Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £14.99
Where to Get It: Steam

I am bad at Alex Kidd. I’m not even going to pretend I’m not, because Alex Kidd is from the days of yore, and I’ve gotten used to not dying in one hit, silly billy that I am.

This is the classic look, if you’re wondering. Ahhhh, this takes me back!

But not being good doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t appreciate things. Like the gorgeous aesthetic of the remake, while also allowing you to play it mostly as it originally looked with the push of a button. Gotta love a remake that not only makes things look nicer, but also keep to the vibe. That’s harder than it seems.

Still, yes, Alex Kidd. What a series that was, each installment different enough that it kept it fresh, but this, being one of the earliest ones, is also both the oldest and most unforgiving. Alex is somewhat floaty to control, having some inertia, and while he has a lot of air control, this isn’t always to his benefit (as noted by the times I’ve jumped into a bird. The many many times.) His punch, meanwhile, is purely horizontal, although power ups can change things up, like fireballs.

Yes, this is legitimately the general vibe the jan-ken-pon bosses have. And I love it.

Oh, and some of the bosses play Rock, Paper, Scissors, with an instant death if you don’t win best of three. Yes, old platformers were odd like that. So yes, if you don’t like Ye Olden Game Design, the way Alex controls and the one hit kills in (admittedly well checkpointed) levels not appeal to you. There’s ways to mitigate the rock, paper, scissors bosses, including memorisation, and if you just want to play the damn game, there’s an infinite lives system.

Honestly, even though I’m not good at Alex Kidd, not by a long shot, I still enjoy it. Yes, I had to turn on infinite lives. Sue me, I’m no longer the kid who beat Codename Droid in one try, or regularly enjoyed the obscure game Onslaught. It’s relatively short, but naturally, as in many of Ye Olden Games, part of this is difficulty padding that’s been preserved, but there are new levels, there’s enough quality of life to make this a good remake, and, well, if you like hard platformers, this one’s pretty good for you.

This git will kill you over and over and over again if your reflexes aren’t good. Remember, some enemies take multiple hits.

The Mad Welshman well remembers the time of Nintendo Hard. Nobody seems to talk about Infocom Hard though, it’s just as catchy!

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The Sealed Ampoule (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.49 (Soundtrack £3.99)
Where to Get It: Steam

See, sometimes, you see an idea, you think “Hey, this is cool!” and then… Oh. Hrm. Ah. Not quite as cool in execution.

So it is with The Sealed Ampoule. It’s a very minimalist procgen dungeon crawler. So minimalist, in fact, that it doesn’t gel well with its length. The procedure is very simple. Go into dungeon. Hit things until you feel you aren’t going to survive the next level, go back to room. Use stuff you got in the dungeon to get skills, level up the dungeon’s drop rate and magic circle rate for each level. When you get the ability and have the resources, turn dungeon levels into farms, just dropping the drops. Find story every now and again, or resources to turn more dungeon levels into farms. Rinse, repeat.

Remember these polygons well, for they are the ENEMY. Defeat them, and gain their resources!

I will say this for this set of mechanics, it does cut down on the bumf you’re overlevelled for. I mean, I’m still somewhat overlevelled at any given point beyond the early game, although I suspect that changes the further in you go, but yes, turning the earliest levels into, eventually, a single level you just run through and collect resources from? This is a piece of legitimately good design.

But the rest? Well, as I mention, it’s basically a rinse and repeat. Skills drop once every five levels or so, although those, like the progress toward dungeon farms, require specific materials, dying loses you some resources, and… Well, it boils down to a blur of grind, occasionally interspersed with “Oh, new enem- FUCK, RUN!”, story, or a boss.

The story, similarly, is simple, although it has its compelling mysteries. You play as Irene, who has been depressed since her mother died, but found an advert for a cheap dungeon, and decided to turn it into an alchemy farm, so as to open a shop, make lots of money… And then she finds out that it’s more populated than it first appears, including two small and mysterious children, and… A man who has been bludgeoned to death by nothing less than The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s just that said story progresses in short cutscenes that are… Well, an increasing number of dungeon levels from where you were, even accounting for farms.

The Uncanny Valley Twins.

And finally, there are the aesthetics. Again, it’s minimalist. A few music tracks, that mostly fit the mood, but still feel off, and a few sound effects, generally around two per enemy, sometimes shared between groups. A low poly look that normally, I’d be down for, but feels like a waste of enemy design, and hits the uncanny valley in the case of Irene, whose mouth never seems to work right, and whose movement is… Well, speaking frankly, Irene’s animations are godawful. All five or so.

