Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - NWR_Neal

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 221

Part 2 of the Jelly Boy Chronicles.

Neal and John actually played some games this week! Neal is working on his review of Sports RPG Dodgeball Academia and John fulfills his promise of diving deep into the world of Jelly Boy. Next, the fellas discuss the recent allegations filed against Activision Blizzard and what this culture means for the industry as a whole while also discussing how we should react to it. The monthly Star Fox quota is met by a listener email regarding Star Fox Warriors. Finally John and Neal imagine a world weird Nintendo makes Final Fantasy Remake style changes to their classic Zelda games.

TalkBack / Sega-Themed Picross Game Launches Next Week
« on: July 28, 2021, 07:00:00 AM »

Jupiter's Picross S Genesis & Master System Edition comes to Switch on August 5.

On August 5, Jupiter will release Picross S Mega Drive & Master System Edition, a Sega-themed version of their long-running Picross series. First announced in June 2020, this game includes a total of 480 puzzles split between regular Picross and special modes including Clip and Color Picross.

Pre-orders for the game will go up on July 29 and in addition, the back catalog of Jupiter-developed Picross games will all be 20% off from July 29 until August 18.

59 different games from the Sega Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis era will be represented in the puzzles. See the below list for all of the included games:

  • Action Fighter
  • After Burner
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Alien Syndrome
  • Altered Beast
  • Arrow Flash
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns III
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Enduro Racer
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Eternal Champions
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Kung Fu Kid
  • Light Crusader
  • Out Run
  • Phantasy Star
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Puyo Puyo
  • Puzzle & Action:Ichidant-R
  • Puzzle & Action:Tant-R
  • Quartet
  • Record of the Bahamut War
  • Rent A Hero
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining Force II
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic & Knuckles
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3
  • Sonic the hedgehog CD
  • Space Harrier
  • Space Harrier II
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Hang-On
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Ooze
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • Turbo Out Run

Podcast Discussion / Episode 282: Jelly Boy's Pelvic Thrust
« on: July 23, 2021, 08:16:05 AM »

The quest to protect the world from Earthbound continues on NSO.

Zach returns to the show after missing out on our first Metroid Game Club episode because we still wanted to hear his thoughts on Metroid and Zero Mission. But first Neal played that new PokéMOBA, Pokémon Unite, and has some initial thoughts on it. The gang covers some news stories including new non-Earthbound titles coming to Switch Online and John shares his hesitation around the Steam Deck.

Connectivity has joined Twitter, so be sure to follow @ConnectivityNWR to be up to date on any announcements. We are wanting more listener participation, so feel free to ask questions, they may show up in the show!

Please send in some hard-hitting questions for the Connectivity gang to ponder over: the address is

TalkBack / Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS) Vintage Review
« on: July 21, 2021, 07:01:58 AM »

A journey back to the distant time of 2017.

Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS released a few months after the Nintendo Switch. Our pre-occupation with the Switch and the relative complexity of capturing footage from a 3DS game meant that this instant classic never got the proper video review treatment it deserved. So with that in mind we hope you'll enjoy the least vintage entry in our Vintage Review series, where we take our original reviews and produce brand new video versions for modern audiences. Neal Ronaghan's original review for Samus Returns is followed by a few of his modern thoughts on the game. Enjoy!


Also Alex really did buy Star X

Happy Skyward Sword HD day! Alex joins Neal and John to quickly chat about the Switch (OLED Model) before moving on to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. Neal recounts the leadup to the original Wii release and his time reviewing the game. The gang laments the shift in perception towards the game over time but ultimately just spends a while talking about how neat Zelda is.

TalkBack / The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) Review
« on: July 14, 2021, 05:09:09 AM »

Do control options and a handful of other tweaks modernize Skyward Sword for the HD era?

Looking back at a video game with years of hindsight can be eye-opening. I walked away from reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii a decade ago head over heels for the motion-controlled console's swan song. Since then, Skyward Sword got largely run through the mud and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild completely reinvented the idea of a 3D Zelda game. Revisiting Skyward Sword in its new HD form on Nintendo Switch is fascinating, because even in spite of flaws, this is an incredible game that puts a bow on both traditional 3D Zelda and the Wii while also laying down the foundation for what was to come. With that power of hindsight, I rediscovered what I love about Skyward Sword and thankfully, Nintendo did a decent job cleaning up what was a little rough around the edges.

The visuals were never one of those rough aspects, though. On Wii, this was a game designed to look painterly and vibrant on a standard definition TV. In HD, the visuals are still true to the original design but are upgraded to look pleasing on a modern display. The cartoony characters fit right in with the gorgeous locales. It does that good thing where it basically captures the look of the game as you would remember it and not how it actually was. While this isn't pushing the limits of the console, this is a nice looking video game that runs well on TV and handheld.

The handheld play is thankfully the most hand holding you will likely come across here as Nintendo subtly tweaked a lot of Skyward Sword's laborious tutorials and over explanation. No longer do you see the explanation for a rupee every time you turn on the game. Fi is 95% less annoying, as the majority of her hints are locked behind a button press. Characters also routinely give you the option to basically cut to the chase. The pacing is still slow but the tiny trims and cuts help make it more enjoyable. For example, I didn't initially notice anything really changed in the Skyloft opening, but I found myself enjoying it more than I had in a recent replay because it just kept moving a little bit faster. Some losses are incurred though as the Visions Super Guide feature appears to be gone. On one hand, you can find guides easily online; on the other, it was cool when Nintendo basically had a built-in strategy guide in their games.

Ultimately, one of the biggest changes here is the addition of button controls. Taking the motion-heavy gameplay and translating it to a more traditional scheme isn’t perfect, but it works close to the best it can. For the most part, it just controls like a 3D Zelda game this way, but the sword is mapped to the right analog stick. Directional attacks are done by tilting the stick in any direction and stabs are done by clicking in the stick. It’s weird, but it was far less awkward than I expected. Two major parts of these controls don’t sit well with me, however. Spin attacks and the fatal blow finishing move are done by flicking the stick in three directions quickly (e.g. a horizontal spin attack is done by going left-right-left). This never felt natural and I struggled to complete it consistently. The other annoying part is the camera control. Another new addition to Skyward Sword is free camera control, which is mapped to the right analog stick when using motion controls. The right analog stick is occupied by the sword with button controls, so the twin-stick camera movement can only be done by holding a shoulder button and then using the analog stick. It’s relatively minor and something that you can get used to, but boy it would have been so much better to be able to more easily control the camera in button controls.

