There’s no denying that Wayforward has solidified themselves as one of the go-to development studios when it comes to higher profile, retro-styled 2D games. Some of their projects have turned out to be fantastic, like the wonderful Mighty Switch Force on the Nintendo 3DS. Others, like Bloodrayne Betrayal, are a bit behind on the quality curve. Double Dragon Neon is their latest effort to recapture the shine of decades-gone-by. Any reservations the studio’s varying quality may have caused should be dismissed — this is a great revival of a truly influential property.
Neon is about as over-the-top as a game based on an established property can be. It feels like a caricature of the late 1980s in many ways. The Dragon Twins — Billy and Jimmy — are a couple of carefree, wisecracking karate experts. The amount of puns that come out of their mouths, clever or embarrassing, recall the spirit of a quartet of fighting reptile siblings. The villain is in the running for my favorite enemy of 2012, and while he feels like he’d be more at home on Eternia he seems to fit in almost perfectly here as well. Read more
What can possibly be fun about assembling electrical circuits? Placing resistors to reduce electric current to power components? Can that really make an appealing game? Guess you just have to watch the video and find out. Enjoy!
We’ve all had hopes of being recognized for our hard work, being able to make a sustainable living from it, and have others appreciate it. For developer Humble Hearts, and lead man Dean Dodrill, he’s living that dream. Initially an employee of a Triple-A team, Dodrill would later go indie and enter Microsoft’s annual Dream.Build.Play competition. He would submit Dust: An Elysian Tail and win in 2009. After winning the promotion Dodrill earned a coveted spot on Microsoft’s XBLA service, where him and the team at Humble Hearts have been working effortlessly since winning. What would ensue can only be described as a beautiful culmination of gameplay and art.
Dust solidifies itself as one of the most aesthetically pleasing games on XBLA, if not on the Xbox 360 as a whole. Still frames don’t do it justice, as it is an absolute visual pleasure to behold in motion. Beautiful, hand-drawn characters match the quality of a Disney production, as do the lush environments, ripe with flowing water, fauna weaving with the wind, and dynamic weather effects. At one moment I could find myself exploring a village brimming with sunlight, only to have it begin raining on me the next.
Genres within gaming can see parallels to food at a feast. One dish may find itself more appetizing to one individual’s taste than another, but there is always that temptation to taste what is outside of your comfort zone. For many, adventure games fall into this category. The slow, methodical gameplay and often deep storylines are seen as a crux in a world where military shooters reign king and action-heavy MMOs grasp the attention of millions. On occasion, however, one dish comes along that makes us want to extend our palette and taste outside of familiarity.
Those who are concerned with the connotation of adventure games being overly difficult can find solace in this fact: Resonance gently ramps up the challenge and slowly introduces gameplay mechanics at a speed which allows you to fully grasp what the game is capable off before letting you go on your own. You initially play as one of four characters, one at a time, before being granted the ability to seamlessly transition between two characters in the same scene in later stages. Once the prologue is complete the world is your oyster: All four characters are at your disposal at all times, and each are necessary to advance the plot as they may hold a bit of information that the others do not possess. Read more
As a kid, I grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System in the living room. My gaming diet was a steady blast of classics like Super Mario Bros. and Ninja Gaiden. One of my first experiences in a post-NES world was at a cousin’s house, where I played the Sega CD version of Prince of Persia. I found that I hated it, and upon looking back I can tell you why. It stood in stark contrast to everything else I had experienced up to that point in one important area: the controls. Other classic games failed to resonate with me due to the same issue, namely Flashback and Out of this World. Now, I can play those games today. Hell, I even enjoy them. But I’m still not a huge fan of the controls. Tequila Works’ Deadlight feels like one of these games, though it’s linear and more cinematic. It was a relatively enjoyable experience, but it felt like the controls wanted to ruin things the entire time.
You could spin me around twenty times blindfolded and set me free on Xbox Live and I’d still manage to stumble across an indie twin-stick shooter. It’s pretty tough for indie shooters to really make a name for itself, and SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance tries to set itself apart by focusing on cooperative missions, light RPG elements, and a pretty rich backstory. That means you’ll want to have some friends around for maximum enjoyment, but it’s still a competent shooter while flying solo.
SCHAR has a surprisingly detailed story for a twin-sick shooter, but it follows many of the typical sci-fi tropes that we’ve all seen before. Aliens have pushed humanity to the brink of extinction, but new Blue Shift technology has allowed them to turn the tide and possibly survive. Le yawn. Still, the frequent chatter of the characters and background information on the planets help sell the universe’s history and make the game feel more immersive.
Ninja Exorcist, quite simply, does a lot of things right. It’s reminiscent of the NES classic Ninja Gaiden, albeit without the brutal difficulty, as the protagonist has a number of similar tools and athletic maneuvers at his disposal, including the ability to bounce from wall to wall. Taking a bit from the Mega Man X series, your ninja can also gradually slide down the sides of each wall, thereby allowing for more precise strikes on opponents.
The first thing that grabbed my attention upon booting up Ninja Exorcist was the striking visuals: meticulously painted backgrounds provide quite a bit in terms of engagement, and prove to be among the best on XBLIG. Character animations are equally impressive, where my ninja was springing from wall to wall or stealthily executing a fellow ninja.
Like shooting things? Like pushing buttons? Like piloting a flying crate with a gun? I sure hope so, because that’s pretty much what RotoSchutzen is all about. Is it good? Well, I guess you’ll just have to watch the video and find out.
There is a quick addendum to the score. In the video I say the game gets a two out of five. The ACTUAL score is 2 1/2 out of 5. My apologies for any confusion.