Posts Tagged ‘PSN’

Life is Strange Episode 2 – Out of Time Review

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

Life is Strange Episode 1 managed to hook me quite well. Despite a super dramatic, and not particularly “realistic,” reality it worked. I wanted to see what was in store for Max next, and with Episode 2 – Out of Time we get another sampling of this world. But, because we’ve already visited it once, some of the initial charm has worn off.

At first it felt like the episode dragged. Interpersonal teenage angst is something I’d rather leave behind, of course, DONTNOD Entertainment manage to infuse it with enough attention that you care about certain characters – and absolutely loathe others. Despite mostly solid writing, some aspects did bother me, though.

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It seems weird that right after the ending of Episode 1 that Max and her old buddy Chloe are super-duper buddies again. Sure, real life friendships might resume perfectly after a long pause, but the ham-fisted nature of their BFF-dom is a little eye-rolling. With that said, I’d much rather Max end up with Chloe rather than dating her needy guy friend. Please don’t go that route, Life is Strange!

There’s a lot of down to Earth sequences in Episode 2 but a few also drive home the impending disaster that Max continues to see. A few choices really stressed me and at least one part may have huge ramifications on the story. If you dug Life is Strange’s look into the life of an unsuspecting teenage hero then keep playing – things are slowly amping up.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pix the Cat Review

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Developer: Pastagames
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS4, Vita

Pix the Cat launched on PS4 and Vita last year as one of those PS+ Instant Game Collection titles. At that point I heard tons of people expressing just how good it was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to playing it during that time frame. Instead, my waiting resulted in being rewarded with a Steam release. For those who haven’t already played it on PSN, let’s jump right into what it’s all about.

Players control a blue, square-shaped cat named Pix and must collect eggs, which hatch into chicks, and deposit them in little warp holes. The play field looks a bit reminiscent of arcade classics like Pac-Man with a 2D board and twisty rooms. After collecting eggs, the chicks follow directly behind Pix in an increasingly long line. You cannot run into this line – or walls.

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As such, Pix the Cat takes on a fast-paced arcade vibe with heavy puzzle inspirations. While playing you’ll need to discover the most efficient ways around each room to maximize chick drop offs and points. It’ll likely take multiple run throughs to develop said strategies, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep this from becoming monotonous. The only issue I really had was how slow Pix starts off as the most enjoyable gameplay comes when you’re rushing through stages with the timer nearing zero.

Beyond this main mode there are more thoughtful, puzzle-y sections as well as a local multiplayer mode. I’m not a huge fan of the additional modes as the “classic” one is most enjoyable. With that said, Nostalgia mode has outrageously cute visuals so check that out at least once! Pix the Cat is cute, challenging, and a great new take on arcade style.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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OlliOlli Review

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Developer: Roll7, General Arcade
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4, Vita

Where are all the good skateboarding games? For many, the genre of extreme sports titles died out once Tony Hawk games got beyond their numbered iterations. To me it definitely felt like there was a lack of interesting newcomers. OlliOlli first launched on Vita to rave reviews but it took a bit longer for PC players to get their shot. The wait was most definitely worth it.

OlliOlli offers an unique approach to the entire skateboarding game formula. First off, it’s a 2D sidescrolling game. It takes the arcade-y nature of Tony Hawk but also integrates analog stick tricks that were found in the Skate series. What you end up with is a simplistic game that takes a lot of effort to get good at. As many OlliOlli players have discovered, you’ll keep playing stages thanks to the addictive gameplay. Although you can play with a keyboard, it seems hard to imagine given the ease of analog stick-based tricks. As such, this is all written from a Xbox 360 gamepad playing perspective.

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There are a surprising amount of levels to complete. Each also has five extra tasks to complete while running it. If you can finish them all you gain access to the pro version of that stage. If you thought the regular levels were tough enough these prove even wilder. It must be noted that sometimes timing of analog stick flicks versus what’s registered on-screen sometimes feels off. Perhaps there is some latency on the PC port from time to time? Either that or I’m not nearly as good at OlliOlli as I imagine!

