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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.

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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 […]

 

2014 Reviews in Review

Mount Your Friends Featured

Mount Your Friends Featured

2014 is over! Wow, what a year it has been in regards to video games and my relation to them. Ever since I began reviewing my feelings about games have changed – but more importantly so have my habits. Last year was probably the first when I fully realized that the more I review the less time there is to play just for fun. But isn’t reviewing fun? Certainly, the titles reviewed are almost always selected by me… yet there’s something different about playing with the intent of writing. Work is work, no matter what, and maybe it’s a bad thing to combine my main hobby with work to such an intense degree.

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Marcus’s Off the Beaten Path 2014 Game of the Year Picks

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Last year I didn’t quite understand the need for “Game of the Year” awards and this year I’m still of the same mindset. It’s great fun to celebrate what we believe are the best titles released in a year time span – but often those choices seem far too constrained across big media outlets. With that said, it does seem like this year includes more lists full of different choices and that’s exciting!

I’ve already posted a top 10 GOTY list for Game Podunk, but a few titles were either played too late or above an M rating. And a few, well, maybe I just forgot… How can you forget a favorite game of the year? When you play over 200 in 365 days it can become seriously challenging! Here’s a few titles to complete my personal GOTY awards.

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Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut Review

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Featured

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Logo

Developer: Tikipod
Publisher: Tikipod
Platform: PSN – PS4, Vita PC – Steam

Zillions of games out there attempt to mimic retro consoles and computers. Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut is one of these games, although it takes after the ZX Spectrum far more than a NES or SNES-like title. With harsh colors and barely distinguishable pixel creatures, your goal in this twin stick shooter is to shoot your way to safety.

Rock Boshers DX is enjoyable in its simplicity. Every stage has an entrance, exit, collectables, and often a puzzley challenge to solve. Although it starts off incredibly easy with killing off slow zombies it quickly ramps up in difficulty. Despite the very simple premise you’ll actually have to play levels multiple times to finally do what’s required. Despite the mostly classic and simplistic controls, or because of them, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Featured

Another high point of the game is the storyline. You are Queen Victoria and for some reason you’re in space. It’s nonsensical concepts like this which used to thrive in gaming’s heyday so it fits perfectly. All the in-game text is flavorful and even provides hints for how to solve stages. Unfortunately, the sound bytes become bit grating with their loud repetition.

Sure, the visuals might be of a style that’s hard to discern and some of the sound effects are annoying. Still, these are part of the atmosphere when making a realistic Spectrum game. Rock Boshers DX is a ton of fun, takes 3 to 5 hours to beat, and still includes some bonus levels with goofy names like “Cheese Dreams.” I thoroughly recommend it but you can give the original prototype a try first to see if this game’s for you.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike Review

Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike Featured

Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike Logo

Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Holiday-themed games are pretty common in the history of video games but most of them aren’t particularly good. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike has a little something over most of these simply because it’s completely free! Of course, even freebies can be stinkers so let’s dive into what exactly this game is all about.

You play as Fork Parker, an apparent stodgy, rich CEO who is on the verge of being canned by the Board of Directors. Seeking to make the company’s profits rise once again he goes on a quest through some snowy vertical cave… to collect random stacks of cash throughout your ascent. Yeah, I sure wish that’s how easy it was to make thousands of bucks.

Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike Featured

The gameplay itself is a mix between platforming and a bit of puzzling. This is because Mr. Parker has a hiking rope and spike which he can use to reach new heights. Throw a rope, hook it on a wall, and then you can continue a rope chain from that last anchor point. However, the rope is limited in length meaning you can’t make a huge spider web contraption to climb up.

It’s a fairly challenging concept at first and honestly it doesn’t become too much easier once you understand. This is simply because the mechanic of aiming is barely present, leading to a lot of mistakes. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike is frustrating but still a bit addicting. Most players will probably give up before reaching the top of their climb, though.

Bad Smell Review

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Developer: Magicdweedoo
Publisher: Magicdweedoo
Platform: PC – itch.io

After a while, top-down shooters start to feel really samey. This doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome – because they are – but it can get a little draining to see the same template again and again. Bad Smell positions itself within the genre while still offering a fresh spin on things. First off, just look at that art!

