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When talking about quality, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is filled with anomalies. It’s a veritable roller coaster of highs and lows, of amazing stories and embarrassing character designs. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship. Kids of the 80s have fond memories of the original comic, cartoon, and movie. Opinion on the early 2000s cartoon was kind of split, as it is for the current iteration on Nickelodeon. The ongoing IDW comic, which recently released its 50th issue, has been incredible. The 2014 live-action movie resulted in a collective eye roll from the dedicated TMNT fan community, while this Summer’s sequel had many diehards enamored with its representations of favorites Bebop and Rocksteady. And let’s not even talk about The Next Mutation or the Out of Their Shells concert tour.
Much like the other facets of the franchise, the TMNT video games range in quality from amazing to downright boring. The original arcade game and Turtles in Time are arguably two of the best beat ’em ups ever made. The game based on the 2007 computer-animated feature is also a decent title. On the flipside, the first game based on the 2013 cartoon series was pretty much universally panned, and the first NES game was downright awful. Electric seaweed? Really? Even with the Game Genie, I couldn’t beat that damn game.
Which brings us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, the latest game in the ever-popular Turtles universe. Knowing the reputation of the franchise, I started this one up with a bit of understandable trepidation, as history shows that these games have potential to fall anywhere on the TMNT quality bell curve. After giving it my full attention, I can safely say that this one falls right there in the middle. Not quite a Cowabunga, but not a Shell Shock, either. (more…)
“Time Moves Only When You Move.”
The developers behind Superhot know exactly what their minimalist first-person shooter is all about, and this succinct summation of the game’s hook is the perfect way to describe it to anyone unfamiliar with the game. It also tells prospective players that Superhot isn’t just a fast-paced arcade shooter (though it can be). Instead, it’s a deliberately-paced puzzle game where methodically figuring out the correct series of actions to complete each level is the only way to move forward. Even if you’ve never played a first person shooter before, it’s possible to pick up Superhot and understand what the game’s devilish AI has in store for you. (more…)
When one hears the word “bully,” the archetypal image that usually comes to mind is that of a hulking brute. A dimwitted, slack-jawed, pit-stained-t-shirt-wearing oaf that couldn’t tell what a rhombus is, let alone be able to spell it. Not often do you hear of the nerdy kid with glasses being the jerk in the bunch. But I tell you this – I got my ass kicked by this bespectacled geek more times than I would by any bully. And these were brutal beatings, causing me great pain, uncompromising fury, and the occasional tear. Cruelly mocking me with every blow. Unrelenting. But you know what? I was totally cool with it. (more…)
Strange though it may seem, in 2016, video games are an old medium. The various genres and mechanics of the medium have, over time, formed a kind of complex language that makes sense to those who are video game literate but is impenetrable to those who aren’t. Good guys are blue, bad guys are red. This is simple if you’ve played a few shooters, but is not immediately obvious. This creates a problem for the critic when describing a game’s mechanics: to some people, Red Dead Redemption is a simulation of the Old West in which you meet with people who need tasks doing; to others, it’s GTA with horses.
Enter the Gungeon is a top-down, twin-stick shooter in which you explore procedurally generated dungeon floors armed with weapons, bombs, keys, and a special item. You fight your way through each floor looking for shops and item rooms to arm yourself for the boss fight that allows you to move down to the next floor of the dungeon. It’s usually best to avoid comparisons, but if this description reminds you of The Binding of Isaac, then you’re on the right track. (more…)
It is often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If this is true, the folks at From Software must be fanning themselves like a Victorian lady in search of a fainting couch, because Salt and Sanctuary is an unashamed imitation of Dark Souls. In fact, licensing aside, it essentially is a Souls game. Of course, Salt and Sanctuary is not the first game to copy the formula established by From Software, but where others have become mired in being too much like Dark Souls, Salt and Sanctuary strikes out in new, interesting directions and successfully transposes the Souls style onto a 2D action-platformer. (more…)
I first got word of Dreii a couple of months ago and I’ve been quite frankly jazzed about it ever since. A physics-based puzzle game! With Journey-style invisible matchmaking and limited communication! And that art style! Dreii almost seemed like it was designed just for me. It pains me to report then that, in spite of all of these things, Dreii is mired in an indecisiveness about what it wants its puzzles to be that makes it at best, boring, and at worst, infuriating. (more…)
It’s no secret that I adore cats. I’ve owned cats, loved cats, and am actively looking to adopt a new cat. I have cats on everything, from t-shirts to totebags to cat-butt magnets. Because I don’t own any actual cats right now, my friends refer to me as the “catless cat lady.” So it should be no surprise that, the first time I saw Catlateral Damage, I knew it was a game I was going to love. (more…)
As long as I have been playing the Hitman games, I have always been struck by the strange dissonance between the way the series is marketed and the way it actually plays. In adverts, cutscenes, and promotional art, Hitman games are always presented as offering a power fantasy in which you play as a globetrotting, sharply-dressed, dual pistol-wielding assassin. This is strange because, as anyone who has played a Hitman game will tell you, the games are actually much more about dressing as an engineer and rigging an oven to explode, or disguising yourself as a waiter and spiking your target’s drink with a laxative so that you can murder them in the privacy of the bathroom. This pattern holds for IO Interactive’s new entry in the Hitman series, and, for fans at least, this is good news. Even if this game is something of a known quantity, it does still manage to deliver that same incredibly cool feeling that comes with watching a chandelier “accidentally” fall on your target and walking out without anyone suspecting foul play. (more…)