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Game Reviews

Two Cent Video Review: Skylar & Plux (Adventure on Clover Island)

(Skylar and Plux is available for PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One.)

3D platformers are one of my favorite genres in all of the kingdom of gaming. Ratchet and Clank, Jakk and Daxter, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Croc, Ty, the list goes on and on. Sadly though, this games seemed to vanish completely for a good ten years or so. Luckily, we’ve seen a bit of a resurgence in 3D platformers in 2017, and for the most part, they’ve been decent. Is Skylar and Plux, a modern day 3D platformer inspired by the games mentioned above, worth your time? Yeah, I guess so. Here’s my Two Cents!

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Game Reviews Uncategorized

Two Cent Video Review: Blue Reflection

(Blue Reflection is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Windows.)

Has the thought of being in Sailor Moon ever crossed your mind? Does the thought of helping others through struggles and forming a closer bond with them make your heart feel all warm and fuzzy? Then maybe you should check out Blue Reflection! It’s essentially Sailor Moon meets Persona, and it’s one hell of a good time. It may be fairly standard as far as a JRPG is concerned, but it’s still one of the best role playing games I’ve enjoyed in 2017. But that’s just my two cents. Maybe it’ll be good enough to persuade you to check out this title. Either way, here’s my review for Blue Reflection.

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Video Review: Hand of Fate 2

(Hand of Fate 2 is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac, and Linux.)

Dungeons and Dragons. Magic the Gathering. Yugioh and his boi Dark Magician. What if all of these things were smooshed together into one game? What would that game look like? How would it fare? I set out to answer these questions today, as we take a look at Hand of Fate 2. This game is a mix of ideas pulled from various card, board and fighting games. But does it all work together, or is it all just a waste of time? Find out on this week’s episode of Two Cent Reviews.

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Video Review: Pony Island

(Pony Island is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.)

Living inside of the Aarcadee Arcade, I’ve seen my fair share of issues in both hardware, and software. But I have never, in all of my years, seen something like this. Pony Island was a game I received back in 2016, but I never had the chance to play it. Now I wish I could go back in time and never pick up this game. The amount of horror and dark imagery I saw tucked within this game’s internals has changed me for life. While it was a memorable time for certain, I can’t really say I would recommend you put yourself in my position. Unless you really want to play a game that will stick with you for years to come.

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Video Review: Doki Doki Literature Club

(Doki Doki Literature Club is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.)

This week, I took a look at a visual novel my roommate recommended. Believe it or not, this game may actually warrant being added to your October Spookygame Backlog. I don’t want to give too much away, so the review doesnt go very in depth, but just know that if you’re a fan of horror, this game is more than likely something you should play. We had Undertale as a cult hit back in 2015, and now we have a cult hit in video games for 2017: Doki Doki Literature Club.

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Video Review: Little Nightmares

(Little Nightmares is available for Windows, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Stadia.)

To start the spooky season off right, I thought I’d review only horror games for the rest of the month. The first game I looked was Little Nightmares. A game I was interested in based off of looks alone. It looked like a unique twist on the Limbo formula, with a little bit of horror and spooks mixed in. So how did it fare?

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Review: Nioh

Video review can be found here.

(Nioh is available for PS4, PS5, and Windows.)

So let’s start off with the story of Nioh. Wait, actually, where do I even begin with this story? Well for one, it’s quite the difficult tale to follow along with. Nioh sees you starring in the main role as William, the first westerner turned samurai, on his quest to take back what is rightfully his from some rude guy who decided he can take whatever he wants. William’s journey takes him to 16th century Japan, where he quickly forges an alliance with some locals who agree to help him find what was  taken from him. In exchange for their help in finding the man responsible for taking William’s childhood friend and gold finder, William agrees to lend a hand in fighting  the evergrowing Yokai menace. The story found in Nioh, is certainly entertaining, but I can’t say that it’s anything groundbreaking on memorable. If anything, the plot here is nothing more than a means to travel to new locations, and fight newer, bigger, and badder demons. The story can be a bit jumbled up, and difficult to follow at times, but it’s by no means a mess or convoluted. It seems like there were chunks of cutscenes or dialogue missing from the game. I can’t recall any moments of story progression where I blanked out and absorbed nothing, yet I still found myself a bit lost as to who some of the people were and what was going on in certain cutscenes. All-in-all, the plot here in Nioh is average. It’s ultimately forgettable, but it’s still a fun ride throughout.

