I'm goin 2 kick the shit out of max difficulty flattering shape

Growing up as a purely Nintendo kid sometime in the early 2010’s is honestly one of the more awkward phases of my life to reflect back on. Especially back in the launch era of something like the 3DS where you didn’t have much to mess around with, wouldn’t it make you wish you had almost anything to go to? Not to brush over my time with the Wii U as it’s still as strange of a time as the early 3DS, but the Wii U isn’t as relevant as the 3DS in this sort of retrospective I’m having here so I’ll focus primarily on what gets me to the experience I know of now. In a time without much first-party output to consider, a newly launched eShop with potentially a whole treasure trove of third-party and indie titles to await you would likely be your next best bet. Hell, not even considering the re-releases of DSiWare titles you could get into, there could be some new downloadable game out there that could make some cool looking use of your glasses free 3D screen! One game of this like in particular known as Mutant Mudds was so well known for these circumstances that it has transcended the boundary of the 3D gimmick over time and made it’s mark on numerous other systems. It sure caught my attention when I was a lot younger, but… I never actually ended up trying it. Sure, I had interest in it, but I used my occasional eShop funds on games like EDGE instead. I always kept wondering what all the fuss with this game was about for years on end, but only occasionally I suppose. That was until somewhere around about a year and a half ago (as of writing this), I wanted to play something on a whim as I usually do so finally caved into my passing interest in the original Mutant Mudds.

What followed was… unfortunately one of the more unpleasant surprises I had gone through in recent times. A thin veil of odd memories had vanished and revealed nothing more than a vapid and exhausting husk that only had this sort of leverage because it came out in the right place at the right time. Sorry if I’m being intensively uncharitable towards it, but I’m being honest when I say that I had expected some cute and neat little romp like everyone I had heard say it was. I’m familiar with a bunch of “cute and fun little romps” and I know one when I play one and Mutant Mudds had dropped the ball on everything I was hoping for. Every minute passing while I was playing I kept getting more and more upset, stagnated in discomfort all throughout my trudging, and I had only come out of it being cemented as one of my most reviled experiences in video games as a whole. Even afterward, I couldn’t help but make my hate for this game be known on some occasions. Some people who know me in certain places may recognize the times where I did this, even. I was around this site at the time of this happening and made my own review of it here in the initial moment of my anger, coined by my old and uninspired writing style. I can’t exactly look back fondly on it with how clunky all of my writing was back then, but it’s there regardless.

But enough of all this self depreciation over old writing tendencies, and enough of all this talk about the original Mutant Mudds! That game was only the FIRST half of this saga! You see, several years after it’s initial and acclaimed launch, Mutant Mudds ended up getting a sequel. A sequel in the form of a title known as SUPER CHALLENGE. It boasts about this new title as it now has a whole bunch of NEW LEVELS to blast through! It has the new addition of BOSS FIGHTS to beat down! But most importantly, it’s called SUPER CHALLENGE for a reason, cause this stuff is MADE to be HARD! Casual players beware! This stuff’s only for the REAL hardened players! EACH and EVERY new level in this game is made from the ground up to TEST you to your CORE! You will DIE and DIE again as this game puts you THROUGH THE WRINGER with our TOUGH AS HELL CHALLENGES! Think you’re up to the task, PUNK?

Well, I wanted to be. All jokes and exaggerations aside, I actually went into Super Challenge hoping to find something of worth to come out with, despite all of my expectations yelling at me that I wasn’t going to get anything of the sort. But unfortunately my expectations were right, as this one ended up discomforting and upsetting me to the exact same degree that the first game did, all due to one extremely fatal issue I have with it.

It’s still just Mutant Mudds.

I probably should’ve just accepted that I was never going to enjoy more Mutant Mudds in the first place. Max never felt good to control, he was always sluggish as hell and felt disgustingly stiff with every possible maneuver. The jumping and air control never felt good either, with it all just relying on the jetpack (that is also stiff as hell) to do a lot of the work for no good reason. Enemy control was always frustrating to deal with, as you can only aim in 2 directions and have little to no options other than to deal with everything from a distance one at a time. Obstacles were always frustrating as none of them felt set up well together and often just resulted in an instant death if the cycles were wrong. I have so many complaints like these that all add up into one big reason as to why Mutant Mudds is one of my least favorite games ever made. They’re all simple to list down and take not much thought at all to because that’s all that this game has. It’s always just been simply awful in my eyes, and that probably wasn’t going to change no matter what I did. Hell, I was going into this hoping that something would change. I was generous enough to give this some sincere consideration, but no. I should’ve accepted that no amount of curated level design would have ever changed this.

But then, as I ventured into Super Challenge, my worst nightmare slowly ended up coming to fruition. Accepting all of that wouldn’t have even mattered at all. The problem with it all being the same doesn’t just extend to the mechanics themselves, oh no no no. EVERYTHING here is the same to a whole worse degree. There is no curated level design here. All of it’s tendencies from the first game are all completely intact. Everything that colluded together to make everything so rancid and nonfunctional with each other is all back, and this time it’s amped up to a frankly sickening degree. I can go over more complaints that I didn't mention earlier here that can fit as they fit in with the problem with the level designs. The huge thing with it placing enemies together in a way that makes the most optimal way forward to painstakingly clear the way forward through as much as you can each bit at a time, every single time. Enemies placed in ways that enforces the insufferable uncoordinated cycle hell you go through all the time. Obstacles placed together in a way that never properly sync or coordinate in ways that feel fair or engaging. I feel like I could repeat on and on about the enemies or the cycles with how much they never feel like thought was put into them. In fact, nothing about this level design feels like enough thought was put into it at all or ever mixes well and always feels like how it actually plays was never considered. The more I try to go on about what in this bothers me the more I lose hope that I can properly elaborate or give a well thought out write up on this. Hell, why not just show you a scenario like this? Or this? Because I’m so completely inept at writing that a simple screenshot like one of these can just explain to you how every single problem in this level design boils down to without even a single word needing to be said! Why even bother?! All it even did this time around was just double down on every single thing that didn’t work! Why did I even bother with Mutant Mudds at all?!

Sorry, I need to calm down.

I need to stop dwelling too hard on things like these. I can’t help but think lesser of me when I see someone on here write something super extensive and thought out. It’s part of the reason why I’ve tried to sever myself off of my old clunky writing from my older reviews, like my earlier example of the one I gave out for the first game, in exchange for becoming as extensive and articulate as I can in a chance to become like those highly lauded around here. I just can’t help but only think of a few things like these to list out as to why I think Mutant Mudds is so bad, but perhaps that’s emblematic of it’s failures. I did try my best to see what people saw in this series, to even giving Super Challenge a genuine effort despite hating the first one. Someone else could come by and explain why Mutant Mudds as a whole fails at everything it sets out to do better than I could, but it can’t exactly change the effort I put in, so maybe I tried hard enough. It’s about time I threw in the towel here anyway, I’ve seen about enough.

But as a final sort of thing I want to go on about, I’m not opposed to having abrasive design, hell I’m even all for it in a lot of cases. It’s why I find myself enjoying a bunch of super tough pinpoint precision platformers in recent times. But the way this was handled is in several ways, simply appalling. It’s a complete bastardization of the concept of invigorating challenge that I’ve grown to love that all comes together into a product that I can only describe as the precision platformer being reduced down to it’s most graceless form, and it’s honestly quite a disgusting sight to see.