As far as skateboarding games are concerned, OlliOlli glides above a great majority of them with ease. This is thanks primarily to the effective controlscheme but also the simple 2D visuals and awesome soundtrack. Honestly, it’s right up there with Hotline Miami’s (another game with ‘outsourced’ music). It’s incredibly hard to put the game down once you play it. Expect to wipe out constantly… and eventually get into the “flow” which makes OlliOlli amazingly enjoyable.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Z-Run Review

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Developer: Beatshapers
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: PSN – Vita

So, what would you do when placed in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Run! In Z-Run that’s exactly what you do. Playing as one of two characters you simply try to maneuver through zombie-infested streets safely. Of course, you’re still free to pick up a weapon or two along the way to make the trek easier.

After choosing to play as Clair or Alex players get to either work through story mode or test survival mode. Story mode sends players through a variety of increasingly difficult levels. Levels themselves have a third person perspective with the character running directly “forward” in a 3D space. As zombies or other obstacles appear, you can whip out a melee weapon, kick them, or even try to dodge. As the playing field is fairly narrow dodging in particular can be hard to do successfully.

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One important aspect to note is the two bars (health and stamina) which must not drain. Stamina is used whenever you attack, dodge, or sprint. Health drains by being hit. Luckily there are item pickups to restore both bars. Visually, the game is gloomy and a bit repetitive with only a few stage designs to speak of. Sometimes zombies glitch out and that makes for unexpectedly humorous moments. Those spoiled by modern zombie games may also be disappointed by a meager dozen weapons. Still, Z-Run does throw players a bone by letting them level up a host of stats as they play.

Z-Run is a pretty difficult runner that excels in some areas and is lacking in others. It might not have a huge variety of stuff to do, but the core gameplay feels competent. This being a Vita game also makes sense considering each stage isn’t terribly long to complete, lending itself well to portable play. Still, there have been many entries into the runner genre over the years and Z-Run doesn’t quite reach the bar.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f Review

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Developer: SEGA, Crypton Future Media
Publisher: SEGA
Platform: PSN – PS3, Vita

It’s a joy to see Hatsune Miku slowly, but surely, becoming fully recognized in North America. Heck, she’s even opening for Lady Gaga! The best part, however, is that we’re getting Project Diva games published here now. I already played Project DIVA F on PS3 last year and loved it, but I wanted to see if its handheld counterpart was an even better experience.

Like any other rhythm game, you press buttons to the beat of the music in Project DIVA f. There are also moments where you must swipe either the front or back touchscreens. With faster songs and higher difficulties, swiping quickly enough feels almost impossible, especially with the fact that they are sometimes not recognized. In any case, the more accurate you are with your timing, the better your score.

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Paired with a selection of over 30 catchy tracks, Project DIVA f‘s main gameplay will have you hooked. It can get really crazy and demand your utmost attention and reflexes, but it sure as hell feels good to do well on that super difficult song that you’ve had trouble with for so long.

When you want to take a break from the main portion of Project DIVA f, you can interact with Hatsune Miku and the other Vocaloids in their rooms. This includes dressing them up, giving them gifts, and redecorating. It’s oddly satisfying.

Other modes include Edit Mode and Portrait Mode. Edit Mode allows you to create your own music videos, which is sure to please creative folks out there. Portrait Mode, on the other hand, lets you take photos of Miku in your environment.

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Having played both versions of Project DIVA f, I can safely say that I vastly prefer the Vita version. Although it’s lovely seeing Miku dance and sing on a large television screen, the gameplay feels much more suited to a handheld platform.

Why choose Project DIVA f over other rhythm games? Well, its appeal lies heavily in the Vocaloid franchise. So, if you’re not interested in Hatsune Miku and her friends, you’re probably better off skipping over Project Diva f. But for those of you that are fans, even just a little bit… Definitely add it to your gaming library and help show support for Miku in the states!


Pink Score: 44 out of 5 alpacas


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The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

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Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS3

Back before I became a curmudgeon old games reviewer, I spent hours upon hours in Diablo and Diablo II. There was something incredibly appealing about clicking away at enemies in these ARPGs. As such, upon hearing about The Witch and the Hundred Knight I found myself intrigued – if a bit wary. But, curiosity persisted and I’ve ended up playing it. So, is this a game worth pursuing?

