Posts Tagged ‘2012’

POP: Pop Methodology One Review



Developer: Rob Lach Games
Publisher: Rob Lach Games
Platform: PC – Steam

You know, I really had no idea what to expect when launching POP: Methodology Experiment One for the first time. The very first screen, which warned “THIS GAME MAY KILL YOU” revealed this was going to be quite the experience. I’m not sure whether that “experience” is one many will enjoy, though.

POP: Methodology Experiment One is comprised of a small handful of gameplay vignettes. Each explores a different game concept (racing, arcade shooting, walking, etc) and asks you to simply manipulate the screen for a few minutes. Once the time is up, you’re free to move onto the next section. It only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to exhaust each section.


Visually, this game is a standout. The pixel art style is regularly distorted in dizzying ways. Seriously, I had a headache by the end. Despite the real physical pain POP: Methodology Experiment One caused me, I still appreciated the colorful, trippy aesthetic. The same is true of the music, except to a greater degree since I dug it a lot and was not left feeling ill by listening to it.

The issue is that there is so little to the game that even the low cost of $3.99 starts to look like a bit too much. There’s some sort of thematic touches going on throughout, but they failed to hit the mark. Finally, the video mixtape style utilized to string each game together felt completely out of sync with the rest of POP: Methodology Experiment One. It’s not a bad experiment, but as a game people will actually want to play through… well, not so much.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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Tales of Maj’Eyal Review

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured


Developer: DarkGod
Publisher: DarkGod
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

My first exposure to roguelikes would probably make Rogue fans cry. Instead of following most of the same principles, what I came to know of the genre could be better defined as rogue-lites. In any case, not everything I play falls into that distant genre cousin branch, as Tales of Maj’Eyal proves. This roguelike RPG is incredibly deliberate with turn-based play, variety of challenging enemies, tons of character classes to experiment with, and of course the possibility of permadeath.

Honestly, Tales of Maj’Eyal is quite a lot to take in right from the start. There are tons of classes and different types have their own starting hub worlds. Despite a recognizable top-down and turn-based interface, there’s a lot to get a handle on with a multitude of spell types, enemy powers, and a handful of other systems. But basically, it’s very much like a typical deep RPG wherein you’re able to hone your characters with exacting detail and will always need to be careful while exploring randomly generated dungeons.

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured

Once you digest everything at play here the game really takes off. It’s difficult for me, even on easier settings, but I certainly appreciate that there are multiple options available. If you’re looking for a “hardcore” experience then Tales of Maj’Eyal provides that. If you’re seeking a highly strategic, but not completely hellish game you can get that too. It’s great to see a game of this genre open itself up to a variety of skill levels.

In all, it was a big surprise how much I ended up enjoying this one. There’s so much going on, but the foundation is solid. Roguelike fans looking for something more “classic” than Rogue Legacy and its ilk will definitely find it with Tales of Maj’Eyal.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Spelunky Review

Spelunky Featured

Spelunky Boxart

Developer: Mossmouth
Publisher: Mossmouth
Platform: PC – Steam, PSN, XBLA

There was a point in time where I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a lot, but only for a brief moment. After that childish love affair with Harrison Ford ended, the VHS went back on the shelves to collect dust. The concept of adventure in forests, caves, and the like were great for a film but it seems they would be able to easily translate into games too. No, this isn’t a post about the various Indiana Jones games that came out over the years, but Spelunky.

Spelunky is an incredibly fun game. You start out as a little adventurer person (there are many to choose from, some who you find along your travels). They explore the caves and you must keep them alive by defeating enemies, dodging traps, and also making sure you don’t fall too far – or onto spikes! Along the way, you’ll gain valuables which are exchanged into currency at the end of each stage. If you find a merchant, they’ll usually sell you something helpful, unless you decide to steal from and/or kill them.

