Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
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Review: Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations

Adventure Time Finn & Jake Wii UPlatform: Wii U (also on PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS)

Developer: Vicious Cycle

Publisher: Little Orbit

MSRP: $39.99 (PS4/Xbox One, $49.99, 3DS $29.99)

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 & up)

Official Site

Score: B (80%) 

As someone who likes all the console and handheld Adventure Time games, it’s good to see a new one arriving so soon that’s even more of a throwback than the more action oriented titles that have come before. Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations is a fine homage to old school classic point and click adventures with some nifty combat portions to keep your fingers limber. While the game isn’t all that difficult to complete (particularly if you use the hint highlight system to find clickable objects and locations), it’s a great diversion for a rainy weekend as well fun enough to warrant additional installments. It’s also the first Adventure Time game with rendered 3D characters and environments with developer Vicious Cycle doing a mostly excellent job in making Finn and company look great in polygonal form.

BMODance (Custom) 

The game is set up as a series of “graybles” as (re)told by the alien Cuber (voiced by Emo Phillips) from his space station. While it’s not quite Game of the Year material, the story is pure Adventure Time: pretty darn amusing and as usual, chock full of goofiness and tossed off references fans will knowingly nod and grin at. Fans of the show new to this style of game will find that it’s easy to get into and play, but experts at pointy and clicky stuff new to the show may find the game lacks a certain level of challenge save fora few puzzles that require knowing how certain episodes play out. Then again, unless you’re really bad at following prompts and using a tiny bit of deductive reasoning, you can do a bit of trial and error with not a failure state in sight.

There are five “cases” to tackle in the Land of Ooo that have Finn and Jake meeting up with the usual suspects from the show and everyone is voiced perfectly as you’d expect. In terms of gameplay, most of the game relies on a simple menu system that allows you to choose Finn to do most of the investigative work while Jake assists in getting him in and out of trouble or to seemingly inaccessible spots in the environment. Talking to everyone if you’re stuck will get you some clues that range from mostly direct to somewhat obscure (yes, like the show), but you can solve bits of some cases before you’d think if you have just enough info and accidentally or intentionally talk to someone who starts giving you a short quiz about evidence you’ve gathered.

GnomeZap (Custom) 

At certain points during play, “Combat Time” sequences become available, adding a bit of button jamming action to things. These sections are short and easy to beat, offering simple rewards in the form of collectibles Finn and Jake can use to decorate their fancy over-sized tree house. The game probably would have been fine without the swordplay and special attacks, but someone generally gets some sort of beat down at some point on the show, so you get to dish out the digital pain on a few folks who probably deserve it. Then again, without these smack laying down parts, the game might be less amusing and fun to play to some fans who expect a knockout or three (or more) before all is said and done.

While the game isn’t all that lengthy (as noted, it’s a rainy weekend special), it’s well done enough to warrant a sequel or two in the same style or at least more Adventure Time games down the road. Actually, it would also be really interesting to see if Vicious Cycle can handle the crazy and contagious energy of a more recent Cartoon Network smash hit, Steven Universe. It’s a completely different look and vibe on that show, but so far, every tie-in from the comic to the sole mobile game Attack the Light has been very well received. As usual, we shall see. In the meantime, you may as well support Little Orbit and Cartoon Network by taking Finn & Jake on a few Investigations, I say.

Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations – Mysterious Goings-On, Old School Style


 

“What time is it?” Um, 6:48pm as I type these words!. Hmm, that joke fell flat didn’t it? Fortunately, Little Orbit’s latest, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations has far better writing than I can muster up and looks as it’ll be a total blast to play through. Available NOW on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS, the game takes the popular show and characters into a less sprite-ly space (the game is made up of POLYGONS! *Gasp!*) and pace as it emulates some of the older-school adventure games us well-aged gamers grew up playing.

at4_screen7 

Not to say there’s no action and occasional stuff being broken for no good reason other than it’s amusing, mind you. Don’t believe me? Well, take a looky at these GAME FEATURES:

Sleuth your way through five cases set in the Land of Ooo, each of which plays out a separate chapter (like your own personal episode of the show).

See the Adventure Time characters and familiar locations for the first time in 3D.

Tackle puzzles by creatively using inventory objects and Jake’s shape-shifting abilities.

Combat evildoers as Finn using a variety of unique swords and Jake’s awesome attack forms.

at4_screen11 

I stole that info above from the press release, so maybe that’s a SIXTH adventure that needs to be solved? Uh, wait. I just gave myself away as the culprit. Oops. Well, Jake and Finn don’t know and you won’t tell them at all, so I’ll be camped out in front of my TV waiting for them to slap the cuffs on. Or slap me around the room. I think I’m insured. I think.

Adventure Time Finn & Jake Box Shots 

So, yeah – get this game. Well, you don’t HAVE to buy EVERY version in that photo above. But if enough of you did exactly that, I sure bet Little Orbit and developer Vicious Cycle would be very thankful indeed. Perhaps a bit baffled… but thankful nonetheless.

Gallery: Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations

Gallery

This gallery contains 16 photos.

  All I know is there had BETTER be a line in Little Orbit’s upcoming Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations where someone says to Jake (and that someone should be Finn) “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown…”. Okay, I’ll still … Continue reading

Little Orbit Wants Your Character In The New Adventure Time Game!

Adventure Time_CharactersAre you a BIG Adventure Time fan with an artistic bent? Well, Little Orbit wants you! Or more precisely, they want your artwork! The publisher is running a contest where one lucky winner will have his or her character design used in the next Adventure Time videogame coming to consoles and PC. When? Well, I dunno, but the contest only runs for a short time (as in NOW until February 17, 2015).

