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Eliwood8

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Everything posted by Eliwood8

  1. It's hard to think of something more quintessentially 80s than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Anthropomorphic animal mascots, "cool teen" energy, a healthy bit of martial arts violence—the turtles are just made for that time period, and that includes rapidly churning out some repetitive action games. I say repetitive but these side-scrolling beat 'em up games are absolutely charming as well, even if you didn't grow up playing them. And putting 13 of them into a single game makes The Cowabunga Collection one shell of an experience. You might assume there are some pointless additions with a 13 game lineup, and…yeah you'd be right, at least a bit. With three versions of TMNT: Tournament Fighters (NES, SNES, and Genesis) you really have to question what was the point of including all of them. SNES and Genesis might make sense since there are roster differences between the two, but is anyone really all that interested in diving into a 2D fighting game on the NES? Still, it's an interesting move to include all of them, and shows how comprehensive this collection is really meant to be. Aside from the fighting games you've also got the classic arcade beat 'em ups, the original and Turtles in Time, as well as their adaptations on home consoles. There's also the infamously difficult TMNT game on the NES, and the three Game Boy games which arguably hide the hidden gem of this collection, Radical Rescue, which is more of a Metroid-style adventure game rather than a straight-forward action game. So although the majority of The Cowabunga Collection is beat 'em ups, there's a bit of variety that helps round out the package here. All of the games play great as well—or at least, they play as you remember they did, whether it was on an arcade cabinet, console, or handheld. The experience is well preserved here and it really does feel like stepping into a time machine when you've got some friends together on the couch, beating up wave after wave of Foot Clan mooks. This collection also adds some content though, in arguably the best possible way for a retro collection like this. You're able to turn on enhancements to tweak the experience, such as reducing the slow down lag that happens when there are a lot of enemies on the screen in the older games, as well as turning on easy or god mode settings for many of the games. You can also save at any time in each game and even rewind several seconds to fix any little mistakes that might have cost you a precious life. It's wonderful that The Cowabunga Collection is able to cater to both die-hard old school players as well as new ones in this way. If you want the classic experience it's all here, but if you just want to make it through the game without throwing your controller through the television, you can turn on enhancements like infinite lives to make the stiff, clunky mechanics of late-80s/early-90s games more bearable (and the NES game is still incredibly difficult even with these enhancements, so there's still a point of pride in beating it). The other major addition is online play for four of the games: both of the arcade games, Hyperstone Heist on the Genesis, and the SNES version of Tournament Fighters. It seems like your online experience will vary quite a bit depending on your own connection and other players'. Playing with just two players is mostly okay, but when you turn it up to three or four the game becomes a lagfest. It's still a nice feature if you're lucky enough to not face too much lag, but the couch co-op experience will always be the definitive way of getting four turtles together. Finally there are all of the bonus materials included in the collection, which is a treasure trove of turtle content. You've got old box art and concept sketches from the games' developments, screencaps of the cartoons (both the classic 80s one and newer ones), comic book covers—it's an awesome little museum of the turtles, and best of all it's all available as soon as you boot up the game, you won't need to unlock it by playing. When it comes to repackaged re-releases of retro games, The Cowabunga Collection may be one of the best based on the breadth of content and gameplay options. Even if some games are technically repeated, 13 titles is a huge value, plus all of the bonus content provided, and most importantly the enhancements that make these tough-as-nails classics a little more manageable for modern players. The online experience isn't quite up to par, but get some friends together and order a pizza and you're in for a radical Friday night with The Cowabunga Collection. Rating: 8 out of 10 Turtles
  2. Nope, food and drinks don't stack unfortunately. The concessions worker will warn you that you're replacing one with the other if you try to eat/drink while you already have an effect active. I've always thought they should stack but I guess drinks are more for late-game ability chunk grinding and food is more for early-game to build up money and EXP.
  3. Yep, I'll pry myself away from Splatoon 3 long enough for the Smashdown.
  4. Really is a shame that it never came to North America before, but this remake is a great opportunity to draw in new fans! Personally, any game is going to have a tough time unseating Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI as my favorite Square RPGs, but if anything could it'd probably be something as unique and inventive as Live a Live.
