Category Archives: Sodamancer

Save the Ninja Clan Review

by Sodamancer

Save the Ninja Clan is one of the latest releases from recently prolific publisher, Sometimes You. They publish and port many games developed by other studios in addition to their own games. At the very least, they offer up a wide variety of experiences and Save the Ninja Clan is their take on the brutally difficult sub-genre of platformer games made famous by “I Wanna be the Guy” and “Super Meat Boy.”

What do I do?

You will die… a lot. That’s how these nails-hard platformers are designed and it’s no different here. The basic idea is that they present you with the tools necessary to overcome any obstacle from the beginning, but you need to learn to master the physics, controls, and timing to pull it all off. Every failure is a learning opportunity. You either recognize why or how you died and learn to do it better next time, or die repeatedly until you do figure it out. Thankfully, this means that you are responsible for your own deaths and they never feel cheap. Unfortunately, this also means that all of the punishment you have to endure has to be balanced out by fun or a sense of accomplishment.

Can I even progress, bro?

Save the Ninja Clan fails to provide you much of a sense of accomplishment. This is actually found primarily by the ability to access almost every level from the start of the game. You can boot the game up and choose whatever door it is that you want and this will lead to a new challenge. If you fail too much at any given level, you can just move to a different level and try it again. This sounds all well and good, but the game suffers for it.

Most games use their level progression as a clever tutorial. Every action, obstacle, and pit is a means of getting you familiar with the controls and physics, while also helping you to develop the skills necessary to overcome even greater obstacles further in the game. The lack of a feel of progression brought on by the ability to just choose a level at will makes it seem as though the devs sat back and just slapped together levels based on a dartboard.

“This level will feature…levers that…
fling you into…
whirling saw blades that are turning around…
moving spring boards….
above water”

Instead of introducing each of those elements to you in the earlier stages, and then slowly adding in one more element and a clever use or variation of that element.

Does it at least control well?

So, when it comes to platformers, especially those of the intentionally difficult variety, controls are essential. Save the Ninja Clan comes through with flying colors here. The jump is a little floaty at first, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Most importantly, the floaty jump is consistent. When you press the A button to jump, you know exactly how far in any given direction that you’re going to move, and you can adjust that with momentum. The biggest drawback of the control scheme is that you are restricted to only using the analog stick. While the Nintendo Switch might be among the worst Nintendo dpads in existence, even the direction buttons on the joycon would have been preferable to using the analog stick in a 2d platformer.

Is there anything interesting or new?

You can speed up or slow down the level’s speed. This is like a difficulty slider, as it just does exactly what it sounds like it does. Obviously, the faster you make it, the more you have to adjust your controls to overcome the speed difference. It actually starts you off at 115% instead of 100%, and 100% is the lowest that you can go.

Save the Ninja Clan – worth the journey?

I’d say that if you are into hard platformers, this is right up your alley. However, it is definitely more worth waiting for a sale than it is an immediate must buy. If you like your platformers to be well-designed and rich with clever level layouts and a sense of pride at your accomplishments, look elsewhere.

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Bleed 2 Review – Nintendo Switch

In Bleed 2, the sequel to the previously Xbox Live indie darlingĀ Bleed, our resident pink-haired badass is called in to save the world, as only she can! Wryn is a katana wielding gun fetishist that loves to shoot anything and everything and does so in the most stylish way possible.

How to Bleed!!!!!!

Bleed 2 is an action platformer with a big emphasis on the action. Bootdisk Revolution has found a way to bring twin-stick shooter style controls to the two-dimensional world that is always best for getting from point A to point B using various levels of terrain and carefully placed girders. You move Wryn around with the left analog stick, and then you auto fire an infinite amount of bullets using the right analog stick. Also, you can also flick the right analog stick backwards from your current orientation to bust out Wryn’s katana, which works as both a melee attack to knock back enemies, and as a means of reflecting specific projectiles back at an opponent. You can aim your double jumps, and jumping is done with ZR. It takes a little getting used to, as could be expected from any non traditional controls (not tying jump to the face buttons, for one), but it becomes natural within the game.

Mastering the controls is essential to making it through the boss fights. Most of Bleed has more in common with Contra than Megaman, but the boss fights are well designed and rely heavily on your pattern recognition skills. These are easily the best part of the game, although it is really all a fun experience.

…but wait! There’s More!

My favorite part of Bleed 2, is actually a mode that cuts out the wildly varying boss modes and instead opts for randomly generated levels. While the core game has amazing level design and a well implemented difficulty progression, the randomly generated levels are just pure fun. They strip the level components down a wire framework that actually seems to make the enemies easier to target and the projectiles easier to avoid. This mode is the perfect way to kill a few minutes of downtime.

The Clotting

Bleed 2 is an intense, mindless bit of fun. Until you get to the bosses, then you need to pay attention, and it’s the perfect balance of those two extremes- mindless fun and careful strategy, that makes this such a deeply satisfying game.

