Category Archives: Review

South Park The Stick of Truth Review: Respect My Authoritah!

“By far the best South Park game ever, it was like an entire season all rolled into one game.”

Continue reading South Park The Stick of Truth Review: Respect My Authoritah!

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Teleglitch: Die More Edition Review: No Glitch In the System

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Heart pounding, hands wet with sweat, out of ammo, no med kit.  Twelve health remaining, trying to survive, with only a knife to cut down my enemies.  Down another corridor, door ahead automatically opens up with a “Shtook”.  The growl of the abominations stops my heart.  I turn and run.   Mutants and zombies in tail. I lead them into a tight corridor, with a dead end.  Wrong corridor.  I try to fight them off, moving in and slashing and backing off.  I get hit, then again.  I slash, one goes down.  The last now, twists around me and slashes.  I sidestep and whip my knife, down it goes.  Badly injured, I cautiously make my way into another room.  A deafening sound of machines humming in the background.  I push forward, searching for a container, looking for that elusive med kit or canned meat.  A roar comes out from my right.  Out from behind a pillar a serpentine mutated cyborg abomination stares me down.  Two giant mini guns as arms, the cylinders spin up, red, whirring to life.  The heat of a thousand bullets cuts my body.  I go down, knees to ground, face to cold metal. Black. Dead. Game over.

This is a typical scenario in Teleglitch:  Die More Edition.  With heart pounding anticipation, one makes his way through this lonely place.  Survival is key in Teleglitch.  Solitary environments and spooky corridors juxtaposed so nicely to the frenetic action of firefights.

Die More Edition adds better AI, which give them patterns that you can read. There are added levels that were not in the original; as such the player has the choice between two paths, which give veteran players a reason to come back for more.  They have added additional computer terminals that help flesh out the lore.  As well a new mode is available to those who pre-ordered the game prior to July 31, 2013.  The mode “RSG,” or Random Starting Gear, changes the gear you start with each time.  In regular play you always start with a pistol, some ammo, and a melee-only knife.  Hopefully in a future update or expansion they will make “RSG” mode available to all as it ups the games difficulty further, forcing you to constantly change your survival tactics.  Which is a welcome addition to Teleglitch.
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What it is about:   Teleglitch is a roguelike, top-down shooter, and survival horror with unique pixelated graphics.  In Teleglitch you are a lone space marine investigating a military research and training complex, a human colony on a remote planet, Medusa 1-C.  Something has gone terribly awry here at the facility.  The story unfolds through computer terminals that help fill out the lore, and what experiments were being created on Medusa 1-C.  The game creates intrigue in its lore; its space horror atmosphere delights and panics the heart.

Each time you play the game, the map gets newly generated.  Each time you die you restart from the beginning, you can only save progress at the end of a level, and if you die, that save is wiped.   You can unlock levels, much like chapter select, once you have made it far enough.  For instance, to unlock level 3A you need to beat level 5.

There is a simple crafting system in which you combine items from randomly found objects and then see if the game allows you to combine them with something else in your inventory.  It gives purpose to scavenging the whole map outside of just med kits and ammo, looking for parts to upgrade weapons and craft armor.

The game re-creates the feeling of being alone in corridors, it gets the heart pumping, it is exhilarating, it creates a similar feel of the Aliens movies.

You will be tackling various zombies, mutants, abominations, and other cybernetic modified enemies.  Boss battles will be a true test of your abilities.

In Teleglitch you are the weak link, the game shows just how utterly weak and alone you are.  Playing the game for hours at a time, just one more go, just one more.  To try to best the enemies and make your way through the levels, all while the heart pounds.  This is probably the best fun I have had in a top-down shooter in a long time.
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The Looks:  Teleglitch uses a unique pixelated graphic style.  The graphics are simple yet complex, and beautifully crafted.  Though I can see some being turned off by its aesthetic.  The map rotates and twists as you make your way down various corridors creating a very interesting effect.  Its top down view allows for areas to sometimes be hidden, they act as pillars of dark that shoot up towards your view, aiding the rotation effect.  The game features a callback to the 80’s computers with its old-school menu.