Maybe. First, let’s get all the basics out of the way. In this game you start out as a teeny, cute blob creature (supposedly male). A crude, cruel witch finds and names you Hundred Knight because it sounds cool. After a brief tutorial session with her, you’re brought back to the real world where she introduces herself as Metallia and that you are now completely under her command.

Metallia is a monster. She might look like a swamp witch but her meanness never skips a beat. It’s hard to recall that many games where you actually are forced to work under someone who could be quantified as evil. With that weird perspective in place, you go about doing things that you know are wrong but simply have to do anyway. That’s where all the ARPG hacking away at enemies comes in.

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The Hundred Knight can equip multiple weapons and get to work beating on everything in sight. Well, there is a bit more strategy to it than that. There’s the ability to chain together multiple weapons for greater attacks, as well as types of weapons which enemies are weak or strong against. The latter is particularly annoying as you may have to frequently switch out weapons when dealing between two distinct creature types.

Another, stranger, feature of The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the GCal system. GCals are effectively a timer placed on you throughout every stage. Work through the whole thing before the GCals deplete or you’re dead! Luckily, there are a variety of ways to replenish it but I still died a lot before figuring out the most efficient methods. That honestly might be one of the biggest issues with the game: Its obsession with systems.

This genre of game doesn’t necessitate massive complexity. And yet, the experience is filled to the brim with them. And for all that work, you can basically ignore 80% of them. Perhaps some will find them intriguing, but that was not a favorable aspect in my opinion. No doubt many will be bothered by Metallia’s attitude as well, but I dug her no-holds-barred cruelty… and was much disappointed by the designer’s intentions with her outfit.

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Visually, many have suggested it looks like a game from the PS2 era but I just don’t see it that way. The character models might be simplistic but they honestly looked really good to me. Similarly, the backdrops were nicely fanciful. The biggest problem with them were that foliage would often obstruct the playing field view. The soundtrack definitely meshed with the visuals, and maybe even did it one better. Every song had a real “character” about it and that made levels more enjoyable than they otherwise would’ve been.

It’s a shame, then, that for as simple as the experience could be that it wasn’t all that compelling in the long run. The Witch and the Hundred Knight doesn’t contain that engaging spark that more famous games such as Diablo managed to have. Without it, you’ll simply have to get by on enjoying the visual design, excellent soundtrack, and unusual narrative. All told that’s not a horrible thing but it could have been better.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Furmins Review

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Developer: Housemarque
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: Mobile – iOS PSN – Vita

What the heck are furmins? Apparently, they’re weirdly adorable orb-shaped creatures that require your aid to get back to their nests. In the game, aptly titled Furmins, you do this by solving physics-based puzzles. It starts out easy, but gets tough pretty quick!

Every stage of the game requires the player to do at least one thing to help the furmins reach their goal. Levels are small (each fits squarely on the Vita screen) and may have interactive elements. For example, you might be required to activate a bumper when a furmin lands on it to shoot them into the air, arcing toward the goal. Other times, you’re required to use bounce plates and such to get them going in the right direction.

The concepts behind Furmins are very easy to understand so anyone should be able to start playing. However, their continued enjoyment may very well waver depending on their puzzle aptitude. Despite being a well-rounded player, I found some of the puzzles quite challenging. If this is the case for me, then what of those who enjoy easier physics games such as Angry Birds? That game has seen success by being immediately playable in short bursts. Here, you might be stuck messing with a plank to try and get the right bounce arc for a while. It lacks the “ease of play” spark.

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Why is this an issue? Simply because those who don’t consider themselves fan of casual games will likely skip over Furmins. Of course, if they played they would find out that it offers a true challenge… but how many players really test out a game before discounting it entirely? In this age, the practice is slim.

At times, it feels that the game is too skewed toward difficulty. Each level grants up to three stars depending on whether you save all the furmins, get all the candy collectibles, and beat the par time. The first two are not too tough, but times are completely unforgiving. It really seems you would have to arrange the stage in the exact way they did to attain most of them. Why worry about stars? They’re needed to unlock later stage sets, as well as all bonus sets.

