Digimon: Digital Monsters – The Official Second Season DVD Review

At the conclusion of the original Digimon series our heroes had to leave their Digimon partners in the Digital world as they were whisked away back to earth to continue with their lives, none expected to see each other again. Four years later the kids are going on with their lives, some in high school others trying to get into college when the Season One leader,Tai, is suddenly contacted by his partner Digimon and asking for help. Once he arrives in the Digital world he sees Agumon being attacked and unable to Digivolve to a strange black structure. Once they are safe they end up in a cave where an egg is embedded into the ground with his old crest, or sign, of courage which he tries to pull out and three beams of light shoot out and hit three kids that were introduced as David,Cody and Yolei, friends and admirers of the original Digidestined children for their sports skills, computer knowledge and classmates of T.K and Kari from season 1. These beams of light turn out to be the new generation Digivices named D3s thus making them the new Digidestined children.

The show really kicks off when the three new kids are taken to the Digital world and Davis successfully releases the Digi-egg of courage and meets his partner Digimon, Veemon. From then on it is explained that the black structures are named Control Spires and are built by a kid going as the “Digimon Emperor” who is controlling all the Digimon using these spires and a dark ring device that attaches to Digimon and makes them evil. It’s further explained that no Digimon can Digivolve due to the control spires inhibiting that ability and thus making Digimon easier to capture for his own amusement. The Digimon Emperor turns out to be a child from their world, who has a dark D3 in his possession and is very intelligent and very good at sports, a genius that is hounded by reporters everywhere he goes.

As the new children find their own Digi-eggs molded after the original Digidestined crests they release their partner Digimon named Hawkmon and Armadillomon, any guesses as to what sort of animal they look like? So far the team is up to three new children with the old cast quite honestly being useless at this point and being there for their knowledge of the Digital world and advice. T.K and Kari later find two additional eggs with their own crests on them and release them to get their Digivices upgraded and their Digimon given the power to Digivolve using the Digi-egg method now known as “Armor Digivolution”

As the series progressed the new team of Digidestined takes down the emperor and convinces him to return to being good with the words of his passing Digimon slave Wormmon who turns out to be his partner all along. Wormmon is later returned back as an egg hatches after the emperor, from now on called Ken, apologizes for the way he mistreated him and promises to take care of him. After this the children fight all sorts of wacky bad guys like a mummy with a machine gun, a spider that turns into a woman who is actually behind the creation of the evil spires used to control Digimon. She uses these spires to create the kid’s worst enemy, Black Wargreymon, a soulless Digimon who is bent on finding the most powerful opponent by any means necessary. He gets his wish after destroying a set of stones which release the guardian of the Digiworld who easily defeats Black Warygreymon.

After the Wargreymon issue the kids return home to hopefully enjoy Christmas, but of course evil strikes again, this time with Digimon coming through the Digital barrier and attacking cities all over the earth, this is how they find out they are only the Digidestined from japan and there are many more throughout the rest of the world ready to help fight against the forces of evil. After this filler-esque adventure they return home to eventually find out the REAL mastermind behind all this was Myotismon from Season One, seriously. Long story short, they beat him once and for all while freeing the captured children he meant to use as his power source.

The show uses the same art style and similar character designs as the original series, heck most of the background are almost exactly the same, just a few different objects that you could tell where intractable and meant do either be used or broken during the episode. Pretty common stuff in anime shows so I can’t blame them for using that technique. One issue I could not believe I hadn’t picked up on in my earlier years was the fact that so much footage was reused during the Digimon’s fights. Something else I picked up on was actually fixed around episode 12 where one of the Digimon says his title and then changes it stating “I feel like I’m much smarter now” or something along that line as it had previously been stating a completely different phrase than what his Digivolution was based on.

In this box set I got a nifty little booklet showing me most of the Digimon that are introduced during the show, albeit with their Japanese names instead of American so most people would probably read it and go “what the hell am I reading, these are all wrong” while on the subject of English and Japanese, this is the second season of this show that has been released in ONLY English, I really would have loved if it had came with English subtitles and Japanese audio, just so I can experience the originality.

Something else I noticed during the last few episodes there was an episode missing and honestly it was an important one where the kids are trapped in their own little dimensions where their wishes are granted, one to be reunited with his dead father, another where Digimon and humans live together in harmony and so forth. Aside from this issue there wasn’t any other missing footage or obvious screw ups.

