Mount Your Friends 3D (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £5.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Mount Your Friends 3D, also titled “A Hard Man Is Good To Climb” , is many things. A party game. A work of sculpture, different with every play, but following roughly the same design ideals. Homoerotic testament to extremely buff men with tight posing pouches…

The goal, so simply and plainly expressed. Beautiful.

…Okay, so that last one’s stretching things a bit, about as much as the posing pouches on the mounting friends of Mount Your Friends 3D, perhaps… But the party game bit is definitely true, for lo, Mount Your Friends 3D is a competition in which you and some friends both form a mountain made of buff men, all trying to strain higher from the base that is… A goat on a hill, on a pole.

No, don’t ask me, I don’t know either. In fact, beyond the facts that firstly, the game is indeed fun to play with friends, and challenging too, the basic rules of play, and that it has a lot of grunting and groaning as your buff, sometimes sweaty, sometimes sparkly avatars attempt, in a set time, to reach the pinnacle of Man Mountain, setting a new bar for the next one, and the next, and the next… Hold the pose, and the height, for three seconds, and a new record is set, and the next player’s turn is taken.

I call this performance piece “Mounting Equality.”

…It’s a very silly game. But tight controls, a similarly tight control scheme (Hold left or right mouse to release your grip and control said limb, release to hopefully grab onto whatever you were wanting to grab onto), make the title so very true… A hard man is good to climb. It helps that there’s added variety, both from unlocks by playing the game (Customisation options and chat stickers, the means of communication between players), and in its game modes, at least some of which are deceptively simple looking.

Take, for example, Spiral mode. At set heights, the men are replaced by a long 3d block, at an angle to the one before it (hence, Spiral.) At first, the blocks make things easier, but, as it gets higher, the spirals get harder to climb, with less room for error, until… Oh no, you fell down, and spent all your reserve time on the way back up. Oh well, keep watching, friend, this is how… Oh no, I fell down, and spent all my reserve time on the way back up… Good game, folks, good game!

And this collaborative piece, entitlted “We will hit the Minions memes with large blocks and buff men.”

There are others, of course. Standard, classic, low gravity, ones with and without blocks, but through it all, there are three constants. Firstly, that it’s fun with friends. Secondly, that buff men and a goat are always involved. And thirdly, that it costs less than £6 , for something with a fair amount of replay value, a lot of silliness, and pretty accessible play.

The Mad Welshman is, you may have noticed, pro buff men in tight posing pouches.

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Downward (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £6.99
Where To Get It: Steam
Other Reviews: Early Access

I could, in essence, repeat what I said in my Early Access review. I could. But that wouldn’t be fair to the fact that the developers have attempted to change things up (Planets happen earlier, some other things happen later, change in voices, some writing differences). So let’s go through things.

Pretty. Disconnected. It… Kinda looks how the game *feels*

In some unknown time, humanity is kind of doomed, thanks to three planets. Except for a runny, jumpy artefact hunter who finds themselves near the ruin of a posthuman human outpost, a hermit trying very hard to be both mysterious and Yosemite Sam, a mysterious woman-voice, a skull that used to be an astrologer (astronomer? Who knows!) and mysteeeerious devices. There’s just one small problem: You’re not really given a reason to care. Since our protagonist is a confused young man, and meant to be some sort of tabula rasa for us, let’s do this from my viewpoint.

I start in a dream. I can escape the dream by parkouring my way through things, with knowledge that I have, but I also don’t (Oh, that’s an Anomaly? What kind of… Oh, a jumpy anomaly… Well, good thing I knew that… Somehow!) Having escaped my dream, I find that… It probably wasn’t actually a dream. I’m not sure. All I know is I’m somewhere else, and mysterious lady is urging me onwards. Well, onwards I go, picking up some old relics of human civilisation because, well, that’s me, I’m a relic hunter… Oh, wait, nothing to really piece together here, they’re gears and canteens and things, I know how those work. But wait! Also, there are skypieces! These aren’t Lightseeds from Prince of Persia, that’s a totally different game, except… Wait, they are. They’re for unlocking abilities, only a few of which will help me progress. Also, there are crystal buttons. I don’t know what they do, but an equally mysterious thought in my head from outside tells me something will happen if I find them all. I shrug, and move on, ringing the Ancient Bell of Life Saving Through Mysterious Means.

