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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…

Spotlight On: MagicalTimeBean

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Games Made: Soulcaster I & II, Escape Goat 

Today I would like to take a moment to shine a spotlight on an up and coming indie developer who has made some incredibly well crafted games in the past few years, and is bar none one of the best developers currently inhabiting the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace. If you’ve got a 360 and you haven’t tried either Escape Goat or the Soulcaster games, you’re really missing out on a couple of the absolute best experiences on the platform. In this article I’ll briefly go over the outstanding games that he’s made, then at the end there’s a Q&A where we get to hear from the man himself. Read more…

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…

Tribes: Ascend [PREVIEW]

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Tribes: Ascend: released April 12th, 2012
Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
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 head over HERE to check it out!

We’ve come a long way since the days when Quake and Unreal Tournament ruled the multiplayer roost. Back then games moved fast, and quick reflexes played a much larger role in the players’ overall strategies. Multiplayer shooters of today are a far cry from their comparatively nimble forefathers, with big names like Call of Duty and Battlefield trying to focus on the “realistic” aspects of modern warfare. Even sci-fi centric games such as Halo fail to capture that surreal sense of high speed action present in the shooters of yesteryear, in fact, console multiplayer shooters likely played a pretty sizable role in the decline of this style of gameplay. Speedy titles like Quake and Unreal Tournament didn’t really translate so well to controllers, so the overall market started leaning more towards the slower-paced frag-fests that we see today, so as to try and accommodate both crowds.

Regardless of how it came to be, the fact of the matter is that multiplayer shooters are noticeably slower these days, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve long been pining for a return to the time when games moved at a breakneck pace and reflexive crackshots ruled the arena. It’s been a long time coming, but it seems we’ve finally got a champion to ring in the return of fast-paced multiplayer shooting. Many of us have gotten used to the comparatively sluggish pace at which most modern shooters move, so I’ll warn you now that your first steps in Tribes: Ascend will catch you off guard. This game moves significantly quicker than almost any game in recent memory, so you’re going to need to relearn how to maneuver yourself. Read more…

Defender’s Quest [REVIEW]

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Defender’s Quest: released January 20th, 2012
Developer: Level Up Labs
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

It never ceases to amaze me how indie developers continue to push tower defense games in new and interesting directions so frequently. Many old school genres such as platformers and shmups, have enjoyed a pretty notable resurgence in recent years, almost entirely thanks to the indie scene. Tower defense games on the other hand, are a genre that have just about always thrived exclusively at the hands of indie developers. Most recently it’s become quite popular to take the core mechanics of a tower defense game, and blend them with a totally different style of game. Sanctum and Monday Night Combat did it with shooter mechanics, Dungeon Defenders and Orcs Must Die! did it with action RPG mechanics, and Defender’s Quest goes an entirely different route, choosing to blend tower defense, with traditional, story driven JRPG mechanics.

At this point I’m beginning to wonder if tower defense isn’t just some kind of all encompassing super-genre that manages to blend well with any type of game. Each time one of these hybrids is released, I smack myself on the forehead and wonder how nobody had ever thought to do it before. Having now sunk the past couple days in to the extremely addictive Defender’s Quest, I once again find myself wondering, how the hell has nobody ever thought to do this before?! Read more…