Review: SEGA AGES Shinobi (Switch)

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Hey, that’s NOT a ninja weapon!

Switch Shinobi boxAnother flawless and essential port by M2 with a few excellent modern options, the 1987 arcade classic Shinobi ($7.99) sneaks onto the Switch, and it’s just as hard as ever. There’s an easier AGES mode that changes lead Joe Musashi’s garb to white and lets you take more that a single hit (as in the Genesis and Mega Drive follow-up Revenge of Shinobi) and you can choose to use the new rewind function if you like to make things a bit easier. I’ll admit that I didn’t touch it for a few days until it was tested for review purposes and yep, it helped a lot in a few areas. But it’s not necessary to clear the game if you’re averse to it and want to do it the old-fashioned way. Well, minus the feeding the machine part.

 

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SEGA AGES Sends Shinobi and Fantasy Zone Westward

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Get ready for the tough stuff…

SEGA AGES on the Nintendo Switch gets more classics with developer M2 offering up two more Sega hits of yore with the developer’s stellar ports, and yes, each will arrive with new enhancements in tow that offer more accessibility options and new ways to enjoy these titles. First up, it’s the Ninja-packed action classic, Shinobi:

Ninjutsu master Joe Musashi returns in this classic side-scrolling platformer. He has been sent on a mission to single-handedly find and rescue all the children of the Oboro clan who have been kidnapped by a criminal syndicate known as ZEED. Utilize your sharp sword, shurikens, throwing knives, and even magic to defeat the enemy and free the hostages.

The challenging side-scrolling action title Shinobi strikes back with an AGES mode that gives a white-robed Musashi extra health and damage, and an added Melee button that lets you dispatch enemies up close and personal. And if the hordes of ZEED are proving too much of a test, difficulty and stage select options have been implemented, along with a reverse time feature.

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Disaster Report 4: Survival Instinct Keeps You Moving

 

Well, here’s a game that was initially canceled a few years ago thanks to a real-life disaster a few years ago in Japan, but thanks to developer Granzella (R-Type Final 2) taking up the reins on the project, we’re finally getting Disaster Report 4 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch this spring. The console versions will come digitally downloadable as standard editions on their respective shops, while the NISA store will be selling the Limited physical editions and retailers GameStop and Amazon, physical standard editions for those who don’t want that extra omake swag shown below:

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I kind of want the bag, but my wallet is screaming at me from a coat pocket, and I’m trying to keep it happy these days. I still have my old copy of Disaster Report on the PlayStation 2 and I think there’s a copy of the sequel here in the game library, so I’m ready as ever for this one. Here’s the newest PS4 trailer, so yon can see more of the game from a few new angles:

 

I was all set to give up on “survival” games. but this series has never let me down and it’s lovely to see it come back, albeit at a really crazy time in the real world where every day there’s a disaster of some sort. Thanks to Granzella for saving this from the abyss and tweaking it up for its close-up and NISA for choosing to publish it.

-GW

 

Starlink, Here We Go…

 

In 2019, Ubisoft released Starlink: Battle for Atlas (PS4, Xbox One and Switch. with PC coming later), which was designed to bring the “Toys to Life” sub-genre started in games like the old PS1 import ZXE-D: Legend of Plasmatlite (I have a complete box set here with un-assembled robots. I really need to photograph it one day!) and the Skylanders series raring back to life. While it was a really good game, there seemed to be an assumption that players needed to start collecting a bunch of pricey toys in order to play and yep, the game didn’t move units as it should have.

Given that Ubisoft Toronto explicitly made the game to be played as either a physical disc or game card as well as in digital formats, it seems gamers failed to notice this and retailers who thought this would be the next big thing were stuck with who knows how many thousands of copies. You could say it was Disney Infinity all over again, but Ubisoft only released six Starship Packs, four Weapon Packs, and four Pilot Packs outside of the Starter Packs and killed support for the toy line in Spring 2019. Those packs, by the way? They cost more than the game does if you ever need to get them new.

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Review: WRC 8: FIA World Rally Championship (PS4)

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Out for a Sunday drive, blinking is very optional.

WRC 8In the options menu of WRC 8, ($59.99) there’s a race card screen that tracks your driving in the game, noting everything you do without any judgement. So far, on my time with the game I’ve ran my cars into stuff 3,302 3,477 times (and counting) between small dings to major collisions that had me completely wrecking out of a few races, but this is a good thing (not for my poor garage, though).

The game is quite a massive effort from KT Racing and it’s their best racer to date as well as the sole officially licensed WRC game on the market. The assorted cars, courses and sounds are pretty lifelike and the rides all handle differently under a range of conditions once you get a grip on the controls. But practicing makes the game even better and finding the perfect settings for each car and course is key to getting the most out of the overall experience.

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If you’re going too fast, that simple turn up ahead is a bear, but there’s no bear at the end of that turn, fortunately.

Codemasters’ DiRT franchise might be better looking (the terrain deformation adds to the realism) and better known to some, but the outside a PC mod, the more authentic to the WRC season licenses, courses, drivers, and cars here will be the way to go for fans who enjoy the sport and want the deepest dive into it. Thankfully, those options also include a number of tweaks to make the experience a good deal more flexible to new players. Granted, like the two DiRT Rally games, this is the sort of simulation that’s going to be daunting to novices no matter how many assists they turn on. But that sticking to the real deal thing is for me, what makes a good rally game and WRC 8 makes for the most the best WRC experience since the five great WRC titles by the late Evolution Studios way back on the PlayStation 2. That said, one has to give the still mighty Richard Burns Rally it’s own pedestal for what it brought to the virtual rally game.

