Review: Symphony of Eternity (3DS)

SOEtitleFor the record, I was so tempted to write this review in 6-point type just to vent a little at Kemco and World Wide Software for this port of their otherwise decent mobile game, Symphony of Eternity. But I kind of like having regular readers so that plan died a merciful death and you get something a lot more readable. Anyway, the game, taken on its merits is a fine and dandy revisit to the nostalgic days of 8-bit console RPGs and there’s a decent amount of content for that low price point of $7.99 (yes, it’s worth a buy).

The big caveat is the playing the game on either the standard 3DS or worse, a 2DS will subject your eyeballs to some pretty darn tiny visuals on the main screen and a tinier map on the second screen. Worse, the game uses a few different camera positions and only one allows you to see what you’ve paid for with a full screen. Amusingly enough, that viewpoint is a standard overworld view… but you actually only use that map for getting from one point to another as the game has no overworld combat. Every fight takes place in dungeons of assorted size where that larger screen would have been very welcome, thank you much.

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Mail Call 1: Hello, Homicide Division

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Yep. Looks as if I’ll be busy for a bit being a dick. That’s DETECTIVE, to you, pal. Watch that mouth or it’ll be missing a few teeth. Oh, wait. I’m talking to myself here. Aheh, sorry! Anyway, thanks much Carey at Rockstar Games for this treat. I’d been re-watching a ton of film noir over the last month in preparation for this updated version, so my mood is set for a grand time in this sprawling version of 1940’s Los Angeles.

L.A. Noire is out today for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Go get it. Edit: Yeah, the game was running in the background as I was typing, so I zipped back to it after posting this without completing it, heh. Oops. Well, I stand corrected and now I’ll go sit back down and complete another case. Back in a bit.

-GW

Review: Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut (PS4)

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When Slayaway Camp popped up on PC last year, it caught a lot of people by surprise (just like any decent masked serial killer would, mind you). The winning combination of intentionally blocky visuals, Sokaban-style sliding puzzles and optional (but necessary) comic use of gore made the game as fun to play as it was to show off to skeptical friends who initially didn’t see the appeal in such a simple looking game as a horror experience. Well, guess what? It’s baaaaaack and ready for its console close-up, (stab, stab, stab).

Even if you hate horror-themed games, Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut has a sneaky (but not subtle) way of luring you in because those sliding puzzles are really tempting to tackle and you’re hooked in (ouch!) before you know it. Don’t like violence against blocky, block-headed camp counselors and other serial victims? There’s a slider to turn off the pixel “gore” on the options screen. R to PG in a flash? Yep. Hell, there are sliders on that option screen for all sorts of oddball stuff, some of which you’ll see right away while others are intentionally vague. This is a game that aims to please and hits that eye with an arrow every single time (ow!).

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Review: theHunter: Call of the Wild (PS4)

For a hunting game, Avalanche Studios and Expansive World’s fantastic, deep simulation theHunter: Call of the Wild makes for a pretty meditative game experience that’s also become one of my favorite games of a busy with favorite games kind of year. While it’s not for everyone, it’s a game almost everyone can play because of the sense of freedom the two massive maps allow. Want to go for a miles-long hike in the woods snapping photos of wildlife? Go for it. Want to just take a few deer down for experience and cash for better gear? That’s the point of the game (if you couldn’t tell from the title).

That said, this isn’t a hopped up Duck Hunt or a blazing fast-paced arcade experience with bucks popping up like brainless buckshot fodder. You’ll be trying to be as quiet as possible as you work your way around to your target only to have it scamper away after you’ve made too much noise or committed some other faux pas. Amazing visuals and sound design aside, this one’s going to be a niche game for some players who simply don’t like the sport. On the flip side (and as noted for a second time), those looking for a game where easy to kill woodland creatures are a “thing” will probably tap out from the laid-back (yet paradoxically tense) art of tracking, trailing and taking down a target.

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L.A. Noire Switch Trailer: Portable Detective, About To Go On Patrol

 

With all the ruckus on some sites over Red Dead Redemption 2 being Rockstar’s next big thing, I’m truly hoping no one sleeps on the still (and now more so than ever) stunning crime saga that is L.A. Noire. The game is getting a full on remaster for PS4 and Xbox One that’s going to land in stores November 14th along with this newly created Switch version that has console-specific functionality and yes, some pretty stunning visuals. I don’t yet own a Switch, so I’ll be aiming to grab the PS4 version when it launches. That said, this one’s definitely going on the long want list of Switch titles thanks to developers continuing to do some truly amazing work with the hardware.

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This has definitely been a spectacular year for Nintendo’s new console and it’s clear that a lot of former naysayers are chomping on some fresh crow pie these days.

-GW

.hack//G.U. Last Recode – Launch Trailer: Time to Deep Dive Back In

 

Good gravy, veteran developer CyberConnect2 is made of of some incredibly busy and possibly crazy (in the best possible manner) people. Those power-packed Naruto games they’ve been doing great work on have set and raised a few bars in the anime to games scene and now, it’s .hack//G.U. Last Recode getting a superb-looking and super-polished remaster, now available on PS4 and PC.  I’ll need to grab this one when I have actual free time as I’ve been a big (but silent) fan of the .hack series since the PS2 days and while I was hoping the originals would get full remakes with new assets and features, this update of the second series will do more than nicely.  So, yeah – go add this one to your want list as it sure is coming in hot and pack to the gills with new stuff.