  5. Well it was a good effort Team Fun, and I'm happy we won at least one of the battle modes. That discrepancy in popularity though…guess they need to have themes that don't have such a "right answer" kind of vote!
  6. Well I got my wish, played a few Tri-Color Battles as the defending team. I thought it was a lot of fun actually. Definitely hectic, but it's also a nice change of pace from Turf Battle after Turf Battle. Also won a couple of these Tri-Color battles, though we lost one even though we defended the ultra signals the whole time. My matches were a lot rockier after that strong start Friday night. Also learned there are some maps I just can't seem to win on—probably should've switched up my weapon choice more often. Still, happy to end here at Fun Ruler +3 after fighting the good fight for Team Fun. I've seen some people with titles as high as Ruler +16 Even if they somehow won every single match, they must've been playing non-stop all weekend.
  7. Put in some good work for Team Fun tonight, even won a 10x battle! Had a really good team of random players, we got to a 6-win streak before we finally lost to some gear-heads. I kind of hope Fun is in the lead at halftime so I can try a Tri-Battle from the perspective of the "defending" team, though I also heard it was super difficult for the defenders in the last Splatfest, so maybe not.
  8. It could work as an AR game with physical cards that you scan with a phone, or they could just go full Yu-gi-oh and have crazy holographic battles with fancy tech. Yeah it's not quite Tetris. You are trying to fill up squares as efficiently as possible, but a big factor in Tableturf Battles is denying the other player access to squares. So it still has a Splatoon spirit even though it's a different format.
  9. It's incredible to see how far an IP that was brand new in 2015 has come. Even with the Nintendo brand backing it, it's not easy for a new IP to take hold to this extent, especially with the unique blend of online shooter and cartoonish charm that Splatoon has. But playing the game makes it clear why it's so popular now, and just how it came out of Nintendo. Sure it's an online multiplayer game, but it's also beginner-friendly, stylish, and just plain fun in every moment, win or lose. It's that abiding fun-first philosophy that has kept Nintendo going for decades and made Splatoon such a hit. So how do they keep it going with the third installment? By polishing up small aspects and adding a few new features to make Splatoon 3 the most frantic, engaging, and fun it can possibly be. The story mode here has a lot more in common with Splatoon 2's DLC, the Octo Expansion, than it does with the previous story modes. Levels are generally centered around one kind of challenge, such as only using a specific type of special ability or making it to the goal with only one tank of ink, no refills. There are still a few of the more generic "just make to the goal" kinds of levels, but overall Splatoon 3's story mode offers far more variety in challenges, and you may even pick up some helpful tips that apply to multiplayer mode as you learn the ins and outs of specials and weapons. As for the story itself, you're once again assisting Captain Cuttlefish, though this time it's because of a mysterious fuzzy ooze that turns anything it touches hairy. It's not a deep, elaborate narrative but it's a fun time, especially with Agents 1 and 2 getting involved again. As for the multiplayer side of the game, the basics are the same: the main mode is Turf War, a 4v4 match that emphasizes inking the ground rather than taking out opponents (though that certainly helps give you free rein to ink). All four Ranked Battle modes return but they're now called Anarchy Battles, and they come in two flavors. Open mode lets you jump into a match even with friends and rewards (or subtracts) a small amount of rank points. In Series mode though you have to queue solo, and by paying an "entrance fee" of ranked points you'll play a series of matches. Win five and you'll earn a ton of ranked points, but lose a total of three and the series ends. The good news is you'll still earn some ranked points based on your wins and your individual performance, so it's not exactly the gamble that it seems, it's just a slightly higher stakes version of Anarchy Battles. And those battle modes (Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Clam Blitz) remain just as intense and exciting as ever. Splatoon 3 also adds a few new maps alongside returning ones, and there are naturally some new weapons and gear to try out, including a new bow-type weapon and a katana-type weapon, but overall the core experience is unchanged, including some of the more annoying quirks like two-hour map rotations that can see you playing on the same map seemingly over and over. If you already enjoy the Splatoon formula though this should be good news. The maps do feel a little too homogenized, with pretty similar narrow layouts that don't show as much inventive design as past games, but that also ensures the action stays pretty centralized and frantic. Online matches still nicely skirt a line between slightly goofy and intense competitive action (maybe a little more on the competitive side during Anarchy Battles), and the fast-paced action still oozes charm and light-hearted fun, like a summer camp water gun fight. It's fast-paced, matches are pretty