Do you know personally as to what you would like to get out of a game? Perhaps you have a set list of expectations to have when diving into something for the first time? I’m not too unfamiliar with wondering about the concept. I’ve seen myself dive around all types of games throughout the years so I’m not too capable of setting down any concrete list of games that I gravitate towards. Operating solely on a strange vibe that my mind conjures up is likely a particularly odd way to go about things, but who knows? Maybe others feel a similar strange interest in all sorts of odd little things that they hear about. I know it’s helped shape what I enjoy playing, but I digress. I’ve been meaning to think about platformers in a way like this as it’s been the genre that I’ve been around for the longest time. They could feel like my only real response for when I want to have any concrete answer as to games I enjoy since I, well, really enjoy platformers! Maybe all of my memories with them come in to assist but I know as to what I may like to have in a platformer. Roaming around worlds, maneuvering yourself with jumps, I can just imagine it all in my head. Whether in 2D or 3D, sweet or spicy, it’s a taste I can think of easily. Hell, my expectations may just indirectly shape what I enjoy seeing in games as a whole. I know many platformers have untold amounts of different quirky and colorful stylizations to them, and I know I like seeing wild stuff like that. It may be easy to connect the dots towards what you like to see and what you like to play by keeping knowledge on what you’re familiar with.

A game like Tinykin is something I can hear about and gain interest in with my fairly oddball sense of taste. “Hmm, this game’s a pretty cutely designed 3D platformer that just came out recently, seems up my alley.” Rather simple train of thought, I know. Maybe it’s better to just indulge in what you want to try out, though. I wanted to see what this had to offer, so what could I look forward to with it? I’m not quite sure what to say, really. With all of my silly preamble just to go out on a whim; it’s rather nice! You’re just kind of a tiny guy going around a tiny world with a whole army of tinier guys. A creative concept of creative environments makes for one nice take on a collect-a-thon. I may have looked into this with a different view, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. Not everything has to be in a sort of concrete mold. Perhaps you can just have a leisurely story about a sprawling world made out of household objects. A laid-back little adventure like this can be great too! Hell, after playing several intense precision-based games last month, it can good to treat myself to a quick burst of itsy-bitsy exploration without any weight on my shoulders. It’s good to appreciate the little things, you know?

Some people, however, may have bigger expectations. I’m familiar with the like that are more critical on what they envision in a game, and some of theirs may come up short. For being a fairly recent (as of writing this) 3D collect-a-thon platformer, there isn’t much care put into not falling into pitfalls the genre can stumble into. There’s all sorts of collectables strewn about every stage, in every nook and cranny you see. The expectation of intricate exploration is rather inherently strict, for even with my instinct to fully complete everything I could still see myself entering the annoying cycle of combing through the entire stage all over again for the last few bits of pollen or tinykin eggs I may have missed. It’s a frustration I’ve voiced with games like Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2, and even if the format is more forgiving here it’s still a misstep nonetheless. Not to mention the narrative premise of the tiny world you’re in being stuck together in a noticeably tacky fashion. A whole society of insects making whole modern-like worlds out of everyday objects is one of the biggest creative shines this game has to offer, but the glue of it’s conflicts around a resident they believe to be a god is not composed with a suitable amount of tact. (the fourth world, Lands of Ambrose, is particularly bad with this)

I’d still say I had my fun though. I wasn’t let down by what I wanted to see here, but I could see if someone would see otherwise. Some folks may just be looking for something bigger, but if you just want that occasional sweet little snack then you’ll do well like I did.

I swear to god there was a version of the finding Pilchard minigame where there was a house on a black background and the damn cat never visually appeared so you had to find her based on sound

My dumbass child self ended up getting the computer locked up on that minigame because there was no other way out of it so it HAS to be some sort of thing exclusive to the PC version, don't listen to Jenny she's trying to drag me for this like it's something that happened recently even though she lost to Travis

Love is in the air?

So, last night on impulse I felt the need to vent about some cruel and unusual joke this game pulled on me in my dumb little achievement hunting activities like the dumb little completionist I am. Never could my hubris have conceived what was in store for me upon me deciding that Winventory, the achievement you get for getting the Wrong Answer of the Game prize for all 50 different episodes of You Don't Know Jack 2015, should be saved for my last achievement as a sort of thematic fit for it exactly when I had all but one of them. I needed someone else to help me with the other two I couldn't get due to their high player requirements anyways, so what harm could a little break do? Quite a lot, actually, as once I came back with someone to assist me with what I needed, I noticed the game's settings have returned to their defaults and upon further inspection, saw to my abject horror that all of my save data with my progress over the past numerous hours I spent grinding further towards had vanished without a trace. All completely gone.

In my distress, I tried everything I could see to try and get my data back, but to no avail. The (assumedly) 10+ hours I spent wading through each episode to unlock their prize and the episode after it were all wasted. The only option for me at that point was to just buckle up and do the grind all over again. And so I did. I spent another 10+ hours getting back to where I was before, and this time I didn't hesitate getting that last one. (I had already gotten those other 2 by then so I had nothing holding me back from having it as my last achievement this time, thankfully) What was rightfully mine was finally relented to me, at the cost of... pretty much all of my patience for that night. What a sick joke. Makes me go through a second round just because I got picky with my obtainment ordering. I've practically never seen a game be this unintentionally malicious before.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my funny little story here. I just really needed to put it out there since it was just the most absurd shit of all time. Oh, uh, also... if I should say something about the actual game itself, it would be that Lie Swatter and Word Spud are the most hilariously nothing games ever and the rest are just kinda fine, I guess. The sequels have much more entertaining and interesting games so you're much better off with those.

A notable part of gaming that has faded out over time is all of the strange mascot platformers that came along during the 5th to 7th console generations. I won’t lie, I think they’re all kinda endearing to think about, despite how rough around the edges they might be. But I haven’t really been able to experience these really, so I’ve frequently been curious as to what they’re like. I mean, I really enjoy platformers, so why not give one of these a shot? I’ve had this one in my Steam library for a while since I got it for free when they were giving it out. It’s actually really nice to look back upon its circumstances as there was a great amount of dedication into making this easily available to those that just want to experience it. There were many people clamoring for his return once, and what was the most popular Kao game was re-released for them to show gratitude. It’s now regularly available for super cheap too, so you can get your hands on it without much trouble at all. Your efforts for preservation are nice, I admire that!

However, in hindsight I may have ended up setting my expectations for something like this a tad too high. I dunno, maybe it’s just me having played other, more notable 3D platformers before and getting used to them but I’ve set up a sort of subconscious feel as to how a 3D platformer is supposed to feel like. It’s this baseline that my mind pieces together on how I roam around and whatnot, and as such I end up surprised when the game turns out to be alot clunkier than I envisioned it to be. Oh, this old failed mascot platformer isn’t really that mechanically solid? Well... oops. Should’ve seen that one coming. I’d like to not let my more excessively optimistic expectations entirely bog down my view, so I’d like to acknowledge why I wasn’t tastefully entertained by this kangaroo’s shenanigans.

