Review: Loot Hero DX (PS4/PS5)

“Surely you joust”, the knight notes, setting off for adventure…

(Or, The Wonders of Dirt Simplicity These Days)

As a well-aged gamer, Ratalaika and Swedish developer VaragtP‘s fun little game. Loot Hero DX ($4.99) really hit a sweet spot here at the home office. I’ll tell youright now, the game won’t be for all tastes. There’s no penalty in place for dying, you earn endless piles of gold to spend even when you’re not playing (more on this later) and like some of the developer’s other casual games, it practically bends over backwards to make sure you’re having a good time. In other words, this ain’t no Demon’s Souls in terms of difficulty, that’s for sure. Take a peek at the game trailer below:

In a nutshell, you’re a knight tasked with dispatching quite a massive number of monsters and a few bosses on your way to the big dragon awaiting you on the final level. Gameplay couldn’t be simpler. Initially, you’ll run back and forth in a stage, leveling up and earning gold to spend in the shops found in each stage on upgrades needed to survive more than a few hits from enemies. Attacking is as simple as colliding with an enemy and surviving, but as levels are gained and you raise your stats, power and speed improve somewhat drastically. Stages that took maybe a minute or two to complete will blaze by in well under ten seconds at higher levels My personal record was about four seconds, but the game really got to me and I ended up playing well past level 100. While it can be completed in maybe 45 minutes or less, the appeal here comes from replaying and getting that knight even stronger and faster in those replays.

only 88+ levels to go…..

And, therein lies the game’s main flaw- it’s far too repetitive. Despite some nice pixel art and some pretty dynamic music, the first level plays exactly the same as the last, but killing the big dragon at the end doesn’t end the game at all. Each time you clear that last boss, you also rescue a miner that automatically throws itself into mining up more gold for you, making subsequent plays even more ridiculously easy. You can blow through the game, come back in an hour and have maxed gold which will be more than enough to boost you stats to incredible levels. At some point, you’ll be laughing at how fast the game becomes, perhaps even cranking the speed down so you can see what sort of damage you’re doing.

Overall, it’s not in the running for any Game of The Year awards, but for $5, you’re getting a fun little throwback that won’t burst your brain cells and tosses rewards your way constantly while doing that bending over backward thing it does so well. Now, about the potential possibility of a Cooking Witch console port, Ratalaika and VaragtP? Lets get on that, please – Halloween is coming up soon an that game would be a perfect fit.

-GW

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Capsule Review: Knightin’+ (PS4)

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Warm and fuzzy, indeed: Familiarity does not breed contempt here.

Knightin' PS4When you play Knightin’ yes, you’ll be fightin’ monsters, traps, and more.
A bit like Zelda, and you’ll say, “Well, duh. I think I know that score!”.
But this game’s shorter, so you oughta temper expectations.
It’s great to vacuum up some time, but might not sweep the nation.

You just start playin’ – soon you’re slayin’ all creatures in you path.
Bosses are tough, but skills and gear can beat down all their wrath.
The writin’s great – you may let out a chuckle as it goes.
I wish the game were more fleshed out, four dungeons here just blows.

But still, they’re great – appreciate the hat tip to nostalgia.
Timing and precision rule, lest you go to Valhalla.
The tunes are bliss, they sure don’t miss that classic gaming beat.
A big grin and a toe that taps work even in defeat.

Collision woes may give you throes, but practice makes perfection.
See and learn those areas where parts need a correction.
It’s all good, though – the game will flow when things go with the plan.
And if they do a sequel – well, I’ll surely play that, man!

 

Knightin’+ is $5.99 on PSN, but you can get it digitally on Switch, Xbox One and PC as well. The EastAsiaSoft physical edition seems to be sold out, but you can see if Play-Asia can get you one, as they’re the only place to get it for the retail price outside of an auction site’s gouging. It’s quite nostalgic and funny, gets straight to the point with no filler and it’s worth a few plays even if you’re just collecting the 16 trophies. Indie developer Muzt Die Studios and port house Ratalaika Games did a great job overall here. Sir Lootalot’s adventures may seem short, but there’s a good chance you be back for more as the game is so much fun to play. And yes, a longer sequel would be nice.

Score: B+ (85%)

-GW

-Review code provided by the publisher

Super Capsule Reviews Are GO! (Part 1)

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“Do not adjust your television set…”

Well, between getting sick a few times and kicking myself back into gear (or restarting things when I get better – “Prowler needs a jump!”), quite a lot of smaller games have been filling my backlog over a bit of time. For most of these, I’ve done notes on them and have even a few incomplete drafts, but it’s been a bit of minor hell in sitting down to complete some of them when one gets into “Hmmm, so what’s going to hurt today?” mode when some of the usual aches get a bit fussier. That said, as I’m currently in decent shape  (Whee! Ow.) and sure, you do need to read a bit more on my writing (I guess?), I’ve resorted to a bunch of short form reviews on a bunch of budget-priced games that may interest you if you’re curious and want to expand your horizons.

the tower of beatriceThe Tower of Beatrice: (PS4/PS Vita, $5.99 each) Puzzle-filled point and click adventure, anyone? Developer Fairy Forest and publisher/port house Sometimes You have a pretty basic, short game here where if you’re a fan of these types of games,  you don’t want to look up solutions because the fun comes from figuring out what goes with what as the things you need to do get more obtuse. You play a thief in search of a magic book now trapped in the titular tower by a witch who first tests you, then wants you to work for her. The potion making stuff is nice, but a bit underused for my tastes. Still, it’s nice to see used here in a pretty well-done manner.