What makes Spelunky so fun is largely due to how simple the game is to understand. You must get from the start of the stage to the exit in a certain amount of time without dying. Do this a handful more times and you’ll work through the whole thing. Controls are also spot on for the (sometimes) careful maneuvering needed. Good luck getting through the game in one go though. The whole thing is diabolically hard at points. Usually, the player’s own impatience works against them.

Spelunky Featured

The original free Windows version of Spelunky had cute pixel art, but the current art appeals to me even more. Listening to the game’s soundtrack is also fun although there aren’t quite enough tracks available. The biggest negative I perceive is the simple fact that there’s no online multiplayer option. At this point in time, I (and many other people) don’t really get to have get- togethers for gaming. But online gaming nights? Oh, that’s much easier to organize.

With randomized stages leading to infinite replay value, I have started my adventures hundreds of times. And yet, when I have nothing else to do all I want is to play even more Spelunky. It creates an enjoyable hold on players and is definitely worth the purchase if you’ve never played.

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Dengeki Stryker Review

Dengeki Stryker Featured

Dengeki Stryker Logo

Developer: OVERDRIVE
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*

Like many of my age group, I was in love with the Power Rangers as a child. There was something about these “super sentai” heroes that enigmatic, yet entirely alluring about them. Perhaps it was their total and complete coolness that sucked many children into their world. For a while, I probably even wished to become a Japanese-style superhero. Unlike those who let those dreams fade as they grow, Yuuki Yamato was unwilling to relinquish his dream. One day he comes upon a mysterious Memory Collector who will grant him any wish at the price of every memory he has. Yamato agrees and becomes Stryker Zero and thus begins Dengeki Stryker.

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Oniken Review

Oniken Featured

Oniken Boxart

Developer: JoyMasher
Publisher: JoyMasher
Platform: PC – Desura, Steam

I hate to admit it but I was not raised on the era of tough as nails NES games. Nope, instead I became friendly with an Apple IIe, Atari 7800, and off-brand Pong console. These devices offered their own difficult games but it was quite a different experience when you typically only had one button and a joystick. Missing out on the greats like Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and innumerable others has caused me to wonder what it was like to grow up with them, though. So, from my perspective, it does feel like Oniken is bringing a classic experience to players.

It starts things off on the right food with a wonderfully cliche storyline. The Oniken – bad guys – are attempting to seize control of humanity. A ragtag trio of resistance fighters aren’t having any of it! They jump into action to stop Oniken by any means necessary. Lead character Zaku is armed only with a sword and grenades but will work his way through countless enemies through the game’s six stages.

Oniken Screenshot

As you might expect from a title hearkening back to the NES era, Oniken is a 2D side-scrolling action game. You slash up foes, jump over dangerous areas, and generally kick a lot of butt in order to beat bosses and complete stages. Each area might seem fairly tough the first time but repeated plays make them seem increasingly manageable. For me, that meant maybe ten or so rounds on the second stage, but I’m not as skilled as players actually honed on NES games are. After watching a few people play it, I found that perhaps the game wasn’t even that hard at all – my skills simply weren’t up to the task.

Both the visuals and music seem to accurately recreate the era as well. I can’t say for certain if the color pallete and amount of pixels are right on, but they seem good enough to me! It’s exciting to see that even at this point in time there is still something uniquely engaging about a game that operates with such a bare minimum of keys. Oniken is a ton of fun even for people like me who don’t feel indebted to the systems of their past. Basically, if you’re in the mood for a retro-styled romp then Oniken is a fine choice.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Long Live the Queen Review

Long Live the Queen Featured

Long Live the Queen Boxart

Developer: Hanako Games
Publisher: Hanako Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Would you love to have the power of a queen or king? With legions of people devoted to you and absolute power, how could anything go wrong? Reality is nothing like such fantasies, of course, and any ruling party has to deal with a range of problems. This is the case for young Elodie who suddenly ascends to the throne after her mother’s death. Can she handle the many stresses of being queen? That’s all up to how the player shapes her fate in Long Live the Queen.