The art style seems tremendously like the sort of stuff you’d be able to draw in MS Paint. Yet, as this visual theme remains throughout, it helps to give Bad Taste a distinctly amusing vibe. The bright, cartoony world is very welcoming (and also lulls you into a false sense of security). There are two difficulty settings, normal and hard, though even normal can become overwhelming. In a way the art style hinders things occasionally when it’s simply too difficult to “read” where bullets are on-screen due to visual overload.

Bad Smell Featured

Still, what is offered here is a competent and incredibly unique shooter. Not only are creature designs enjoyable but the music fits perfectly. You can jam out while playing Arcade or Adventure mode. Both offer a mechanically similar experience but Adventure includes themed stages and a few other differences. In either mode you can collect unused bullets back but it’s a fairly slow process. Reloading requires a humorous whack-a-mole minigame, although it gets grating after a while.

Bad Smell stands out in so many ways. Every design choice may not have been for the best, but it’s nice to see someone try different things. It’s a shame that there’s no controller support! If you don’t mind controlling a top-down shooter with mouse and keyboard then Bad Smell should provide a quick burst of colorful, slightly confusing shooter fun.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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80 Days Review

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Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

Around the World in 80 Days is one of those novels that has inspired an incredible amount of creative thought. Somehow, I’m not sure that there was ever a game based off the classic journey before now. 80 Days places you into the role of Phileas Fogg’s valet – rather than Fogg himself. It’s an interesting role to play as you must both determine what route you travel upon as well as keep your gentleman company.

80 Days falls strongly into the gamebook mold and that’s anything but a bad thing. As each day passes you must choose where to go, who to talk to, what to talk about, and how to best care for Fogg as well. Talking with others not only passes the time (and reveals some great writing) but can unveil new pathways for the illustrious trip. Of course you could simply stick to the default path but that would be the most boring adventure ever. Explore, converse, and enjoy this stunning world inkle has put together!

80 Days Featured

Unlike the novel from which it’s based, 80 Days stick you in a sort of alternate reality where steampunk and sci-fi aspects are everyday. This injects the game with more excitement as you can never be sure what awaits you in the next location. Unlike most mobile games, this one looks incredibly unique. The stylish framing of letters, excellent use of colors, map travel animations, and everything else come together to make this experience as visceral as travelling around the world via your smartphone can be.

Days are your biggest currency and worry. Get to a location too late, or simply waste your time and you’ll have to spend days before the next mode of transportation arrives. Sure, it’s the player’s fault, but it’s annoying all the same. And, while this is an odd complaint, 80 Days doesn’t feel like a “mobile” game because it is a title you want to play for long stretches at time. In any case, this is a standout title which Android and iOS gamers are lucky to have access to.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Polyology Review

Polyology Featured

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Developer: Gridlock Interactive
Publisher: Gridlock Interactive
Platform: PC – Humble Store, itch.io

Sokoban (block pushing) games are deceptively easy. If you’ve never played one, their name basically defines the goal of pushing blocks together or to a certain spot. In Polyology, your goal is to smush together blocks which bear the same number. You’ve also got to ensure that the number matches the amount of blocks touching. It sounds simple enough but as the game unfolds you discover all sorts of twists.

Polyology grades you on how many “pushes” it takes to complete any one puzzle. Meet the minimums and you have a chance at up to three stars. If you can’t, well, you’re still awarded one star for simply completing a puzzle. Stars are important since they unlock later stages. Eventually you will have to retry previous tough stages to collect more stars.

Polyology Featured

Many levels also tweak the expected sokoban formula in interesting new ways. For example, switch blocks will switch places with the player rather than moving in a regular direction. Sometimes blocks even come in distinct, Tetris-ish shapes. There are a lot of variations which are fun, challenging, and occasionally frustrating. Controls (keyboard and gamepad) are good and you can even undo moves but I still would’ve appreciated a hint function.

The game might not have the fanciest visuals around but they’re serviceable for what’s going on. The colored sphere is cute as its face actually changes depending on what you’re pushing. Polyology also has some fantastic, low-key music for solving puzzles to. There are not an outrageous amount of puzzles but they should keep you busy for a couple hours.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Abomination Tower Review

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Developer: Adrian Sugden
Publisher: Adrian Sugden
Platform: PC – Desura, Humble Store, itch.io

I completely suck at platformers. Even ones designed to be family friendly often give me a run for my money. As such, it makes no sense for me to enjoy Abomination Tower. This fairly challenging platformer is procedurally generated with horrible spikes, fleshy monsters, and shooty globs that kill you in one hit. As you ascend the tower, each stage offers increased challenges to survive. And yet, I found it immediately enjoyable.