All in all a very solid addition to the Digimon franchise and one I would recommend to any fans of the series, just ignore the silly humor as always.

Toki Tori 2 Review – Wii U

I wasn’t quite sure what I expected from Toki Tori 2, but I first became aware of the little orange bird a few years ago when Valve felt the original game was good enough to promote as part of their Potato Sack bundle. During that event, Toki Tori and other indie games were heavily discounted and had strange little secrets hidden in all of them. The gaming community worked together to uncover these secrets, and over the course of the Potato Sack event, Portal 2 got launched.

The games in that Potato Sack were all good, but my favorite one that I discovered through that pack was Toki Tori. It was about guiding a little orange bird named Toki Tori through a level to rescue a bunch of other birds. It played a little bit like Lemmings, where you had a number of tools you could place on the screen, like platforms, but you could control Toki Tori’s movements directly.

Toki Tori 2, at first glance, plays nothing like the original. Instead of having a huge variety of tools, you just have two at your disposal: Chirping and stomping. I was initially worried; the original game had tons of fiendishly clever puzzles, and I was a bit concerned that this would mean the new one wouldn’t be quite as challenging. Fortunately, this worry proved false within minutes.

Instead of learning the ins and outs of all your tools, you’re learning about how the whole world around you reacts to your chirping and stomping. It’s a pretty interesting setup; you never get new abilities, but you learn new ways to use what you have. A stomp can scare away some critters or break shaky terrain. Chirping can get the right kind of attention, but also has other stranger effects. You can observe other birds in the world singing, and if you copy their songs, you can do new things. For example, the first song you can learn reverses time, sending you back to the last checkpoint; a useful trick, since it means the game can throw more fiendishly clever puzzles at you where you can get stuck and have to start over.

The controls are a simple affair. At least on the Wii U version, which I played. B stomps, and A chirps. You can hold down A to get a larger chirp, which is necessary for all the songs. The control stick and the cross pad move Toki Tori around. The plus button brings up a menu, and the minus button swaps the gameplay from your TV to the Wii U Gamepad screen and back again. The game has a lot of complexity and depth, but not in its controls. You can jump right in and start playing without reading a manual or anything. In fact, the game presents a tutorial to you without using a single written word, only pictures of Toki Tori stomping and chirping, accompanied by pictures of the A and B buttons. Everything else is learning from the whole world around you, and it’s brilliant.

The puzzles themselves make up the entire game. You’re tasked with going from one gate to a level exit, collecting golden emblems along the way and unlocking more levels. While you can get hurt and die, the game isn’t about fighting or defeating anyone. You’re just a funny little bird trying to get by, and your biggest obstacle is usually a large hunk of dirt that’s too big to simply walk over. The first few puzzles are pretty simple, having to either chirp or stomp to get by. Then you have to climb up a ladder and chirp in the right place. Or chirp, climb a ladder, cross a platform, and stomp. It gets pretty complicated in explanation, but in play, it flows smoothly and quickly. There are a few parts where the answers aren’t quite clear, and being stuck can break the flow of gameplay and lead to frustration, but moments like those aren’t terribly frequent.

As far as aesthetics go, the graphics are lovely. They aren’t super detailed, but the brightly-colored world carries a lot of warmth, and the sound is good too. I was hoping to hear the theme of the original game that used to play in every level, but the new score is still good and carries the mood across, not to mention being considerably more varied.

If you’re a fan of puzzles, Toki Tori 2 is definitely worth grabbing. It’s currently only available on the Wii U, so if you don’t have one, you might have to wait for it to come out on other platforms. Don’t let the cute graphics fool you; this game is by no means purely for kids, and the time you spend piecing together a solution is well worth it when you finally solve it. If you’ve got a Wii U, pick up Toki Tori 2. If you don’t, keep an eye on your favorite download platform for this title.


 

Dragon’s Dogma – Original Soundtrack Review

Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma was an impressively bold concept for an RPG and while the actual gameplay is still some of the best around for the genre the game had issues when it came to story and even worse, its forgettable soundtrack. I had no idea how forgettable until I sat down to review the Dragon’s Dogma Original Soundtrack and couldn’t place a single song with the game. Admittedly, it’s been months since I had played the game, but a good soundtrack sticks with you long after the main event, generating images in your mind when you hear those signature tunes.

