Source: Cashmoneys Price: £17.99 Where to Get It: Steam
Ah, SUPERHOT. One hell of an interesting premise, both in terms of mechanics and story. The gist? Time only moves when you do, including looking around… And you’re in some extremely hectic situations in which it’s kill… Or be killed.
But hey, it’s only a pirated in-development game sent by a friend, and you can always restart!
Haha… Hahahaha… Haaaaboy…
It’s kind of amusing, really, how such a simple premise can be stretched out, and, with the story, each area of progression retrospectively makes the levels you’ve already completed something you can feel a vague sense of guilt about. But it’s only vague, because you’re hooked, the enemies are low-poly faceless red people who want you dead, and you want to see more.
Aesthetically, that low poly look, the glittering reds of what you need to kill, the blacks of what you can use to maim and stun and kill, the slow sounds of glass shattering, bullets firing, and the sterile white of the rest of the landscape makes everything nice and visually clear, yet disconcertingly off… And that discomfort rises when… Ah, but you thought I was going to spoil something, didn’t you? Well, as far as this review goes…
You are not in control.
After all, I want people to experience the twists. That slow, dawning “The fuck?” as they happen, as you have to get ever more creative, to not rely on any one thing, be it guns, your fists, or things to throw, to help you survive. Or at least enjoy dying as a means of exploring what you can do, and to find the (really annoying) secrets of the game. After all…
Bodies are disposable.
The Mad Welshman’s reviews are good. Money is disposable. Support is the new… Okay, okay, but you have to admit, it was worth a shot!
I must admit, when looking through my current collection of “Puzzle Snake”, I had a difficult choice. 3D? Mmmm, got its issues. Top-down? Mmm, works, but lacks that certain something.
Doggo snake puzzle? With cheery barks, nomming noises as they reach their bowl, cheery music, and bright colours? YES. This is it. And so, here we are, with Puzzle Puppers. Where for good results, the pups must get to their bowls, made difficult by rushing water, paired tunnels, and, of course, each other. Click a dog, click somewhere for them to stretch to (for lo, they are stretchy doggos), and test things out until you’ve got the cute little pups to their bowls.
And, for the best results, which unlock extra levels? Get all the meat in the level too. Another tight puzzle game, with self contained levels, and a single best solution for each. It’s aesthetically pretty nice, with some relaxing music, and… Ah. Yes, two of the pups can easily be confused, the yellow and the orange one. Maybe if the orange one were a little darker? Anyway, the sounds are also cute, so, for the most part, it’s got aesthetics going for it.
Apart from that, though, there’s… Not a whole lot to say. It tutorialises well, it’s cute and relaxing, and my only real gripe, apart from the potential colourblindness issue, is that it puts you back at the start of the level selection when you go back to said level selection. Which is a niggle.
A good puzzle game, with cute, brightly coloured doggos… It’s a pretty easy recommendation. When dogs are still cute when they’re stretchy, and act cute as their little tails wag and they pant happily, occasionally barking, it tends to relieve the stress of a puzzle such as this pretty easily. For puzzle fans, this one’s a good choice.
I spent just over 300 words saying why this is good instead of just pointing and saying “Doggos. Puzzle. Cute stretchy doggos.”
I must admit, I don’t really get Golf. Mini-golf? Sure. But there, the obstacles are clear, hilarity results from missing, as opposed to a grumbling hike to wherever the hell the ball went (If you even know where), carrying a big trolley of iron tools around.
No, I just don’t get it. But I do get a puzzle game around the hazards of golf, and I understand logic problems involving set moves that you have to do in the right order. Those, I understand. And so… I understand Golf Peaks. Because that’s exactly what you’re working with. A set number of cards, in which you can putt the ball a certain distance, drive the ball a certain distance (that’s “make it jump up/over things”), or do both, the driving part generally being first. From this set of actions you’re given, you have to get to the hole. Run out of actions, whoops, start over.
See? That’s pretty understandable. And equally understandable, because the levels demonstrate what the new terrain feature does, are the obstacles. Sand traps. Water. Mud, which acts a lot like water. Springboards.
Wait, springboards? Well, uhhh… Yes. Springboards. It’s pretty devious, because, for each level, there is generally one correct solution. And, like any good puzzle game, you’ll figuratively tear your hair out a bit, before that wonderful “Aaaaaah!” moment of realisation. Okay, I messed up here, but I got most of it right. I just needed to use that card last!
So it’s a good puzzle game, tight, single solution puzzles. Is it fun? Yes. Does it have a good, clear aesthetic? Yes. Every tile is clearly noted for what it is, the cards leave no doubt as to their function, even without some gentle tutorialising, and the music is calm and relaxing. Which is exactly what you want for this sort of thing.
So yes, overall, this comes recommended for puzzle fans.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £10.99 (OST £13.59) Where To Get It: Steam
I’d actually been eyeing Kingdom for a while, but… Something put me off. I think, honestly, it was the tower defense aspect of it, for, as long time readers of my work may know, I’m not the biggest fan of tower defense style gameplay.
But, while there are aspects of that to Kingdom, and indeed, defending the kingdom is a core element of what’s going on, the other aspects are what keep me going to it. The decisions, for example. Huh, I’m short on coins… Do I create some farms? Do I chop some trees? Pay the merchant? Two of those can have consequences, if you aren’t careful. Chopping trees pulls back the forest, which is great if you want more land, more walls between you and the Dark Portals of Greed.