But aside from those two nagging issues, the button controls are great. The game is clearly not designed for them, but this seems like the best way of mapping the motion controls to buttons without totally redesigning the whole thing. Sometimes it’s nice to just control the beetle with an analog stick or not have to deal with balancing using motion controls. Sword fights are also on the whole easier because the enemies focus so much on where you’re holding the sword in motion controls, so when you’re able to quickly flick the stick to execute an attack, it’s not as telegraphed.

The motion controls on Switch are generally fine, but I struggled with them more now than I did in 2011. That’s more because motion controls like this are very uncommon, whereas at the game’s original launch, I was coming off of five years of Wii games. It’s still satisfying, however, to slash your controller and slice up a Bokoblin. Some parts that I loved on Wii don’t translate as well on Switch, unfortunately. Rolling bombs isn’t nearly as smooth with the Joy-Con, but that more limits silly trick shots than hinders the moment-to-moment gameplay. Pointing towards your TV screen and simply pressing a button will recalibrate your position, making it far less cumbersome than having to lay your Wii Remote down on the ground for calibration.

I spent a good deal of time with both control schemes and found that motion is still the best way to play. Still, whenever I played handheld, I didn’t feel compromised because I was using button controls. It’s a slightly wider gap of the difference of playing Super Mario Odyssey with buttons or Joy-Con. Like Skyward Sword, Odyssey was designed around the motion controls, but it’s perfectly playable and enjoyable without them.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the story, which still tells the earliest known adventure of Link and Zelda. It’s filled with memorable characters, whether it’s the goth villain Ghirahim or the rambunctious rival Groose. The core is the relationship between Link and Zelda, which is more fleshed out here than in any other game. Link has a clear objective in his quest, which is to save his childhood friend, and the journey he goes on to become a legendary hero rarely loses sight of his initial goal. While Fi has a checkered history largely due to her tutorializing, I do really love how the game builds up a relationship with Link and his trusty sword. Zelda largely being an active participant in the story still holds up and the way the game lays out the Legend of Zelda as an entire concept is novel.

In general, coming back to Skyward Sword on Switch was an enjoyable experience. Many aspects still hold up, primarily the dungeon design. You do have demarcated dungeons, but the minute you set down on the ground, you have puzzles to solve, items to find, and paths to uncover. It’s incredibly seamless and I can see ways that this design carried forth in the Shrines in Breath of the Wild. While you only have three core areas to visit, each one features layers of puzzles and challenges that help to deepen your connection to the world and master the layout of the land. The first time you visit Eldin Volcano, you just romp around and explore. Then later, it’s a tense stealth sequence that builds on the prior knowledge you had of the map. Each place also has a Silent Realm sequence near the end that tests your area awareness even more. The progression of all three places, and even Skyloft, is where Skyward Sword excels.

The same can’t be said for the sky, unfortunately. While flying around the sky on a Loftwing initially conjured up Wind Waker seafaring, it’s far closer in reality to the barren wastelands of Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess as there isn’t that much to do and much of it is undercooked and too far apart. While the music tries to be as bombastic as possible, flying as a Loftwing just isn’t that much fun.

While the march to 100% completion in the skies might be disappointing, the core experience in Skyward Sword is largely great. For every dreadful Imprisoned fight and frustrating music note collection puzzle, you have almost the entirety of Lanayru and more than a half dozen epic and interesting boss fights. Parts of the game are smoothed over, but nothing is all that fundamentally different. Skyward Sword is what it is, and to me, it’s an awesome Zelda game.

What Skyward Sword HD does best is make a 3D Zelda once thought limited to a unique console playable in perpetuity (hopefully). Along the way, enough changes and tweaks are made to improve the adventure, whether it’s streamlined tutorials or satisfactory button controls. It wasn’t known at the time, but this represents the final chapter of Nintendo’s 3D Zelda design that started with Ocarina of Time. With hindsight, Skyward Sword HD serves an interesting coda that paved the way for Breath of the Wild. The linear ebb and flow of Link’s earliest chronological story might be rooted in the past, but it’s still an engaging and cozy adventure in the present that’s well worth playing or revisiting.

TalkBack / Sky: Children of Light (Switch) Review
« on: July 07, 2021, 08:03:31 AM »

The developers of Journey made a worthy follow-up to it on Switch.

For the average Nintendo fan, thatgamecompany isn’t a household name, but their past games are wonderful and unique. Their 2012 release Journey was especially magical, as players controlled a mysterious robed character going on a wordless journey scored to an incredible Austin Wintory soundtrack. The spellbinding twist to Journey is that you’d come across random online players on your journey, working with them to solve puzzles only using the chirps of your character. Journey is a gorgeous game that also had a heartfelt message about communication and growth.

Nearly a decade later, thatgamecompany is making their Nintendo console debut with Sky: Children of Light, a game already available on mobile devices. In short, Sky is essentially a free-to-play Journey. It captures the magic and style of the previous game, but in a more open-ended manner. You take control of a little sky child, looking to find lost spirits in the world. Exploring seven different worlds, you journey around looking for those spirits and other secrets.

Despite in-app purchases and season passes, Sky does a very good job of not feeling compromised if you want to go in and drop no money. You naturally accrue in-game currencies that can unlock things, but those items are largely cosmetics. Your little fella can wear different hair styles, capes, and pants. You can even get musical instruments to play, including a Switch-exclusive ocarina that looks oddly reminiscent of a certain Zelda item. If your goal is to just explore the levels to the fullest and find all the spirits, there’s nothing stopping you outside of a little bit of a grind.

That’s one of my few complaints: it’s a tad grindy. In order to find all the spirits, you’re essentially forced to replay levels over and over again. The bright side to that is that the worlds are beautiful and it’s fun to fly around and explore. The downside is that it’s a lot of repeated content. But that somewhat limited level set is necessary for the communication aspect of Sky. Like Journey before it, you can come across online players that you can play alongside of. That friendship angle is amped up here as you can sit at a bonfire and use different emotes and chirps to communicate. You can also explore the world together, finding spirits and solving puzzles together. Skill trees are even tied to friendships and you’re rewarded for making more friends.

In addition to friendship skill trees, each spirit has one as well, usually with a few cosmetics and a unique emote attached to it. You can absolutely play the content in the game without dipping into paying for items. Though, removing those cosmetics and items does take away a lot of the reward for playing through levels. It’s a tightrope, but the game walks it very well.

