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TalkBack / Eagle Island Twist (Switch) Review
« on: June 21, 2021, 02:42:17 PM »

An update that struggles to take flight

Originally released on Nintendo Switch in 2019, Eagle Island ran hot and cold. The graphics were delightful and there were plenty of accessibility options, but the core game ultimately fell flat. As stated in our original review, the roguelike nature of the game made for an experience that felt stale and repetitive. Pixelnicks, the game’s developer, took the feedback to heart and attempted to remedy such problems by releasing an update that includes a brand new, standalone adventure: Eagle Island Twist.

Before getting into the game itself, let me state that it’s incredibly commendable that Twist is a free update to the original. The game could have easily stood alone as a sequel or a separate download from the eShop, but having it as a free update really adds to the value of the original package, as imperfect as it was. The biggest change in Twist is that the game is no longer a roguelike. There is now a world map with 45 handcrafted levels, each with their own gimmick and theme. Levels are mostly linear, with the aim to reach the shattered crystal piece at the end of the stage. There are coins and other gems hidden throughout each stage, but for the most part, the adventure is straightforward.

While the level structure differs from the base game, Twist plays and controls largely the same. You control Fia and your pet owl, Kusako, who you can shoot out as a projectile. Kusako can still use different elemental powers, like fire, ice, and electricity, as well as a few new techniques to keep things fresh. The game overall feels great to play, with controls and accessibility options making for a smooth feeling adventure that anyone can pick up. Most levels now have a unique gameplay gimmick attached to them, such as a level where you have a spring jump or one where you leave a trail of ice behind you wherever you walk. One issue these level-based gimmicks bring up, however, is the inconsistency throughout the entire experience. Since very few gimmicks are ever reused or built upon, the levels each feel disjointed from one another. The quality also varies immensely, with some levels being incredibly bland and boring, such as the ones where you use Kusako as a light source. Others are great throwbacks to past classics, such as a full recreation of Super Mario Bros. World 1-1. Even though the gimmicks aren’t repeated, the stage themes are incredibly overused. There are plenty of cave levels, grassland levels and underwater levels that all look incredibly similar. If you put them side by side, it would be difficult to tell the difference between any two themed levels, and it gets stale very quickly. While clearing every level is not required, and you can certainly skip some of the poor and repetitive ones, it is impossible to avoid them all, making for a wildly inconsistent adventure.  

One area where the game really struggles is with its difficulty. On regular difficulty modes, you only have three hearts, and healing hearts drop very infrequently. Combined with some poor hitboxes and cheap enemy placements, the game becomes a frustrating and repetitive slog that only improves when you lower the difficulty to easy mode, where you get eight hearts and much more frequent healing opportunities. Checkpoints are also infrequent enough, regardless of difficulty, to make each stage drag less. Most levels only have one checkpoint midway through the stage, but some of the levels can go on for ages, especially when you’re trying to track down all the hidden collectibles. The worst offender for the difficulty spikes is the boss fights. Each one has some incredibly cheap attacks that either home in on you or cover the screen, making them impossible to dodge most of the time. While most don’t have too much health, the encounters can last far too long as the difficulty is borderline ludicrous.

Ultimately, Eagle Island Twist suffers a similar fate to the original release. The core game is ultimately lackluster and repetitive, even though it looks and controls great. Mix that with some questionable difficulty choices and you have an adventure that feels like more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. At the end of the day, it is impressive how Twist attempts to fix all the original game’s problems, even if it doesn’t quite succeed. If you didn’t enjoy the original’s roguelike nature, there might be some value here for you, as it is a free update for everyone. Otherwise, if you were on the fence about purchasing the game, there are still far more enjoyable 2D platformers out there that are much easier to recommend.

TalkBack / Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection (Switch) Review
« on: June 09, 2021, 05:00:00 PM »

A masterful collection that’s perfect for ninja fans

Back in the day, Ninja Gaiden was always synonymous with Nintendo. The original trilogy on the NES is still beloved by countless fans, and the legendary ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, has become one of the most iconic retro characters of the era. However, when it came time to reboot the series for a new audience in the early 2000s, Nintendo fans mostly missed the boat when it came to Ryu’s new adventures. Thankfully after all these years, Nintendo fans finally get to experience the modern Ninja Gaiden trilogy as part of the Master Collection on Switch.

The Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a compilation of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge. While Razor’s Edge initially launched on the Wii U, this release marks the first time Sigma and Sigma 2 have been released on a Nintendo platform. All three of these games are the updated versions of the original trilogy, which added new modes, additional costumes, and special moves, while improving the overall gameplay and combat experience. Most of the additional content is accounted for in the Switch release, with a few glaring omissions. Sigma 2 and Razor’s Edge have had all of the online multiplayer modes stripped from this release. The lack of the online modes, such as Team Missions and Ninja Trials, are bizarre exclusions, especially in a package being advertised as the definitive way to play these titles.

For Switch owners, the Master Collection might be the first time they get to experience the modern Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Instead of being action-platformers, like the NES games, the modern trilogy consists of level-based action games, much like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. Fans of those series will be right at home with the Master Collection, and each one is a great action game that stands well on its own. Ninja Gaiden Sigma, while certainly aging the most and feeling clunky at points, is still a great time. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, though, is the clear highlight of this package. The visuals look great and the action is far more fast paced and refined than Sigma 1. Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge is often considered to be the black sheep of the franchise, and while it struggles to reach the highs of the Sigma games, it is still a fun action game in its own right. Newcomers be warned, though: the modern games are just as difficult as the original NES titles. While there are difficulty options available, none of these new games will  be a walk in the park. That being said, if you’re willing to put in the work to master the games, you will have a great time.  

One glaring disappointment with this rerelease is the way it is being bundled. Unlike Super Mario 3D All Stars, which neatly bundles three Mario games and their soundtracks together into a single game, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection instead opts to give you access to three separate games, one for each release. All the additional bonus content you might expect would be included, such as concept art, is only made available in the deluxe edition of the game. For a collection that is meant to be celebrating Ryu’s modern history, it stings that an art book and soundtrack is being locked behind another paywall.

Outside of the complaints on how the compilation is being sold, the overall presentation is very smooth.The three Ninja Gaiden games included in the Master Collection look and run great on Switch, especially in handheld mode. There is some minor slow down when huge groups of enemies are on screen, especially in Sigma 2, but nothing that breaks the pace. The only major issue comes from the auto save system, which will sometimes freeze the game when opening and closing the shop menu in Sigma 1. It never lasted longer than a few seconds, but it was enough to deter me from opening the shop at times.

The Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a solid package. The three games included in this collection are all enjoyable action games and well worth your time. While there are some issues with this release, such as the absence of all the online modes and the locking of bonus content behind the deluxe edition, they ultimately don’t detract from the core single player experience at the heart of the package. If you are a fan of action games, especially ones where you get to play as a ninja, and you have yet to try the modern Ninja Gaiden games out, you should pick up this bundle right away.

TalkBack / Backworlds (Switch) Review
« on: May 26, 2021, 04:41:20 PM »

A clean brushstroke nine years in the making

Sometimes a game can take years to materialize, much to the ire of fans. Hype and excitement can set expectations far too high, leading to inevitable disappointment. However, Backworlds, a game by the small team over at Logic Ember, seemingly released out of nowhere last year after a nine-year development cycle. After another year of waiting, Backworlds has also made the jump to Switch. While the Switch port suffers from some control issues, Backworlds is ultimately well worth the wait, being a solid and charming puzzle-platformer that fans of the genre will love.

One of Backworld’s standout features comes in the form of the art style. The game looks great, and the hand-drawn/papercraft aesthetic allows Backworlds to stand out from the pack. Environments and backgrounds are incredibly detailed, too, with subtle gusts of wind blowing the background’s foliage, for example. Every music track fits the environment perfectly as well; well-crafted, ambient tracks create an enthralling atmosphere. The character animations were also a highlight, with the playable creature’s tails flowing in the wind or their head popping off to push blocks around. Aesthetically the game hits all its marks, while still mostly running smoothly on Switch. The exception comes when transitioning between screens. During these instances, the game will freeze for up to a few seconds to load the next area. While not a big problem, it is still a disappointing blemish on an otherwise great presentation.

Backworlds’ gameplay is, of course, the core draw. The game tries to combine classic single-screen puzzle games and the metroidvania genre to create an interconnected world of puzzle screens. For the most part, this works great. Each screen works as its own isolated puzzle, with a rainbow ink drop acting as the reward for solving each puzzle. Collecting enough ink drops will open a door somewhere on the world map, leading to a boss encounter. Additionally, a handy map and the ability to fast travel to certain locations at any time makes backtracking far less tedious than it otherwise would be.

Backworlds’ main gimmick comes in the form of painting the environment to flip between the regular and reverse world. Puzzles will require you to switch the environment by painting over parts of the environment to change the properties of the world. While the regular world acts as you’d expect, the reverse world has different properties depending on the world you’re currently in. For instance, in one world the dark version can flip gravity, while in another world it lets you swim through the air. Imbuing each world with its own gimmick for the reverse world allows for a solid, consistent gameplay loop that ultimately stays fresh with the variety in puzzles and reverse world mechanics. None of the puzzles were too mentally taxing, mostly involving pushing blocks or using magnets to open doors, but they were all still great brain teasers. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the bosses, as they felt incredibly out of place and monotonous. The first boss, for instance, required you to navigate around the screen to throw small rocks at a bird. However, in the middle of the screen is a “danger area” that causes the bird to knock you across the screen. Instead of feeling like another well-designed puzzle, it was more frustrating to be knocked away and have to start the puzzle over, just because there needed to be a boss fight.

