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When I was eight years old, there was only one place I wanted to go after school on Fridays: Gas City. Yes, a gas station. Not that I enjoyed the place or anything… rather, it was what was inside the station that intrigued me. See, back in the 80s, movie and game rental stores were everywhere. Pizza places had their own rental corner, grocery stores had theirs, and yes, even gas stations. The reason I kept going back to Gas City was because they had one game that no other rental store had: Mega Man. I remembered the exhilaration of staying up all night playing the game, and the sadness of having to return it on Sunday. I was never able to find the game for sale, so renting it was my only means of playing it.
I also distinctly remember having a meltdown once at the Record Town in the mall. My birthday had just passed, and my grandma gave me a check. To a small child, that was all the cash in the world. I was at the mall with my family, and we stopped so my dad could look at cassettes. But behind the clerk’s counter, stacked up to the ceiling, were Nintendo games for sale. I remember just staring at the games until one caught my eye: Mega Man 2. I had to have that game, and with a fresh $20 check in my pocket, my young mind figured that was all I needed. My mom had to break the news to me that I couldn’t just hand the check over to the cashier and get the game. Oh man, did I lose it. Here I was, about to own one of the greatest NES games ever made, only to be shot down by something as meaningless as financial insolvency? That did not sit well. Luckily, my mom took me out to cool off while my dad got it as a Christmas present, so all was not lost.
Point being, I’ve been a diehard Mega Man fan for as long as I can remember. Thus, when I heard that the Blue Bomber’s creator, Keiji Inafune, was making a spiritual successor to the franchise that I adore so much, I felt like a kid again. I could not wait until I was able to get my hands on another game, even if it was just Mega Man-ish. With the exception of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, Capcom has been mind-baffling stingy with releasing proper titles for this game. So even though I wasn’t getting an actual Capcom game, I was happy enough to get something similar. Unfortunately, Mighty No. 9 is not the robot I was looking for. (more…)
The late comedian Mitch Hedberg once said: “I’m not good at golf. I never got a hole in one, but I did hit a guy. And that’s way more satisfying. You’re supposed to yell ‘Fore,’ but I was too busy mumbling, ‘There ain’t no way that’s gonna hit him.’”
I’m the same way. I suck at real-life golf, but when it comes to virtual golf, I’m a regular Lee Carvallo (for putting challenges, at least). From 1990’s PGA Tour Golf, to the original Xbox’s Microsoft Links 2004 and the more recent The Golf Club, I’ve always found video game golf to be a relaxing break from the usual running and gunning that is so prevalent in gaming.
Which brings us to Dangerous Golf, the debut title from new studio Three Fields Entertainment. The small team of ex-Criterion developers set about to combine two of my favorite things to do virtually that I can’t get away with in real life: play golf and break stuff. At its core, this is what Dangerous Golf is about. And while the game is a satisfying and humorous experience, it isn’t very deep, and is at its best when played in spurts. (more…)
I won’t lie: I wanted to dislike Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End before the game even came out. My favorite game in the series, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, was followed by a third installment that was a huge disappointment to me. But I found myself not just liking Uncharted 4. By the end of the game, I was impressed, satisfied, and just a little bit smitten. (more…)
With a Story Mode that features 360 levels, three marathon variants under an Arcade menu, and a whole slew of multiplayer options, Tumblestone contains a massive amount of content compared to the average puzzle game. And the only ones that come close are going to be found exclusively on mobile devices, which is an altogether different experience. For the most part, large-scale puzzle games abandoned the consoles years ago.
But Tumblestone might change all that. (more…)
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…)