Tag Archives: 2019

Pacific Wings [PlayStation 4] – Review

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We’re human, after all. For achievement and trophy hunters, there are plenty of temptations. Nowadays, games whose rewards are not hard-earned are bountiful. Take Pacific Wings, for instance. It’s a shameless clone of Capcom’s 1942, developed Sprakelsoft, a German purveyor of similar clones on mobile storefronts.

Debuting as a free-to-play app on Google Play in 2010 – the digital storefront for Android devices – it has since seen release on a number of other platforms, such as the PlayStation 4. While lacking a platinum trophy – the most coveted trophy of all on Sony platforms – it nonetheless contained a few gold trophies, the next best thing. Even better, obtaining them required little effort, and less than a half-hour!

Now there’s a downside, and in this case it’s playing Pacific Wings. The game’s twenty stages go by with little difficulty, little change in scenery, and thankfully, little time to ponder if it was worthwhile. Those gold trophies are front loaded in the first half, leaving only a measly bronze for folks with little shame. But like they say, go big or go home.

Indivisible [PlayStation 4] – Review

As someone who browses the video game section nearly every time I enter a Walmart or Target (sorry honey), I know from experience that the former never really puts games on clearance. Heck, in the year of our lord 2021, the closest Walmart to me STILL has a few licensed PlayStation 2 games. And they have the GALL to charge a ten spot for them! Listen, Walmart, I don’t think anyone is going to drop ten bucks on The Naked Brothers Band: The Video Game at this point. That game came out in 2008 – 13 years ago! The developer has gone out of business in the years since; THQ, the publisher, went bankrupt and has even come back in the intervening years! Just discount those games, or trash them, there’s no point in having them take up shelf space!

This is all to say I was surprised to actually see Walmart put a handful of games on clearance. And no, not THOSE games for some reason, but actual good games, like Indivisible. Being slightly familiar with the game’s Valkyrie Profile inspired battle system, and the prospect of a couch co-op RPG, the nine dollars practically flew out of my wallet. Unfortunately, the co-op didn’t wind up being as much of a draw as I had hoped; just as with the SNES Final Fantasy games, the second player really only participates in battles, so the non-combat sections leave them… waiting to play. BUT! It’s an otherwise enjoyable, refreshingly brief-for-an-RPG, video game.

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Picross: Lord of the NAzarick [Switch] – Review

I won’t lie. After more than forty hours with Picross: Lord of the Nazarick, I still have no idea what’s up with Overlord, the game’s underlying source material. In fairness, I’ve been slowly whittling away the more than 500 picture crossword puzzles for over a year, so of course the brief text conversations that occurred at the beginning of a particular character’s section didn’t stick with me. And hey, who cares anyway? My original intent wasn’t to familiarize myself with Overlord, it was to find a new well of Picross puzzles to solve at bedtime and on that account, it was a… well, a mundane success.

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Return of the Obra Dinn [Switch] – Review

Considering I finished Return of the Obra Dinn a couple of months ago now, this review isn’t particularly timely. A lot has happened in the meantime; most notably my wife gave birth to our first child! The typical rigors of early parenthood – lack of sleep, deciphering the baby’s wants, etc. – have been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, so this will undoubtedly be an especially memorable time for us. Unlike this review however, my playthrough was quite timely. Every year around Halloween, I like to play a thematically appropriate game, and conveniently this particular game, which had been on my radar for a while, was having an anniversary sale. The choice to purchase it was a no-brainer, although the game itself was anything but.

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Yoshi’s Crafted World [Switch] – Review

Yoshi's Crafted World - Switch - North American Box Art

Released for the Switch on March 29, 2019, Yoshi’s Crafted World is the most recent collaboration between Nintendo and Good-Feel, whose partnership goes back to the latter’s 2005 founding. While the studio doesn’t work exclusively with Nintendo, they’ve collaborated on a number of titles between then and now, such as this game’s predecessors: Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World. Of the common threads that bind these games together, none is more pronounced than the remarkable art design that adapts real-world materials with side-scrolling platforming gameplay. Taking inspiration from crafting in general, this entry features the broadest and most inventive environments of the trio. But the stage design itself, speaking from a gameplay perspective, is the least inspired of the bunch. In writing this review, I had a hard time thinking of stages or sequences that left an impression on me; a far cry from the excellence of the previous games. I still had fun playing Yoshi’s Crafted World cooperatively with a friend, but it didn’t rise to the level of its precursors. Continue reading Yoshi’s Crafted World [Switch] – Review

Pikuniku [Switch] – Review

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Free money… what’s not to love? And when’s its coming from a chap calling himself Mr. Sunshine, there’s no reason to question it. So what if his robots harvest all the corn crops? With all the money he gives away – for free, mind you – food can be bought! No reason to be suspicious, at all.