Where Backworlds ultimately struggles the most, though, is in the controls. While platforming works as expected (with the frustrating exclusion of a run button), the main mechanic of drawing is incredibly cumbersome. There are three methods of drawing: the right stick with a cursor, the touch screen, or with gyro controls. The right stick option moves a cursor around the screen, where you use the R or ZR button to draw or erase. While there are plenty of options to adjust sensitivity, using the right stick feels clunky and unnatural regardless of the setting. Touch controls don’t fare much better either. Drawing with one finger paints the world while using two fingers erases the world. This control scheme struggles when it comes to objects at the edge of the screen, however, as moving one finger slightly off the edge will cause you to draw instead of erase, which is incredibly frustrating. Arguably the best control scheme, although not perfect, is the gyro controls. Using motion to control the game is overall smooth and precise, but it lacks an option to recenter the cursor, which is a baffling exclusion. Overall, no control solution is ideal and it does dampen the overall experience, even if the game is otherwise great.

The amount of love and care that went into Backworlds is undeniable. With great visuals, a novel gimmick, and well-designed puzzles, Backworlds is sure to be an enjoyable experience for fans of the genre. Unfortunately, the issues plaguing the drawing controls ultimately get in the way of a fairly solid package. If you don’t mind adapting to a slightly awkward control scheme, Backworlds is a very good title that is well worth your time.

TalkBack / New Pokémon Snap Photodex Checklist
« on: May 11, 2021, 03:43:06 PM »

A Photographer's Guide to the Lental Region

After over two decades of waiting, Pokémon fans around the world have been graced with a new Pokémon Snap game. To help you catalog all the available Pokémon in the Lental Region, we have created a handy checklist for you to keep track of which Pokémon you have captured and which ones you still need to take pictures of. Be warned, however, as the checklist contains major spoilers for New Pokémon Snap!

Click here to open the checklist and get tracking, just be sure you save a copy so that you can edit it yourself!

You can also find the whole list below.

Were you able to track down all 200+ Pokémon? Which encounter was your favorite? Let us know in the talkback below!

Photodex NumberPokemon NameLocationsNotes
1VivillonAll CoursesComes in different patterns across each course
2PichuFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
3GrookeyFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
4ScorbunnyFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night), Sweltering Sands (Day) 
5BouffalantFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
6PidgeotFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
7TangrowthFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
8EmolgaFlorio Nature Park (Day/Illumina Spot) 
9WurmpleFlorio Nature Park (Day) 
10MurkrowFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
11CaterpieFlorio Nature Park (Night) 
12HeracrossFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
13PinsirFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night), Sweltering Sands (Day) 
14DodrioFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
15DucklettFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
16SwannaFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
17BidoofFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night) 
18TaillowFlorio Nature Park (Day) 
19TorterraFlorio Nature Park (Night) 
20MagikarpAll Course Except for Research Camp 
21HoothootFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night/Illumina Spot) 
22ComfeyFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night/Illumina Spot) 
23FlorgesFlorio Nature Park (Day) 
24CombeeFlorio Nature Park (Night/Illumina Spot) 
25VespiquenFlorio Nature Park (Night) 
26SylveonFlorio Nature Park (Night/Illumina Spot) 
27ShayminFlorio Nature Park (Day/Night/Illumina Spot)Post-Game Mythical
28MeganiumFlorio Nature Park (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon
29EeveeFlorio Nature Park (Illumina Spot), Research Camp 
30PikachuFlorio Nature Park (Illumina Spot), Research Camp, Blushing Beach (Day/Night), Maricopia Reef (Day) 
31CutieflyResearch Camp 
32BunnelbyResearch Camp 
33StoutlandResearch Camp 
34StarlyResearch Camp 
35MeowthResearch Camp 
36AudinoResearch Camp 
37RattataResearch Camp 
38TrubbishResearch Camp 
39SudowoodoResearch Camp 
40DedenneResearch Camp 
41AipomFounja Jungle (Day) 
42BounsweetFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
43MetapodFounja Jungle (Day) 
44BeautiflyFounja Jungle (Day) 
45ArbokFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
46YanmegaFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
47PikipekFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
48ToucannonFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
49AriadosFounja Jungle (Night) 
50MorelullFounja Jungle (Night) 
51SlakingFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
52VenusaurFounja Jungle (Day) 
53LiepardFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
54WooperFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
55QuagsireFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
56SwampertFounja Jungle (Night) 
57LedianFounja Jungle (Night) 
58SobbleFounja Jungle (Day) 
59LeafeonFounja Jungle (Day/Night) 
60MewFounja Jungle (Day/Night)Post-Game Mythical
61TrevenantElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
62EspurrElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
63ShiftryElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
64KecleonElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
65DeerlingElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
66SawsbuckElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
67UnfezantElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
68DrampaElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
69PanchamElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
70BulbasaurElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
71SerperiorElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
72ApplinElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
73BewearElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
74GardevoirElsewhere Forest (Standard) 
75NinetalesElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
76LotadElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
77EspeonElsewhere Forest (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
78CelebiElsewhere Forest (Standard)Post-Game Mythical
79MiloticElsewhere Forest (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon
80WingullBlushing Beach (Day), Maricopia Reef (Day/Evening) 
81ExeggutorBlushing Beach (Day/Night) 
82CrabrawlerBlushing Beach (Day) 
83DrifblimBlushing Beach (Night), Maricopia Reef (Evening) 
84ZangooseBlushing Beach (Night) 
85ServiperBlushing Beach (Night) 
86BellossomBlushing Beach (Day/Night) 
87InkayBlushing Beach (Night), Lental Seafloor (Undersea), Maricopia Reef (Evening) 
88PyukumukuBlushing Beach (Day/Night), Maricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
89MachampBlushing Beach (Day), Maricopia Reef (Day) 
90StunfiskBlushing Beach (Day) 
91OctilleryBlushing Beach (Day/Night), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
92CorsolaBlushing Beach (Day/Night), Maricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
93FinneonBlushing Beach (Day/Night), Maricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea/Illumina Spot) 
94ClamperlBlushing Beach (Night), Maricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
95PrimarinaBlushing Beach (Night), Maricopia Reef (Evening) 
96RaichuBlushing Beach (Day/Night), Maricopia Reef (Evening) 
97SandygastBlushing Beach (Night) 
98SharpedoLental Seafloor (Undersea), Maricopia Reef (Day) 
99SquirtleBlushing Beach (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea), Maricopia Reef (Day/Evening) 
100BlastoiseBlushing Beach (Day), Maricopia Reef (Evening) 
101LaprasBlushing Beach (Day), Maricopia Reef (Day/Evening), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
102MantineMaricopia Reef (Day/Evening), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
103PelipperMaricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
104WailordMaricopia Reef (Day/Evening), Lental Seafloor (Undersea/Illumina Spot) 
105MareanieBlushing Beach (Night), Maricopia Reef (Day/Evening) 
106VaporeonMaricopia Reef (Evening) 
107ManaphyMaricopia Reef (Evening)Post-Game Mythical
108LuvdiscLental Seafloor (Undersea/Illumina Spot) 
109AlomomolaLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
110WailmerMaricopia Reef (Day), Lental Seafloor (Undersea) 
111CradilyLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
112LumineonLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
113QwilfishLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
114ClawitzerLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
115TentacruelLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
116ChinchouLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
117LanturnLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
118StarmieLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
119FrillishLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
120GolisopodLental Seafloor (Undersea) 
121LugiaLental Seafloor (Undersea)Post-Game Legendary
122WishiwashiLental Seafloor (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon
123SkorupiSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
124CacneaSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
125SandshrewSweltering Sands (Night) 
126TrapinchSweltering Sands (Night) 
127FlygonSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
128KangaskhanSweltering Sands (Night) 
129MandibuzzSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
130MiniorSweltering Sands (Night) 
131SilicobraSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
132TorchicSweltering Sands (Day) 
133HelioliskSweltering Sands (Day) 
134LycanrocSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
135HippowdonSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
136TyranitarSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
137OnixSweltering Sands (Day/Night) 
138AltariaFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
139ShinxFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
140LuxrayFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
141TalonflameFireflow Volcano (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
142MonfernoFireflow Volcano (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
143AerodactylFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
144TyrantrumFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
145GravelerFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
146ArcheopsFireflow Volcano (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
147SlugmaFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
148TorkoalFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
149CharmanderFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
150CharizardFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
151TyphlosionFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
152FlareonFireflow Volcano (Standard) 
153Ho-ohFireflow Volcano (Standard)Post Game Legendary
154VolcaronaFireflow Volcano (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon
155FurretShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
156CubchooShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
157BearticShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
158MightyenaShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
159WeavileShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
160BraviaryShiver Snowfields (Night) 
161SwinubShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
162MamoswineShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
163SkarmoryShiver Snowfields (Day) 
164SandslashShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
165AbomasnowShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
166VulpixShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
167DelibirdShiver Snowfields (Night) 
168SnomShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
169FrosmothShiver Snowfields (Night) 
170CrabominableShiver Snowfields (Night) 
171SnoruntShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
172GlalieShiver Snowfields (Day) 
173FroslassShiver Snowfields (Day) 
174JynxShiver Snowfields (Night) 
175SphealShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
176PiplupShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
177VanilluxeShiver Snowfields (Night) 
178AvaluggShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
179DewgongShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
180AurorusShiver Snowfields (Night) 
181GlaceonShiver Snowfields (Day/Night) 
182SuicuneShiver Snowfields (Night)Post-Game Legendary
183CrobatOutaway Cave (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
184JoltikOutaway Cave (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
185GeodudeOutaway Cave (Standard) 
186CarbinkOutaway Cave (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
187GengarOutaway Cave (Standard) 
188NoibatOutaway Cave (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
189PumpkabooOutaway Cave (Standard) 
190CroagunkOutaway Cave (Standard) 
191DrifloonOutaway Cave (Standard) 
192ClefairyOutaway Cave (Standard) 
193SableyeOutaway Cave (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
194RampardosOutaway Cave (Standard) 
195HydreigonOutaway Cave (Standard) 
196GoodraOutaway Cave (Standard) 
197MawileOutaway Cave (Standard) 
198JolteonOutaway Cave (Standard) 
199DiancieOutaway Cave (Standard)Post-Game Mythical
200SteelixOutaway Cave (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon
201HoundoomRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
202EldegossRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
203NatuRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
204AbsolRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
205SalanditRuins of Rememberance (Standard) 
206NoivernRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
207WoobatRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
208SigilyphRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
209BeheeyemRuins of Rememberance (Standard) 
210GolurkRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
211ChandelureRuins of Rememberance (Standard/Illumina Spot) 
212UmbreonRuins of Rememberance (Illumina Spot) 
213JirachiRuins of Rememberance (Standard)Post-Game Mythical
214XerneasRuins of Rememberance (Illumina Spot)Illumina Pokemon

TalkBack / Overcooked! All You Can Eat (Switch) Review
« on: March 31, 2021, 12:23:30 PM »

A dish best served fresh

There is no doubt that Overcooked has become one of the most notable new co-op experiences in the past decade. Nearly five years has passed since the original, leaving us with ports, tons of DLC content, and even a sequel. Overcooked! All You Can Eat aims to remaster the entire series and serve all the DLC into one convenient package on Nintendo Switch, creating an essential collection for anyone who hasn’t yet given the series a chance.

