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Adult Swim

Review: Rick and Morty: Pocket Mortys

Jan 13 // Chris Carter
Pocket Mortys (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6])Developer: Big Pixel StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesMSRP: Free (with microtransactions)Released: January 14, 2016 There's no beating around the bush here, this is a complete and utter Pokémon clone. No, I don't mean that it's a cute parody with subtle references and mechanical influences -- I mean it's literally a Pokémon game with Rick & Morty's world injected in. Presentation-wise it gets the job done, as each type of Morty (read: Pokémon) is fairly unique, and although there aren't full voiceovers and cutscenes, there are some original quips by way of Justin Roiland, who voices both Rick and Morty. As a clone, it features an old school turn-based RPG style battle system (with options for attack, item, switch, and run). Attacks even have AP, and you can capture wild Mortys with a Pokéball Manipulation Chip -- I mean, they aren't even necessarily trying to be funny about it. Pocket does feature "types," but instead of elemental themes it follows the bite-sized rock, paper, scissors style, which predictably counter each other. Hell there's even a bank and Pokémon Morty [healing] Center (though in the case of Pocket, the former also has an SMT-like character combination feature). You know what though? It all actually works, even on the mobile platform. I wish the d-pad were a bit more adaptive (it's basically tethered to one part of the screen), but it's really easy to select each battle and menu option with just a quick tap that I don't really pine for a proper tactile control method. The hub is well designed and easy to get around, with a square-like layout and plenty of helpful shops. Peppered in alongside of the core campaign is a series of sidequests as well (basically item fetch quests), coupled with a rather deep crafting system. In terms of the flow, the gist is that our duo is stuck in a hub world in an alternate dimension, with their portal gun confiscated. To earn it back Rick has to prove himself to a council of Ricks -- all of whom have their own Mortys to do battle with. Of course there's a time-gating catch, as the player will need to earn badges (ha) to unlock each subsequent Rick fight. Think of it like the Elite Four, except in this case, there are six Ricks. Early on, jumping into each zone was a rush, and I couldn't wait to see what types of Mortys and Ricks awaited me. Mini Mortys, Stray-Cat Mortys, Evil Rabbit Mortys -- all of them come complete with their own set of abilities and such, and capturing them to find a well-rounded team was a ton of fun. Except, said loop eventually grows stale after you beat the third Rick council member or so, as Pocket basically says "get more badges, bitch," and forces you to grind it out to see the ending. Because with Pocket Mortys, every zone (which features one possible badge with a Rick fight at the end) is a randomized dungeon of sorts. At first it's exhilarating, diving into the unknown and finding more Mortys along the way, but the tedium sets in after you've seen all the biomes and settings available. While I initially played three hours straight (which is an accomplishment for a free mobile game), once the fatigue set in I resorted in taking frequent breaks. One could argue that this is totally cool for a mobile experience, but it could have at least broken up some of the monotony. Having said all that, the game manages to be fun throughout in spite of this roadblock that will inevitably turn some people off. Okay, so it's free, is there a catch? Sort of. The microtransaction scheme is twofold. First, you can watch videos (ads) for extra currency, which is used to buy items from the in-game store. It's a strategy that a lot of games are using these days, and for the most part, it's fairly inoffensive. Where Pocket kind of gets me irked is the second scheme, which are good old fashioned microtransactions that grant you tickets to exchange for better items and even new Mortys. Sure you can still earn tickets occasionally (mostly by beating an "Elite" member), but the fact that both of these strategies co-exist does get in the way somewhat. Now, I'm not the type of person who automatically burns things at the stake for microtransactions merely on principle, especially if they ultimately are optional, and that's how I felt with Pocket Mortys. Not once did I feel the need to spend money, and although I was tempted to watch an ad or two to earn enough to buy an extra potion for a boss fight in one zone, the realization that I could just die, go back to the hub without penalty, and move on to another random zone didn't sting in the slightest. Pocket Mortys, like many episodes of the show, is a true roller coaster. It has a lot of highs, a ton of lows, and that may not appeal to everyone. For me though, I feel like I got my money's worth, and it made the wait for the next season of the show (which still has no set premiere window) that much easier. [This review is based on a retail build of the free game provided by the publisher ahead of launch.]
Rick and Morty review photo
Gotta ::burp:: 'em all, Morty
I only started watching Rick & Morty halfway into the second season several months back, but after catching the first few episodes, I immediately burned through all of it. There's something about the show's sick sense of ...

