Review: Dragon’s Crown Pro (PS4)

DCP_PS4An instant classic on both artistic and pure gameplay levels, Dragon’s Crown Pro ($49.99) has finally arrived on PS4 with buffed up 4K visuals and cross-platform play/save compatibility with the PS3 and Vita versions. It’s a game that also hopefully going to be one of those true evergreens that new players will want to add to their libraries because it offers enough replay value to keep you dialed in each time you pick up that controller.

The game’s original notoriety to some for its mildly bawdy artwork for some of the female characters (but you get a half naked muscular dwarf as a counter to that) ends up being much ado about nothing. If you’ve a working brain in your skull, you’ll know the difference between gorgeous stylized artwork and solid animation and somehow deeming the game “controversial” because one doesn’t appreciate the very intentionally over-exaggerated art. That and hell, it’s a Vanillaware game, so assorted forms of pulchritude are a necessary non-evil.

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“Waiter, there’s a fly in m… oh, never mind (ogle!)

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Review: Fox n Forests (PS4)

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If Bonus Level Entertainment’s excellent Fox n Forests was released on a cartridge for the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis back in the mid-90’s before both consoles were phased out in favor of newer systems, it would probably be a Game of the Year contender. Hell, it would even be a fine enough essential 2D platformer/RPG hybrid on the Saturn or PlayStation. Well, it’s out today and it’s a total blast from the past with excellent visuals, music and sound effects, replay value galore, and the perfect length (for those who know, most platform games weren’t over five or six so hours). The crowdfunded game arrives today on PC (Windows, Linux, Mac) and consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch) and yes, is a must buy if you’re big on the retrogaming stuff (or just want a game that’s going to make you work hard in order to see everything).

It’s not a speedrunner at all (thankfully for us old and slow players!), so forget about direct comparisons to Sonic, Mario or other swifter mascot characters. The game combines its platforming with exploration elements out of the Legend of Zelda or Castlevania, but fans of classics such as the Wonder Boy games, Super Ghouls and Ghosts and Actraiser 2 will also see a few influences here. The Fox (i)n those Forests is named Rick and he’s conned into helping out the wise old sentient tree by a partridge named Patty he was planning to eat. Of course, that batty bird just so happens to own all the shops in the game, so guess who needs to spend his hard-earned gold coins at them?

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Review: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

Rick and Morty PS4Developer Owlchemy Labs really has a decent handle on this VR stuff, so Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality ($29.99) is pretty much a no-brainer for fans of that popular show who just so happen to own a PlayStation 4 and PS VR setup. The game’s about as as insane as the show and the VR is pretty neat and designed to be a good deal less frantic on the eye holes (meaning those of you who get a bit woozy from VR can rejoice).

While I’m not as much into the show as some of its more avid fans, a well-made game will always catch my eye (ow), particularly one with the totally offbeat (and not for the young kiddies) humor the show excels at. So, yeah, if you’re new to the show, have wee ones and this game pops up as a request (because some kids can be cooler than their parents, or at least get away with watching cartoons out of their age range), you may want to play it for yourself and have your jaw hit your shoes a few times before you let those kids take it for a spin. Oh, you’ll very likely laugh your ass off in the process of checking this out. But that’s a good thing, correct?

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Review: Devious Dungeon (PS4/Vita)

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Devious Dungeon PS4_VitaSometimes a review writes itself before you even get a chance to take a single note. That can be both good and not so good, but let’s see where this automatic type-fest leads now, shall we? Devious Dungeon ($7.99, Cross-Buy) is great fun because of its solid combination of easy to grasp gameplay, crafty, challenging randomized levels, and single-minded enemies set on “kill”.  There’s a very reliable straightforwardness to the game in that, as a port of a mobile game from a few years ago, it’s not focusing on gimmicks and boxing you in with arcane rules and overly complex gameplay. This is more or less, side-scrolling dungeon 101 and because it works so well, that’s all it needs to be.