All in all, it seems Furmins is in an odd place. It presents itself as what many consider a casual game but offers real challenge to players. Touch screen and rear touch pad implementation is fair, although it is probably best to turn off the latter due to unintended triggering. If you’re looking for a quick play game on Vita that offers more challenge then most, Furmins might be right up your alley.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Velocity Ultra Review

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Developer: FuturLab, Curve Studios
Publisher: Curve Studios
Platform: PSN – PS3, Vita PC – Steam

Velocity was a lovely little shooter that launched on PS3 and Vita in 2012 to favorable reviews but it seemed that many gamers simply missed out on it. Velocity Ultra is basically the same game, but given a nice HD coat of paint. Now that I’ve finally played it, I’m amazed to how the original game ever managed to slip under the radar of so many.

Velocity Ultra is a scrolling sci-fi shooter but does many things to make it a far more engaging experience than most. Your ship comes with a host of features that are introduced one by one. First, you have the ability to speed boost at will which comes in handy when you need to blast through a stage. There is also an unlimited supply of bombs to help you shoot down or to the side (as with most traditional ships which can’t shoot in any direction but up). Another neat feature is the ability to teleport around. Not only can this get you out of a tight spot between bullets, but it is also necessary when obstacles get in the way.

These might not sound like groundbreaking changes but they come together in such a way that the game is tremendously fun. Although there are no difficulty selections, it really feels like Velocity Ultra caters to a wide audience. Shooter newbies as well as regular players could likely both enjoy it. But what about people who don’t necessarily dig the genre? Even then, the game offers up ways to change the standard formula.

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Gameplay modes vary from stage to stage but sometimes the game suddenly becomes a puzzler. This is done via numbered gates that need to be hit in order to “unlock” an area. However, branching paths make it so you can rarely unlock a zone in one go. Instead, you have to put down a warp (or series of them) in order to return to forks and travel down different paths. Sometimes, paths are nearly hidden by being way off to the side of the screen. Not only do you have to contend with enemies but you must discover all gates!

Despite being only an average shooter fan, I was able to blast through the first forty stages with little issue. After that, you’ve got to return to previous levels to rack up more points to have enough for the last few. The fifty stages are excellent and offer a great deal of replay value. You can compete with yourself to try and get a gold medal time, save all survivors, or destroy all enemy waves for bonuses. Of course, you can also try climbing the ranks of the online leaderboard.

Although Velocity Ultra is entertaining enough just from a gameplay standpoint, the rest of the package blends together wonderfully. For one, the visuals look crisp and stylish. The music is in a whole other league together, with each track being extremely cool and fun to listen to. Personally, I’m fighting the urge to buy the soundtrack! The only downside to the music is that it doesn’t loop, meaning there are moments where no music plays at all before restarting again.

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For all this glowing adoration, there were a few issues lurking on the sidelines. At times, I would warp into a wall (though you’re not supposed to). It’s easy enough to warp back out, but it would always freak me out and cost precious time. Also, it feels like the screen isn’t offering enough vertical space to see what’s coming next. For a vertically scrolling shooter to not have a standard vertically oriented screen is fairly alien to me, although it was probably done to benefit the lateral searching on some stages. Finally, the game is designed with controllers in mind so watch out if you want to play with keyboard.

Velocity Ultra is such a fun game it’s hard to knock it too much. The developers managed to create a shooter that isn’t just fun for genre fans but for new players as well. Anyone looking for a different sort of shooter will find what they’re looking for in Velocity Ultra.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Stick It To The Man! Vita Review

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Developer: Zoink!
Publisher: Ripstone
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, Vita

“Stick it to the man” is a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard used in a serious context. The Man, of course, is meant to be big government or any sort of authority figure. In the case of Stick It To The Man!, there is actually someone called The Man and he’s coming for Ray. Ray’s story begins on the way home from work. Everything is going fine until a secret government weapon flying overhead crashes directly on top of him. Ray doesn’t die but he does end up with this weird thing lodged in his brain. Now, Ray has got a noodly pink arm coming out of his head and it can read people’s minds.