I’m not saying the music is bad. How could it be? With Inon Zur, Tadayoshi Makino, and Rei Kondoh collaborating on the 34 tracks contained on the disc, there are moments of pure genius and inspiration but nothing that stamps itself to the Dragon’s Dogma brand. To make things less remarkable, most of the tracks use the same instruments, the same pacing, and even the same underlying theme, making it difficult to identify individual tracks, and most all of the music seems to share its core identity with something you would hear from a Lord of the Rings movie. Again, this isn’t bad, but its far from original and fails to make its mark.

Ultimately, the music is fine within the context of the game since your mind is occupied with other activities, and the music is being used more as an emotional and mood setting device, but when I sit down at home or in my car to listen to music my demands just got a whole lot bigger and the Dragon’s Dogma OST falls drastically short of meeting them. Much like while playing the game, a few minutes after starting the CD the music slipped into obscurity and I had to make a concerted effort to pay attention. The only thing that sets any of the music apart are the few tracks with vocal arrangements and even those become forgettable after their first listen.

With Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen releasing this week there will likely be a renewed interested in the soundtrack. If you find the music particularly moving or even memorable while playing the game then you might want to check out the soundtrack which is available in all your favorite online and digital stores including Amazon, otherwise you might just want to skip, what in my opinion, is one of the most uninspired soundtracks in my current video game OST collection.

Dead Island: Riptide Review – PC

If you’ve played Dead Island, you basically know what to expect out of Dead Island: Riptide. If you haven’t, imagine Diablo in 3D or Borderlands with more melee, and zombies, and weapons that break every three minutes as you wade through massive, respawning hordes of the undead.

While there are new additions to Riptide that make it stand out from the original, such as a new character focused on unarmed attacks and fist weapons, and tasks to defend your tropical stronghold from zombies that break inside, there’s also a fair share of additions that just don’t work. The boat steering is some of the worst I’ve experienced in a game, and there’s more than the game’s fair share of quests that can be easily accomplished but which have no apparent way to turn them in.

Combat still pretty much comes down to hitting zombies as you walk backwards, unless you have a gun, or they are an exploder, in which case, well, it pretty much comes down to getting them in the head from afar. It can be interesting to disable a larger zombie’s limbs, and it’s hilarious to turn them into cutlery pincushions, but there’s not much else to them. Human opponents are a bit more cunning, but not enough to really excite.

Complaints about gameplay aside, Dead Island: Riptide is beautiful, and gross in the ways it should be. Traveling verdant tropical island would be amazing, were it not for the floods of zombies that you need to bonk and backpedal, and the zombies come apart well, with flopping broken arms and heads that cave in under repeated strikes.

However, the sound is disturbing, and hopefully not in the way the developers intended. While male zombies in pain sound appropriately monstrous, beating a female zombie to death results in the sounds of blunt impacts and very human-sounding screams, which were jarring enough to make me need to take breaks every so often. I’m not very squeamish, but hearing the sound of a woman in pain as I hacked apart zombies was over-the-line for me.

Ultimately, Dead Island: Riptide doesn’t add much to spice up the basics of the game. If you’re still a fan of the game’s basics, then feel free to add a couple stars onto the rating. There’s a whole new map to explore, and an infinite number of things to kill there, and new weapons to break. If you’re new to the game though, the original is a lot cheaper and you won’t miss much without the new features. And for the people who are already burned out, give it a miss. There’s not much in Dead Island: Riptide for our kind.


Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 Review – PC

It’s just shy of a year since I reviewed my last dedicated sniper game, Sniper Elite V2, and while other FPS games usually offer sniping in some limited capacity I always enjoy playing a game that revolves around my chosen military specialty. As a veteran Army sniper and former instructor at the U.S. Army Sniper School I try not to be overly critical of these games. There is a careful balance of fun factor versus reality, and the simple fact is that the reality of real world sniping usually doesn’t make for a good game.

Being an Army sniper takes a patient person, a disciplined person, a person who is willing to work alone for extended periods of time, often in hostile situations. In addition to marksmanship skills, you also have to be an expert on detecting and stalking a target, concealment and camouflage, and estimating the range of a target while factoring in values for wind and bullet drop. You have to have a keen observational awareness of your surroundings, not only in picking the ideal sniping spot, but also in anticipating enemy response and planning one or more escape routes.