Crystal turrets. I know how to deal with those. I just have to push the equally mysterious Crystal Disc that’s somewhere nearby, and they’ll fall apart. Mysterious. Okay, I can see evidence of civilisation, that’s intere- Wait, Golems? Where?

“It’s facing downward!” Yes, like the last twenty times. I think I get it now.

Oh. Rocks held together by some cube or other. I can’t take the cube off them until they’ve “phased down”, which involves staying out of their way until they do some form of mega attack, after which I can pluck them, and if I don’t, I have to go through all this again. This takes an average of about five minutes. Each time. And some Golems have more than one cube. Where’s the exit again? Oh, it’s locked by… Those cubes. Which also whisper to me, because mystery. Also, an intrusive thought from outside interjects, because it makes finding them somewhat easier, because at some point I’ll need to have grabbed at least 150 of the damn things just to open a door. Possibly more.

A statue! I can use the Not-Lightseeds to buy powers here, most of which I don’t care about that much right now. Fast Travel sounds good, whatever that may be. Louder whispers from these cubes also sounds good, but the rest is health and stamina and things, eh. Quality of life stuff, my other mind interjects.

A fellow human being! He was kind of hard to see, but I can certainly hear him, and he’s not from where I (or the lady) am, that’s for sure! I’m a puppet? How mysterious! Nah, he’s just Crazy. I live in a time where there’s not enough humans left to give a shit about ableism, let’s go with that. Oh, but he buys our stuff for Not-Lightseeds, I… Don’t really need those that much, interjects my other self.

Mines! Except they’re slow, the disc to deactivate them is on them, they’re more a nuisance than a threat unless I’m unaware or otherwise occupied. Woo. A Mysterious Artefact! It lets me use those anomalies I was… Using… In my dream. There’s some other anomalies, and the mysterious other mind tells me that yes, those, too, will be unlocked with an artefact, with Progress.

My mind blanks out. Everything goes black. And the other voice takes over.

Ooooh, mysteri- Oh, wait, not really. Sigh.

It’s all very well to have mystery, but a mystery without a reason to explore it, or stretched out too long becomes tedious. It’s all very well to have a collectathon, but when the gatekeeping is this transparent, it becomes a tedious duty rather than a joy, not helped by the fact that elements of it (Cubes from Golems, specifically) is tedious. Downward looks pretty. Its music is good. But, like the gears and mysteeeerious pillars (Challenge maps, and also a plot point), the game elements stick out like a sore thumb, only awkwardly fitting with what I’m assuming is meant to be a mystery of the same byzantine look of the architecture and the walls you can use. Overall, a very unsatisfying experience, and a good example of how your mechanical aspects can over-ride your narrative ones.

The Mad Welshman notes that the more things change, the more they stay mysteri- crap, that’s 17 times I’ve said that now, isn’t it?

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100 Ft Robot Golf (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £14.99
Where To Get It: Steam, Humble Store

100 Ft Robot Golf is not so much a golf game with giant stompy robots, as a giant stompy robot game with golf. It’s a relaxing experience, even if it’s not quite the one you might expect.

But is it a good game? It’s an okay game. More importantly, it’s a fairly relaxing game, and I’m 100% down for that. So let’s talk about some things.

Like I said… it’s *relaxing*

Let’s start with how the mechanics interact in ways that seem counter to conventional wisdom. Yes, you have special weapons. But odds are high you’re not going to be affecting the other players with them. No, your weapons are best for blowing up buildings that are in your way, and thus clearing up a shot that otherwise would have slowed you down. There is no turn taking, and it’s effectively a race to the finish line, but if you’re even halfway good at golf games, quickly lining up swings should be no problem, even with the fact that each type of mech has a different system that effectively amounts to “How accurate was this shot?” And dickery such as the Kuvo maneuver, where you block the ball with your giant metal body, is perfectly acceptable so long as you have the skill to pull it off.