Visually, Sky looks incredible on Switch. Journey was a looker back in the day on PlayStation 3 and thatgamecompany carried forth that awe-inspiring art design with them to Sky. On Switch, you have two options: playing the game at 30 fps and a higher resolution, or dipping down the resolution and rocking 60 fps. Both look great, though I wound up settling into enjoying the 60 fps option more. Playing both on the TV and handheld, I had no issues with the mandatory online connection. Naturally, if you’re playing your Switch on the go, you’ll be limited with your play. It’s a good thing there’s cross-play and cross-progression on iOS and Android. If you really want to play Sky on the go, you might be better served playing on mobile.

As this review goes live, the 10th season of Sky is beginning. It’s a tie-in with The Little Prince, featuring a brand new world that can be played from July 6 until mid-September. There is a season pass tied to this if you want the full suite of cosmetics, but the in-game level is there as a free experience. This is the only season I’ve experienced in Sky, but if the rest of the seasons are similar to this, it’s something I’ll keep an eye on.

Sky’s pedigree is unparalleled as the developer’s previous game Journey was often hailed as one of the best games of its era. It’s nice to see thatgamecompany take the best parts of Journey and transform it into something that can extend beyond a relatively straightforward game. The free-to-play open-ended nature of Sky might be slow-paced, especially if you’re not planning to empty your pocketbook, but the gentle pleasantness of exploring visually engaging worlds wordlessly with a new online friend or two is soothing and relaxing. If you even have a passing interest or fondness for Journey, checking out Sky on Switch is absolutely something you should do. It’s delightful.

TalkBack / Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 (Switch) Review
« on: June 30, 2021, 06:02:00 AM »

Whether or not it counts as a new portable Tony Hawk game doesn’t matter because this remake rules.

Tony Hawk’s history with portables is dotted with an array of great games. The Game Boy Advance launch title Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 made isometric skateboarding work well, and the Nintendo DS game Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land was arguably one of the best online games on the system. But since the late 2000s, Tony Hawk video games have skipped out on Nintendo systems entirely. That changes with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, a remake of the first two entries in the series developed by Vicarious Visions—the same developer behind those great GBA and DS games. While this remake is not purely a portable skateboarding game (the Switch is, after all, a hybrid console), it is a fitting next step in Tony Hawk’s Nintendo history as this is both a virtuoso masterpiece of a video game and also a solid Switch port that excels as a portable game.

The technical chops of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Switch are the most important part of the equation, though, and thankfully, the game runs well. The visuals are at a lower resolution and the framerate is locked to 30 frames per second, but everything is smooth. The gameplay is uninhibited by the downgrade. I bounced between the shiny Xbox Series X version and the Switch version and while the visual disparity is nakedly obvious, the game was indistinguishable otherwise aside from longer load times on Switch. Even in the case of the load times, they are more par for the course on the Switch than poor. Unless you desire to bounce between levels constantly, the loads are never burdensome.

Online multiplayer is also available, featuring both random and friend multiplayer. You need a Switch Online account, but my experiences with it have been positive. The online does a cool thing where you largely just all hang out in a level with different timed scores and combo challenges popping every minute or so. You might see another online player lag while you play, but I had no hitches in my own play while online. In addition to the simultaneous online, you can also compete in Single Session high scores and objective-clearing Speed Runs, all with online leaderboards.

Outside of the Switch port, the remake combines and refines a pair of classic games in the best way possible. The 15 levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 are lovingly recreated, with a few clever updates, most notably the school being empty due to COVID and the mall being derelict and abandoned. All the old objectives are back, so you’ll be able to collect S-K-A-T-E, go for the hidden tapes, and all the other familiar fare. Objectives are added to the original game’s levels as well and there are even more secrets nestled throughout the levels. Even as someone who played these games to death back in the day and played a lot of this specific release last year on Xbox, I still found myself delighted exploring these different levels, rediscovering secrets, and landing long combos.

If you’re brand new to Tony Hawk games or just rusty, a number of deep tutorials can bring you up to speed. When these games first came out, they did not have both the manual and revert moves, which are useful for linking together combos, but now both games have them from the start. If you’re a purist, you can turn them off. Also, you can even turn off bails and tweak the difficulty in a variety of different ways, which makes the game more playable and accessible to anyone who wants to check it out. It’s hard for me to totally judge how approachable Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is for a newcomer, but my three-year-old had a good time with it when I turned off bails.

The Switch release benefits from post-launch updates from the 2020 release on Xbox and PlayStation. Originally, online multiplayer had no friend support, but that is not the case here. Also, you can now take each playable skater through their own career mode. Before, every skater shared the same goals and objectives—aside from each one having unique stat upgrade points to find in each level. It made upgrading skaters a slog, because the only objective you’d have after beating the game was to just find two or three stat points per level. The original full-game persistence is still accessible if you want it, but the game is much better with another option. It’s way more fun playing through the two games with every skater now.

One of the best additions to the remakes are the external challenges and leveling up. You have a ton of additional challenges and objectives to complete outside of the individual stages, ranging from landing specific special tricks to jumping over certain gaps. Each skater also has their own individual challenges as well. The rewards for completing these range from new in-game skateboards and outfits to unlockable characters. Nothing you unlock is all that game-changing, but it’s nice to have an added reason to mess around with these levels beyond the in-level objectives. The leveling up adds another carrot to chase while you work through the game, doing a good job to deepen replayability.

None of the new additions hurt the overall feel and vibe that made the Tony Hawk games so memorable ages ago. This feels like the original two games gloriously reborn on Nintendo platforms, but this time you can actually hear the lyrics to “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys (since the questionable lyrics were removed on the Nintendo 64 release). The soundtrack has basically every memorable song from the first two games as well as a good collection of songs that fit right into the skateboarding aesthetic cultivated by the originals. “Firecracker” by Strung Out is a really good addition, but I also have a weakness for the punk/rock/metal fusion of that band mixed with Jason Cruz’s melodic vocals.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Switch isn’t going to hold a candle visually to the 4K renditions on other consoles, but considering the original Tony Hawk games on PlayStation still mostly hold up, the visuals aren’t the driving force here. The key aspect is that Tony Hawk plays phenomenally well on Switch. You might not be able to see every hair follicle on Chad Muska’s head, but you’ll be able to do the Muska Nose Manual and land a sick combo without any issue. That’s what is important in a Tony Hawk game. Whether this game is seen as the next great portable skateboarding game or a less visually pretty home console game, the most cogent point is that it plays incredibly and with so much to do across both of the remade games, this is one of the best skateboarding games ever made.

