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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…

Escape Goat [REVIEW]

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Escape Goat: release November 2nd, 2011
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

An increasingly popular subgenre of late has been the skill based platformer. Games like Super Meat Boy, Dustforce, Splosion Man, and a handful of others, have taken the age old genre of platforming off of it’s life support, and given gamers everywhere a reason to care about it again. Popular as they are though, not everyone can get behind these two-dimensional tests of acrobatic showmanship, and would rather opt in to a slower paced platformer, something that retains the challenge, yet drops the insane obstacles. Escape Goat, a puzzle platformer from developer MagicalTimeBean, is exactly the title to fill that role.

In Escape Goat you play the role of a purple Goat who has been imprisoned for witchcraft (what the what!?), and somehow, you must find a way to escape. Along the way you’ll also encounter a mouse who has the ability to switch places with you by way of a teleportation hat. The game starts you off in a brief series of tutorial levels to help show you the ropes, and once you’re finished, it drops you in to a hub world where you have a little more freedom concerning the paths you take. There’s a total of nine main worlds, each with six levels to overcome, and each with their own unique themes and ideas. When you first begin there will only be two “worlds” unlocked for you, but each time you conquer one of them, it unlocks two more. After you’ve completed a minimum of seven of these areas, you’ll unlock the final door, which is an extra lengthy ten stage endeavor. Read more…

Dustforce [REVIEW]

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment


Dustforce: released January 17th, 2012
Developer: Hitbox Team
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

[NOTE: Mac and Linux versions are currently unreleased, but are on the way!]

Skill based platformers are a truly unique beast. To some extent you could say that all platformers are skill based (and of course you’d be right), but what I’m referring to here is a completely different breed of platformer. Something familiar, yet so very unique from your Super Marios and your Donkey Kong Countrys. Each level of these games presents you with a unique challenge, a series of obstacles that you must overcome by exercising quick reflexes, minute precision, and an extraordinary amount of practice, practice, practice! These games are hard, and they make no apologies for it, because it’s that very difficulty that gives them their style, their power, their edge. That old feeling of getting a high score and beating out your friends’ best efforts is reimagined in the form of getting a new best time and completing each level faster than your peers.

It takes a lot of hard work, but there’s nothing quite as majestic as a perfectly executed speed run in a game like Super Meat Boy. Seeing someone jump and slide along these perfectly calculated paths is a truly impressive feat. Rarely do we get to see such noteworthy displays of skill in single player gaming, but thanks to titles like Super Meat Boy and N+, it’s becoming more and more common. Case in point, Dustforce, the newest skill based platformer to enter the fray, brought to us by developer Hitbox. So has Dustforce earned the right to be mentioned with the likes of those previously mentioned classics? You bet your ass it has! Read more…

Wrapple [REVIEW]

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment


Wrapple: released January 4th, 2010
Developer: Awoken Entertainment
Platforms: Windows

You are a genetically modified potato, created in a lab to be resistant to grasshoppers. Unfortunately for your lab coat wearing overlords, you have evolved and are now sentient! In your attempts to escape the lab you make use of various portals that are scattered about, but they weren’t designed for the transportation of potatoes, and as such each time you pass through one it destroys the room you left behind. At this rate, if the scientists can’t stop you, tomorrow’s headlines will read, “Sentient potato goes on portal hopping rampage and destroys laboratory!” And that’s the story folks!

I’ll say this much for the indie gaming scene, they are absolutely fearless when it comes to pushing the boundaries for whacky-as-shit premises in their games. Not that a terrificly plausible or complex story is even remotely necessary in a puzzle platformer such as Wrapple, but you’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty bizarre backstory, even so far as indie games are concerned. It’s all in good, light-hearted fun though, and I enjoyed the amusing story related journal entries that broke up the gameplay during Wrapple’s brief campaign. 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…

Knytt Stories [REVIEW]

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Knytt Stories: released August 30th, 2007
Developer: Nifflas
Platforms: Windows

These past few weeks I have been scouring the indie gaming scene on a journey to try and discover some new MetroidVania style games. Thus far I have found some pretty high quality titles, but nothing that quite nails that Metroid or Castlevania experience. Saira came pretty damn close due to it’s great ambiance and sense of exploration, but there were still certain key components that were missing to make it really feel like a MetroidVania game. This week’s game is brought to us by the very same soul who created Saira actually, Mr. Nicklas Nygren, otherwise known as Nifflas. As with the other titles I’ve tried thus far, Knytt Stories definitely possesses some key features that you’d expect to find when playing a MetroidVania game, but also like the other titles I’ve tried thus far, it’s also missing a few of those key components that you’d look for in a MetroidVania title as well. Still, I wouldn’t be writing a review for Knytt Stories if I wasn’t impressed by it!

If by chance you happened to play Saira, you can definitely tell that Knytt Stories was made by the same person, as is evident from the visual style. As with Saira, the visuals may look crude or simple when you first see them, but it really takes no time at all for them to grow on you, and as you continue to explore the world of Knytt Stories you’ll see a good variety of locations, with each region of the world possessing its own look and feel. Not to mention there are additional stories you can download (essentially small expansion packs) that give you entirely new stories to play through and experience, and each one of these brings with it a totally new environment as well. The art style just has a certain flair that makes everything really pop. Something I’ve learned from playing both Saira and Knytt Stories is that screenshots really don’t do Nifflas’ style justice. Yes, the game isn’t terribly detailed or complex, but it’s vibrant, and varied, and it feels alive. It just feels like I was exploring a real environment, and the overall style of Knytt Stories is charming to the max. Read more…

Saira [REVIEW]

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Saira: released December 12th, 2009
Developer: Nifflas
Platforms: Windows

Recently I’ve been on a mission to try and find some new MetroidVania style games. It happens fairly regularly, at least once a year, where I’ll go in to Metroid mode and I’ll just have to fire up Super Metroid or Metroid Fusion and get it out of my system. This year is different though, because this year I don’t simply want to revisit the old classics. I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort in to the indie gaming scene for a while now, and I know there are some potentially top shelf MetroidVanias out there. The last one I played was a fantastic retro style game titled Hero Core that blended the freedom and exploration aspects of a MetroidVania with the combat mechanics of a shmup. Hero Core was an awesome game, but this week I believe I’ve latched on to an even more impressive game, and it goes by the name Saira.

I will say right off the bat, Saira doesn’t exactly fit the bill for a MetroidVania title. It eschews the combat and confrontational enemy encounters of games like Metroid and Hero Core in favor of pure exploration and puzzle solving. In addition to not possessing any kind of combat, you also don’t really power-up or gain new abilities as you explore the game world. Still, despite all that Saira feels like a MetroidVania game. Instead of one great big, interconnected map to traverse and explore, your character uses a spaceship to visit various solar systems. If you ever played Mass Effect, you should actually be quite familiar with how this works. You essentially have one big star-map that shows the various solar systems that are available for you to visit. Then, provided your ships battery has enough charge, you can then fly to that solar system and visit the (usually two) destinations that reside there. Read more…