Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!

In Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! we get a pretty accurate summary of what to expect from the title of the game; an amorphous alien blob lands on Earth(from Space!) and begins to consume everything in front of it. While it may sound like a pretty simple premise, it works well within its b-movie setting and most importantly, is really fun to play. Mutant Blobs Attack! is a sequel to Drinkbox Studio’s Tales From Space: About a Blob and was initially released back in 2012, and more recently on the Nintendo Switch in May 2019. It is a platform/puzzler set to a 60’s sci-fi b-movie backdrop that made for a delightful game experience. I downloaded the game a few weeks ago while looking on the eShop on my Switch and thought it sounded fun to play. I had a great time playing Guacamelee(finally!) so I was willing to check out what else Drinkbox Studios had to offer. I began playing it several weeks ago as an indie title I could play in small, bite-size chunks to counter the endless hours hunting Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild.

Once you reach the last level, you’ve reached a large enough size to consume buildings and an entire city

As the title suggests, you control a small alien blob making your way through the 6 levels, with each containing four stages. The first level takes place on a college campus, before progressing through the nearby town, a detour to the moon, back to the Badlands, an Army base, and finally a large metropolis. The levels for the most part consist of standard side-scrolling where you navigate the levels while consuming anything smaller than yourself, slowly building in size until you can progress to the next section. This aspect of the Mutant Blobs Attack! is essentially Katamari Damacy as a side-scroller; there’s also numerous puzzles blocking your path that you must overcome by drawing yourself to or pushing away from corresponding objects, as a magnet would be attracted or repelled from another magnet. The “magnetic” objects are colored purple, usually pipes or spinning blades. For example, you press ZL to draw yourself towards an object and you can push yourself away from the same object by pressing ZR. In other levels you will be able to use your ability to propel yourself through the air using…gas(I think?) similar to how a jellyfish will move underwater. There is also several stages that will use a top-down camera as you roll yourself around using gyroscopic controls – like one of those old wooden maze toys where you try to roll the small metal ball to the end. Other puzzles will require you to your psionic ability to move and arrange beams and platforms around to provide access or block taking any damage from red laser beams that will result in your demise should you touch them. This is accomplished by using a standard controller or by utilizing a touch screen if you are playing on Switch or Playstation Vita. There is a message at the beginning of the game that states handheld mode is the recommended way to play the game. I played just about the entire game in handheld mode.

The gameplay and physics work really well, although at one point I was noticing that my movements seemed to be just a split second after I moved the joystick as if there was some screen lag, worse yet, there were a few instances of my character moving slightly BEFORE I had even moved the joystick. However, this seemed to be fixed upon attaching my other set of Joy-Cons to the Switch…only now I’m fearing I may be starting to see some of the infamous “Joy-Con drift” that has been a bit of a concern for Switch owners in the past few months. Nonetheless, the actual controls within the game work really well and the in-game physics seem spot-on.

Earth is doomed!!

The visuals and music in Mutant Blobs Attack! really add to the gameplay experience, the animation style is similar to that of Guacamelee, with the backgrounds and level design that ooze 60’s sci-fi b-movie vibes. I really enjoyed the music as well, an upbeat blend of reverb-drenched surf music sounding like it was recording in the 60’s. The game does a great job of conveying the sights and sounds, along with the goofy charm that seems to exist within Drinkbox games. The ending of the game was also enjoyable as the alien blob has grown such enormous size that it devours the Earth and then entire solar system, this is prompt the in-game achievement – Galaxicide.

Complaints I have for Mutant Blobs Attack! begin with the game’s length, you could easily finish the entire game in one sitting as the levels can be completed in anywhere from two to five minutes. The game does encourage you to go back to previous levels to best your previous score as well as find and rescue two of your companion blobs in each level, so the length isn’t a huge detriment to the game, particularly for the price. As stated earlier, the game is perfect to play when you just want to spend a small amount of time playing and don’t want to start up something you will not gain anything from by playing less than a couple hours. My other complaint is probably more to due with playing it on the Switch, some of the puzzles will require you to use the touch controls to move objects to obscure laser beams or to bridge gaps, but this can be tricky to do while having to press buttons and move the joystick in rather quick succession. You can play the game in docked mode, but this requires you to position yourself close enough to the object you need to move that it is more difficult this way. I imagine the smaller size of the Vita would make for the easiest way to complete these challenges.

The puzzles encourage you to use the touch screen to move the platforms, it’s a little trickier with a controller…

Minor complaints aside, Mutant Blobs Attack! is great fun and is certainly worthy of your time. The setting is interesting and the music adds to the 60’s vibe, I can wholeheartedly recommend this game. Drinkbox Studios has shown to be capable of producing unique indie titles that don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. I will definitely be playing Guacamelee 2 in the near future too!