Rick and Morty photo
Rick and Morty

An official Rick and Morty Pokemon parody game is coming this month


Pocket Mortys
Jan 05
// Chris Carter
Adult Swim just teased Pocket Mortys, a new mobile game (Android and iOS) coming January 14, and I'm pretty stoked about it. Simply put, it seems to ape Pokemon, with a Rick and Morty tint to it -- it's a free game, so t...
Headlander reveal photo
Headlander reveal

Double Fine reveals 'retro-futuristic' metroidvania Headlander


That's using your noggin
Aug 27
// Darren Nakamura
Double Fine Productions rarely retreads ground with its games, so it comes as no surprise that its next big title is not Psychonauts 2 (like it should be) but is instead a 2D adventure about a disembodied head who can attach ...

Review: Duck Game

Jul 10 // Steven Hansen
Duck Game (PC)Developer: Landon PodbielskiPublisher: Adult Swim GamesMSRP: $12.99Released: June 4, 2015 Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. [embed]295748:59453:0[/embed] Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. ...Ok, fine. Duck Game has a quack button. The feeling of impatiently tapping at an elevator to make it come faster has been turned to song and that song is the cacophony of up to four players mashing quack at the start of stages and, often, during combat. As much as the impish coquette in me would have delighted in leaving this review quacks in its entirety, I have a lot I want to say about Duck Game. Things that go beyond pure amusement -- the quack button, the ragdoll button, the tongue-hanging "Frog?" mask, the fucking name "Duck Game." There is an amusing set of solo challenge modes accessed through arcade cabinets. Success in these yields tickets which can be traded for gameplay modifiers, if you're stupid, or more funny hats, if you're smart. But the fatty meat of Duck Game is its multiplayer (online and local). While it could easily draw comparisons to a number of recently successful 2D multiplayer games like Samurai Gunn and TowerFall, I see a mix of randomness and pace from the likes of WarioWare and Super Crate Box. Matches can be over in seconds -- some stages seem designed that way. A victor is crowned, and it's off to the next fight. Breaking this whirlwind pace are intermissions where the ducks will toss their hats/masks across a field en route to 10 wins for ultimate victory.  They all look very mad and I love it. If the "Crazy Ass Goose!" video was not explicitly about a goose, I would say it was about these ducks. These ducks are the "Crazy Ass Goose!" of video games. Most interesting, though, is not that Duck Game has been energizing my living room of late, but how it does so. Part of it has to do with fast deaths and crazy weapons (riding chainsaws, magnet guns, Bionic Commando-claws, net guns, sledgehammers, trumpets). A lot of it boils down to an interesting take on what would otherwise be simple controls. In Samurai Gunn, you jump, slash, or shoot. In Duck Game, you jump, pick up/throw, and use. Along with the indispensable quack and its lesser relative, the ragdoll.  But Duck Game changes your interaction with the huge assortment of weapons that are scattered throughout maps. Everything needs to be picked up with a button press. With most guns, you can press pick up, then start pressing "use" (shoot, in this case), and it works as expected. But when you "pick up" a grenade, pressing "use" pulls the pin, and then you have to press "throw" (formerly "pick up") to toss it. It's not the assortment of weapons that is fun, it's the quick reflexes -- and their funny failures -- needed to remember how they all work, despite the simple two button layout. Shotguns are shot, then racked before they can be shot a again. Armor is picked up, then put on. Muskets are slowly, slowly reloaded. There are a litany of handguns, all with different properties. In the frantic panic, will you remember you were holding a derringer with one shot? I can't describe the amount of hollering coming from my living room after the tension-snapping slapstick of two ducks with shotguns meticulously coming up to the other before unleashing a barrage of empty-chamber clicks. They're both out of ammo and the calm, self-assured demeanor they came with dissolves into two panicked ducks jumping around looking for weapons. Quack. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Quack photo
Quack
Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack qua...