The subpar control is most notably to blame though, honestly. I probably would’ve been more tolerable of this had it been more rigid, but as it stands it’s just really uncomfortably stiff. It’s one of my least favorite types of bad control, when the overall clunkiness slows everything down to a crawl. It makes everything awkward to traverse over and around, and even deals collateral damage to the games pacing at times. I know I ended up noticing a tiring pace impact, especially when going around for all of the collectibles—but I’ll get to that a bit later. Though I can say now that any of the other gimmicks you take control of are also damaged thanks to that lovely clunkiness. None of them are really that notably different with how their feel is off, except for the basic swimming controls which I wanted to give a special shout out to solely because it decides to be uncomfortably slippery instead. Makes actually aiming at where you want to shoot at or even where you want to go a real pain. Good to know that I should play games like these to understand the early 2000s gamer’s distrust in water levels.

But also now that I’d like to go into the nitty gritty of the collect-a-thon shortcomings, I’m just immediately gonna come out and ask, could there have been at least a little more consistency with these things? A grand majority of them are just lying around in front of you on your linear path to the end, and others are more out of the way in different sorts of alcoves on those paths, which I’m fine with, really. But then I start having problems when the game goes and pulls the occasional dick move of having hyper specific locations for these things. Like, I think to myself on occasion, “Am I dumb or something? I’m missing like 25 stars, 10 crystals, and 5 stars on this stage. I’m pretty sure I skimmed through every area I could roam around in. What did I not see?” Then I go and look up the answer on where the collectables that are left are missing and it’s almost always some ladder placed specifically where it’ll blend in with the wall it’s on. (These ladders are ONLY EVER USED to reach these special collectable dump locations, even) Then there’s that one time where you have to blast a grate with a torpedo and it’s the only grate the torpedo will work on. Like, what the fuck?? No, I’m gonna call you out on that one! What the actual hell was that?! I just felt completely done with this game after, like, the fourth time it pulled something like this.

I haven’t even mentioned all the wasted potential lying around with the collectables either. You’re literally playing these levels mainly to get the 3,000 coins required to enter the final stretch, but I recall that I didn’t even have enough by the time I reached the last stage before then, and that’s the 2nd stage that just gives you 1,000 coins by clearing it. The most obvious idea you could’ve used here would be that if you diligently collected over the course of the game, you could’ve entered the final stretch early and skipped a portion of the game. But no, all you really can do is just collect at least 1,000 individual coins in the levels up until that point since there’s no real chance at a sequence break reward here. At that point it would be more interesting to see if it’s possible for you to skip enough coins to not get in at the point you’re intended to. There’s also the crystals and stars that are lumped in alongside the coins for some reason. The crystals mainly just amount to extra completion fodder unless you somehow care about the worthless minigames they unlock. At least the stars are actually more interesting since they unlock beneficial, powered up moves for you with every 50 of them you get, which is honestly nice to see.

But oh boy since I’m a sucker for completion I got reminded of some dumb completion bullshit I sent through!! Yeah, getting all the collectables wasn’t enough, I’ve gotta do 3 particular bosses without getting hit since I’m playing the new PC release. Most notably the final boss against the Hunter is what I’ve got my mind on. OOOOUUGH this boss. I’d like to let you know that this boss caused me some intense agony trying to beat it damageless. Don’t you just love it when a game has a perfect run challenge and doesn’t give you any sort of quick restart button? I sure do love that! Don’t you LOVE how the boss you’re fighting has attacks so broken that you can literally take random damage to absolutely fucking nothing at all? If you ever want to try this yourself, please just save yourself the headaches and abuse the sidestep on the final phase. It’s significantly easier than trying to keep him in a stunlock that he almost always breaks out of. (Thanks for the stunlock advice, lousy ass steam guides... You’re the same ones that told me that none of the collectables in this game were hidden well at all yet proceeded to never warn me about that one stray coin in the Abandoned Town stage. I’m gonna have trust issues thanks to you) Alright, this episode of XenonNV Complains About Specific Achievements is over, thank you for watching and be sure to tune in for next time.

But yeah, at the end of the day, I guess I’m real disappointed somehow. I dunno, I was expecting something rather mediocre from this—but also something kinda neat as well. What I ended up with was something unpleasantly mediocre at best, and just ended up draining out all of the goodwill it had left by the end. I admire the dedication behind it I suppose, but it’s just not enough for me to say it was a worthwhile experience, sorry to say.

So… Fall Guys is basically a free game now, I guess. (Well, I’m currently writing this the same day it went free-to-play, so I should probably clarify that in case someone out there decides to read this anytime in the future) It’s been such an extremely long time since I’ve last played. I went and checked real quick and it was essentially back all the way in 2020, or the ending quarter of 2020 to be more specific. Since I’m practically half a year away from having not played Fall Guys for two whole years, I began to think about my time with it as a whole. Well, this whole shift to the free-to-play model has caused me to put my long gone experiences with it into retrospect, really. Multiple seasons of new exclusive stuff had came and went and I never paid attention to any of it. I never went back to try to earn cosmetics, play in new events, try and get whatever achievements that I didn’t get since then, I never had the idea or even the drive to try any of that at all. Clearly something about it put me off to the point where I ditched it and never looked back. I doubt I’ll ever be keen on playing it again anytime in the future, so I just wanted to say something about it just to get whatever it is that bothered me off of my chest.

I didn’t even really notice my issues with the game back when I started playing it, strangely enough. It was just a simple thing to me for some time back then. I started playing around the whole time it took off in popularity. Most people probably remember that era, right? The turbulent tale of when Fall Guys had a brief moment in the spotlight is likely one of the most notable events in gaming during the very perilous first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Being one of the handful of games that sort of united us in a brief spree of joy during the upsetting year of 2020. The sort of competition it had with Among Us around that time was rather cute in a way with both of their quirky stylizations and quick rises to fame. However, knowing the intense memetic influence Among Us has to this day should give you a good idea of who won out in that. It’s still a tad strange to think on how Among Us is essentially the game that had indirectly taken Fall Guys’ fame from it but it sort of makes sense considering each game fundamentally. One of the main complaints about Fall Guys was that it had very little to it for very long stretches of time. Among Us never really had this as a major complaint though, even with it also having a quaint amount to its name as well, likely due to Among Us working in a much more erratic way. Extensively playing Fall Guys would be much more likely to give you fatigue on the game in comparison, and it seems like I definitely found that out when I was playing back then. My main influence for playing Fall Guys in the first place was to play with a couple of my friends, and since I really didn’t wanna miss out on being with them, I ended up buying the game at full price. It was an impulse decision that I still rather regret to this day, as it never really paid off as we never played together that often with how quickly we fell out of it. Granted, I played it for quite a lot more than they did but my decision to do so wasn’t entirely out of attachment to the game, and more than likely caused me to grow bitter with it in the end.