Long Live the Queen Screenshot 1

The game is a strategy/simulation where you choose what Elodie will spend her days learning about. She can become an incredible strategist with tomes of knowledge about foreign and domestic political issues. Or, Elodie can learn how to fight directly and keep her people safe in a much more direct way. She can become a very regal queen, learning about how to present herself as true royalty and taking interest in music. Really, the only constraints on what kind of queen she’ll become are dependent on the configuration of skills the player chooses to pursue.

Much of the fun in Long Live the Queen is seeing how different skills affect events. Some are pretty obvious, such as the fact that you likely won’t win a battle if you know nothing about military strategy and logistics. However, other events are likely to shock – and sometimes be fatal. Somehow, losing is still enjoyable! It just makes you want to jump right back in and try to skew Elodie’s learning in a way that works to resolve the otherwise deadly event. Each event has a number of traits affecting it, so players aren’t shoehorned into doing the same thing every time.

Long Live the Queen Screenshot 3

However, there is another facet to skill learning that makes the game harder. You see, Elodie has a mood meter with a few specific mood types. Her aptitude for learning specific skills changes dependent on her mood. If she’s angry, she’ll do better with weapons and military training. Figuring out what moods suit specific types of learning can be a bit tough, especially when you’re already trying to resolve government and interpersonal conflicts in the main game. It’s also a bit annoying to have to regularly flip between all these screens with no way to compare two at the same time.

Long Live the Queen is far tougher, and darker, than most expect. It’s not just a cutesy little Princess Maker clone. No, this game deals with some serious political intrigue, with other nobles seeking to kill the incumbent queen to increase their own power. Definitely play this game if you’re up for some strategic excitement and see if you can survive through all Elodie’s trials!

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Review

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Featured

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Boxart

Developer: Sparsevector
Publisher: Sparsevector
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLIG, PC – Desura, Steam (Reviewed)

Many of us first experienced the joy of actually playing video games in the classroom with The Oregon Trail. At least, there was some excitement before realizing that the title is actually pretty tough. In the end, the most fun many of us had with it was choosing awkward/irreverent names for the group. But what if it were an actually fun, arcade-style action game? Then we’d have something like Super Amazing Wagon Adventure which would absolutely never be allowed into school.

Things start off calmly enough. After selecting three travelers, they hop into a wagon and venture through the plains hunting animals. Once that’s complete, things start to quickly descend into weirdness. Buffalos or bandits might strike out at you, or sometimes, there might be tons of squirrels rushing at you. Other times, the old timey bandits might be firing at you with machine guns. One of your wagon-goers might eat some special mushrooms that cause a great deal of trouble.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Screenshot 1

Basically, things get all kinds of messed up and fast. But that’s obviously part of the fun. Although much of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure happens in the same general layout, the way that players work through them can change. Random hilarious events are interspersed within to keep it fresh. Much of these events are wonderful, such as discovering unicorns or special treasures underwater.

How does this game actually play? It’s about split between a side-scrolling shooter and twin stick shooter. In side-scrolling sections, you usually just have to maneuver around past dangerous things (flaming buffaloes, bullets, stinky skunk carcasses, etc) or fight back. The team has a measly gun to start but there are many gun power ups to find randomly. In the twin stick segments, you mosey around on one screen, shooting at whatever comes toward you. If you die, then the other members of the troop will investigate and have to undergo the same battle.

Gameplay itself is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. On the other hand, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure seriously tired me out after about an hour of play. Shooting up enemies while keeping your wagon team safe is a lot harder than you’d expect and there are many, many opportunities for death. As long as one player is alive then they’ll keep going, but even keeping one person alive is tough! One of the most fun (and morbid?) things to do is name your team after friends and watch the ridiculous or grisly ways they die.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Screenshot 2

So far, the experience is fun, if taxing. The simplicity is engaging and definitely hearkens back to earlier days of gaming. The visuals and audio definitely help in this regard. In particular, the visuals are defaulted to a mode that makes the game look like it’s playing on a CRT set. Edges are rounded and there are scan lines present as well. It’s lovely to look at the crisp pixel visuals through this veneer of authenticity.

