Review: X-Morph: Defense (Nintendo Switch)

X-morph box switchDeveloper EXOR Studios has done such a phenomenal job in porting X-Morph: Defense ($19.99 Standard Edition, $29.99 Complete Edition) to the Switch that I hope it’s likely going to be a game that will be studied for quite some time students getting into game making or by other devs who want to port a game they’ve made onto the platform. From visuals to performance, it’s a wonderfully complete experience that easily stacks up to the other versions made for more powerful hardware.

The funny thing is, I initially didn’t want to play this because I pretty much stopped cold playing tower defense-type games thanks to to having played so many for so long I became bored with the relative sameness they shared despite thematic differences. Thankfully, the addition of fast-paced arcade-style twin stick shooting blends well with the real-time base expansion elements and yes, the ability to play not as the humans, but the aliens in the process of vanquishing anything the earthlings toss at them as they attempt to mine the planet for its resources.

Hey, if you’re going to wreck the planet, you may as well do it in style and a continent at a time, right?

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Review: Vaporum (Nintendo Switch)

Vaporum_switchAs a well-aged (I prefer the term “vintage”) fan of old school dungeon crawlers, I knew Vaporum ($24.99, worth every penny) was going to be right up my alley. With its dark thematic elements, Dungeon Master meets BioShock vibe and plenty of play and replay value, the very worst thing that I could think of as I sat down to type out this review was simply only being able to get through the game once for this post and having to move onto something else thanks to my stupidly large backlog.

The team at Cypronia has converted developer Fatbot Games’ stellar PC game into a mostly excellent home console version and yes, when I say home console, I kind of mean it. While you can indeed take this on the go as a Switch owner, you’ll have to deal with somewhat smallish onscreen text and controls that can be a bit complex as they’ve been translated from keyboard and mouse to a controller with a lot less buttons to operate. Everything works as it should, but there are a few fiddly moments that require a trip to the options screen to adjust things to your preferences.

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Shocker! Just about everything wants you dead in this game – expect traps and tricks galore as you get deeper into the thick of things.

Personally, though – this is exactly the sort of game you’ll want to play while socked away on a rainy vacation at home in front of the TV in docked mode. That way, you’re all into the visual and aural experience (the game both looks and sounds fantastic) and not having to be interrupted by outside distractions such as some kid walking up to you and asking “Hey, is that a Switch? Can I play, please because my mom won’t let me take mine outside and… blah de blah, blah, blah..” (true story, that). This is the sort of game where concentration, planning and execution are all urgent forces vying for your attentions.

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Review: Feather (Nintendo Switch)

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Because sometimes you really really need to relax, games such as Feather ($12.59, $9.99 on PC) exist and should thrive because they do what they do well enough to recommend to those with more open minds. Melbourne-based Samurai Punk‘s super-chill experience is as much of an art project as it is a highly playable stylized bird flight simulation and it works on a few levels some won’t immediately grasp. Its open world setting couple with the simple to pick up controls allow free exploration of the map which reveals a few nifty secrets for those willing to take the time to dive in and discover.

This is a game where the intentional low-poly look blends seamlessly with its lovely soundtrack that does a great job of transporting you and your brain into a comfortable place for as long as you need that respite. As there are no big goals other than enjoying the ride and locating all nine music tracks (accessible via circular gateways placed in select locations), it’s a case where if you want to end the game, it doesn’t mind when you quit because any “progression” you’ve made isn’t saved. Yes, that seems strange in this era of auto-saves or games recalling your last position before a huge event. Feather itself is the event, and it’s a low-stress one at that. Jump in at any time and fly until you’ve had your fill.

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Oh, the places you’ll go: Just explore everything, as you’ll fly into some odd spots worth seeking out.

