Tag Archives: Game Reviews

Retro Review: ActRaiser

Released: December 16, 1990 DeveloperQuintet  Publisher: Enix

What is ActRaiser?

ActRaiser is strange gem among the vast Super Nintendo library. ActRaiser takes two different styles of games and smashes them together. Side scrolling platformer and top down strategy like Sim City. At first it seems like a strange combination, though it works very well. You drop into the platformer to fend off boss monsters, then return to the top down to help the people grow there society. 

Want To Play God?

The top-down segments play very much like Sim City. You direct the people on where to build their settlement while fending off creatures trying to destroy the settlement. You play as a fallen angle there to help ward off the evil monsters that have had control over the land. You have a set of abilities and commands that help you along, like creating lightning to burn down trees, bushes, and destroy rocks. The main objective in the top-down segment is to expand the village, level up, and seal off all the monster spawn points. It is very rewarding gameplay, as well as entertaining. While the people are building you are fighting off the monsters that spawn in the overworld with your heavenly bow. This keeps the game entertaining by eliminating the “sit and wait” you have in Sim City.

Platforming

The side-scrolling segments of ActRaiser consist of platforming and fighting monsters. The levels flow well, and the controls are tight. I feel like an entire platforming game would have been among one of the best on the SNES. At the end of the level you will encounter a boss monster that is keeping the village of the over world from growing. You must defeat the boss for the story to continue. But worry not, the boss fights are not overly intense but deliver the right amount of challenge.  After beating the boss, you can move back to the overworld to see what awaits you next.

In Conclusion

ActRaiser is simply one of the better games in the Super Nintendo lineup. It is an interesting combination of game genres, with great gameplay that keeps you engaged. If you have never played ActRaiser I strongly suggest trying it out. You can find the game at a decent cost on Amazon, or, find another way to play it, if you know what I mean. Overall this game gets an A out of 13.5. 

State of Anarchy Master of Mayhem Review

By Joey Splats

 

State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem

Aliens, Guns, Burning, and a whole city to master await you. Absolute mayhem sums up this game. However, it does it in such a way that made me want to come back again and again to fight these aliens. Published by Sometimes You, the game is about destroying all the enemies in a city while upgrading yourself. There are 48 stages/missions that get increasingly more difficult as you progress. There is also a variety of weapons and upgrades to unlock which adds to the fun.

The Mayhem

The game drops you into a world that has a retro stick-man graphic style that works for this type of hectic game. You see a few enemies which you kill, and that’s the game. You see an enemy in the world, and you shoot. However, with different weapons and vehicles, it provides enough variety to keep the game fresh. The game offers a variety of stages that kept me interested. I was never bored! This game is challenging and does not hold back. To beat the game, you need to strategize and work your way around the bosses.  From the onset, the bosses get increasingly more difficult.

The bosses in Master of Mayhem are fun and challenging. The first real boss you face is an alien spaceship that you must chase down in your vehicle. Once destroyed the alien appears and you must kill him, and it is not as easy as I expected a first boss to be. I died a couple of times before finally beating him. This is the magic of the game; its difficult but its charm brought me back again and again to ether kill or be killed.

The upgrade system is central to the game-play. You can upgrade stats such as accuracy, power, reload speed. This means that you are ever getting more powerful. It also has a semi Metroidvania style of finding weapons that allow you to upgrade your arsenal that instantly made me feel more powerful after unlocking.

The Verdict: Q4P Pass or Play?

I recommend this game to anyone that enjoys a quick pick up and play style of gaming.  The simple art style adds to the fun in this immersive game.  For $7.99 (£7.19) this game is well worth your investment.

 

Q4P: PLAY!

Disclaimer: This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch using a retail code provided by the publisher.

 

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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux Review

By Mike BC

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a JRPG that thrives on its ability to story-tell.  During my play-through, I became increasingly more invested in the characters. I found myself wanting to come back for this amazing story despite a less than stellar game experience.  Strange Journey is a dated game delivering a brilliant story.

The Basics

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a reboot of a 2010 Nintendo DS title of the same name (sans the word “redux”). Strange Journey starts with a group of special forces being put together by the United Nations to investigate an anomaly at the South Pole.  The anomaly is acting like a black hole in that it consumes everything it encounters. Four ships are being sent in to investigate what exactly this anomaly, named the Schwarzwelt, is and how it can be destroyed before it consumes the Earth.

The premise is simple.  Investigate the Schwarzwelt and make a plan to destroy it.  Somehow, this simple idea turned into an hour of talking right at the beginning of the game.  Before even being introduced to the battle system, I had already gone through more dialogue than if I had watched something on television.  When the game wasn’t chatting me to death, it was giving me an endless list of documents to review.