By: Sodamancer Q4P Editor

Soda’s Fountain Arcade

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Super Smash Bros. Switch – One Soda’s Opinion

Smash On Switch

super smash bros for nintendo switch

As we all know, Nintendo dropped a collective bomb on all of us with their direct yesterday, and the biggest of those, for many, was Super Smash Bros., and that it was coming this year!

We didn’t get much other than an indication that the inklings would be joining the fray, and BotW style Link. There was also a silhouette at the end that the internet is trying to decipher which indicates the roster…but that’s only part of what I want to discuss.

A Quick History

A quick history of me and the Super Smash Bros. franchise. I remember seeing the commercial for the original release on television when I was a kid, but since I was a PlayStation owner at that point, I quickly forgot about it and moved on. Fast forward a few years, and a great friend of mine bought a Gamecube, and presumably, Super Smash Bros Melee. This would encompass about 90% of my Gamecube experience at the time it was still on the shelves, and I had a ton of fun battling against my friends and playing through the adventure mode. While couch co-op is definitely at the core of the Smash series, I am a single player experience gamer at heart. As such, I enjoyed this part of the game far more than battling against computer opponents in the absence of my friends, and always considered it essential to the Smash Bros experience. Fast forward a couple of years, and I finally bought a used Wii with Smash Bros Brawl. Now, at the time I didn’t have anyone to play with, and I only owned a few Wiimotes and a nunchuck. So, I always viewed Brawl as sub-par because controlling Smash with a Wiimote and nunchuck leaves a lot to be desired. I didn’t even pay attention to the existence of Spacestation Emissary, and Brawl quickly became a shelf piece until I sold my Wii a few months later, being disappointed with basically every game that I played on the system (including Super Mario Galaxy).

Travel Forward

Jump forward another couple of years, and Smash for Wii U/3ds released, and I was super excited about playing Smash Bros again. I picked it up at Best Buy during a sale for $20 and immediately dove into it. I had a lot of fun for my first week, and was super excited about all of the third party classic characters, meanwhile enjoying my time with my longtime main, Mr. Game & Watch. However, that novelty quickly wore off, and I was heavily disappointed with the single-player mode. Playing against online opponents just wasn’t the same, and I again put Smash Bros on the shelf. A few months later, a buddy lets me borrow his Wii U, along with Smash and Mario Kart. I had a blast fighting against my kids, and them with each other. Then it came time to return the Wii U, and I wasn’t convinced to buy the system based on those two games alone. I kept telling myself that I would buy a Wii U and give it a proper chance, but eventually, that time dragged on long enough that NX rumors started flying, and I knew that it would be worth holding out for Nintendo’s next console.

So, I bought a Wii U at launch, and everyone was clamoring for Smash from the jump. Not me, though, because I just didn’t care that much. I knew that if it came early on, it would just be a port, and unless the deluxe edition came with a new single-player campaign, I just wasn’t that interested. I’d probably still buy it to play with my girls, but I would not have to get it immediately.

Das Hype

Now, I knew that a lot of people were anticipating Smash for Switch, but I’ve never been one to get too caught up in the hype over a game that I just wasn’t all that excited about, to begin with. So, while Smash was the most exciting part of the Direct for many people, it was just another “oh, cool” moment for me. Of course, this brought on the speculation that it HAD to be a port to be releasing so early. However, I don’t think that is true. This looks like a new Smash Bros game. How is it possible that it could come so soon after the last? Smash Bros games take a long time to program and balance properly. Nintendo isn’t known for rushing anything, but they’re also smart enough to know that they needed a heavy hitter to come in the second year. How could they release a new Smash Bros so soon? Well, they can use the existing engine of Smash 4, to begin with. Despite me not enjoying it as much as Melee for my own personal reasons, I did recognize that Smash 4 was incredibly well balanced. It is the best fighting experience in the series, for newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. Building on that existing framework, they could also give Sakurai a bigger team to work with, and I suspect that the game will launch with a cleaner opening roster. Instead of just including everyone from Smash 4, they could pull it back to the essentials. This would reflect where the Nintendo franchises stand now as opposed to where they have been, and most of the opening roster will be those characters that have been staples of the series, and a few new additions that have current games (even if they’re ports). More characters can be added as free DLC in the months after release, a la the Splatoon model. Other characters could be paid DLC/season pass fodder later down the road. So, instead of having to meet an insane deadline with 48+ characters by September or November of this year, we might only start with 24. Think of it as how gen 5 of Pokemon played out- start with the original roster and some new additions (Crash Bandicoot?), then add in skins and minor characters later.

Some have already argued with me that many would be disappointed in a comparatively small roster, but I feel as long as those fighters that are included have solid move sets, have the novelty of being new characters, and are well balanced against each other, the protests won’t last very long. I also think that there are a lot more fans of the single player modes out there than people would like to believe, and I am chief among them. Give us well loved characters with fun interactions, and then top them off with an engaging story mode where we can traverse the different worlds of Nintendo, and we will all be very happy.

So, which new characters would you like to see join the battle?

I’d love to see Shovel Knight, Crash Bandicoot, and Banjo/Kazooie. Shovel Knight already has an amiibo, and they could program in compatibility with Crash’s Skylanders figure. Comment below!

By Sodamancer, Q4P Editor

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