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Eliwood8

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About Eliwood8

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  1. With not one but two games based around digging and a side-scrolling tactical shooter with an emphasis on hat collecting, developer Image & Form has proven they have no trouble creating unique, engaging games out of unusual genre premises. With the turn-based RPG and card-battling combo of SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, published under the Thunderful Games umbrella, Image & Form has once again crafted a brilliantly addictive experience in a wonderfully original way. SteamWorld Quest trades the sci-fi focus of robots and laser guns for a classic swords and sorcery setting (though the characters, of course, are still robots). Our protagonist is Armilly, a grocer's daughter who dreams of being a great hero like the legendary Gilgamech. When mysterious attackers assault her village, she steps up to save the day, alongside her trusted alchemist friend Copernica and the somewhat surly homebody Galleo, and from there the three set off on a grand adventure. It wouldn't be an RPG without an epic story, and the writing here is far richer than any previous SteamWorld game. The characters are wonderfully (excuse the pun) fleshed out to give them charming quirks as well as room to develop over the course of the adventure, and it's easy to care for this ragtag band of heroes. The save-the-day plotline might not be terribly complex but the personality of the characters and the game's sense of humor are more than enough to build an engaging story about true heroism. The core of the game is the card-based battle system, but don't worry if typical card-based video games aren't your thing, the system in SteamWorld Quest isn't nearly as complicated as it might look initially. It helps that the deck is kept small—you'll choose up to eight cards for each character in your party and these are shuffled into the deck and randomly drawn during battle. On your turn you choose three cards to play, and speed isn't a concern here—you'll always act before the enemies do, so you can plan ahead on healing, blocking, or inhibiting their attacks in some way. Each character doesn't need to attack on every turn, and in fact using three cards from the same character in one turn will activate a special attack at the end. Alternatively, some cards gain special bonuses if another character acts before they are played, so there's always some variety in how to attack depending on the cards in your hand. The random nature of drawing cards to your hand each turn adds just the right amount of excitement to each battle, plus you can discard and redraw two cards each turn if you're looking for the right combo. Thanks to the low count of cards in your deck (24 cards max) there isn't as much micromanaging as you might normally expect from a card-based game, and the developers have done an excellent job of easing players into the experience while leaving room for more advanced techniques. And once you have a handle on those techniques, the gameplay really clicks. Early on in the game your options are small, but soon enough you'll find dozens of cards with special effects or more unique uses, and it's always satisfying to pull off a powerful string of attacks. Your cards are divided into two categories: basic cards, which include standard attacks and buffs, and skill cards, which are more powerful but require steam points. You'll charge steam points by using basic cards, so you'll want to keep an eye on your reserve throughout the battle and plan your big hits accordingly. This explanation might sound more complicated than the game actually is—after a couple of battles the flow of gameplay becomes second nature, and the real fun of the game is setting up powerful combos by balancing your steam point usage. Battles in SteamWorld Quest are also generally on the long, slow side, so there's plenty of opportunity to set up these big combo hits. This is definitely not the kind of RPG where you're on auto-pilot for the majority of fights—even normal encounters require planning and forethought, and the payoff is a beautifully intricate but still accessible battle system. SteamWorld Quest sports over 100 punch cards so there are tons of different combos and strategies you can cook up—two players can easily craft entirely different strategies based on steam point usage, elemental damage, or special effects like debuffs. The game gives you plenty of leeway in finding what strategies you like best, because while the game can certainly be challenging there's little penalty for experimenting with deck compositions. The only downside is that it almost seems like there isn't enough time to experiment with every combo available! Certain cards are clearly meant to be used in conjunction with one another, but setting up the opportunity to use them isn't always easy. It also would have been helpful to be able to save deck set-ups so you don't have to double check every characters' cards when you want to experiment a little, especially since some cards are clearly situational—a card that grants elemental defense is invaluable against mages but is a wasted space against physical enemies, for example. On the bright side, SteamWorld Quest makes it easy to grind battles if you just want to play around with different decks. For one thing, every level has one or more save statues that will heal you to maximum health and respawn all enemies on the stage—perfect for those players that can't help but grind EXP. You can also replay stages which, aside from the EXP opportunities, is a great way to collect any hidden treasure that you might have missed the first time through. Finally there's a side challenge available late in the game which doesn't award EXP but pits you against increasingly complex and challenging battles in order to win valuable rewards, which is also a handy place to experiment with card combos. The main adventure is a respectable 15 hours or so, but dedicated players will find tons of replay value in simply changing a few cards in their deck and cooking up new strategies. Battling alone is fun enough that playing around with deck compositions is a worthwhile pastime. Over the past few years the SteamWorld franchise has developed a stylish steampunk aesthetic that has looked great on every platform the games landed on, but SteamWorld Quest might be in a class of its own. The hand-drawn graphics are absolutely gorgeous with just the right mix of steampunk robot design mixed with classic fantasy setting features—Armilly's design alone is a beautiful blend of medieval armor and clockwork cogs. And it's not just the character design: the environments are atmospheric, the enemies are inventive, and even the cards themselves sport beautiful artwork. All of this is brought to life with lovely animation work that adds tons of personality to every character movement. The developers have done a fantastic job with the soundtrack as well by giving it a classic fantasy vibe that combines heroic battle themes with charming background tunes while exploring. Be sure to turn the music balance up though—the soundtrack is too good to be so soft and muted while playing. For the past few years each new SteamWorld game has been a surprising treat to play, and SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is no different. RPG aficionados will love the varied opportunities to build an ideal strategic deck, and newcomers needn't be scared off thanks to the relative simplicity of managing a small deck of cards—in fact the addictive nature of battles will soon have even novice players poring over their decks to craft the perfect attack chains. From the beautiful steambot character designs to the myriad gameplay possibilities of building your deck of punch cards, SteamWorld Quest is the RPG you didn't realize you wanted but now absolutely cannot miss out on. Rating: 9 out of 10 Punch Cards Review copy provided by publisher SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech will be available on the Switch eShop on April 25th for $24.99.
  2. For reference, the Dragon Tank boss: I would love to see a Chrono Trigger rep in Smash Bros. (presumably Crono himself, though any character would be awesome), especially to hear all of the great CT music in Smash Bros., but the text of the Tweet is just praising a fan-made level—for now the idea of Crono clashing swords with Link, Marth, and Cloud is just a beautiful dream.
  3. Bumping this thread with the launch trailer 'cause the game comes out this week! I'll post my review tomorrow.
  4. I'd tested Joker out a few nights ago but after tonight's matches I'm kinda digging him. Seems like he's got the same feel as Sheik who has always been one of my favorite characters but with more weight and, more importantly, the raw KO power Sheik sorely lacks.
  5. Eliwood8