What You Hear:  Sounds are sparse, but oh so effective.  The quiet, and odd sounds give you that tingling sensation that crawls up your spine as you make your way through the corridors.  The teleporting warping sounds are excellent, and the first time you hear it, you will be caught off guard.  The creatures each have various growling and guttural noises, which effectively capture their desired effect of knowing that they are after you.  The effects and sounds are wickedly satisfying to hear.  The explosives have a satisfying boom, and the weapons are each unique in their sound design.  The text sounds for computer terminals is also fun to hear.
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Controls/Gameplay:  The game controls with WASD and a Mouse, which function to perfection.  I could see this translating well to a controller, at this time however there is no controller support.  You move slower when you are aiming/shooting.  When you aim, you hold the right mouse button down, stretch out your cursor away from your body and it draws a line of sight for the weapon.  As such aiming with the weapons is very accurate and satisfying, which is important when groups of enemies rush you.  Inventory is managed on the left of the screen, using the mouse wheel.  You can move items to where you want them and can combine items simply by pressing a button and seeing what you can create.

The map works excellent, once you have found an area it is shown, and major areas are labeled and doors you have not gone through show up red on the map.

One issue I had with the controls is forgetting you have explosives equipped and trying to knife, instead throwing down a swath of RDX, killing yourself in a huge explosion.  This is because you only shoot your weapon when aiming, so default left click is a melee attack.  This however is just something you remember, after a few suicides later.

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The Enjoyment:  The game is super difficult, and to reach level five to unlock level three select, good luck.  The game is difficult, but in its difficulty, it’s trial and error, comes the reward of success and besting the odds.  There is an endless replayability to this game as you try to survive longer each time you play, the randomized levels, and trying to find all the secret rooms, and the creation of new weapons to play with.

It is fun moving through each area, watching the twisting and turning of the map as you make your way through its corridors.

I loved drawing in groups of mutants, and zombies to tight corridors and unloading on them.  It was also fun leading groups of enemies into the anomalies (instant death), created by a teleportation experiment gone wrong.

Finding items and crafting new weapons from found parts, and deciding whether or not you want to craft an auto pistol or a nail gun, finding that med kit or canned meat and barely surviving is a fun and exhilarating experience.  Plus reading the different enemy patterns allows you to go into battles with knowledge on how to defeat them and lead them into your bullets.
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The Good:  Teleglitch is a game that you won’t stop playing because you will not allow it to best you.  With white-knuckle atmospheric tension and deliciously fun gunplay, you will be coming back to again and again

The Bad:  Some may be turned off by its visual style.  Others will cherish it.

The Ugly:  Some may be turned off by its difficulty, as well the “RSG’ option is not available to everyone.

Who is the game for?  Anyone who enjoys top-down shooters, survival, or a hard difficulty out of their games.

Verdict Plain Graphic Teleglitch

Superfrog HD Mini Review

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Team 17, responsible for the outstanding Worms franchise, has resurrected their old platformer Superfrog HD.  An Amiga game from 1993, Superfrog was well received in the 90’s.  Today the game is simple platforming fun, though it has its rough spots.  Going up against some heavy hitters in the platform genre in this day and age it comes up short to today’s standards for the genre but is still enjoyable.

What it is about:  Superfrog is a cursed Prince chasing after a Witch that stole his Princess.  Drink a potion and he goes from frog to Superfrog!  Jump on animals, collect coins, fruit, and power ups.  Your typical platformer thrills.

The Looks:  The game has a definite casual feel to it.  I could see this on a mobile phone.  Its esthetics also lends itself well to being a mobile game.  With the appearance of a slot machine and the three star rating system, it would feel right at home.  Looks good on the PS Vita and PS3.

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What You Hear:  The music is super repetitive and immediately tiresome.  Not much else to say here other than there are sounds of picking up coins and fruit.  Some levels of music are not as bad, but still repetitive.