The rules are simple (and below the jump) and if you win, you’ll be able to brag all over the internet and deal with people trying to bash your dreams into powdered atoms because that’s what they do these days. Yeah, well… just avoid the deathtrap spiral that comes from commenting to every dope who wants to rain on your day and you’ll do fine. Contest info and links below the jump. Go do some finger-stretches or whatever it is artists do before drawing, read on and go win big!

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Review: Falling Skies: The Game

Falling Skies The Game PS3Platform: PlayStation 3 (also on Xbox 360/Wii U/PC)

Developer: Torus Games

Publisher: Little Orbit

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

 

Score: C+ (70%)

You could say that there are two types of turn-based strategy game fans out there: those who’ve played XCOM and those who yet haven’t. Falling Skies: The Game works better for those in the latter category as well as those XCOM fans who won’t bash this too harshly for its intentional lifting of much of that game’s mechanics. While it’s a well-made game and plays just fine with only some pesky camera issues in tight spots, a few gameplay flaws knock it down from being a great entry in the genre. However, if you’re a big enough fan of the show, the game will probably warrant a buy right off the bat. Just don’t expect anything revelatory in the plot or handful of familiar characters you’ve come to know and love and you’ll more than likely have a fine time over a rainy weekend… Continue reading

Review: Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom

Adventure Time TSOTNK PS3Platform: PS3/PC

Developer: WayForward Technologies

Publisher: Little Orbit

# of Players: 1

ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Official Site

 

Score: A- (90%)

In the Nameless Kingdom, there’s a huge shop early on that “sells” nothing but the clay vases Finn been smashing to bits in that first dungeon you went through that opens the game. Finn can’t actually BUY a vase at all as far as I can tell. He can only lift one up to carry around and eventually try to leave with it. Or he can smash as many as he can with a weapon or just throw that lifted vase to the ground, breaking it. The only thing that happens when he does any of those things is an alarm goes off and a timer starts ticking down. Fifteen seconds later, a guard from the castle grabs Finn and then he’s outside the shop. When you go back inside, the clerk/owner scolds you a little and that’s that. Well, that is until later in the game when you discover a way to really get that guy’s attention by busting every jar at once. Such is the weird world of Adventure Time.

ATTSOTNK5

But that one event and its oddball randomness yet familiar to the show sameness is neither here nor there. The third time’s the charm (and how!) for WayForward Technologies with Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom being the best of the three games they’ve made to date with Finn and company. This latest title is clearly influenced by Nintendo’s older games in The Legend of Zelda franchise to the point that it feels like a really spectacular mod that happens to be Adventure Time related. It’s also a surprisingly tough game, or not so surprisingly tough if you’re well versed in how this style of game should be played. There’s no hand-holding here, you learn what needs to be done by observing the environment and enemies while paying attention to (and using) what’s in your inventory. You’ll very likely get stuck in spots, but the game has enough hidden stuff and offbeat side quests that make up for the vagueness it often bashes you on the head with…

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Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom Saves My Sanity This Week…

Okay, between the kitchen ceiling and walls here STILL not being repaired (oh, it’s a comedy of errors on the whys and hows of that nonsense – worth a post in of itself, but I’ll do that tomorrow or Thursday) and me pulling what’s left of my hair out at other things, I’m glad to have one nice diversion today: Little Orbit’s Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom. WayForward Technologies has cooked up a very inspired top-down adventure with gameplay and aesthetics that are going to be VERY familiar to fans of a certain marquee mascot character. Okay, the game is a shameless homage to the sprite-based Legend of Zelda games, but I’d say that Link HAS to be jealous. Why? Well, he’s only in a big deal fighting game and a nice non-canon beat-’em-up this year on two platforms while Finn is in a game that’s actually a solid Zelda adventure with Adventure Time humor packed into it.

Okay, let me get back to it. Tomorrow, another wall gets partially knocked in and I hope to heck there’s not anything leaky behind it, grrrr… Oh yeah, a bunch of AAA titles arrived today, but I’m not playing any of them (yet).

Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom Goes for the Gold!

Adventure Time TSotNKDeveloper WayForward Technologies is finally all done with Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom, sending the game off on its merry way to be cleaned and pressed and ready for its November 18 launch on the PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Nintendo 3DS.

How will it stack up to previous Adventure Time games? Ooo, I bet Finn or Jake know… but aren’t telling a single THING because they want you all to be kept in sus-pense until the game drops into retail and onto a digital delivery site near you. Personally, I’m a fan of both the developer and the show, so I’ll play this any way ’til Sunday just for laughs. WayForward rarely disappoints with its games, so I’m going in with half a smile on my face just to give the experience some extra, um… sus-pense!. Say, you look like you’re starving – have some screenshots:

BananaHurl FinnBananaFireAntsShelby Hack IceKing&Finn SlumberPrincess SPWolf

Um… okay. You didn’t HAVE to eat them all at once, greedy! Well, back in a bit with some impressions, then.

Falling Skies: The Game Lands at Retail for PS3/Xbox 360, Digital for PC, Wii U


 
This month went by WAY too quickly, ladies and gents! Anyway, one of the games I’m looking forward to playing has arrived, so I’m cracking my knuckles and getting ready for it (by whipping through a few recent titles and whipping out impressions over the next few days). Actually, you’ll probably be playing Falling Skies: The Game before I will, as review codes are going out later this week. You can zap yourself on down to any game retailer and get this for you PS3 or Xbox 360 or if you have a gaming PC or Wii U, hit up Steam or the Nintendo eShop respectively.

 
Oh, go on and buy it, already. You need a surprising tactical sleeper in the XCOM vein between the AAA blockbusters out now or waiting to drop in October and beyond and hey, those Espheni aren’t going to shoot themselves, right? I thought so! Get to it, pal!