short at just three minutes, and the whole vibe of the game just feels like the experience is meant to be joyous (though we all still have the occasional salty moments while playing online). Your online experience will differ depending on your connection, but overall mine has been okay, one or two dropped connections aside. The majority of changes in Splatoon 3 seem to come from little additions or improvements. Salmon Run, the co-op mode introduced in Splatoon 2, is now available 24/7 instead of in semi-random shifts, which is great news since the mode is a blast (and extremely challenging when you get to the higher levels). There are new bosses to fight as well as a new superboss called a King Salmonid that shows up occasionally to make your job even more challenging. It's a fun fight but it'd be nice if he appeared a little more frequently, since sometimes it feels like you have to grind just to get him to show up. The lobby between matches (both normal and Salmon Run) now allows you to run around and practice a little before the next match starts, which can be a nice way of loosening up for the battle. There are two new abilities that you can use in any mode: the Squid Roll allows you to rapidly turn and dodge enemy attacks while the Squid Surge lets you leap up vertical walls, after a short charge time. Both add some valuable new maneuverability techniques, though their usefulness can be situational. There are also new ways to spend all the cash you'll accumulate: you can decorate a locker with items and stickers, and players online will be able to see your locker in their lobby. It's strictly cosmetic but it's nice to have something else to spend money on, especially after a few months when you've locked in your favorite weapons and clothes. Finally there's Tableturf Battles, a card-based minigame that translates the Turf War experience into a two-player card game. At the moment you can only play the CPU but there are plans to add a PVP option here in the future. Essentially you play cards to claim turf, and you can't "ink over" turf that has already been claimed. Whoever has the most turf in the end wins. It's not a bad diversion and again it's something else to collect in-game, though if you're not usually the type to get hooked on card-based minigames I doubt this one will change your mind. It's cute but lacks the energy or engagement of an actual Turf War match. On the presentation side of things, it's also a variety of small improvements and polishing. Between the excellent art direction that previous games established and some new little touches like fresh hairstyles, locker decorations and a new plaza, Splatoon 3 looks fantastic. The ink is still satisfyingly globby and viscous, the clothes are stylish, and the weapons are inventive. Most importantly, the frame rate is buttery smooth and never impedes the action. And of course there are already some great songs to enjoy, including the Splatfest audio from the three new hosts (and yes, that means 3-team Splatfests, such as the one happening this weekend!). Splatoon has always been a game that is dripping in style, and Splatoon 3 is no different. Splatoon 3 isn't exactly a leap (or squid jump) to a new level for the series. There are improvements for sure, not least of which is just making the game more convenient to play, whether that's through 24/7 Salmon Run, partying up with friends, or the split Anarchy battles that provide more options even with the usual limited map rotation system. But for the most part this is the Splatoon we know and love with a fresh coat of ink, and for millions of squids/kids, that'll be enough to dive back into the fray and start splatting away with their favorite weapons. So if you're already a Splatoon fan and are itching to get back out there to compete in Splatfests and collect golden eggs in Salmon Run, you'll love Splatoon 3 for being a nicely polished take on a familiar formula. Rating: 9 out of 10 Booyahs
  10. Here's my locker. I've only really focused on buying stickers, not so much decorating the inside contents: Also here's a recent clip I'm pretty proud of:
  11. Pac-Man will always be one of the most important and recognizable figures in video games, but as a 3D platforming star? Maybe not. Originally released in 1999 on the original PlayStation and now updated with visual upgrades and a handful of gameplay adjustments, Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a strange little piece of gaming history, and is perhaps a good reminder that not every video game character needs to make the jump to different genres. As the game begins, Pac-Man's whole family is setting up a birthday party for the yellow dot himself, but the jealous Toc-Man sends out ghosts to kidnap Pac-Man. The ghosts mistakenly take everyone in the family but Pac-Man, so he sets off on a quest to rescue them. Classic basic story for a video game, but it is nice that it's told through some (again, pretty basic) cutscenes. I want to jump straight to the presentation, because there's a baffling decision here but you can fix the issue if you play the game yourself. By default, the game is in resolution mode, meaning the visuals prioritize crisp images and you're left with a noticeably choppy frame rate. It's not quite enough to spoil the gameplay experience but it looks terrible and is honestly a little headache-inducing at times. However, in the options