Even when set to the easiest mode and with every assist on, the game still requires near flawless or even perfect mastering of its courses and weather conditions. New players to this on Easy can indeed make it around the special stage or a few rallies with some effort. but it’s a literal learning curve taking in the pace notes and reading the track ahead while not hitting something because you’re trying to do it while driving a car at high speed with a co-driver notes near-constant directions at you. Still, the game’s Season and Practice modes will be your friend for a while as you settle in. There are the much harder Weekly challenges to do, but you’ll want some mileage under your belt, as these are pretty difficult events.

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OVERPASS: The Road Less Traveled May Drive You Wild(er)

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Coming in February 2020 from Swedish developer Zordix Racing and publisher Bigben Interactive. OVERPASS looks to be the ultimate off-road simulation racer. This isn’t some arcade-like game where you’ll be blasting around in cartoon monster trucks, picking up power-ups and pulling off tricks. Nope, the game looks like a hardcore simulation featuring licensed buggies and quads and more speed, but plenty of obstacles to overcome on each course.

Here’s a trailer to take a look at long with another one below the jump that shows some licensed vehicles you’ll be driving:

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Blacksad: Under the Skin: “All the Animals Come Out At Night”, Indeed (2)

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Already out on Steam, Microids, Pendulo Studios and YS Interactive’s Blacksad: Under the Skin will release on December 10 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Here’s a look at the launch trailer and some screens of this action/adventure game with an all-animal cast set in the 1950’s:

I’d posted about this one previously here, so this is a reminder to me to get to reviewing it soon as a console release. More on the plot and such below the jump.

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Chicken Police: “All The Animals Come Out At Night”, Indeed (1)

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It’s not Cluck Cargo, that’s for sure.

Okay, I want this because it’s perfect or I want it to be perfect and hey, a film noir-themed classic adventure game with an all animal cast seems to be a big thing again (as you’ll see in a few posts today). Here are the trailer and some nice screenshots for indie developer The Wild Gentlemen’s upcoming Chicken Police: Paint It Red, set to be published by Handy Games sometime is 2020 on PC, PS4. Xbox One and Switch. I want this in a physical edition at some point just to whip out and show people I wasn’t hallucinating if the game ever vanishes from digital stores.

Here’s the wonderfully amusing and quite eye-popping trailer, Game info and screenshots are below the jump. Tell me you’re not wanting to see more, even (or especially) if you’re not a gamer because you’re into noir and now suddenly wanting to see how this film noir-inspired adventure turns out (Yeah, I know male chickens are called roosters, but I’ll give it a pass this time):

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Review: Yaga (PS4)

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For all that balalaika ringing out, this beastie just wants to keep you warm inside its stomach…

So, I wrote a poem as a game review again, or a game review as a poem. Cover your ears or something:

It took a while, oh yes, it did.
But this review’s now just un-hid
It’s for a game named Yaga ($24.99), see,
in some ways, it’s a victory.

Delivered in verse, the story is.
A nice choice, but it’s not for kids
Some blood’s here (you can turn it off)
Plus dark content might make some cough.

The brilliant writing and voices match
the music here, your ears will catch.
Painterly graphics wrap up this show
where myths from Slavic lands will flow.

You play a blacksmith with such bad luck
he’s one-armed ’cause he didn’t duck
and now is cursed to walk the land.
Problems he’ll solve with one good hand.

He’s fated to spend his bad time here
with witches binding moves so clear.
You pick a fate to trouble him
and then you set off with that whim.

That random nature hurts, but helps
you beat the foes, rescue the whelps.
It surely keeps you on your toes
wherever that cursed blacksmith goes.

While fixing things, he’s also tasked
With his Grandma’s most constant ask:
“Go find a wife to share your life”
(As if the Tzar’s decrees aren’t strife).

A black-bird will tell you to craft
So listen well, now – don’t be daft
You’ll make some gear to turn the tide
or be in for a tougher ride

But, weapons break via bad luck curse
Sometimes it seems, the timing’s worse.
Until you see that fate is tied.
All magic makes that meter slide

Now, even with less magic use
That bar will fill, and cook you goose.
Your carried weapon will just break
(and swapping it won’t make it fake).

You learn to deal (well, you’d better fast)
Escape that curse? Nope, that won’t last.
Get Yaga her gifts, aid folks you meet
Or else, it’s doom, right on the street.

Four times, you’ll play this game at least
Four paths to choose, from man to beast.
All these are based on choices made
so pick the path you’ve not yet played.

While levels could be better here
And combat seems to have less flair
The things I liked made this stand out
So buy this game! Oh, yes, I’ll shout.

-GW

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Neverwinter Nights Comes to Consoles (And Why You May Never Go Outside Again)

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If you only get one game this holiday… you’ll likely still be playing it a year later.

Oh, good gravy, I forgot this was coming out (and guess who’s really happy about that?)

Firmly camped in the “Now, this brings back memories” and “Well, there goes another 180 or so hours!” departments, I have the feeling the console version of Neverwinter Nights ($49.99, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) will be a Game of the Year contender simply for the sheer amount of content it delivers. The press release below the jump will get you grinning if you’re a fan who remembers spending too many hours in these worlds, but I bet a copper that a new generation of players will want to dive into this in single player and co-multiplayer modes.

New, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go move some time around and figure out when I’m going to play this and you need to go read a press release. For the record, I’ve been storing excess time in the closet, but it keeps disappearing, grrrrrr. Must be the monsters in there eating it, I think…

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