While at first glance the compilation looks to be a simple collection of everything Overcooked, there have been some notable improvements to each of the games. The original Overcooked, in particular, has gotten a huge face lift thanks to this remaster. Environments look less blocky and are filled with much more detail and added lighting effects, making some of the original locales, like the jungle, have an extra layer of personality compared to before. Overcooked 2 also got a similar remaster treatment, although it’s not nearly as substantial. The lighting and shadows are much more ambient and textures generally look sharper than before. Giving the original Overcooked such a great remaster is an easy highlight of this package, but Overcooked 2’s updates, while more subtle, should still be commended.

While the graphics got a major overhaul, the gameplay of All You Can Eat is largely identical to the original two releases. The player and their group of friends are still trying to cooperate to cook and serve as many dishes as possible before the timer runs out and you’re left with angry customers. As previously mentioned, All You Can Eat includes both Overcooked games and all their respective DLC packs. As in the originals, the wacky campaign for each game is the standout mode. Whether it be a time-traveling adventure to stop a giant meatball from terrorizing a town or fighting the zombie-like un-bread, the campaigns are fun from start to finish.

With over 200 different levels to work through, each with their own stage gimmicks, there is certainly a lot of meat on this bone. However, like a good meal, sometimes it can be too much. After a few matches back to back, the gameplay loop can get extremely repetitive. As a quick party game, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but for longer sessions, it can get exhausting really fast. This is a game that is best enjoyed in short bursts, rather than a marathon through all the levels. Thankfully, the game includes full online multiplayer to make playing with others more convenient,when you are up for it. Even the original Overcooked, which didn’t previously have online multiplayer, has been given online support this go around.

While there is undeniable value for newcomers here, veteran players seem to have gotten the short end of the stick. The big draw is easily the three new chefs and the seven new kitchens, which are great additions, but they struggle to justify a second purchase through this collection. In a package of close to 200 stages and dozens of chefs, adding so little new content feels like adding a few extra peas to an already full dinner plate.

There are also some new accessibility modes, such as a color-blind mode, a dyslexic friendly text mode, and a scalable UI. Combine that with the added assist mode for the campaigns that adjusts some of the difficulty settings (like the timer), Overcooked! All You Can Eat is easily the most accessible title in the series. The team’s commitment to making a game that can be enjoyed by everyone is something to celebrate.

There is no denying the incredible value that Overcooked! All You Can Eat serves up. Having two fantastic games and all their DLC packs remastered, alongside a few extra chefs and levels, makes this the definitive Overcooked package. The added accessibility options are a much appreciated addition, and they make the package an even more inclusive party game for everyone. However, for veteran players, there may not not be enough new content here to justify double dipping this chip. If this is your first time in the kitchen, however, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is an essential pickup for some fantastic multiplayer action.

TalkBack / SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium (Switch) Review
« on: February 26, 2021, 11:46:51 AM »

A charming history lesson for fighting game fans

A few months after the announcement that Neo Geo Pocket Color games were going to be rereleased on Switch for the first time ever, few expected the beloved SNK vs. Capcom crossover to make the jump. Between the licensing issues and the lack of any collaborations between the two titular companies, you could make a safe bet that this rerelease would never see the light of day. However, against all odds, SNK surprised fans with the announcement of a port, which is now available for purchase on the Switch eShop. Neo Geo fans who grew up with the game likely already picked this up, but for those experiencing this crossover for the first time, is it a worthwhile bout to partake in?

While the SNK vs. Capcom franchise technically began with Card Fighters Clash, Match of the Millennium was the first fighting game in the series. Before the Switch, the idea of a fighting game available on a handheld brought up many red flags. The lack of an analog stick, less buttons, downgraded graphics and cut back rosters were always things to worry about but, surprisingly, SvC accounted for this and built the game around the system instead of porting it down. The game has 26 playable characters, and all of your favorite SNK and Capcom fighting game characters are here and accounted for. For SNK, Iori, Kyo, Mai, Terry, and Nakoruru all make the cut, while on the Capcom side, there is Ryu, Ken, Morrigan, Felicia, and Guile. While it would have been great to see a more varied Capcom roster, since it is mostly Street Fighter reps, the fact that so many diverse characters fit on the tiny handheld is impressive in and of itself. Even more impressive, however, is that all the characters play exactly as you’d imagine them to. From hadoukens to power waves, each move’s command inputs are the same as they normally are, making for a seamless transition for any existing fans. For newcomers, however, the game includes the original manual, with all the command inputs that can be accessed at any time, which makes learning characters on the fly easier than ever.

The game also looks surprisingly good for a Neo Geo Pocket Color game. Each of the 16-bit character sprites are well animated and have a lot of personality. The music, similarly, has some fantastic recreations of classic character themes. Hearing authentic chiptune renditions of Ken, Terry, and Iori’s themes was a great surprise, and are easily worth a listen on their own.

Core gameplay is a standard 2D fighting game shrunken down for a Neo Geo Pocket Color. Players input button commands mixed with their respective attack buttons to whittle away the opponent’s health bar as quickly as possible. Each player also has access to a super meter to unleash flashy special moves to quickly drain the opponent’s health bar. The game also includes the option to play using teams of two or three characters. While all of this sounds pretty standard for a fighting game, having it play well on such a low-tech handheld is incredibly impressive. Outside of the standard versus mode, there is an arcade mode and a training mode, but the biggest inclusion comes in the form of the Olympics mode. As either Team SNK or Team Capcom, you compete in various challenges and minigames to get a high score. These can range from a one-hit KO mode to a Ghosts and Goblins survival challenge. While short, this mode is a great celebration of both companies’ history and something I wish would have lasted longer than the hour or so it will take to complete.

While the Switch version is largely the same as the original Neo Geo Pocket Color release, there were a couple additions to the experience. Besides the aforementioned manual inclusion and several border options, there is also the option to rewind the game at any time from the menu. You can’t rewind very far, but it is a great addition for some of the harder challenges the game throws at you. Another great addition is the ability to play locally in split screen with another player, something difficult to do on the original release. What is baffling, however, is that, in handheld mode, the orientation flips and you have to play the game vertically opposite your opponent. As a novelty, this orientation is fun, but the lack of an option to change it back to horizontal split screen is disappointing. The most glaring issue though comes not from the game itself, but from the Switch controllers. Inputting button commands, especially on Joy Con, is difficult and can be frustrating at times. This is not a huge issue when playing casually though, and the rewind function helps mitigate mis-inputs on the single player level.

Overall, while SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium is dated in many aspects, there is a real sense of charm and fun to be had with this entry. Seeing such a large roster faithfully recreated on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, with the addition of local multiplayer, is worth the price of admission on its own. While it is a shame that the Switch controllers struggle to work well with fighting games, for casual play this should not be a huge issue. If you have any interest in SNK, Capcom, or fighting games in general, you owe it to yourself to check out how one of the biggest fighting game crossovers began.

TalkBack / Taiko no Tatsujin Rhythmic Adventure Pack (Switch) Review
« on: December 19, 2020, 03:13:33 PM »

A poor rhythm game and an even poorer RPG

The prospect of combining two genres is always an exciting, but risky, idea. There have been success stories in the past, such as with Crypt of the Necrodancer combining the rhythm and adventure genre. Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack attempts to bring the complexity of the RPG genre and combine it with the simplistic rhythm games the Taiko No Tatsujin series is best known for. This collection, a compilation of two games originally released on the 3DS, marks the first time the Rhythmic Adventure series makes its debut in the west. Unfortunately, putting two games in one package cannot hide how basic and rudimentary these games really are.

While there are two games included here, Rhythmic Adventure 1 and 2 are practically the same game in different scenarios, with the sequel adding many quality of life improvements. The story of the original game follows Don and Katsu, two taiko drums, meeting a rabbit named Tacky who implores the help of the drums to rescue his watch friend, Ticky, who can control the power of time. The group sets out on a time traveling journey to stop the villains who took Ticky from destroying the world. In Rhythmic Adventure 2, Don and Katsu visit a traveling museum when a girl, Tia, and a monkey, Popo Kaka, appear and ask the duo for help getting back a stolen item, the Necklace of the Lion’s Fang. The necklace was stolen by a group of villains who are trying to destroy the world. Sound familiar? Both games’ plots are virtually identical, merely existing as a reason for Don and Katsu to travel through time and across the globe. The plot plays out as simply as one would expect, and for a game with so much dialogue, it is a shame the plot was as superficial as it was.

Speaking of simple, the game aims to create an RPG experience for a much younger crowd, especially in the first game. Like all RPGs, gameplay is divided between an overworld and combat. The overworld is ultimately bland and boring. While each character’s sprites are hand drawn and cartoony, the backgrounds are more realistic, looking much more like a traditional RPG. This causes the characters to stick out against the environment like a sore thumb and combined with the minimalistic animations of Don, makes the characters look like PNGs slapped on a background. Even when you ignore the graphical style, the world is extremely linear, empty, and boring. Besides the occasional treasure chest or two, there are no incentives to explore the world or do anything besides fighting random encounters to grind levels. Even the towns serve nothing more than a change of scenery with a shop or two to visit to buy new gear or some items.