I just wish there was a further expanded variety to make this an even more amazing adventure. For the most part, I’ve experienced dozens of playthroughs that all have to have specific types of events take place in a set order. Yes, there is a lot of variation, but these moments are additions to the existing formula. But when you consider the price of $2.99, it’s hard to suggest the game is lacking. There are multiple gameplay modes and wagon types alongside standard story mode! Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is a fun, bloody, and weird as hell journey to the American West.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Cook, Serve, Delicious! Review

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 1

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Boxart

Developer: Vertigo Gaming
Publisher: Vertigo Gaming
Platform: Android, iOS, PC – Desura, Direct, Steam (Reviewed)

For some reason, I’ve always had an affinity for games that have to do with food. Whether it’s BurgerTime, Cooking Mama, or Ore no Ryouri there has always been something uniquely appealing about them. It seems developer Vertigo Gaming shared my passions because in the early 2000s they released Ore no Ryomi 1 and 2. These two titles were fun, if simplistic fan games. In 2012, after serious growth as a developer, they published Cook, Serve, Delicious! This title blows basically all other cooking games out of the water.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 1

You begin the game as the owner of a brand new, and quite frankly, unappealing restaurant. The location gains customers primarily because of being situated in an office complex rather than word of mouth. With a zero star establishment under your name, it’s up to the player to get it into shape and eventually make it all the way to a five-star restaurant. Although you’re the boss, this is not a simple management simulator. In fact, most of the gameplay takes place in the kitchen.

Players must cook all the food that customers order! After selecting the food you want to serve for the day, you must sit behind the counter and wait to serve guests. As they pile in, they rattle off their food choices and the player must get to work preparing them. With an item selected, you have to choose all the proper ingredients and then serve. For example, if someone asks for chicken noodle soup then you’d better make sure to put chicken, noodles, and the like into the soup before cooking! Adding and interacting with food items (in the PC version) can be accomplished via mouse clicks or keyboard shortcuts, but keyboard is definitely the way to go.

Keyboard is suggested because things get incredibly hectic almost from the get go. There is often a steady stream of customers popping in, but things get even worse during rush hours. At these times, you’ll see all your prep stations fill with waiting orders that you want to fulfill. It’s possible to ignore orders, but then customers will leave frustrated and not return. Some food items are super easy to prepare such as corn dogs, but others require real attention. After a while though, you’ll likely start to memorize the various keyboard presses for different food items.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 3

Because keyboard play and quick reading is basically integral to being successful at Cook, Serve, Delicious! it is not a game suggested for young children or anyone with various hand/wrist strain injuries. It would also definitely be hard for those who type using the “hunt and peck” method but could actually help them memorize letter locations. As for me, my average WPM fluctuates between 90-110 and there was still a learning curve to become skilled at hammering out orders. With that said, the layout is mostly genius because many food item keybindings are directly related to their name. For example, to add bacon you type “B”. It is also possible to change most of the buttons if you need to.

Okay, so food is hectic to prepare and serve but also a lot of fun. Serving customers perfect meals makes more visitors arrive next time. With more meals served, your restaurant generates more money. And with more money you can buy a host of goodies for the business. There are many recipes to choose from, equipment to aid the player, and you can even place bets on how well you expect your next performance at work to be. Money is integral and easy to burn so manage it well!