But first, in regards to the model shift—no, the whole Epic Games Store exclusivity thing that happened with it along with the new free-to-play model is not where all of my issues come from. Sure, it is something that I take issue with in general as I think it’s an extremely aggressive and unnecessary marketing strategy, but I guess it doesn’t even affect me in particular since I still own it on Steam. (Well I need an Epic Games account to even play the damn thing now for some reason but eh I said earlier that I’m not interested in picking it up again so I guess it still doesn’t affect me lol) My issues with Fall Guys as a whole stem more from fundamental parts about the game. Like, it’s mechanics and gameplay and all that. I think I’d rather go on about that a bit later since I’m more on the topic of the whole free-to-play aspect and how it affected Fall Guys because… honestly? I find the changes kind of dire, in a sense? This is more of me going on about the new changes so pardon me if I get something wrong about these here. For the first thing I’m wondering about, did they just… remove the crowns currency as a whole? Apparently every crown you had before the model shifting was converted into kudos, the main currency, which are more difficult to obtain now, even. The crowns just seem to just be apart of crown ranks now, from what I read. In the place of crowns is a new currency obtainable by paying real money or through progression in the season pass. It might be a me thing but I personally find it really lame that they removed an integral currency of the game that made your victories and progression worthwhile with all of the rare collectable cosmetics that you can obtain with them. Now all of the rare and legendary tier cosmetics have been locked behind this new mostly-paid currency which I just find really lame from a progression standpoint, but it also gives me a sick feeling thinking about a whole paid currency type of thing as a whole.

But enough of my gripes with the new free-to-play model shenanigans, that’s not where my distaste towards Fall Guys stems from anyways. I really want to talk about how the game plays as a whole and why it’s always rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve called it this several times before in more secluded chatting areas but I think referring to it as some sort of “struggling simulator” is the best way to get across what I mean about it all. I get it’s supposed to try to emulate a wacky game show type of feel but extending your idea to the games own physics was a questionable extent to take the dedication, to say the least. Sure it may be entertaining to watch some streamer fool around in attempts to come out on top and subsequently have their bean man eat shit to some sort of obstacle but being on the receiving end of these struggles is a completely different story. The obscenely sluggish movement combined with any sort of impact with something sending you into a completely helpless ragdoll stun-mode makes episodes a complete chore to sit through, not to mention all of the waiting in between episodes and even individual rounds. But all of this doesn’t sound so bad if you’re just playing it regularly and not expecting the best kind of results each time, right? That’s kind of a thing with battle royale-type games, they’re very spontaneous with how results come out, aren’t they? However, there was one thing in Fall Guys that I wanted to get that completely went against a casual sort of mindset, and upset me to the point of eventually realizing all of this that I disliked here in the first place.

You see, I’ve always been some sort of a nut for achievements and the like. I’ve always enjoyed being a completionist because I liked doing everything a game had to offer, you know. Achievements always gave me a sort of baseline definition for 100% completion for each game that had them. Most of what the developers have to offer and want you to do has an achievement system in place for certain platforms to signify progression status, along with all of the optional stuff like sidequests or extra challenges. I particularly enjoy extra challenges that games want to test me for, but there was one here that went so completely against how the game worked that I just had some sort of revelation about what’s so wrong with it fundamentally and why it’s so draining to play to an extensive degree—Infallible.
The goal of the Infallible achievement is simple on paper yet absolutely absurd on execution; win five episodes in a row. If you’ve ever played Fall Guys before, you should get a good idea of how awful this is. Combined with the many sorts of physics frustrations, the randomness of outcomes with this type of game are increased to an absurd degree. The frequency of the kinds of situations you can encounter that are completely out of your control is absolutely insulting. Team games as a whole are a good example due to a necessity for others to properly cooperate. Hunt games are another example due to the ping of other players not being considered and having very notable luck for objective spawns. But the prime example of a fundamental part of the game that is completely out of your control is one of the main mechanics of your limiting moveset: the grab. If someone takes ahold of you with the grab, you’re completely latched to them and have all of your movement options severely crippled. You can get out of it, but when you do you’re sent flying off in the direction the other player grabbed you from and are put into that same irritating ragdoll stun for a brief period of time. It may not be a long effect, but it can be enough to set you back and even completely screw you over in active situations, and literally any player can do it to one another on a whim. The grab move as a whole is the prime precedent for how huge the issue of player interference is in Fall Guys and how the Infallible achievement completely goes against what the game is trying to be. Sure, there have been easier methods of toughing this achievement out that were implemented later on like getting a squad together to increase your chances of winning episodes, or particularly cheesable episode types like Sweet Thieves, but the utterly dire experience put onto me while attempting it back in seasons 1 and 2 completely killed any and all desire to keep playing as a whole. I’m not underestimating when I say that the Infallible achievement in particular made me find out about everything wrong with Fall Guys.

It’s just disappointing the more that I think about it, really. The concept of a battle royale based on triumphing in an assortment of Mario Party-like minigames was such a cool take on the genre. Everything about it’s concept in general even, the game show like style with the round elimination format and the brilliantly adrenaline rushing original final round theme, there just wasn’t anything else quite like it. I wanted to make special note of the original final round theme—Final Fall—because it’s still honestly one of the most brilliant tracks I’ve ever heard in a game, it’s composed in such a special way that combines the silly nature of Fall Guys with the climactic finality of the ending rounds that gives the feeling of having triumphed over countless others and are just inches away from victory in a heart-pounding rush against the other players you’re pitted up against. None of the other final round themes I’ve heard can even possibly compare, honestly. I really just wish this game was more fundamentally rigid, but I guess that would kind of ruin what Fall Guys is as a whole? Well, Infallible already did just that anyways, so… what's really the point then?

Also I held back on talking about the dumb social media management because I honestly couldn’t even care at all regardless of how “cringeworthy” people say it is, but I just wanted to say one thing about it in particular and that is that WHY DID THEY NAME THE SEASON TWO SWINGY THINGY THICC BONKUS WHEN MINCE MEATUS WAS RIGHT THERE. IT WAS IN THE POLL AND EVERYTHING! IT WOULD’VE FIT THE THING PERFECTLY WITH THE DUMB NAMING SCHEME THEY WERE GOING WITH THEN, EVEN. IT FIT THE MEDIEVAL THEME THAT SEASON HAD AND IT WAS, LIKE, COVERED IN SPIKES. MINCE MEATUS WAS THE PERFECT NAME I TELL YOU, BUT NO. THICC MOTHERFUCKING BONKUS.

I don’t know why I’m still annoyed about the results of a dumb meme poll for an obstacle name to this day. I need to go rest, probably.

Have you ever looked back into your past and felt that sometimes you've felt some sort of mystic wonder towards the strangest things? Even towards things that may well have just never in any way deserved that honor in the first place? Yeah, it's kind of a silly and mostly embarrassing feeling coming back to this for me. It's mostly because of a video on it I watched when I was a whole lot younger, but for a good while this was a game that I held in some sort of strange regard. Well, I've held that feeling for quite some time until one of my friends came along during their interest in all sorts of games from the 16-bit generation, and came out of with with an experience that caused them tout this as one of the worst games they've ever played. Gotta say, that rude awakening their words brought almost instantly shifted my feelings on this into morbid curiosity. I mean, I've never even seen a single episode of The Simpsons before. Why did this give me a sense of wonder anyways? Just what the actual hell was this game that I took an interest towards as a child?