The problem with the world outside of combat is Rhythmic Adventure’s simplicity, the battle system is truly the worst part of the game. For the most part, battles are random encounters in between towns. Don’s party gets attacked by a group of creatures and is challenged to a battle, which is just a standard round of the regular Taiko no Tatsujin style gameplay. As a song plays, different colored notes need to be pressed at the right time to get an OK or Good rating. If successful, every few notes the player’s team attacks, if enough misses occur, the enemies attack. Once each opponent’s health bar reaches zero, the round ends. That is, unless the song finishes first, which causes the round to end in a draw and the battle also ends. This draw mechanic destroys the pacing as sometimes there are far too many enemies on screen to take out before the song ends. It also doesn’t help that the songs vary in length, meaning sometimes it is just up to luck whether a lengthier song is chosen to help you win the battle. There are some ways to mitigate this, such as grinding for levels to deal more damage or changing up your party, but even that is entirely up to luck as recruiting new team members is mostly locked behind a random chance of recruiting one after a battle. Even then, songs are repeated too frequently and playing the same song over and over again loses its appeal really quickly. Ultimately, this battle system is not an RPG battle system, but a regular Taiko No Tatsujin song masquerading as one.

Luckily, Rhythmic Adventure 2 tries to improve on the flawed formula with some band-aid solutions. Overworld encounters are no longer random encounters and instead appear as colored silhouettes that correspond to the difficulty of the encounter. Additionally, you can now shoot Katsu out towards enemies to nullify the battle, which is useful for avoiding unwanted encounters. The party system has also been enhanced, with the player now being allowed to set team formations and recruit allies through a gacha system in the main hub. While these are great improvements, they do not fix the overall battle system and the lackluster overworld, which is a real shame.

In terms of side content, this is where the Rhythmic Adventure Pack tries to redeem itself. Each game includes their own Taiko mode, which is just regular Taiko No Tatsujin style gameplay. As this is what the series is known for, this mode is where the most enjoyment will likely be had. There are six new songs added to this rerelease, which is a nice bonus until you realize that none of the DLC songs from the original 3DS releases are included. This is a real shame as they are not even available to purchase separately, making a chunk of the game feel like it is missing. The overall song collection is robust nevertheless, with over 130 songs, including some crossover songs, such as an Ace Attorney medley and a Kirby medley. However, probably the biggest letdown is that none of the songs are localized, meaning even some songs players might be familiar with, such as the Pokemon XYZ anime theme song, are not recognizable in the slightest when compared to their English counterparts. While this game is clearly marketed as a Japanese product, there is such minimal effort done to the localization process to make one wonder why it would be worthwhile to localize it in the first place. None of the songs, voice acting, or lyrics are translated, which is a real shame as there was potential for a fun time in Taiko mode for those who were unimpressed with the main story.

While it is impressive Taiko No Tatsujin Rhythmic Adventure Pack was made available to the Western market for the first time, it ultimately feels like a lackluster package that only a handful of people will get enjoyment out of. The story mode is too simple and repetitive to be worthwhile, while the Taiko mode’s minimal localization and lack of translations feel half baked, especially to those who don’t speak Japanese. While Rhythmic Adventure 2 is clearly the better game, neither one comes with a recommendation, especially on a system that is home to some fantastic RPGs and rhythm games.

TalkBack / Animal Crossing New Horizons Halloween Item Guide
« on: October 01, 2020, 09:48:00 AM »

Think you're going to have to skip Halloween this year? Don't worry. Animal Crossing has you covered!

It's that time of year again when all the spooks come out and kids knock on your door asking for your candy. While this year will almost certainly be different, Animal Crossing's latest update will give a new way to experience one of the best holidays of the year. Much like Bunny Day in April, special Halloween items added in the latest update are going to be available throughout the month of October. While some of these items and recipes will not be available until Jack comes to town on Halloween eve, many are available to collect now!

It is worth noting that there are two new crafting items that will be required to craft these Halloween decorations. Pumpkins will need to be grown in patches, much like flowers, and they can be purchased as sprouts from Nook's Cranny or from Leif when he is in town. They take around four days to fully grow, so make sure to water them every day to max out your pumpkin supply! Candy, the other new crafting material, can be bought from the cabinet in Nook's Cranny. Since candy is also used for Halloween night to trick-or-treat, be sure to stock up so you will have plenty of stock for Jack, your villagers, and your own crafting!

To help you keep up your habit of collecting all the seasonal items to hoard in your storage, we have created a checklist to make sure you have gotten 'em all. It also shows you which materials you need in order to craft each of the items to give you a better idea of how many pumpkins and pieces of candy you will need. It can be found here, just be sure to make a copy so you can edit it!

For those who are just curious about what new items are available, we've got you covered there as well! Below is a list of all the Halloween items you can obtain, but be warned as it does contain spoilers!

  • Spooky Arch
  • Spooky Candy Set
  • Spooky Carriage
  • Spooky Chair
  • Spooky Fence
  • Spooky Flooring
  • Spooky Garland
  • Spooky Lantern
  • Spooky Lantern Set
  • Spooky Rug
  • Spooky Scarecrow
  • Spooky Standing Lamp
  • Spooky Table
  • Spooky Table Setting
  • Spooky Tower
  • Spooky Wall
  • Spooky Wand

What do you think of the Halloween event in New Horizons? Is it the spook-tacular event you were expecting? Let us know in the talkback below!

TalkBack / Pokemon Sword and Shield Isle of Armor Pokedex Checklist
« on: June 19, 2020, 03:48:20 AM »

Which returning Pokemon have made the jump to Sword and Shield?

Welcome to the Isle of Armor, trainers! With a new island to explore comes over 100 new and returning Pokemon that are making their debut in the Galar region. To help you in your quest to capture them all (again!), we've put together a checklist of all the newly available Pokemon. Be warned, however, as the checklist contains major spoilers for the Isle of Armor DLC! Click here to open the checklist and get tracking, just be sure you save a copy so that you can edit it yourself!

Are you pleased with the new Pokemon that the Isle of Armor added to Sword and Shield? Let us know in the talkback below!


The first wave of Sword and Shield DLC may be launching sooner than you thought

It's been over two months since we have last heard any new details regarding The Isle of Armor, the first DLC pack of the Pokemon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass. Originally revealed back in January, The Isle of Armor would launch this June and would focus upon the new legendary Pokemon, Urshifu. Later in March, during the Nintendo Direct Mini, we learned more details on new gigantamax forms for Galar's starter Pokemon and some new details on how to evolve Kubfu into Urshifu. However, as we quickly approach the month of June, we have yet to be given a firm release date for the DLC pack. Thankfully, we may be able to pinpoint when it will launch, thanks to some clues left by The Pokemon Company themselves.

For those unaware, to celebrate the upcoming release of The Isle of Armor, Pokemon have been hosting weekly mystery gift events. These weekly events, available worldwide, grant the player access to hidden ability Galarian forms of Mr. Mime, Ponyta, Corsola, and Meowth. Each event also runs simultaneously with an item distribution, which grants the player rare items, such as evolutionary items. Things, however, begin to become more interesting when looking specifically at the Galarian Meowth event, which begins on June 11th. For one, the event is the only one that does not have an end date, which is surprising as the Japanese Pokemon website lists end dates for each of the other distributions. Additionally, when compared to the other item distributions, the one that corresponds with Galarian Meowth is an item bundle that contains 50 big nuggets and 100 large EXP candies. This is likely an indication that the DLC may be harder than the base game and that Game Freak wants to adequately prepare the players by providing them with easy money and experience before they begin their new adventure. Considering these items are meant to be used or sold, it makes sense to distribute them as close to the launch as possible to prevent players from wasting them before release.

Putting these clues together, we can make an educated guess that The Isle of Armor DLC for Sword and Shield will launch around the week of June 11th. It is also worth mentioning that this lines up with the original dates for E3 2020, which was supposed to take place from June 9th to June 11th. The release date announcement could have easily been announced at E3, either during the Nintendo Direct or during the Treehouse, and available a few days later as a surprise release. This would not be the unheard of for Nintendo, as in 2018, they had a similar strategy with the release of Splatoon 2's Octo Expansion. However, considering the global circumstances affecting Nintendo and the cancellation of E3, things may have had to change and release dates may have shifted internally. As a result, nothing is certain at this point, but based on the clues we have, a release around the middle of June (potentially as early as the 11th) seems like the most likely release date.

Do you agree with our theory on when the first wave of Pokemon Sword and Shield DLC will launch? Let us know in the talkback below!

TalkBack / Pong Quest (Switch) Review
« on: May 16, 2020, 02:21:53 PM »

Zelda and Pong? What could go wrong!

Pong Quest sounds like a ridiculous idea on paper. Mixing the gameplay of the Atari classic with top-down Zelda styled dungeons seems like an absurd combination, but if Mario and Rabbids has taught us anything, it is to never judge wacky combinations until you try them. Unfortunately, Pong Quest is one of the most frustrating experiences I have had in a while and it is certainly not a step forward for the Pong franchise.

The story of Pong Quest revolves around a Pong paddle who has been recruited by the king to go gather the four orbs and put an end to the mysterious energy emanating from the castle’s Spooky Door. As such, your goal is to enter each of the castle’s four doors, traverse the dungeon, and defeat the boss to reclaim the orb. While the plot is certainly not the most impressive feature Pong Quest hosts, it would have been nice to see the story fleshed out a little more than your stereotypical RPG plot. In terms of presentation, nothing really stands out aside from some of the cleverly written dialogue in the hub. The game opts to use simple shapes and bright colors whenever possible, which is fine, but after a few minutes in a dungeon, rooms, enemies, and travelers all  begin to feel copy-pasted. Likewise, the few music tracks the game includes are nice pieces, but the amount of times each are reused makes them grating. Take, for example, the enemy theme. Every time you encounter a standard enemy, you will hear the same track, and when the battles drag out, the song becomes infuriating. If there was more variety in the presentation and music as a whole, this would have certainly been less of an issue.

