Sunday, April 8, 2012


Limbo is a creepy, disturbing, unique and amazing piece of art. This puzzle platformer only has a few hours of gameplay, but is well worth the purchase regardless. What I find notable is that the developers really understand ambiance. The art is just simple layers of silhouettes. The music is simple, and usually not even there. There story is simple bordering on nonexistent. You just start off somewhere dark and creepy, and wade through mounds of dark and creepy until you reach a dark and creepy end. And STILL, with all this simple going on, the game sent shivers up my spine and kept me hooked the way many AAA 'horror' games completely fail to do. I want to be clear though: the art, music and design, though 'simple', is very well done. The art is gorgeous, music is fitting and the story is all it needs to be. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cut the Rope

Next up to bat: Cut the Rope.  If you're in the market for a really simple pick-up-and-play game for your phone (I think it's available for both iOS and Android) I highly recommend Cut the Rope.  Your mission: feed a cute little monster who really wants a piece of candy that's always dangling out of his reach, suspended by various styles of rope. The rest of it's pretty self explanatory. Your score for each level is dictated by how many stars the candy collides with in its chaotic journey to the open maw that is the hungry little beast's mouth. At first a simple premise, but like all games of this genre, it get exponentially more complicated as they start messing with physics and introduce new mechanics. Its just the right amount of difficult, not frustrating enough to make you quit, but not so breezy that you don't get satisfaction when you get all stars on all levels. Well worth the $1 it costs.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Swords and Sworcery

Swords and Sworcery is a game for the iPhone that's another great example of innovative and unique independent developers at their best. S&S is a new take on click discovery gaming that ties in a simple swing-and-block battle system, activated by pulling out your sword (turning your phone sideways). The art style in particular is uniquely amazing. Never have I seen such a vague bundle of pixles leave such little doubt in my mind as to what they're supposed to be. Swords and Sworcery also integrates itself heavily with social media; At any point in the game, you can tweet anything you find on your screen tapping endeavors. The language is a creative fusion of archaic story and dudespeak, and the controls are simplistic enough to support gaming on a phone.  Overall, the game is definitely worth the $5 I spent on it, even if it isn't the kind of game I'd usually go for.


I'm going to kick things off by saying that Bastion may very well be the most impressive game I've played in a very long time. It's a perfect example of a game that didn't try to do too much, and therefore did everything exactly right.  The driving force of Bastion's impressive quality is something I really admire in a game: the warm fuzzy feeling that the game wants nothing more than for you to enjoy it (more on that later). Also, there's something to be said about a game where you honestly can't decide if it's strongest suit is the incredibly riveting storytelling style (The game is narrated real-time by a man that I wish I could pay to read me bedtime stories), the stunning art style of a world torn to pieces, or the gameplay that was polished to a mirror sheen that rivals the reflectivity of Picard's magnificent bald pate. 
Game Quality:
So,  more on that quality I was talking about. Many games feel like they're forcing you to enjoy the game by negative reinforcement. Through many small efforts, Bastion feels like everything its doing is for YOUR enjoyment, and if you choose to not utilize a particular aspect, nothing is withheld from you. Example: where most games would encourage you to explore by placing the best items in obscure areas, Basion also makes all the items you missed via exploration available at the 'lost in found' after the level is completed. And guess what? I still explored every corner of every map, cause I WANTED to. Increasing difficulty via the shrine is optional, and for your enjoyment. You are rewarded, but not with anything that couldn't be obtained through other means. Point is, everything you use in the game, you do because you WANT to. I never once felt bullied into using all of the gameplay mechanics, which happens more often than I'd like with most games.

Gameplay Overview:
Since I can't much cover the story without ruining it, and I don't have much to say for the art besides 'holy pretty batman!', I'll take some time to chat about the Gameplay. Bastion is an isometric hack and slash that sports some pretty slick gameplay augmentations. Its weapon collection/upgrade system is simplistic and efficient; Each weapon is unique, and designed to be fun in a different way. While I did have my favorites, I didn't get the feeling that everyone would choose the same weapons. Game difficulty is unique in that it can be controlled via a 'shrine' where you activate different idols, making your enemies more powerful and the rewards more lucrative. The 'distillery' is a new take character upgrades, and is surprisingly complex when it comes to testing different combinations.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: Mario Party 9

It's Mario time!

RATING: [3.5/5]

I thought I'd write about something more light-hearted than Mass Effect this time, so I decided I'd do one of my rare reviews. I'm going to talk about Mario Party 9. My boyfriend and I have been playing it a lot lately, and quite frankly it's a lot of fun. There are a couple major flaws with the game, though. We'll get to those in a bit, but first I'd like to talk about what I do like.

No coins/stars system.
I'm sure some people don't like that this has gone by the wayside, but I like that it's new. The coin/star system was getting tired and this is a welcome change. The new mini-star system makes even one mini-star feel important. Coins felt relatively worthless in prior games, and this solves that issue.

Everyone moves together in a car.
This is very weird at first and hard to get used to, but it's actually really awesome. It's really fun trying to figure out ways to screw your friends over, and this makes it a lot easier to do so. Plus, it allows some new dynamics to come into play, like the "captain" (the player whose turn it currently is) and mad dashes away from danger.

Maps are fresh and new.
It's fun trying to run away from rising lava, forcing others to be attacked by sharks, or trying to make it your turn when fighting a boss so that you gain a bonus, and these are just some of the things you can do in the new game. Simply put, the mechanics feel fresh.

All in all, the multi-player party feature is awesome, and makes up for the huge flaws in the rest of the game (though this is probably because you won't often be playing by yourself). Flaws, you say? Oh, indeed so.

Single player is the exact same as multiplayer.
There's not much to say about this except that it's really not that fun. Who wants to play a Mario Party map by yourself? There's a bit of "story" thrown in there, like how you are coming to get Bowser and are going through all the maps to get to him, and Bowser gets angry and sends minions after you. However, the maps are the exact same. The only difference is that your fourth player is Shy Guy, who is playing for Bowser. If he wins, you're screwed. So far, the only benefit I see to playing the single player campaign is earning new characters, which is the ONLY way to do so. Which leads me to...

There's not much to do with your earned mini-stars.
Sure, you can spend them on stuff, but not much. After you buy the one new level or master difficulty for a computer, you're left with different cars to ride in on the maps or star constellations (which do absolutely no good to purchase). I would have liked to see a large character roster that you could purchase with your mini-stars, instead of the current options and a couple extra characters only unlock-able via the story mode.

You still can't play online.
I really thought Nintendo would have added online play this time around since Super Smash Bros had it and did it relatively well, considering the Wii's limited system. Even though the Wii doesn't have a great online gaming system, I still would have played this while Skyping or using Facetime with friends. It would have been a nice addition to be able to play with real people when you have no one to play with at your own house. /Sigh.

The rundown:
The game is a solid installment in the Mario Party series. It's fun, and the multiplayer has a welcome facelift. I just wish the single player did, too.