Presentationwise, however, this game is far less forgettable. The locations you visit are quite varied, for one. Throughout your adventures through Japan, you’ll explore caves, mines, forests, burning villages, foggy graveyards, and more. Every level has it’s own variance in design, and they’re all a complete treat to look at and explore. The lighting in Nioh is something I found to be especially noteworthy. Sun rays reflect through peeling and cracked boards of wood that make up abandoned buildings. Torches illuminate the ore mines you descend into. Some light sources can even be knocked over, which can lead to some very intense fights deep below the surface. Attacks are also beautifully choreographed, full of particle effects and slashing, swinging streaks of light. And the same goes for enemies movements as well. As far as the music and sound are concerned, they aren’t as good as the graphics here, but they’re still well done nonetheless. Musically, there really isn’t anything too memorable going on. As I wrote the script for this review, I actually found it rather difficult to recall any stand out tracks that I hear along my journey. I couldn’t think of one background song that really stuck with me, and I think that says a lot about a game’s soundtrack. None of it was necessarily annoying or poorly written, per se, but it was overall a bit unmemorable. Soundwise, the game does a hell of a lot better. The sounds of blades bouncing off of metal armor, or arrows whizzing by your face, just barely missing your skull by an inch, are common sounds you’ll hear throughout. And they all hit with the same intensity and grittiness throughout the game. Hearing your weapon cut into flesh, crack  through bone, and cripple your opponent is consistently satisfying, and gives you great feedback on whether or not your attack actually landed. It’s a difficult thing  for many melee oriented games to get right, but Team Ninja absolutely nailed it here. Not just the weapons and combat sound great, either. This whole damn game is just one big old sweet sound designed treat. Voice acting is also found here, but it isn’t anything special or unique. You have both English and Japanese being spoken throughout the game, which I though was a nice added touch of realism. Not everyone here is automatically speaking English, just for the sake of making it more approachable for people who are too lazy to read subtitles. It added a refreshing dose of believability to a game that sits submerged deep in a hot spring of fantasy. All in all, the presentation found in Nioh is very well done.

But it is nowhere NEAR as well done as the gameplay, which is the real highlight of the show, erm, game, here. Now I know we live in 2017, and many people like to refer to any challenging game in a genre is the Soulslike of said genre and we’re tired of hearing that shitty, dried out sales pitch, but I have no choice but to refer to the souls series while talking about Nioh. At least Nioh sits in the same genre as Dark Souls, unlike something like Cuphead, or even CRASH FUCKING BANDICOOT. Wait, Crash Bandicoot? Hold on, somebody actually had the audacity to make the claim that Crash Bandicoot is the Soulslike of platformers? No, no, nononono. Im not sure if you’re aware, but Crash came out a whole 13 YEARS before the first souls game was released. So based on this logic then, we’d have to say that, if anything, Dark Souls is the Crash Bandicootlike of action RPGS. Ahem. Sorry, that was an irrelevant point to make. Shall we continue? Nioh, the Crash Bandicootlike of Action RPGs in 2017. A game about collecting amrita (not souls), praying at shrines (not bonfires), and finding shortcuts. More importantly though, it’s a game about fighting giant ass bosses that’ll decimate you in one blow. It’s a game about calculated strikes, and reading your opponent’s next move. It’s a game about exploration, grinding, and making progress, only to lose all of that progress because of one poorly timed sword strike. This is a game of patience and  opportunity. It’s about slowly learning your way through an intimidating boss, and going from feeling helpless to feeling accomplished and better than you were three hours earlier. In order to achieve these things though, you’re going to have to be ready to deal with some heavy doses of menus and text. There’s a lot to learn about the mechanics of Nioh, and that applies to more than just the melee combat. Talking about the melee combat’s depth alone is already complex enough. Not only do you have a light and heavy attack, but you also have three different stances for each weapon: high, mid, and low. Each stance has it’s own pros and cons, and you have to constantly be reading your opponent and changing up your stance in order to defeat them. This is especially vital during boss fights, which the game has a heaping helping of.  Outside of the combat, you have a looting system with it’s own rarity scale. A blacksmith, who will allow you to purchase new items, melt down old ones for materials, build new gear, and level up old gear. A overworld map where you can take on side quests, main missions, and extra challenging quests. An in depth skill branch for 5 of the game’s 8 weapon types. A dojo to refine and hone your skills. A multiplayer section that I didn’t check out because I don’t have enough friends to play games with. The list goes on.

There’s a lot of stuff to do here. Like, a lot a lot. If Nioh was a house, it would be classified as a hoarder’s house. The amount of content you get here for the price the game is sold at is more than worth your money. The game can easily run you about thirty hours or so, just in the main story alone. That is, if you’re good at these kinds of games. If you’re someone like me, however, who isn’t good at these Soulslike (Crash Bandicootlike) games, then you could very well be looking at a significantly longer playtime. And that isn’t even mentioning the side quests, DLC, and new game plus modes. There’s plenty of meaty, chunky, gory goodness to be had in Nioh. And investing both your time and money into this title will lead you to find one of the most rewarding abiet frustrating experiences you will have in gaming for quit some time to come. Nioh can be a bit overwhelming at times, and to be honest, that’s a bit of an understatement, but stick with it and you’ll find yourself completely immersed in a game that I’d say is: Definitely worth full price.

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Game Reviews

Two Cent Review: Cuphead

Video review can be found here.

(Cuphead is available for PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Windows & Mac.)