The gameplay of Pong Quest alternates between two main gameplay styles. The top-down dungeon crawling aspect works similarly to how the dungeons in the original Zelda works, without any of the interesting puzzles. You navigate between rooms and interact with various treasure chests, enemies, and NPCs. Occasionally, you will come across a challenge room or two, but they mostly consisted of memory matching puzzles or tilting towards a goal. The rewards from these come in the form of money and unique types of balls that can be used in the second gameplay type: the battles. The battles, at first glance, play out like a standard Pong match, with two players bouncing a ball back and forth to get the ball into the opponent’s goal. Pong Quest tries to spice the formula up by adding two primary changes that completely ruin the entire experience. The biggest issue comes in the form of the health bar. You and your opponent each have a health bar that needs to be completely depleted in order to win a battle. The issue is that you take damage every time you interact with the ball, and not just when the opponent scores a goal on you. Since you are forced to rally the ball back and forth at least once before you can get a shot, you are guaranteed to take damage during your battle. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if you could heal yourself in the overworld, like most RPGs allow you to do, but unfortunately, healing is extremely limited and delegated to the ball system, the second major issue with combat. As previously mentioned, you get special types of balls for defeating enemies and completing various challenges. These range anywhere from healing items, like potions, to spells, such as one that makes your opponent slower to react. While a neat idea in concept, these completely ruin any enjoyment you will have. The balls are one-time use items, as opposed to being power ups that last the entire fight, but you can only carry a certain number of types of balls at one time. Because your opponents always have two to three different types of orbs, each with multiple uses, that they begin the battle with, you are constantly at a disadvantage due to a lack of resources at your disposal. Although you can upgrade the number of ball types you can carry by leveling up, you go through them so quickly it barely matters. I found that the best way to play the game was to avoid all enemies and fight the boss, as everything else in the dungeon simply existed to drain your resources with minimal benefits.

Outside of the lackluster gameplay, the issues don’t end there. Each of the four worlds housing the orbs are supposedly themed after classic Atari games, but besides Breakout and Centipede, it was nearly impossible to figure out which game they were representing, which was a real shame. The main hub of the game (the castle) only serves as a level select and a character customizer, with the latter being one of the game’s focal points. The player can customize their pong paddle’s color and outfit however they’d like, as long as they collect the various clothing pieces. These can be found by defeating enemies or buying them at certain shops hidden in dungeons. There is a huge variety of customization options, but I never changed my outfit once throughout the entire game, largely due to the fact you can only change your outfit in the hub. If you could change clothes on the fly, or if the clothes acted as stat boosts, I would have been more inclined to use the feature. The other big problem with Pong Quest is its lack of content. There are only five dungeons in the game, with each being beatable in around 15-20 minutes, if you explore everything. Although level ups can upgrade your health and give you new perks, the only thing stopping you from fighting the boss is a few flights of stairs and a boss key, which means no real reason to fight enemies or do any NPC challenges. Outside of the main adventure, there is the ability to play both classic Pong and Pong with the unique ball feature locally and online. While playing locally was just as standard as you expect, unfortunately, I could not find anyone online to play with, meaning I could not get an impression of how the online functions.

Pong Quest wasn’t just a mediocre game, it was an infuriating one. Wonky enemy AI, a terrible special ball and HP system, and a lack of content made the game feel like a chore to play, as opposed to being a good time. When I wasn’t bored with the lack of substance to this game, I was aggravated by every enemy encounter and the core battle mechanics. When the best part of the game is the classic local multiplayer Pong experience from nearly 50 years ago, that should say a lot about the quality of the game. If you really want to play the original Pong on Switch, that should be the only reason you should be picking up this title.

TalkBack / Totally Reliable Delivery Service (Switch) Review
« on: April 17, 2020, 01:28:07 PM »

Delivering a totally unreliable final product

Ragdoll physics, parcels, and an open world: what could possibly go wrong! Well, the answer may not be very appealing to some. 3D action co-op game Totally Reliable Delivery Service looks like mindless fun, at first glance; however, the myriad glitches and poor game design makes this one unenjoyable package from start to finish.

Totally Reliable puts the players in the shoes of a delivery worker, which is about all the story on offer. You are dropped into the world with no context and are instructed to go pull a lever and begin your first delivery. This, in itself, is not a bad premise given the open world nature of the game, but immediately upon loading into the world, it is clear there are more issues to be found. For one, the world is visibly ugly and uninteresting to explore. The game uses a cell-shaded look, which at points, does suit the game’s goofy premise, but when it doesn’t work, the world feels like something lifted straight out of a Roblox creation. It feels closer to a model Playmobile set than it does a living breathing world to explore.

In terms of gameplay, Totally Reliable delivers even less. For starters, the controls that are given to the player are wrong; specifically, the jump and dive buttons are reversed from what was outlined in the game’s loading screens. Moving, jumping, and interacting with the world feels clunky and unnatural, which can be expected from these types of ragdoll-physics games, but the problem is with how unresponsive everything is. For every interaction, there seems to be a split second delay, especially for jumping. Whether or not this was an intentional “wacky” design decision is unknown; however, it was definitely frustrating.

Upon gaining your bearings with the questionable control scheme, you are instructed to deliver your first package. This is done by pulling a lever, picking up the package that comes down, and dropping it off at the designated point on your screen. Not only is this the majority of the game, but doing so is more frustrating than anything else as, once again, the controls are a mess. For example, the majority of the time you need to lift up a package off the ground, which is done by holding both the L and R buttons and the ZL and ZR buttons all at the same time in addition to using the left stick to move. This cramped my hands after only three missions, forcing me to put the game down and come back later. Overall, while the goofy controls are the main selling point of the game, they ultimately made the experience close to unplayable.

It is worth noting that Totally Reliable is best played with a group of friends or family who are in need of a quick laugh. The game supports both online and local co-op, the latter being my preferred method. The game frequently stuttered when playing with more than one person, but the benefits of playing with someone else far outweigh the chore that is playing this game on your own. Even though there were a couple of funny moments that I experienced during my time with the game, after more than ten minutes those laughs quickly turned to irritation over the core gameplay mechanics.

In addition to the numerous gameplay and control problems, the other glaring issue is how poorly optimized the game is. Totally Reliable Delivery Service constantly experiences graphical hiccups when playing in multiplayer, which was one of the clear selling points of the game. The loading times are well over a minute long, object pop-ins occur frequently, and game breaking glitches are almost guaranteed to happen at least once during your time playing the game. In regards to the game breaking glitches, there are two common types that regularly occur: getting stuck or objects not working as programmed. The former was a regular occurence, with the character clipping through objects or getting stuck through the floor, while the latter happened less frequently but basically ruins the experience. During my first five minutes of gameplay, the lever that dropped parcels to begin missions got stuck and refused to work. It took uninstalling and reinstalling the game to fix the lever, which did not leave a good taste in my mouth. Ultimately, it is clear that not nearly enough time was spent polishing the game, leaving it broken in many places.

Totally Reliable Delivery Service is a great concept with terrible execution. The idea of an open world to explore and goof around with friends is hampered by awful controls, an empty world, tedious gameplay, and a boatload of glitches. There are far better options for party games on Switch that will give you much less frustration, guaranteed. While the aim was clearly to deliver a goofy package, it seems the package never quite arrived.

TalkBack / Exit the Gungeon (Switch) Review
« on: April 03, 2020, 12:39:42 PM »

Lady Luck controls this exit

Back in 2016, Enter the Gungeon took the world by storm with its frantic top-down action. After announcing that Enter the Gungeon was completed, developer Dodge Roll announced they were working on a spin-off/sequel to the original game. Finally, after an initial Apple Arcade exclusivity period, Exit the Gungeon has officially launched on Switch, bringing with it the same fast-paced action of its predecessor. The question remains, however, is Exit a worthy follow-up to Enter?

The story picks up right after the ending of Enter the Gungeon. Your Gungeoneer has just defeated the final boss and claimed the treasure at the end of the Gungeon when suddenly the Gungeon begins collapsing in on itself. Now, it is up to the Gungeoneer to escape the crumbling dungeon and reach the surface before it’s too late. The story is a perfect follow-up to the original, but issues begin to arise for those who have not played the previous title. Almost everything in the game, whether it be characters, enemies, or bosses, all act like and assume you have played the Enter. For newcomers, such as myself, I felt like I was missing some integral information about the world and its characters. However, for those who are familiar with the first game, you may feel right at home with the world of Exit.

It is clear from the outset that Exit the Gungeon is very different compared to Enter the Gungeon. There is an arcade-like feel to Exit, much more than other roguelike games. The most obvious change is the difference in perspective. Unlike the top-down view of the original, Exit takes place on a 2D plane. The player can still aim in 360 degrees, as well as dodgeroll to avoid attacks. However, you can also jump to mitigate all damage from bullets while in the air. The goal is simple: ride the elevator to the top of the Gungeon while shooting everything in sight. The core mechanic of Enter makes its return—the abundance of different guns the player can utilize. However, Exit handles the weapon system in its own way. Players are enchanted at the beginning of a run, and this forces their gun type to randomly shuffle between all the available options every thirty seconds. In concept, this is a really neat idea, but the execution boils down to random chance. The wide range of weapons available is really impressive, but getting a useless weapon, like the charge shot or the egg launcher, can completely destroy your run. Losing due to random chance is never a good feeling, and during my time with the game it occurred for me more than once.

The most glaring issue of Exit the Gungeon is its accessibility. There is no mincing words here: Exit is a hard and punishing game. Bullets are constantly flying, you only have three hearts, and your weapons change so quickly that there is little time to get adjusted to them. This, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, but when there are no difficulty settings to make the game easier to newcomers, it can be a grueling experience. Having a difficulty option, auto aim, or even a checkpoint system would have helped, but as it stands, playing Exit can sometimes feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall. While you do eventually get the ability to buy new guns in the hub, even then it doesn’t make a difference; the game is just too random. If it were more accessible to all types of players, it could have allowed the player to feel as though they were getting better, as opposed to feeling stuck.

Exit the Gungeon is a really fun arcade game to play in short bursts from time to time. However, once you start playing longer sessions, the random nature becomes more apparent and frustrating. Success and failure can feel out of your control, and the game just seems unfair at points. The lack of accessibility and alienation of new players makes the experience more frustrating than it should be. For lovers of the original, Exit the Gungeon comes with an easy recommendation. However, for those new to the series, it may be better to exit stage right.

