"I know a lot of gamers out there don't have much patience". This line was as true in 2007 as it is now. With that in mind, it's easy to see why The Last Guardian is a pretty divisive game. Doesn't help that the game's lack of polish makes it kinda hard to tell what's intentional and what isn't, at least at first.
To anyone that played ICO, the parallels in The Last Guardian are obvious. In ICO you're in the position of power, taking care of a defenseless girl, in TLG you're actually the small one and have to rely on a huge bird dog thing for pretty much anything, bar some choice moments. While not really original, this dynamic is rare enough to feel different, and the game makes sure to always involve both the player and Trico (hugebirddogthing) at the same time. For people who stick with the game, this is very effective: eventually you'll feel some sort of bond with Trico, considering you went through so many puzzles/platforming sessions with it, making the narrative moments much more earned than they usually are in games of this type.
Trico itself is the main point of contention with The Last Guardian. Instead of what other developers would've done, and probably would've been more immediately functional, TLG aims to make Trico and the experience of bonding with it as realistic as possible: you don't press a button to make it do something, as much as you suggest it does something. You'll point where to go, tell it to jump or break something, and see how Trico reacts to it. This requires patience especially early on, as Trico won't react much to your commands and its animations will be much longer for everything. This is where I think people are mistaken when they say that Trico has faulty AI: they see that their command isn't getting an immediate response, and so they try different things or keep telling it to look at something, when the game did in fact read the command, it's just that Trico itself has to process what's going on. The trick is all in observing the creature, how it moves, how it reacts. I'm not sure how much trickery there is to Trico, but it really did seem like its AI was improving, or at least understanding the commands better, as the creature itself got faster at responding and by the end of the game even mostly understood by itself where to go. What's really impressive is how second nature this becomes eventually, you don't even notice that you're waiting a few seconds every time Trico has to jump, and you figure out when Trico is in the process of doing something or waiting for a command. If Trico were just a big item like in something like Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (raise your hand if you're one of the 5 people that played that) the game wouldn't resonate nearly as much, for better or worse.
What isn't a point of contention, at least from where I'm standing, is how unpolished the game is. There's some framerate issues, some visual glitches, some really bizarre physics engine flubs, but what I really can't excuse is how bad the camera is. It generally does a good enough job as the game is pretty slow, but in platforming and generally more action-y sequences it has a really hard time tracking what's going on. Which can be made even worse by the fact that the game's collision detection isn't great, especially when it comes to recognizing ledges to grab. I died in perfectly normal platforming sequences more often than I'd like to mention because the boy just doesn't feel like grabbing onto a platform.
Despite all my reservations built up over years of word of mouth, I think The Last Guardian is a worthy sequel to ICO. I can't say everyone who liked ICO will enjoy TLG, as it's not nearly as immediate and requires a lot more time to soak it in, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants something a bit different out of their videogames. Now if you'll excuse me I have to wait for Trico to take a dump for the trophy
If you played Nioh, you'll be immediately familiar with how Nioh 2 works. Not meant as a negative, it just means that the game can focus on improving itself instead of trying to reinvent itself to prevent getting stale. The game thankfully knows what it's doing: it doesn't waste much time explaining things it doesn't need to explain, from the get go it gives pretty vital moves that the first game made you unlock, and in general it all feels a bit harder, and much tighter.
That's what Nioh 2 is, a game that knows where it's getting at and what it wants to do. It learns from the first Nioh, which was a game where it felt like the team was throwing a lot of stuff at the wall to see what stuck, and made it more focused on the good stuff (the combat) and makes it less reliant on the RPG/Diablo mechanics. Add actually decent level design, a new parry system that despite first impressions actually changes and adds a lot to the combat, and there isn't much more you could ask out of the game. Maybe more enemy types and better average boss quality? Well, this game has those too.
There's only so many ways I can say "Nioh 2 is great", so I'll just say it one last time: Nioh 2 is great. And probably the best action game of its generation, make of that what you will.
Believe it or not, there was a time where a game about rubber ducks floating on the water was a good enough idea for a game meant to showcase new hardware. Those times shall be missed by me and probably me only, but what I won't miss will be playing Super Rub a Dub.
