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Noitu Love and the Army of Grinning Darns [REVIEW]

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Noitu Love and the Army of Grinning Darns: released December 31st, 2006
Developer: Konjak
Platforms: Windows

Noitu Love and the Army of Grinning Darns is a true blue beat ‘em up in the most old school of senses. You don’t level up your character, there aren’t any special attack combinations, and you don’t have to solve any half-assed puzzles to progress the game. It’s just straight ass-kickin from start to finish, though while it fails to innovate, the original Noitu Love makes up for it by offering some of prettiest sprites, and most well designed boss fights I’ve seen in a while.

The gameplay is pretty standard. You have a basic attack, two special attacks, and a jump, and for the most part, that’s all you’ll have at your disposal to take on the swarms of Darns that will be making constant attempts on your life. Basic as it is, the gameplay is still a lot of fun, namely because of the differing enemies. Each new level will introduce new foes, each with their own quirks and patterns, which keep things from getting too stale. In fact, the levels themselves are all quite beautiful, each with their own unique styles. One of my favorites is the rave you find at the graveyard level that has all of the zombie Darns dancing like mad in the background. Each level has it’s own unique look and feel, but the graveyard was a particularly enjoyable experience. Read more…

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Soulcaster I & II [REVIEW]

February 15, 2012 4 comments

Soulcaster: released March 1st, 2010
Soulcaster II: released December 14th, 2010
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

For this review I’ll be covering two separate games, the original Soulcaster, and it’s sequel Soulcaster II. They’ve been longtime favorites of mine on the XBLIG Marketplace, and what with their recent launch on the Windows OS, it’s high time I finally show these games some love. The Soulcaster games are an interesting blend of Action RPG and Strategy mechanics that manage to take the hack n’ slash out of the dungeon crawler, and still maintain a fun, unique take on the genre. I’ll be starting off of course, with the original Soulcaster.

What immediately makes these games stand out, is the interesting gameplay mechanics they employ. On the surface it may resemble an old school Gauntlet game, and to an extent, that’s fairly accurate. Where it differs is in the execution. Instead of choosing a class to play as and going to town on baddies by way of your own combative prowess, you instead take the role of a Soulcaster, who uses something called a soul orb to summon “images” of great warriors. You first encounter these warriors by way of a trio of statues, each made in their likeness. From there, the spirits (or whatever they are) of these warriors grant you the ability to summon images of themselves which will aid you during combat, assisting you to thwart the evil that has cursed their land. Read more…

Super Monday Night Combat [PREVIEW]

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment


Super Monday Night Combat: released April 19th, 2012
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Platforms: Windows

EDIT: This preview was written during the closed beta period, and while it’s still the same basic game, many things have surely changed. It is still free to play though, and totally open for anyone to download and enjoy, so log on to Steam and give it a go!

In the past few years we’ve seen a pretty steady rise in the popularity of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games, with the charge being led by F2P big shot League of Legends, and of course Valve’s upcoming entry, DotA 2. While DotA (the original Warcraft III mod) came out quite a while ago, the gametype seems to have only recently really caught on with the gaming masses, and Uber Entertainment has decided that they’re not going to be left out in the cold. Their first game, the original Monday Night Combat, was a unique outing that managed to successfully blend tower defense and DotA, with the in your face action of a competitive shooter. The original MNC was a fantastic game, one that I will remember fondly for as long as I consider myself a gamer, but it was still more of a shooter with DotA and tower defense influences, than a standalone DotA-shooter hybrid. Super Monday Night Combat looks to change that.

If you’ve gotten in to the closed beta or have recently visited the game’s forums at all, you’ll likely have seen the phrase “The rules have changed.” mentioned quite frequently. I’ll let you know right out the gate that this is not a marketing ploy, the rules really have changed. As someone who spent a pretty significant chunk of time playing the original MNC, I can tell you that moving on up to Super MNC was a pretty jarring experience. The controls are still the same, the amusing announcers are still there, and it still looks like my beloved Monday Night Combat, but the way games unfold is significantly different this time around. For the multiplayer mode (called Crossfire) at least, all aspects of the gameplay that mimicked a tower defense title have been dropped, and Super MNC has gone the route of being a total shooter-DotA hybrid. Read more…

Monday Night Combat [REVIEW]

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday Night Combat: released January 24th, 2011
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live Arcade

If I were forced to describe Monday Night Combat in one sentence, it would read something like, “It’s as if Team Fortress 2 and Defense of the Ancients had a baby, and all of that baby’s friends growing up were tower defense games, and despite the crazy mish-mash of cultures, that baby still grew up to be a perfectly adjusted member of society, and in fact excelled at whatever it put it’s mind to!” Okay, yes, that’s a helluva sentence, but it seems somehow appropriate considering that Monday Night Combat is one helluva game. Competitive shooters are a pretty tough nut to crack, so it’s understandable that developers would want to do whatever they can to differentiate their title from the pack, but blending a competitive classed based shooter, with tower defense, and DotA? As insane as it sounds, that’s exactly what Uber Entertainment have done here, and it works amazingly well!