Not so good if you want to carry on recruiting people to become bowmen, knights (later), or farmers, maybe keep the merchant, or get a steady supply of deer. Creating farms is fine if you can defend them, or your temporary farms aren’t too far away from your settlement… But risky business nonetheless, because a slow citizen is a lost citizen, their tools stolen, trudging sadly back to the forest because you’ve failed them…
…And, of course… Do I spend money on the main goals yet? Because there are two, or, more accurately, there’s one, but the second may be necessary to get the other. Building a ship to carry the King (or Queen) to a new land, and destroying the portals, the source of the dark Greed. The capital letter because it’s become an anthropomorphic force, rather than just, y’know… A lust for money or things you don’t have.
It’s an interesting idea. Story light, but it brought me back, quite a few times, to explore it. To take risks as the King (or Queen), because, for the majority of the game, there’s a lot you need to take a direct hand in, like distributing that coin to various projects, dropping coins beyond the battlements to maybe keep the Greed away for just one night, recruiting people by giving them coin… Riding out from the settlement, and god help you if you’re out at night, because if you don’t have coin to drop, to distract the Greed, they’ll take your crown. And if they take your crown, it’s all over.
Aesthetically, it’s good pixelwork, some cool music, fitting the theme of a kingdom lost, a kingdom renewed… A kingdom threatened… And gameplay wise, it’s got depth from simple elements, resource management and tower defense… I like it. The tower defense aspects, the slowish pace, the almost roguelike nature of “You will fail to learn the systems”, and the ramping difficulty may turn folks off, but the original game, the proof of concept, is available much cheaper than this for you to try (£4), and, if that grabs your attention, it may be worth taking a look at this one, which adds various features.
The Mad Welshman would make a terrible monarch, or any sort of ruler, really. He’s more the “Laser his name on the moon” type.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £29.99 (And a whole buttload of DLC, totalling £71.) Where To Get It: Steam
I loved Darius when I was young. It was a great example of the imaginative boss design of shmups, along with Xenon 2’s bosses. An evil empire that has a design theme of fishes, crabs, and cephalopods for its giant boss ships? Oh. Hell. Yes. It helps that the series has had one hell of a soundtrack, and it’s been alright on the difficulty for a shmup.
So, once again, the Belsar have invaded, with their fish-like ships, and it’s up to the elite Silverhawks to scramble to save the day. Go save the day, hero!
Bam. Plot done. Let’s talk about the game. Like earlier titles in the series, it’s split up into various routes, although, unlike previous entries, there’s a single main route, and side routes. What makes this one interesting is that you can unlock ships from throughout the series (and, with DLC, play ships from other properties, including the jetpack cannon funtimes of the Space Harrier protagonist), and play with those… Although you’ll get a chance to try out most of them in any case, some of which have unique tricks, and all of whom have at least one different element. Each mission is split up into at least two stages, often with multiple boss fights against memorable ships (the same models, such as King Fossil or Mirage Castle, have appeared pretty much throughout the series, so returning players know most of what to expect.)
Missions also have mutators from the base of “All types of powerup, your special weapon charges from killing enemies”, such as limited or no drops, or your special weapon automatically charging (You’d think this was a godsend, but no, the challenge usually matches that mutator.) Beating each stage earns you a proportion of the score as points to purchase ships (Ships from later in the series, such as the Murukamo, require a lot of points, so if you really, really want to play those early, expect to grind the earlier missions a lot), and to spend on, if you choose to use a custom ship, powering them up for the mission (just using them is free, but if the mission has a no-powerup mutator, you really want to power them up appropriately, or better, than the preset ship you’re given)
When it comes to soundtrack, it’s great. The music, as mentioned, has been strong through most of the series, and this one is no exception. Visually, it works well, ships with powerups being denoted with strong, saturated colours, and foreground elements you could conceivably smash your ship against more saturated and brighter than the background, as it should be. The UX is clear, the sound is good (although, fair warning, if you’re using one of the older ships, it uses similar sound effects to the games they’re from, and changes the soundtrack in some places. They’re still powerful, so, er… Don’t discount them, even if chiptunes and beepy pew-pews aren’t your thing.)
It does get difficult somewhat early, due to some of the bosses having revenge bullets, a boatload of health, and some nasty attacks, but it plays very smoothly for what it is (a port of a PSP game), it’s a good shmup with a great soundtrack… My only critique is that there’s no english language version of the special guidebook you can get as DLC. I’d love to read that. Ship DLC is pretty cheap individually, and there’s certainly enough playtime that you won’t feel the need to play with those until you’ve finished the main game. Oh, and let’s not forget that it has both Arcade and Story modes (The mission route mode I’ve spent most of this review talking about), remote play, and Chronicle Mode, an interesting mode where there are 3000+ worlds on a “cabinet” that you share with other players online.
So… It comes highly recommended as a shmup which, while it gets bullet helly fairly quickly, is interesting, cool, and with a great soundtrack!
The Mad Welshman loves the inventive shooters, with the interesting boss designs. Don’t give me boring old “Ships, but big.” Give me things that make me say “Omigod, this is a thing I want to share!”