That’s it for now, I’ve been enjoying playing through an assortment of indie games and writing up a summary about it. The next indie title will most likely be Layers of Fear, another game I’ve been meaning to play for a while. Have you played any games from Drinkbox Studios? Do you have any suggestions for indie games to play? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep on playing…

My Hylian Summer Vacation

Yesterday, I finally completed my quest to play through Breath of the Wild, completing every shrine and finding every. single. Korok seed along the way. I just happened to sit down to play some Switch and felt like playing Breath of the Wild. I had been meaning to play the game some more as, there was still plenty I could cross off the list from my first play through, such as the Master Sword Trials or the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 quest. I had also just finished a weekend blog listing some of my favorite Summertime Games and had mentioned BOTW as a game I distinctly thought of the summer months, as I spent the summer of 2017 playing through it my first time. So I decided to begin the game a second time with the thought that if nothing else, I would gain a deeper appreciation for the game. There are games that you always wish you could go back and experience for the first time all over again, usually epic games like Breath of the Wild, Fallout 3, GTA IV, etc. While I knew that you can never go back to your “first time” with a game, but I do enjoy going back and revisiting games like this and note what still stands out about the game or what is it that you still dislike; I seem to do this with Zelda games in particular as I played through Majora’s Mask a few months ago with that intent. I wanted to play through BOTW again to see what parts of the game stand out or plain irritate me a second time around. As someone who by nature(?), seems prone to making things more difficult than they would normally be, I had the brilliant idea, “I’m gonna finish every shrine…and get every Korok seed too!”. Here I am today, 26 days and roughly 140 hours of gameplay later – 4 Divine Beasts, 120 Shrines, and all 900 Korok Seeds. I also thought it would be interesting to take some notes as I go through the game and write up a summary of my experience afterward.

I spent the next few weeks playing Breath of the Wild, marking out areas on my Sheikah Slate locations of shrines and Korok seeds. I will make it perfectly clear that I was using the giant fold-out map of Hyrule that came with the player’s guide I got shortly after buying the game, as well as the interactive map from Zelda Dungeon(one of my favorite sites! ). There is no way I was going to be able to find every Korok seed completely on my own, some of the locations were incredibly cryptic and it’s a wonder how some of them were ever found in the first place. I also learned that you can only place 100 stamps on your Sheikah Slate map at any given time…yeah, ONLY 100. At one point I zoomed out a bit to look at the map and it was overrun with little stamps showing the location of seeds in a specific region, and noticed it looked a bit like a map from just about any Ubisoft game. I tackled one region on the map before moving on to the next, beginning with the Great Plateau and then making my way through the Dueling Peaks region. I approached the game like a job essentially, I would wake up and try to chip away what I could after I woke up and before I would go to sleep at night. I don’t want to make it sound like I was miserably grinding away, I truly enjoyed the many, many hours spent mindless chasing marked areas on my map. It was like I just couldn’t stop, one of the highest praises I can usually give a game.

Upon finally completing all the shrines you receive a new “quest” from the monks to go retrieve your reward from the treasure chests located at the Forgotten Temple located at the northern end of Tanagar Canyon. Your reward for completing all 120 shrines is the “Outfit of the Wild” which includes cap, tunic, and trousers that resemble Link’s attire from the very first Legend of Zelda game and looks pretty cool. The “reward” from Hestu however, for scouring every nook and cranny throughout Hyrule for all 900 Korok seeds is simply called “Hestu’s Gift” and appears to be several Korok seeds layered precisely in a way to make it look like a “poop emoji” …yup…that’s right. Upon further reading, I found that indeed, the joke all along is you were collecting Korok poo…umm…great? The symbol itself is known in Japan as Kin no unko, which translates to “golden poo” and is considered a good luck charm. Adding to this wondrous discovery is also a glitch that was found in the game which makes it possible to “collect” infinite Korok seeds, it’s a good thing I like the game that damn much upon realizing the goal of collecting all the seeds was simply a fool’s errand.

In a break from my ramblings of golden Korok poo, I have listed some of my favorite aspects of Breath of the Wild, as well as things about the game that I still don’t love and would like to see changed by the time the sequel to BOTW is released. The things I loved about BOTW…