Unlike last year’s WWII vision of military snipers, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 gives us a look at present day snipers along with the various tactics and tools of the trade including an impressive collection of sniper rifles and some vision enhancements like thermal and night vision. You also get some binoculars that allow you to spot and “mark” targets even after you put them away and switch to your scope view. It’s the same principle as the Nanosuit helmet view in Crysis 3 that allows you to pre-mark your enemies – not exactly realistic but this is just a game.

Honestly, my favorite moments were the few realistic encounters where I was working with my spotter who was calling out my targets; their location and distance. You also have a wind indicator, stance, and heartbeat variables to factor before making your shot. I found the heartbeat to be an interesting and realistic component that other games overlook. Most games allow you to slow your breathing but seldom do they factor in your racing pulse after you just sprinted a half mile through the jungle to reach your sniping perch. If you don’t wait for that heartbeat to slow down your aiming will be much harder to control. Additionally, crouching or going prone will also increase your accuracy.

Along with all of these variables you also have to factor in distance to target and any crosswinds that may adversely affect your shot. Having a spotter calling out your range makes things easier as does the wind speed and direction indicator, but only if you know how to read and correct using the tick marks on your scope. The game eases you into this by providing a red dot that will show your offset correction, but I found it very counterintuitive to continually aim my shots to some invisible offset and wait for the red dot to confirm my educated guess. In the real world you would use your scope adjustments to realign your crosshair center to that red dot so you could instinctively put your target in the actual crosshair. I would love to see one of these so-called “sniper simulations” actually allow you to adjust your scope, perhaps with the D-pad, to compensate for wind and distance.

For those with patience and a smooth trigger finger your accuracy will be often rewarded with a slow-motion bullet-cam that follows your round from the tip of the rifle to enemy impact. It’s a pretty slick presentation and not overdone to the point where it gets annoying, and it’s not nearly as violent as the X-ray camera from Sniper Elite that showed shattered bones and exploding organs.

One new mechanic added to the mix is the Motion Sense Trigger System. While I almost always recommend playing PC shooters with a mouse and keyboard Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 actually uses the analog motion of the trigger to replicate the squeeze of a real trigger. A slow steady squeeze gets you a clean shot while a hasty jerk of the trigger will send your shot wide and usually alert the god-like AI to your precise position. While I did appreciate the confrontational enemy AI that always kept me on my toes and checking my corners I was a bit annoyed that the enemy could somehow always pinpoint my exact location after a 1,000 yard shot, especially in a war torn district in Bosnia where echoes would make that impossible.

The game spans three chapters that take you through three distinct locations including a very dense and realistic series of jungle levels, a tour through some of the most densely detailed bombed out urban levels in Sarajevo, and finally to an almost Indiana Jones style series of missions high in the mountains of Tibet, complete with temples and giant statues. The new Cry-Engine is pumping out some serious graphics, and even though the cutscenes are a bit flat and faded, anything and everything in the actual game looks outstanding, and in some instances even better than some of the levels in Crysis 3. From the detailed modeling of the guns, to the lens flares, raindrops, and even pooled water dripping over your screen after emerging from the water; Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is one gorgeous game.

The audio is impressive enough with some respectable voice acting (despite poor lip synching), a reasonably well-crafted story, if not a bit clichéd with the whole traitorous comrade second act twist and some outstanding weapon effects and immersive environmental sounds that really put you in the levels. There is also some good music to enhance the action and the storytelling, and the soundtrack is available as part of the Collector’s Edition.

Expect a 6-8 hour game on Normal difficulty and perhaps another two hours if you kick that up to Expert, as the AI gets brutal and you’ll find yourself replaying sections over and over despite generous checkpoints. I did appreciate the return of medkits to heal your injuries rather than the hide-until-healed system that has become the norm in these games. And there is even a nice multiplayer component with some exclusive playable characters for those who want to test their sniping skills against human opposition.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a competent shooter that gives gamers a somewhat realistic glimpse into the life of a modern day sniper. The game engine creates some deceptively open and immersive worlds considering the linear path you are forced to take through the levels, which can often make the game feel like an on-the-rails shooting gallery at times, but there is still enough variety and challenging gameplay to recommend it, especially given the $30 budget price for the basic game or $40 for the Collector’s Edition.


