Posts Tagged ‘4.5’

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Review

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Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo SPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS

A lot of people never played a Fire Emblem game before Awakening released. I was one of those people. And if you’re thinking, “I bet she just decided to play it because of the waifus!!” then you’re mostly right. I absolutely loved the matchmaking and children aspect that Awakening featured (not to mention FREDERICK!). However, I did also end up immensely enjoying the strategy gameplay that Awakening offered, though veterans of the series might say it is a step down compared to previous entries. SRPGs always terrified me, but Awakening was an excellent entry point for people just like me. Read more »

Door Kickers Review

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Developer: KillHouse Games
Publisher: KillHouse Games
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Police games intrigue me a whole heck of a lot. From Police 911 to S.W.A.T. they’re all just pretty excellent games. Unfortunately for fans of the latter title, there’s been a real lack of super strategic and gritty games since Sierra got eaten/killed/revived. Door Kickers may not be exactly the same, especially given its top-down perspective, but it is excellent in its own right.

In Door Kickers you’re given a huge array of campaigns and basically given free rein to complete them exactly how you want. Each features a different strategic situation to assess. Players plan absolutely every aspect for teams and (hopefully) execute it flawlessly. The top-down perspective gives a great vantage point as players see the entire level map. Of course, actually “seeing” where enemies are requires line of sight confirmation. Until that point areas are hidden.

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Brash players can do well enough in early stages with minimal officer deaths, but not through the entire campaign. Door Kickers is definitely designed with tacticians in mind because those players will reap the greatest rewards. It simply feels good to have a plan work perfectly. Of course, surprises are bound to happen. Modifying plans on the fly to suit changing situations feels damn good, too.

Buying Door Kickers is like unlocking a new gaming obsession. Beat all the missions? Now go back and three-star them while completing all the challenges. After that you can download user-created mods/levels, or heck, make your own. Door Kickers is an excellent strategy game, especially for those of us looking to scratch that S.W.A.T. 4 or Rainbow Six itch.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Spelunky Review

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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.

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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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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

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Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

What was supposed to be a peaceful school trip for Hope’s Peak Academy to beautiful Jabberwock Island has suddenly been corrupted by despair. The snarky and evil Monokuma is back causing havoc, and things quickly take a turn for the worse.

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Cloud Chamber Review

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Developer: Investigate North
Publisher: Investigate North
Platform: PC – Steam

Alternate reality games hold a very special place in my heart. This overlooked genre places you – the player – in something that seems much larger than a simple game. By involving you directly in a narrative, often by emailing or even calling you, these so-called ARGs brought games into a new dimension. Unfortunately, there are very few out there. Although Cloud Chamber is not really an ARG, it feels very much like one. So let’s dive into exactly what this game is!

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Escape Goat 2 Review

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Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Publisher: MagicalTimeBean
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Escape Goat is a wonderful puzzle platformer that I finally had the pleasure of playing late last year. As a newfound MagicalTimeBean fan it was tremendously exciting to know that Escape Goat 2 was coming at some point in the future. Now it’s here! How does the game hold up against its predecessor?

Escape Goat 2 follows the hooves of the original, although diverges in unique ways. First, let’s go over what is the same. You’re still a purple  goat who platforms around increasingly complex puzzle stages to unlock the exit. A little mouse is also able to aid you at many junctures. Features that the mouse had before, such as a transportation ability, are back as well.

Puzzles have been given new twists and you’ve been granted new abilities to make everything more interesting. For one, the mouse now has an ability to spawn multiple versions of itself across a stage. It’s quite odd, but also handy! Stages now have branching paths as well. You can ascend the castle as quickly as possible, or take the time to veer off course to save more sheep. Personally, I made sure to visit every side area to get as much puzzling goodness as possible out of it.

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Puzzle games often add and tweak a few things upon their next iterations. The biggest change though might just be the art style. No longer is the game comprised of pixel art that looked at home on Xbox Live Indie Games. Now it has an attractive cartoonish glow about it. The soundtrack is as good as (if not better) than the first game. All in all, it might not look exactly like the Escape Goat you already knew but it certainly feels like it.