menu you can swap to performance mode instead, prioritizing smooth frame rates at the cost of the resolution. The odd thing though is that the resolution basically doesn't change at all, at least not to a noticeable degree, but the frame rate is significantly smoother—still not quite perfect at times but it won't strain your eyes. Maybe the benefits of resolution mode would be more clear on a different TV, but to me there is absolutely no reason to use resolution mode and you need to change it immediately if you play the game yourself. Aside from this issue though the game's visuals and audio are fairly uninteresting. The game obviously has a more polished look that it must have had back in the day, but the art design, character models, and soundtrack just never quite pop. They're not necessarily bad, but they do feel generic and forgettable. With that out of the way, Pac-Man World comes from the early days of 3D platforming, and that means it has some pretty simple, slightly sloppy ideas about platforming. It's a fixed-camera game, but you can still move on a 3D plane, i.e. left and right but also toward the screen and away from it. There are definitely times where you have very little sense of depth, and lining up a jump is frustratingly clumsy, especially with Pac-Man's slightly floaty jumps. The bright side is that this remake has added a Yoshi-like flutter-jump to Pac-Man's skills, so you have a small chance to correct any missed jumps. You'll still probably die plenty of times though, it's just that kind of platformer. The good news is that there are also plenty of checkpoints in each level, and you'll pick up plenty of extra lives on your journey. There are also collectibles in each level that help add some depth to the gameplay, because if all you're doing is rushing to the end of the level there's not much interesting game design here, at least nothing that hasn't been seen in plenty of 3D platformers by now. It might have been more fresh when it was first released on the PS1, but today the platforming feels bland. Back to the collectibles though: you can collect letters to spell out "Pac-Man" in each level, plus one of Pac-Man's family members is trapped in each world, so you'll need to find their cage and a key to free them. Like I said, it's good to have some collectibles to give you more reason to explore every inch of each stage, but it is a little weird that so many of the collectibles require backtracking. For example, there are locked doors that require fruit to open, but oftentimes the fruit you need is somewhere in the level ahead of you, so you need to grab it then return to the door. The strangest thing is that the fruit often isn't far ahead or even hidden at all, you just need to spend a little time to grab it and backtrack. It feels like it's explicitly designed to fill time which, sure, maybe the game needed, because even while doing all of this backtracking, Pac-Man World is a roughly five or six hour game. It's a shame that a game that short can feel so repetitive though. Aside from the 3D platforming, Pac-Man does take some time to get back to his roots in this game. There are bonus levels that play like a classic Pac-Man board, with ghosts chasing you and pellets to collect. Pac-Man World adds a variety of new hazards as well which provide some interesting twists, even if the core action is always the same. Classic Pac-Man mazes are just timeless fun, so it's nice to see them included here. Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a perfectly decent little trip down memory lane, I'm just not sure who was clamoring to go on this trip. The dated platforming design isn't necessarily bad but it's not terribly exciting either, and even a handful of revamped features don't change the slightly floaty controls, clumsy sense of depth, or bland visual design. Pac-Man World Re-Pac isn't exactly a missed classic nor is it such an oddity that it warrants attention, but if you're looking for a middle-of-the-road 3D platformer, this game fits the bill. Rating: 6 out of 10 Power Pellets
  12. The King Salmonid appears in the special Xtra Wave after the third wave once the King Salmonid meter is full for at least one player in the Salmon Run shift. You can see your own meter in between shifts, it looks like a silhouette of a Salmonid that gradually fills with orange ink. The meter fills as you complete shifts; I'm not sure if failing a shift still increases your meter, but in my experience I've fought a King Salmonid roughly every four completed shifts or so. After you fight a King Salmonid everyone's meter returns to zero. Edit: Also I'm pretty sure the King Salmonid meter resets with each new rotation too, so when there's a new stage/weapons you'll always start back at zero. This means you've have to play a few shifts to even get the chance to fight a King Salmonid every time a new rotation starts. Admittedly I'm not 100% positive about this though, I just could've sworn I had a mostly full meter one time and then the next day it was at zero. You'll earn scales whether you win or lose against the King Salmonid, and generally if you're at a higher level you'll earn better scales, seemingly regardless of whether you win or lose. I've beating a King Salmonid and received only bronze scales and I've lost and received silver scales. No matter what though the rate that you earn scales is very, very slow.
