for those big collector’s editions. That, and we DO have a big backlog of other games…
Me: (pouts, gives me the sad puppy dog eyes)..
Me: Oh, that’s SO not going to work, pal. We’re also on a budget, remember?
Me: Well. you COULD sell off some of those older games you aren’t playing like you did that one time…
Me: Yeah, right. That was kind of an emergency and this, well… it’s really damn cool and all, but it’s not super-urgent.
Me: Booooooo!
Me: Okay, knock it off. I need to get a post up and get back to those other reviews in progress.
Me: Bill
Me: Oh, don’t get cranky with me, buddy…

Me: Grrrrrrrr! (thinks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQnToZYGAoY)

Me: Um, I know what you’re thinking, you know.
Me: Hmph. Well IF you did, then you’d also know that big ol’ box ends up costing not too much more than the regular editions IF you think about it…
Me: Be that as it may, the chances of me buying that set are like the chances Skybound will send me one to review.
Me: Well. it COULD happen!
Me: Yeah, sure. Well, I’ll let you go handle that and see what the results are. Good luck, pal.
Me: Well, first, let me go make some wall space for that bo setx…
Me: What?
Me: (pulls out big ACME rubber sledgehammer):Hey, you DID say we needed more wall space once, so I’m gonna go make some…
Me: Wait a minute!
Me: Too late! (swings hammer at wall, whereupon is bounces off and knocks me out cold.
Me: Well, that’ll learn ya. Again. Good thing that store only sells rubber hammers.

And so it goes…

-GW

 

Blow Up Your Monday With A Rolling Gunner Switch Code (US eShop)

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How’s your Monday going? It might get better by Tuesday, if you’re lucky.

Thanks to the fine folks at mebius. and Mastiff Games, I have *ONE* (1) code here for their spectacular arcade shooter Rolling Gunner for the US Switch. It’s a great game, by the way.

Now, while a few of you out there are very likely to want to do something kooky to get it, you actually don’t have to. Put down that fish bowl, duct tape, and roll of heavy duty aluminum foil you were going to use to craft that makeshift space pilot uniform and just reply to this post in the comments below. One entry per person, of course. No need for lengthy or creative responses and nope, don’t go posting your email address (I’ll know how to find you, fear not.)

I’m picking the winner RANDOMLY from the entries received by 1pm on Tuesday, so don’t dally. Yeah, it’s an old school giveaway just to let non-twitter users have a shot, but this post will auto-load to my twitter account anyway, so yep, readers there can try for a win if they read this post.

Anyway, good luck!

Oh, here’s some fine print below if you need to read how this works:

Open to residents of North America with an active Nintendo eShop account. Void where prohibited. Contest ends 7/2/2019 at 12:59 pm EST. There is no entry fee, subscription requirement or purchase necessary to enter. Winner will be chosen at random. Winner will receive ONE code via email. Requests for multiple codes via multiple accounts are grounds for disqualification. By submitting a comment below, you are granting Destroy All Fanboys! permission to contact you via email. The winner will be notified by email within 3 days (or less, most likely). If the winner cannot be contacted/does not claim the prize within seven (7) days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize and choose a replacement winner.

-GW

 

Review: Rolling Gunner (Switch)

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RGboxHoly hell, mebius.’ Rolling Gunner ($19.99, buy it!) is completely NUTS, but in the best possible manner. Its very high level of accessibility and four difficulty modes mean you don’t even need to love or be somewhat decent at arcade shooters in order to get the most enjoyment from it.

In fact, the game is programmed to teach you how to play and as a friend who popped by to borrow some movies who also ended watching me play noted, “It’s really hypnotic to watch all that craziness!”, which had me cracking up as I completed the game (on Novice mode with a somewhat low 17,419,459 points) and restarted it as I handed him a controller and let him have a crack at the Training mode. Let’s just say he rather liked the chaos even that short stages offered, but he doesn’t yet own a Switch. Which is okay for now (his kid wants one for his birthday coming up in July, though, so I’m compiling a list of games for his dad).

Anyway, there’s a story here about a big corporation discovering a new element at the bottom of the sea, that element used to create a few initially helpful items and as usual, those items being used for some not so helpful things. Yadda, yadda, yadda, it’s now March 18, 2061 and you’re tasked with rolling out in one of three trusty STORK class warships to destroy the enemy fortress and a few thousand enemy ships, tanks and other robotic doom-throwers along the way. The game of course, notes the following in its helpful digital manual: “This story is fictional. The people, groups, and names that appear are fictional, and have no basis in reality.”

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Review: Golem Gates (PS4)

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Riffing with Glyph-ing: choose your cards wisely, or else suffer the fate of the unprepared.

GG_PS4Laser Guided games mostly excellent Golem Gates ($24.99) made me wish attract screens were still a thing in modern games. While it’s a solid and enjoyable take on the Real-Time Strategy (RTS), card collection and MOBA genres and translates well enough from its keyboard and mouse-centric PC origins to a game controller, it’s also the sort of game where a rolling demonstration mode would just be a cool thing to have happen when the game is booted up if only to get a few more people on the fence about it wanting to give it a shot.  If you’re super-old school and need a sort of reference point, imagine Herzog Zwei, StarCraft and DoTA having a baby and getting it onto PC and now, consoles and you’ve got an idea od what to expect.

Granted, if you’re buying this game for yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting into and likely don’t need any persuasion. Conversely, if a friend drops over and is itching to know what the big deal is, you’ll just have to have them plop down on the couch or wherever and play as they watch, or pick up a controller and join the fun if they’re more than a little curious. Thankfully, other than the rather dry main screen that greets you along with Dalvan King’s stellar music, the gameplay hooks you right in if you’re a fan of this sort of play. Kicking off with a tutorial that explains the basics, your Harbinger uses cards (called Glyphs here) to summon up a small variety of troops and useful goodies to assist in dealing with assorted enemies as you attempt to take out the enemy Harbinger. In Campaign mode, that list of Glyphs gets larger as do the enemy types that need crushing, and yes, decks can be created and customized to your liking as new Glyphs appear.

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That Sega Genesis Mini? It Just Got A Lot Cooler

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Well, now. The final set of games coming to the Sega Genesis Mini have been revealed and guess what? It’s 42 titles and not the 40 initially noted. That final dozen include a few excellent surprises such as Tetris, the Sega-developed Japan-only rarity, and Darius, which never got a retail release.

Here’s the list of included titles:

Sonic The Hedgehog
Ecco the Dolphin
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Space Harrier 2
Shining Force
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
ToeJam & Earl
Comix Zone
Altered Beast
Gunstar Heroes
Earthworm Jim
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Contra: Hard Corps
Thunder Force III
Super Fantasy Zone
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Streets of Rage 2
Landstalker
Mega Man®: The Wily Wars
Street Fighter II®: Special Champion Edition
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts®
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Beyond Oasis
Golden Axe
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
Vectorman
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Tetris®
Darius
Road Rash II
Strider®
Virtua Fighter 2
Alisia Dragoon
Kid Chameleon
Monster World IV
Eternal Champions
Columns
Dynamite Headdy
Light Crusader

I’ll admit to being generally pleased with this lineup (let’s say about 85%) but there are a few odd omissions that leave me thinking that there will be some sort of second Genesis Mini or perhaps an update of some sort in the future. We shall see, I guess.

-GW

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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