Review: Super Destronaut DX (PS4/Vita)

(Thanks, Ratalaika Games!)

SD_DXAmusingly enough, in the middle of all the stuff I’m working on, I got distracted by a code for Super Destronaut DX ($4.99, Cross-Buy) and made the “mistake” of downloading and playing it for a bit longer than expected. I use the word “mistake” in the jokiest of manners because the game is not only a ton of fun, it brings back memories of hitting the arcades on the weekends and dropping quarters into way too many now classic shooters and other games. It’s also a Trophy hunter’s dream game, as those rewards drop like rain during a sudden thunderstorm. Even if you’re not into collecting those invisible treats, they appear so frequently that you may think there’s some sort of crazy glitch taking place.

Once again, Ratalaika Games and Petite Games have whipped out a fun retro-inspired blast of greatness that’s seemingly simple on the surface, but packs in the fun for a low enough price point that it’s an instant recommend. As with Inksplosion (also $4.99 and Cross-Buy, so go get this one as well), the game’s not the longest out there on the surface. However, to this former arcade denizen, both of these titles replicate flawlessly the intensity and some of the challenge of those old arcade games (which by the way, were primarily really short experiences that were replayed in order to be mastered).

 

(yep, that’s me being lousy at this game. Hey, I’m old!)

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Review: Omensight (PS4)

Omensight_PS4Let me tell you, ladies, gents, and anyone else within read-shot. Despite a very strong start, I was about ready to give up on Omensight ($19.99) a few times as I played it. In fact, after sinking half a day into it when I first got a review code and later, a few more hours over the course of a week, I was torn between loving the game for its gorgeous stylized visuals and interesting murder mystery/action adventure hybrid thing and almost hating it because some key gameplay elements were a bit too broken to make me want to continue.

As I really liked developer Spearhead Games’ award-winning Stories: The Path of Destinies a lot (go get it, I say), I went in knowing the quality of this new game would be at least up to snuff or even better than its predecessor. On the surface, the more impressive visuals, stylish combat and intriguing segmented story structure made for a excellent followup. But a few things marred the experience somewhat.

While the combat was solid, the tendency for off-screen enemies to launch assorted physical, ranged and magic attacks made getting though some sections unscathed quite annoying. Especially as the game offered a score bonus for not taking damage from enemies or accidentally falling off ledges. Which leads to the jumping sections in the game where frustration abounded thanks to areas where clean traversal was nearly impossible partially thanks to the locked down game camera either not being in an optimum spot or me simply missing what should have been a simple jumping sequence thanks to stuff like flying creatures in the way or a platform or three seeming as if they were the place to leap (but weren’t). Sort of like this example (yep, that’s me being very terrible as this game in that clip below). So, I stopped playing and decided to wait until a patch or two dropped to fix things up.

 

 

Thankfully, the game ended up getting those few helpful patches that cleaned things up significantly as well as adding a few unexpected yet very welcome tweaks and yes, I can now heartily recommend it as a very solid sleeper hit worthy of your time.

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Review: Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered (PS4)

RFRM_PS4While much of its color palette is about as utilitarian as the sledgehammer lead character Alec Mason swings around, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered ($29.99) still delivers the goods (and how!) when it comes to its core gameplay. Mars may be the big hot spot some look to as our future home (ha!), but in this game, it’s one of the worst places off earth. The game itself is quite solid overall thanks to recent patching that fixed a few flaws, but getting the hang of weapon switching in the heat of battle is still some tricky business.

Developer KAIKO took Volition’s 2009 PS3/Xbox 360/PC game and added some nice modern visual flourishes such as revamped textures, lighting, and shadow effects along with a (mostly) smoother 60fps frame rate. The game also packs in all the DLC, including a side story set years before the main game featuring a badass heroine who uses some cool alien weaponry, so this package is going to be a treat for those who want additional solo and online play modes to pad out an already lengthy game experience.

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Annnnd just when you make that last payment on your ride, here comes Mason to check up on that repair or replacement clause.

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Review: Shining Resonance Refrain (PS4)

SFRR_PS4 coverAs a longtime fan of Sega’s Shining series (the import version of Shining in the Darkness was the first JRPG I completed way back in 1992), it’s been quite interesting (to say the least) watching the series evolve over time. While the first game, the assorted Shining Force entries, Shining Wisdom, Shining the Holy Ark and the portable Shining Soul have been the most engaging, some of the games localized after that point fall into the hit or miss category.  The last three I played, Shining Tears, Shining Force Neo and Shining Force EXA traded in the first person dungeon crawling found in SitD and Shining The Holy Ark and the more strategic play in the Shining Force games with seemingly simpler hack and slash action against some very powerful enemies that made combat quite challenging. While there was some enjoyment to be found in these despite a few flaws, the bloom was definitely not on the Shining rose during the PS2 era.