The only real way to find out was to actually play the damn thing, I guess. And I'm pretty lucky to have kept my knowledge on this game from watching that fabled video so long ago, because if you don't have any sort of knowledge on what to do or any guide to go by then boy oh boy you are in for one HELL of a nightmare, as the title itself promises you. Immediately upon starting, you're cast into the game's main "hub" sort of area; the street stage. No indications, no instructions, out into the deep end with you to figure out just what the hell to do and what the hell is going on before you get killed by everything going on all at once. You better get used to this place, too, as you're going to be here very often, and for a long while. The main thing you're supposed to do here is search out for one of the pages you've lost. Jumping onto one of them will send you into one of the many assortments of frustratingly designed minigames you need to complete in order to retrieve the page from them, and in turn, progress through the game. The real kicker about this is that there isn't any sort of interval as to where or when they show up, and it's basically all up to luck as to when the game will relent and let you forward. You could spend numerous minutes just wandering about in the street stage doing fuck all because the game doesn't seem keen on letting you into another minigame even if you've been struggling here for like 20 goddamn minutes. Plus, you have a complete mess of things going on that you have to attempt to avoid in your desperation as well, and good luck with that with a stiff control scheme like this. Your main life source (the Z's at the top of the screen) in the minigames is, for some reason, your health here. Depending on how spiteful the game is feeling at the moment, your Z's could end up getting very easily whittled away through how much you have to endure. The weird spinning heads rapidly spawn and can very easily swarm you and prevent means over or around them. You could get caught by a fairy Lisa or a puddle of mud and be left incredibly vulnerable. The bus could run you down as you're trying to maneuver to the other side of the street. Hell, a whole TROVE of things can be obscured by the trees in the foreground, essentially periodically blinding you if you're on the lower side. I'm trying to get the the next minigame, goddammit! Why do I have to deal with all of this?! I could even try to replenish my Z's by using my bubblegum to send them towards my bar, but ooooh watch out! You gotta do that in the middle of the screen, or else the extra Z you just got that you used a scarce item on will just flat out miss the Z bar and go past. Literally everything just hates you here, I suppose.

Don't get your hopes up if you reach one of the minigames, though. The main events of the game are all really terrible in their own ways. You only get a choice between two of them, I guess, so pick your poison when you get the chance. The purple door is definitely the most tolerable one, since it's the easiest. You're swimming around in a sort of microscopic area and getting rid of amoeba-like creatures as you try to run into some atom person several times. I believe the only real threat here is the guys who throw the grenades so there isn't much to worry about.

The blue door however, is where the minigames I talk about start to shift into uncomfortable and unfair territory. Here you're flying around some very hostile skies armed with only a slingshot. Your slow movement and the fact that you can only shoot forwards should send you some bad signs already. Whole assaults of missiles and paper airplanes show the issues with your control scheme as you could just be unable to shoot anything out of the way or even avoid them. This is a whole lot more apparent on the bosses though, as they frequently move out of your range and send out projectiles that you can't feasibly avoid due to how damn slow you are. Special mention to the blimp boss due to their projectiles being nigh impossible to dodge and deal damage equal to HALF OF YOUR HEALTH. And it's very fun how that's the only boss that appears TWICE. Really appreciate having the boss that can quickly melt through your lives be the only once with multiple encounters. This minigame could've had potential if your movement wasn't so sluggish or it was built around the direction of your shots, but I dunno what I'm doing asking for this out of Bart's Nightmare of all things.

The next three doors all have two rounds each with one page for each respective round, so get ready. The yellow door sends you directly into an episode of the in universe cartoon, Itchy and Scratchy. I'm not quite sure how you progress here but my best guess is to keep taking out as many enemies as you can. Camping around some corner with the hammer is the most tolerable way to handle the enemies, as wandering around anywhere else makes you susceptible to numerous things being flung at you. The projectile weapons, however, are extremely unwieldly due to the hit detection on them being very awkwardly small. You could miss what you're trying to hit several times and get instantly killed by a vacuum cleaner due to how specific the hitbox on them is. Oh yeah, anything fire or explosion related instantly kills you for some reason. Fun! Sure is easy to avoid that happening when you're desperately slipping around the place.

The green door is where this nightmare starts to get mean. Here you become a kaiju and begin to rampage through a city while military forces are assaulting you at every angle. Practically every button on the controller has an attack for all sorts of different angles, it's very confusing and disorienting. For example, helicopters require you to shoot a fireball straight forward. Tanks require you to shoot a laser diagonally towards the ground. Jets require you to shoot a laser straight forward, don't get this confused with a fireball straight forward since those apparently don't reach the jets in particular. All of the other angles you can attack in don't hit anything that can threaten you so it's easier to focus on those 3. Well, it would be easier to focus on those 3 if anything coming in for an attack will fire out something almost immediately after coming in your range, seriously the margin for error for the tank especially is disgustingly small. Doesn't help that your health is pretty much invisible here as well. The second round of this minigame has you climbing up a building in a much smaller form, and it's a bit more tolerable but not by much. Hooray, it's another minigame with awful controls! The main issue with this one now is that every input you make is unbelievably delayed. You barely have any time to react to anything being thrown at you or you just can't even do anything in time at all. If your in the middle of a movement animation, you're stuck like that until it finishes. This makes for numerous aggravating situations where you get smacked down over and over by things out of your control.

And finally we have the orange door, and it's unfortunately the most convoluted of them all. Your invading a temple and need to jump around stone platforms to reach the end. What you desperately need to know here is that you need to avoid platforms low enough that they emit flames, but this is never explained in any sort of way so thanks I guess. Even when knowing this you can still get a very annoying roadblock in the form of all 4 platforms forward being at the lowest point. There's a whole gimmick that goes on here about platforms rising and falling as you step on them but that's just an annoying goose chase jumping around until you get the way forward to rise. This minigame you have to do twice with no real difference, so I hope you find out what to do quickly.

All you really have to do is finish all of those minigames. The game just ends after you do all of them since you basically get all of your pages back after doing so. I dunno, man. It's just a confusing and frustrating mess. It's a bit embarrassing to look back and think that I found some charm in this. I guess there is some in regards to the whole dream-like theming but it's not much, really. At least a session of finally playing the thing is a way to make that ill-directed mystique all come crumbling away.

I didn't even get an A for all of that effort.

I'm not sure if it would be an awkward shot to take to call some random cheaply made puzzle game I found off of Steam one day but something about this is just so uniquely... dire... and draining. Still not quite sure how to put it but something like that is about the closest way to convey just how struggling to bear through this made me feel. Just about only 10 levels in is when I reached my initial breaking point and wanted the whole thing to be over with. From all the of the boring and scuffed aesthetics to the gross oversight of a permanently locked fullscreen mode, the only thing helping my drive to continue onward was my desire to have just one more 100% completion under my belt. Now I'm really not quite the type of person to be keen on puzzle games in general, but I can recognize when something is just unpleasant to sit through.

Seriously, you couldn't have even be bothered to have an undo button and thus forcing me to restart an entire goddamn level every time I get roadblocked by a mistake or misinput, but you have the absolute audacity to ask me to speedrun these levels after that fact??? What the hell???

This review contains spoilers

Kirby has been pretty well regarded as a rather consistent franchise. From all of the titles under his name, a great majority of them fall under a category of 2D game. From action-platformers to all sorts of other genres viewed in this sort of plane. A great majority of them are even commonly regarded as really great to middling at worst. Just the sort of admirable consistency you get from a franchise like Kirby’s, even with it however having an extensive history of playing it safe for a very notable 3 decades so far. Some peeks into how Kirby would play with an extra axis aren’t a foreign concept, however. Games like Kirby’s Air Ride, Kirby’s Blowout Blast, and Kirby Battle Royale are present and have you maneuvering around a 3D space in some form, but while they may have done the whole “Kirby in 3D” thing first, they aren’t exactly what you could consider a “true” 3D Kirby game. Not trying to insult these titles obviously, but they’re mainly considered as spinoffs to Kirby’s mainline platforming-action hybrid formula. Part of the reason as to why a game like this feels so special is due to it being the first mainline title in the franchise to make the jump into the third dimension. Interviews from HAL Labs after the development of Kirby Star Allies gave us a bit of a sneak peek into how a game like this was essentially on the horizon, with discussion into moving towards the “next stage” of the franchise. After the 4 mainline entries reusing and mixing a modern formula, and the notable mixed reception from the last of these, Star Allies, a new world for Kirby to finally jump into after all this time may have been just the thing to celebrate for him coming all this way.