There’s no character creator here – you’re just a musclebound chap sent in to clear out an ever-changing dungeon other adventures have fallen prey to. You start out with an old sworn and crappy armor and yep, killing monsters nets you gold and experience. The gold is for buying better gear, the experience levels you up. You’ll also need to find a key to unlock the sealed doorway somewhere on a level. Sometimes you’ll find the door before you find the key, sometimes it’s the other way around. Either way, death lurks everywhere thanks to monsters, traps and other hazards. Combat is simple, but you’ll need to time your attacks carefully lest a foe or foes do you in with their own well-timed hits. Ranged weapons or spells are especially painful, by the way.

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Review: League of Evil (PS4/Vita)

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League of Evil PS4_VitaGood evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m here to inform you that Woblyware and Rataliaka Games’ excellent, tough as heck  League of Evil ($4.99, Cross-Buy) is not messing around at all. This high action speedrun focused action/platform/puzzle hybrid has one goal: to crush the weak players and reward the flawless and strong. Okay, well… it’s not that serious, but if you love a challenge, you’ll certainly get more game out of that measly five bucks this costs right from the start.

Here’s the deal: you’re a bionic super agent who needs to simply reach the evil scientist at the end of each level and dispatch him with a single punch from your big metal fist. Simple, no? Nope, it’s not. One shot kills from armed guards protecting him, one hit kills from spikes, lasers, swinging axes and other hazards will stop your progress countless times, forcing you to replay many of the sort, deadly stages. At least the retro visuals, excellent music and general sense of “don’t even try to take this seriously” all keep the game fun.

And yes, once again, I had to call in my ringer.

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Review: Megadimension Neptunia VIIR (PS4)

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Megadimension Neptunia VIIRWhile not flawless, I’d say outside of the Tamsoft developed action-heavy games, the overall best game in Idea Factory’s long running Hyperdimension Neptunia series and its assorted spinoffs was 2015’s Megadimension Neptunia VII, which has just received an nicely enhanced update in the form of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR (that’s pronounced V-two-R, by the way).

New features include partial PSVR support, tweaked gameplay, prettier updated visuals, and some new music. If you don’t own a PSVR setup, fear not. The game plays absolutely fine without the need for VR and the new VR dialog segments can indeed be enjoyed using the standard Dual Shock 4 to input basic look and zoom commands. The main game is as loaded with fun as ever and makes for a solid upgrade to the original.

If you’re coming into this from the old version of VII, nope, you can’t transfer that old save data or DLC content at all. I’d gather the number of changes being what they are plus a few other factors prevented this, but it ends up a great excuse to replay the game as this updated version just to see the new content and experience those cleaner visuals. If you’re coming into this as a new player, it’s a game packed to the gills with fan service galore with an oddball tribute to game companies, game consoles and game history that may go way over the heads of some. Part JRPG, part visual novel, and good for a few to plenty of laughs when you settle in and let the kooky humor do its thing.

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Review: Where Are My Friends? (PS4)

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WAMF_PS4Don’t let the childlike look of its hand-drawn visuals fool you one bit. Where Are My Friends?  ($5.99) is going to absolutely break those gamers out there who take it for a spin expecting an easy Trophy hunt. Between the wordless storytelling that requires paying full attention when exploring the game’s point/click adventure segments, to some insane platforming sections, this one’s a hardcore challenge well disguised as a more light, family friendly affair. Actually, it may take an entire family to complete some of the fiercely tough sequences here, so get everyone together and maybe even the family pet can even give this a shot after everyone else fails.

My own reflexes aren’t as sharp these days, so at one point after discovering the somewhat challenging (okay, brutal) platforming sections, I actually made a phone call, packed up my PS4 and hoofed it over to a friend’s place so his 11-year old kid could do what I couldn’t. Let’s just say that kid earned his free pizza after that, but he also wanted me to note (and I quote): “This is one of the most crazy games I’ve ever played in my life, and I’m only 11!  You should pay me more next time!”  Hey, kid? There won’t be a next time (until the next time I get a game like this), and you didn’t get paid, per se (don’t child labor laws prevent that sort of thing?) . You’re a ringer, pal – you’re supposed to do your thing, do it well and zip it. Well, I didn’t say that, but I’m thinking he’s now thinking he’s getting pressed into service whenever I need some game-related help.