Perhaps it has to do with the humor inherent from the get go. The protagonist is an abomination in the most obvious sense. It is a being created by a mad scientist that moves and jumps but has no head. This no head bit actually has a gameplay aspect too. You see, after collecting enough eyeballs you unlock wearable heads. Each confers its own special ability – but you can’t stack heads. Even after unlocking a few more I still found myself sticking with “Save My Butt” since that allows the abomination two hits rather than one hit KOs.

Abomination Tower Featured

The humorous theme thrives thanks to Abomination Tower’s visuals. That aforementioned unlock, for example, actually places a round rump on the abomination’s head. Everything has a nice cartoony vibe despite the blood splatters decorating walls and floors. It’s also great that unlocks remain unlocked even when you die and/or restart. This is important when you (or me, in this case) die constantly.

Issues I noticed were that platforming is not as precise as it could be. Jumps in particular all have a minimum left and right motion, meaning you must account for these specifics when jumping through dangerous sections. Some procedurally generated bits also seemed to offer impossible fragments. Perhaps I’m not skilled enough yet, but they did seem problematic. Abomination Tower offers a quick burst of platforming fun in an inexpensive package.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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16 Bit Rally Review

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Developer: Proton Creations
Publisher: Proton Creations
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – itch.io

So, maybe this is abnormal, but I have a serious reverence for arcade-style racing games. Cruisin’ World and Daytona USA are some of my favorites, although there are others on the list as well. 16 Bit Rally doesn’t quite pull from the same deck (it’s pixelated rather than polygonal) but it enthralled in much the same ways.

The best aspect of 16 Bit Rally is the sense of speed and movement it provides. Thanks to a super cool “3D” effect going on with the ground it really feels like you’re moving through the world. This sense of speed is only increased as you continue to play and upgrade car stats. Eventually, vehicles seem impossibly fast but still remain controllable.

16 Bit Rally Featured

Racing against 20 other cars typically means you won’t get last place. Of course, netting a top three result is best as you’ll nab the most points and cash. Points simply tally toward an overall leaderboard while money is used to upgrade or buy new cars. I would have liked to see a few more cars, as the third and final is great until all your teammates finally purchase one as well.

For as fun as 16 Bit Rally is there are a few iffy bits. When you’re in the lead there’s no way to tell how far (or close) opponents are! There’s also a lack of controller support which is a tad annoying but not a game breaker. In any case, I was immensely surprised by how much fun the title was. I worked to complete most of the world racing rally in one multi-hour sitting and that’s saying something when my average gameplay session is an hour or less.


Score: 3.5
3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Puzzler World Review

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Puzzler World Logo

Developer: Ideas Pad
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Most of the puzzle games I play are based around a single (or few) concepts that you utilize time and time again. Puzzler World takes a different stance by offering a collection of different puzzle types in one package. How many in all? Oh, it’s like something over 1000 different puzzles to play. Yep, this is one game I’ll be working on for a good long while.

Puzzler World includes the following classic puzzles: Crossword, Spot the Difference, Sudoku, Word Search. There are also Codeword, Fitword, Link-A-Pix, and Silhouette which may be classics in their own way but I’d never really played games like them before. Sudoku is pretty odd because (at least in the first 200 puzzles) it doesn’t offer a typical 3×3 grid and instead is 3×2. Perhaps they’re just trying to introduce the concept to unfamiliar players?

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I expected to dislike puzzles such as Link-A-Pix, but really ended up digging them. This one in particular makes you connect similar-colored numbers via a chain of squares (which match up to the specific number). It sounds confusing but is very logical and fun once you get a hang of it. Codeword is probably the worst because I simply am terrible at solving alphabet codes and just use up my hint coins on these.

The presentation of Puzzler World is simple and made for smaller screen resolutions. At 1920×1080 it’s a bit of a mess, but better than the 800×600 windowed mode which makes Link-A-Pix puzzles tough to see. With that said, the collection of games is impressive and you can play them in any order you choose (and even ignore certain types!). Puzzler World is outrageously cheap for the amount of puzzles provided and often goes on sale for even lower.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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