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Review: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning (PS4)

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

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CHARGE COMBO… er, hey? Does that come with fries, or just a large punch? I got jokes, man. Not good ones, but I got jokes…

ZZPS4“Gleefully Apocalyptic” or “Cheerfully Downbeat” may seem like damnable praise for a game, but Spike Chunsoft has made that a winning strategy in a number of its more popular titles such as the “Deathly Amusing” Danganronpa series or those “Wonderfully Grim” Zero Escape games. Veteran developer Lancarse’s Zanki Zero: Last Beginning ($59.99) is in some ways similar, but not 100% quite like those other games, though. It’s a “Non-stop Survival RPG” with a demanding set of gameplay requirements some new to this sort of thing may find a bit tricky to grasp, but it ends up pretty satisfying once you settle in and grow accustomed to what it requires from you. In English, you’ll dig this for what works well more than those who might not “get” it at all. Go try that lengthy PS4 demo out and make your move, I say.

You play as a team of eight survivors of a world-ending event who initially seem to think they’re in a bizarre reality show, but soon find out they’re clones with a 13-day lifespan forced to repeat the cycle of birth to death as they puzzle out the hows and whys of their existence. Their guides? A pair of cartoon show hosts living in a separate reality who pop up on an unplugged vintage televisions to give them missions that will expand or end their lives (or both) as they’re completed. Yes, you get 10XP if you realize there’s some nefariousness going on behind the scenes (or, under the skin, if you prefer). And yes, I thought David Lynch would make a fine directorial choice if there’s ever a live-action version of this one, but as usual… I digress.

 

 

As you can see from that trailer above, you can expect death to come calling frequently (a lot less so if you play on the new to the English version Easy mode). That said, dying here isn’t all bad, as what can kill you will in most cases will make your party members stronger as new resistances and even a bit of lifespan extending can be acquired based on how and when you buy the farm. Buy early, buy often, but try not to buy it too much as your lives are limited. There’s also that parasitic Clione the clones have to deal with – use their powers wisely, or pay the price with a somewhat spectacular death.

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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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Zanki Zero, You’re My (New) Hero

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Keep an eyeball peeled for this one, folks.

While it’s not officially out until April 9th, I’ve been playing a review version of Spike Chunsoft’s new first-person “Non-stop Survival RPG” Zanki Zero: Last Beginning for a few days now and it’s pretty amazing on a few fronts. I’ll save most of that “How amazing is it?” stuff for my review, but I’ll gleefully urge you to go download the demo if you’re a PS4-owning JRPG fan who wants something a wee bit… different yet but quite familiar in its mature tone to Spike Chunsoft’s other quirky titles.

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One of the first people you’ll meet in the game. Expect total strangeness from this point onward.

That trailer below doesn’t even begin to convey the sheer wackiness and brilliance on display, but it sure makes for an interesting watch:

Oh, before you get all “Aw, man… I want to play this on my PC!”… the game will indeed, get a PC version on the same day as the PS4 game ships. Excellent.

Alrighty, then. My work here is done for now, but I’ll be back with a review next week. Expect strangeness.

-GW

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain – 13 Days ‘Til The Worldwide Airdrop

This latest trailer for EDFIR is pretty goofball stuff, but definitely enjoy it for what it is. Of course, you can check out a more “serious” trailer and a nice set of screenshots on the PlayStation Store page (and pre-order the Standard or Ultimate digital edition of game if you like). Everything is shaping up to be the most epic entry in the long-running series to date and yes, that worldwide release insures EDF fans everywhere can play together or alone and not feel left out of the action.

Oh, for the record, I’m finally finishing up my Earth Defense Force 5 review (yeah, it took a while thanks to the ridiculous amount of content in the game, but that’s show biz, folks!) and should have it up over the weekend. Pop back in and see if it’s a total blast of a game more folks need to jump on (spoiler: it most certainly is).

-GW

Review: Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics (Nintendo Switch)

Cthulhu SwitchYeah, there’s a review hidden in here somewhere, but first, a lengthy foreword of sorts before the main event. I blame American International Pictures for my unapologetic appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, but I’ll also blame a particular English class teacher way back in my high school days who assigned the class to write a book report on anything they’d recently read and liked, no matter the medium.