Alas, these were not the concerns of Piku, the bipedal oblong I played as in Pikuniku; at least, not at the outset. Produced by Sectordub, a collaborative studio with members based in London and Paris, Pikuniku was their debut work as a unit, although individually they have worked on a variety of projects. It was released digitally for the Switch and PC on January 24, 2019, having been published by Devolver Digital, the scrappy indie publisher whose presence acts like the Nintendo Seal of Quality. Which is to say if they’re on board, I know the game is going to be great, weird, or as in this case, both.

 

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Shenmue III [PlayStation 4] – Review

Shenmue III - PlayStation 4 - North American Box Art

It was a brief comment in Dave Halverson’s review of Dragon Quest VIII from the November 2005 issue of Play Magazine, and not especially relevant to the full review, but it’s stuck with me ever since: “…given the detail, that the lead character is not dynamic to steps and slopes does take a bite out of the realism.” I wouldn’t say I’ve paid attention to the functionally irrelevant detail of characters walking on stairs in every game I’ve played since, but sometimes I notice. In Shenmue III for instance, whenever the protagonist Ryo walks up or down a flight of stairs, his feet hit every step. Every. Step. I know relatively little about the rigors of game development, but it seems ludicrous to offer such attention to detail for something as banal as navigating a flight of stairs. And yet, Shenmue III is in many ways a game about embracing the banal, for better or worse. Continue reading Shenmue III [PlayStation 4] – Review

Miniature – The Story Puzzle [Switch] – Review

Miniature - The Story Puzzle - Switch

As was the case with History 2048, one of my main motivations for purchasing Miniature – The Story Puzzle was its appealing art style (it didn’t hurt being on sale, either). The screenshots posted on the game’s eShop page highlighted neat little dioramas, not dissimilar from History 2048. Both games were developed by purpleElephant, so the shared design aesthetic makes sense. It was a good looking game, but there just wasn’t much to it.

Each stage of Miniature told a story across five scenes, represented by changes in a diorama. For instance, one stage told the story of a deep sea dive. Early scenes had the diver getting ready aboard the boat and entering the water, while later ones highlighted the discovery of treasure and threat of a shark. I cycled through the scenes randomly, moving the diorama around, zooming in for clues, in an attempt to put them in the correct order.

Miniature - The Story Puzzle - Switch - Diorama
This particular scene shows a homicide arrest, so yeah, the stories varied in their subject matter.

There were about a dozen stages to play through, which altogether took less than a half-hour to complete. The controls were the most puzzling aspect at first, but once I figured them out, I was off to the races. Conceptually, the gameplay of Miniature was enjoyable, and the presentation was neat! But, there wasn’t much to the package. Although I don’t think the game is a particularly good deal (even on sale), it’s probably the perfect length.

Adding more puzzles could’ve improved the value proposition, but to prevent the game from getting stale, I think the developers would’ve had to increase the scenes per stage to up the difficulty, or expand the gameplay in another way. Miniature was enjoyable, but it seems better suited as a novel minigame in a larger game.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening [Switch] – Review

The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening - Switch - North American Box Art

I mentioned in my review of Pokémon Sword how much that game has captivated me, perhaps more so than any previous installment in the series. Yearning feels like too strong of an adjective to describe my daily thoughts of playing it, but it’s truly become an obligation to pop into the region of Galar and make headway with breeding or just complete a few routine tasks. This borderline need to play Pokémon Sword hasn’t taken priority over my desire to start new games though. Unfortunately, with regards to my recent playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, I found that I was unable to devote the attention necessary to really enjoy anything else while Pokémon seemed to beckon me. Continue reading The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening [Switch] – Review

Pokemon Sword and Shield [Switch] – Review

Pokemon Sword and Shield - North American Box Art

It’s January 2020 and I think I’m hooked on a Pokémon game more than I ever have been, which is kind of wild considering I was obsessed with the series when it was all the rage in the late nineties, and from 2013-2017 I played nearly every iteration in the series as part of a “grand ambition” to, literally, catch ‘em all. Pokémon Sword and Shield, the newest entries and the ones I find myself wanting to play every night, are just fantastic. Their foundational mechanics aren’t all that different from previous games in the series (a blessing and a curse) but Game Freak has introduced engaging new features and implemented smart quality of life improvements. The games aren’t perfect; performance and network issues bog down some of the cooler features for instance, but on the whole they’re masterfully refined and endlessly addictive. Continue reading Pokemon Sword and Shield [Switch] – Review