As you might have already guessed, this is quite the silly game. Ray isn’t particularly adept at anything himself. Instead, the hand is used to interact with the world. After reading thoughts, puzzles are revealed. Sometimes, people even conjure up images in their mind for Ray to take in the form of a sticker. Here’s where the name mainly comes in, as these stickers must then be used to solve other people’s troubles. Removing and applying stickers is the main goal, although there are “stealth” sections as well.

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There are times when The Man’s goons are on patrol on platforms. Your goal is to make it through without getting nabbed along the way. Although it seems simple enough, there is a lot of room for failure. On the Vita, you are supposed to be able to touch strategically placed pins so the hand will grab them and drag Ray safely along. Perfect timing is necessary because these areas are often cramped, meaning bad guys might be only an arm’s length away. Unfortunately, more often than not I found myself pressing the touch screen directly over a pin but the touch wouldn’t register. This caused many frustrating deaths. Although there are ways to make these sections easier (via sticker usage) I still found them harder due to technical troubles.

If you ignore those sections though there is definitely a lot to dig about Stick It To The Man! First, there is the world. Everything is done up to look like cardboard cutouts. Buildings and other features look simply like sharpie drawings and it is very cool. On the Vita the graphics shine and it seems they look even better on PS3. Stages have their own style and it’s a lot of fun to see what the world has in store for you.

Then there’s the writing. I won’t say the story is fantastic, because it’s still a pretty simple “go from point Y to Z – oh, and save your girlfriend” affair. What does stand out is the script for all the characters Ray comes across in the game. Each expresses their problems mentally with ridiculous candor. There were a multitude of times that I just had to stifle laughs at something a character had said. Many games try to be funny, but it’s hard to actually find one that is.

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Of course, not everything is perfect. One of the strangest aspects of Stick It To The Man! is how much of a dark comedy it turns out to be. Despite having stickers and a pink noodly appendage on his head, Ray meets with primarily unhappy individuals. Many begrudge their horrendous life circumstances, poor jobs, lost loves, and more. Sure, many characters have positive conclusions, but the path to them can be quite awkward.

All in all, Stick It To The Man! is a fairly fun, but flawed experience. The weird sometimes non-functioning of the Vita touchpad is the biggest strike against it. Even so, some have complained about the PS3 version accidentally targeting the wrong objects. Perhaps the PC version will be the best way to play? In any case, check Stick It To The Man! out if you have three to five hours to kill and don’t mind putting up with a few technical snafus. The writing and attractive visuals definitely make up for it.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Farming Simulator Review

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Developer: Giants Software
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360

I do not long for a farming lifestyle. It seems like an incredible amount effort against increasing odds. Still, I’ve always had a taste for pretending to farm in video games. SimFarm was my first experience with the subject and ended up being a long time favorite. Farming Simulator is a sim I’ve been interested in trying out but never got around to. That is, until the multiplatform console launch.

Farming Simulator is a fairly complex game. That’s why it is highly recommended you check out the multiple tutorials first. Each details how to use various different farm vehicles to tend to crops. Then, you can see how to deposit your crop as well as purchase new seeds from the store. It’s even possible to buy a shiny new truck or livestock! You’ll get all the basics down and then be free to roam.

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Once in-game, missions will pop up from time to time. Each mission can be accepted or turned down, but you want to accept them whenever possible. The problem I found when taking on new missions was that there was still a lot about Farming Simulator I wasn’t sure of. Where exactly were the buildings that supply crops or livestock? You basically have to commit it to memory since the map doesn’t actually show the names of buildings. As this is a farm we’re dealing with, there is a lot of space to cover to check on buildings. You can quickly warp to different vehicles but you don’t really want one always parked by an important store because then you’d never be able to take it out and use it!

It’s also one heck of a rough-looking title. At least the game is about farming and not something that would require fancier graphics. The GUI is also a bit mucky, although it does have one important feature. The top of the screen shows what button presses can be used within a vehicle. This is necessary because controls vary from vehicle to vehicle, because they each have different jobs to perform.

Farming Simulator can manage to be a fun, zen-like experience but players must be invested enough to get to that point. I was somewhere in the middle. It’s neat to manage my own farm but less so when everything has such a leisurely pace. I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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