    Smash Saturdays Returns! Joker theme 4/20

    Man, what a bunch of Jokers.
  6. Eliwood8

    Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy Review

    Yeah it's pretty par for the course with re-releases, but unless the game is already a well-regarded classic I'd hope the developers would put more effort into updating it. THQNordic seems happy to just churn out re-releases of any IP they've acquired, though.
  7. About 15 years ago, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy released on GameCube, PS2, and Xbox to average reviews and little fanfare. It's surprising, then, that the game would get a new life on the Switch, but the recently rebranded THQ Nordic has been happy to repackage and re-release any and all games from the THQ library, and that includes the more middling titles. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy isn't all bad on the Switch, but the intervening 15 years of game development advancement means there's a lot left to be desired in this third-person adventure game. In ancient Egypt, a warrior named Sphinx searches for the legendary Blade of Osiris to battle a mysterious evil that has been gaining power. Meanwhile, young prince Tutenkhamen is celebrating his birthday when his brother starts behaving strangely. Soon enough these two protagonists' paths cross and they must work together to prevent an evil god from amassing power. The Egyptian setting may feel like it's been done before but Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy imbues it with enough original charm that the sandy temples and anthropomorphic animal inhabitants are plenty endearing. The actual plot is little more than a by-the-numbers good and evil story though, and the game even introduces a handful of more interesting threads but then abandons them to maintain a fairly basic storyline, which is especially unfortunate given the cliffhanger ending that has received no resolution in 15 years. Originally created right around the heyday of third-person adventure games, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy combines the typical blend of dungeon exploration, combat, and puzzle solving that largely defines the genre. What makes this game unique is the way it largely splits up combat and puzzle solving between its two protagonists. Sphinx has the sword and gathers other helpful items that can be used in combat, while the Mummy is defenseless but essentially immortal (one of the perks of being undead) and can even be set on fire or charged with electricity to solve puzzles. The Mummy's portion of the game does a fair job of finding interesting puzzles with these mechanics which require studying the environment to understand how to properly move forward, though by the end of the game they end up feeling virtually the same every time—simply find a switch that lets you build a pathway over hazards like pits or water. It's repetitive, but decent enough to keep the Mummy's sections of the game engaging. Sphinx's half of the game is far less solid, though. As the warrior his gameplay generally requires more dexterity, but the game obnoxiously avoids some basic control conventions, things that were common even in 2003. The lack of lock-on targeting is keenly felt, especially when you're fighting small, fast enemies that tend to scurry behind you. The fact that two or more enemies can easily stunlock you in a cycle of damage only makes it more obnoxious. You eventually get a shield (which isn't terribly useful) but Sphinx could really use some sort of basic dodge ability since sometimes enemy attacks just feel inescapable. The platforming aspects of the game don't feel great either, as Sphinx has a terribly weak jump (thankfully you eventually get the ability to double jump) and a finnicky camera system means it's hard to get a good angle on where you need to land, making it all too easy to miss the platform or worse, a moving rope. The camera has a real problem smoothly following you at times, because it can very easily get caught on walls or other objects, leaving you with an awkward perspective of the action. All of these factors make controlling Sphinx feel clunky, which would have been mildly annoying in 2003 and completely uncomfortable to play today. Which does raise the question: why wasn't the game more thoroughly modernized for this re-release? The game may not be unplayable in its current form, but there are significant areas that could have been improved, such as the long gaps between save points—a simple autosave system safety net would have made many of the harder portions of the game far less tedious. Re-releases can be a nice way for more obscure games like Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy to find an audience, but the game's flaws are only more noticeable in 2019. Perhaps proving the point is the updated graphics—the only area of the game that was really changed for this re-release—which look great on a modern TV. The game's cartoony art style has also aged fairly well, particularly with the main characters whose loping movements are charmingly goofy. The environments feel a bit bland since it's all just stone and sand, but at least the characters and creatures have plenty of personality. The soundtrack is also a bit of a surprise delight, with plenty of fun (if somewhat generically Egyptian/Middle Eastern) songs, though you'll want to turn up the volume to actually hear the background music as the default settings make it a little too light. For an adventure game, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy isn't too long. You tend to circle the same environments repeatedly as you unlock new dungeons and areas to explore, but even so the roughly 11-hour length might sneak up on you. There are side quests to occupy your time—most importantly, collecting Golden Ankh fragments to increase Sphinx's health—but the game still ends up feeling a bit sparse, and even doing every side quest won't add too much time or replay value. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was a charming GameCube title that quietly flew under the radar, and re-releasing it for the Switch seems like a good idea to help this mummy-based adventure uncover some new fans. Leaving so much of the game unchanged from its 2003 origins, however, will undoubtedly leave modern gamers cold. The rough edges of yesteryear are only more pronounced when played today and, despite some fun puzzles, the clunky combat and platforming found throughout the game leaves something to be desired—specifically a more thorough remastering. Fans of 3D adventure games will likely still appreciate the game's quirky charms, but anyone else probably won't mind leaving this one buried. Rating: 6 out of 10 Mummies
  8. Eliwood8

