The Residents: Freak Show Review

Developer: The Cryptic Corporation Publisher: The Voyager Company Platform: PC The Residents are a band which have been around since the 70s crafting seriously unique music and mixed media experiences. As a fan, I’ve hungered for years to pick up […]

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Dark Room Featured

Life is Strange Episode 4 – Dark Room Review

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment Publisher: Square Enix Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory left me feeling a little strange. It seemed that DONTNOD were on the precipice […]

Pongo Featured

Pongo Review

Developer: Drixy Games Publisher: Black Shell Media Platform: PC – Steam There are practically zillions of platformers out in the world. However, very few have ever managed to scratch that same vertically-based itch that Jumping Flash brought into my life. […]

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Spectra Review

Developer: Gateway Interactive Publisher: Mastertronic Platform: PC – Steam, Xbox One Back in 2014, I came across a game by the name of Goscurry. It was a racing-style arcade game in which players navigated a single spaceship along a never-ending […]

Amnesia: Memories Featured

Is the Vita Dead? Not As Far as I Can Tell!

So, by this point we’ve all probably heard the comment that the PlayStation Vita is a “legacy system.” Of course, there was also the update that this was just a misunderstanding and only meant to refer to the original version […]

 

The Residents: Freak Show Review

The Residents: Freak Show Boxart

Developer: The Cryptic Corporation
Publisher: The Voyager Company
Platform: PC

The Residents are a band which have been around since the 70s crafting seriously unique music and mixed media experiences. As a fan, I’ve hungered for years to pick up the multimedia CDs they produced in the early 90s. The Residents: Freak Show is the very first of these experiments and came out alongside a music CD of the same name.

At first, I feared this would be a seriously lackluster product. The adventure title certainly seems that way at first. You simply click between a few screens which take place inside a, well, “freak show” and get a little CG representation of a performance. The graphics definitely look a bit lumpy and weird, but somehow that enhances the charm over 20 years later. Search a little deeper and you’ll uncover a whole other, and far longer, segment of gameplay beyond the easily accessible exhibits.

The Residents: Freak Show Featured

Hidden behind the Mole Man’s exhibit, as well as behind a “no admittance” sign you’ll find hours of extra content. For the Mole Man in particular, you actually get to hear (and watch) the story of how he became a member of the troupe. Unfortunately, it seems the other characters don’t get the same treatment. With that said, every main character has basically a music video which includes their entire song from the Freak Show album. It also feels like each character is given a believable edge which wasn’t present through the song lyrics alone.

Seeing one of my favorite The Residents albums in action was a stunning event. This CD-ROM absolutely exceeded my expectations with the huge amount of care given to each character’s video as well as the level of interactivity. It could have easily been a slideshow, but Easter eggs and additional story content make it an enjoyable exploration of an album. If you’re a fan of The Residents then at some point you need to play The Residents: Freak Show.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Life is Strange Episode 4 – Dark Room Review

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Dark Room Featured

lifeisstrangelogo4

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory left me feeling a little strange. It seemed that DONTNOD were on the precipice of something either really cool, or were set to completely lose me. Luckily, I enjoyed Episode 4 – Dark Room far more, though it wasn’t without some oddities. First off, it really feels like the ending of Episode 3 failed to play out in a significant way here.

Without spoiling anything, it was a very underwhelming resolution. Episode 3 made it seem like this event was a huge wrench in everyone’s plans, but then there’s very little issue to actually get back on the “main” storyline. Perhaps it’ll come back into play in Episode 5, but as of now it seems nothing more than an emotionally manipulative detour.

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So, as for Episode 4 – Dark Room itself. Things are finally getting serious — far more serious than I ever expected when Life is Strange began. Although there’s a lot of melodrama, it’s easy enough to fall right into the tale. Once everything takes a turn for the creepy I was really involved and being led right down the path that DONTNOD wanted. That reveal right at the end? Yep, I seriously had no clue it was coming.

There were definitely low points to be had between the more climatic sections. For one, you’re forced to put all the clues together in one multi-part puzzle. At this point I simply wanted to get up and go, not sit around and finagle with what was ultimately a very easy set of puzzles. Playing with a controller made it more cumbersome than needed, but that’s my own stubborn fault for not switching to a mouse during the segment.

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Dark Room Featured

Finally, there’s the matter of how choices “pay off” in Life is Strange. Here’s an example with a spoiler. Victoria believed me when I spoke with her at the party. Why? Because I didn’t add insult to injury after dumping paint on her in Episode 1. The fact that she specifically referenced this act of pseudo kindness did not excite me. It just revealed the utter game-y nature of this video game. My choices should impact the story in ways that feel natural. This just seemed contrived.

