Lost Ember: Making Mooneyes at This Great-Looking Game

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I’d been quietly following Mooneye Studios upcoming Lost Ember for a few years with the hope that the dev team would be taking their time to make an already gorgeous  game even more so. So this new trailer and actual launch date are making me really happy:

Lovely, isn’t it? Well, that July 19 release date for PC, PS4 and Xbox One is indeed a good thing, and with a Switch version also in the works, it’s safe to say about the only folks who might be a tad perturbed will be Mac and Linux die-hards who have to be a bit less grumpy unless their wants are taken care of. Anything is possible, so who knows what will happen in the future, I say. Go stick this one on your watch and wish lists, folks.

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A wolf whistle to the art team for such spectacular environments might not be a bad thing here.

– GW

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Super Phantom Cat: Or, Meow-Rio World, Switch Bound

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Currently available on Steam, and in the App Store, Veewo’s colorful, super-cute Super Phantom Cat will make the big leap to Nintendo Switch around March 21. This retro-inspired platformer with is super-colorful visuals seems geared for more casual play, but this isn’t a bad thing at all given the more or less “Try and die!” fervor some of these old school themed games go for on a regular basis.

Now, there’s nothing really wrong with these more difficult experiences that hearken to those days when checkpoints and auto-saves weren’t a thing and you had to replay maps from the start each time you lost a life. On the flip side, both kids and adults who aren’t as fast on the jump buttons these days deserve games they don’t need a walkthrough for because they’re nigh on impossible to complete sans some sort of online assistance. Granted, there are indeed walkthroughs for this game out there, but I think most of you who want to can complete this gem of a game with no help at all. This is a good thing, I say.

-GW

Capsule Reviews: You Need That Cute and Busy Stuff These Days

Foo. In addition to hating being ill, I’m kind of really hating on the general level of discourse we’re often forced into on random occasions when one is not even thinking of doing any feather-ruffling and someone you barely nod at gets their feathers quite ruffled. Boo. Anyway, some games are actually quite perfect at boinging away the nonsense thanks to crafty devs who just want to share what they’ve created with anyone and everyone who wants to have a good old time and maybe end a day with a smile. Submitted for your approval are the following indies, all at a nice enough price point to recommend to even the cheapest of cheapskates:

 

 

ihugu boxIHUGU (Nintendo Switch, $3.99): The first time I turned on Kool2Play’s simple and offbeat game, I was greeted with a quote from Ronald Reagan about peace that made me nearly spit out the sip of water I’d just taken. The second time I fired up the game, it was a quote from Jimi Hendrix that was in the same peaceful vein. While more or less a basic memory match game, the concept works well enough thanks to a wacky factor that more than makes up for its repetitive nature. Hug as many different folks as you can in assorted levels set around the globe and try for high scores by not hugging the same person twice. A few brief mini-games of the non-violent sort are dropped in every so often and are the same simplistic fun, but complexity and depth aren’t supposed to be strong points here.

 

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It ain’t rocket science, folks: huggin’, not thuggin’ is the way to do it.

 

Then again, the idea of a simple hug making someone’s day is almost a luxurious thought these days, a pipe dream of sorts if you think about it in this climate. But some of you may be very surprised to know that in real life this action (when done in a non-creepy and pure manner) is actually a great way to greet friends new or old. The game’s positivity and bright, cheerful visuals make it something to dip into if your day has been chick full of gloomy types angst-ing at your ankles with their low attitudes. Besides, you can custom create a bizarre looking character that only a mother would love who gets to spread a bit of joy as it zips from stage to stage spreading the love. What’s to hate about that? Also, the new 2-player mode is pretty neat for what it is even though the game never sets its sights above novelty status.

Score: C+ (75%)

Review code provided by the publisher

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Review: Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight

warplanes switch squareWhile it’s got quite the generic title, don’t pass up the chance to snap up Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight ($9.99) on the eShop, as it’s a stellar, challenging arcade-like flight combat game with a few simulation and light RPG elements. Featuring fast-paced gameplay, solid visuals, tight controls and difficulty that ranges from casual to challenging, it’s quite a nice surprise for a budget-priced digital game.