  • Hyrule – I absolutely love the giant sprawling landscape of BOTW’s Hyrule! While playing there were many regions that reminded me of areas of Tamriel while playing Skyrim, but liked even more. The rocky coastal areas of the Akkala region, with its hills and cliffs overlooking the sea are my favorite. The Wasteland and Gerudo regions providing a mostly barren, arid landscape where you deal with temperature extremes and the occasional sandstorm, making travel difficult. I also loved the Lake region of Hyrule; one of my consistent favorite areas in any given Zelda game would have to be Lake Hyrule – I first fell in love with the idyllic scenery surrounding the giant lake in Ocarina of Time, where I spent much of my time fishing. In BOTW, the massive Bridge of Hylia spans the entire distance across the lake. I also really like the Faron region with the lush, tropical environment that really reminded me of Link’s Awakening and The Wind Waker (even if it’s home to many violent thunderstorms and lightning striking). The Hyrule that Nintendo created for BOTW is probably my favorite aspect of the game.
  • Intro/Setting – The opening of Breath of the Wild is probably my favorite of any Zelda game, beginning with Link’s awakening(get it?…ok, sorry) in the Shrine of Resurrection. You are then given first views of the Great Plateau and the vast land of Hyrule spread out in front of you, in one of many epic moments of the game. The overall setting of the game is great, providing a cryptic eerie sense as you survey the ruins of Hyrule after your hundred-year slumber, piecing together your forgotten memories of just what happened before you were placed in the Shrine of Resurrection. I loved just wandering around the ruins of forts and villages, risking attack by numerous enemies, including the dangerous mechanical Guardians. This reminded me a lot of the Fallout games where you emerge from a stasis chamber to a world completely foreign to you.
  • Combat – I know the combat in the combat has been ridiculed by some after the game was released, with the majority of that I believe rested primarily on the fact your weapons are breakable(still NOT a fan). I really enjoyed the combat and felt it does stress tactics and strategy in choosing which enemies to engage and which to simply avoid; rushing at an enemy and trying to hack your way through has a very low success rate in this gameI would come across a blue-maned Lynel and think, “no way…he’s WAY too strong of an enemy to engage at this point in the game” – as I’m already pecking away at it with arrows from my Boko Bow… that didn’t end well. As much as I hate using this as a reference for anything with the slightest difficulty curve, the combat in BOTW DID in many ways remind of Dark Souls.
  • Princess Zelda – There was a greater resonance to Zelda as a sympathetic character in Breath of the Wild than in other games. In other entries, she seemed essentially a priceless artifact to be rescued, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. In BOTW, she’s more of a three dimensional character; her frustration from the expectations placed upon her to contain the darkness threatening Hyrule and the consequences of failure to do so. We may have played the game through Link’s eyes, but the heart of the story was Princess Zelda. The irony that the title of the series has always been Legend of Zelda.

As for the things I still dislike about Breath of the Wild…there isn’t too many things. This is also some things that I didn’t hate about the game, but merely would prefer changed around a bit for the sequel announced back at E3.

  • Breakable weapons – Let’s get this one out of the way first…I dislike breakable weapons in any game, I end up spending the majority of the game cautiously avoiding the better weapons I have hoarded to that point, out of fear that they’ll just break after a couple enemies(if that). I don’t think it ruined the game by any means, it’s simply something I have never liked in a video game.
  • RAIN! – I love the traversal in Breath of the Wild, then a rain shower inevitably comes along to bring any progress to a screeching halt. In specific areas like the tropical Faron region, I understand the frequent rainstorms, but it happening at nearly that frequency just about everywhere else got a bit tiring. This is probably my biggest annoyance in BOTW, more even than breakable weapons. You are encouraged to climb just about anything and explore the land, but it becomes incredibly difficult when it’s always raining. This made me appreciate the Gerudo, and Wasteland regions, I will gladly take a sandstorm over the rain.
  • Dungeons – I really like the Divine Beasts and Shrines throughout the game, however I would like to see a more traditional dungeon layout for BOTW 2. The length and sheer number of Shrines in the game don’t provide as much cohesion compared to other titles, like Twilight Princess or Majora’s Mask.
  • Boss Battles – This may be equal parts boss battles AND combat, actually. The boss battles in the game with the different “blight” incarnations of Ganon didn’t seem to be quite as memorable as other Zelda titles. Another thing I thought was strange in BOTW is how much easier the boss battles feel than some of the higher level Bokoblins, Moblins, or Lizalfos. The boss battles can be defeated primarily by spamming arrows, and occasionally using the Runes on your Sheikah Slate, whereas the sub-bosses like Hinox or Lynels, take a much more time and strategy to bring down. This makes certain elements of combat seem a little off-balance.
  • Fishing – One of my favorite and most enjoyable activities in Zelda games has been fishing. It was curiously absent in Breath of the Wild and I would love to see it implemented in the upcoming sequel.
  • Hookshot – A favorite weapon since A Link to the Past, I really hope to see it in the next game

Over the 140+ hours I spent playing Breath of the Wild, I kept track of some of my favorite moments of the game…

  • Master Sword – The moment you pull the Master Sword has been one of the defining moments of a Zelda game since A Link to the Past.
  • Typhlo Ruins – The Shrouded Shrine quest is located in the Typhlo Ruins just north of the Lost Woods. You land on a small island covered in darkness, you must feel your way around the island and light torches along the way. The path eventually leads you to the center of the island where you find the shrine orb, hanging around the neck of a sleeping Hinox. Finding my way through the pitch black with only the light from the occasional torch felt similar to the eerie, cryptic puzzles of early Zelda games.
  • Eventide Island – The Stranded on Eventide quest begins the moment you set foot on Eventide Island. The quest takes away all of your items and equipment and challenges you to activate three shrine pedestals which are being protected by an assortment of enemies. This shrine quest, as well as most of the Faron region provided many Link’s Awakening vibes.
  • Shield Surfing – Once I finally learned how to do it, the shield surfing in Breath of the Wild is a blast!