Review: Traverser

Jul 09 // Conrad Zimmerman
Traverser (PC)Developers: Gatling Goat StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesMSRP: $14.99Released: July 9, 2015 The setting for Traverser is its strongest asset. The underground remnants of humanity live in Brimstone, a floating city suspended in a cavern near the Earth's core. It's a city with two sides, literally and figuratively, with one side using some form of anti-gravity technology to allow people to live upside-down. A wealthy populace occupies the upper, properly oriented half, enjoying a life of relative ease under the care of the Raven Corporation. A working class labors beneath, forced to wear breathing masks due to the poor availability of air their work makes possible. This arrangement caused friction over time, as one might expect. Workers striking at an oxygen refinery plant to demand better conditions has grown into a full-scale rebellion, turning to violence to deliver their message. It's in this environment that the player assumes control of Valerie Bennett, the daughter of Raven Corporation's chief scientist. Her story begins on the day she becomes a Traverser, a new form of peacekeeper in the city. With the rebellion more active than ever, Valerie becomes drawn into the conflict to play a central role. [embed]295678:59439:0[/embed] There is a cartoonish element that lies at the core of many aspects of Traverser. Brimstone is a bleak place, a society which has seemingly fallen back to an earlier industrial age in retreating from the world above, but there's a softness to the visual design which undercuts the aesthetic tone. A few scripted sequences exist solely for their comic effect in lightening the mood. Character designs are fairly simple, with slightly exaggerated features and energetic voice acting performances that leave no question exactly what kind of person each is. These are generally good things. Not in terms of the plot, necessarily, which probably would have benefited from a little bit of subterfuge for its twists. No, the whimsical elements function as a distraction in a game that wants you to think about its world, but not too deeply. They make the bigger incongruities easier to swallow. For example, the role of the Traverser itself makes little sense in practice. As described, the job is a sort of secret police force and, upon successfully completing her exam, Valerie is instructed to remain in her street clothes so as to not draw attention to herself. That would be good advice, were it not rendered irrelevant by the large electronic gauntlet she's given, the Gravity Glove, which everyone in the city seems to know exists and is the trade tool of a Traverser. It is a neat tool, though. With it, Valerie can fire a beam to manipulate objects considerably larger than herself with ease. This is done with the mouse, pointing and clicking to lift objects and move them freely. Holding the right mouse button allows a held item to be rotated while the scroll wheel raises and lowers it. Objects can be lifted from a considerable distance but are dropped if the beam is broken. The range of items that can be picked up and moved is not insignificant, but most of the time the Gravity Glove is used to move or stack boxes to gain access to higher areas. Occasionally, there will be a room that takes better advantage of its capabilities and limitations to produce something slightly more challenging, but most of the puzzles will underwhelm experienced players of 3D adventure games. This aspect is quite unfortunate, because it seems like the pieces are in place to do some interesting stuff. About a third of the way through, the player is introduced to the concept of using multiple objects together to accomplish goals, culminating in the game's first boss encounter. Yet it never proves more creative than at this point, the remainder of the game featuring fairly standard adventure puzzle tropes (mirror reflections, levers, dragging items from one end of a room to another) separated by bits of light platforming and stealth. The challenges in Traverser are not poorly designed, merely underwhelming. To Gatling Goat Studios' credit, many can be approached in a couple of different ways and it's enjoyable whenever the player has an opportunity to feel as though they have subverted the intended solution. As there's only light violence and Valerie's capabilities are mostly defensive, the game's content could work for a younger audience. Parents may want to do a solo playthrough (which should take 3-4 hours) or watch a video of the conclusion before sitting down with the kids, though. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Traverser review photo
The air isn't all that's stale here
The Earth has lost its sun and become a frozen wasteland bereft of breathable air, but humanity struggles on in Traverser, the debut title from Gatling Goat Studios. A 3D platforming adventure, the game excels in presenting a...