After a while, new opportunities pop up. First, there is the ability to cater events. This is one great way to make money on the side. Many other, increasingly odd, avenues of play appear as well. It’s these concepts which expand beyond purely “cooking food in the restaurant” that make Cook, Serve, Delicious! and even better game. It just seems like such a vast product which is weird when simply looking at it at face value.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 2

The game is deep and will last a while. Even after all this discussion, there are still neat mechanics at play such as ratings on menu items that affect you in positive or negative ways. Then there are the e-mails you get daily that range from helpful to just plain awkward. Then there are the silly touches such as the names given to specialty menu items (such as “cheesy leaves” for a cheese-covered salad). Visually, it’s easy to see the attention Vertigo Gaming gave the title. Food looks routinely delicious with its cartoonish depictions and overall everything just seems pretty polished.

As for issues, it can be tougher to do certain menu items because they require a hand to move from the main portion of keyboard to arrow keys. Yes, these bindings can be changed, but it would have been cool to see an alternate layout available by default. Otherwise, it can be hard to make one that works well for yourself. I’ve ended up looking through the Steam Community of this game for one. It would also have been appreciated to see multiple difficulties available. I understand that the game is meant to be hectic, but it is probably nearly unplayable for those who have less than ideal keyboarding skills. An option to tweak speed, or disable rushes entirely could go a long way.

Bringing up these points is important to me because Cook, Serve, Delicious! is an excellent game that could easily attract attention from gamers of all types. It is far from the “casual” experience that supposed hardcore gamers ignore, and yet, non-gamers could even get into it. Having read comments from players so far it also seems that fans of different genres have still gravitated to the simple fun of playing this title. Cook, Serve, Delicious! is a seriously fun way to spend some time and I recommend anyone who has had their curiosity piqued to check it out.

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Telepath RPG: Servants of God Review

Telepath RPG: Servants of God

Telepath RPG: Servants of God Boxart

Developer: Sinister Design
Publisher: Sinister Design
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct, GamersGate)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

It’s possible that if you’re reading this review that “Telepath RPG” might sound familiar to you. Having never heard of Telepath RPG: Servants of God before, it was quite the surprise that there were actually two previous games in the series. Both appeared as free titles on Newgrounds. Those Flash titles appear to have set the basics for what the series would become in its third iteration.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God sets the stage in a fantasy Middle East where people have come to impose their religion upon the local people of Ravinale. You and your parents are sternly opposed to these new rulers and vocal enough that your entire family is imprisoned! But there are many others looking to kick these theocrats out of the city. With these soldiers at your side, the player must serve as a tactician to lead them to victory. Unfortunately, the story is static in that you can’t change the main character’s gender or race despite it not affecting much (beyond the obvious usage of “he” in voiced lines).

The game is played from a top down perspective where you control each of the teammates. Actions are always governed by the player and include positioning, attacks, and healing. Each character has a max number of places they can move per turn and distances for their attacks. With each in your hands, it’s required to keep track of positioning so that one character doesn’t block another out of attacking or anything like that. Play is pretty simple and that’s a big part of what makes it so fun. It’s incredibly enjoyable to control the team and keep them smartly placed for the most effective victories.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God

Beyond these main story battles there are also side quests to be completed. Regardless of what you’re doing, Servants of God is infused with tons of chatter. Characters all have personalities apparent through their words and the writing is a pretty good read. Many, but not all, characters also receive voice acting to speak their lines. It seems the voice actors might not be professionals, but they are (usually) not embarrassing to listen to.

One point that might bother some players are the visuals. The gameplay screens for battle and exploration depict characters as very cartoony. It definitely clashes with the otherwise high quality portraits. Some scenes have colored drawn backdrops that both look unpolished and like they were pulled from a fable. I’m not sure how that works out, I appreciated them nonetheless.

RPG players who are willing to spend some time with Telepath RPG: Servants of God just might find it to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s not perfect, but offers easy to understand gameplay and a variety of difficulty levels so most everyone can play.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Season One Review

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Featured

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Boxart

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Platform: Mobile – iOS, PC – GOG*, Steam, etc

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is an episodic point and click adventure series which just concluded its first season. It took Phoenix Online Studios about a year to pump out all four episodes, but now that it has concluded we can finally assess how the full product stands against adventure gaming competition.

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