Otherwise, the accessibility is just fine. The menus are clear, albeit with calligraphic and serif text, you have a helpful toolbar about the status effects you know, and, with the exception of floating numbers for regeneration, nothing’s too small to distinguish. Starts in windowed mode, keys are simple, but options to change things are sparse, and there doesn’t appear to be any gamepad support.

It’s honestly disappointing, because you can see hints of what the developers were going for, but a lot of it just falls flat. If you want a time waster, then yes, this is alright, but otherwise, I can’t really recommend it.

The Mad Welshman loves games of alchemy. He just finds so few of them FUN.

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Monster Hunter World (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 base game, lots of gubbins including Iceborne, which is the big DLC wot costs £35+ quid)
Where To Get It: Steam

Oh, how I’d wanted to do this one when it first came out. And Iceborne. Oh, and Rise when it comes out on PC next year. But, alas, a small thing called “My Computer Was Dying Just A Little Bit” stopped me, and the pricepoint for a while thereafter.

This is pretty much mandatory in any coverage of the game.

But now, I’m here. Now, I’m rekindling my love fo- Haha, just kidding, I don’t have to rekindle my love of MonHun. After all, a game in which you live in a monster filled world, hunting them for resources and safety, and going on to bigger and bigger monsters? I like it. I’ve loved its take on progression, where yes, monster get beeg, but you don’t get big. Your equipment does, in a sense, but that’s the arms race between you and monsters, one you have to keep up with. But picking good equipment, learning about the monster from the mistakes you can make and come back from, taking educated guesses based on what it is, and then using these tools to take down a monster, alone or with friends? Heck yeah.

Let’s get a thing out of the way though. Monster Hunter World is doing a colonialism under thin pretenses of study. It’s an improved, quality of life added, and bigger MonHun than I’ve seen (although next to none of us here in the West ever really saw the actual MMO), it’s gorgeous, and it plays well according to the rules of MonHun. Learn thy weapons with the cat in the house, traveller, or just test them out where you aren’t going to get flattened. Each is unique. Each is pretty damn cool. Dual blades are the best and I will fight you on this.

I remain Easy To Create In Videogames.

But yes, its story can’t help but be framed as colonialist af, considering yes, the Fifth Fleet are trying to force their methods to work here as they do elsewhere, and… Well, I think this is the first title where we actively screwed up with the Big Elder Dragon, rather than “Ohshit, it woke up for some unknown reason, is causing disasters and/or heading directly to our village/town, it’s them or us!” (Well, except the first bit. That first bit was classic MonHun “Ohshit it just turned up”)

So, aesthetically, it’s good, it’s got some wonderful tunes, including a new rendition of that iconic theme, “Proof of a Hero”, the monsters are animated wonderfully. I mean, they’ve had a lot of experience here, but the monsters fighting each other… Sometimes, I just get out the popcorn and yell “HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIR!” from a safe distance, and the UX is… Somewhat changed. I won’t say it’s all for the better, it’s still a bit of an issue finding things, and the scoutflies feel like a necesssary addition, considering how certain plants and items blend into the landscape as well as, well, a native plant should!

And mechanically… Well, the formula got refined. There’s an always available weapon called the Slinger (y’know, that thing you use to look cool as you ride pterodactyls), but the weapon types, from my personal fave, the lightning fast dual blades, to the lumbering Greatsword, or the swag pseudo-hammer that buffs everyone, the Hunting Horn, have added little mechanics from previous games…

THE TOP ROPE’S RIGHT THERE, HE’S DOWN, PEOPLE’S ELBOW THEM IN THE FORK!

It’s somewhat hard to talk about Monster Hunter games precisely because they are, despite their simple formula, A Lot, but yes, overall, I would in fact recommend MHW. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty likely I’d recommend Rise a bit more, although part of that is on the grounds that we haven’t seen this flavour of village in MonHun since Portable 3rd (Technically Generations, but Generations is a mashup.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take down The Dread Pickle.

Or, as is just as likely for the overconfident like me, to be leapt on from a mile away, and gored.

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Ultimate ADOM (Early Access Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £17.49
Where To Get It: Steam

As soon as I get down the stairs, I know I’m fucked. The rat, I’m not worried about. The hobgoblin, I’m sort of worried about. But the Chaos Barbarian, the one with the star over their head? Oh yeah, definitely worried about them. And no matter where I go, I’m going to be trapped by at least two of them.

Well, dash it all

Welp. Yep, Ultimate ADOM is still the tough roguelike I know and love, although “love” may not apply evenly to folks. After all, even with easy class/race combos like a Dwarven Fighter, you’re not necessarily going to last. Something is going to screw you if you’re not careful. And patient. And even that may not save you.