The basic gist of the game is that it’s some kind of futuristic bloodsport tv show. Games are played in huge, packed stadium arenas, there are announcers, mascots, sponsors, and of course there’s Pit Girl, who is the game’s token eye candy/cheerleader. There are two notably different modes of play to choose from, those being Blitz, which is the game’s dedicated tower defense mode, and then the meat of the experience which is Crossfire, Monday Night Combat’s shooter-DotA hybrid mode. Read more…

Owlboy [PREVIEW]

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment


Owlboy: release date TBA 2012
Developer: D-Pad Studio
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live (Indie or Arcade not yet determined)

 [NOTE: THIS PREVIEW IS FOR THE DEMO OF VERSION 1.01]

Owlboy is going to be one of the best indie games of 2012. Sometimes you play a game and it’s great, you have a lot of fun with it. Sometimes you play a game and it’s amazing, and you know you’ll always remember it pleasantly. Then other times you play a game, and you just can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer outstanding quality of it. From top to bottom, Owlboy is truly a first-class experience. The visuals are beyond outstanding, the sound design is absolutely killer, and the gameplay is a perfect mixture of action, adventure, platforming, and puzzle solving. There are some truly stellar titles on the way this year, and if you didn’t already have Owlboy on your list of names to watch out for, do so now.

Right off the bat I have to give kudos to D-Pad Studios for the visuals. The artwork in this game is truly striking and despite the overall quality of the game, I feel like this is what will get buzzed about the most. That’s not to imply that the visuals are the only buzzworthy aspect of the game, just that damn do they look nice! The attention to detail, the vibrant colors, the stylish designs, it’s just phenomenal. Nothing I say is really going to do the visuals justice, so just let the media speak for itself. There’s a trailer at the end of this preview and I’ll also put a link to D-Pad’s site so you can download the demo and see for yourself. It’s probably better that way as these things are always best experienced first hand. Read more…

Asteroids Do Concern Me [REVIEW]

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment


Asteroids Do Concern Me: released December 7th, 2010
Developer: Evil Robot Logic
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

Simplicity in gaming is an interesting topic. This last generation of consoles in particular has seen the term transformed a bit, now being associated with the “casualization” of the industry. When a developer wants to take a long established franchise that is cherished by many a veteran game enthusiast and alter it to appeal to a more casual audience, what do they do? They simplify things. Unfortunately this has led to the word “simple” now being synonymous with “casual” or, in many cases, “bad.” Asteroids Do Concern Me is without a doubt, the very definition of simple, but even more than that, it’s a fantastic example of how simplicity doesn’t always translate to poor game design, despite the unfortunate stigma that comes along with it.

The core gameplay in Asteroids Do Concern Me isn’t terribly unique, in that it is very clearly derivative of many flash games that you can find online for free. The goal in Asteroids Do Concern Me is to navigate your ship through a field of asteroids, trying to travel the furthest distance possible. If you’ve ever played Robot Unicorn Attack, then you’re already familiar with the idea. So then what makes this game worth your time? Hilarious writing, outstanding presentation, and just enough nuance in the gameplay to keep things interesting. Read more…

Path of Exile [PREVIEW]

January 10, 2012 2 comments

Path of Exile: release date TBA
Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Platforms: Windows

[NOTE: THIS PREVIEW IS FOR THE CLOSED BETA VERSION OF THE GAME!]

Path of Exile is still being worked on, and the fine folks at Grinding Gear Games are constantly updating and making changes to the very fabric of it’s existence. The version played for this preview was 0.9.5, and there are still many plans in the works that have yet to make their way in to the game. That said, the core of the game is there and I feel confident that my impressions of it thus far will undoubtedly carry over to the final product once it finally makes it’s debut.

When I recall my history as a gamer and think back to the titles I played growing up, the important ones, the ones that really shaped who I am as a gaming enthusiast, there are a handful of names that will always stand head and shoulders above the rest. Of course there are the more obvious gaming staples such as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, which you’re likely to find on almost any veteran gamer’s all-time favorites list, but another franchise that truly left it’s mark on me was that of Diablo. The thrill of unlocking new skills and hunting down rare loot was something I had never really experienced before, and to this day it’s that very same formula that keeps me coming back to the series.

After doing a few years time in the land of Diablo 2, I began to crave something different. I wanted that same loot based, dungeon crawling experience, but with new settings and characters. Some might argue that the Forgotten Realms titles (Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights) appropriately fill that void, but let’s be real here, those games are nothing like Diablo. I still loved them to death, but I missed the addictive qualities of randomized dungeons and looting. It’s taken some time, but we’ve recently started seeing some real forward momentum with the Diablo-style of game design, and today I’d like to talk about a particularly promising title called Path of Exile. Read more…