TalkBack / Animal Crossing New Horizons Bunny Day Guide
« on: April 02, 2020, 05:18:53 AM »

Zipper T. Bunny makes his grand (but still creepy) debut!

It's that time of year again when Bunny Day rolls around and eggs are hidden all around your Animal Crossing town. Led by Zipper T. Bunny, this holiday celebration features several new egg-themed decorations and outfits that can now be obtained on your island. For those who are new to Animal Crossing or need a quick refresher, we've put together a guide to help you track down all the different types of eggs, all the different items you can obtain (and a handy checklist to keep track of what you still need!), and even a video showcasing the event in action.

As with previous Animal Crossing games, there are several types of eggs to discover. Earth eggs can be dug up from specially marked spots on the ground that look like spots where you would normally dig up fossils. Stone eggs can be found by hitting rocks around your town. Leaf eggs can be found on cherry blossom trees. Wood eggs can be found by using an ax to chop down trees. Sky eggs can be found by popping egg shaped balloons in the sky with your slingshot. Finally, water eggs can be found by fishing in ponds, rivers, or the ocean. It is also worth noting that even if you dry up your island's egg supply for the day, you can also find eggs on the Mystery Island Tours that you can access through Nook Miles. For more on the egg-collecting process, check out our video below!

When it comes time to put your collection of eggs to use, you are going to need some DIY recipes. These can be obtained from talking to villagers, popping egg balloons with your slingshot, or finding them in egg-themed bottles that wash up on shore. It seems there may also be a reward for those looking to collect all the exclusive items, too, but we're not 100% sure about that yet. To help you keep track of your Bunny Day collection, we've created a checklist to make sure you have gotten all the exclusive items! It also shows you which eggs you need to craft each of the items. It can be found here, just be sure to make a copy so you can edit it!

For those who are just curious about what new items are available, we've got you covered there as well! Below is a list of all the exclusive items you can receive during the event, but be warned, as it does contain spoilers!

  • Bunny Day Arch
  • Bunny Day Basket
  • Bunny Day Bed
  • Bunny Day Fence
  • Bunny Day Festive Balloons
  • Bunny Day Flooring
  • Bunny Day Glowy Garland
  • Bunny Day Lamp
  • Bunny Day Merry Balloons
  • Bunny Day Rug
  • Bunny Day Stool
  • Bunny Day Table
  • Bunny Day Vanity
  • Bunny Day Wallpaper
  • Bunny Day Wall Clock
  • Bunny Day Wardrobe
  • Bunny Day Wreath
  • Wobbling Zipper Toy
  • Bunny Day Bag
  • Bunny Day Wand
  • Bunny Day Crown
  • Egg Party Dress
  • Egg Party Hat
  • Earth-Egg Outfit
  • Earth-Egg Shell
  • Earth-Egg Shoes
  • Leaf-Egg Outfit
  • Leaf-Egg Shell
  • Leaf-Egg Shoes
  • Sky-Egg Outfit
  • Sky-Egg Shell
  • Sky-Egg Shoes
  • Stone-Egg Outfit
  • Stone-Egg Shell
  • Stone-Egg Shoes
  • Water-Egg Outfit
  • Water-Egg Shell
  • Water-Egg Shoes
  • Wood-Egg Outfit
  • Wood-Egg Shell
  • Wood-Egg Shoes

What do you think of Bunny Day in New Horizons? Is it the egg-stravaganza you were expecting? Is Zipper just Tortimer in a costume? Let us know in the talkback below!

TalkBack / Bubble Bobble 4 Friends (Switch) Review
« on: March 24, 2020, 04:33:42 AM »

Bubbles and dragons and friends, oh my!

After nearly a decade-long absence, the Bubble Bobble franchise makes its grand return on Nintendo Switch. This time, however, the focus is on multiplayer, as the title’s double entendre suggests. Four players can simultaneously play classic Bubble Bobble’s brand of action-platforming. Unfortunately, the addition of four-player multiplayer seems to have come at the cost of the amount of content present in this package.

In terms of presentation, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends looks like a natural evolution of the classic pixel style. Adopting a toy theme, everything in the world has a simple, yet charming look to it. None of the enemies, including the bosses, look particularly threatening, but they fit the aesthetic of being children’s toys. Overall, the presentation is solid and fits the atmosphere of the game quite well. However, the same cannot be said about the music. Each set of levels has its own song that plays while you’re in the level. While the compositions are fine on their own, there may be times where the same song could play for upwards of ten minutes on end. This becomes grating very quickly, especially when you’re on some of the more difficult levels.

The gameplay of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends will be very familiar to those who know the series. You and up to three others play as dragons who jump around and blow bubbles. The goal of each level is to encapsulate all the enemies on screen in bubbles, which then need to be popped by the spines on your back or a well timed ground slam. Once all the enemies are defeated, fruit will appear that you can collect to increase your score. Each level can be played with up to four players and, while the option was nice, I found playing single player was much easier to manage. Getting a game over will only result in losing points, so newcomers won’t be overly intimidated by some of the harder aspects of the gameplay. To spice things up a bit, there are different power-up outfits that can be unlocked and selected at the beginning of a set of levels. These can range from giving you a longer bubble shooting range or stopping the wind that blows your bubbles. Interestingly, the number of times you can use said powers per level can be upgraded by collecting the letters of EXTEND hidden in each set of levels. By collecting them all, your uses will increase by an average of five, giving you an incentive to collect all the letters whenever you can.

Each of the levels of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is extremely well crafted and feels like it could have been taken straight from the original games. The addition of cameos, like classic Bub and Bob sprites or Space Invaders aliens, in the background were also great touches.The only exception to the stellar design is the bosses, which are extremely underwhelming and feel like copy-pastes of one another, with the exception of the final boss. Furthermore, what’s even less appealing is the amount of content in the game. There are only five level sets, each with ten consecutive levels, totalling only 50 unique levels in the game. There is the addition of a hard mode version for each of the levels available, but this does little besides remixing the order of the levels and increasing the aggressiveness of enemies. On the plus side, the entirety of the original Bubble Bobble arcade game is included in this package. This does add to the overall value, but when the original arcade release has more for you to do than the new game, it comes off as a disappointment.

Overall, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a great time but is lacking in content. From start to finish, the classic Bubble Bobble gameplay was a joy and return to form. However, only fifty new levels and the original arcade release left me feeling like there should have been much more included. For veterans of the Bubble Bobble series, this is a worthy follow up to the classics. For newcomers, the accessibility options, like the lack of a serious penalty for dying, make this one of the easiest places in the series to jump in. If you don’t mind the light amount of content, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is an excellent pickup.

TalkBack / Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate (Switch) Review
« on: March 03, 2020, 09:43:49 AM »

Can the Ultimate expansion redeem a lackluster sequel?

One year after the initial launch of Warriors Orochi 4 on Switch, we have been graced with the Ultimate version of the original game. After the base game was initially met with some criticism, Koei Tecmo attempted to rectify many of those issues with the new DLC. But is it enough to remedy what many consider to be one of the weaker entries in the series? The answer is both yes and no.

Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is definitely catering to players who have played and completed the base game. The biggest selling point of the package is probably the expansion to the story mode. Three new chapters, each featuring several new scenarios, were added to the preexisting story, focusing predominantly on Odin after the events of the first game. The scenarios themselves were mostly more of the same Warriors-style gameplay seen in the base game, which is great, but I was left looking for some new ideas, too. Without going too much into spoiler territory, the expansion to the story seemed natural, but definitely felt as though it belonged in the base game. A number of the additions feel like they should have been added through a patch or free update, not paid DLC. A specific example of this would be the UI improvements, which were much appreciated (especially in the new, sleek character selection menu), but are generally addressed through patches and updates in other games. Fixing glaring issues, like menus and UI, should not warrant a separate purchase.

Ultimate also adds some new mechanics to the gameplay itself, though. Seven new characters have joined the battle, including Ryu Hayabusa from the Ninja Gaiden franchise. These additions were great to have, but with a roster of characters already over 170, I found no real reason to swap out my higher-level party members for these newcomers, especially considering you only unlock them in the DLC missions after you have completed the base game. The same can also be said about the new Musou Switch feature, which allows for some powerful new super combos, but I never found myself using it since it was cumbersome to initiate. The only other major gameplay tweak was in the form of the Sacred Treasures (the equivalent of magic attacks), which can now be swapped out and used by other characters.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any good additions, however. The new Promotion system allows for your maxed out characters to be reset to level one, with increased powers and access to new skill tree options. This was a really nice feature, as it was extremely satisfying to see my most powerful characters becoming even stronger. Another great addition is the Infinity Mode, which works similar to the Adventure Mode in Hyrule Warriors. You proceed through different towers, each with their own challenge stipulations (such as kill X number of enemies in X amount of time), to unlock new weapons and materials that can be used to upgrade your characters further. When compared to how repetitive the base game’s missions were, this was a refreshing surprise. This mode brought new life into the game and was easily the best part of the DLC.

Overall, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is a mixed bag. On one hand, new features, like Infinity Mode and the new story scenarios, were great. However, the other additions feel as though they should have been added to the base game through a patch and not as DLC. It is worth mentioning that Warriors Orochi 4’s Ultimate content is available through two different avenues. Players who had previously purchased the base game could upgrade to the Ultimate edition through DLC for a price. Newcomers, on the other hand, will now only be available to purchase the game as Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate. For those getting into the series, the Ultimate edition is easily the definitive way to experience the game. To those who already owned the base game however, your money is best spent elsewhere.

TalkBack / SpeedRunners (Switch) Review
« on: February 03, 2020, 08:30:58 AM »

A great foundation for a lacking game

With the Switch being a haven for multiplayer party games, it is only natural for some indie developers to attempt to throw their hat into the ring. Released in 2013, DoubleDutch Games attempted to bring a new spin to both the racing and platforming genres. Unfortunately, what Speedrunners has in terms of a strong foundation cannot make up for the lack of content.