At the end of the day, was it worth it? yes and no. Experiencing everything the main game has to offer was as great as my first time through, if anything I have an even greater appreciation for what Nintendo accomplished in creating Breath of the Wild. If you’re the type of gamer into collecting Achievements and Trophies, then you will most likely be quite disappointed in what lies at the end of your journey to 100% the game; you’ve earned bragging rights if nothing else. I did also take a few pictures to remember my “summer vacation” in Hyrule.

Wow! that was a bit longer than I had planned. Has anyone else out there played finished every shrine and seed in Breath of the Wild? What other games have you played so obsessively you felt at times that you couldn’t stop? I am quite satisfied to have this completed and will be shortly setting my sights on the new Fire Emblem game next.

Keep on playing…

Gato Roboto – A Charming MEWtroidvania Title

Greetings! Today’s post is about a game that I have played recently and really enjoyed – Gato Roboto, which was developed by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. Gato Roboto was released on Steam and Nintendo Switch on May 30 and I admit I was sold pretty easily upon first hearing about the game…Metroidvania, Cats, Mech-suits…YES PLEASE! 🙂

Gato Roboto begins with interstellar pilot, Gary responding to a distress signal coming from a seemingly abandoned research facility…sounds familiar, right? Upon arrival at the facility your ship crashes to the planet surface and Gary is trapped in the wreckage. Unable to proceed any further Gary entrusts his loyal companion – a cat named Kiki to complete his mission. Kiki quickly discovers an unoccupied mech-suit and begins the process of rescuing Gary and learning the origin of the distress signal. You begin at the Landing Site before making your way to the Nexus which acts as a “hub” for the interconnected regions of the game (Landing Site, Nexus, Aquaduct, Heater Core, Ventilation, Incubator, and Laboratory being the seven regions to explore in the game). As you progress throughout the different regions you acquire varying upgrades for your suit, such as missiles, spin jump, auto repeater – rapid fire ability for your main weapon. There is no grapple beam, sadly…you also don’t have to worry about missile upgrades as you have a temperature gauge which will allow you to shoot unlimited missiles, however you can only shoot a couple before you begin overheating. One unique ability in the game is the phase boost, which allows you to quickly dash between barriers, granting you brief invulnerability( I was familiar with this after playing Guacamelee); a skill that becomes necessary for boss battles later in the game.

As one would expect, you are not able to explore every corner of a given region as you make your way through the first time, you will need to gain certain skills to access specific areas. Once you acquire your spin jump you will be able to make your way up to that higher up ledge you noticed your initial pass through the area. The rewards for thoroughly exploring the regions are usually health upgrades, or palette cassettes, which act as a filter to change the appearance of your screen from the default black and white. There are a total of fourteen palette cartridges you can collect on your way to 100% completion; my favorites were Grape – a very bold purple, Meowtrix – a Wachowski-inspired neon green, and Virtual Cat – a headache-inducing bright red as a nod to Nintendo’s great(est) misstep of the 90’s. You can also acquire two upgrades to current weapons from the frog scientist(?) Rebba provided you’ve found enough palette cartridges. The Auto Repeater upgrade adds a rapid-fire ability to your main weapon, which is definitely worth the extra few minutes of tracking down those extra cartridges; you can simply hold down the fire button when shooting enemies, and bosses especially as they take a lot of firepower to defeat.

My favorite of the palette cartages that act as color filters – Virtual Cat. Just looking at this is almost enough to cause a headache.

I don’t want to simplify any description of Gato Roboto by saying it’s a Metroid clone; it certainly makes no effort to hide the fact that it’s almost a note-for-note cover of Metroid. The game outside of the phase boost, and the main protagonist being a cat, doesn’t really add anything to the formula that we haven’t seen before. If you’re looking for original gameplay and narrative-heavy storyline you will be greatly disappointed. I wrote about Back In 1995 a while back; a game that was created as an homage to a genre of games that had influenced the developers. My biggest critique of Back In 1995 wasn’t necessarily that it didn’t do something revolutionary for the survival-horror genre, but that it seemingly missed on what made the games memorable in the first place. Gato Roboto IS for all intent “Metroid, but with a cat”, but it does provide an enjoyable gameplay experience, along with some quirky indie-game charm which is all I was hoping for in the game. My only real complaint is the overall controls/jumping feel a little too loose and “floaty” but isn’t too much of a hinderance. The game isn’t overly difficult, outside of a couple boss battles and not particularly long, it can be completed in 3-4 hours. I enjoyed my first time through the game enough that I did play through a second time in an attempt to get a 100% completion. If you’re a fan of Metroidvania games, or just cats in video games, I can recommend Gato Roboto as a indie title you can play for under $10.