Imagine an alternate universe, where 1930’s Disney cartoons have access to a time machine. They take that time machine, climb aboard, and head for the 80′s. The 1980′s. Upon arrival, they meet this cool video game named Contra. Contra, Steamboat Willie and friends quickly become best pals and decide to do acid one day together. In their LSD soaked haze, they end up sleeping together and have such an odd looking baby by the end of this completely realistic scenario that everyone who sees it cant help but be intrigued. That baby would be Cuphead. A game about two anthropomorphic cups named Cuphead and Mugman. The two walking, talking, living, breathing ceramic coffee containers end up signing a contract with the devil (not like in a record contract sort of way, but more of like a “sell your soul” kind of way). In the contract, they agree that in exchange for keeping their souls, Cupdude and Mugman must collect the souls of others who have made a similar deal with the devil and didn’t pay up.

This game is firetruckin’, fingersuckin’, fistfuckin’ fantastic to look at. The A E S T H E T I C of it is so eye catching, so mystifying, you can’t help but look on in awe, and wonder “how does something like this exist? How have we not seen this sooner?”. The visuals invoked one of my favorite feelings a person who feels can feel: Nostalgia! It’s happy. It’s joyful. It’s warm and vibrant. It’s violent as hell and I didn’t realize until reviewing this game how graphic cartoons from that era actually were. Some of this shit is straight up nightmare fuel. Everything here is hand drawn, and you can tell that some serious TLC went into the art of this game. It certainly shows. Now lets talk about the music and sound for a second. Do you like brass? Huh? You like brass? You like jazz?! Well get ready for some bombastic brass blown by barotone boys. This game’s soundtrack is like a California hillside in the middle of August: Lit. Every track is bouncy, full of BRASS, energetic and fits the level associated it. Even going as far as to giving each individual boss it’s own epic showdown track. I like that shit. I love that shit! And I think you will as well. The sound here is somewhat harder to critique, however. I’m not sure if I like it all that much. I think I do, but the game weaves the sound effects in and out so well that sometimes they almost seem to disappear into the background music entirely. But I think that’s what they were going for, honestly. The game has this mono sound to it, remenicent of how games on the Gameboy sounded. It certainly fits the style of the game, and adds furthermore to the A E S T H E T I C that Cuphead practically oozes. All together the music and sound effects all come together quite nicely, and even though it may sound odd at times, it fits the game well. Therefore I’d have to say that the presentation here as a whole is pretty top notch. We’re talking about some hella primo stuff here. Careful: It’s Hot!

Cuphead is primarily a boss rush game, bit it has a few gun and run levels sprinkled throughout as well. There’s a central overworld you explore, which opens up more to the player as the stages presented are completed. This game is hard, too. Like Kakuna spamming Harden hard. We’re talking some grade A level diamonds hard. It took me upwards of an hour and a half to complete just one boss fight. Not all of them took me that long, but all of them did leave me with a feeling of tremendous accomplishment upon completion. And that, to me at least, is worth the patience and concentration that some of these levels require. You also have the option of playing with one or two players. I live alone in a hut far off the coast of Madagascar though, so I had nobody to co-op with. Therefore I won’t be commenting on that topic. The gameplay is smooth. It’s slick, and responsive. Some platformers perform like a rental car that’s been around more than your local corner prostitute. Others perform like a sweet, sexy new ride you just purchased off the lot. Cuphead falls into the latter here, most definitely. The controls are simple enough, although they’re layed out somewhat uncomfortably on the controller. You have a button to shoot, a button to dodge, a button for your super ability, and a button to jump. Both movement and aiming are bound to the left stick, which for me, took a bit of getting used to. Once I got it down though, the game played very well. I was able to react in time to most attacks, and the ones I couldn’t avoid were usually followed up by me realizing how easily that damage could have been prevented. The game allows for a bit of customization as well, which becomes practically essential once you reach the later stages. You can equip a primary attack, a secondary, as well as a charm that allows for things like instant parrying or momentary invincibility when dashing. This adds a nice layer of depth to the game that isn’t overly complex or gimmicky.

I love this game. Everything about it to me is what I never knew I wanted in a game. Since it was announced at E3 a few years ago, I’ve had my eye on it. And so have thousands of other people. Now that it’s finally out, I’m more than happy to say it was worth the wait. The guys, gals, and any fourth demensional beings that worked on this game should give themselves a pat on the back. What they have created is something quite close to a masterpiece. It’s rare that I play a game that makes me want to revisit it after completion. There’s something about the setting, the warm, nostalgic vibe it gives off, and the retro gameplay found in Cuphead that envokes the feeling of childhood in me. I’ve more than enjoyed my time with it, and I’m going to keep enjoying it after this review. There’s a good chuck of content to eat through, and it’s all more than reasonably priced at a mere $20. 

Would I recommend it? Would I recommend Cuphead? Oh most certainly. I’d even go so far as to say it’s: Definitely worth full price.