The game is fully voice acted and the voice actors are very good.  I would have liked to have seen it localized with English actors instead of only getting english subtitles but the Japanese voice actors were very good anyway.  They do talk slower than the speed of the text so if you rather would read it and move on, there is no need to wait for each dialogue to finish before going to the next screen.

The Demon Summoning Program

Your demonica allows you to safely explore the Schwarzwelt.  The Demon Summoning Program (DSP) allows for more than just seeing enemies inside the Schwarzwelt.  As the name might suggest, the enemies are demons. Because of the DSP, you can interact with the demons inside the Schwarzwelt.  Each demon has its own personality and alignment. Some are very easy to talk to while others are easily offended. Some will match up with your character’s alignment while others are completely incompatible.  Then there are some demon types that are unable to communicate and some that are unwilling.

Because of the vast differences in the demons, it becomes important to pay attention to the different alignments and personalities.  Over time, I learned that even if two demons ask me the same question, they may respond differently to my answer. I had to pay attention to the kind of demon I was dealing with.  This gave the game a level of depth I had not expected. It forced me to evaluate every interaction I had especially if that demon was one I had not dealt with in abundance.

When summoning a demon, you can ask to negotiate.  If the demon agrees, you can ask it to become your demon.  This mechanic allows for you to build allies in the game. Instead of having permanent allies that level up with you as you go through the game, your allies are the demons you summon.  The demons do level up as you play, but they don’t keep up between areas. Therefore, it becomes important to find new demons as you go. Failing to summon newer and stronger demons result in your allies not being able to aptly assist you in more difficult battles when you move on to a new sector.  

Stronger Demons

The lack of human or permanent allies in battle was a confusing choice for me.  Being new to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, I had no experience with this kind of battle system.  My experience with JRPGs is that when you find the team you like, you keep them the whole game. I realized that was something that sets this game apart from the others.  Having to change your party regularly created a new level of strategy that I had not previously dealt with in a game. It was very rewarding to find just the right mix of demons for the enemies I was battling.

Another important function of the DSP is the fusion ability. At first, i didn’t use the fusion function because it didn’t make sense right away.  Later when I got stuck, i realized that fusing two demons together is another way to get higher level allies to join you in your journey. Because there are limits to how many demons you can carry with you at a single time, this is also a good way to free up space for new demons you meet in your journey.  The Special Fusion ability allows you to create a special class of stronger demons that require more than two demons to create. Unlike the basic fusion ability, these demons will require that you have defeated them in battle before they are unlocked in the fusion menu.

The Religious Aspect

As a minister I may have skipped this game had I known what it was about before I agreed to review it.  I’m so glad I went in blind. The story about a mysterious anomaly slowly destroying the world asking you to ally yourself with demons to find your way home was very off putting at first.  The ramifications of communicating with, not to say anything of fighting alongside, demons literally Hell-bent on destroying your way of life cannot be understated. Enter Mastema.

Mastema is an angel you meet not terribly far into the game.  He saves your life and very subtly recruits you to help him with his goal of defeating the demons that are in the Schwarzwelt.  Mastema saved this game for me. This wasn’t because Mastema was some great character with completely altruistic attributes. It wasn’t because I was able to play as someone working for God in the game the way that I work for God in real life.  Mastema entering this game added a whole new element of depth into this story that took the crazy demon allies fighting with my better judgment and showed me that at the core this game was about more than its religious undertones. This game was about the constant struggle between light and dark, good and evil, or as the game called it, Law and Chaos.

As a minister, and more importantly, as a Christian, this was a supremely important discovery to make.  One of the most important tenets of my faith is found in the Bible verse that says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this dark age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV).  Simply put, as a Christian, my life is short but the struggle I face against a demonic enemy is eternal.  It’s the real fight. Strange Journey is in no way a Christian game, but it is a grand reminder for Christian players that our struggle is not here in this world.

Is It Worth It?

Strange Journey was released for the 3DS at a full retail price of $39.99. Despite that,  it felt to me like something from the Nintendo DS era in it’s dungeon design, art choices, and lack of exploration.  Yes, the textures have been improved and the graphics are better than they were 8 years ago, but the lack of an overworld or the ability to do anything beyond travel between sectors and the ship felt awfully dated. It should be noted, if the game had been originally developed for the 3DS, it may have fared better in how detailed the worlds were. Instead, it keeps a very simple dungeon crawl feel to it.  It takes an opportunity to explore the place that demons have made their home, and makes it repetitive and boring.

How Does It Play?

There is a total of eight sectors in the game each with their own unique look and set of traps and puzzles. In one sector, you may fall through traps in the floor so often, you’ll consider throwing your 3DS out the car window while flying down the freeway. Another  may have a maze of portals that transport you to a new location but it took me so many attempts at going through the wrong portals and starting over before I made it through all of them without error, that it bordered on comical. A few sectors rely on making you use what you’ve learned so far and combine different puzzles and traps to make for an especially frustrating and difficult sector. There is also a side area that becomes a major part of the story about half way through the campaign.