Review: Westerado: Double Barreled

Apr 27 // Jed Whitaker
Westerado: Double Barreled (PC)Developer: Ostrich Banditos Publisher: Adult Swim Games Released: April 16, 2015MSRP: $14.99 It starts like any normal day, waking up to help your family take care of the ranch, rounding up some buffalo back to their pen. The night sky glows orange in the distance while returning home, a strange sight for the west. The glow soon becomes embers as you realize your family ranch is ablaze, blood is strewn about the ground, your mother is slaughtered and your brother is fatally wounded. Your brother doesn't have much information about who did this, but he does give you one single clue, information about the killers clothing. He gurgles blood as he asks for you to end his suffering, you cock your gun, as tears stream down your face you pull the trigger.  The beginning of Westerado is one of the strongest openings of a game I've ever played, and gives the player a real sense of purpose, revenge.  The universe Westerado takes place in is easily recognizable: A western with cowboys, a quest for vengeance, a bank, an oil man, a saloon with strong female characters in tow; this is a spaghetti western. Dialog for characters is written in a south western dialect that makes anyone feel like a real life cowboy when reading it aloud. A film strip overlay is shown behind characters as they converse, just one of many indications found throughout Westerado that indicate it takes place on a film set. All this overlayed with a wonderful soundtrack that would feel at home in any western flick. Searching for the murderer entails wandering from town to town, through deserts and mines while talking to characters along the way. Conversations with characters often times lead to jobs. Jobs range from defending a ranch from bandits, to forcing a drunkard husband to leave the saloon at gunpoint, to sexing up "Miss Tress" a local promiscuous female. The variety of quests is refreshing, as each one is unique from the others. Upon completing these jobs characters reveal more information about the murderer, specifically what they are wearing. Clues are collected for you in a handy dandy notebook, which includes a wanted poster showing the murderer as described by clues.  Jobs aren't completed with just walking and talking as you'll be using your six shooter to leave a trail of bodies on your quest for vengeance. Equipped with infinite ammo, the six shooter is drawn by pressing a bumper button, the hammer is cocked with one press of the right trigger and then fired with a second press. Reloading is done manually one bullet at a time with the left trigger. The controls feel like you're holding an actual six shooter. Aiming, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. Your gun fires in a straight line from the barrel, which works mechanically but seems odd when the game is presented in three dimensional space, but after a few gunfights it will be second nature. Westerado can be played with a co-op partner, with any of the four characters that can be unlocked through multiple playthroughs. Every time you play you'll have a different murderer to gather clues on and locate, though the only things that change are clothing or gender, and the map stays the same. While having a randomly generated map could have been a better choice, it is a minor gripe for an otherwise near flawless game. Rarely do I sit down to play a game, finish it and instantly start a new playthrough; this is one of those games. Westerado is a great package with lots of replayability and can easily be recommended for fans of westerns or revenge flicks. No other experience that I've played has done revenge so well. If you've been hankerin' for a trip to the wild west saddle up and hang onto your hat, Westerado: Double Barreled is a dern tootin' good time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Westerado Review photo
Yee-haw! Giddy up! Yip! Yip!
Do you like spaghetti westerns with charm, humor, hammy accents and over the top violence? How about revenge flicks, video games with retro style graphics? Do you like fun? Are you breathing oxygen?  Well then partner ya...

Veryman! photo
Veryman!

I hope Veryman.Expert becomes America's next great pastime


Let's fast track this sucker
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
Think about the weirdest thing you saw today. Veryman.Expert is probably weirder. It's a browser-based god game, so to speak, about creating men. There are no losers, ever. You can adjust your man's movements -- a touch of Le...
Oblitus photo
Oblitus

Oblitus is coming soonlitus


That's about it
Jan 27
// Robert Summa
Adult Swim Games has officially announced that their fantasy 2D roguelike scroller Oblitus is coming soon. How soon? Hell, I don't know, and I guess Adult Swim doesn't know either, since they're not telling us. At the very least, the trailer has some decent music and the art that has accompanied the game appears to be cool as fuck.
Castle Doombad photo
Castle Doombad

Castle Doombad is free on the Amazon App Store right now


Save yourself $3
Sep 09
// Darren Nakamura
Chris took a look at Adult Swim Games' Castle Doombad at the beginning of this year, and had the highest recommendations for it. Despite that, it sort of fell through the cracks for me. Now, there is another reason to check i...
Zenzizenzic photo
Zenzizenzic

Zenzizenzic now being published by Adult Swim Games


Zigzagoon? Mr. Mxyzptlk?
Aug 20
// Brittany Vincent
Making a case yet again as to why it's one of the most awesome publishers around, Adult Swim Games will be publishing the frenetic twin-stick shooter Zenzizenzic. After the game completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, Du...
Super Comboman photo
Super Comboman

Adult Swim Games' Super Comboman features a fat dude with a Pikachu fanny pack


That's what it looks like, at least
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Adult Swim Games has a great track record when it comes to their games, and Super Comboman looks like a fun little brawler. It takes place in a sticker world with destructible environments and colorful characters that give m...
More Rain World! photo
More Rain World!