Shining Resonance Refrain ($49.99) isn’t quite the return to glory the series needs, but this enhanced port of the 2014 PlayStation 3 import manages to be quite enjoyable overall. Developer O-Two took the Media Vision original PS3 game and added an all new “Refrain Mode” that allows players to experience the game with two of its main foes as playable characters along with what seems to be a nice load of included  (on disc or as part of the digital download) DLC content added at no cost across all platforms. Yes, it’s best to explore Refrain Mode after you’ve played the main game, as plenty of spoilers abound. But if that’s your thing, you do you, I say. It’s also the first time a new game in the Shining series has appeared on current-gen consoles and PC and hopefully, it will do well among JRPG fans on those platforms.

 

 

The game hits all the expected notes many JRPGs take these days from lengthy expository scenes, a cast filled with familiar likable to annoying characters, a decent combat system, and more than enough strangeness that might knock the wind out of the sails of those new to these types of games when they see some of the game’s kookier moments. When your party members or enemies break out into song as part of an attack, it’s more than clear you’re not in Kansas anymore. But if you surrender, Dorothy, it’s all in good fun at the end of the day.

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Figment: Dilly Dali Puzzler Slides Onto Switch

As someone who loves quirky games. seeing Figment arrive on the Switch pleases me to no end. I mean just look at it:

 

 

As a new Switch owner (yeah,I know, FINALLY), it’s just 100% great to see well-crafted indie titles like this that poke at the imagination and reveal strange new worlds to explore and enjoy. That and hey, we all could use fun games that make us think as we try and solve the puzzles it lays out. Plus, it’s got great voice acting and music, which should make it a treat for the ears as well as eyes.

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That lovely art is like Krazy Kat with a Tim Burton twist!

The game is also set to arrive on PS4 and Xbox One at some point, so you fine folks won’t be out of the loop on this gem. Keep an eye peeled and a grin ready, I say.

-GW

E3 2018 (1): When The World is Running Down, You Make The Best of What’s Still Around

Soooo, so THAT’S What Death Stranding is about (that’s an in-joke, by the way).

Oh, now this is (not so) amusing. I wrote up about 2000 or so words on a few upcoming games shown at E3, but WordPress failed me in not saving my draft (I’m staring at the “! Saving of draft failed” note in the upper left of the screen as we speak, grrrr) so here we go again, but in shorter form because I’m a bit ticked off about needing to redo what was a pretty decent post and I’ve got a few other writing tasks to accomplish. Anyway, it’s really hard to enjoy gaming as much thanks to the real world madness creeping into the hobby side of things, but there are way too many interesting games on the way to avoid.

 

 
Yeah, death, DOOM, and gloom are all the RAGE 2, but it’s going to be a beautiful ballet of bullets and bombs bouncing all over. Bethesda’s presser was pretty amusing because Todd Howard knew how to balance self deprecating humor with the business side of things as the company poked fun at itself and some gamers who tend to either not have a clue about game development (it’s not an easy thing) or maybe think some franchises are a bit overworked. On the other hand, this is one of those always fascinating developer/publishers where sequels are eagerly anticipated each time one is revealed.

I have no clue what Fallout 76 will be about, but I’m going to guess it will feel like the Fallout Shelter (which just dropped onto the PS4 and Switch) but set in a world four times the size of Fallout 4 (which is pretty massive). As my laptop died, I eagerly downloaded it from PSN (it’s free) and ended up playing longer than I thought. Or: I ended up saving my game so I could take a nap. I woke up a bit later and accidentally clicked on the YouTube button on my Wii U and ended up catching the beginning of the PlayStation press event. I was very surprised that I liked pretty much all that was shown I’ll get to those in separate posts after the show), but Media Molecule’s Dreams stood out as a game I really need to try out. Well, that is if SCEA ever invites me back to a press event in NYC. They seem to have cleared out their press list and I don’t hear jack from them these days. Boo.