So the game isn’t complicated, and it isn’t as bloodthirsty as you’d think. Similarly, the story is a lighthearted riffing on the silliest parts of 90s anime: Max and Vahnija, one of whom is a failed golfing host (Because Robot Golf blew up the moon), and one of whom now owns Robot Golfing (despite not being that good a Robot Golfer) organise a new tournament, bringing talent both old and new, while they have… A NEFARIOUS PLAN, AHAHAHAAAA (Ehehehehee!)! Meanwhile, the NGDL , led by Panzato and Dando, are finally ready to enact… Project C. Project C are good dogs, yes they are, they’re such good dogs, gooood dogs. It’s dumb, it’s deliberately hammy, and it somehow still makes a sort of sense despite being deliberately written how 90s anime is often perceived (A mess of threads that somehow clash together for a BIG FINISH.)

See? They’re good dogs. And one of them is *Welsh* ! <3

The thing is, I could go on for a very long time about things like the visual design (Slightly janky, but charming), the sound design and voicework that went into this game (Deliberately, as before, aimed at that 90s Anime aesthetic, while also being aimed at parodying how golf commentary struggles to be exciting), and how little touches like how even the quickplay versus mode has little anime style “LAST EPISODE” blurbs add that touch more charm, but in the end, you’re either going to love it or hate it. The campaign takes something like 3 or 4 hours to complete (true ending and all), and, after that, it’s unlocking skins, playing with friends, and maybe replaying for the plot, and you know what?

I am A-okay with that. You might not be, and I respect that. But 100 Ft Robot Golf, to me, is a relaxing, relatively nonviolent time despite, y’know, explosions and buildings being destroyed, and it has a charm that I can’t help but like.

Even the customisation has some small charm to it. Remember, Support Esports!

Also, y’know, they’re good dogs, Dante. They’re good dogs, Danforth.

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MX Nitro (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £14.99
Where To Get It: Steam, Humble Store

When I first noticed MX Nitro, I couldn’t help but be a little baffled. Saber Interactive and Miniclip SA are not really known for MX games, be they the more traditional kind, or what MX Nitro is, which is a Trials style “Balance the bike and do tricks while trying to win the race/get a score/just look freaking cool/not crashing” type dealybobber.

Bird of Prey… Bird of Prey… Flying high! Flying high!

And while I wouldn’t say this was a standout example of the genre… It does okay. Aesthetically, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an extreme sports game in general. Sorry, extreme sports games, but you definitely have an audiovisual style that, on the one hand, is immediately identifiable, but, on the other, makes many of you blur together in my mind. Sandy arenas, muddy tracks, and gritty, be-puddled (Yes, that’s a word now, shut up) streets near the docks meld with moderately distorted guitar dominated tunes that you can almost hear crying anachronistic “HELLA RIDE, BROOOOO!”s , themselves melding with clashing, saturated colour gear and bikes.

What I’m saying is that if you’ve played the likes of Nail’d, MX Vs ATV, or even a DiRT game, you’d probably feel right at home, although there’s nothing standout about any of it. It’s good, it’s tunes to mash your head to despite the inadvisability of doing so in-game, and that’s perfectly fine.

Crash, and you lose both time and position. Also, y’know, that combo you were building. Sucks to be you. However, *winning* while crashing is a very amusing thing.

A definite plus side, however, is the simplicity of the controls. Although at first you may scratch your head, the keyboard controls for MX Nitro are sensible and responsive: Up to accelerate (Always hold this down), left and right to tilt the bike backwards and forwards (For Wheelies and Stoppies, the go-to means of holding a combo), space to NITRO (Because of course there’s a nitro boost, why wouldn’t there be?) , and number keys for tricks. Unless you have very tiny hands, you won’t have too much trouble here, and there is controller support for those more comfortable with a controller.

So the controls are good, the music and visuals are what you’d expect and smooth, all of which are good… Where’s the downside, huh?

Well… Most of that is that, with that simplicity of controls, it then expects you to know them from the word go. Or, more accurately, it expects you to always be thinking about them, from the moment they’re introduced, or to fail, again and again at a stage, until you either luck out or realise what you’ve been doing wrong. While most early stages are do-able, boss stages and trick stages in particular both require you to ABW (Alway Be Wheelie-ing) when you’re not boosting (ABB. Always Be Boosting) or tricking (ABT. Guess.) Even if you do win a race stage, it feels a bit hollow to be given the star, the unlockables (Including tricks and new bikes), and the extra cash from objectives when you have a worse score, overall, than the other racers (Who, in true EXTREME SPORTS fashion, have names like Black Devil or Red WhiskyBreath… Okay, the last one’s not real, but the first one is, and you get the idea.)