Rain World has competitive slugcat multiplayer and bat attacks


Throw bricks and batteries like Eagles fans pelting Santa Claus
Apr 14
// Steven Hansen
Rain World is still the best. And it's coming to Vita (and more). Jonathan Holmes went and chatted with Rain World's developers at PAX. In the background you can see a very early alpha multiplayer sandbox that looks to be in the vein of Samurai Gunn and Towerfall. You get points for eating flies and lizards and killing each other. Did you know lizard only has one "z"? That's weird.
Rain World!  photo
Rain World!

Yes! Rain World is coming to Vita, PSN


'PSN, PS Vita and well beyond'
Apr 14
// Steven Hansen
Last week we learned Adult Swim Games had picked up and planned to publish Rain World, among other cool games. I have been unfettered in my enthusiasm for Rain World, which stars a slugcat who goes around stabbing other weir...
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Adult Swim Games to publish Oblitus, Rain World, and Westerado: Double Barreled


Expanded version of Westerado heading to Steam
Apr 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Adult Swim's presence in gaming continues to rise, and their next selection of games they're publishing are all head turners. Oblitus is developed by Connor Ullman, and follows the tale of a spear-wielding creature who seeks ...
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The man behind Lamar from GTA V to become Black Jesus


New live-action series coming to Adult Swim
Mar 11
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
This is TOTALLY barely even videogame related at all but I still wanted to write about it because Lamar from Grand Theft Auto V was one of my favorite characters from a videogame last year. So I'm happy to see Gerald "Slink"...
Adult Swim Games photo
Adult Swim Games

You can play Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla right now


He can have a saguaro cactus for an arm
Feb 07
// Darren Nakamura
Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla. Give yourself a few seconds for that to sink in. He is a gorilla, who has been cybernetically altered to have chainsaws for arms and a pogo stick in place of his legs. If that is not the most aw...
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This Jazzpunk communist breakfast cereal is amazing


Part of this compliant breakfast
Feb 05
// Max Scoville
One of the difficulties with comedy is that describing or paraphrasing a joke frequently makes it cease to be funny, so it's hard to convey Jazzpunk's charm without completely squashing its humor in the process. However,...
Jazzpunk photo
Jazzpunk

New Jazzpunk trailer invokes spirit of Johnny Mnemonic


Whoa
Jan 23
// Conrad Zimmerman
If you're going to validate your cult pop culture bona fides, this is how you do it. A new trailer for Necrophone Games' Jazzpunk has been released by Adult Swim, referencing the 1995 motion picture Johnny Mnemonic...
Winnose photo
Winnose

Play Winnose, reunite a moai statue with his other half


Another strange Adult Swim game
Jan 08
// Darren Nakamura
Adult Swim always seems to publish games that have really strange setups, but are backed by solid gameplay mechanics and can easily eat up an afternoon or possibly even a work day. Winnose, developed by Todd Luke, appea...
Robot Chicken x Killzone photo
Robot Chicken x Killzone

Sweet Tooth planks in this Robot Chicken Killzone ad


No, seriously
Dec 17
// Brett Zeidler
Sony partnered up with Adult Swim recently to task the guys over at Robot Chicken with creating an amusing little ad for Killzone: Shadow Fall. It starts out with Sweet Tooth enjoying the game in his living room, and getting...
Sup Holmes photo
Get to know the people that make great videogames
8 days ago on Sup Holmes (now on iTunes) we welcomed Michael Molinari to the program. Michael has been developing games since high school, starting the the Team Fortress fan games T.F. Larry: Guard Duty and its seq...