The puzzle platform genre is packed full of games but few are as uniquely entertaining as Escape Goat 2. If you’ve never played the original you’d be safe to jump right into the new game first. If you end up loving the purple goat’s adventures then you can always go back and buy the game that started it all after!


Score: 4

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Review

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Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

What the heck is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc?  Its name doesn’t reveal much, and it’s actually quite misleading. You see, it’s a murder mystery visual novel of sorts with a bunch of various elements from other genres mixed in. Its like the Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, and Persona series had a crazy baby. And this baby is really awesome.

As Danganronpa relies on its story as its primary appeal, I won’t go into it too much lest I spoil anything! I’m sure you’re intrigued about what the basic premise is, though. Basically, incredibly talented “Ultimate” students from various fields are chosen to attend a prestigious school known as Hope’s Peak Academy. Unfortunately for these students, they quickly find out that they’ve actually been trapped in this school and must kill each other if they want to leave. When these killings do happen, you’re forced to take part in class trials in order to figure out who murdered your fellow classmate.

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These class trials are reminiscent of Ace Attorney games, though they’re done quite differently. They are composed of four different parts: Nonstop Debate, Hangman’s Gambit, Bullet Time Battle, and Closing Argument. Nonstop Debate is the main portion of class trials, and it’s where you use “truth bullets” (evidence) that you’ve gathered against contradictions in the arguments being thrown about. There are also times when one remark that is being made during the discussion must be used against the contradiction. The way that the Nonstop Debate mode is laid out is pretty interesting and unique!

Hangman’s Gambit simply involves shooting letters to form a word that is relevant to the trial. Bullet Time Battle is a rhythm minigame that feels extremely unnecessary and is probably my least favorite part of class trials (and I love rhythm games). Lastly, the Closing Argument section is a kind of puzzle where you put the correct image in the blank spots of a comic book in order to retell how the murder went down. It’s kind of annoying how tiny the images are, which makes it difficult to figure out what exactly is going on in it.

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The characters of Danganronpa are definitely what make the game shine. At the very beginning, I honestly couldn’t see myself liking more than one or two of the students. As Dangaronpa progressed, however, I grew to love most, if not all, of them. And to my surprise, the people that I thought I would like the least ended up becoming my favorites! They’re an eccentric, lovable bunch that had me laughing constantly.

Being a game that relies on its “craziness,” Danganronpa is full of twists and shocking moments. The way the murders are carried out can be quite predictable, but you’ll be on edge throughout the whole game that it doesn’t really matter in the end. Like a good book, you’ll want to get through it from start to finish in one sitting and won’t want to put it down.

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It’s hard to keep myself from babbling incoherently about Danganronpa because I enjoyed it so much. I’m in love with the story, characters, music, and mostly everything about it. So I can’t stress enough how much I recommend it for Vita owners. Grab yourself a copy, play it, and savor it. Then you can wait patiently (or impatiently) for the recently announced Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair!


Pink Score: 4.54 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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SteamWorld Dig Review

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Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Platform: 3DS – eShop, PC – Steam

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Game reviewers play a tremendous amount of games throughout the year. To stay afloat, you learn to simply leave games alone once they are completed and reviewed. Nobody tells you this but most train themselves with the mindset all the same. The fact that I can’t simply toss aside SteamWorld Dig after completing it is a sign – this is something special.

Initially it launched on the 3DS eShop and met with a lot of positive press. Gamers, too, were loving every minute with it. Now that it’s out on Steam I decided it was finally time to see what the fuss was all about. From the outside, SteamWorld Dig doesn’t necessarily seem impressive. There is a cast of robots and the lead robot mines deep into the Earth, gaining new powers discovered in caves.

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Mining is quickly becoming an overplayed element in games. Thankfully, SteamWorld Dig isn’t yet another attempt to tweak Minecraft. Yes, you mine, but to create paths for yourself. The eventual goal is to reach the bottom, but there’s a lot to find along the way. Not only are there caves which offer special new equipment and abilities, but there are also lots of rare minerals to take back to the surface. A satchel full of goodies can be turned in at the store for loads of money.

