Review: Lydia (Switch)

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Lydia_SwitchA short, haunting and intense game about an unhappy childhood leading to destructive teen years and an adult redemption of sorts, indie developer Platonic Partnership’s striking Lydia ($4.00) isn’t either a happy-filled “fun” experience or a game that’s easily forgotten once played. It’s a slice of life story where a little girl goes through a troubles with her alcoholic and otherwise less than perfect parents and as she grows into her teens, things go from bad to worse as a key event takes place that changes a few lives forever.

There’s a use of time as a storytelling element along with the stylized visuals that may go over some heads, bit it’s a simple thing, really. As the game covers snippets of Lydia’s troubled life through adulthood and the ending is a conclusion that’s somewhat of a direct one, it’s a case of seeing her world through her eyes. Her visions go from childlike in her younger years to to more or less her view of reality as seen by someone who’s not an artist, but more a realist in how she deals with a particular and sad issue many go through. The level of humanity here is somewhat intense, as the game’s not shy at using raw language throughout as we see Lydia’s plight unfold in dreams and the real world. Adults can be more monstrous that an imagined creature in a closet.

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Review: OVERPASS (PS4)

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Grandma needs to move to a place less hard to get to…

overpass ps4There are a couple of ways to play Zordix Racing’s super challenging and very (very) methodical off-road game OVERPASS ($59.99). You can go into all the tutorials and learn the ropes, failing and retrying as you go, then hit the Career Mode’s many racing events in a few ways, earning sponsors, a team to manage along with race-earned cash to repair rides and purchase plenty of gear and upgrades. You can just hop into Quick Race, Custom Race, or hotseat-based Multiplayer and play on an assortment of tracks with any ride, learning as you play. Or, you can just mix in all the game modes and get an extreme and extremely lengthy experience that’s part driving sim and part puzzle game where you’ll need to successfully navigate some deviously designed courses that will test your skills and patience.

The game could use some patching to fix a few bugs with the physics and free up camera control (holding R3 down to look around is a pain), but even still, a warning comes for casual players: it’s definitely not for everyone, especially those expecting something purely arcade-like. This definitely isn’t a Motorstorm or Baja: Edge of Control despite its announcer’s twangy voice and a bit of genetic soundtrack action. When you approach the game from a simulation aspect, it’s a lot more enjoyable, although as they say, your mileage may vary when all is said and done. There’s definitely a LOT of game here for that money, although the day one DLC might be a bit of a pesky bit of business for some players resistant to that sort of thing.

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“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

 

Of the two disciplines, the assorted buggies are the most fun to drive here, especially once you get a few upgrades and start fiddling with crafting the fastest and better handling rides. You’ll need to try and damage your rides as little as possible in Career, as repairs stack up and get costly, affecting performance to often great degrees if you don’t repair. Quads are a totally difficult thing to get used to throughout as you need to control the driver as much as the vehicle here, adjusting his or her body on the fly lest you go tumbling down a slope or over a steep hill. The unforgiving nature of the physics here means you’ll feel as if a stiff wind could send your driver flying off that ride, but they’ll fall off before the wind starts blowing anyway. This is clearly NOT a game about stunts and flashy moves and it doesn’t pretend to be. Add in the manual transmission options if you like, and parts of the game get really teeth-gnashing even when you get better at them.

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Elevator (In)Action

(Thanks, HAMSTER Corporation!)

A few days ago, I got stuck in the elevator here with another guy who, after we let Security know of the issue via intercom and they said they were on it, started asking me about sports. Well, that was a dull, but enlightening (for him, I think) mercifully brief conversation. I told him I didn’t really watch sports except when I popped by a friend’s place and a sport of choice was on TV. If I’m asked who I like, I almost always counter ask “which team is winning?”, which by the way, has gotten me a few mean looks over the years, but quite a few more laughs. Like a perfect pitch, it’s all in the delivery, I guess. Well, and it depends on a good mix of catchers and not some folks who want to hit you hard with bats, as well.

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It’s a mugging, I say!

Anyway, I think the guy looked at me as if I was a space alien visiting from somewhere, but my joke about the elevator being a busted TARDIS went a few feet above his head. It’s a good thing I made no jokes about needing a new companion in my travels, as if you don’t get one Doctor Who joke, you certainly won’t get a second one. I did mention that I have played some sports-themed video games and still do from time to time, so at least he was looking at me a lot less suspiciously after that information.

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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

Hyper Galactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000: You’ve Got To Have Balls

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Yeah, yeah. So do I, buddy.

The team at Blue Wizard Digital (Slayaway Camp, Friday The 13th Killer Puzzle among many others) is at it again. This time, the classic game PONG gets the treatment and as you can see, well, if you’re a fan of vintage PONG or even PONG-curious. you’ll see even better that the vintage game has taken on a whole new life. Hmmmm, every time I type the word PONG, there’s a weird sound effect. Hear that? I should go put some music on or something.