Super Comboman photo
Super Comboman

Sup Holmes is super with combo man Justin Woodward


Get to know the people that make great videogames
Dec 08
// Jonathan Holmes
This week on Sup Holmes we continue Adult Swimember with Justing Woodward of Interabang Entertainment. Justin's worked in the industry for years, but it probably best known for Super Comboman, the 2D action platformer with be...
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Sup Holmes is stabbed by sound with Michael Molinari


Get to know the people that make great videogames
Dec 01
// Jonathan Holmes
Today on Sup Holmes we kick off Adult Swimember with Soundodger+ and Basketbelle's Michael Mollinari. Rumor has it that Michael also on the iOS version of Bit.Trip BEAT, which is one of my favorite games ever. Michael's relat...
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Only 4% of Volgarr the Viking players bought the game


The developers take to Twitter to talk honestly about piracy
Oct 22
// Alessandro Fillari
Volgarr the Viking is a hardcore-focused throwback to classic 2D action titles of the past. Released last month, it has already pleased many gamers looking for a challenge. After a successful Kickstarter and getting picked up...
Soundodger+ Contest photo
20 codes up for grabs
[Update: Contest over! Winners have been PM'd their codes.] Our friends at Adult Swim Games have just given us 20 codes for Soundodger+ to hand out to the Dtoid community! An updated version of the original flash game S...

Soundodger+ photo
Soundodger+

Soundodger+ brings musical bullet hell to Steam on Friday


Eleven new tracks added for Steam version
Oct 07
// Darren Nakamura
Soundodger is a free online game that released on Adult Swim earlier this year. In it, you control a small white circle, trying to avoid a deluge of shapes spilling at you from all angles, set to music by a handful of great ...

Very Quick Tips: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 24 // Chris Carter
General Tips: Get in the habit of holding the zoom button constantly to survey your surroundings until you get a level down pat. The zoom button is a great way to eliminate any feeling of fake difficulty, because like Spelunky, any time you die it's usually your fault. Going along with the zoom function, spears are your friend. Throw them often, and make use of the double jump spear constantly. If you're trying to create a ledge, note that you need to be approximately three character lengths away before you can make it stick to the wall. Don't limit yourself -- you can throw spears a lot faster than you think you can, so sling away. Also, if you have the hammer shield, you can charge your spear up to make short work of multiple weak enemies. When in doubt, most puzzles involve spears. Create spear bridges anywhere you can, and note that you can throw them through certain barriers that are shaped differently than the rest. When you're on a chain or rope climbing up, keep in mind that creating a makeshift spear platform to rest on can save your life if you need to jump back down. The shield is very dynamic. You can even guard against attacks from behind as you're climbing on ropes while the shield is on your back (use this to your advantage and face the shield towards wall-mounted spear spitters). Said spear spitters are also positioned horizontally, by the way, so you can spot them while they attempt to disguise themselves among similar scenery. The crouching slash can trick most humanoid enemies in the game. Use this a lot on stage three against the shield-wielding skeletons -- better yet, try not to fight them if possible and double-jump over them after creating gaps with crouch slashes. Try not to backtrack a lot to avoid respawns of menial enemies. This includes the lizards in level one and the skeletons in level three. If possible, keep moving forward. Restart if you lose some gear early in a level. Getting incremental gear is key to your success, and having to re-earn everything can be a thorn in your side and not allow you to reach your full potential as a player. For instance, you can kill the first boss in one fell swoop (read: five seconds) with the fire sword. Your double jump is actually an attack. Learn how many hits enemies can take in total, and use this on their last remaining hit to avoid damage. You can also cancel a downwards stab attack into a spin jump. On that note, do not overuse the double jump. You can't compensate for over-jumping, so make use of the single jump often when leaping over traps. This is a trick I learned at a young age when playing Mega Man X2 -- when facing enemies that spit projectiles, visualize said projectiles and tune everything else out. Watch how the bullets move, where they end up, and focus entirely on not getting hit by them (can you tell I love bullet hell games?). Don't even necessarily focus on the enemy itself -- just avoid damage, and eventually you will be able to kill it without issues over time. For spitting plants (or enemy derivatives thereof), use scenery to plot out a fake safe zone. Often times this is between two vines, or so on. Go between those two vines, slice the enemy, rinse and repeat until you're comfortable with the pattern. After you've completed at least one stage, move left at the very start of the game to skip to a certain point. In case you didn't know, the game has a really clever Genesis style instruction manual.
Volgarr the Viking tips photo
Make Odin proud
Let's talk about fake difficulty in games. In the olden days, often times due to the limitations of the hardware, developers would create certain portions of games that forced you to resort to trial-and-error tactics, often c...