Controls:  Gameplay elements include fast running much like Sonic, and hidden coin blocks like Mario, and other platformer tropes.  However its controls are not as precise as either of those game franchises.  There are game mechanics that are not told to the player in any form.  I found out that there was a power up that allowed you to shoot things from the controls menu.  As well with another power up you can hold the X button when in air to glide.  However the game does not communicate these elements to the player.  The Spud shot also does not fire when you are in the air making flying enemies hard to take out, and make the Spud shot feel largely unimportant until later.  One power up allows for Superfrog to turn ghost-like and run through enemies and other dangers.  However this ghostly power up does not keep him from being hurt by spikes, or fire pits, which is confusing.  As well the controls feel slippery, and sometimes imprecise, though you can figure out its imprecision and work around it.

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Outside of that anyone who has played platformers will not feel too challenged.  However a large degree of difficulty comes from the control of Superfrog, who doesn’t stick his landings, and slides a bit before coming to a stop.  Which sometimes means instant death when hitting spikes on their side (which is cheap).

There is some fun to be had once the game mechanics,and poor controls are figured out.  Get past the first world and the game becomes fun as more traps and avoidable obstacles are present.  There are a bevy of hidden areas in each level to find.  As well you should tackle the trophies, they make for good goals during play, though no Platinum here, sorry folks.  Just don’t expect it to be a Mario, Rayman, or Sonic caliber platformer.

I also tried out the Cross-Controller feature.  It was enjoyable to use.  The game had specific warp spots that would warp Superfrog to the Vita in a hidden area.  In addition it featured a map, which showed what direction to go for the golden lily pads, which helps to get the associated trophy.

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The Good:  Simple fun platformer, neither great nor bad.  Do not judge the entire game on the first world.  The games worlds become more interesting.  The more I played the more fun I had with the game.

The Bad:  Music is boring and hurts the ears, it is so casual and repetitive, and each world has its own song though.

The Ugly:  It does not inform the player well of power ups and how to use them.  As well the controls are slippery, not as solid as other games out there.

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Will you be picking up the game?  Have you played it?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Chaos Rings Review: Vita Ported, Button Enabled