  13. I could've sworn Resident Evil VII - Cloud Version came out years ago but apparently that was only Japan.
  14. Wow there's a $180 collector's edition for Octopath Traveler 2 with an art book, music selection, and figurines: https://store.na.square-enix-games.com/en_US/product/769560/octopath-traveler-ii-collector-s-edition-set-switch Not sure I'd ever spend that much on a special edition but I have to admit I like these figurines: Also, curiously enough, it seems like the new Theatrhythm game will be $49.99 MSRP, at least on the Square Enix store: https://store.na.square-enix-games.com/en_US/product/769469/theatrhythm-final-bar-line
  15. Press release if you want a reminder of what was announced:
  16. - TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan (Switch) I had this Game Boy game as a kid, funnily enough I remember it being hard when I was little. Pretty much breezed through it this time though. - TMNT: Tournament Fighters - SNES (Switch) I don't think I'll ever really enjoy 2D fighting games, but one themed around the Turtles does make sense. - TMNT IV: Turtles in Time - SNES (Switch) Playing these back to back does make the little updates more clear, though it also makes the repetitive gameplay pretty stark. - TMNT II: Back from the Sewers (Switch) I think we had this Game Boy game too because parts of it feel familiar, but I definitely never beat it because this one is genuinely hard. - TMNT III: The Manhattan Project (Switch) I know, I'm going all over the place in order here. Anyway I think I like the throw mechanics best in this game.
  17. Yeah good games everybody! We'll get the hang of Clam Blitz someday, it's definitely the most complex game mode in Splatoon. Glad you liked Salmon Run, I ended up putting a lot of time into it in Splatoon 2 so it's good to be collecting power eggs again.
  18. Definitely, gotta complete the three-peat. And bonus points for Triangle Strategy earlier this year too.
  19. I'll also officially bow out of playing Smash tonight, I'll probably be playing Splatoon 3 or Xenoblade 3 or some other game with a 3 in it.
  20. - Restless Soul (Switch) Really charming joke-filled game. Definitely got some chuckles out of me. - 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim (Switch) Enjoyed the twisty narrative structure, even if I felt some of the stories fell a bit flat. Could've used more of the RTS combat for my taste. - PAC-MAN WORLD Re-PAC (Switch) Seems like a faithful recreation of a 90s 3D platformer, which also means it's a little bit bland and clunky. - Tinykin (Switch) Fun little game, definitely give it a try if you're looking for something Pikmin-like (but with enough unique features that it's not a Pikmin clone). - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - arcade (Switch) Good old fashioned repetitive arcade beat 'em up. Still has that turtley charm though.
  21. I probably should've just downloaded the game for ease of access, but instead I pre-ordered a physical copy for this little guy: Funnily enough this is just overstock from years ago; the tag has Splatoon 2 on it.