So, a little context. ADOM, originally created in 1994 by Thomas Biskup, is a true blue roguelike. Permadeath, turn based movement and combat, dungeons, procedural generation, etcetera, etcetera, everything in the Berlin Interpretation, basically. You’ll die, you’ll die a lot, you’ll learn about the game over time, its systems, managing its resources (both the “high good” and “high bad” variety), and you will become intimately familiar with the wait button, because this is a game where healing options are few.

So, even among roguelikes, it’s a slowish game. But how is this version “Ultimate”?

So, yes, my Ratling’s gender is always tentacled.

Well, basically, a GUI, more races (Well, sort of, the rest of the races have yet to be finished at this point), more genders (although your mileage may vary in ye olde dealybobber of having stat bonuses for your gender… Props for having Tentacled as a gender, and giving nonbinary people charm bonuses, though, it warms my nonbinary heart a little… Ehehe), more classes, and, of course, more features. All the classic ones are in there, like the equivalent of both the game’s mutation stat and its timer (Corruption), and gaining experience, health, or magic from destroying items (an elegant solution to both trash drops and the somewhat slow progression, although only XP is unlocked at first) Although what it doesn’t have, at the present time at least, is a massive game world. It’s one, big dungeon. And that’s fine, honestly.

Aesthetically, it’s okay. No colourblindness issues I could find, text is sans serif and not small, although a little thin, items on the floor are shown as a popup over your quickslots when they’re under you, mollifying the “items can be tiny” deal you sometimes see, tooltips… And, of course, it’s turn based, and its design encourages you to take your time.

You’d think this room would be a problem. And it is for a Ratling. But it’s not impossible. It just requires a bit of running away and holding down the wait button a fair way away, eating what food you have when you get hungry.

So, generally, this is a solid roguelike, albeit definitely not entry level, somewhere on the harder side, although permadeath can be disabled if you want, and I would recommend this to roguelike fans either looking for something with a little (a fair bit) more bite, or fans of ADOM looking for a glow-up to their favourite.

There’s really not a lot else to say, excet that hobgoblins go splat so pleasantly.

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Legend of Keepers (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.99 (Supporter pack £7.19)
Where To Get It: Steam
Previous Reviews: Early Access

Let’s see here… Welcome back, Legend of… Kepers? Oh, Keepers, sorry, that was hard to pronounce. So, as you know, you’re here for your review meeting, in which we go over what you’ve learned, how you’ve improved, your general suitability as a procgen , your ability to show what dungeon keeping is like, the hassle, the danger, the awful marketing department, so on, so forth…

Place your monsters carefully, for maximum effect. Go for consistent builds. Murder the hell out of those self righteous twits.

A little improvement, not much change? Ah, well, that’s to be expected, you were pretty polished the first time around, didn’t really have many complaints. You’re still nice and presentable, that’s quite the accessible look you have there, presenting yourself clearly, very understandable… We’re always fond of pixel art here at WelshCorp, especially hi-def pixel art, very nice look! You’re not all that musical, but not everyone has talent in that area, and you’re certainly suitable.

Now, let’s see, you still have three classes, each with their own skill tree, each with their own gimmick… The brute, the trapper (actually very good at ruining morale, that’s nice!), and the damage-over-time specialist (poor dear, she gets in so many fights, I’d consider her the hard mode, honestly…) The brute is, alas, still a little bro-ish, but we can’t help our little quirks sometimes.

Marketing: They’re still jerks. But

Oh dear, that awful random party shuffle man is still in your department? Well, he adds a little tactical spice, but customer reports state that he’s really not popular with people. Well, at least he generally dies quickly.

Oooh, a little storytelling too as you progress through the seven two year stints of the game (week by week, with events?) Well, it’s only a small addition, but it’s a nice one, so you definitely score points there with us.

Well! I can see you’ve only improved slightly, Kepers… Keepers? Terribly sorry. Also, why is your first name not Legends, plural? It’s just your name? I’m nitpicking now, terrible habit of mine. Yes, you definitely pass muster among those players who’d like to explore the world of strategic and tactical rogue-sort-of-maybe-kind-of deals, and, of course, veterans of the field looking for a challenge!

So, since this is your final review session with us… Oh, you didn’t know? Well, our budget has been slashed, so we’re having to cut the fat, as it were. You’re lean, mean… Ahaha, well, we’ve replaced you with a cheaper employee. But you get a very nice severance package, why, it’s all of 120 gold!

AAaAAaAAAAAARGGGGH DAMN YOUUUUUU!

WAIT, NOT THE TABLE! NOT THE FACE!

The Mad Welshman is accepting further produc- er, employees. He’s talking about games to review, not writers. Pay him lots if you want more writers.

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