There’s a New Dreamcast Game Coming Out Next Month

Breakers, a 90s style arcade style fighting game, is coming to the Dreamcast in June.

Breakers is a good, polished yet generic, mid-tier 90’s ‘beat-em up’ and represents something of a leap over the contemporary 16-bit fighters of the time. Huge sprites, great animated backgrounds (which feature characters who actually react to the fights going on in front of them), consistent frame rate, great music and effects makes Breakers a real treat for the senses. Breakers arrives on Dreamcast with a full feature set. Game modes, options and roster are all intact. Visually the Dreamcast port of Breakers is also good.

The Dreamcast may be close to its 20th anniversary but fans like JoshProd Video Game Producer are dedicated to continue supporting the platform. If you’re interested in ordering your own copy you can get it from Play-Asia. The disc is of course region free.

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Crawl is The Most Original CO-OP Game in Years – Review

Whenever someone tells me let’s play a CO-OP game I immediately picture Halo 1, Streets of Rage, or Gears of War. The idea of working together to overcome the odds and beat a game has always been an endearing childhood feeling for me. Even going back to the Famicom days of having two controllers wired into a box, CO-OP have followed this formula for ages. That is until I played Crawl.

While the design may scream “another indie pixel game” don’t be so quick to judge. I at first assumed this would be your typical old school brawler where me and friends dungeon ‘crawl’ our way out and beating up some baddies. Instead Crawl ended up being one of those few games that surprised me in a very good way.

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You and three other players start off each dungeon in a brawl. The one left standing ends up staying as a human who needs to level up to at least 10 throughout the dungeon to challenge the boss. Defeating him wins the game. The remaining players end up becoming ghosts who need to be revived as a human by killing the human player. This can be achieved by possessing certain objects or traps or using a pentagram on the floor to spawn as a monster. The monster itself also has a leveling system that could be upgraded using wrath points which can only be acquired while being a ghost/monster. So while you may not be getting XP you will at least continue leveling up your monster using the wrath points to have a better chance next time. You can level up your monsters after the player decides to move deeper into the dungeon. Furthermore ghosts can possess certain parts of the dungeon boss which again can force the player to lose. This could mean possessing a giant arm of a monster to smash the floor or the head to shoot off a devastating laser beam. If the player loses a boss fight they’ll be kicked out with low health and need to continue leveling up by descending further into the dungeon. As a human player, you actually want to summon your friends as monster because by defeating them you gain XP which is needed to level up and defeat the boss. You can also earn coins that can be used at a vendor to upgrade your gear and weapons.

Now that may sound like a lot to digest but it’s one of those things that you pick up very easily. The game does offer a sort of light tutorial section when starting the game but even newcomers will slowly get it while playing. But I can’t lie, at certain moments I was forced to sort of pause the game to brief each of my friends what this does and how not to get lost. This mostly happens when going into the technicalities.

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The thing that makes Crawl so fun is that it works well as a competitive and as a CO-OP title. Yes, you are more or less co-operating with each other as you, the human player, needs XP and ghost players need to become human to further their chances as well. Also, if you end up descending for a period time and fail to defeat the boss, the game will end so at its core it still works as a CO-OP title.

Crawl is a game meant to be experienced with friends, there are bots who can work as suitable substitutes. Actually, I want to take a minute here to talk about the AI and how smart it is. I mean besides getting lost and sometimes going the right way, the AI would also go to a vendor and ‘think’ about what to choose before picking an item. There were plenty of times where I had to double check it wasn’t my friend. But even with that, the game’s charm comes from sitting with your buddies on a couch and just screaming at each other. It’s the type of game where at one moment you’re working together and others are fighting to win. Again, this sort of dynamic works exceptionally well and honestly can’t think of any multiplayer game that attempted this before.

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Visually the game borrows the typical classic 8-bit look we see in plenty of indie titles. It looks good, especially during boss fights but I couldn’t help but squint every now and then to make up what was written or trying to make out the tiny details. The pixel visuals can also be headache inducing as the camera at times zooms in at what is something intentionally made low res. I would also often get lost especially as the ghost clips through objects. My friends didn’t face this problem as much but I certainly found it a bit inconvenient.

Crawl is one of the most original CO-OP game I played in years. It’s the type of game that shows how being unique can not only separate you from the crowd but give players something no current game offers. Most importantly it’s fun but only with friends sitting beside you.

9/10

Mr. Shifty– Switch Review

Among the many interesting new indie games coming to the Switch, Mr. Shifty is definitely in the top tier category. Its arcade brawling style with an emphasis on teleporting around gives off an epic feeling of being a total bad ass. The game doesn’t put any emphasis on guns or shooting and instead asks the player to get up-close and personal.