  22. Where better than a video game to play with the very nature of storytelling? 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim doesn't tell a linear story—in fact it tells one of the most non-linear stories I've seen in a while, allowing players to pick and choose which of the 13 protagonists' interconnected stories to follow. Along the way you're left to piece together the sci-fi narrative through plenty of labyrinthine twists and turns, resulting in a unique, engaging, and confounding experience. Oh, and there are mech battles against giant robots. First off let's be clear: 13 Sentinels is, for the vast majority of the game, a visual novel. There are mech battles that are required to progress, but for the most part you'll be spending your time in what the game calls "Remembrance." Here you can choose which protagonist's story to watch unfold through lots of dialogue. The 13 characters are high school students with their share of teen drama, but very quickly the game thrusts you into an elaborate sci-fi adventure across different time periods that practically requires a flow chart in order to follow. The real joy of the game is watching the story unfold in your own way, since you can choose to follow this character for a while, then jump over to another one for a bit. There are gates, i.e. you might need to progress character B's path to unlock the next scene in character A's, but overall there's still a good bit of freedom in how you approach the story. I'm not sure I could even succinctly summarize the plot if I wanted to, but it's best to just dive in and explore for yourself. Although the protagonists' stories do overlap at times there isn't too much repeated content (and you can also fast-forward through any dialogue you've already seen). Each story also has its own quirks. One character is essentially an investigator, trying to track down a missing person. Another starts off with amnesia, a gun in his hand, and a dead body on the ground. Another thinks she's in a quirky, E.T. kind of story. Despite these differences the stories ultimately weave together nicely, and they all still feel connected thematically thanks to some excellent world building that leaves you with a lot of questions, urging you to keep playing. All that said, the real strength of 13 Sentinel's writing may be in the way it's presented rather than in the content itself. There are definitely some fun stories here, but there are also some fairly repetitive ones, some bland characters, and a bit of over-reliance on teenage dating drama. The game's visual novel elements can also be a bit boring. The branching paths within one character's story don't actually matter all that much, since you'll eventually explore all of them, and sometimes it can feel like all you're doing is pressing A over and over for an hour to progress slow, circuitous dialogue that neither progresses the story nor bolsters the characters' developments. In fact, the overarching sci-fi narrative probably wouldn't have as much impact if it were told linearly. However, because it is told in such a unique and organic way, the story will keep you riveted throughout the adventure. Now on to the RTS mech battles (aka "Destruction") side of 13 Sentinels, which is again only about one third of the actual playtime of the game. I use the term "RTS" loosely here since you're able to pause the action every time you choose one of your characters' actions, and the combat feels more like tower defense at times. Here's the gist: with up to six mechs in your party, you'll need to defend a terminal point against incoming waves of Kaiju (giant robots). The 13 protagonists are divided up into four generations of mechs, and each character has slightly different attacks, strengths, and weaknesses. The 1st-gen mechs, for example, excel at close-quarters combat, while 3rd-gen mechs are built for long range strikes, and each of the three 1st-gen mechs have slightly different attacks available to them. You're able to select which characters to use, customize their attacks, and eventually upgrade specific aspects of their stats, giving you a good amount of control and variability over the course of combat. Although basic attacks do not cost any resources, the most powerful attacks—and your bread and butter during combat—require EP (this game's version of energy, mana, etc.) so you'll need to be thoughtful about how you use it. There's a decent amount of information to keep track of, but since the game pauses whenever you select a character it's not that difficult to take your time learning everything. In fact, the combat in 13 Sentinels is actually pretty dang easy. As long as you're maintaining a fairly balanced team and upgrading attacks when you can, the normal difficulty doesn't pose much challenge. The good news is that you can change the difficulty settings to hard (or easy) at any time, plus you can challenge yourself by not leveling up your characters' attacks. Even if the battles aren't particularly challenging though, the combat in 13 Sentinels is pretty fun—after all, isn't it always satisfying to blow up giant robots? And since it generally isn't too difficult you can experiment with attack loadouts and whatnot to spice things up. Alternating between Destruction and Remembrance also provides nice palate cleansers for each aspect of the gameplay. All told 13 Sentinels should last around 25 hours, though since so much of that time is just reading dialogue it can feel a bit slow at times. The good news is that the mech battles offer a decent bit of replay value if you want it. Change the difficulty level, change the characters you use, change their attacks—these differences are enough to approach each battle with a new perspective, plus you'll be rewarded with experience points to empower your characters. It might also be worth it to spend some time in the Archives replaying parts of the story just to clear up some of the more confusing parts of the narrative. This is a Vanillaware game, which means the characters and backgrounds are all drawn in exquisite detail, as if someone made an entire game out of a concept art book. On the other hand, the battle graphics are disappointingly basic, and the scenery of the story does get recycled quite a bit over the course of the narrative, but there's still something magnetic about Vanillaware's art style (even though they just can't seem to resist putting some fan-service cheesecake into their games). The story is also nicely acted with voice work in both English and Japanese. The one weak link here is the soundtrack, but a few mediocre background songs aren't going to pull you out of the narrative experience. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the kind of unique experience that everyone ought to play, though the heavy focus on Visual Novel storytelling will be a drag for some. Still, the characters are pretty likeable and the sci-fi mystery at play should intrigue anyone. The mech battles might disappoint anyone looking for strategy-rich gameplay, but as long as you approach the game thinking of the mech battles as a sort of side mode for the real heart of the experience, the intricately twisty story, you'll appreciate the battles as quick breaks from the odd and fascinating storytelling system of 13 Sentinels. Rating: 8 out of 10 Sentinels