Each of the three campaigns (UK, Russian, German) can be played in their native language (with English subtitles), an excellent touch that adds authenticity to the overall experience. For the most part, the mission structure is similar across all three campaigns where you’ll hop into an assortment of planes and take on missions ranging from dogfights, bombing runs, and other aerial ace combat. The gameplay can be set to auto-target/autofire for more casual play, standard aiming and firing where you need to learn how to “lead” planes and fire at where they’re headed, or a hardcore mode that loses that auto-targeting and has you rely on sheer skill alone. Dealing with multiple bogeys coming your way from all angles when you’re having to target and fire without aid can be frustrating, but it’s a great way to truly test your nerves.

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Review: Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds (Nintendo Switch)

spintires switchAs with the PC and other console versions, Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds ($39.99) on the Switch is a pretty outstanding technical achievement, although this latest version isn’t without a few caveats. Packing in all the original game’s content along with the American Wilds expansion, it’s pretty amazing to see this simulation arrive on Nintendo’s hybrid looking and playing so well. Granted, it’s running at half the frame rate of the PC version and you’ll likely enjoy docked mode more than handheld mode if you’re a total visual purist. But it’s still amazing to see the Switch pumping out everything the more powerful consoles can with mostly relative ease.

If you’re new to the game, expect a hefty challenge the simple and quick tutorial deftly dances around because the game is meant to hook you in and have you figure out what you can do at your own pace.  This isn’t some fast-paced arcade monster truck fest with power-ups or turbo boosts galore. Nope, it’s a methodically paced simulation that demands practice and patience galore, but despite the learning curve manages to be incredibly fun and rewarding when all is said and done.

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“Keep on truckin’, baby…. you got to keep on… truckin…”

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Beamdog and Skybound To Bring D&D Classics to Consoles This Year

This somewhat astounding news popped up a few days back, but I’ve been a bit busy and just got around to picking my jaw up from the floor after it bounced under the bed. I really need to vacuum more under there, yuck. Say, did you know that Baldur’s Gate was in the works for the original PlayStation? Well, go peek at this for proof and get ready for a nicer thrill coming your way soon.

A little press release action is below the jump, but here’s a peek at the PC version trailer to one of those upcoming D&D classics for your perusal:

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Capsule Reviews: Rooms of Gloom and Doom and Such

Hey, I’m still here plinking away at a few health issues, but here’s something to read while I’m in recovery mode.

There’s a certain type of gamer I call “Trophy Hunters” who seem to rely solely on video and/or text walkthroughs of certain games in order to snag easy rewards in the form of digital Trophies or Achievements. Yes, this style of play kind of saps the fun factor out of games by breaking them down to into easy to digest “how to” posts. But there’s an odd benefit to this in the net effect of selling quite a few budget to fully priced indie to AAA titles that might normally not even get a sideways glance.

That said, when played as they “should” be, there are a number of these inexpensive titles that are really worth the effort it takes to complete them using one’s brainpower and maybe a pen and notepad for some of the trickier puzzles. Anyway, without further adieu, Here are a few indies that kept my old grey matter cooking that are worth a look:

 

 

PRIX_13Planet RIX-13 (PC/PS4/Vita/Switch): Indie developer 9 Eyes Game Studio (with a big assist from Sometimes You for the console ports) takes it back to the good old adventure game days with this simple-looking and somewhat straightforward sci-fi yarn about a space pilot who crashes on an alien planet and needs to find a way off… or else. Without a walkthrough, the game can be a bit of a mind-bender when you come up against situations where your character is killed and your brain is not wanting those deaths to transpire. The amusing thing here is dying in all the possible ways allowed by the game is a big part of netting those Trophies, so get used to expiring in a few ways as your adventure progresses.

While the game isn’t lengthy at all, it’s replayable if you decide you want to see every choice via playing in a linear manner. As noted, a few of the trickier puzzles may stump those who tend to think to literally or who don’t quite grasp that this isn’t a conventional narrative when it comes to how certain sections play out. For the record, I did cheat on one puzzle because it involved going in and out of a certain doorway in a certain order and yes, I ended up face-palming myself when I looked up the solution and discovered that a number of players had also gotten waylaid by that one spot. Hmmm… I guess there’s something to this trophy hound stuff after all?