TalkBack / The History of the Chozo
« on: July 02, 2021, 07:30:22 AM »

All the lore you need before Metroid Dread.

The Chozo are one of the most important cultures in all the Metroid universe, and yet we know so little about them. Join Neal Ronaghan as he explores the lore of these Samus raising, upgrade distributing, bird-like creatures.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 278: Skyward Sword is Priceless
« on: June 25, 2021, 09:50:40 AM »

Neal has clawed his way back to the world of the living.

John talks about the bizarrely impactful LEGO Builder's Journey and Neal journeys back to the 90's for Legend of Mana's arrival on Switch. Metroid Game Club is in full swing and the fellas check in with their initial impressions of Metroid Zero Mission (officially NWR's favorite Metroid game). Then the fellas continue on to the incredibly full July release schedule before discussing how we probably aren't paying enough for video games.

TalkBack / Legend of Mana's Nintendo Connections
« on: June 24, 2021, 11:48:09 AM »

A classic PlayStation RPG is now out on Switch, and it has some intriguing ties to The Legend of Zelda, Mario, EarthBound, and more.

While the Mana series started off on Nintendo platforms, beginning life on the Game Boy and Super Nintendo, it had a Sony phase starting in the late ‘90s with 1999’s Legend of Mana. Now, 22 years later, Legend of Mana is actually out on Nintendo systems, coming to the Switch in a gorgeous remastered form. We have a full written review up for you to check out. There’s more detail there, but if you want the cliff notes: it’s a very unique and interesting game with gorgeous art and a god-tier soundtrack. The plot structure is weird and maybe the combat’s just okay, but I highly recommend Legend of Mana. It’s great.

Despite originally being a PlayStation game, Legend of Mana has novel connections to Nintendo. Check out the video below for details on how it's director Koichi Ishii, writer Nobuyuki Inoue, and composer Yoko Shimomura all tie back into Nintendo's past and present in interesting ways.


The latest from thatgamecompany hits Switch on June 29.

Sky: Children of the Light is finally heading to Switch on June 29, as revealed during the Summer Game Fest Kickoff. A new launch trailer shows off the Switch gameplay and also teases the upcoming "Season of the Little Prince" based off of the French story Le Petit Prince.

Developed by Flower and Journey developer thatgamecompany, Sky is a social adventure game that sends you off exploring seven different realms, making friends along the way. Essentially, it seems like it's the online multiplayer parts of Journey but the whole game is based around it.

The free-to-play title initially launched on iOS in 2019, followed by an Android release in 2020. It was first shown off for Switch during an Indie World presentation in early 2020.

Sky will launch globally at the same time on Switch on June 29 or 30 (depending on your region). It will launch on June 29 at 12 p.m. PDT, 3 p.m. EST, and 9 p.m. CEST. See the video description for more details on regional launch timing.

TalkBack / Stonefly (Switch) Review
« on: June 20, 2021, 11:21:06 AM »

Guide a mech through a FernGully-like world in this unique narrative-drive adventure.

With video games being so prolific and prosperous, it’s rare to see a game that feels wholly distinct. That’s what makes Stonefly, from Creature in the Well developer Flight School Studios, so delightful. Dripping with style, it blends an emotional narrative with chill resource gathering and weird but endearing movement and combat. Some of the swings Stonefly takes miss occasionally, but I walked away from this heartwarming story wholly satisfied despite some frequent frustration.

Stonefly kicks off with the heroine—Annika Stonefly—at odds with her father in a sequence that winds up with her carelessness losing their family heirloom mech. Distraught, Annika seeks out the mech in the wilds of the world, meeting new friends and foes along the way on a quest that is always moving forward but still allows time to smell the flowers. The visually spectacular setting is a forest-like area with branches and leaves. Bugs are ever present and the humanoid characters can’t contend with them, so they pilot insect-like mechs around the world.

The writing is very strong, though this is definitely a game where effective voice acting could have gone a long way. Still, I love the way the personality of Annika is felt across every aspect of the game. She’s meant to have an inventive mind, so she is regularly inspired by what she comes across to craft new upgrades for her mech. The story and the gameplay are inextricably linked, which makes the storytelling more impactful and the gameplay more meaningful.

Gameplay is primarily linear, as Annika is chasing after the lost mech. You mostly control a junker mech that you upgrade along your travels. Moving around has a unique rhythm to it as you glide through the air quickly, bouncing off the ground to regain height. When you run into harmful bugs, you are routinely forced into combat with them. Your basic mode of combat is pushing bugs off the side of the map, often precipitated by stunning them with an aerial bombing attack. While the king-of-the-hill-like outcome is familiar, the mode of combat takes a little getting used to, but when it coalesces, it’s fulfilling and fun as you figure out the optimal way to push the onslaught of bugs out of the way.

You can also aspire to be less confrontational, since usually your goal is survival and resource accumulation as opposed to destruction. You can dart around, trying to mine the collections of minerals and such across the map. Unfortunately, some of the resource gathering gets a little tedious, especially when the game breaks from the linearity and points you toward finding specific items. Some of the more frenetic segments involve Alpha Aphids, gigantic bugs that you can find in the world that are large enough for you to comfortably sit on their hulking backs. Of course, they don’t want you there, so you have to hang on for dear life, collecting resources as they appear, while avoiding gusts of wind and other smaller aggressive bugs.

In general, just exploring levels is a joy, as the fusion of the visuals, music, and sound design make for a wonderful spectacle. The joy sadly regularly unfurled for me as I’d find myself falling off the map to an underground area where I couldn’t trigger a respawn without quitting out to the main menu and losing some progress. I also had a few instances during combat portions where an enemy that had to be killed would be knocked out of the arena I was locked into, thus requiring another quit out to the main menu as well as some lost progress. Thankfully the checkpointing is relatively generous, and I also welcomed some of the other quality-of-life options in the game. Sometimes the levels are easy to get lost in, but at the press of a button, you can summon guiding flies that will show you the direction you should go.