Super Rub a Dub is an arcade-styled game where you're controlling a board which moves the rubber duck (like Super Monkey Ball, fairly popular game) in which the main objective is grabbing as many little ducks as possible and bringing them to the exit (like Flicky, not a very popular game). The game is structurally sound, there's enough variety in level types, creative enough combinations of obstacles and enemies, it even has a nice risk/reward system with trying to get every duck in a level netting the best time (and final rank).
It's all well and good, if it wasn't for its one fatal flaw: the game can only be controlled with motion controls, no option for the left stick. The controls work as well as they could with the sixasis (even though jumping could be more responsive), but just like with the Wii Super Monkey Ball games, its layout is inherently really uncomfortable to do anything precise with. This one thing pretty much killed all my desire to do anything with the game that wasn't just finishing every level, because while it's definitely possible to get used to it, it's hard justifying doing so when there's a better way to play the game at a thumb's reach. At least in that case I could go in a straight line without sweating profusely.
Would I recommend Super Rub a Dub? If you can get over the controls hurdle, probably. It's definitely a solid arcade game, and if nothing else it's also interesting in an "historic" sense, just don't dust off your PS3 for it, or you might break your wrists while trying to jump and land on a specific platform.
At the time of this writing, PS3's online store was about to get shut down, but after tons of complaints Sony surprisingly caved in, even though it most likely will get shut down anyway sooner rather than later. This made me think to check out (at least some of) the games that are only available on PS3, for personal curiosity and posterity's sake. That was my only real reason to check out Blast Factor, a PS3 launch game that is meant to show off the console's particle effects, the sixaxis motion controls, and the fact that you can now buy videogames digitally. Might seem obvious now, but in 2006 this was a fairly big deal.
Other than being a good showcase for all those things, Blast Factor is actually not half bad as a twin stick shooter either. Its obvious surface-level similarities to Geometry Wars (another launch game, that one on the Xbox 360 instead) will show immediately, but there's nothing wrong in taking something that works and tweaking it a bit. Blast Factor's two tricks are the sixaxis controls and the fact that the main method of destroying enemies aren't specifically your shots as much as the chain explosions that an enemy will create.
Getting it out of the way immediately, obviously the motion controls are very tacky and stick out really badly from the rest of the game. You can slow down time by shaking the controller, which is an action that can be useful but was more of a hindrance because of how sensitive the controls are, leading this action to be triggered by accident more often than not, and you can tilt the field by literally tilting the controller, which is the worst offender. Not only is it a complete pace breaker but there's literally only one enemy that this move will be useful against, which really makes it feel like Sony told the developers to add some motion-based actions at the last second. The mechanic of having to use enemies' blasts to create a chain reaction that can very quickly wipe out entire waves is, instead, pretty fun. It makes the game feel pretty different from most other twin stick shooters as it makes you prioritize enemies based on size and/or positioning, and in general it's a fun gameplay loop.
I wouldn't tell anybody to start up their PS3s and go on PSN specifically for Blast Factor, but next to other purchases this can be a pretty ok time-waster. It offers some extra content, it's pretty easy to just pick up and play, and for the price of $3, you could honestly do a lot worse nowadays. Shame that Bluepoint became just a port/remake company after this, because the foundation of Blast Factor is surprisingly solid.
The early-mid 2000s were a fascinating (and scary) time for arcade games. There was no real space for them anymore, as audiences almost universally saw them as dated and quaint compared to the longer, more complex games you could find on home consoles by then, so they had three options: re-releases through collections, trying their luck on the GBA, or the dreaded reboots. Space Raiders takes the latter, and has it even harder than most games of that time (Altered Beast, Final Fight Streetwise, Maximo, just to name a few) because there just isn't much to take from its original inspiration. Despite that, Space Raiders is actually more faithful to Space Invaders than it probably should've been.
The concept of taking Space Invaders and putting it in the context of controlling a human character who is shooting with their guns at aliens in (mostly) urban settings is really bizarre, but the actual gameplay is pretty much beefed up Space Invaders: you move only left or right, you dodge the enemies that are coming at you, you shoot them. There's some things that spice it up a bit, like having power-ups, bosses, and a somewhat interesting combo mechanic, but this is pretty much the game. It lasts about 90 minutes if even that, 99% of the story is thankfully just in the intro video, and the game does its job competently enough to be entertaining for as long as it lasts. Its original release in Japan as a Simple 2000 game (if you don't know what these are, please look them up, you'll discover a whole new world) explains its very barebones gameplay and content, but the game is so simplistic and barebones that there isn't much reason to go back to it once finished, if anything towards the end it actually feels like it's dragging, which is obviously not a good thing for a 90 minute long game.