I’ll keep this preview as short as can be because I need to go play this and review it, but if you got a grin going at that video, you’re on board the hype train and I’b about to come by and collect your ticket. The nice thing here is the game is a mere two bucks on Steam, but until March 10, it’s 34% off, so even the cheapest-minded cheapskate can buy and play this. Not that I think you’re all cheapskates mind you – budgeting correctly is important in this day and age, correct?

-GW

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Demo: ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

This Looks Good, Right

“I can’t believe it’s THAT good, right?”

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It’s up… and it’s good!

Honestly, I’d deliberately not followed any development news, interviews, screens and trailers of the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE because as I’ve said in the past many times, I prefer going into a game as cold as possible for the surprise factor and how that actually helps my sense of wonder continually activate, even if it’s a game that’s been re-imagined or has had multiple versions created over the years. In this case, the approximately 45 minute long Unreal engine-powered demo that dropped on Monday is visually, pretty spectacular stuff and the gameplay is a mix of styles  old and new, with a bigger nod to the new. This bodes quite well for the final version we’ll see on April 10, 2020.

I’ll resister my EXTREMELY middling complaints about the demo here just to get them out of the way first. I didn’t like the variations in destructible objects. Those wooden Shinra boxes you should smash up when you find them go down with a weapon swing by Cloud or a few shots by Barrett, but cardboard boxes, some crate-like objects, and a few metal barriers bounce or just get knocked around with no visible damage? Eh, well. Although, some striped sawhorse barriers hide handy items you can find once knocked away (explore everywhere!). My other minuscule complaint is with the music, which is phenomenal, but I want a choice of the original tunes as well as the new remake versions. As I said, these “complaints” are tiny, but this was only a demo and it does note, the quality isn’t 100% representative of the final game at all.

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Langrisser I & II: Return Of The Kings

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Standard Edition, If you like…

When I heard Langrisser I & II were coming to PlayStation 4Switch and PC on March 10 courtesy of the fine folks at developer extreme and Chara-ani Corporation thanks to US publisher NISA, let’s just say that was a good day indeed.  I still own my originally purchased new copies of Warsong and the two Sega Mega Drive Langrisser imports (see below), and from playing the demo versions last night, it’s as if I went back in time and then forward, thanks to the game’s wise inclusion of old and new art styles.

Playing the new game bought back many old memories and we’re looking at a massive campaign, restored to its roots and many hours (and endings) to be discovered. I had to play the second game partially from some hefty notes and magazine clippings I got from a friend in Japan, but I know I missed a lot of story as the paths I got weren’t fully translated in the notes. So this time out, I’m preparing for this much bigger game now in English.

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Hotshot Racing – Still An Apex, With A Curve As The Lead

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Those extra-wide tracks mean no Hard Drivin’ (ha-ha). Three people will get the reference.

Remember an in-progress game called Racing Apex from what, a few years ago? Well, thanks to developers Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital, along with publisher Curve Digital, that game has become Hotshot Racing and it’ll be set to ht the track this spring. The trailer below shows off some nice 60 fps single player mode gameplay, plus the game will support up to 4 players on a single screen with a lower frame rate that still looks pretty solid. Check out the zippy new trailer below:

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BRIGANDINE: The Legend of Runersia – The Past Makes A Great Starting Point

 

Wow. I remember buying a brand new copy of developer Hearty Robin’s Brigandine: The Legend of Forsena on PS1 from the game shop I once worked at and loving the deepness of it, as it was very similar to veteran Japanese developer SystemSoft’s outstanding fantasy-based simulations such as Master of Monsters on the Sega Genesis and later, PlayStation, and Sega’s own very underrated at the time Sega CD game Dark Wizard. I had my copy of Brigandine for quite a while and completed it six or seven times, but a few years back, sold off a bunch of games to make room in the library and someone offered a hefty amount for some PS1 games I had, and that was one of them.

Flash forward to today, or more precisely, June 25, 2020, which is the release date given for Happinet’s revival of the game on the Nintendo Switch and yes, I’m doing a happy dance here because someone remembered a classic and it’s time it made a comeback. Here’s some lovely screens and art to peruse:

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I’d be lying it I said I wasn’t thrilled by this news, especially as I see how the art here comes to life and yes, it really feels as it the Switch is reviving the SNES days of games such as Ogre Battle and few others ruling a niche roost. It’s a ways away, but this is a game that looks as if it’ll take a while to play a few times and yes, I’m okay with that.

-GW

OVERPASS Launch Trailer: Time To Get Really Dirty

…And a roll or two in the mud is GUARANTEED:

Zordix Racing’s OVERPASS is now available on PC via the Epic Games Store, with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions arriving on March 17. If you want a challenging simulation racer where learning the literal ups and downs of courses that will have you rolling in the aisles when you’re too careless, this game was made to suit you.

I’ll get a review up shortly, but from the hands-on time I had earlier, it’s clear that this isn’t some simpler “accelerate, pull off crazy stunts and win!” arcade experience at all.  That’s going to he hard for some to swallow like a handful of pebbles when they’ve rolled over a few times too many, but I liked the hardcore challenge of the game when I played the demo.

-GW