Now, if I want to be honest, I’ve never really been one to jump into overwhelming hype with big new triple A releases. Part of it is due to my current self now being aware of quality desires making me be cautiously optimistic with new releases. A sort of “I wonder what the consensus on this is? I might be interested but I wanna know if it would be worth it.” instinct. Doesn’t help that the other part is that I don’t exactly have the money to go vomiting out at every neat looking thing that I wanna get my dainty little hands on. Big and new games are pricey, man! I guess this should be a good sign to jump into after establishing that with how Kirby and the Forgotten Land may have been the first game in a particularly long time that I’ve ever considered getting on launch day. The last time I could remember doing so before is likely, well, Kirby Triple Deluxe on the Nintendo 3DS! Funny how that works out, I may just have a soft spot for Kirby I guess. All of the first looks into this were looking really enticing, sure, but after that second trailer with Kirby wondrously roaming around in all of these gorgeous landscapes and just having fun in many sorts of ways, all to the simply brilliant tune of an early version of the game’s main theme, I was hooked. I re-watched the last couple of seconds of that trailer so many times, it was simply wonderful. I just simply had to know how Kirby would work in this new frontier of his, I couldn’t help but listen to my impulses.

With all of my cautious optimism in hand, I’m very glad to say that Kirby and the Forgotten Land was every bit of the joyride I had hoped it would be. Going from a 2D style into a 3D style isn’t an easy task, with notable ways of backfiring if you don’t end up doing it properly. I’m rather pleased with how smooth Kirby has made this sort of jump, though. I guess some testing of the waters here and there and roughly several decades of the growth of overall game design philosophy and evolution could assist in having your first true 3D entry turn out well, but if you’ve played a mainline Kirby game before, you’ll likely be surprised how natural it all feels. It feels just like what Kirby has done best but just with (quite literally) more depth to it! I guess that means it’s pretty similar to standard Kirby fare but that’s not a bad thing at all, in fact, it’s essentially all Kirby really needed to do. You have your action-platforming around your whimsical stages, not really akin to something like Super Mario Odyssey like certain comparisons made before it’s release (because quite a lot of people like to use Mario’s 3D collectathons as the gold standard of 3D games with platforming in them), but more akin to a game like Super Mario 3D World where you have a stage by stage basis of more linear 3D stages. (and having played both of them I’d honestly say I enjoy this one out of the two!) It’s so natural feeling that it doesn’t even feel bizarre that this is finally a thing when you get real into how it feels.

But enough of how impressively natural it feels to jump into, how the extra space expands upon the format is the real highlight here! Kirby’s never been purely focused on pure platforming, but more into using platforming as a way to give more freedom into your movement around the action. You have tons more room to roam around and strike at your foes thanks to that extra axis, with the added plus of the individual stage design having so much more environmental depth to it. That’s yet another I’ve gotta commend this game for, the art direction is absolutely phenomenal. Do you see how well every stage is designed into looking and feeling like a formerly lived in and natural landscape? Traversing abandoned and overgrown locales, once lively theme parks, a precarious wasteland made out of resorts, crumbling cities in an infernal crisis, you name it. Places like the individual stages of Winter Horns give that pure aura of some cool feeling place that you’d want to take a moment to lay down and relax in. (just bundle up in the case of the example I gave, that world looks kinda cold) Kirby games have always had this neat whimsy to their landscapes but not quite to this sort of interactable depth before.

But with all of this new depth added into Kirby’s formula, it’s not entirely in it’s full potential. The extra detail to the main action could be considered to come at the cost of the depth of Kirby’s main power, his abilities. A rather decent amount of playtime can clue you in to how little of them are really present here, with only 12 available for you to use in total with less to their individual movesets than in previous entries. (and 2 of them are one time uses with one of them being a joke one so uuuuh) I could presume that most of the lost moves here would be tougher than usual to translate into a 3D space, but the overall shortage of abilities this time around is still a bit off-putting. Iconic abilities like Fighter, Beam, Stone, Wheel, and Parasol are missing here, strangely enough. Some abilities like ESP, Beetle, Ninja, Plasma/Spark, Bell, Yo-Yo, and Jet are some other really cool ones that aren’t present either which is sad. We have a pseudo-alternative in the form of abilities having many sorts of upgradable forms, but sometimes it just makes me think of what the evolved forms of the absent abilities would look like. Like, what if Beam could be upgraded into that magical girl outfit it had in Super Kirby Clash? That’d be REALLY cool, but that’s for a different day I guess. But I guess we also have a new, alternate form of abilities known as all of the different sorts of mouthful modes. They’re basically the new main gimmick in this entry, and their evolution into the formula wanted to know if instead of these gimmicks being these really cool looking additions, they were really funny. I especially like cone mouth and vending machine mouth, and I like referring to them as triangle Kirby and rectangle Kirby respectively. The way they waddle around is really funny and makes me smile :) Now with what you use all this extra depth your action and stage designs has for, you have your main extra collectables have extra interactable depth in the form of all of the captured Waddle Dees. They’re pretty fun to scavenge out in levels but how the extra mission-based ones work could have likely been handled better. Some of the hassle of them could’ve been remedied if you had the ability to see all of the different tasks you needed to do for them instead of them being hidden until you find out what to do or finish the stage without finding out. They aren’t really cryptic however so if you’re mainly paying attention and interacting with your environment a lot you’ll get by without having to replay stages that often so it’s not much of a hassle. (except for that one on the penultimate stage of Winter Horns when you have to eat a Maxim Tomato on a different route but you put the Maxim Tomato at the entry to the alternate route????? if they made the way onto that route more clear and actually put the Maxim Tomato on said route the confusion around this particular mission would’ve not been an issue but I digress)

Thankfully, the shortcomings of certain aspects here are more than well made up for with just how fun all the action is. Remember how more in depth the combat is due to the 3D space? Well, Kirby has always been known to have some super entertaining bosses, but the boss fights in the Forgotten Land? These boss fights might just be an elaborate way to prove that being in 3D may just be the true way for Kirby to play at all. I’m not exaggerating when I say the boss fights here are easily some of the most entertaining in the entire franchise, or even in games I’ve played in general. The way you weave around attacks through running around, jumping over, and swiftly dodging through them with the dodge giving a cool slowdown to counter them back with for those close calls, oooooh it’s just SO good. Easily where then 3D combat shines the brightest, and shines so brightly regardless of it’s individual ability-wise limitations. And those extra challenging ending bosses and postgame phantom bosses in particular were so unbelievably goddamn cool, the way you weave through and whittle them down here is just a feeling I can’t get in a 2D space, it’s absolutely phenomenal. I’ve taken such a fondness for the action in this game that I even caught interest in speedrunning the different cups in the colosseum! My best time on The Ultimate Cup Z is 3:09.40. Pretty cool, huh?