We had to each bring our book of choice in so he could approve it and (eek) everyone had to go up to the front of the class and explain why we chose that particular read, which was mind you, quite a challenge for some of the more socially awkward students (*cough*, ahem!). Of course, one smart-ass decided to be funny and bring in Clifford, the Big Red Dog as his choice and was surprised as hell when his choice was approved… with the caveat that it had to be twice the length of the 500 words the other students were assigned as well as “the BEST damn book report on Clifford, ever!” (eek). So much for that dude trying to get off easy, right?

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Not quite what one thinks of when “Eldritch” is the subject, but it kind of works.

Me? I ended up picking Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space” from a collection of his works thanks to seeing the so-so 1965 film “Die, Monster, Die!” on TV a few times and later finding out via either Famous Monsters of Filmland , The Monster Times, or some other sci-fi/horror flick-related magazine that the film’s story was very loosely based on that well-aged 1927 short story.  I distinctly recall after struggling through my intro speech in front of the class, I ended up getting a note to see the teacher after class (Yipes!). But all he did was complement me on my “mature” selection and note that I’d maybe find out later in life that ol’ H.P. was a tad controversial for a few reasons I didn’t know at the time. Personally, I didn’t care because I wanted to explore the story in question more than I wanted to stumble over info later that would maybe make me not like what I’d read way back when I was in those formative years.

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Path of Exile Finally Arrives on PS4: Ethical F2P FTW

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It’s been a long road, but this will be a Path well worth traveling.

So, I’ve had Grinding Gear Games’ excellent free-to-play ARPG Path of Exile installed in my Steam account for a few years, but only put just over 11 hours into it before quitting cold. The reason for that was the game was so good that I really wanted to play it on a console and although I’d later discovered an Xbox One version was in the works, PS4 was and is my platform of choice (and yeah, I really couldn’t afford another new system). Finally, after a few delays (which weren’t at all disappointing to me because I knew the dev team would be adding in new content to keep the PS4 version up to date with the other versions), it’s here and yes, I’m in the process of downloading it.

PoE boxPoE’s more “ethical” approach to F2P means the game is yes, entirely free to play from the start to the endgame. Yes, additional storage space, cosmetic items that don’t affect gameplay and special character packs cost extra, but as far as I’ve seen and read, NOTHING makes the game a “pay to win” scheme.  Seven playable character classes and a skill tree that allows for an astounding amount of customization means any class you choose is going to be great once you grasp how deep your options are. As I’m a huge fan of isometric action/RPG games such as Diablo III, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, Victor Vran, and the like, there’s no doubt I’ll be playing PoE for quite some time.

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Ah, that comforting feel of the ol’ chase ‘n chop is still captivating stuff this old dude just loves.

Of course, that means ditching one of the other MMO’s I’ve been dinking around with, but that’s an easy choice to make when one is replacing a game that’s only OK with one that’s got much more of an immediate pull. Anyway, off to check on the status of that download and see how well this not quite new to me (but perhaps very new to you) game plays. I’m thinking it’ll be even better than I recall, so if you don’t hear from me after a while, don’t call out a search party, as I’ll likely be camping out at home, controller in hand.

-GW

 

 

System Shock! Piko Interactive Brings It With a Great Retro Games Selection

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Whoa. Good thing I’ve kept that old SNES and a bunch of controllers here.

 
They say time travel doesn’t exist, but seeing this rather cool selection of a dozen upcoming games from publisher Piko Interactive (all available for pre-order NOW) makes me think otherwise. My brain is still doing back flips reading the press release and dang it, although I have every console listed and yep, want each and every game on this list, I wish I still had my Atari Jaguar here for Impossamole and Head Over Heels (as well as the other Jag games I still own sitting in the library).

Anyway, the press release with pre-order links is below the jump, so get to the reading more part and yeah, go broke going for broke, those of you who are thrilled over these new but old soon to be quite collectibles.

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