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Chaos Rings is a traditional JRPG produced by Square Enix where you explore dungeons, battle monsters, gain experience and level up.  It started its life as a mobile game back in 2010.  Takehiro Ando wanted to bring his game to the Vita because, “I really like the PlayStation Vita,” he remarked in an interview with Weekly Famitsu. “To be honest, I made it because other developers have been taking their time releasing good games for the PS Vita.”  Regarding the prequel and sequel he was “asked if we could expect a Vita-compatible Chaos Rings II, Ando expressed his wish to bring the sequel over. However, he added “If there’s a reliable market for it, we’d like to port all the titles we’ve worked on. Therefore, it’s going to largely depend on how this release of Chaos Rings does.” (Kotaku)  Here’s wishing it to come true.
What Is It About:  Chaos Rings story centers itself on five couples (though one couple is removed very early on) that have been brought from around the world to compete in a tournament called the Ark Arena.  They are summoned by a mysterious figure called the Agent. The Agent states that all must compete and fight to the death. Should they refuse, they will be killed. Their reward, should they defeat the others, is eternal life.
The couples are then tasked to obtain several rings before they may battle against the others in the Arena.  The story evolves from here.  Players gain experience, levels, and Gene Plates (magic) in the dungeons.  The story is unique, especially for one revolving around fighting through a series of dungeons, making sense of what would normally be a thin reason for fighting in these locations.
The remaining couples are all playable, though you begin the game with a choice of two, the rest are unlocked.  I should point out, that at the ending of each couple’s story, you can jump back in and the story continues.  This was a surprising element, and each couple is playable further filling in story elements and solving some mysteries. The development of the characters was done well, actually making you care for each couple.
In addition all the couples have a New Game+ so you can max out their levels at 99.  There are dozens of hour’s worth of content in this package.  The only gripe I had with the story is how slowly it unfolded in the beginning.  That being said, once I was hooked I couldn’t put down the game.
The Looks:  The characters were designed by Yusuke Naora, who was the art director of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X. The art design takes much of its influence from PSone era art, a mixture of hand drawn art and pre-rendered characters.  It has a very fluid style. The character and enemy designs are excellent, and the enemies intriguing. I thought that the dungeon designs would grow old however each area is unique and has two distinguishing sections.  I enjoyed the monsters, and especially the boss designs. The bosses also really hit the nail on the head, and truly feel like boss battles. This game looks and feels like a great PSP game that was never released.
What You Hear:  Noriyasu Agematsu composed the music of Chaos Rings, who had previously composed the music for Wild Arms 5.  Familiar and different the music evokes the feeling of each location.   You’ll love the familiar button select noises of the genre, and battle winning music.  The shopkeeper music will bring a smile to your face.  The characters all speak Japanese, so reading the text is how the game tells its tale.  The voice actors added an element to the game, they were well done, and emotion carried through the language barrier.  I only wish that some of the music tracks had been longer, as they would play out and reach their end, fade out, then restart.  Pointing out just how short the song was.
Controls/Gameplay:  Controls well using the PS Vita buttons and analogs, but you always have the option of touch controls, but why would you do that?  The game controls via the Vita’s buttons, d-pad, and analog sticks.  The original touch controls are intact as well, however the buttons provide better accuracy.  Unfortunately puzzles are controlled solely through touch, though it does not impact it one way or the other.
The game’s combat is what is really fun about this game.  It plays like any turn-based Final Fantasy.  It is immediately familiar, and easy to grasp.  However that doesn’t mean that Chaos Rings doesn’t bring something of its own to the RPG stables.
Being as the game centers on couples, the combat weaves this element in as well.  Each battle you have the choice during each attack to either combat Solo or Pair.  Choosing Solo means doing less damage, but you create two targets for the enemies to attack.  Choosing pair means a stronger attack, but you are one target.
Pairing up also allows you to cast a Gene (the games word for magic) on the pair, which allows one character to cast an ability for the both of them.  As well the games magic system, Gene, works by learning these skills by defeating enemies, and the more times you defeat enemies of a specific type allows you to master those Gene sets.  Mastering and then equipping those sets allows for more abilities to be used during battle, giving you more options.  This solves some of the tedious bits of grinding, as there is an added bonus to grinding, trying to master Gene sets in addition to leveling up.  As well there are elements (blaze, aqua, gale) that work on a rock-paper-scissors concept.  This quickly deepens the combat.
Any status effects and health are restored at the end of each battle, however magic is not regenerated and must be regulated during dungeons.
I found myself experimenting with pairing up and going solo, then using Gene abilities that allow you to add an element to an enemy and then using an elemental Gene that did extra damage to that specific element.
There is also what is called a Break Meter.  This shows you who currently has the advantage in battle.  Each time you successfully land an attack the meter goes up.  Let the enemy score an attack, and your meter goes down.  The Break Meter did not seem to truly impact the game until you face high-level enemies, and when you out level the enemies.  It would allow you to attack without the enemies getting a chance to counter.
I had gripes with the poor map design, the first level or two I spent trying to decipher which way was which.  Though after a bit of time it begins to make sense, though not good sense.
There are puzzles that are apart of each dungeon, but they are hardly difficult, save for the beginning lack of instructions (the game does not tell you in the beginning, that in addition to the blue blocks used for teleporting, that the crystals can also be used as teleportation spots).  As well the puzzle sections are the only sections that force you to use touch screen controls.  Had more thought been put into them they could have been a nice change of pace, however after the initial speed bumps they rarely challenge.  The puzzles could have been taken out altogether, and there would have been no impact to the game.
In addition, before entering each dungeon you can set the level of the enemies such as 1-10, 11-20 and so on.  I suggest setting them higher than your characters level for a better difficulty.  As well the random encounters can be toggled on or off via the menu screen, which is titled ENC.  This is good if you have no need for battling during a dungeon run, or just want to find the exit.
The Good:  Its origins may be mobile, but its heart and soul is fully, a great JRPG.  From the deep yet accessible RPG elements, excellent art design, and enchanting music, Chaos Rings surpasses its mobile origins.  It’s only eight bucks, with hours and hours of game, what’s not to love?
The Bad:  Puzzles are underwhelming, not challenging, and do not help further the game.
The Ugly:  An unnecessarily confusing map design that takes time to understand.
Who is the game for?  Anyone who enjoys RPG’s, or is just bored.

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This is my first review of many. I welcome all suggestions and comments. Thank you!