The story puts the player in the shoes of a superhero who is attempting to stop crime around their city. However, as more and more superheroes try to gain the spotlight, it becomes a race to see which hero can be the fastest to stop crime. The simple premise of the story was appreciated, with the extra bits of lore for each character going a long way towards fleshing out the world around you. In terms of presentation, Speedrunners tries to mimic its comic book influence by adopting a simple yet charming art style. Most of the characters and levels use singular colors, which, combined with the over-the-top character design, complements the frantic gameplay perfectly. Likewise, the music is mostly atmospheric, but it fits the game quite well.

The gameplay of SpeedRunners boils down to a mix of platforming and racing. You and three other heroes are placed on a map and race laps around a fixed path, trying your best to get ahead of your opponents so that they fall off screen. Most matches are extremely fast-paced and can feature multiple lead changes; the first player to three wins takes the match and the majority of races last less than a minute each, which works well for the Switch’s pick up and play nature. Players also have access to a grappling hook, which can be used on any white ceiling to get vault around obstacles or get a boost of speed. The abundance of items and power ups only adds to the chaos, but without skill at the game, they can only help so much. New maps and power ups are also unlocked frequently through an experience bar that fills up after every match, which constantly makes you feel rewarded for playing more. This is where the core game shines as a perfect example of a chaotic but satisfying party game.

It is unfortunate, however, that so many of the cosmetic options for your character are locked behind an abundance of DLC. Characters play mostly identically to each other, but there are only eight characters that can be unlocked in game. The rest of the roster, alongside the ability to have different trails following your character, is locked behind a paywall. Even if all the added content is mostly cosmetic, it is a shame that so much of it is locked exclusively behind a paywall.

In terms of actual content the game offers, there is little to do besides the main multiplayer mode. There is an extremely short single player campaign, which is enjoyable but is far too short to get engrossed in. Otherwise, there is just the option to play locally or online with other players in a standard four player match. It would have been great to see some variety in the gameplay to keep things fresh, such as a 2v2 mode. After a dozen rounds, you have seen pretty much everything the game has to offer, regardless of the odd new map or power-up unlocked. It is a shame to see such a strong foundation here with few features to keep things fresh.

Overall, SpeedRunners provides the foundation for an excellent party game and is certainly enjoyable with the right crowd. However, the lack of multiple modes and sparse single player content make this package feel like more of a mini-game. With the Switch hosting hundreds of multiplayer games that deliver a similar but fuller experience, like Runbow, it’s hard to recommend this one. If you’re looking for a more robust multiplayer experience, you may want to look elsewhere.

TalkBack / Lumini (Switch) Review
« on: January 20, 2020, 08:42:07 AM »

Lesser game, lesser experience

Having the best gameplay or best story doesn’t necessarily make for an enjoyable experience. Countless titles over the years, such as Journey, have told a story by putting the player in a world and allowing them to simply be immersed in it. Lumini tries to do something similar, but unfortunately, it misses its target of being an engrossing adventure by a fair margin

Lumini does little in terms of in-game storytelling. You are dropped into the shoes of a group of creatures named Lumini, and that’s all she wrote. To commend the developers, the world certainly feels like it is alive. You see several creatures and weather effects throughout the journey, which makes the world visually appealing. Additionally, the quality of the music is worth noting. Although the pieces were mostly atmospheric, every track fit the environment it was being played in and was pleasant to listen to.

In terms of gameplay, it takes a back seat approach to the atmosphere. You play as a group of different colored Lumini, each with their own unique move. The blue one can dash, the red one can unleash a shock wave, and the yellow one can absorb white energy from flowers that line the walls. This energy can be exchanged for more Lumini to be added to your swarm, which all gives off a Pikmin-like vibe. You traverse an extremely linear cave passage, occasionally going between the surface and the caves. The biggest issue with these proceedings is that they really just induce boredom. Besides moving and solving a handful of simple puzzles, there’s nothing to do besides following a path. There is the occasional enemy to battle or crystal to collect, but I found myself skipping past them most of the time due to how tedious and repetitive these actions were. After an hour of playing, I realized I had seen everything the game had to offer, and the rest of the journey was a drag. Even the main gameplay mechanic of splitting up your collection of Lumini into two swarms was boring, as it was rarely used to do something other than to hold down two switches at the same time to open up a door. This mechanic seemed perfect for the inclusion of a co-op function, but its omission is certainly a questionable one, especially on Switch.

One of the aspects Lumini tries to stress is the presentation. Often, you’ll be brought up to the surface and have a cinematic shot of the backgrounds of the environment, that is, if the game works as intended. Throughout my play time, I encountered several issues and glitches that prevented the game from working as it should. Sometimes, graphics would load incorrectly; other times, the game wouldn’t load them at all, leaving a black void. There were instances where the game would stutter and hiccup before crashing entirely. Worst of all, during my first playthrough, I lost all of my Lumini and did not die. I could still control my cursors, but I was completely invincible and invisible, completely nullifying the game’s difficulty. In fact, it wasn’t until I rebooted the game that I even noticed this wasn’t an intended feature. The number of bugs, glitches, and graphical hiccups begs for some extra polish. As it is, Lumini is barely playable.

It is clear that there was ambition behind Lumini’s development. A living, breathing world, combined with an effective soundtrack was certainly impressive, but the boring gameplay and abundance of performance issues ruin any sort of enjoyment of the game. If you are looking for a game that scratches that Journey or Pikmin itch, there are many stronger and more interesting options on the Switch eShop.

TalkBack / NWR's Elite Five
« on: January 15, 2020, 01:21:25 AM »

Ready to challenge the best of the best?

After eight gyms, a champions cup, and saving the world from a delusional figurehead, it's finally time to challenge your toughest foes yet. No, not Leon or his annoying brother, but the true hidden bosses of Pokémon Sword and Shield!

Introducing the NWR Elite Five! With their championship teams in hand, they carry the title of the strongest Pokémon trainers in the Galar Region. To give our readers the advantage, each member has outlined their team in detail for you. Do you think you stand a chance? Let us know in the Talkback thread below and leave your own champion team for the world to see too!

TalkBack / A Hat in Time: Nyakuza Metro (Switch) Review
« on: November 30, 2019, 09:36:05 AM »

Turning to a life of crime

Coming seemingly out of nowhere, the second and final DLC pack for A Hat in Time, Nyakuza Metro, released on November 21st. After the last DLC pack, Seal the Deal, was brought with some disappointment, the question is whether Gears for Breakfast has learned from their mistakes and put out a better package this time around. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, Nyakuza Metro is a worthy addition that fans of the base game will enjoy.

Compared to the last DLC pack, Seal the Deal, Nyakuza Metro attempts to put a greater focus on the chapter itself, as opposed to a split between a new chapter and a new mode. The new chapter takes Hat Kid underground to the Nyakuza Metro, an interconnected, cat-themed subway system that has a dark secret. Hat Kid is recruited by The Empress, the owner of a corrupt jewelry store, to find and collect the scattered Time Pieces for her. Unlike most chapters in a Hat in Time, Nyakuza Metro is a free-roam level, meaning that, much like Super Mario Odyssey or Banjo-Kazooie, the player is not kicked out of the level upon collecting a Time Piece. Although Alpine Skyline, the only other world in the game to do this, was criticized for its lack of coherency, Nyakuza Metro feels like a much more naturally connected world. There is always a clear path to follow, but even if you are lost, there is the option to turn off an accessibility mode in the main square and skip the exploration part of the chapter. Although I never used it myself, the option was certainly nice to have.

In total, there are ten new Time Pieces available in the DLC, with one being a new purple time rift. The nine main levels of Nyakuza Metro focused heavily on quick reflexes and plentiful platforming, making it by far the most difficult chapter in the game. Most of the challenges consisted of hopping on the roofs of subway cars and wall jumping through the corridors of the metro, but there are also a few new challenges, such as collecting electric pons to open the exit, which kept the mode feeling fresh. The purple Time Rift also was also fantastic, being themed after a factory. As someone who didn’t particularly enjoy these types of rifts in the main story, I was shocked at how much better it was designed than some of the other purple time rifts.

The biggest complaint, however, is the length of the chapter. Although there are ten Time Pieces to collect, it didn’t take more than an hour or so to do so. Even though it is still DLC, it was pretty shocking how quickly it was over. To lengthen the gameplay, there are also some new collectibles. There are plenty of new customization options, such as new colors, new badges, and new outfits, but they all need to be purchased from random cats around the metro. This, at first, doesn’t sound like an issue, but the cats look no different than any of the other NPCs around the metro, making them a struggle to track down. The other new collectible being featured here is stickers. These can be attached to your baseball bat as decoration or can be used in the photo mode to glow up some photos. These are by far the hardest collectible to track down, as the developers stuck them in the most obscure places. By the end of my playthrough, I had acquired 20 of the 55 available. They were a fun collectible to track down, but I don’t see myself going out of my way to find them all.

Originally, when the pack was released on PC, it came with the Online Party Mode: a 50 player online co-op mode. However, this mode is noticeably absent from the Switch version, likely due to the limitations of the Switch’s hardware. This also brings some issues with the other new content released in Nyakuza Metro. The aforementioned stickers were originally used as emotes while playing online, in addition to being used for photo mode. This ultimately means there is less incentive to finding all the stickers; although you can still use them as emotes, there’s no reason to do so while playing on your own. Ultimately, the lack of Online Party Mode is a real shame, especially considering it was one of the original selling points for the DLC pack on PC.

Overall, Nyakuza Metro is a great addition to an already great game. The new chapter and the vast amount of new customization options available made this DLC stand out far more than Seal the Deal. Although it suffers from short length and the absence of the Online Party Mode, the adventure was fun from beginning to end.  If you enjoyed the base game, then you will certainly enjoy Nyakuza Metro.

TalkBack / Nyakuza Metro Coming to Switch on November 21
« on: November 12, 2019, 09:44:54 AM »

Ever wanted to be a cat or a Yakuza? Why not both?