Would I recommend Space Raiders? Kinda, I guess. If you're into arcade games this is inoffensive, but the main reason to check this one out would be for its bizarre existence alone. It's not as bad as a Bomberman Act Zero and it's not as pointless as a Prince of Persia 2008, so by the standards of videogame reboots this one might actually be in the better half of them, as sad as that is.
Chibi-Robo is a game about helping doing house chores, for about 30 minutes. It then becomes about solving marital problems, uncovering the mystery behind an ancient being, and staging a military assault on a pet dog, among many other things. Chibi-Robo is weird. But there's a method to its madness, which makes it very hard to describe.
In broad strokes, Chibi Robo has the structure of a life sim, where you'll want to talk to every NPC, seeing what they're up to, and then doing whatever activity they ask of you. These are all really varied and worth seeking out, as is every possible secret or oddity that is present in the game: Chibi Robo is a game that rewards exploration and experimentation, if something sounds doable, whether it's a possible use of a gadget or something that looks climbable, it's worth trying out because there's a decent chance that it might work. There's not a lot of games that manage this and it's an added asset to a game that starts in a pretty simplistic way but gradually gets more complex by giving content at a rapid enough pace to always give the player something to do, but never so much that it becomes overwhelming.
I could go more in depth with explaining what actually is in the game but I feel that the more I may say about it the more I might ruin, because the unpredictability of the various situations you'll be in will be a major draw for players after the game establishes all its mechanics and locations. Depending on how the individual sees it it might be a negative, since that means that Chibi Robo isn't really a game that expects to be replayed, but either way the less is known about the contents of Chibi Robo the stronger the reaction to it will be.
Chibi-Robo is a game that has "acquired taste" written all over it. There's no way around it: you either find the premise of the game very charming from the very beginning or you'll find the game to be a pretty boring, maybe even annoying experience. But if you are interested whatsoever, I'd absolutely recommend Chibi-Robo. It might not be the deepest game experience, but even 15+ years later there's nothing quite like it, and if you spend the time to get to know every NPC, you'll probably feel a bit melancholy when the credits eventually roll. By that point you'll presumably either move on or you'll hallucinate and get visions of stuffed toys dropping love letters around the house, I guess it depends.
I won a game because despite not getting any of the gems/stars, not being the one that won most of the minigames, I was the one that got the most rings. I'd be mad as fuck but I won so it's based
Mega Man 11 is (original) Mega Man's 12th game. It consists of 8 main levels which are capped off by bosses, which are followed by an extra 3 levels (ok, in this game it's actually 2), which are then capped off by a boss rush and a final boss fight which will go through two phases. Stop me if you've ever heard this before.
Mega Man 11 is in the awkward position of being the revival game for a series that already had two revival games that preceeded it, so it's understandable that they wouldn't go the same route as 9 and 10, but at the same time their decision to stick to formula this strictly makes everything really bland. The level design is fine, even though I notice that in this game levels last a bit too long, and the basics of Mega Man gameplay are still fairly fun, just like they were 30 or so years ago, but considering that the only curveball thrown into the mix is the Double Gear gimmick, which is kinda interesting in theory but broken at best and a non-factor at worst, it makes the game feel very by the numbers, which is never a positive feeling.
At the end of the day Mega Man 11 is a game for the diehard fans that stuck through the complete drought in content that the series has gone through for almost a decade, and they will be satisfied to see that Capcom hasn't (yet) screwed up anything about Mega Man gameplay, which means that ultimately it does its job. I just wish they aimed for slightly more than "passable game that will be completely forgotten about as soon as we announce/release the next Mega Man game", but beggars can't be choosers. I guess.
Valfaris is an indie game made in the years between 2015-2XXX that is a 2D action-platformer without being some sort of metroidvania and/or roguelike. And it's pretty solid, making it even more of a rarity.