Even with those bouts of frustration, Stonefly is a thoroughly unique game that has novel gameplay ideas and a wonderful story. Dancing around the world while piloting your mech, trying to find emotional catharsis for your heroine while also beating up some bugs so you can get more resources to upgrade your current ride is a heck of a gameplay loop. It’s well worth experiencing if you want a chill adventure.

TalkBack / Zelda Breath of the Wild 2 E3 2021 Deep Dive
« on: June 17, 2021, 08:27:33 AM »

As required by NWR law, John and Neal talk about Breath of the Wild

John and Neal continue their long standing tradition of discussing every single Breath of the Wild related trailer.

TalkBack / Metroid Dread Deep Dive
« on: June 17, 2021, 06:46:29 AM »

We're so excited!

Neal and John take a look at the long rumored Metroid Dread which is finally set to become a reality on Switch.

TalkBack / Metroid Saga Game Club
« on: June 16, 2021, 11:06:11 AM »

As we get ready for Metroid Dread in October, join us as we replay the previous Metroid games that lead up to Metroid 5.

When Metroid Dread was announced as the last entry in the Series Producer Yoshio Sakamoto's Metroid story, that raised an eyebrow or three around here. The Metroid series is turning 35 years old this year and the storyline started in the original game and continued across Metroid II, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion was going to actually get a conclusion. It's been 19 years since we last left Samus Aran after the events of Fusion. Now we'll find out what happened to her next.

As we prepare for that dreadful day on October 8, we're going to play through the four numbered Metroid games to get ourselves prepared and make it a little bit of a game club discussion. We have roughly four months left and we're ironing out a schedule in which a handful of NWR staffers will play through the games and then discuss them on the NWR Connectivity podcast. We'll have a podcast deep dive featuring die-hard fans and relative newcomers as well as a smattering of other features and content. You can join us on the NWR Discord channel to discuss each game in the series and even send in some feedback and commentary of your own. It'll be a Metroid we wait for the game in which Samus is hunted by a bunch of evil robots who can one-hit kill her.

  • Metroid (NES version available on Nintendo Switch Online) and Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA game available on Wii U Virtual Console): June 16 to July 9
  • Metroid II: Return of Samus (GB version available on 3DS Virtual Console) and Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS game): July 10 to August 13
  • Super Metroid (SNES version available on Nintendo Switch Online): August 14 to September 10
  • Metroid Fusion (GBA version available on Wii U Virtual Console): September 11 to October 7

TalkBack / The History of Metroid Dread
« on: June 15, 2021, 11:15:54 AM »

The 15 Year Journey to Switch

After almost two decades Metroid 5 is on the way, but what took it so long?

Podcast Discussion / Episode 276: The E3 That Is and Should Never Be
« on: June 11, 2021, 06:34:00 AM »

Editor Alex looks on with childlike wonder as E3 rolls over, coughs weakly, and dies.

Neal has one more child now than he did in the last episode.

Alex de Freitas joins John and Neal to talk about what E3 was and may never be again. The gang discusses the origins of the ESA and the future of the concept of trade shows in general. Neal ponders how he will explain to future generations what an E3 was.

Next the fellas discuss the Playdate, the odd lo-fi handheld that has captured our imaginations. With exciting features like a stereo dock, a working crank, and a pencil holder (plus free pencil) could the Playdate represent the future of gaming? Alex and Neal are excited by the possibility of this micro game playing machine, while John enjoys that it is bright yellow.

Neal explains the finer points of getting away with murder in Overboard, and Alex spends way too much money on GBA games yet hasn't even bothered to buy Star X.

TalkBack / Overboard! (Switch) Review
« on: June 06, 2021, 02:30:44 PM »

A gripping narrative mystery where you play a murderer covering up her crime.

A lot of media over the years has routinely focused on whodunnit murder mysteries. Some sort of detective character enters the scene and tries to figure out who perpetrated the crime. This style has been so prevalent it’s become a trope. Overboard from 80 Days developers Inkle Studios turns that traditional setup on its ear. The game, set during the 1930s with outsized style and memorable period-relevant music, begins with the player character, Veronica Villensey, killing her husband Malcolm by pushing him off the SS Hook on its way across the Atlantic. The goal is to get away with murder and gallivant off with riches.

You begin to control Veronica when she wakes up in her cabin the morning after. You then select different dialogue options to talk with other passengers and crew, traveling to different parts of the ship to figure out how best to get away with murder. Every action you take chews up valuable time, however, as you only have a few hours until you reach American shores and the passengers get suspicious about your missing husband. While it’s certainly possible to stumble into progress on your first play, odds are you’ll wind up getting caught in a lie by a passenger or two and ending the day in jail. That’s when Overboard’s most novel trick takes hold.

Overboard is a time loop game, as you keep going through the day’s events until you avoid getting fingered for murder and tie up all loose ends. It didn’t take me too long to find out a way to get Malcolm’s death to be ruled a suicide or pinned on someone else, but it wasn’t the optimal outcome, since some folks still had suspicions and I didn’t walk away with Malcolm’s sizable life insurance payout. Every named character has some kind of story thread to follow and they often intersect with each other. It can get overwhelming, but the presentation does a good job keeping you focused on what to try to figure out. Your Veronica doesn’t necessarily wake up knowing what happened the day before—you do regularly repeat interactions—but you have that knowledge and the game measures that persistence through a list of posed questions you need to find answers to. It could be something like finding out why Clarrisa Turpentine is crying or trying to figure out how to sneak away Commander Anders’ skeleton key.

While a lot of events do remain similar, you can affect them in subtle ways by previous actions or even the time of day you have these meetings. The setup is simple at a glance, but so much depth is woven into the twisting narrative and you can do so much to play with it. It’s much more complex than a simple murder, as everyone on the boat is up to no good in their own way. An in-game hint system does sort of exist in that Veronica will have a thought bubble to start off every successive playthrough that references something to try to figure out that went wrong during the previous attempt. There’s also a chapel on the boat that features a voice of God that Veronica can pray to that will do some fourth-wall breaking and give you some ideas of what to do next. It’s also very easy to just restart a day if you’re barking up the same tree again or want to quickly try something else.

I’m largely just blown away by how deliriously fun this intricate narrative is to try to puzzle out, but the late-game focus on repetition started to wear thin. This isn’t a terribly long game, with the average run taking a half hour or less, but it still grew tiring repeating the same steps to get access to that aforementioned skeleton key. You can fast-forward through conversations you’ve had already, which definitely speeds up the process but still takes time.