I am still looking forward to Life is Strange Episode 5. For one, I’m ready to see how this story comes to a close. Not only that, but I’m anxious to see just how differently things do or don’t play out when two players have made completely different choices along the way.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pongo Review

Pongo Featured

Pongo Logo

Developer: Drixy Games
Publisher: Black Shell Media
Platform: PC – Steam

There are practically zillions of platformers out in the world. However, very few have ever managed to scratch that same vertically-based itch that Jumping Flash brought into my life. I hoped Pongo might prove a solution that didn’t require pulling out a PlayStation console.

Well, Pongo is a bit similar in that you spend a lot of time jumping very high. This is due to the fact that you traipse around the stage with a pogo stick in first person. But that’s really where the charm ends, as gameplay itself is incredibly dull — and even becomes annoying due to iffy controls. There were a fair amount of times my jumps landed me on the very edge of a platform but unable to actually reach the flat surface. Instead, my only course of action was to fall off and try again.

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When jumping betwixt platforms isn’t annoying, it’s actually a fairly simple experience. Enemies hang about stages but with a keen eye you can basically snipe most of them before they even get a chance to harm you. It’s only with bosses that you have to actually put your skills to the test. The goal? Jump across the stage until you reach the end gate and move onto one of the other 49 stages.

Then there’s the whole fact that (aside from your pogo stick) Pongo feels like a massive Lovely Planet ripoff. The graphics aren’t nearly as pleasant, though, looking more like something that I would draw before getting a glaring filter/effect placed over them. It’s definitely not attractive or stylish in my eyes. It seems a true “spiritual successor” to Jumping Flash 1 and 2 remains just a dream…


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Spectra Review

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spectralogo

Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Steam, Xbox One

Back in 2014, I came across a game by the name of Goscurry. It was a racing-style arcade game in which players navigated a single spaceship along a never-ending road suspended in space. It was incredibly challenging, but a ton of fun. This year, I discovered Spectra and couldn’t help but become intrigued because of the game’s similar nature.

In Spectra, you control a spaceship along a long, winding galactic highway. You collect blocks, dodge obstacles, and (hopefully) make it through to the end with a high score. The gameplay is simple enough as most of the time you’re only weaving left or right to stay safe on the road. Things get more challenging as you progress through each of the ten stages, but not as much as you might expect.

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This is the main contrast between Goscurry and Spectra: Difficulty. You failed in Goscurry by making one wrong move. Here, you’re given a lot more freedom. Crash into a barrier? You’ll still likely be fine as long as you don’t panic. I even came across a glitch where the ship would warp back up from underneath the road to inadvertently save your run. Despite being an easier game overall, it still offers a lot of challenge and two difficulty settings to keep players on their toes.

Chances are I would have enjoyed Spectra much more if I had not previously played Goscurry. The graphics are nice and vector-like, but less artful than I would have hoped. Similarly, the music by Chipzel is good, but apparently chiptunes of this sort are not to my personal taste. I’m the odd man out! Of course, Spectra still provides a nice way to pass the time with quick play sessions and arcade sensibilities.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
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E3 2015 Coverage Links

bedlammeat

E3 2015 has come and gone, and we at Pixel Pacas were in attendance! As both myself and Leah went via other websites, we were unable to provide exclusive coverage here. With that said, we’ve been writing frantically since the convention and would love to share that work with you regardless. Below you’ll find links to each and every E3 preview we put together. We wanted to share the content with all you fine folk who check out our site!

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Early Access Preview: Poly Bridge

Totally not something I created

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Here’s a random tidbit about me: I have a weird affinity for bridge building games. No, that does not mean I’m good at the either. With this interest in mind, it just makes sense that Poly Bridge jumped onto my radar and never left. On one hand, it’s just another bridge game, but on the other it brings some new aspects to the table.

So far, you can go through a variety of bridge building puzzle missions. Each level offers specific items for use and may even limit how many you have access to. Although each stage has a specific budget, you can totally go over it if you need to. The goal is basically always the same – create a bridge that doesn’t crumble under the weight of vehicles!

Totally not something I created

Totally not something I created.

Things quickly increase in difficulty for folks who don’t have the basic knowledge of bridge construction or are just awful at it (such as myself). You’ve got to create anchor points, or at least something to keep bridges upright. Utilizing triangular construction techniques to reinforce strength is necessary quite often as well.

Right now, the greatest unique aspect of Poly Bridge is its ability to export your triumphs and failures as animated GIFs. They’ll even post directly to Twitter if you want. Sharing my awful bridges with the world is a dream! There’s also a sandbox mode to create new puzzles which is awesome if you have the skills for that.

