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Mini Golf Mundo Review

Developer: EnsenaSoft Publisher: EnsenaSoft Platform: PC – Steam After successful rounds of weird golfing in Golf With Your Friends, I decided to load up another mini golfing game from my Steam library. Unfortunately, this decision came before remembering the game […]

Eversion Featured

Eversion Review

Developer: Zaratustra Productions Publisher: Zaratustra Productions Platform: PC – Steam Eversion is one of those games that it seemed everyone had played back a few years ago. Time and time again, it saw mentions in articles and forum posts about creepy games. […]

Golf With Your Friends Featured

Golf With Your Friends Review

Developer: Blacklight Interactive Publisher: Blacklight Interactive Platform: PC – Steam Mini golf is pretty fun in real life, but not something I typically get to play very often. Golf With Your Friends brings this simple formula to the gaming world with […]

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Checking Out Steam Releases in March 2017

It’s time for the third of my monthly Steam summary articles. As usual, expect to find some information about the total number of games released in March as well as how many of them were Early Access and/or virtual reality releases.

Kitty Cat Jigsaw Puzzles Featured

Kitty Cat: Jigsaw Puzzles Review

Developer: EnsenaSoft Publisher: EnsenaSoft Platform: PC – Steam Casual games are great. For me in particular, they grant an escape from playing other games which require more attention, strategy, and skill. Because of this habit, I’m increasingly aware of which […]

 

Phrase Shift Review

Phrase Shift Featured

Phrase Shift Logo

Developer: Hyper Hippo Games
Publisher: Hyper Hippo Games
Platform: PC – Steam, Mobile – Android, iOS

With so many puzzle games out in the world it often seems like there’s no way to create something new. Well, Phrase Shift does exactly that. At first, it looks like someone cut out a small segment of a word search. Each puzzle offers one vertical column and multiple horizontal columns with words intersecting it. You’re also given a clue.

Unlike a word search which has you fill in everything, the horizontal words are already set per puzzle. So your goal is actually to shift the horizontal words left or right until the letters which intersect with your vertical bar form a word which fits with the given clue. It might sound confusing, but all you need is to play a level or two to grasp the concept.

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Once you do, get ready for a ton of enjoyment playing Phrase Shift. The game includes level batches of twenty in different categories: Food, Science, Animals, etc. For the most part, I knew all the vocabulary (even if it took a bit of guessing to bring them to mind). Some sections, such as Movies, might be tough for folks who have absolutely no interest or awareness of American pop culture.

Phrase Shift is a perfect game to come to after a long day at work. It allows you to both turn off your brain as well as give it the reward of solving (mostly) simple puzzles. I’ve enjoyed my time slowly working through the sections one by one. Unlike most games, I desire to play this one to 100% completion.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Emulation, Me, and the Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Featured

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Featured

Emulation is one of those things that became an obsession from the minute I learned of it. This all began one day in high school when a friend asked to borrow a PS1 game of mine. When it came time to return it, he told me about playing it on his PC. My immediate reaction was something along the lines of “What do you mean?” Instead of explaining himself fully, he cryptically only gave the name of the emulator. Thus began an obsession.

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Contra Review

Contra Featured

Contra Box Art

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Arcade, Console – NES, PC – Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX2, ZX Spectrum

Contra is one of those games folks can’t help but talk about. Comments circle around its high difficulty as well as the infamous Konami code which grants players thirty much-needed lives. The thing is, I never even touched the original Contra before. The closest I came to understanding its hectic 2D action was through playing the spiritual successor Hard Corps: Uprising

Thanks to a shiny new Raspberry Pi 3 in my possession (and watching the “This is the Run” video series on Giant Bomb), I decided it was finally time to take on Contra. Don’t worry, the NES cart is also in my possession. Unlike most players, this meant I was already armed with knowledge of how to defeat bosses and what challenges lie in wait. None of this made the experience a cake walk.

Contra Featured

When people say Contra is hard they mean it. The earlier stages aren’t quite so bad, but once you reach the middle there are bullets flying every which way as enemies constantly run onscreen. The challenge is compounded by one hit kills and a piddly default gun (which resets all power ups upon death). Securing a better weapon such as the spread gun is awesome – but often short-lived.

Contra is also super weird thematically. Despite being named with relation to the Iran-Contra affair, it bears little resemblance to real life events past the introductory level. Very quickly players move beyond the jungle setting with army-looking dudes to huge monsters, alien space ships, and more. None of this detracts from it being a white knuckle, badass experience. Anyone up for the challenge should definitely try their hand at Contra.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Checking Out Steam Releases in January 2017

dacapo3rSteamReleases

dacapo3rSteamReleases

2016 was an interesting year for Steam. According to Sergey Galyonkin of Steam Spy, 38% of games available on Steam were released in 2016. That means 4,779 titles hit the popular digital marketplace in a single year. The news shocked many, though just makes sense given the increasingly thin barrier that Steam Greenlight presents to getting onto the storefront.

My belief is that 2017 will be another record-breaking year for Steam – albeit not to the same ridiculous level that 2016 was. Of course, if Valve does something like remove the Greenlight requirement entirely then I’ll easily be proven completely wrong. In any case, I wanted to know more but didn’t want to wait on Steam Spy to provide information. This led me to creating my own method of collecting Steam release data that I intend to keep up with throughout the year.

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Marcus’s 2016 Game of the Year Picks

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Marcus Only

It’s no secret that 2016 was quite the year for many of us. While there was a lot of negativity in the air, it also proved to be an immensely positive – and busy – time for myself. Between finally graduating college and getting more seriously into working at an office, there was both more and less time for gaming than ever before.