Overboard is a brilliant narrative video game through and through. The unique premise sets up a tangled web that is engrossing to figure out, as you take your villainous widow through all sorts of scenarios where she does everything from kill again to perfectly set up someone else to take the fall. This might not be as altruistic as other time loop games in the pantheon, but it’s certainly one of the most ingenious in its design.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 275: Iggy's Not Throwing Away His Shot
« on: June 04, 2021, 05:13:38 AM »

John saw the restored Super Mario Bros. movie and then we dig into E3 2021 predictions.

If you remember a world with Big Bertha, the Boom Boom Bar, and E3 2020, then you'll love this week's episode of Connectivity. John and Neal kick things off by talking about the restored version of the Super Mario Bros. movie before diving into some listener mail about video game books, early RPGs, and more.

A handful of sure-to-be-wrong Nintendo E3 2021 predictions later and the duo gaze back at a hopeful feature from 2019 - one where we tried to make way-too-early predictions for E3 2020 (aka an E3 that never existed).

Send in some listener mail to feed us some talking points and questions. We like hearing from you and sometimes we give things away. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Fun Facts About Mario Golf
« on: June 03, 2021, 05:42:02 AM »

We looked through the past of Mario Golf to give a retrospective on Mario's career.

When Mario Golf: Super Rush hits the Switch in June, Mario will have golfed professionally in yet another decade. While his stats are non-traditional and not tracked by the standards of the PGA and other professional golf organizations, his run of 36 years of golfing certainly stands up against the titans of the sport. It might pale in comparison to the likes of Sam Snead, one of the winningest golfers of all time who golfed professionally for 53 years. Nevertheless, Mario’s golf career deserves credit for his longevity, spanning multiple console generations. When he started, golf games were mostly just bleeps and bloops, and now they're realistic, more closely mimicking the real thing.

Mario’s storied career has had its ups and downs, successes and failures, and bogeys and birdies. We dug into his golf history to unearth some fun facts and review his past tournament appearances. Join us as we go back into the distant time of the 1980s.

NES Golf Might Not Be Mario’s Golf Debut?

Nintendo’s golf video game debut was 1985’s Golf, one of the early NES games. This game essentially laid the foundation for video game golf with the 3-click swing, where you press a button to start your swing, press another to set your power, and then the final click to get your accuracy. This game has shown its age, but there’s no way we get to Wario wearing that f***ing hat without it.

While the genre-defining control input might be the most important part of Golf on the NES, the more interesting part of it is that despite some American marketing, it doesn’t actually star Mario. I mean sure, one of the two playable characters looks like Mario. He’s wearing red. Has a mustache. Has a hat. The Game Boy port of the game even features someone who is unmistakably Mario, rocking his signature look and a nice pair of golf shoes. The historical Mario tome Mario Mania also calls out Mario as a “duffer extraordinaire” in his cameo appearance in this golf game. All of these claims, however, originate in the west.

Meanwhile, in Japan, where this game was developed (and programmed by the late Satoru Iwata - more on that later!), neither of the playable golfers were ever referred to as Mario. The main golfer showed up in the eclectic Wii game Captain Rainbow, where you had to work with the middle-aged smelly golfer, named Ossan, to help him find his missing golf club and get back on the links. He hasn’t been seen since. Fingers crossed we found out what happened with Ossan someday.

And check out Captain Rainbow. Fair warning: it’s never getting officially localized. This is a video game where Birdo has a vibrator and Takamaru wants to **** Crazy Tracy from Link’s Awakening.

But to wrap up the Ossan talk, it was confirmed in an Iwata Asks that Ossan was one of the internal names for Mario. It literally just means “middle-aged man,” but I guess at some point, Nintendo didn’t want Mario to be limited to traditional concepts of age.

Tributes for Years

That’s not it for NES Golf, though. The game was actually included on the Switch secretly, likely as a tribute to the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. You could only access it on his birthday - July 11 - by doing his signature “Direct” gesture with the Joy-Con. Golf was one of the first games Iwata programmed with Nintendo. Unfortunately, a system update removed the secret, but it’s still heartwarming to think that the Easter egg was put there by a team that respected and loved their boss.

NES Golf also kept showing up over the years in other forms. When Wii Sports came out in 2006, the courses included might have been familiar as the first nine holes are modeled after courses in NES Golf. That same homage appeared in Wii Sports Resort and Clubhouse Games on Switch. NES Open Tournament Golf Has More Versions Than You’d Expect

For us console owners in America, it seemed like the first Golf came out around the NES launch, and then the more Mario-centric NES Open Tournament Golf came out on the system in the ‘90s. Neat and tidy. Sequels years apart.

The actual history of NES Open Tournament Golf around the world is a little different. Following the release of the first Nintendo-made golf game, Nintendo released two golf games for the Famicom Disk System in 1987. The first one, called Family Computer Golf: Japan Course, is sort of a half-step between the first game and NES Open Tournament Golf. The player character resembles Mario more and while the visuals are still more like the first golf, some gameplay elements function closer to the evolutionary steps made in the sequel. This release also made use of a Disk System concept where players could save their high score to the disk and then submit it to Nintendo via Disk Fax machines in different stores. This also led to another variant of the game that came on a gold disk and was harder than the original game.

After that came Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course - another 1987 release. This was far closer to what would become NES Open Tournament Golf and also had its own variant that could be won by competing and winning a Disk Fax competition. Participants could also win a cartridge for Punch-Out!!, which predated the release of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and ended with Super Macho Man instead of Tyson or Mr. Dream.

Moving on from the Famicom Disk System, NES Open Tournament Golf came out on NES in 1991 and that was that....or was it? It wasn’t. There’s more. In Japan, the game was called Mario Open Golf and was way harder than the Western release, featuring new holes and also more difficult ones. Another version of this game came out in arcades on Nintendo’s PlayChoice-10 machines and was called, in America, Mario’s Open Golf. This is similar but not identical to the NES version, largely because while the PlayChoice-10 featured ports of NES games, it actually visually displays the games differently.

So, to recap, there are at least eight different versions of golf games made by Nintendo during the NES era.

Before They Were Playable....

At long last, Mario and Luigi were actually fo’real playable in NES Open Tournament Golf, but that was it. Just the two Mario Bros. Other characters did appear, though. Peach and Daisy are their caddies - something that probably wouldn’t fly in the 21st century. More bizarrely, Donkey Kong is an accountant? I mean, I guess his kid did learn math...