That’s it for this week! What are some Metroidvania games that you’ve enjoyed recently? How about just games with cats in them? 🙂

I realize I said “Metroidvania” about a hundred times, so apologize for that…AND the bad pun in the title 😉 I also thought of this recent article I read on Kotaku, lol.

https://kotaku.com/stop-calling-games-metroidvania-1836051152

Keep on playing…

Weekend Gaming Review – June 2019

I’m still feeling the excitement from all of the game announcements from E3 which ended this previous Thursday, and got a chance to watch some actual gameplay from upcoming games, mostly from the Nintendo E3 Treehouse stream I watched on Tuesday. I stated in last week’s post how excited I am for the Link’s Awakening remake and watching gameplay from it only increased that feeling, I also got to see more from Super Mario Maker 2 and Animal Crossing which I already have on the “Buy List” in my head. Two other games I am really interested to try out later this summer/fall for the Switch are Daemon X Machina and Astral Chain which make my Switch Shopping List even more lengthy this year. Along with spending multiple hours between gaming news sites and spectating the elation of Banjo-Kazooie fans after being announced as a new Smash Bros. DLC characters( I thought I LOVED the game…) I still found time to actually play some games, including a few games I started for the first time.

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda – I wanted to play through this game to see if it’s really as bad as I remember hearing about when the game was released. I know that BioWare has made a number of updates to the game particularly with the character animations during cutscenes which was I guess something a significant portion of gamers couldn’t get past, along with the story not being as ambitious as the original Mass Effect trilogy. I have enjoyed what I’ve played of the game so far and plan to write up my thoughts on the game after completing.
  • Pokémon : Let’s Go, Pikachu! – I actually hadn’t started on this game since it’s release last year and I am somewhat disappointed in myself. I watched my younger brother play through Pokémon Yellow( and I had Pokémon Red) on Game Boy Color as a kid, so I was familiar with the game and just plain hadn’t gotten around to it; most of my time last November and December was spent playing Black Ops 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Smash Bros. Ultimate. I love kicking back and playing pretty much ANY Pokémon game as one of my “comfort food” games that I come back to if I ever get into a “rut” and find myself asking “Am I really enjoying this or am I just playing this game to clear it from my backlog?” I couldn’t help but notice that I happened to pick this up after watching a bunch of gameplay showing Pokémon Sword/Shield which comes out in November…probably a coincidence?
  • Doom 3 – I have been playing through this off and on for a few weeks as I was determined to actually finish the damn game as it was one of many games that I began so long ago that when I finally come back to it I decide to start ALL OVER again and play through from the beginning. You know when you start watching a tv show and just kinda fall off about halfway through it that when you yourself wanting to see it through to the end you feel like you need to being fresh from the beginning so it seems more cohesive….I’m not the ONLY weirdo out there like that, right? Anyways…I’ve been playing through Doom 3 with an extra determination to finish it; there’s only a few months before Doom Eternal comes out and I want to get another run through of Doom 2016 before that. I also, just picked up a copy of Doom 64 that I found at my local retro game store that I’m lucky to have in my hometown, so I look forward to finally playing that as I never played it back in 1997.
  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Another game that has been in my ever-growing backlog waiting for me to finish. I bought Dark Moon when it first came out on the 3DS as I was really excited for another Luigi’s Mansion game with the original being the first game that I played and loved for the Gamecube in 2001. Another game that I simply have not played to completion, I mostly attribute this to that I spend a disproportionate amount of console games to handheld games. I have nothing against the 3DS, I just never played it as much as a console I can play on my tv. The handheld games I have always spent the most time playing are the mainline Pokémon games, otherwise most games for my Game Boy Color/DS/3DS have been relegated to games that I would play should I ever actually travel somewhere(almost never…). By this point it seems that whether I realized it or not, the games I have been playing all have a sequel or simply another game in the series coming out the near future with exception of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
  • MLB The Show 19 – Yup, still grinding away for more cards on my Diamond Dynasty team…

I will most likely write up my thoughts about Mass Effect, Doom, and Let’s Go, Pikachu! in the future after making my way through them. I started this blog simply as an exercise in talking about video games – something incredibly meaningful to me and has always been a part of my life. I have a lot of different ideas for future blog posts to add a little bit of variety so I’m not just typing “I played this game today…” every weekend. I will still continue to write out my thoughts about games that I’m playing or would like to play, along with different topics involving video games in some capacity. Current gaming news or specific memories or attachments to particular games is another avenue that I would be interested in; there’s even plenty of video game movies that I think would be fun to talk about. That about does it for this week…I still have a little bit of time to catch a few more Pokémon 🙂

Keep on playing…

Back In 1995 – Remember the 90’s?

Several days ago I decided it would be fun to download another random indie game and share my thoughts about it as I did a few weeks ago with Coffee Crisis. The game I decided on after looking on the Nintendo eShop is titled Back In 1995 – a “retro indie game” which isn’t much of a novelty, but this sounded intriguing and might be worth a try.