The game feels kinda like a combination between Contra and Ninja Gaiden (NES), with the frantic pace, above average difficulty, and emphasis on constant forward movement. There's some tricks of its own that the game pulls, like an interesting checkpoint system that can be tied to your HP/ammo gauges, and a parry system which can be finicky to use at first. Every level is generally well designed and telegraphed to the player, and if the player pays attention they'll see tons of subtle good design choices, like putting a more complicated enemy that you haven't faced in a while in a neutral area to refresh your memory before throwing lots of them in an upcoming platforming section.
There are some sloppily designed segments, mainly around the end, and for every boss that is a hit there's also another one that is underwhelming and/or annoying, but what I think holds back this game from being really good or even great is the actual variety in the level design. It's all of decent quality and gets progressively harder, but after about the first half of the game you've seen basically every enemy type and every obstacle and every object and they're not really mixed or shaken up much. It's fun, but how many times can the game make me climb a wall or grab onto a flying enemy while turrets are shooting at me before I notice?
If you're looking for a modern game that tests skills that are very different from its contemporaries, or if you're just missing games like the ones I described earlier, you can't go wrong with Valfaris. It provides a few hours of solid, pattern memorizing, violent fun, and if you're new to the genre it might even make you want to play the great ones.
DOOM is a game that needs no introduction or explanation. Everyone knows what it is, everyone knows the legacy it left behind, and it's one of those games that everyone takes for granted. Between mods, sourceports, sequels, reboots, questionable DOOM games with the number 3 on their title, there's enough DOOM to last anybody a lifetime, to the point where I wonder how many people even played vanilla DOOM and how long ago most people did.
The good news is, on its own DOOM is still a really fun, well designed game. It's impressive how not only did id Software essentially invented a genre here (Wolfenstein 3D notwithstanding), but also how much they knew of the strength of their own mechanics. It's very rare that developers figure it out this quickly, usually there's sequels that iron out whichever issues pop up, but what you get here are three pretty good episodes containing still some of the greatest layouts in FPS history, and generally great examples of how to design FPS levels (hence the countless WADS, lots of them even better than what's on display here). They're varied, well paced, there's tons of little things to discover, and you probably won't even notice you've been playing the game for 3 hours in a row. Not every level is a hit, especially a couple of later ones where the game becomes less a shooter and more a game of guessing which transporter will bring you where, but even in these lesser levels the strength of the movement, shooting, and basic design principles still show through.
Obviously, DOOM should be played at least once by every shooter enthusiast. It may be a game that's been bested since, both in terms of gameplay depth and level design depth, but the core fundamentals are so sound here that it's easy to see how this little game spawned an IP, a whole genre of clones that will later on oversaturate the market, and maybe most importantly a passionate community of modders, designers and just people that are still playing this game almost 30 years later.
Death Stranding is a game that is hard to describe, not because of its complexity (of which there isn't much), but because of the sheer quantity of elements and ideas present. But if this game proves anything, it's that more can often be less.
While its main idea of traversing through the mostly empty open world in the most efficient way possible has potential, even if not terribly original, it's pretty much bogged down by everything around it. Not only are the physics really inconsistent and very easy to exploit, but the game itself does its best to undermine the walking the most it can by introducing all sorts of ways to not actually engage with the game on that level: vehicles, ziplines, fast travel, you name it, the game eventually becomes more about parsing through boring menus than having a better understanding of the layout or the game mechanics. There's also some action segments which are both really out of place and really basic, and not even worth mentioning outside of what I just said.
As with every Kojima game, Death Stranding also contains a ton of story to it, mostly told through endless cutscenes. Your mileage may vary on his writing as always, but what I will say is that I don't think having such a convoluted and character-centric story added much to the game, but if anything detracted from it. The last few hours especially really drag, with the game mostly tying loose ends of events that already occurred and that you might or might not even be interested in, depending on how long ago you went through them and how invested you were to begin with.
Death Stranding is a man's unfiltered, complete vision, and while it might look like a mess to me, I'm sure it made a lot of sense to him. And that's the reason why, despite not thinking much of most of it, I'm glad I played it to completion: it's almost unheard of to see a modern AAA game that has an identity and sticks to it, regardless of how controversial or unpopular it may be. It's probably more of a statement of how dire things are creatively in the game industry, but I ultimately found Death Stranding to be a mildly interesting game. Whether "mildly interesting" is worth going through 35 hours of a game that takes way too long to start and end in the first place will be up to the individual.