 

-GW

Review: Spintires: MudRunner

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Spintires_MudRunner_Pack2D_PS4Taking the wheel from original developer Oovee Game Studios, the talented team at Saber Interactive has brought an expanded and even better SPINTIRES experience to consoles and PC with an excellent, highly challenging, and quite rewarding driving game that’s going to baffle some gamers while it pleases a certain bunch of folks who love to play in the mud.

Interestingly enough, Spintires: MudRunner (or MudRunner: A Spintires Game) also works supremely well as a hybrid driving/puzzle game where the environment is your worst and sole enemy as you attempt to simply drive from Point A to Point B or just try to enjoy exploring the massive, gorgeously detailed maps. This isn’t a game about speed at all, folks. It’s more about control and the ensuing chaos when that control is lost.

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MudRunner adds a new (shorter) tutorial, a new sandbox map, a Challenge mode and ups the truck count from 6 to 19. While it has a “casual” mode, this clearly isn’t a game for those who want to hop in and get blazing down a dirt road taking corners with powerslides. Here, you’ll rarely get above 20mph, the paved roads aren’t the widest you’ll drive on, and that mud? It’s practically got a life of its own thanks to an amazing physics engine that’s been tweaked even more from the PC original.

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Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut Brings Humor To Horror In Spades

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I was hoping Blue Wizard would get around to getting their runaway PC hit Slayaway Camp onto consoles and yes indeed, it’s finally here to slay. The most murderiest puzzle game ever comes to consoles with hundreds of levels, easy to grasp, hard to master gameplay and loads of killer content (as in loads of killers to choose from and bump off camp counselors and other B-movie fodder in plenty of blocky but gory ways). It’s kind of like Sokoban… but with 100 percent more killing instead of crate pushing!

Key features

Includes the base game and the following additional content: Deluxe Edition, My Gory Valentine, HellCamp, Monthly Murderers Series 1 & 2, Supernatural Forces, and Santa’s Slay
300+ Fiendish puzzle levels to massacre your way through
60+ Killers to cause comical carnage with, including deranged wackos such as Mutant Hillbilly, Kevin, and the killer inter-dimensional clown: THAT
90+ Gorepacks with delightfully OTT kill scenes to shock and entertain
Starring Mark Meer (Cdr. Shepard from Mass Effect) as Skullface and Derek Mears (Jason from Friday the 13th) as Jessica
Genuine hair-metal soundtrack by legendary Canadian group GNÜ TRUNTION
Created by Jason Kapalka (Peggle, Bejewelled), Nate Schmold & Jessi Ross (Cosmochoria) and Ido Yehieli (Cardinal Quest)
Slayaway Camp was recently selected as an overall winner at the annual Google Play Indie Games Festival
Achievements and Trophies (includes Platinum) added for Xbox One and PS4 versions
Localized in the following languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Russian

The game even has a non-violent mode for those of you concerned little Johnny will turn into a hockey-masked murder machine, although I’d say he was already headed there before this game was created. Anyway, yeah – go get this NOW, chop-chop. I just started playing, so a full review will go up over the weekend. As I loved the PC original to death, expect a similarly gushing review.

Okay, I’m out of slasher flick puns. Back in a bit.

-GW

Mega Cat Studios Keeps The Classic Game Flame Burning Bright

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Well, wow. “Meow You’re Playing With Power!” Thanks to PA-based Mega Cat Studios, collectors and gamers who own a Nintendo Entertainment System or equivalent now have three NEW games to snap up this Halloween (or heck, anytime they want provided they’re in stock). Here’s what’s new and ready to ship:

Creeping It Reel is an NES chiptune album with NES rendered, officially licensed Dancing Pumpkin Man dance moves and a fully playable pachinko game full of treats.

 

 

Creepy Brawlers marries monster movies & boxing to the NES.  An achievement system, counter attacks and enemy evolutions to keep the scares high and health bars low. This one’s also available in a Limited Edition if you like your games extra collectible.

 

Justice Duel is a four player couch co-op action game with a full featured single player campaign, mech-eagles in top hats and an array of weapons. As with Creepy Brawlers, you can also nab a Limited Edition if you’re into adding variants to your library.
I haven’t unearthed my NES in a long time, but it’s very likely going to get dug up and placed near the TV soon. Thankfully, I have a CRT in the living room so I don’t need to worry about fiddling with assorted connection methods for my HD set. Hey, some games were made to be played in true nostalgic fashion, I say.
-GW

Review: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4)

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NightsofAzure2_KeyArt (Custom)Ah, Gust… I love you most of the time, but your quirky way of making games can get to be trying. While I missed the first Nights of Azure (I finally got my paws on a copy that’s in transit), Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon comes off as an intriguing standalone sequel that’s got some fine points but is quite flawed when it comes to gameplay elements.

It’s certainly got plenty of fan service if you like your cast of all-female characters doing their Action/RPG thing wearing revealing outfits of questionable levels of protection against injury. However, main character Aluche comes off as a mostly clueless to attraction cypher with a curvy figure (like almost every other character in the game). But between the strict timed gameplay that limits the action, somewhat pedestrian plot and AI that could be better, this one’s hard to love although it has its moments.

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