One by one the town shops reopen. With them come copious new upgrades to your pick, armor, fists, and drill. Some upgrades cost coins while others require coins and orbs. Orbs are a rarer substance which is found from time to time while digging. It was annoying to need this second payment method because of its scarcity. As such, I had to skip out on multiple upgrades for a long time simply because I didn’t have enough orbs (but had more than enough money).

In any case, once you’re loaded up with upgrades SteamWorld Dig becomes much more fun. You can explore longer before your lamp burns out and even fall from greater distances without pain. Of course, you still have to look out for underground dwelling enemies! Mining straight down will advance you through the game faster, but it’s much better to explore side to side as well. Collecting more money and orbs is recommended before descending to the final areas.

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Each aspect of the world has lovely visuals. The colorful artwork was even upgraded from the 3DS release to PC and it shows. Simply looking at each robot reveals a bevy of details including one who has tiny spinning gears in his eyes!  Different layers of the world are themed differently as well. If the dull dirt and rocks are boring you, soon enough the landscape will change. Of course, along with that comes more dangerous territory. Acid spewing rocks, explosive barrels, and lasers will all get in your way alongside creatures.

Although I had some gripes with the lack of orbs and increased difficulty near the end, I would be remiss to discount the game. There were far more moments of being completely absorbed by the simple task of mining and collecting treasure. This is one of those games that scratches that “gameplay” itch in an incredibly simple but fun way. SteamWorld Dig is highly recommended. With randomized worlds it is quite a treat to explore. Play it, complete it, and go back for another round!


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Long Live the Queen Review

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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.

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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.

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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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Escape Goat Review

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Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Publisher: MagicalTimeBean
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, GOG*, Steam (Reviewed), Xbox 360 – XBLIG

Escape Goat is one of those games that has managed to evade me since it launched on Xbox Live Indie Games. Many took notice of it at the time, but for me, my interest in any XBLIG title was negatively colored by a few unfortunate experiences. Only now have I finally gotten to spend time with Escape Goat and can’t believe I passed on it for so long.

The game is a puzzle platformer, which in itself isn’t impressive anymore, but thankfully there is a lot that manages to set it apart from the zillion others out there. The first thing anyone is likely to notice is the purple goat. This is your character, of course! The goat can jump, double jump, and ram to speed up. This unusually colored goat teams up with a mouse which can travel on walls to trigger buttons from afar, or even teleport you under the right circumstances.

As the story begins, you realize that the goat and every other animal is stuck in the Prison of Agnus. All players need to know is that they’re going to go through a series of rooms to find sheep and save them. Once every (or most) animals are saved then our goat hero can finally escape. Overall, this grants a little over 50 solvable levels. There are even more difficult ones to complete after you beat the game as well.

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Unlike most puzzle platformers, it actually feels like the majority of Escape Goat is actually solvable. This isn’t a slight against any other games. Generally, it’s hard for me to work through many puzzle games because they seem to be hard right from the start. But here it’s easy to grasp the concepts of buttons and switches and how to most effectively use your mouse friend. As new features are introduced, such as exploding barrels, you work them into your puzzle-solving knowledge and continue to move forward smoothly.

It might only take a few rounds of guess and check to figure out the solution to a stage, but sometimes the controls can muck up plans. Playing with the Xbox 360 gamepad is recommended and is what I did. With this setup, it seemed that the goat was not perfectly attuned with my thumbstick motions. The issue only became apparent on a few late stages where I was attempting to perform some speedy hoofwork.

For the most part though, everything about Escape Goat is lovely. The visuals are a very attractive pixel art style, the chiptune music is suitably excellent, and puzzles themselves are varied from stage to stage. Beating the main game only takes a couple of hours but once you’re done with that it’s fun to then jump into the extra hard stages or even try your hand at the stage editor. In any case, Escape Goat only costs $4.99 which actually seems cheap for the amount of puzzles provided. It also happens to be the best game featuring a purple goat out there – at least until Escape Goat 2 launches!


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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