Finally, before we move past the NES, one of the first games that Zelda uber producer Eiji Aonuma ever worked on was NES Open Tournament Golf. He did some sprite work on the game before moving on to his main quest of working on Zelda games.

Quest for Camelot

Mario Golf debuted on Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color in 1999, demonstrably being more like the Mario Kart style of Mario spin offs as it had multiple playable characters, including Peach, Bowser, Wario, and Yoshi. Both versions were developed by Camelot Software Planning, a company that is known nowadays for being long attached to Mario sports games. But at this point, they were better known as the Shining Force devs. The Shining series was a relatively prolific RPG franchise published by Sega in the ‘90s that showed up on Genesis, Game Gear, and Saturn. It actually has a Switch entry called Shining Resonance Refrain, but a lot has changed to that series in the past 20 years.

Before Mario Golf, Camelot developed Hot Shots Golf, or Everybody’s Golf as the series is called now, on PlayStation. The experience with golf and RPGs paid off with the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf, which was renowned for the RPG story mode where you took a player-created golfer and teed up against Mario and the gang.

Camelot stuck around Mario sports for years after this, working on future golf and tennis games. Also relevant to Nintendo is their trio of Golden Sun RPGs. Maybe after they finish Super Rush, they can revisit that series.

Online Golf in 2001

Another Mario Golf game hit Game Boy Color, but it never left Japan. Mobile Golf is a weird footnote in Nintendo history as it is a portable online game that came out in 2001. It’s functionally similar to Mario Golf on Game Boy Color, with a story mode that continues the RPG style. Where it gets wild is that you can use an accessory - called the Mobile Adapter GB - that would connect online to a mobile network and let you play online. Connecting would also unlock Mario characters to play as, including the Wrecking Crew star Foreman Spike.

One of the Last Quality Nintendo Games in America

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour was the next Mario Golf entry, featuring a lot of Mario Sunshine references, including a playable Petey Piranha and Shadow Mario. Like a lot of GameCube games from this era, it’s sort of faded from the canon, but Toadstool Tour is still a very good game.

For the purposes of this video, there’s really only one fun fact aside from the cute Pikmin cameo. Toadstool Tour was the last quality Nintendo game released in America. No wait don’t hate it’s true! You see, back in the 1980s when consumer trust in video games was eroded after the 1983 crash, Nintendo placed the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality on all of their approved and licensed video games. For some reason, Nintendo of America just made it the “Official Nintendo Seal” in 2003. Toadstool Tour was one of the last games to have the quality distinction in the USA.

The Dark Ages

It’s hard to have fun facts when the golf releases dry up. Maybe Nintendo slowed down on Mario Golf releases because Mario Golf: Advance Tour - the 2004 Game Boy Advance game - was arguably the peak of the series. Seriously, when people talk about how good the RPG modes are in Mario sports games, it’s largely because of this game.

The real reason why Nintendo took a decade to come out with another Mario Golf is likely because, in 2006, they released their most successful golf game of all time in Wii Sports. We already went over the fun fact of that game, that some of the holes are 3D versions of ones from the original NES Golf game.

Mario Golf: World Tour came out on the 3DS in 2014, featuring Camelot returning to Mario Golf after a decade without skipping a beat. It had solid online functionality and had 21 playable characters, including the 4 DLC characters.

With Mario Golf: Super Rush due out in June, we will have to see whether or not Camelot still has it. 22 years have passed since they first took Mario out to the links. Will they stay under par? Or stumble into a triple bogey? Who knows, but this will assuredly have less variations than NES Open Tournament Golf.

TalkBack / Pathway (Switch) Review
« on: June 02, 2021, 05:24:14 AM »

Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.

The balance between depth and approachability can be tough to walk in video games - especially ones that dip into the roguelike style. Pathway, a turn-based strategy game oozing with Indiana Jones inspiration, does a fantastic job at staying challenging and intricate while still just being a fun time. With fun procedurally generated adventures, a wide array of playable characters, and nigh infinite possibilities, this is an immensely enjoyable adventure that often feels like playing a great tabletop game.

The setup is that you’re traveling the world in the 1930s, chasing down Nazis and eventually a dastardly cult. You pick three characters from a roster of up to 16 (though most are unlocked at the start) and set out on one of five different campaigns. They tell a linear story, but the action can widely vary. Campaigns begin on an overworld map, where you and your crew drive a car from point to point, trying to reach the other end of the map. At each point, a procedurally generated event happens. Nothing of consequence could happen and you just move on. You could find empty ruins to explore that might have a nefarious secret or just have some cool treasure. Or you could wind up fighting some enemies in strategic turn-based combat. The characters all have different perks, like Daredevil, Engineer, or Survivalist, that can open up different options during your travels, which can lead to even more possible outcomes.

Outside of the choose-your-own-adventure map exploration, the combat is the bulk of the gameplay. The turn-based combat is serviceable, working best when you take your time plotting the optimal strategy to take out enemies while taking the least amount of damage. Each character has two actions per turn, typically a movement and an attack, but special abilities and healing are also options. Each character generally has a ranged and melee attack, but the exact weaponry they have can vary from shotguns to knives. This is where that balance between depth and approachability comes into play because mixing and matching trios that work well together can be very effective, but also the amount of options aren’t overwhelming so you can also feel out different characters without that much punishment.

Failing on a campaign, either by dying or running out of fuel in your car, is something that can happen regularly. That’s where the roguelike nature comes in. The writing is strong enough to stay interesting throughout repeat plays. Generally each campaign has a predetermined beginning and ending, but how you get to the ending can be different depending on what you interact with. Sometimes the events are chaotic, usually in a painful way but sometimes also positively. Death will try to come for you and if it does, the absolute worst thing that happens is you can’t play as the losing trio for a round. There is a lot of progression and carryover from campaign to campaign, as you get to keep your loot and any level ups your characters earn, even if they all die. It’s gentle in that capacity and the gentleness also extends to the difficulty, which can be customized in terms of the amount of enemies per battle and the amount of supplies you have access to.

Romping through these various adventures looks great as well thanks to the gorgeous pixel art. The soundtrack also feels extremely John Williams-inspired, doing a good job of capturing the spirit of Indiana Jones’ scores. What isn’t always great is the technical performance of Pathway on Switch. I had a handful of crashes during my time with the game and also had consistent lengthy loads that almost felt like the game crashed. These aren’t game-breaking issues, but it’s still worrisome to deal with those kinds of problems.