Ever wanted to be a cat? How about a Yakuza? Why not both? The A Hat in Time Twitter account just confirmed that the second, and final, DLC pack will be releasing on November 21, with a focus on being a cat-like thief underground. 10 new time pieces are available to collect, along with a new sticker system, a brand new weapon, new cosmetics, and more.

TalkBack / Devil May Cry 2 (Switch) Review
« on: November 07, 2019, 09:48:50 AM »

Dante is back on Switch, but is it for the best?

As more and more series are being ported to the Switch, it’s inevitable that some less than stellar games will also make the jump, allowing players to have access to complete collections. In the case of Devil May Cry 2, one of the most divisive games of its time, Capcom has ported the game anyways, leaving many fans to question whether there was even a point. Over 15 years later, the question remains, is the game as bad as everyone claims?

For those new to the series, Devil May Cry is a hack and slash adventure game, starring the demon hunter Dante. Tasked with eliminating the villain of the week, Dante uses his vast array of guns and swords to kill anyone in his way. Although the series is popularly known for the combos and Dante’s wide arsenal, Devil May Cry 2 takes a more conservative approach, eliminating combos almost entirely and restricting his loadout to only a few weapons. To many, this may be a major step back, especially after the first game, but I didn’t have much of an issue with this change. Sure, more variability in the gameplay would have been appreciated, but considering each of the weapons you can unlock all do essentially the same thing, restricting options isn’t the worst thing the game could have done. I enjoyed Dante’s gunplay and aerial mobility far more than the swords anyways, and after maxing out the default weapons, I mostly used them for the duration of the game anyways. If you come into DMC2 without expecting this major change, however, you may not have as much enjoyment as I did.

It is worth noting that, regardless of the game’s quality, the Switch port is incredibly well done. There were no graphical hiccups, no game crashes, and the game ran smoothly from beginning to end. The visuals, for the time, still look quite decent and the music, although atmospheric, was always a good listen. The only change missing from this package is the option to remap controls, something we have seen implemented in many ports. Although the default button mapping was sufficient, the option to customize your controls would have been a welcome inclusion.

That’s not to say DMC2 is a flawless game by any means. The camera system here has become a perfect example for why dynamic cameras are a must for action games. In DMC2, the camera is in a fixed location for the majority of the game, which led to multiple instances of Dante or his enemies being obscured by buildings or rubble. This left me completely blind or stuck on multiple occasions, halting my progress entirely and destroying any sense of flow the game had going for it. On the story side, DMC2 may have the worst story I have ever experienced in a game. For the entire adventure, I had no idea what was going on and constantly needed to look up information for the plot to make any sense. The general idea is that Lucia, an adventurer, asks Dante to help her stop the businessman Arius from summoning a demon. Dante flips a coin, agrees to help her, and then sets off on his journey to slay Arius. The game tries to throw new characters, plot points, and twists after nearly every chapter, but nothing made any sense to me, leaving me more confused than when I started. If the story was simpler and conveyed better, the plot would have been much more bearable.

Overall, Devil May Cry 2 is not a terrible game. Coming off the heels of the original and the Bayonetta games, however, there is virtually no reason to play this game unless you’re truly curious. I enjoyed the four-hour adventure as a good distraction, but the glaring problems, such as the camera and story, left a bad taste in my mouth. There are certainly worse games to play, but if you’re itching for a new game in the genre to play, you may want to look elsewhere.

TalkBack / A Hat In Time is Adding Previously PC-Exclusive Content
« on: October 17, 2019, 04:10:00 AM »

Developer confirms Nyakuza Metro DLC pack for Switch.

After many months of waiting, A Hat in Time is finally releasing for Nintendo Switch on October 18th. As footage emerged from the game, we noticed that the Switch version had some not-so-subtle hints to the Nyakuza Metro DLC pack, which is currently exclusive to the PC version of the game.

Today, Gears for Breakfast, the developer of A Hat in Time, confirmed that in fact the DLC would be coming soon to Switch. For those unaware, A Hat in Time had struggled with releasing any of its DLC on platforms other than PC. Initially announced for all platforms, both Seal the Deal and Nyakuza Metro have yet to make their way over to the PS4 and Xbox One, leaving many console fans out to dry.

Prior to the announcement, the DLC was discovered when navigating the file select of A Hat in Time and taking a careful look at the three options. The first option, Start Game, simply starts the adventure. The second, Seal the Deal, brings up a brief promo image of what Seal the Deal includes, while allowing for an option to enter the eShop for purchasing. However, the last option is a button for Nyakuza Metro, which brings up a full promo, just like Seal the Deal, showing exactly what is included in this DLC pack. There is even an option to go to the eShop for purchasing the content, which, when selected, opens the eShop before stating that the item is not found.

It is worth noting, though, that the promo for Nyakuza Metro only advertises the story portion of the DLC. Unlike Seal the Deal, which advertises both the Arctic Cruise and the Death Wish mode, Nyakuza Metro only advertises the Nyakuza Metro world, leaving out any mention of the 50-player Online Party Mode, which is featured on the PC version. This likely implies that, due to the Switch's limitations, the Online Party Mode won't be coming anytime soon, and the DLC would only include the story portion of Nyakuza Metro.

Unfortunately, a specific date for the DLC package was not provided, so hopefully fans of the game will not have to wait much longer for the new content to make it to Switch.

TalkBack / Galarian Ponyta Takes the Reins in Pokemon Shield
« on: October 09, 2019, 04:42:59 AM »

After a 24 hour livestream last week, Galarian Ponyta has finally been revealed

Making it's home in the forests of the Galar region, Galarian Ponyta makes its grand debut in Pokemon Sword and Shield.

It was first teased last Friday in a 24 hour livestream, which gave viewers a sneak peak at its design. In a new trailer released today, we learned that Galarian Ponyta will be a Psychic type and will be dubbed the Unique Horn Pokemon, as opposed to Kantonian Ponyta being a Fire type, being called the Fire Horse Pokemon. Unique to it is its brand new ability, Pastel Veil, which prevents the user and their allies from being poisoned. It can even be used to cure other Pokemon's poison by switching into them.

Galarian Ponyta will be exclusive to Pokemon Shield, which will be releasing on November 15, 2019.


Two gaming icons reunite to tackle the Olympics together once again

After taking a four-year hiatus, skipping the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Mario and Sonic make their Olympic debut on the Switch this November. I was able to get my hands on their next adventure together a little early, giving me an idea of how different (or familiar) this entry will be. Rest assured, if you’re a fan of previous Mario and Sonic games, you won’t be disappointed.

In a lot of ways, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 seems to prefer sticking to its roots than advancing the series further. In terms of the 21 standard Olympic events, the majority seem to return from their last Summer outing in Rio. Fencing, table tennis, boxing, football, and gymnastics are all accounted for, as has become standard for the series. They play almost exactly the same as their Rio counterparts, making them familiar territory for veterans. That’s not to say there aren’t any new events, though. For the first time, skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate have been added to the roster. These events, especially skateboarding, were a lot of fun to play through, with the exception being sport climbing, which I could never get the hang of, no matter how many times I played it. There are also the returning dream events, which were definitely the highlight of my play time. These events only loosely tie to traditional events, with them mostly being minigames that highlight parts of Mario and Sonic’s worlds. For example, the dream karate event takes place on a karate board in the Mushroom Kingdom with the Odyssey behind it. The only downside to these dream events is that there is only a total of three in the game, which is surprising considering the focus they had in previous games.

For those who have never played a Mario and Sonic Olympics Games title, they typically consist of short minigames (typically around 30 seconds long) that test the player’s button mashing or waggling skills. Most minigames support both button and motion controls, which is much appreciated. Although I mostly stuck to playing in handheld mode, the few times I tried using motion controls felt intuitive and I had a lot of fun waving my arms around. Another feature worth highlighting is that all the minigames can be played online. I had the chance to try some of them out online, and the connection was completely stable the entire time. There were no frame drops, no lag, and no communication errors, which was a surprising but welcome treat. Of course, once more people hop onto the servers, the connections may vary, but for all the testing I did, the online certainly looks extremely promising.

Arguably, the biggest addition this time around is the 2D events themed after Tokyo 1964. These, for the most part, are 8 or 16-bit versions of the traditional events in the 2020 mode. Some, like the 100m, play nearly exactly the same as their 2020 counterparts, while others, such as shooting, are completely unique. As novel as this idea was, the minigames were extremely simple, more so than even traditional Mario and Sonic events are, which made the novelty wear thin extremely quickly. As cool as it was to see 8-bit Mario and 16-bit sonic racing each other, the baffling decision here was that out of the 20 playable characters, only eight of them can be used in these 2D events. I was looking forward to seeing an 8-bit Daisy doing the hurdles against 16-bit Metal Sonic, but instead you’re stuck with the familiar Mario, Luigi, Sonic, Tails, Bowser, Peach, Eggman, and Knuckles. This was a huge missed opportunity to reimagine some of these modern characters in classic form, and I really wished that, for as much of an emphasis as the game puts on 2D events, there was more effort put into making the events stand out

One of the other great additions that was added was a full story mode. The story follows Mario, Sonic, Bowser, and Eggman trying to escape a game based on the 1964 Olympics, while Luigi tries to save them from the game in 2020. The plot simply gives an excuse to play through all the game’s events, but, from what I played, it was an enjoyable time. The dialogue between characters was very cleverly written, too, making each character feel unique from one another while not straying away from what gives each one personality, such as Sonic’s attitude. Story mode has a full world map to explore, with each location in Tokyo being explored in a little area that allows you to talk to some Toads and Animals. Here, the game tries to teach you a bit about Tokyo and Olympic history, which most Mario and Sonic games try to do. These were really interesting and never forced upon me, making them a dun distraction from the main event . The only downside of the mode was that it was incredibly easy. There were times in events where I performed terribly yet still would crush the opponent by a huge margin. I know the game is directed at a younger audience, but a difficulty option would have been really appreciated.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. For as basic as it is, with the right group of people, there are sure to be some enjoyable moments with this entry. If you enjoyed previous games in the series, you won’t be dissatisfied with this one. For as little as it innovates, there still seems to be a quality package here, and for as weird as the crossovers are, the quality of these games should not be understated.

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