While I usually like to kick-off my reviews by discussing the plot, Mr. Shifty sort of takes a back seat in this regard. You’re raiding a building to stop an evil corporate “asshole” from mass producing a weapon of mass destruction. Aside from some witty dialogue here and there, that’s pretty much it. The game doesn’t even open with an intro just straight to level 1. As mentioned earlier this is an arcade brawler and it plays so to the core.

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Even its levels tend to follow a classic game design approach where you start at the bottom of the building and slowly work your way you to the big finale. The only issue I have so far is that a lot of the assets can feel re-used. I was a bit surprised to see a game like this go over 3 GB when so many things are re-used with simple textures. Granted though the game’s physics is pretty solid. Watching countless foes flinging from your punches and hitting objects never gets old.

While the game does re-use a lot of its art, the level design itself varies from floor to floor. Similar to games like Hotline Miami you would need to study the room before breaking in the door and begin the fight. Sometimes you would even have to use the environment to your favor. One room for example had a laser turret that was blocked with glass and was surrounded by gun henchmen. I teleported next to the laser turret, had the henchmen shoot me to break the glass but then teleported away and activate the turret to take out all the henchmen in the room.

Mr. Shifty can get pretty challenging. Given the fact you can ‘shift’ around the game has a 1 hit KO rule. Teleporting also has its limits. You can only do it 5 times so making them count is crucial. Beating down foes helps build up a focus meter which once filled will allow the player to take a hit which causes time to slow down. It’s a weird way to activate a special but it works. Thankfully the game’s controls are pretty easy. You simply tap ‘b’ to teleport and ‘a’ to punch. However I found it easier to teleport using the ‘r’ bumper and face button to punch.

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In terms of performance Mr. Shifty can suffer a bit on the Switch. Even though it runs at 30 FPS, on docked the FPS can dip in certain areas where plenty of physics are happening. I however did not notice these problems in handheld mode. The PC version on the other hand offers a steady and smooth 60 FPS with 4K. For an action packed game like this, the performance certainly makes a difference. But at the same time there’s no denying that playing arcade games on the go feels more suited. I could for example finish a level while on a bus ride and the fact there isn’t a lot of story means I don’t need to waste much time watching cutscenes. In the end if I had to choose one I would probably go with the Switch version.

At first glance, many will feel the need to compare this to Hotline Miami given its gameplay style. But it shouldn’t be. Mr. Shifty does a lot to stand out and while it may be thin on the content side of things it will keep you coming back to beat those high scores.

7/10

A New Frontier Fails at Capturing Season 1’s Magic – Review

Ever since I was introduced to Telltale’s Season 1 of The Walking Dead I was hooked. Moving characters (that felt more like people) and situation that put me more on edge than any recent survival horror game ever did. But most importantly it left the door open for having one of its most characters, Clementine, to grow and develop. Despite having a decent Season 2, Season 3’s A New Frontier was supposed to be the one where we finally see Clementine develop into a bad ass fearless heroine, except we don’t. Not exactly.

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Rather than continue where Season 2 left off, Telltale decided to introduce us to Javier a new character who I honestly thought was there just for the intro. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad character just very, I don’t know? Generic? He feels more like an NPC you’d meet in the game as opposed to someone you feel is important. Even though he feels rushed in, the game does manage to eventually lead up to points where you finally care about him and his motives. Clementine, while still playing a pivotal roll, is treated on the sidelines as someone more experienced and mysterious. The best way I could describe this is like MGS 2 when the majority of the game is being controlled by Raiden (a noob) while Snake (the bad ass character we want to play with) takes a backseat.

But this is not the main issue I have with A New Frontier. The problem I faced the most is related to the game’s cheap moments. I won’t spoil it but something happens towards the end of Season 1 that just screams “Really?!” It was such a copout that I didn’t even flinch or feel bad. It just made me feel empty instead. This scene rippled towards other moments that I felt were supposed to feel intense or register some form of fear or guilt but instead I just went “whatever”.

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The moments you control Clementine are limited to small memory sequences

As for the gameplay, well not much can be said about that. It basically plays the same as the old one with its QTE and light exploring without introducing any real challenges or groundbreaking mechanics. Same goes for the graphics and animation (which still borrow the same recycled key frames found from Season 1). The shading is slightly improved and that’s about it. One thing that does feel new are the motion tracked camera cutscenes which sadly don’t come very often.

But let’s be honest, we got into this series because of Season 1. Its characters, pacing, and even intense moments were well above the ones we saw in A New Frontier. While Javier seems like an interesting character he ultimately feels forced in and suddenly becomes Clementine’s father figure. It doesn’t make sense and just feels really off. There’s three more episodes to go for A New Frontier and I hope by then Telltale would have turned things around.

6/10

 

The Five Games of 2016 You Have to Play

We’re well into our first week of 2017 and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead in this wide magical landscape we call video games. But before we forget the year that is 2016 (celebrity and political issues aside) the year managed to produce some pretty amazing titles. Here are five pics from last year you have to play no matter what.