Each sector and the side area have their own boss with a few sectors having mini bosses or multiple bosses.  Most of the bosses become playable through the demon fusion menu in Special Fusion after you defeat them in battle.  The boss fights were the most fun I had in any dungeon. While the dungeon crawling triggered so many battles that they too became repetitive, the boss fights were interesting and unique.  Each boss had its own strengths and weaknesses. The bosses had unlimited amounts of magic points so whatever made them special, would continue to do so through the entire battle. Well prepared, a boss fight was not a huge challenge until late in the game.  Unprepared, a boss could be a huge pain in my side. Either way, each boss was memorable and entertaining.

Is It Fun?

The story, more than the game, kept me invested.  The puzzles from sector to sector were fun for a while but at some point in every sector I began to pray for an end to the madness.  The game even on the easiest setting is needlessly hard. For example, in the casual difficulty setting, battle difficulty takes a backseat, but the puzzles in the game are so difficult, it’s a wonder anyone can get through it at all. Because it’s primary game element is dungeon crawling, the puzzle has to be solved to move on.  Reducing the challenge of the battles doesn’t change the difficulty of the dungeon itself.

Strange Journey would have benefited greatly from a more streamlined approach to completing each sector and incentivizing players to go back for side quests.  By the time I was done with a sector, I had no desire whatsoever to go back and do side quests. I just wanted to move on with the story. With the upgrade in graphics and design choices, this game could have also made the move to the Nintendo Switch, which may have alleviated some of the difficulty issues as a bigger screen may have made it easier to do some of the puzzles.

It’s Your Choice

Strange Journey has a lot to offer.  One of the best things that it offers is choice.  Throughout the game, you will be given choices that help define your alignment to either Law, Neutral, or Chaos.  Near the end of the game, you are given a choice with how to deal with the Schwarzwelt.  Your choice will define your alignment definitively.  The way you answer will decide what ending you get in the game. I personally chose the Neutral path.  You can choose however you like and get the ending that it comes with.  It’s your choice!

Verdict – Pass or Play?

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux has so much to offer in the way of its captivating story.  The characters grab you and hold on tight. I just kept coming back for more. That’s not to say that it was without fault.  This game was repetitive and boring. It should not have released at full retail.  If you are a fan of dungeon crawling, I can recommend this game with no reservations. Fans of great storytelling will enjoy this game if they don’t mind dungeon crawling.  Otherwise, I can recommend this game with the caveat that you know what you’re getting.

Q4P: Play!

Disclosure: This review was completed using a retail code provided by ATLUS PR for review purposes.

 

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Henry The Hamster Handler Review

By Joey Splats

 

What Can I Expect?

When first happening upon Henry the Hamster Handler, I wasn’t expecting much! With the number of indie games appearing on the E-Shop, it’s getting harder to distinguish between “shovel ware” and games you should buy. Henry the Hamster Handler by Pocket Money Games, surprised me with how fun the game was. It provides a quick to learn game element that is quick to learn and hard to master.

 

Handler Handles Well

Each level you are presented with a screen. See the image below for reference. The Hamsters appears at the top, sometimes in multiple directions, and each time they get to one of the blocks the player needs to press the button that corresponds with the key on the block. Easy right? Well, the game has multiple of these blocks, so as the hamster goes on you need to progressively watch numerous hamsters. As I said before, easy to learn, hard to master.

What About That Hamster Story Though?

There seems to be a story, but its almost like it was an afterthought! With a game like this, there doesn’t need to be a story. It is nice to see they tried to make an effort. As the Hamster Handler, you are trying to create as many near-death experiences for your hamsters that will eventually make your hamsters change color, to gold and silver. It’s quite a weird story, but the central element of this game is the game-play, which I feel is on point.  It is especially great when you get into the more intense levels of the game.

 

Verdict –  Pass or Play?

This game is well worth its bucks. This is an example of a game that has passed the limelight of the ever-growing E-Shop. For $3.69 (£2.49), we need to bring this game back to the spotlight and give it the praise it deserves. Everyone has Gold Points saved up enough for this game. Let’s all buy this game and play it because it’s well worth it! Challenge time! Let’s see who can save all the hamsters in the first three levels in their first try! Give it a go!

 

Quest 4 Pixels: Play!

 

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Soccer Slammers Review

By Joey Splats

 

Soccer Slammers is a game made by Atooi, A great Indie development company ran by the main man Jools Watsham. Atooi has made some outstanding games in the past and Soccer Slammers is another game in the long lists of games they have produced.