Oops.

Oops.

With all that said, this is an Early Access product for good reason. Much of it simply doesn’t work yet. There’s no current Steam Workshop support, sometimes the sandbox mode freaks out, and it doesn’t seem to save either. Even the tutorial breaks if you do anything a little unexpected. Still, Poly Bridge is already an enjoyable, playable product. I just hope to see the issues ironed out in order to begin sampling user-generated puzzles!

Preview code provided

Pixel Pacas is Going to E3!

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Well, sort of! Both I and Leah will be at E3 from June 16-18 and explore the convention floor, talk with developers, and generally have a hectic (but enjoyable) time.

Of course, if you know much about E3 then you’re well aware that not just any old blog owner can get in. Perhaps it’s too obvious to state but we’re not going thanks to PixelPacas.com. Instead, we are both fortunate to work for other websites which have a bit more clout.

It’s impossible to say yet if we’ll be able to provide much coverage of E3 exclusively for Pixel Pacas (as most of it is for the aforementioned sites) but we’ll see! This note is here just to let readers know that no posts are planned to go live next week, as all the hot new E3 news will be what everyone is focused on, after all!

Is the Vita Dead? Not As Far as I Can Tell!

Amnesia: Memories Featured

So, by this point we’ve all probably heard the comment that the PlayStation Vita is a “legacy system.” Of course, there was also the update that this was just a misunderstanding and only meant to refer to the original version of the system. With that said, the reason this statement made news was because Vita fans do feel this is Sony’s true opinion on the console. It launched in 2012 (in the U.S.) and rarely sees much attention in press conferences.

Even if Sony has mostly abandoned the device with first party support, third parties are absolutely dominating the handheld. Just as they did with the PSP before, niche companies are bringing their wares to the system and finding a devoted audience. Here is a list of some of the games coming soon which make me excited to be a Vita owner.

Read more »

No, Thank You!!! Getting Physical Limited Edition!

nothankyouhardcopy

Back in April, we at Pixel Pacas reviewed MangaGamer’s first BL release, No, Thank You!!! Although it was not at all what I had expected, it still turned out to be quite the unique visual novel. For the first week of launch, and even a while after, that game sat at the top of their digital sales chart. At the time I had hoped all this interest would result in a physical release.

Tonight MangaGamer announced that No, Thank You!!! is indeed getting a physical version. The Limited Edition includes a DRM-free copy of the game, official 22 track soundtrack, 40 page mini artbook, two-sided DVD cover, and of course a special slipcase to house it all in.

Given the huge community for BL games, and their desire to support each and every English release, I have no doubt that this is a limited edition that’s set to sell out fast. Pre-orders for No, Thank You!!! Limited Edition* (NSFW link) are available now at $49.95 ahead of the July 6th release date!

Are you going to buy this new hardcopy or is the digital version good enough for you?

*This is an affiliate link for MangaGamer.

Pixel Poops Review

Pixel Poops Featured

 

Pixel Shits Box

Developer: yyrGames
Publisher: yyrGames
Platform: PlayStation Mobile

Pixel Poops is a game I have a bit of a history with. You see, it first released under the name Pixel Shits as part of an in-joke for listeners of Orange Lounge Radio. As a long time fan, I checked the game out during its debut and found it to my tastes. After all, as someone whose first home console was an Atari 7800 there’s a bit of nostalgia for that sort of simplistic gameplay and graphics in my heart.

With that out of the way, here’s a brief overview of this goofy little title. In Pixel Poops you play as a person that poops in public. Apparently, you don’t like joggers (the green stick figures walking around) so your goal is to stop them from walking across the entire screen. Instead of real life where a jogger might just be outrageously disgusted by stepping in human feces, these poor people actually appear to get caught in giant mounds of excrement. To refill the poop meter, you stand near the Taco Bell.

Play continues until five joggers have made it through the stinky gauntlet safely. Although it starts simply, Pixel Poops ramps up in difficulty quickly by speeding up the amount of joggers on-screen at once. To score well, you’ve got to implement early game strategy such as placing small poops everywhere (to slow walking speed of enemies) before placing showstoppingly large ones. Each downed jogger is one additional point on your scoreboard. I just wish a leaderboard existed, or at least a way to save top scores.

When it all comes down to it, Pixel Poops is a super simple Atari 2600-style game with potty humor. I love that there’s a ridiculous story attached to the title and have gotten more enjoyment out of it as a sub-$1 purchase than should be possible. PlayStation Mobile shutters on September 10, 2015 so nab Pixel Poops if you want continued access to one heck of a weird game.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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