ARMA III Alpha – Hands-on Preview

arma3-logo

When it comes to PC videogames, I’m a believer that despite the advancements of console technology that they still rate higher in their performance than that of their console counterparts. The PC also has some of the most mind blowing titles on the planet. While franchises like Crysis show off what games can look like in the graphical extreme, few franchises show the realism that can be achieved when a developer sets their collective minds to accomplishing something. Such is the efforts that GCM got to check out with the release of Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA III Alpha Lite for PC.

Now awhile back I did a piece on ARMA II: Combined Operations and though I was overwhelmed at its complexity, I admired Bohemia’s work in creating a hyper-realistic military simulator. While players are anxiously for ARMA III’s final release they’ll have to make do with the Alpha build or for those lucky enough to snag an invite to the Alpha Lite build. Alpha Lite doesn’t include the multiplayer and modding portions from the Alpha build but it does showcase the enhancements that have been made to the franchise. Bohemia has highlighted their key upgrades through a series of scenarios ranging from infantry engagements with better military chatter to the updated vehicle handling giving the player and even more realistic rides. One of my favorite parts however was the added underwater environment where you go SCUBA diving to disable enemy mines. The physics and sound muffling when you’re underwater with a helicopter overhead is wickedly cool.

While, ARMA III Alpha Lite is still a work in progress, the visuals and sounds are pretty impressive. Its no surprise there as Bohemia has gone to great efforts to make their franchise as realistic as possible. The sound of your gear rustling to the crack of weapons fire is sharp. The fairly sharp visuals are all thanks to Bohemia’s use of real world locales as references for their own world.

Controls where once again pretty solid and while I’ve gotten better at understanding ARMA’s commands it’s still daunting and probably will be for newcomers. Players can also play around with the Editor to create their own scenarios with a ridiculous amount of options to choose from across the available island of Stratis. But no matter how bad I am at this game despite my love of first-person shooters, ARMA III Alpha Lite makes me have high hopes for the final product when it hits stores.


Naruto Powerful Shippuden Review – 3DS

Naruto: Powerful Shippuden is the newest 3DS brawler to bear the Naruto name and one that does not disappoint. We’ve seen Naruto games range from RPG to Adventure but with a show that’s based around ninjas, or rather Shinobi, it always tends to do best when it’s just a good ole button masher. While the game does state the Naruto franchise name it’s actually based on Rock Lee’s new show that started last year.

Lee’s show isn’t quite as serious as Naruto and it portrays that by going to a SD (Super Deformed) style of animation with over the top expressions and having a lot more of the wild antics we expect from Lee and Guy Sensei. The new style looks good while playing on the 3DS and it is a nice change from the serious and dark nature of the last Naruto games, I myself am loving seeing some of the more popular characters being taken out of their comfort zones and being made to act in a manner I wouldn’t expect

The main characters in Power Shippuden are of course Rock Lee and Naruto himself but the game has a split campaign with Naruto following the Shippuden story in a roundabout way and Lee having his own completely original story to follow though no matter which you choose I guarantee neither will disappoint you. Levels range from simple enemy wave fights to some timed racing levels where I will admit I was stuck on for some time due to the lack of clear instructions on some level intros, one example being a level where you have to fight waves of enemies while also getting to the end checkpoint in the time allotted and your goal is to beat it in two minutes thirty second yet are only given 60 seconds to complete it, only after collecting the batteries for the eleventh time did I notice I had to break some rocks with numbers to extend it.

While fans of the show know that our bushy browed hero (Lee) only has physical attacks at his disposal and Naruto has a wide variety of Jutsu at his disposal the core game play is much the same with basic brawling being the most efficient, if not repetitive way to continue on each characters path. Like previous games, there are support mechanics to alleviate some of that repetitiveness with you being able to summon fan favorites such as Mighty Guy, Sakura and Kakashi to take out some bad guys, heal you or in some cases just use them to change the scenery a bit while fighting in your third forest setting and take out some annoying birds that poop on you, that is not made up by the way, there is an enemy that poops on you and your character gets paralyzed from it. One other cool feature is the ability to change forms such as Lee using his Gate’s technique and upping his damage and speed and Naruto going into either Nine Tailed Fox mode or my absolute favorite Sage Mode, I use that on cool down every time, just because of how cool Naruto looks with his outfit.