  23. It's just a fact of nature that small things are cute. Baby animals, miniaturized decorations, and now Tinykin, a game developed by Splashteam and published by tinyBuild games. Navigating a normal house as a bug-sized person with the aid of tiny alien creatures puts a delightful perspective on common household objects and opens up plenty of possibilities for satisfying platforming. This little adventure has a lot of charm. You play as Milo, a space-farer who has finally rediscovered Earth after humanity long abandoned it. Fascinated with the past, he lands there only to find that he is tiny compared to the structures left behind, and there aren't any other humans around. Now he'll have to enlist the aid of friendly insects and Tinykin, small alien creatures, to help him discover the truth of what happened and return to his spaceship. The core concept is a lot of fun but the real charm of the story comes from all of the ants, beetles, and other insects you talk to. Even though most of the dialogue is optional, there is a ton here to enjoy and almost all of it is filled with humor and references. It's well worth taking the time to chat with every creature you meet to experience more of this adorable little world. As Milo you're not able to do too much. You can run and jump, and soon enough you're given a bar of soap that acts like a skateboard, but it's the Tinykin that actually get anything done. You'll encounter a handful of different types, and each one helps you explore the house and complete tasks for the insect residents, which gets you one step closer to building a transportation device to leave the house. The first Tinykin you encounter help you carry things or push heavy objects, but you'll also find ones that explode when thrown or ones that stack up like a ladder, allowing you to reach new heights. The one major catch here is that Tinykin cannot move between rooms, so every time you enter a new area you'll need to build up your Tinykin army again from scratch to continue exploring. Comparisons to the Pikmin series will be unavoidable, but Tinykin takes a different path with the "hundreds of tiny alien helpers" concept. There's no combat in this game so it's really all about exploration and you don't need to worry about preserving your Tinykin (thankfully you also don't have to worry about your Tinkin's pathfinding skills as they'll just warp to you). Finding more Tinykin is as much of a core aspect of the game as using them. You'll find them in color-themed egg sacs, and since you start at zero in each new room there's always an initial challenge of building up your forces to fully explore the area. You might find a heavy object but you don't have enough strong Tinykin to carry it, or you want to reach a ledge but you don't have enough ladder Tinykin. It's a simple system but it encourages you to poke around every tiny nook and cranny that you can to strengthen your exploration possibilities. Each room is essentially a sandbox, and you're given the freedom to explore it in your own way. Because of this, Tinykin makes just wandering around a really fun experience. There's always a main quest to tackle in each room that will ultimately reward you with another piece for your transportation device, but there are also side quests to tackle, or bugs to chat with. Oftentimes just exploring and opening up new paths is incredibly satisfying—you might climb all the way up a bookshelf and then unlock a rope that allows you to come back up whenever you want. These tiny progression elements quickly add up and make it feel like you're always discovering something new. Milo also has the ability to glide (as long as he has a bubble around his head) so there's also a satisfying degree of freedom in how you move through the environment. When you have a lot of Tinykin at hand to assist you, it's wonderfully rewarding to just wander and enjoy the environment around you. Much like Super Mario games, it's fun to just move and exist in this world. A big part of that charm also comes from the familiar yet foreign scenery. Like the Pikmin games, it's a lot of fun to see everyday objects from a different, tiny perspective. This isn't just some mountain to climb, it's a stack of books and VHS tapes. Piles of kitchen sponges become fields for growing grain. The bugs throwing a pool party are doing so in a bathtub. Little touches like these add so much personality and joy to Tinykin. The game also uses a cute and striking art style of 2D characters in a 3D environment. It's a cool look and has the added benefit of making characters stand out, so even at a distance you know there's a bug over there that you want to go talk to. The soundtrack is similarly playful and energetic. The music is bubbly and adventurous, well-suited to an exploration game like this. Tinykin isn't a terribly long game, but it's not too tiny either. A good seven or eight hours should see you through the whole adventure, though that can vary a bit depending on how much time you put into side quests and general exploration. There are also achievements as well as collectibles that get put into a museum for you to peruse, plus the option to upgrade your bubble ability for more comfortable exploration. If anything the game is too short though, and I would've loved to have an even bigger house to explore. Tinykin is a playful and joyous exploration adventure, one that allows you to take your time and see everything that the game has to offer in your own way and at your own pace. Without any combat or really any serious failstate (falling from a great height or drowning in water just reloads you right back to where you were), this is a relaxed game that still engages you and encourages you with more to see around every corner. Tinykin may also be particularly suited to the Switch as this is the kind of game you'll love to pick up and play in quick, little bites. Rating: 9 out of 10 Bugs Review copy provided by publisher Tinykin is available now on the Switch eShop for $24.99. A demo is also available.