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Review: Reverie (PS Vita)

 

With Reverie, New Zealand-based developer Rainbrite has cooked up a fantastic, fun and must-buy game for the supposedly ‘dead’ (but still defiantly breathing) PlayStation Vita. Everything here clicks from the Earthbound-inspired visuals to the gameplay that references The Legend of Zelda‘s puzzle, enemy and trapped-filled dungeons and overworld map. Adding to the perfection, you get an interesting take on the Māori myth Māui and the Giant Fish woven throughout the game that makes the adventure all the more interesting.

Sure, the main character is just a nondescript kid named Tai who just so happens to end up spending his summer vacation saving the tiny island he’s on visiting his grandparents from all sorts of evil during his stay. But Rainbrite has wisely made the kid quite the young man of action on his trip to this new Adventure Island. You’ll get a cricket bat, yo-yo, a sort of Nerf gun and other goodies as you take on the game’s six nicely-sized dungeons and a somewhat dangerous overworld packed with local wildlife out to gnaw or peck you to death. Spot-on controls help out here, but you’ll need to be constantly on your toes because some enemies (such as angry hopping statues) won’t react until you’re in whispering distance.

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Review: Tiny Metal (PS4)

 

Console owning fans of turn-based strategy games, specifically the late, lamented Advance Wars and similar military themed titles set in fictional scenarios really haven’t had too much to cheer about (well, other than still having the ability to go back and replay those older games whenever they like). PlayStation-only owners have a handful of games like this, but Area35’s very solid Tiny Metal ($24.99) is the coolest and closest thing to Intelligent Systems’ games you can get on the PS4. It takes inspiration from Nintendo’s series (which needs a new version one of these days) and adds a few nice gameplay twists to the formula that keep the battles past the early tutorial maps pretty engaging overall.

There’s a story here that basically pits an initially small force of troops and hired mercenaries against a powerful nation’s military after their president’s plane is shot down over enemy territory and the mission is to find out if he, along with a great military hero traveling with him are still alive. The game is set up so you’re going to get lengthy static manga cut scenes pre- and post-mission with the occasional mid-mission break when the story wants to nudge in some more dialog. There’s a lot of back and forth communicating here and everyone is suitably wrought to overwrought as they sell their lines in pretty melodramatic fashion. Interestingly enough, You can only select English for in-battle squad commentary – the cut scenes are all subtitled. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you (especially if you like your games in their native language as much as possible and don’t mind subtitles).

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Review: Metropolis: Lux Obscura (PS4/Vita)

 

Hooooooo boy. If a mature game that successfully mashes up Sin City and Puzzle Quest seems as if it’ll be right up your dark, rainy alley, have I got something for you, pal. Sometimes You has ported Ktulhu Solutions’ previously PC-only (and very NSFW) game Metropolis: Lux Obscura over to consoles (it’s coming April 4) and if you’re in the mood for a totally lewd and somewhat amusing in terms of its wall to wall profanity game experience, go whip out that wallet and pony up that dough. Leave the kids out of this one, please, as it’s absolutely not for them. Unless, of course you want them quoting the racier lines from this at family gatherings or in places where someone might keel over in a dead faint from the ear-searing dialog.

While it’s a bit on the short side, you get four endings and the game excels at paying somewhat intentionally cheesy homage to Frank Miller’s graphic novels (although the art here is a lot less impressive) with that reliance on shock value profanity and a few topless and/or scantily clad females as well as some more salacious content that may make your eyes pop a few times before all is said and done. Amusingly enough, as raw as this game is, PC version owners can get a patch that turns that version into a er, how shall I put it… “somewhat Stormier” experience. And nope, you won’t see that patch coming at all to the PS4 or Vita (or Nintendo Switch, for that matter).

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