One of the best features in Power Shippuden is actually the RPG aspect where as you gain experience you can choose what style you want to level up such as basic stats, ninjutsu, chakra and even shuriken techniques and all of it is interchangeable so you are never stuck on one specialization with the ability to refund your points spent and distribute them elsewhere to spice things up a bit. While you gain experience for completing levels you can further multiply how much you get by choosing from set goals to try and achieve such as beating it without taking any damage, only physical attacks or in a certain time limit.

As tedious as the game got after repeatedly annihilating my thousandth generic bad guy and poison pooping bird the goofy cutscenes and wacky humor is really what kept me coming back and replaying levels while trying to further challenge myself with the multipliers available for beating it in specific fashions. I hope Bandai continues to use Lee and start to break off from the Naruto brand so he can finally make a name for himself and really start to mix things up a bit.


Guacamelee! Review – PS3 / Vita

When I first heard of Guacamelee!, I was hooked. I’ve been a fan of Metroidvanias since I first played Super Metroid, and the aesthetic of lucha libre, from the brilliant masks to the amazing El Santo movies always appealed to me. When I finally got my hands on the game, I have to admit that the theme disappointed me, but where lucha libre gives way to internet memes and video game references, the core of the game stays strong, stacking a fun, if simple, combat system on top of the exploration and accumulation of powers that defines the genre.

You play as Juan Aguacate, a Mexican farmer who’s pulled towards adventure when Carlos Calaca, a skeletal charro, kidnaps the president’s daughter. You soon become a luchador, and begin unlocking your hidden potential, tracking Calaca and his henchmen across the map and learning new ways to move and fight.

As you go, you learn fighting moves that can destroy barriers and remove enemies’ protection, but also powers that change the fundamentals of your mobility even further, such as the ability to shapeshift or switch between the lands of the living and dead at will. The game’s platforming is all well done, but the fighting is the highlight of the game.

Fights are incredibly mobile, maybe the single element of the game that’s truest to lucha libre. You roll through blows, fight in the air, and throw enemies when they’re weak, trying to accumulate the largest possible combo for bonuses. The combo system itself is both simple and satisfyingly freeform, giving you the ability to combine launches, slams, special attacks, blocks, and throws in any order, and the power to switch between worlds gives even more options, throwing an enemy in one world at his shade in another, then switching while he’s in the air to follow up the combo with further beatings. While I never got a chance to play the game’s cooperative mode, it seems like fights would only be made more dynamic by adding a second character.

There aren’t a huge number of environments in the game, but they’re all beautiful, and quite distinct from one another. You’ll visit towns, wooded areas, and temples, but Juan’s hometown is far different from the vertically stacked city, and the forest is far and away different from the ancient hollow tree. Each area is lush with color, with clear visual differences between the living and dead world, from the posters and billboards in the cities to the decorations in the temples. My favorite touch was a set of shrines stacked with offerings in the living world that became feast tables in the world of the dead, a neat touch and one of the game’s only references to it taking place around the day of the dead.

The only issues I have with the game come where it breaks from its clearest thematic influences. I love that one of Calaca’s minions is a noble jaguar warrior, and his interactions with Juan reflect the respect between two technicos, but then I get back to town and see posters of Grumpy Cat and Foul Bachelor Frog, or the Castle Crashers, reimagined as luchadores. Sometimes the dialogue hits the heights of ridiculous melodrama that Mexican soap operas are known for, with deception, romance, treachery and deals with the devil, but sometimes a talking skull calls you dude-bro (And that sometimes is every time you use a shop). If they had been more willing to embrace the game’s rich conceptual roots and had shied away from the memes and tired references, it would have been amazing, but it seems to insist on crashing back to banality pretty routinely.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was a cross-platform game, and that when you get it, you get it on the Vita and PS3, and can hook them together to use the Vita as a controller for the game, either single-player or cooperatively. I played on both during my review process, but in the end I preferred the PS3, which may just come down to that being the system I started playing on. Still, the larger screen and more comfortable controls worked much better for the fast-paced fights and platforming sections. If you’re the one person on Earth who only owns a Vita and not a PS3, it’s a little harder to recommend.