Final Fantasy XV

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After 10 years of waiting, Final Fantasy XV has arrived and delivered. While many argue that it is flawed with missing story set pieces I personally enjoyed this journey of brotherhood and bonding with an ending that left me in tears. Few games have offered me the kind of immersion that XV did with its attention to detail from everything ranging from hair to gigantic cities and of course the beautiful lush landscapes. As a Final Fantasy game it manages to break new ground with an active battle system that sets the foundation for others to follow. Most importantly it brought the franchise back and is till now the best JRPG I played this gen. If you’re looking for an entry into the franchise this should be it.

Uncharted 4

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Naughty Dog has constantly raised the bar on its games and Uncharted 4 is no exception. Despite this being a PS4 game it manages to look better than most high-end PC titles (and this is coming from a PC fanboy). Filled with none-stop adventure, Uncharted 4 never has a dull moment. Sure the tacked-on multiplayer is forgettable but its singleplayer is where it truly shines. By far the best game ND has produced, this masterpiece is a must for all PS4 owners.
As a side note: Uncharted 4 and Final Fantasy XV are the only games I’ve given a 10 for which makes them the highest recommended games on this list.

DOOM (4)

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There was a moment were I thought DOOM 4’s campaign was going to suck, I mean aside from the stage demo, most of the promo footage I recalled was about the game’s Snap Map and its multiplayer which looked kinda lackluster. Ironically its biggest selling point ended up being its less promoted singleplayer mode with the others feeling tacked on. Everything about it screams personality from its techno metal soundtrack (which brought back memories of Quake 2) to its hyper-demon slaying-violence. And unlike most of today’s shooter where you need to play defensive by hiding to recover health, DOOM flips the table and demands you to be more aggressive to get health packs and drops from enemies to survive. It also manages stay true to its source material while also surprisingly expanding the game’s lore, in short: DOOM is the 90’s shooter brought to modern times done right.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

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Ever since the turn of the century Deus Ex has been that one game that questioned the world I live in. It introduced me to conspiracy theories and how world government operate not to the benefit of society but to shape the world they see fit. Deus Ex Mankind Divided continues that tradition by bridging itself with today’s problems. Escalation in racism and the way it treats biomoded humans as refugees, Mankind Divided manages to be a game that we can all relate to. Added to that is the improved gameplay and traditional freedom to its level design, Deus Ex has never looked or played this good. It’s easily my favorite entry in the franchise and honestly can’t wait to see what happens next.

Inside

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Let’s face facts, most of the big pixelated indie games we play tend to bank on nostalgia. Owlboy, Freedom Planet, Axiom Verge while all amazing titles they tend to relay on our history with the games we played and loved. Inside is first indie title in a while that manages to give me a new groundbreaking experience. Everything from its ambient atmosphere to its smart puzzle design helped shape a world without a single piece of dialogue.

Honorable Mentions:

The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian was one of the most frustrating experiences I had this year, but it still managed to warm my heart. If you can look past its issues you’ll find a game that’s certainly worth your while.

Titanfall 2

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I was very close to adding this to my list, but decided against it mainly because I found DOOM’s singleplayer to be more memorable. Don’t get me wrong, this is game is a sequel done right with amazing level design that harkins back to the Half-Life days. That being said, I did find its multiplayer feeling stale after a while similar to Titanfall 1.

Fan Remakes X-Wing Using Unity Engine

While watching the climactic battle of Rogue One I couldn’t shake the nostalgic feeling of wanting to jump into an X-Wing and blast some Tie Fighters. Classic PC flight sim X-Wing and Tie Fighter was the cure for that itch but needless to say we want a new one!

One fan has managed to give us a glimpse of what a new X-Wing could look like if made in today’s graphics. Keep in mind this is made by one guy because he couldn’t get his favorite Mac version to work.

This is still in prototype stage and for all we know it may never be released (especially if Disney or EA decides to throw a C&D).

X-Wing and mostly Tie Fighter are often considered to be one of the best PC games of all time and for good reason. It had great atmosphere and setting that captured the original trilogy like no other Star Wars game except a few (Dark Forces). Most of the recent games like Battlefront do a good job in the presentation department but us fans all want a new entry in the space sim. Throw in VR support and we’re looking at THE Star Wars game we’ve been years to play.

Switch Exclusive, Seasons of Heaven, Looks a Bit Rough Around The Edges

Seasons of Heaven is one of the first 3rd party games to be announced as Switch exclusive. While its screenshots have demonstrated beautiful lush detailed worlds the gameplay itself looks a bit rough.

Granted this could be an early build but the boy’s animations look exceptionally stiff. The gameplay is also kinda confusing but from what I gather it’s a puzzle platformer similar to this year’s The Last Guardian.

One thing it does manage to show off are impressive visuals. If it manages to look this decent on a handheld then I’ll be quite content with the system.