I didn’t watch Microsoft’s presser because I don’t own an Xbox One (too many awful experience with Xbox 360’s dying on me). But I did check out the plethora of game trailers and found they do look nice overall. I’m not much into the Halo games (although I own them up to ODST and have played bits of Halo 4 at a friends place), but that teaser for Halo 5 showed off a pretty impressive engine. As for the AAA developers (EA, Activision/Blizzard, Ubisoft, etc.) I’ll be looking at those trailers over the next week and maybe posting thoughts. A lot of AAA titles seems set in a certain reliable sector where you get what you expect (which is both good and bad based on your desire to pay for extra content, season passes and the like), but I tend to gravitate to single player games or those where playing with others is an option.

What else? Um… Namco Bandai, Sega, Xseed/Marvelous, Devolver Digital and a ton of indie devs have WAY TOO MANY GOOD GAMES COMING. To the point that it’s just daunting seeing what they’re doing and where everything is going. I need clones, stat. Capcom will make a bazillion dollars with that Resident Evil 2 remake (which means we’ll be getting RE 3: Nemesis at some point hopefully before the planet explodes. As for Nintendo? Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to them in a day or so. I know they tend to do things differently, so they’re going to get er, special treatment. The Switch is selling like hotcakes, third party and indie devs are filling the roster with excellent games and yes, the first party stuff is the mostly evergreen stuff they’re well known for. Back in a bit – I have a few demos to try out.

-GW

Adventures in Backloggery 1: Fallout 4

Fallout 4 Spanish

So yeah, my backlog of games to get to is so huge that I’m finally getting around to playing Fallout 4.  Actually, it was a few months back (okay, late last year!) when I picked up an inexpensive new/sealed copy and as you can see, the cover and insert are entirely in Spanish. The game and included poster are entirely in English and I believe the person I bought the game from sold it cheap because they thought the game wasn’t in a language they wanted to play it in.

Ah well, my gain on that front, but this made me realize that those ten years of Spanish lessons in school not being put to use have made me rusty as hell. Or, as the song says “I understand just a little – no comprende, it’s a riddle!”  I should probably remedy that, as knowing another language is a great way to expand one’s horizons significantly.  Yeah, I’ll probably look into getting the DLC at some point (I bought this something like a few weeks before the GOTY version with all the DLC went on sale, oops). but for now, this will do.

 

 

Of course, I’m still catching up with my actual reviews (11 to get done, but a few are in progress), so this will get put back into the play stack for the time being. I won’t even discuss Fallout 76, as I’m not ready for that one (and if it’s online only, I may take a pass or at least try it at my leisure as I can only play two or three online games maximum because they eat up so much time). Eh, we shall see.

-GW

Review: Conan Exiles (PS4)

Conan Exiles

Survival games come in a few flavors these days and Funcom’s mostly solid Conan Exiles ($49.99) has that interestingly coppery taste of blood, a bit of crunch from a handful of insects and a grassy finish, all wrapped in a hide of some sort that’s been smoked thoroughly. Or something like that. The game is a rough and tumble chunk of violent fun, complex crafting (that *really* needs streamlining), endless exploration and thankfully, offline play when those too packed servers are busy.

As with ARK: Survival Evolved, the massive open world sandbox element tosses you into things nearly naked and needing to gather resources quickly or die trying. Conan pops up at the beginning to free your user-created crucified character and wish you well before you’re left to your own devices. The game prompts you onward with small to large milestones and some fast level gains for small to large accomplishments. Drinking water, finding space for and creating that first shelter, crafting your first basic armor, figuring out the ridiculously complex cooking system and more all help you get a feel for the game right away. Or at least, you’ll realize that this is a game where you’ll need to pay constant attention to even the smallest thing lest you want to punt that Dual Shock 4 through your TV.

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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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RAGE 2 Trailer: Mad Maximum, Coming in 2019

I really liked RAGE a lot despite it hogging up a load of space on my PS3’s hard drive and having a few slow moments here and there. With the upcoming Spring 2018 release of RAGE 2 teaming up original developer id Software and veteran developer Avalanche Studios, it’s clear that Bethesda is going for a sort of new gold standard that combines id’s FPS expertise and Avalanche’s penchant for massive and massively entertaining open world games with that post apocalyptic vibe that’s guaranteed to sell a few million copies right out of the gate.

I’ll say no more on this unless Bethsoft is planning a press stop here in NYC post-E3 so I can get some hands-on time and write about the experience. That said, I’m thinking I’ll like this a lot more than I liked that first game.

-GW