Simply put, I just can’t get enough of the vibrancy on display here. I went into this with cautious expectations and was so pleased, it truly can only be described as the best evolution of the Kirby franchise. Despite some lacking aspects, Kirby is still here to provide a joyride as he always has. A sweet, delightful trip of a game to savor with in between bunches of big blockbuster releases, whether it’s being adorable, lively, hype as all hell, or surprisingly terrifying. Seriously, those last few hours had me on the absolute edge of my seat. Kirby has always had some fucked up aspects, especially in the endgames or his recent titles, but the whole encounters with Fecto Forgo were legitimately some Giygas caliber shit, my GOD. No wonder this got the fear warning in Europe. But afterwards you have the confrontation with Fecto Elfilis which is legitimately one of the most beautiful final bosses I’ve ever seen. Then you promptly deepthroat a semi truck and turn them into divine roadkill in one of the most insane sequences in the franchise, god I love you Kirby. After all of our wildest adventures, we befriend our former foes and look into the future of the new world we made. Our town of beloved friends, hanging out and being lively in their own ways. We waltz up to a group of Waddle Dees and wave them hello and they wave back, it’s just so cute! That’s all it’s really about, what this entire franchise has been about, having fun with Kirby! Kirby and the Forgotten Land gives the feeling of seeing a new frontier, having that burning curiosity to leave behind your regrets and explore the new future given to you. It’s a feeling of bittersweet goodbyes, hopeful beginnings, an eager look into the future, the pure wonder of curious freedom, and a relaxing refreshment from the wind of a soft breeze, all perfectly conveyed by one of the greatest main themes a video game could ever have: “Welcome to the New World!”, from each time it plays when Kirby’s new adventure opens and closes. A song that perfectly sets the tone of it’s game and the future to come.

Welcome to a new world, Kirby!

I like how the game window is so small that every time you beat a stage you briefly have a good amount of your vision blocked by the achievement you just got for doing so

I have the same exact story about this as Sit on bottle, where I only got it out of morbid curiosity due to one of my friends getting viscerally upset over it. With that one I was immensely amused over how stupid it was with shit like the incredibly annoying luck based bottle rotating "gameplay" and the dumb Minecraft Steve looking motherfucker unzipping their pants every time they sit on a bottle in the weird abandoned asset flip factory of pointless production of bottles made solely to be sat upon.

Here, however, I just feel rather sad with how slow and uneventful everything is. The only real war you're at with in these skies is against all these gigantic bees, strangely airborne bombs, packs of TNT someone strapped to balloons for some goddamn reason, and spaceships flying horizontally due to their absolutely wasted pilots. Everything moves about as fast as molasses, the only three levels the game has are all completely identical to each other plus they each take like twenty minutes to trudge through, and somewhere 3/4ths into the third level the game just gives up and cuts to a splash screen of the title before abruptly ending with no fanfare whatsoever. There is nothing else remotely worth recognition here.

Speaking of my friend Velvetune, they're an avid Steam achievement hunter so they're quite the expert on awful, desolate experiences like these. You can thank them for their influence on me playing these random stinky Steam shovelware games they find somehow, and now I'm gonna link their review here since it's significantly more entertaining than anything this has to offer.

Also another one of my friends gave what is quite possibly the most perfect and amusing descriptor of this game; saying it looks like, and I quote: "It was made by an Austrian computer engineering college student in under ten days."

I got this crap out of sheer morbid curiosity after hearing the intense horror stories one of my friends had with it and 100% completed it in like 17 minutes so I can now confidently say that sitting on 40 bottles in a row is nowhere near as bad as No Hit Incinerator Part 2, like it's not even anywhere close

Sorry for damaging your self esteem, Velvetune

This review contains spoilers

I’m so unbelievably happy right now. Toby’s ability to completely unify people and communities with his works has become so commendable and frankly rather frightening to be honest. He did it once before with the surprise release of Deltarune’s first chapter almost three years ago, and he’s done it once more with the shadowdrop of the second chapter in the Undertale 6th anniversary stream. I can’t express how grateful I am that the old age of disliking a work of art simply due to its popularity has finally gone behind us. After that immensely frustrating hate bandwagon Undertale suffered from that I was unfortunate enough to witness in person was seemingly demolished after Deltarune chapter 1 was released, I’m glad I can finally be back to expressing my love for games no matter how popular. I was honestly quite surprised when Toby actually decided to go through with the episodic release of the newest chapter in the story of Deltarune, and it’s definitely one I’m ready to express for.

First off, we might now just have an idea of what a behemoth of a game we may have on our hands now. Upon startup now you can see that we’re currently only two chapters into a seven chapter story. Just what kind of ride does Toby have planned for us?! With everything that chapters 1 and 2 had to offer, the idea of five more chapters coming off of all this seems incredibly daunting. It no doubt must be daunting for Toby as well, with how he’s stated before how badly he’s eager to show everything he has planned. Plus the wait between this new chapter and the first was almost like, what, three years? I’m rather concerned with how much Toby is setting up. Has he made progress on the other chapters alongside the full completion of chapter 2 or is this all that’s finished at the moment? Clearly he’s taking his time with this gargantuan project but I really hope he gets some form of extra resources to help him out. Hell, I’d help fund a Kickstarter for this game just so he can get what he’d need. But I digress, I’m just worried for him and his project as a whole as of now.

Anyways, chapter 2 starts off much more abruptly than chapter 1 did, fitting with everything already set up so far and with characters like Susie who are desperately eager to cut to the chase after whatever the hell they had just witnessed yesterday. You’re soon introduced to your own dark world town, located conveniently in the school’s back closet. Here is where you’ll likely take notice towards how the morality formula is going to make a difference in the game. Through sparing enemies you’ll end up recruiting them to your own town and grow its populace and locales. Perhaps this is a way to make the whole morality system work within the lack of control narrative being set up in Deltarune, or maybe it’s another setup of sorts? Who knows. What I take a lot of interest in is how you’re also shown how the state of the outside world does in fact affect what goes on in each of the dark worlds, like how all of their environments are presented, what represents all of the Darkners in each world, details like those. For example, think about the room next to the school’s back closet. Thinking about how you were released from it when you vanquished the fountain, what all of the clutter was in that room, just that room being next to the closet in general, and with extra details shown later you can piece together how that room was where the whole kingdom of cards took place.

With not much to show off in your little castle town aside from a few oh-so kindly built rooms (susie really thinks she got the cool room when lancer’s is right next to her’s lmao), your journey in the dark world for today comes to an abrupt stop as it seems. Well until that detail about dark worlds being formed from real world locations comes into play as the library’s computer lab has become a dark world as well somehow. This is where we’re introduced to the real main event of chapter 2, the Cyber World.