Back In 1995 was developed by Throw The Warped Code Out and was published by Ratalaika Games, originally being released back in 2016(no pun intended) it found its way to the Nintendo eShop this May. The game was created as a very deliberate throwback to the survival horror genre games that were popular in the 90’s such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or Alone In The Dark. It was created to be as authentic to these types of games as possible, as if this game truly was developed…back in 1995. The game includes many of the characteristics of survival horror games from that time such as blurry character models and environments, fixed camera angles, lackluster voice acting, and tank controls…yes, they included tank controls to aid in game’s retro authenticity. Tank controls, for those who are young( and fortunate) enough to never have had to use them simply mean that regardless of where you are on screen pressing UP will always move your character FORWARD. Anyone old enough to grow up playing the original Resident Evil games with its cumbersome tank controls surely remembers the frustration of your character drunkenly stumbling down hallways and around obstacles as it is very difficult to move in a straight line.

Cloudy with a chance of…winged meatballs?

The storyline of the game(or lack thereof) begins with the game’s protagonist, Kent regaining consciousness and is convinced he needs to reach the top of a tower in order to find his daughter Alissa, or figure out what’s going on….or something? The story really isn’t fleshed out much more than that, with only a few notes and newspaper clipping that are scattered around the 3 (yes, ONLY 3) levels of the game. The main character has suffered some sort of trauma or has amnesia and tries to discover what is going on, typical of survival horror games of the PS1/Saturn/3DO era.

Back In 1995 does manage to recreate most of the atmosphere of the games it is trying to emulate, however that is about it. The fixed camera angles and fuzzy visuals you got from using an old cathode-ray tube (CRT) tv were limitations of the time that were utilized with the game to create a feeling of suspense, there was no sense of terror or even a single jump scare or anything like it during the game. I understand what the developers were going for with the aesthetic of the game and it does succeed in feeling like games of a previous era. Back In 1995 has most of the characteristics of Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but unfortunately none of the story or anything else that makes it very memorable. There are reasons why we STILL talk about making our way through a creepy mansion filled with zombies in Resident Evil or trying to piece together what happened to the foggy, eerie town of Silent Hill. Kent wanders around a hospital office, the rooftop of the hospital, and finally ending at somewhere I would describe as a rooftop luxury condo or some kind. The game is not challenging in the way of combat or puzzles, there is more than enough health and ammo and the couple puzzles are nothing more than a few switches or 3-digit combination locks. There is never really a sense of danger or urgency in the game, despite what is set up(or not). The enemies in the game are also forgettable as they never play much of a part in the story other than weird lumpy objects to maneuver around, remember the tank controls? The environments that take place in the game are all kind of same-y; a drab shade of beige or gray making it difficult at times to tell where an item may be lying around, causing you to wander aimlessly around the empty levels.

A luxury condo with a wonderful view…

Any challenge within the game is completely from your limitations of movement and patience. The game unfortunately gets to be a bit of a chore. You are unable move faster than a slow walk; no running or the ability to quick turn. I found myself holding down the B button as I was laboriously moving around, forgetting that you are simply unable to run. There is also not much in the way of sound effect or music to the game, just about all of the game is simply you listening to the sound of your loud footsteps clomping down the hallway which detracted from my patience while playing the game.

The ending of the game was also a little bit underwhelming as I found myself saying “oh….ok…that’s it?” as it tried to wrap everything up at the last second with a not so surprising realization that Kent was involved in a bad accident and it had left his mind so damaged that it rendered him incoherent and sometimes even violent with his family who had left him to be watched over by the staff of a psych ward of a hospital. I mentioned how inconsequential the monsters in the game were and how they were simply mentioned at the end of the game as “being in his mind”.

“Gotcha suckas!” – name the movie

Back In 1995 was created with the best intentions in mind of a genre of games they obviously were fans of, but were unable to capture the essence of what made the games of the era great. I would compare this game to a “cover version” of a popular song: it can sound(or look) like it, but more often that not it just doesn’t have the spirit of the original. Do I recommend Back In 1995? I can’t say the game is great, but if you played survival horror games on the PS1 back in 1995( last time, sorry!) it may be worth checking out.

Does anyone out there remember the old survival horror games of the 90’s tank controls and all? What are some indie games that you feel were negatively effected due to insisting on “retro authenticity”?

Keep on playing…

Weekend Gaming Review – Nintendo Switch

I didn’t have anything particular in mind for this week’s blog post as I admit the week seemed to rush by rather quickly, so I figured I would more or less discuss what games I have been playing over the past week as well as this weekend.

I started off the week by finally beating Cuphead on my Switch. I absolutely love the game! The gameplay is practically flawless and reminds me greatly of games from the Contra or Mega Man series. The game is certainly not easy, it is all the more rewarding when you are able to finally break through and beat a boss or level. I recommend it heartily to anyone who enjoys side-scrolling shooters….AND a challenge.

After beating Cuphead I had the urge to pick back up the Mega Man X Collection for my Switch and spent a good deal of time this weekend trying to beat Mega Man X, as I have played the game( SNES mostly) time to time from childhood but have never actually beat the game….an all to common thing, especially older and more difficult ones such as that. Mega Man titles have always been difficult but the satisfaction that comes from clearing a level and boss at the end is a feeling of “gamer euphoria” that is hard to match.