I will get first in this race, despite having the lowest score. Because it’s drag, and so the points don’t matter. Only objectives.

…Still *feels* like they matter though, sadly.

And, in the end, that’s largely what can be said about MX Nitro: It’s moderately fun, especially if you like that sort of thing, and, once you get the hang of ABB, ABW, and ABT, the unlocks, occasional crashes (Of the bike kind, not the game kind, the game’s stable), then you start having fun. It’s not for everybody, even among EXTREME SPORTS fans, but since individual races are relatively short, the unlocks are pretty reasonable (Yes, even the fact that tricks unlock), and restarting a race is pretty simple too, it can be summed up as “Good arcade fun, even if it doesn’t really stand out from anything else.”

The Mad Welshman always stands on one leg when walking, just to make things interesting. He also kicks off walls and hops really fast. Is he not EXTREME?

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Pool Nation FX (Early Access Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £8.99 (£6.29 until Nov 7th)
Where To Get It: Steam

I’ve got to admit, I love me some balls. Balls clacking together, balls going into holes, balls being smacked by long, roughly cylindrical objec- What, you’re not a Pool fan either? Not even the Snooker? Oh good, you like some Pool. Well, let me make you happy by announcing that Pool Nation FX, by Cherrypop Games, doesn’t just have the US 8 and 9 ball varieties, but also Snooker and the UK variety of 8 Ball. Unfortunately for me, it still has the Endurance mode I so dislike (But I grudgingly admit is challenging). But fortunately overall, it’s still fun, and still mellow.

The menus are bright, pretty clear, and... Oh hey, the bonus game is just a bonus game! WOOOO!

The menus are bright, pretty clear, and… Oh hey, the bonus game is just a bonus game! WOOOO!

Released on Early Access in the 7th of this month, the game feels largely complete. Career mode is there, and has had a facelift from the previous edition. No more do players have to unlock their cosmetics through the sometimes gruelling bonus games, as the game’s unlocks run on in-game currency: PoolNationBux (or PN$.) Happily, this includes the bonus games themselves, and this change is a good move. Before, I would struggle through Pool Nation’s punishing Endurance mode, and in FX? Unless I want to 100% the game (Which I will… Eventually), I don’t have to even touch the bonus games. But, in most cases, I still want to, because they’re fun little additions.

Some examples would be: Golf, where your goal is to pot the balls in specific holes, in a specific order. Straight, where no trick shots are allowed, and the simple shots, controlling where the ball ends up, is the best. Time attack modes where you try to pot the balls quicker than the AI, and, of course, Endurance, where the balls keep being placed on the table, and when you reach 24 balls… It’s all over. Variety is definitely not something this game lacks.

The game is mainly mouse based, but is easy to get your head around, and the tutorials teach well.

The game is mainly mouse based, but is easy to get your head around, and the tutorials teach well.

It should be noted, however, that some things haven’t changed too much. The AI can still be a little inconsistent at times, seeming to do badly for several shots, and then 8 balling you when you miss your final shot on the black. It happens less than it did in Pool Nation, which is an improvement, but… It can still happen, especially on higher difficulties. Also lacking, although this is purely a niggle, are the weird stories behind the characters of Pool Nation’s world. It’s not a necessary thing, but I was amused by some of the wacky stories that made the world seem… Odd. Like the player who believes he’s a gopher. Maybe they’ll come back.

In the meantime, the game is definitely pretty, Cherrypop are definitely working hard in the bugfixing department, it has a fair bit of variety, and for its price, is something pool fans of all types, from the casual players, the hustlers, and the fans of making trickshot videos (For lo, there is a trickshot mode, and, while I don’t claim to understand it, I’m told it’s amusing) could enjoy, one game at a time, for a while. If you don’t particularly want to wait for your PN$ to build up, the “Unlock” DLC for the cosmetics is quite cheap. As such, while there are bugs and crashes in this Early Access game, they are being worked on, and I’d say it’s worth gambling the £8.99 (£6.29 until November 7th) on what promises to be many hours of amusement.

Yes, that *is* the white ball all the way over there. I wanted to see how far I could get it, and if you could see it. :V

Yes, that *is* the white ball all the way over there. I wanted to see how far I could get it, and if you could see it. :V

Pool is, you may have noticed, one of the few exceptions to The Mad Welshman’s “No Sportsball” rule.

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