    Gamecube's "XIII" being released for Switch

    Interesting; XIII was one of the few GameCube games that I was interested in but never got around to playing. Also the trailer also appears on the developer PlayMagic's website (the developer that is handling this remaster) so it might not be an accidental post so much as a very quiet announcement.
  9. This update's title just makes me realize what a missed opportunity it was to not release Joker on April 1st.
  10. Eliwood8

    Reggie leaving us with one final tease?

    Looks like a little robot hand, doesn't it? Hm, finally an original IP for Retro Studios?
  11. Eliwood8

    Trüberbrook Review

    The pain of the ever-growing backlog of games to play/buy, we all know it too well.
  12. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2019

    By terrible ending I assume you mean how you spend the entire game trying to help the mummy regain human form, and as soon as he has the last piece to the puzzle he immediately breaks it? Yeah it's a pretty unsatisfying way to try to build up a sequel with a cliffhanger, as if they couldn't have easily come up with any other reason for another adventure in this setting.
  13. Eliwood8

    First details of Playstation 5 revealed

    That all sounds impressive but such specs don't mean much to me until I'm actually seeing/hearing/playing the system. Using SSD as a standard to reduce load times sounds good to me though.
  14. Eliwood8

    Video Games Finished in 2019

    - Trüberbrook (Switch) Love the handmade visual style, and I appreciate that the puzzles in a point and click adventure game weren't too obscure. Really wish the game were longer though, if only to give the story more time to organically develop. [image] - Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (Switch) I remember liking this game well enough as a sort of "B" rated title for the GameCube, but it feels awfully clunky to play today. Shame the developers didn't do more to modernize it and truly remaster it. [image] - Yoshi's Crafted World (Switch) Nothing all that new or exciting in the gameplay department, but even if it feels pretty familiar at this point it's still a lot of fun. [image] - The Witcher 3 (PS4) Finally took the time to really get into this game and spent the past several weekends playing it pretty much nonstop. All the praise it has received is well deserved—once you let yourself be enveloped by the game's world it really is fantastically addictive to see every story play out. I'm even more excited to see more of Cyberpunk 2077 now. [image] - Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey (3DS) The main game is still a lot of fun, though I really don't care for the minions side games in these M&L re-releases. [image] C : 34 H: 1 P: 0 M: 0 O: 35 Challenges: 3 points
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