This game is an excellent arcade game which has released at a perfect time; Just in time for the World Cup. Compared to past games I have found that this game has a lack of polish which most of his games have had in the past, which I’ll explain later.

So what’s the score

The game is simple, and that’s its charm. You control one person in a two-person team (Multiplayer has player 2 controlling the second) and the goal is simply to score in the others goal. Come on we have all played Football before we know how this works.

You have four moves you can make. B = Pass, A = Shoot, Y = Tackle and R = Boost. I tell you this now because of the tricky things about starting the game up first time is that unless you go into the options the game does not tell you what the buttons are. Which is not a problem, but something that could be incorporated into the start up sequence for first time players.

However once you learn what button does what the game play is refreshing and challenging, the AI is on point and Jools needs a well done for how well it responds to you and how well it works, all leading up to a great experience.

 

Two Modes

The game comes with Two modes. A quick match mode and World Cup mode.

Quick match lets you pick any team and choose there difficulty and your enemies and then pits you head to head with that team. This mode lets you play with up two four players. Which is a huge selling point because it is quick and easy fun. However, I have one annoyance about this mode. There is no acknowledgment of the game you have played. As soon as the game is done it sends you straight back to the start, there is nothing saying “You won” or just acknowledging that you have played a game. This has meant that this mode has not been my mode of choice because it feels like I’m not accomplishing anything.

The beef of the Content however is in World Cup mode. This is exactly what you would think it would be. Every team and one winner. This is so much fun. However, disclaimer I’m rubbish at the game and never won. But playing it was truly fun.

That’s one thing to note about this game. This game is hard. Its not simple. Be prepared to lose and shout at you’re Switch Screen.

 

The Verdict.

As you can tell from the review I have mixed feelings for this game. Some aspects of it shines and other parts of it falls short. As stated at the start Atooi has made some excellent games and they should be commended. And that’s why it’s in my opinion if you have yet to try their other games I would suggest going there first. But I would also not tell anyone not to get this game because at times its really fun and I can see it being right up some people’s street. For £8.99($9.99) I would give this game a Maybe score.

 

Q4P Pass or Play: Maybe

 

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Drago Dino Review

By Joey Splats

 

Drago Dino was created by Plug-In Digital. Unfortunately, it failed to impress. You control a Drago Dino called Bob (Yes, Original) who you guide through 10 levels in search of his lost egg. You do this by traversing through 2D platform levels which are very lackluster. Bob doesn’t control very well but is designed very well and looks cute enough. Once you get used to his flaws, he does seem to bob-along.

Many Modes

There are two difficulties to choose from. You can choose Normal or Hard. In Normal, you get three lives and checkpoints whereas in Hard, you get one life and no checkpoints.

Players can also play in Co-op mode. In addition to that, there is a practice mode with a practice map.  The practice mode came off as a bit strange.  It’s almost as if the developers knew that this particular Drago Dino was going to be hard to control.

The Verdict.

It’s not a bad game by any stretch. Its one high point is that the game looks incredibly cute. I simply can’t recommend it as lackluster as it is.  Drago Dino as mentioned already, failed to impress me and I fear it will fail to impress you.  For £8.99($9.99) it seems a tad expensive for what you get. it took me roughly 1:30 hours to complete, so it’s not a long game.  Q4P Pass or Play? PASS

 

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Review of Red Game Without a Great Name

By Joel aka The Falcon

Get in your cage

In Red Game Without a Great Name, by iFun4All, you play as a cyborg parrot, whose goal is to deliver the mail to the cage on the other side of the stage. Red game uses a completely touched based control system. There are only one of a handful like it on the Nintendo Eshop. The art style and music really stand out. The red background with the shadow silhouette in the foreground is a really interesting look. It reminds me of the Nintendo Virtual Boy.

Oh you have more mail for me ?

After the tenth stage of Red Game, I was left wanting more. Once you have been introduced to all of the mechanics of this game, it quickly becomes boring. Another issue I have with a pure touch screen experience, is that it is really hard to see where you’re going to move next because your hand is in the way. For instance there is a stage with barbed wire, where there are some tight spots which you are required to maneuver through, in a quick sequence of moves. It becomes difficult to have your hand blocking the area you’re moving into, while also very awkward to hold your switch in a way to use just the touch screen. In the future I would like to see games that are strictly touch based to have players hold the switch vertically to provide a more comfortable user experience.

Delivery time

At the end of the day, I would classify this game as a possible pick up. If you’re looking for a game, where you can just mellow out- this is it. This is not a game that you are going to play for hours at a time. This is more of a pick up, play a few levels and come back in a few days, then play some more.

 

Pass or Play?

Red Game Without a Name – Maybe?

 

Nintendo Family Gaming

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