Still, though, despite is occasional flaws, Guacamelee! is a solid game, and the only times I was disappointed in it was when it didn’t quite live up to my standards for sincere treatment of lucha libre. If you’re looking for a new metroidvania, or even a new brawler, it’s out now and the price is certainly right for what you get.


Fuel Overdose Review – PlayStation 3

While playing Fuel Overdose there was one question in my mind, why would anyone make a top down arcade style racing game that barely differentiates itself from other similar games that have been coming out for what seems like the beginning of time? Every time I play a game similar to Fuel Overdose I think of Super Off-Road for the original Gameboy that I used to play when I was a kid. Then I wonder what the special hook must be to make this game not only worth playing, but also worth making in the first place. As it turns out, the parts of Fuel Overdose that make it unique aren’t necessarily positive, and many times they only get in the way of what would still only be a mediocre game.

Fuel Overdose is a car combat racing game played from the isometric perspective where the camera is just as antagonistic as the opposing racers. The first problem with the camera is just how close it feels to the action. This means preparing for upcoming turns and jumps is almost impossible without having the tracks memorized, especially when parts of tracks lack guardrails that prevent one from driving into water or falling off cliffs. As I said, memorization is pretty much the only way to get around this problem, which causes the first few races on a track to be fairly annoying, and although this may not be optimal, it pales in comparison to the most important issue with the camera, the forced perspective changes.

Forced perspective changes aren’t inherently a bad thing, just look at Track Mania, but the arbitrary ways in which the camera swings itself around during turns is disorienting to the point of sheer frustration. There really is no logical explanation for why the camera suddenly turns 180 degrees in the middle of a hairpin turn. The only reason I can think one would choose to include this annoying feature is to make the game more difficult due to the extremely unintelligent A.I. while also somehow trying to disguise the extremely noticeable rubber banding.

This leads me to the next issue with Fuel Overdose, the A.I. While I can definitely say the A.I. does little to earn the intelligence suggested in its name, I’m not actually sure whether or not it makes the game better or worse. On one hand, the opposing racers can be extremely annoying and just downright stupid when it comes to using weapons. It seems like they will always try to shoot or damage the player, even when doing so may not actually be in their best interest. It seems as though the game was deemed way too easy somewhere along the lines in development, so the developers decided to simply stack everything including the A.I., the camera, and the rubber banding against the player.

That’s not to say the game is necessarily all that hard, but it doesn’t feel balanced or fair when things just happen to take a turn for the worst. On the other hand, the terrible A.I. actually makes for some fairly entertaining collisions and pile ups in a game that desperately needs something to drag it out of the boringly bad category and into the entertainingly bad category. That’s not to say Fuel Overdose doesn’t try to differentiate itself in some ways, but I’ll get to that in just a moment. Overall, I think the laughably bad A.I. breaks even in terms of my enjoyment of the game. However, laughably stupid A.I. isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it doesn’t negatively affect the player to such a degree.

Now, onto what Fuel Overdose adds to the arcade style, isometric, car combat racer…anime boobs. Honestly, I can’t believe everyone isn’t doing this. Instead of actually trying to make a unique and interesting game, why not just throw in an awful anime storyline, slap on some giant fake boobs on all the female characters, make sure all the shirtless male characters have twelve-pack abs, and call it a day? The story of Fuel Overdose feels thrown together, disjointed, contextualized, and almost offensive due to its sole purpose seemingly being an excuse to throw in some supposedly titillating characters.

I’m all for crazy sexualized art, as long as it’s earned and contextualized within a world or story. It’s when it’s simply thrown into a game for the sole purpose of being slightly creepy and pornographic in nature that I get disgusted. Normally I would applaud a developer for trying to include a story where one isn’t needed, but this is one case where I would consider the game to be better had it done away with its narrative elements.

Fuel Overdose is by no means a broken game. I would even say it’s competent and mildly entertaining in spots. But the inexplicably bad camera, the slightly annoying A.I., and the offensively bad narrative and characters make Fuel Overdose a game I would recommend to almost no one.

Thankfully, for the meager price of $15 Fuel Overdose isn’t exactly a risky purchase, but I would still only recommend it for those who know exactly what they’re getting into.

Reviewed by Dean Engle