My, oh my, what do I say about the Cyber World? Coming off of the mysterious Kingdom of Cards, the Cyber World sure does feel like a tonal shift. It’s vibrant, wondrous, whimsical, and a sheer spectacle to behold. All of these traits of the Cyber World in general could possibly also describe how chapter 2 feels as a whole, aiming for a much more adventurous vibe than the first. This can come at the cost of feeling less emotional than the first chapter did overall, but what chapter 2 wants to do instead is give more depth to the characters that are alongside you. We’ve already gone through Susie’s arc on growing as a person, so why don’t we let these character’s newfound bonds show themselves off in a brand new adventure? That’s not to say there isn’t some newfound character growth to be had here, as Noelle and Berdly are also introduced into the equation in this chapter. Noelle was clearly going to have some involvement in this chapter but Berdly was one I was surprised on. Noelle appears as an occasional temporary new party member and Berdly as a fittingly annoying foil, with both being strung along by our robotic overlord of the new dark world, Queen. Queen in general is likely where a lot of the tonal dissonance from chapter 1 and chapter 2 is visible, as she feels like a much more comedic and aimless villain than the likes of the King of Spades. Granted the King of Spades is never really present until the end of chapter 1 and you have his comedic buffoon son, Lancer, teasing you throughout the majority of chapter 1, but the King of Spade’s cruel influence on his dark world was still very present. Queen’s influence on her dark world is much more lighthearted in comparison. Plus her overall demeanor is in a much more entertaining fashion, comparable to that of Lancer actually, and her constant intrusions on your journey simply set out to provide more whimsical interactions with you and your whole gang. Speaking of your whole gang, with how Noelle is confirmed to be a new member in your group, and there’s still some major hints of Berdly becoming a new party member as well (oh dear god), I’m starting to wonder how all of your many new friends you have on your side are going to be handled. Are they simply going to switch in and out contextually like they did with Noelle in this chapter, or are they eventually going to be one big squad that you can swap out freely Chrono Trigger style? Only time may tell for this, I guess. Just one more thing to be anticipating for the coming chapters!

Even still, chapter 2 retains just exactly what I love Toby’s works for, just in an insanely wondrous form that I still greatly appreciate. Those quirky unique encounters like the Sweet Cap’n Cakes crew, big shot Spamton, Rouxls Kaard’s vengeance, and Berdly’s many attempts to come off as superior. I can’t forget about those endearing situations the gang goes through on their journey, my favorite being that one really cool Punch-Out tribute you group all of the main three together to absolutely stomp Queen at. Plus one really cool thing chapter 2 does is that it decides to continue the whole secret superboss trend set by the likes of Jevil. Like Jevil, it’s a bit cryptic to find out how to encounter them but this is gonna be the one thing I don’t want to go into detail here as what that battle does to the gameplay is so fucking cool and honestly makes it a more enjoyable battle than Jevil for me so I just really want people to find out what it is for themselves.

But still, I have quite a lot of things on my mind after this. It’s rather hard not to have questions on what’s going on due to the whole episodic release plan. The epilogue of chapter 2 still retains a bit of it’s lightheartedness but gives off many more questions and much more anticipation for the future. Thankfully Rudy is still alive in this chapter, some people had speculation here would be when he would flatline but that wasn’t the case. But one thing that unfortunately didn’t come to fruition is MY DAMN TIME WITH PAPYRUS. Come ON Sans, what do you mean it can’t be today????? Guess I gotta anticipate meeting Papyrus in chapter 3 then. (ignore my score, it’s actually a 0.5 because of this >:[ ) And that ending, wow that sure gave off the most questions, but some answers as well ironically enough. Kris has to be up to something, as they keep casting away their soul in certain moments, only to take it back again. It can’t be some sort of influence from someone like Chara, why would they take the soul back? Maybe they cast it away to make sure you can’t control them when they’re trying to do something dubious. And that very end, with Susie sleeping over at your house, and Toriel concerned about ominous things happening around her, all topped off with Kris literally creating a fountain in their own living room. Is Kris the Knight that has been mentioned so often? Are they the one who created all of the fountains? Why are they creating the fountains in that case? I read a theory that Kris might be doing something like this to make things interesting for them. I could presume it could be something along the lines of that, but what if there actually is some ulterior evil play at play here? Only time can tell. I can only anticipate what the later chapters are going to bring us, and what sort of dark world will be made out of our own home. I’ll be ready for it anytime.

Also, since I’m on the topic of the ending, I just can’t hold this back anymore. I just HAVE to gush about how that ending of this chapter went down. The whole climactic battle with Queen was pretty cool but it was probably intentionally made to come off in a similar format to how the final showdown with the King of Spades went down, just so the bait and switch with the REAL final battle of the chapter can come in and slam as hard as it did. Queen suddenly comes in piloting this absolutely massive robot, and once Kris, Susie, and Ralsei came together to form that dumb arcade playing position again right in front of it, I was so fucking ready for what I thought was about to happen. THEN IT ACTUALLY FUCKING HAPPENED AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. One big friend reunion and fittingly corny fusion transformation sequence later and the game takes that one cute little Punch-Out homage from earlier and TURNS IT INTO A FULLY FLEDGED BADASS GIANT MECHA BOXING MATCH FINAL BOSS! Just, in that entire buildup to that moment and during the entire duration of that fight I just had the biggest dumb grin on my face as I relentlessly brought the beatdown in this absolute spectacle of a moment. I just couldn’t believe that Toby actually fucking did that, and it how much it fucking RULED!

So, after how much I’ve gone on about how much joy I felt and how purely I was enamored by the sheer scale of chapter 2, why did I only give it 4 stars? Well, it’s mainly with some concerns on this chapter’s tone as a whole and with the overall format on how this game is presented. I mentioned earlier on how in comparison to chapter 1, chapter 2 feels notably less emotional and more lighthearted. Sure, there are still quite a bunch of neat character interactions and new depth given mainly towards Noelle and Berdly, but it’s less tonally impactful than everything that was going on with Susie in chapter 1. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as I feel this means that whatever impactful narrative is likely being saved for what the later chapters have in store for us eventually. But the whole primary focus on a more whimsy and surreal adventure of great proportions and spectacle with the extra character fleshing-out as a treat makes chapter 2 feel like some form of elaborate buildup for what’s to come later on down the road.

Plus, I also feel that chapter 2 has one major issue as a whole, and I feel chapter 1 has this same issue as well. Well actually, to be honest, calling it this “major issue” is probably being way too harsh on it, as it’s pretty much the same issue I would have with something like standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 3. That issue is basically spelt out to you in the title: it’s only chapter two. Most of the reasons why I have so many questions and so many theories and all this built up anticipation as a whole after this experience is primarily due to it being an unfinished story as of now. With how the episodic format of Deltarune has been planned out to be released in, each chapter now has sort-of been treated as their own standalone release, which is a bit fair as both chapters 1 and 2 have been exceptionally lengthy and in depth with everything going on in them and together can even feel like a bigger experience than Undertale alone was. However I still feel it may be a bit unfair to judge them as fully fledged releases like this as in the grand scheme of Deltarune as a whole, to me rating each of these chapters individually would be akin to maybe rating a singular chapter in a Paper Mario game or a singular case in an Ace Attorney game to give some examples. It’s the primary reason why I wished that Deltarune wouldn’t be released in parts like this and just be one gigantic experience let loose once it was finally finished, but oh well, I wouldn’t want to complain about getting pieces of this early.

Regardless, Deltarune’s second chapter more than definitely lived up to what I had hoped for. All that I dislike about it is essentially just that I want more of it even! Toby’s been extremely generous to give us this extra taste of art for free, and god do I admire him for doing that. I’d be more than willing to pay for the rest to continue this story. I’ll certainly be prepared for what Toby has to throw at us next.

Also that one segment with Noelle monologuing to you actually softlocked me at the end of it for some reason. Gay baby jail transcends beyond all forms of medium and will never hold any mercy for you.