Penny Arcade is a comic strip about Tycho and Gabe, who are characterizations of their real-life creators. They have appeared in two previous video games. They (well, the real-life versions) host expos twice a year where thousands of fans wait for hours to hear them speak and revel in general nerdiness. They are also vastly more wealthy and famous than I will ever be. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about the entirety of my knowledge of the Penny Arcade universe until I plugged in my Xbox controller and booted up Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3.
I think I should have studied a bit more.
Zeboyd Games, who previously helped that Lovecraftian monster save the world, has resurrected the dormant franchise and spruced it up with their 16-bit can of paint. Even though there’s a new developer, the game picks up just a few weeks after the previous two and feels very much a part of the same world. At least, I have to assume it does since I haven’t spent ten minutes with the previous games. If you’re better versed in Penny Arcade lore than I – and odds are, you are – the frequent cameos, plot twists, and references to events long-ago transpired probably make a lot more sense. But since we all only get one brain, I’m forced to approach the game through my n00b eyeballs, and you know what? It’s still pretty damned funny.
We here at Armless Octopus are proud of our pro-mother/pro-baby agenda. Other indie sites have balked our our goody-too shoes approach, but we generally – with exceptions, naturally – oppose eating babies, even though we all know their sweet undeveloped juices are as tasty as god’s urine. So it’s rather unsurprising that I had a natural affinity for Offspring Fling!, an adorable puzzle platformer about good old fashioned family values.
Offspring Fling! uses its retro aesthetics to create a warm, familiar feeling, but actually playing the game feels like a completely new experience. You play as a creature that is most definitely the result of Kirby and Pikachu mixing DNA. Your task is to guide your progeny of kirbachus to the exit of each level. Sounds easy, right? All you have to do is avoid the water, bees, and acid-spitting plants and it’s off to nursery school.
The world has been shattered, and space-time has been thrown into a blender. In A Valley Without Wind, players take on the role of Brain Guy from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 to save the world one continent at a time. It’s a randomly-generated platformer shmup RPG wrapped around an optional fetch-quest grind-fest by Arcen Games, the team behind AI War and Tidalis.
AVWW is a game that is fun for a shallow reason. At first glance, it looked to be a casual loot game, which led me to skip reading the in-game “Big Honkin’ Encyclopedia” manual. This is considered to be a very bad idea, and I would recommend this strategy to only the most stubborn and deductive players with inconceivable amounts of free time. At its heart, AVWW is an SNES-era Metroidvania title, with difficulty levels ranging between ‘hold my hand’ and ‘I have a plethora of spare keyboards ready to break.’ Read more
A new Sonic game always brings a level of uncertainty with it. Sega’s mascot has seen more highs and lows than a bipolar roller coaster, something of which fans are acutely aware. There’s a level of trepidation one must enter a modern Sonic title with — that way the potential disappointment stings less. Dimps and Sonic Team have addressed a few of the flaws found in the first episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4, making the second a bit more fun to play through. It’s a far cry from the Genesis entries, but it’s enjoyable regardless.
One of the biggest complaints in Episode One was the physics, and they’ve mostly been fixed. Sonic no longer stops on a dime in mid air if you take your thumb off the analog stick and you can no longer walk up walls like Spider-Man. The ball-rolling still seems to be slower than running when going downhill, making spin-dashing nearly useless, but hey, two out of three isn’t bad. The truth is this game controls pretty well, approaching levels folks might consider “good”. Read more
As a lifelong fan of shmups, I’ve played my fair share and come to the realization that it isn’t what initially catches your eye – the visual presentation – that counts as much the gameplay does. Fortunately for developer Studio Evil, it flies its most recent vessel, Syder Arcade with grace while excelling in both fields.
Syder Arcade’s strongest asset lies in its appearance, though its gameplay mechanics are nearly as lustrous. Throughout my trek across space, the framerate was consistent and the vivid explosions from enemy ships illuminated my screen with fluorescent colors. Vehicles and adversaries were all distinctly drawn, but at times I had a bit of difficulty discerning friend from foe, at least on the escort missions. Further adding to this confusion, was the fact that my weapons could also damage the vessel I was supposed to be guarding.
Upon loading the game I was also given the opportunity to select a very large number of filters to apply to the graphics that greatly changed the overall appearance of the game. I could select to have a cutting edge visual presentation from the current generation of gaming, while the next I could replicate it with a filter to replicate the look running the game on an Apple II or Commodore 64. The team clearly knew what they were doing when it came to designing the engine, and it shows.
The Comic is great, the TV show is super successful, but does the video game version of The Walking Dead uphold the brand’s high standards? You’ll have to watch the Armless Octopus Video Review and find out.
[Special Note] The Xbox 360 version of the game has framerate issues and is VERY dark (in brightness) making it difficult to see. If you have multiple platforms at your disposal to play this game, the 360 version should be at the bottom of the list.
This review is based on the PC and XBLA versions of the game, which were provided by Telltale Games. It is also available on PSN for $5.
It isn’t every day that we get to review a sequel to an XBLIG game, as many developers often leave for greener pastures after one release or try something different. When afforded the opportunity to play the sequel to one of my favorite XBLIG games of 2010, however, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’m not going to get into a ton of detail about the gameplay because so much of it is similar to the previous incarnation that you can find most of the details in our past review of the first title. To sum it up quickly though, Miasma 2: Freedom Uprising is a grid and turned-based strategy game in which players take control of up to three characters on screen at once to fulfill a variety of objectives, including defending transmitters, neutralizing enemies, and reviving fallen comrades.
There are some noticeable differences over its predecessor however, including the character management screen between missions. Previously, all of your character upgrades were performed against a static backdrop, but this time around you are free to peruse a 3D environment via a first-person perspective. Similar to Mass Effect, your comrades are performing menial tasks throughout your base and you can engage in dialogue to further progress the story, upgrade their abilities, or hop to the next mission.
Superbrothers:Sword and Sworcery EP is an experimental amalgamation of music and video games where your lady-hero named “The Scythian” explores a surreal world in search of the three Trigons after discovering the all-powerful Megatome. A cigar-munching businessman dubbed the “Archetype” guides her throughout the journey. Trigons? Archetype? Megatome? Yup, this is a video game.
With its chunky retro visuals and unbelievable soundtrack, it’s easy to fall in love at first sight. Deny it all you want, but graphics are a huge component of video games, and Sword and Sworcery conjures the perfect mix of retro pixelated graphics and deliciously smooth animation. It’s just a shame the game portion wasn’t able to hold up its end of the bargain, and Sword and Sworcery constantly trips over its own artistic ambitions.
There is something to be said for a game that knows its audience, and Sword and Sworcery plays its geeky target fans like an 80s Casio keyboard. Everything about this game shrieks that it was created for someone with more than a passing knowledge of games who will soak in its not-so-subtle references to Zelda, Twitter synchronization, and self-referential erudite dialogue: “We were like, groan not another fetch quest amirite?” Read more