  24. Good games guys. Feels like there were some character picks that broke the norm, nice to have some variety there.
  25. You might assume a comedy game set in the afterlife would be some kind of morbid, black comedy, but RESTLESS SOUL has enough puns and wordplay to make a dad blush. Developed by one-man studio Fuz Games and published by Graffiti Games, this ghostly game has you running (or floating) all across the afterlife in the hopes of finding a way to return to the living world. Although the gameplay is somewhat minimal, the charm of its simple graphics and joke-a-minute writing makes RESTLESS SOUL a spirited adventure. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this game is packed with jokes—just about every bit of dialogue has some kind of pun, wordplay, or gag involved, including plenty of 4th wall breaking jokes that poke fun at video games or the game's art style. There aren't enough rimshots in the world to accompany every punchline you encounter in this game. It's goofy, it's charming, and it makes every interaction with an NPC a delight. Maybe not every joke lands—does any comedy have a 100% hit rate?—but if you enjoy a good pun you'll be grinning while playing RESTLESS SOUL. And interwoven with the humor are occasional bits of an adventure story as you collect the keys necessary to open the path back to the living world. It's a perfectly fine narrative with a heartwarming conclusion, but the humor is the real star of the show. The gameplay is a pretty interesting mishmash of ideas. The flow of the game follows a steady formula: you enter a new town, chat with the locals to enjoy some jokes, then enter a tower where you'll fight off enemies, solve puzzles, and take down a boss. The combat is like a bullet-hell shooter (though not nearly as intense as other bullet-hell games), with the added challenge of being at a three-quarters perspective with 2D characters. All you can do is shoot, move, or dodge with a short-range dash, so there's not a lot to learn here. Most combat encounters are pretty easy as well, though if you need some help you can enable God Mode to adjust the difficulty. On rare occasions the game switches things up, like throwing you into a first-person perspective for a shooting gallery challenge. Ultimately though the combat stays pretty simple, and it would've been nice to see some more complex ideas thrown into the mix to spice things up and to make combat more than a minor speed bump over the course of your adventure. As it is, the combat is pretty insubstantial. RESTLESS SOUL also features a number of minigames, which do help shake up the gameplay formula every so often. The minigames and puzzles are never terribly difficult either, especially if you've ever played an adventure game like Zelda, but it's good to have a little bit of variety, even if it's not going to really test your skills much. There are also a few side quests throughout the game—nothing that will strain your exploration skills, but they offer valuable rewards that increase your combat power, so they're worth pursuing. It's also good to just have another reason to explore this uniquely monochromatic environment and see everything the game has to offer. The simplicity of the graphics is really what makes it so eye-catching (and you'd better believe there are a few jokes that play into the visual design). It's basic but also charming, and even with such a limited style there's a decent amount of variety to the environments, enough to make the trip from one town to the next believable. The soundtrack is in the same boat: simple, but pleasant. This also isn't a very long game by any means. Rushing through the game (and depriving yourself of all of the funny dialogue) would only take a few hours, and even completing all side quests and in-game achievements is only going to last you maybe six hours or so. To be fair though, it's a good length to ensure that the humor doesn't grow too stale, and without more complex gameplay mechanics there's not much else that could have drawn out the game's length anyway. RESTLESS SOUL is a charming little game that shows that maybe death is a laughing matter after all. It's a goofy adventure that doesn't take itself too seriously and instead packs in as much humor as it possibly can, with relatively basic but enjoyable gameplay elements in between. The jokes work though, so it's not a bad formula, and its short length makes it a breezy, amusing adventure worth the time. Rating: 7 out of 10 Souls Review copy provided by publisher RESTLESS SOUL is available now on the Switch eShop for $14.99.
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