Pathway still overall does a great job of feeling like a procedurally generated Indiana Jones adventure, as you take a motley crew of 1930s adventurers on a quest to beat the crap out of Nazis and prevent cultists from unleashing doom. The variety of options, whether it’s the lengthy list of characters, possible events, or combat scenarios, help make this game a joy to play and even revisit. There might only be five campaigns, but the well-done procedural generation makes each run unique enough to warrant a repeat viewing.

TalkBack / Aerial_Knight's Never Yield (Switch) Review
« on: May 19, 2021, 05:00:00 AM »

What this might lack in length, it makes up for in style.

Endless runners and automatically moving platformers have often been derided in the mobile space, but when done right, they can be extraordinary. I still count Runner 2 as one of my favorite games of its time. So when the stylish Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield showed up in Nintendo’s recent Indie World presentation, it caught my eye. And when I got my hands on the final game, it kept my attention for three hours or so with its elegant simplicity, bumping music, and great flair.

The “three hours” part deserves further elaboration. This isn’t a long game, consisting of 12 levels that can be completed in under two hours depending on your expediency and skill. It’s a pulse-pounding and entertaining ride, but after you’re finished, the only pull is to refine your technique to either beat your best time or finish a higher difficulty level. The lack of online leaderboards is felt here and that’s why after a little bit of replay, I moved on from the game.

What’s there is great, though, as your star as Wally in a futuristic Detroit trying to outrun robots and cops. Each level features music from Detroit-area artist Danime-Sama, adding tremendous style to relatively basic controls. Wally automatically runs (and never yields, naturally) and has four ways of avoiding obstacles, all represented by a directional press or face button. Pressing down slides, up jumps, left does a cool backflip kick, and right sprints. Each movement is also represented by a color, which helps you to make quick decisions as to what is the optimal way forward. Depending on your difficulty level, you might have advance warning about an upcoming color or the action might slow down as you get close to one. The flexibility of the challenge makes this a really approachable game. It also helps that checkpoints in levels are frequent.

Getting into the flow of a level is zen-like and while obstacles often repeat, each level is distinct enough to not grow tiresome. More impressive is that Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is developed by a single developer (the titular Aerial_Knight). The only real technical issues I noticed were some weird collision detection where my character seemingly clipped through obstacles, but they erred on the side of being friendly, so that almost feels more like a speedrunner trick than a problem.

The short runtime might limit some of the appeal of Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, but even as someone who is decidedly not a speedrunner, I greatly enjoyed my ride through this action movie adventure. Even without online leaderboards, it’s a game designed for speedrunning. The distinctive look and feel make it stand out overall. If you’re looking for a dope, stylish runner, look no further than this never-yielding game.

TalkBack / Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World (Switch) Review
« on: May 29, 2021, 05:12:09 PM »

Monster World IV returns virtually unchanged despite 3D visuals.

Monster World IV was, for a long time, a mystifying, Japan-only Sega Genesis game. It came out in 1994, featured nice spritework and good platforming, with a little bit of a Metroidvania twist. Eventually, the game came west, first on Wii Virtual Console and then on other download platforms. There was much rejoicing because, well, Monster World IV is a good game. Since then, we’ve had somewhat of a series revolution, between the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake and the stellar new entry Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. In response, a team led by the original game’s creator Ryuichi Nishizawa set out to remake Monster World IV and the end result is Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World.

The remake itself is true to the original, carrying forth almost identical gameplay, map layouts, and mechanics. For the most part, that’s good, though rough edges crop up from time to time in terms of confusing, vague objectives. One of the major gameplay additions is a saving system that’s basically just save states, as you can save virtually anywhere on the map. It’s convenient for modern play and doesn’t do much to change the difficulty or structure.

Still, much like the Genesis original, you take the warrior Asha through a handful of different areas to free four spirits and ultimately save the day. The story is the same as the original, only really adding any kind of depth in a handful of animated scenes. Asha has a simple sword attack and a defensive shield before eventually getting a double jump thanks to her pet, Pepelogoo. Weapons and armor can be upgraded by collecting gold and buying items, while the world is littered with life drop items that upgrade your life meter. Exploration is encouraged, though most of your rewards are either gold or life drops. Dungeons are fun to explore, featuring a lot of interconnected puzzles that are enjoyable even when you can note how the complexity is low because of the game’s age and original platform. However, the simplicity works well, especially with a runtime that ekes out around five hours or so.

Visuals are where this game looks dramatically different from its predecessor. I was initially put off by the 3D models and look, but they wound up growing on me over the course of the adventure. It doesn’t always look amazing and I vastly prefer the hand drawn art of the Dragon’s Trap remake, but these visuals are fine. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is better than fine, featuring remastered tracks from original composer Shinichi Sakamoto. Once again, in the grand scheme of Wonder Boy remakes, Dragon’s Trap did it better, but this is still good. It’s worth noting that, in the physical release (published by ININ Games), the original game Monster World IV comes on the Switch cartridge as well. The digital release, unfortunately, only comes with the remake.

Wonder Boy - Asha in Monster World takes a great Sega Genesis game from the ‘90s and pays faithful tribute to the original gameplay while turning its back on sprites and instead going with 3D models. This is still a fun and enjoyable retro game, but it shows its age quite a bit with this new presentation. It’s debatable as to whether or not playing this remake would trump playing the original, which makes the remake feel a little less special. Luckily, if you go physical, you can make that decision for yourself. Either way, this remake is good, even if it’s overall lower in the rankings of Wonder Boy revivals.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 274: Common Fossil Knowledge
« on: May 28, 2021, 09:02:38 AM »

Zach returns for a round of Jeopardy preceded by some Switch Pro talk and more.

Dinosaur afficinado Zach Miller joins to talk about some video games and make John and Neal's brain wrinkle with some Jeopardy. Thankfully, our Switch Pro talk didn't become woefully outdated before the episode went live, but the rest should be decently timeless.

Zach has been playing Robot Dinosaur Zelda (aka Horizon: Zero Dawn) while John's been spending time with the recent release BioMutant and Neal's gone virtual with the Oculus Quest. It's a bit more Nontendo than usual, folks. Sometimes that happens. After we talk games, Zach throws some Jeopardy challenges at John and Neal and we all feel a little smarter and a lot dumber.

Send in some listener mail to feed us some talking points and questions. We like hearing from you and sometimes we give things away. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 221