Who laughing now, huh?

As a bit of a changeup from the challenging side scroller games I have been playing, I spent several hours over the week playing Super Mario Odyssey. I have completed the “main story” twice and spent just over 90 hours acquiring all 999 Power Moons in the game, so I didn’t really intend on doing that all a second time, but there is something in the game that is just really relaxing in casually collecting power moons across the different worlds. I have said it before, but it really does remind me of the Mario 64 and the “collect-a-thon” games of the era including Rare gems Banjo-Kazooie, and Jet Force Gemini. These games will forever hold a very special place to me.

This past Friday, Konami released their Castlevania Anniversary Collection which had been announced as part of the company’s 50th anniversary. I promptly downloaded the collection on my Switch, as I have played many different Castlevania games but have never played Castlevania: The Adventure which was released for the Game Boy back in 1989 and hadn’t come across many physical copies of it around town. The game is enjoyable despite the terrible framerate slow-down that plagued many old Game Boy games that tried to push the limited technology of the day. The game only contains 4 levels so the game can pretty easily be completed in one sitting. There is also the first North American release of the NES title – Kid Dracula which is somewhat of a spin-off of the Castlevania series. I am really looking forward to digging into more games in the collection, as I have never played very much of either Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and Castlevania: Bloodlines which I never played back after their original release as I was a bit young. The Castlevania series and similarly the Mega Man games serve to show us games that can age gracefully and still be fun to play – they are beloved by millions of fans due to this.

Castlevania: The Adventure is still fun to play, despite major slowdown issues.

I did also invest a fair amount of time over this weekend playing more Tetris 99( yes…still playing 😉 ). Nintendo announced the 3rd Tetris 99 Maximus Cup, which the goal was essentially to play enough to earn 100 points to get a customer retro theme to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Tetris being released. The theme itself is pretty cool, including the music and green tinted visuals found on the Game Boy 35 years ago.

That’s about it for this week! What were you playing this weekend or plan on playing this coming week?

Keep on playing…

Coffee Crisis – A balanced roast of retro gaming

I thought it would be interesting this weekend to pick up a random indie game on my Switch without knowing really anything about it and write my thoughts about it. In looking through the Switch Online Store, which I believe could use a bit more organization as it seems daunting to look through page after page of titles without there being much for filter options…but I digress. I found the game Coffee Crisis which was developed by Mega Cat Studios and published by Qubic Games. The game appeared to be a bit of a retro throwback to all the 16-bit side scrolling beat-em-up games that I played as a kid on the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. It also happens to involve metal music, retro games, and as the title would suggest….coffee.

I have fond memories of playing beat-em-ups like the Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Golden Axe games; everything about this game fits right in with these games. I enjoyed the aspect of playing a game so reminiscent of the previously mentioned early-90’s titles. Mega Cat Studios I discovered, even produced an authentic Homebrew version of the game on cartridge with case and manual to play on Sega Mega Drive/Genesis that you can purchase on their website.

The story is set on Smurglians – a race of aliens who’s entire planet runs on the energy generated from coffee, metal music and WiFi( that’s right!) and have set their sights on planet Earth’s most precious resources. You play as either Nick or Ashley, two metalhead baristas at the Black Forge Coffee House who are not going to sit idly by and let this travesty occur as you fight your way through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

Walloping the elderly to save the metal…

The gameplay is pretty standard as far as beat-em-ups go; you progress through multiple levels with the occasional mini-boss appearing every several levels until finally making your way to the boss at the end of the game, which I was mildly disappointed in the abrupt not-quite-an-ending of the game, it more or less just….stops. The length of the game overall I was satisfied with, being roughly the same length as others of the genre. My criticisms of the game are pretty mild, as I any drawbacks to the game are the same that you would hear of games like Streets of Rage. For better or worse, Coffee Crisis is authentic to a fault with negative attributes that are commonplace in games like it. You screen position is difficult to keep track of when multiple enemies attack and you get “Caught In A Mosh”( couldn’t resist!). There is also the annoying abundance of enemies who can shoot projectiles at you or simply have “weapons” such as a lasso or a cane…yes, among the enemies you fight off are humans that have been taken control of by the Smurglians. These can be range from random looking “dude bros”, to western looking…uh…cowgirls, to I guess….the elderly? You fight your way through the streets of Pittsburgh drinking coffee, listening to metal, and pummeling old men and women that attack you with canes and walkers. There is also an array of Smurglians to fight from purple aliens sporting mohawks to tuxedo-clad aliens in wheelchairs who can shoot “mental projectiles” at you ( Professor X as a Smurglian). The game in premise alone is not any danger of taking itself seriously, I ALMOST felt like I shouldn’t have been enjoyed this developing chaos as much as I did. My other critique is also all too common in games such as this where, you have a powerful special move at your disposal HOWERVER, using it costs you a small portion of your health. The game is not an easy game, as it was clearly intended to be played in “couch co-op” with another player alongside you.