Score: B (80%)

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Review: Gear.Club Unlimited 2

Yeah, yeah. I’m not a big Mario Kart fan these days. So sue me. Granted, I do like the series a lot and yes, it’s fun as heck and all that. But when it comes to racing games or in this case, pure driving games, I tend to prefer a bit more realism these days or at least something that works as a hybrid of simulation and casual play where you can dip in and enjoy a game that has actual cars to mess around with. On my other consoles, it’s been a wealth of choices for quite some time and I’m more than pleased with the selection I have. On the other hand, we have Nintendo’s last two home consoles (Wii U and Switch) that up until late last year, had a grand total of three GOOD titles that featured licensed cars, one on the Wii U from 2013 and two which came out in 2017 and 2018. That’s just plain nuts.

 

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That versatile Unity engine sure does a car body good in this game.

gcu2_boxartAlthough both have a few issues that keep them from being as great as they should be, I’ll still recommend Microïds and developer Eden Games Gear.Club Unlimited ($44.99) and Gear.Club Unlimited 2 ($59.99) because warts and all, they contain a decent amount of actual licensed cars and are quite lengthy racing experiences when all is said and done. Yes, the load times are somewhat long (grrr!) and the handling can be squirrelly (and more so in the sequel even with the patches). But there’s a certain cool factor when you take a an actual licensed domestic or foreign car out for a test run from the dealership or can afford to add it to your digital garage and full-on race it whenever you feel that need for speed.

Speaking of garages, should there be a third game in this series, Eden should trim and simplify the garage function in order to give players a speedier means of car management between events. Keep the paint and sticker customization, but relegate everything else to a slick menu that’s faster to navigate. Also, adding the ability to drive freely on any unlocked course as a means of learning the handling model would be an excellent addition (as well as bringing back fond memories of the best parts of Eden’s Test Drive Unlimited games from the late 2000’s).

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Clock Simulator: Seconds Count in This Addictive Oddity

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This little piggy’s maybe gonna run out of time… unless you can help out  a little bit.

cs_boxSo, yeah. There’s a new game called Clock Simulator for the Switch, it’s a port of the PC version, that adds two mini-games to the mix, it’s a mere $3.99 and you should give it more than a few minutes of your time because it’s strangely addictive, that being a clock thing. No joke here, this is a pretty impressive variant on the rhythm game where you need to be even more precise with your button pressing than usual. Perfection is not an overrated thing at all, at least as far as this deceptively basic time sink goes.

It’s also a very cool way to learn a specific skill (pressing a button exactly one second at a time) that may not seem as if would come in handy at all, but in fact, is quite helpful if part of your job is clock-watching. Granted, if you work at any job with a clock nearby or are one of the many who constantly check their favorite timekeeping device, this game may either cone in quite handy or make you wince a tad. Either way, just don’t tell your boss about it (unless you’re the boss, of course).

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“Time enough, at last…” but don’t stop pressing that button, pal.

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Review: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Nintendo Switch)

superbrothers switchSuperbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP ($9.99) is pure brilliance in every area, but the game wisely notes in its end credits it’s probably not going to be for every taste. Still, if you’re wanting a nicely droll, somewhat cerebral, amusing and completely hip masterpiece, you’ll just love what’s here. For example: Right after its opening section (which takes between 15 to 30 minutes to complete), a cigarette (or is that a cigar?) smoking character called The Archtype appears and tells you to return later after taking a break as a pair of curtains close and you’re sent back to the title screen. I actually didn’t go back to the game at that point. Instead, I put my Switch back into its dock, turned it off and went to make lunch. When I came back about an hour later, I felt as if that break was indeed justified because the game did such a clever job of getting me hooked in enough that I followed that silly instruction.

That silly instruction turned out to be a lot less so when later on, the game asks you to come back to it when the in-game moon phase is at the right spot to activate a certain task. Again, brilliant. The game is an adventure/puzzle hybrid that pays homage to The Legend of Zelda, a bit of Robert E. Howard, Carl Jung and a bunch of neat other things you may or may not see on the surface. Not to sound overly pompous or anything, but here’s a game that cleverly nods and winks at those who get it, but is totally playable by just about anyone who can use a Switch and is a bit curious about what’s in store for them.

 

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