Dex is a european styled RPG through and through, only in 2D. All the hallmarks are there: emphasis on exploration, starting up very weak and becoming an unstoppable god at the end, very questionable moment to moment gameplay, all the elements that should be very familiar to you if you ever played games such as Gothic or Two Worlds or any european action-RPG from the 2000s.
Good news is, the game does a fairly good job at what it needed to do right, namely exploration (and reasons to explore) and character building. The game gives plenty of varied ways to improve yourself, while also having to make decisions on what you want to improve on as some sacrifices will have to be made, and it all feels nice when you're at a level where you're comfortable buying whatever you want and punching whoever you feel like. Side quests and the layout of the city are good too, it's big enough to feel plausible but not so big that you can't remember its layout (and the game will ask you to remember where things are from time to time), and the side quests are all varied and interesting enough to stand out from one another, not having many of them in the first place probably helped with making them more fleshed out.
The bad is, there's no going around it, the action gameplay. It's fairly inoffensive with enough health items and using stealth in the first few hours, but at its best it's very basic. At its worst you won't be able to even see the enemies being able to see you and you'll have to engage in such a boring game of taking two pokes and then guarding that even the guys at From Software would say that it's a little excessive. Leveling up and getting implants does make combat easier, almost to the point of just needing to mash the attack button, but it's not really a positive when the game playing itself is preferable over having to interact with its combat.
I would recommend Dex. It's a game that will definitely be an acquired taste, but if you're into smaller games, cyberpunk, and/or european rpgs, there's a pretty solid, likeable game here, despite or maybe also because of its very small budget.
Klonoa is a game that maybe not everyone has played, but everyone has certainly heard of, and it might be hard to see why at first.
The gameplay premise of this 2D platformer is actually very simple: you pick up enemies and you either throw them in various directions (and dimensions) and/or double jump with them. Outside of this move and jumping there isn't much going on, but if Klonoa proves anything is that platformers are mostly made on their level design rather than base moveset.
Klonoa is a game that makes everything of its pretty short length (12 levels in total): every level has some sort of theme, whether it impacts the gameplay or just the visuals, to make them distinct from one another, without ever moving away from the core mechanics, but in fact gradually asking more and more out of the player. Not having any sort of gimmick stage is pretty impressive for a 1997 platformer, coming from an era where everybody was doing something gimmicky for variety (padding)'s sake, which shows how confident the developers were in their core gameplay.
The main and only real problem with the game is that it feels like it could've done a lot more. For about half the game it feels like the training wheels are still on, which is a shame because the last 4 levels or so really show how fun Klonoa can be with more complex enemies, layouts and puzzles. You'll be surprised at how much leverage the designers get out of such a simple idea.
Despite that, playing Klonoa is definitely a pleasant experience. It's nothing necessarily groundbreaking (nor do I think it wanted to be), but the combination of the well utilized main mechanic and weird dream-like atmosphere will definitely make an impression. And if that doesn't, the really bizarre ending might.
WWF Betrayal is a WWE themed beat em up on the Game Boy Color developed by WayForward, currently of Shantae fame. This is such a random combination of names and things that it sounds made up by an AI, so I kinda had to play it. Sadly the description is about the most interesting thing about it.
Not that there's anything wrong with it as a game, it's a pretty simple beat em-up where you mash A to punch and B to kick, double tap the d-pad to run, all things you're probably somewhat familiar with. The issue is that there's really nothing more to it than that.
There's some WWF/E flavor to it of course, but I really thought they should've had more of it. If you replaced the WWF playable guys with generic playable characters and Vince McMahon with a generic villain not much would be different, as the most common sights of this game will be Steve Austin punching random fat guys dressed as Luigi and Undertaker getting the timing of the gas coming out of pipes just right so that he can pass through.
What WWF Betrayal seems to be is a quick cash grab for developer WayForward while banking on a property that was very relevant at the time. While there's nothing wrong with that, it gives this game very little reason to be played by anybody that isn't such an insane wrestling fan that they will even play a mediocre Game Boy Color beat em up that offers pretty much no replayability. It's a shame, because a wrestling-themed beat em up sounds like a really fun idea.