I still feel these negatives don’t overly hinder any enjoyment to be had playing Coffee Crisis, I had a blast playing this game. The soundtrack to the game is excellent as well, with tracks being provided by Pittsburgh area metal band Greywolf. There is also a couple small cameos from retro-gaming YouTubers Metal Jesus Rocks and Alpha Omega Sin. Mega Cat Studios clearly shows a lot of love for the 16-bit beat-em-ups of yesteryear and I very heartily recommend to anyone looking for an entertaining indie game to play, it’s got coffee, retro games, and metal, hell yeah!

I thought these dudes looked familiar….

Side Note: Coffee Crisis is currently available for LESS than the price of a coffee house brew at $1.99, a GREAT DEAL until May 27th. https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/coffee-crisis-switch/

For anyone else who would like to purchase a physical cartridge version to play on Sega… https://megacatstudios.com/collections/16-bit/products/coffee-crisis-sega-genesis

Keep on playing…

My Nintendo Switch Wish List

Right around this time every year, leading up to E3 in June there is endless speculation regarding what games will be announced for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. This includes brand new series, sequels, along with remastered collections/ports. I thought it would be fun to make a list of the 3 games highest on my wish list for the Nintendo Switch ranging from rumors that have been circulated for a while to “hey, it COULD happen right?”.

Nintendo is still riding high on the success of the Switch and has been busy bringing over titles that gamers may not have gotten the chance to play on previous consoles like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe to franchises that haven’t yet been on a Nintendo system like Diablo 3: Eternal Collection and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. There is also a rapidly growing collection of indie titles on the Switch that is still growing like Rocket League, Undertale and Cuphead(just released a couple days ago). My 3 games I would most like to play on the Switch are all previously released Nintendo games that I think would be excellent on their newest handheld/hybrid console.

I desperately hope the rumors are true…

Metroid Prime Trilogy – The rumor that Nintendo would bring a (hopefully hd remastered) version of the Metroid Prime Trilogy to the Switch has been around for a little while, and has grown even more prevalent since it was announced that they weren’t satisfied with how the development of Metroid Prim 4 was coming along and decided to restart the process along with Retro Studios who developed the first 3 games. Metroid Prime is one of my absolute favorite games and this would be incredible on the Switch with some updated visuals and standard button controls; the latter being one of the biggest reasons Metroid Prime 3 (along with many other games) was a bit difficult to go back and play. The rumor of this being brought over to the Switch has Metroid fans like myself salivating and would help to ease the disappointment in the announcement that Prime 4 is very likely a couple years away still.

Super Mario Sunshine could be an excellent port to the Switch library

Super Mario Sunshine HD – This is another Gamecube game that I would love to play on the Switch with a few tweaks to the game. I have very fond memories of spending many summer hours collecting Shine Sprites and cleaning up graffiti around Isle Delfino as Mario with the help of FLUDD his water-jet backpack….contraption. I know people that weren’t huge fans of the game and criticized the game for being “gimmicky” in its usage of FLUDD throughout the game, who I suspect were the same ones that accused Super Mario Odyssey of the same thing. Oddly enough, while playing through Odyssey I noted the game did seem to be a spiritual successor to Sunshine. One thing, along with some refreshed graphics I would like to see would be maybe…possibly…an improvement to the camera scheme in the game. I have long said that Mario’s greatest nemesis in his 3d adventures IS NOT Bowser, but rather Lakitu and the often clumsy, awkward camera angles. Nonetheless, Super Mario Sunshine had some of the most creative(and difficult) 3d levels I have played and would love the chance to tackle them and Shadow Mario again on the Switch.

Wishful thinking…

Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo-Tooie HD Collection – A Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie collection is my “it COULD happen…right?” entry on the list, this being a somewhat extreme hypothetical as the characters from the BK games as well as Perfect Dark and Conker’s Bad Fur Day are properties of Rare Ltd. who was bought by Microsoft back in 2002. However, a working relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo starting with cross-play ability for games like Minecraft and Fortnite has increased with players being able to unlock Xbox Live Achievements while playing the aforementioned games on their Switch consoles. There has also been the rumors that Microsoft may be working on bringing aspects of Xbox Live to the Switch. This could be a game-changing(PUN!) event, as Microsoft has the best and most robust online gaming experience out there with Xbox Live and if that infrastructure were to be integrated with Nintendo it could be incredible. Another rumor leading up to E3 is that Xbox’s Games Pass subscription could be made available to Switch users, which would also be an amazing development. So my wish is that as long as Microsoft and Nintendo are maintaining a friendly working relationship to compete with Sony in the gaming universe, could Rare Ltd. be given the green light to re-release some of their N64 classics in a HD remastered package? This is pure speculation(not even that…) but I would gladly fork over the cash to play upgraded versions of the Banjo-Kazooie games as well as Perfect Dark or Jet Force Gemini, another underrated Rare game from the N64. Any games you would like to play again on the Switch? A guy can dream, right?

Me, every time Nintendo releases another port or remaster on the Switch