In compared to previous years, my urge to play almost anything AAA disappeared. Heavy hitters such as DOOM completely passed me by, though they’re still on my radar. Indie darlings such as Stardew Valley and Inside were also missed simply due to not playing much beyond my stable of review titles for Hardcore Gamer. Still, I did play some things! Here’s a look at my favorites in no particular order.

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Pixel Pacas on Polykill Podcast!

 

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Here’s some unusual (but awesome) news. Marcus of Pixel Pacas just guested on a podcast – and it’s now available for listening. The podcast in question is Collect Call, a series devised by the team at Polykill to interview game collectors.

Maybe it’s already obvious, but Pixel Pacas is a site run by die-hard game collectors. As such, this was a tremendously enjoyable opportunity to chat a bit about collecting. In particular, Marcus gushed about his love of PS2 games as well as visual novels.

Give the podcast a listen if you like, and don’t forget to check out Polykill’s other episodes!

The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Review

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The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Boxart

Developer: Sierra On-Line
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Platform: PC – Windows 3.0, Mac

Once upon a time I played games purchased from the Scholastic Book Club. One of these was The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain. At the time I believed it to be the only one of its type out there, only to later learn “Dr. Brain” was an entire series. Unfortunately, it looks like by the time The Time Warp of Dr. Brain came around that the developers had all but run out of good ideas for puzzling minigames.

There are ten minigames this time around and little else. You’ll find absolutely no story wrapping any of it together. Each puzzle comes with three difficulty options and an unknown (to me, anyway) amount of levels per game. The big issue is that some games are given too much instructions while others receive no instructions at all. Oh, and the fact that it’s just not any fun to play the vast majority of them.

The Time Warp of Dr. Brain Featured

A few of the included puzzles are simply rehashes of existing mental games people play. It’s in these modes based on well-known logic exercises that are at all enjoyable. The rest, such as one which simply requires players to swim without running out of air, aren’t even worth the edutainment moniker. This is disappointing because both The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain and Castle of Dr. Brain were fairly interesting to fuss with.

The graphics and audio are just fine and certainly appropriate for the mid 90s gaming scene. Outside of one or two stand out minigames, however, the game is a total flop. Even Dr. Brain himself acts like he doesn’t care one bit about the player and their success/failures. Anyone looking for a good edutainment title should steer clear.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Who Killed Sam Rupert: Virtual Murder 1 Review

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Boxart

Developer: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Publisher: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Platform: PC – Macintosh, Windows 3.0

It’s pretty obvious that people love a good murder mystery. Why else would we have copious literature, TV shows, and an unfortunate obsession with real life unsolved crimes? That’s why it makes total sense when the earliest FMV-enabled PC games focused on murder scenarios. Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 was just the start of an entire four game series by Creative Multimedia Corporation.

As you might guess, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 focuses on the murder of a Mr. Rupert. This restaurant owner was well-liked by some and, unfortunately enough, detested by multiple people close to him. It’s up to you to determine who exactly killed the man and why. The game throws a tremendous amount of red herrings at you. However, it’s laid on so thick that most should pick up on avoiding the “obvious” path.

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

In some ways, the game is an early 90’s version of Her Story. However, instead of just getting the FMV stories of eight key suspects, you’re also free to dig through police-collected records as needed. That includes terse interviews with restaurant patrons on the night of the murder, lab details, and more. Many found this utterly dull (according to reviews of the era) but it was enjoyable enough to me.

The key failing point for all this searching to unearth clues is that Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is timed. There are only six in-game hours to learn about the case and successfully peg a murderer. Because of the arbitrary restriction, you’ll need to play through multiple times. Despite very clearly showing its age with postage stamp sized videos and relatively simple murder/motive, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is a neat way to spend an hour or two.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Hooters Road Trip Review

Hooters Road Trip Featured

Hooters Road Trip Box Art

Developer: Hoplite Research
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation, PC

The PlayStation was the start of something amazing for console gamers. This system brought about fan-favorite franchises which continue to this day such Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and many others. Of course, tons of shovelware came alongside the classics. Enter Hooters Road Trip.

Hooters Road Trip is supposedly about traveling between various Hooters restaurants across the United States for no good reason. This manifests as an OutRun-style racing game. As such, the different courses link together, meaning that each race brings with it different state-themed backdrops. It’s rather blurry, though, and the draw distance on the PS1 version leaves much to be desired.

Hooters Road Trip Featured

The racing itself is miserable. Until you unlock the final vehicles (or cheat your way to them), the controls are outrageously slippery. Instead of racing you’ll be careening across the road like a pinball. Suffice it to say this doesn’t work well with aiming for first place. You can’t even do the full road trip right off the bat! Instead, players must run partial trips five times beforehand because the developers wanted to artificially extend their awful gameplay or something.

It’s not all bad. Apparently, Hooters Road Trip launched at $9.99 making it bargain bin trash from the get go. The only enjoyment comes from watching the FMV sequences with Hooters waitresses who all seem to slyly be making fun of the camera person/player. Here’s hoping Hooters never lends their brand to a game again.


Score: 11 out of 5 alpacas


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Ray Gigant Review

Ray Gigant - Header

Ray Gigant Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: acttil
Platform: PlayStation Vita

Having recently played Stranger of Sword City, I was ecstatic about Ray Gigant. Finally, Experience would be trying something new! A battle system that’s quick but encourages varied fighting and skill trees to differentiate characters and roles. In many ways, it’s intriguing for the very fact that it breaks out of the standard Wizardry mold. Every change could have lead to an amazing RPG, but unfortunately Ray Gigant feels like a collection of sophomore mistakes.

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