If you’re and point and click veteran, much of this will be routine stuff that you can play with one eye closed. On the other hand, if you’re just in it for fast trophies (a lot of folks seem to be into that), the game may fluster you into cheating to net everything in a hurry when things get the tiniest bit confusing (some puzzles in the game can be a bit perplexing when they’re not explained well and are counter-intuitive on purpose). The translation is also a bit jarring, as seems to be the norm with so many imports these days, but I liked a few things about this one. Still, it’s more of a time killer between better titles at the end of the day.

Score: C- (70%)

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Review: One Night Stand (PS4)

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“Back up for a sec. I did WHAT last night?”

ONS_boxShort and simple on the surface, Kinmoku and ever busy port-house and publisher Ratalaika Games present a nifty little surprise in the form of One Night Stand, ($4.99) a game practically guaranteed to tee some prudish or easily triggered folks off (such as those expecting the usual trophy hunt from the publisher. Oh, they’re here, but it they come with a bit of baggage some can’t or won’t handle). This one’s a “slice of life” game, a visual novel where the person you’re playing wakes up in bed with a girl he met the night before and has (well, it’s an option here, but who doesn’t like a mystery?) to put the pieces together as he attempts to find out a few things about her.

Yeah, yeah. “Ooh, cooties” and all that dopey nonsense some will chime like broken bells as they whine about this game being the end of the world or bottom of the barrel or whatever. But it’s actually a pretty decent experience overall if you free yourself from any prejudices you may have Like it or not, some people in the real world sleep with each other and they’re not married and pumping out children. You can say this game is a sort of representational reality in a way of some (DEFINITELY not all) of the effects.

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Yeah, Let me choose (carefully, now!)…

Granted, waking up next to a total stranger is quite a change of pace (and how!) from this publisher of budget games, but it’s a risk that pays off big in little ways. As noted, the game is short (about 10 to 15 minutes per outcome), but replaying the scenario you get will extend the story across a few branches and yes, get you those trophies you’re after. As I like to note in my reviews of these games, Trophies are the last thing I think about and games like this are excellent ways to shake thing up.

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Review: Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning (PS4)

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Oh, for now, it does, Larry…

Scehming 1Disclaimer: Zombies as portrayed in the media aren’t a real thing at all and if you’ve been paying attention, apocalypses (other than the cosmic variety) are kinda man-made messes these days.

That said, in Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning ($4.99, also on Switch, Xbox One, and PC) some really hilarious and crude content awaits in this game where an old cartoon rabbit called Hank and his younger mutt friend Larry, scam fellow animals to do their supply runs in this really fun and short (because it’s presented episodically) game from the fine folks at Entertainment Forge, GrabTheGames, and Ratalaika Games. The funky cartoon style and limited animation recall something you’d see in an underground comic or during Cartoon Network’s better years, the script is pretty funny, and the game is memorable enough that you’re left wanting more (and more is on the way).

As the game begins, a (or The) zombie apocalypse has started, and buddies Hank and Larry have plans to hole up with Hank’s storage of a year’s worth of food plus some movies to get by (and yes, some drugs). Four months later (oops), they’re out of supplies, the power has been turned off (it’s actually one of the first things that happens) and Hank and Larry have to brave the outside world to get new supplies, starting with the wrecked shop across the street from them. Poor Larry is the first guinea pig, as Hank’s a bit slow (and he’s got the binoculars) and he survives, only to run into a drunken parrot and two easily pissed-off bulls who demand they give up some of their hard-gained loot.

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Capsule Reviews: Ratalaika Ravings (1 of 2)

I’m at that point in my gaming life where I’m really appreciating all the shorter indie games I get codes for simply because most of these titles are a blast to play and have a bit of replay value in cases where you’re hooked in and don’t mind having at it a few more times with a game you’ve enjoyed. Anyway, the fine folks at Ratalaika Games have been really great at dropping some fine budget titles that range from great to surprisingly good, so here are a few you may want to take for a spin:

metagal-squareboxart-01-ps4METAGAL ($4.99, PS4/PS Vita – Cross-Buy, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One): Or, MEGA MA’AM, if you like. Indie developer RETRORevolution’s cool little game is a nicely crafted mash note to Capcom’s classic hard as nails franchise, and while it’s not in the same class as as that long-running series, it makes a good enough impression that I’d love to see some sort of followup down the road.

The game has fun with its references and that titular character has a few amusing lines that keep the experience light and airy through the mildly to major challenges you’ll face. Character design and the overall artwork are stellar stuff, recalling the 16-bit MM titles, while level design is a bit of hit and miss. Well, you’ll be missing a few jumps here and there and taking hits thanks to faith-leaping and some enemy placement that assures you take those hits and like them (slap!), but that’s par for the course in the platforming game, folks.

As with a MM game, you can choose to play in a linear fashion or hop around, taking on the eight stages as you see fit. Sounds and music are also appropriately retro, so expect to get a grin going throughout this one every time you fire it up. I’ll gripe here about not being able to shoot up while climbing and the too easy to nab Trophies, but overall this one is a nicely priced budget gem that deserves a Buster Shot recommendation when all’s said and done.

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(sings) “What goes up, must come down…”

Score: C+ (75%)

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