Review: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 23 // Tony Ponce
Volgarr the Viking (PC)Developer: Crazy Viking StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesReleased: September 13, 2013MSRP: $11.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit You've played Volgarr the Viking before. It is Contra. It is Battletoads. It is Ghosts 'n Goblins. Most appropriately, it is Rastan, a 1987 Taito arcade game infamous for its unrelenting nature. From the types of hazards and enemies to the general play style and progression, the parallels are so numerous that it wouldn't be wrong to call Volgarr a spiritual sequel with a Nordic flavor. Even the stage layout on the first few screens of the first level mirrors that of Rastan's opening moments. Like its forebears, the greatest achievement in Volgarr is survival. Even if you never come close to completion, being able to squeeze out a few extra seconds of life is its own reward. Volgarr was designed with the mind that just because a game isn't immediately accessible to all players doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyable. The trick is to balance the sheer brutality with a simple control scheme and obstacles that can be overcome with enough patient observation. Knowing what needs to be done doesn't guarantee victory, but it goes a long way towards keeping hope alive, even if barely. [embed]262298:50578:0[/embed] This is why I hate it when people call a difficult game "cheap" or "unfair" when such terms aren't warranted. They imply that the developers didn't know what they were doing, leading to a haphazard assembly that misleads the player into unavoidable situations. Crazy Viking Studios knew exactly what it was doing -- Volgarr is constructed in such a way that the greatest obstruction to victory is your own mediocre skills. What's refreshing is how Crazy Viking Studios did away with seemingly all modern game trappings for a true old-school experience. There are no cutscenes, no dialog, no save files (more on that later), and no hint bubbles. Hell, there isn't even a proper main menu -- after the game loads, the title flashes for a brief moment, Odin commands you to rise from the dead, and you immediately start marching. The lone allowance is a series of brief text prompts in the first few seconds that tell you how to perform the basic moves. You begin with a weak wooden shield that only absorbs two projectile impacts before breaking. You can upgrade your gear by opening treasure chests -- first you'll acquire an indestructible shield that also allows you to throw charged spears, then a helmet that grants an extra hit point, and finally a flame sword with double strength. As you receive damage, you'll lose your equipment piece by piece until you're reduced to an explosion of bloody bones. There is no progress without risk; you'll often find yourself in situations that demand more unconventional strategies. For instance, Volgarr's jump trajectory is locked once he leaves the ground, not unlike in Castlevania, but you can change your trajectory in midair by performing a double jump. This technique comes in handy later, such as when jumping to an adjacent platform means overshooting the ground then doubling back. Perhaps you'll be climbing a rope and can't reach a platform overhead. You can leap away from the rope, toss a spear at the nearby wall to create a makeshift platform, then quickly double jump back onto the rope lest you fall to your death. Now you'll be able to jump onto the spear then hop up from there to the target platform. Your only hope for success is to discover such advanced techniques on your own and master them in controlled environments so that they can effectively be employed in more dangerous territory. As tough as your enemies may be, foolish platforming mishaps will be your greatest adversary. There's nothing to do but try again until your talents are honed to a brilliant sheen. The secret weapon in your arsenal is the zoom function, performed by tapping L on your controller or the space bar on the keyboard, which pulls the camera back and gives you a greater view of the terrain and enemy placement. What makes this so invaluable is that enemies remain motionless while off-screen in the normal camera view. That means you'll almost always have the first-strike advantage if you can hit them with your spear before they have a chance to react. Even with the zoom, Volgarr is a frustrating experience that taxes your spirit like few others. In particular, there is only a single checkpoint in the middle of each level. Even if you fall to the boss, you'll be tossed way back to that checkpoint instead of outside the boss chamber. This setup infuriated me at first, but I later realized that by making you replay half the stage, you have the opportunity to max out your equipment and greet the boss at full strength. In its own way, the game is offering the smallest of mercies. The exception to this is the final stage, which is divided into multiple rooms each with checkpoints at the entrance, including one just before the boss. It's ironic that after enduring five stages of cutthroat brutality, the last stage would be the most forgiving of all. It almost seems like a letdown... until you realize that the game is only half complete. There may not be any save files, but it is possible to skip levels that you've already completed. However, doing so will prevent you from getting the game's best ending. If you manage not to lose your equipment in a level and continue to open treasure chests, you'll eventually start collecting life orbs. Upon beating the boss, you'll unlock the Path of the Valkyrie, an alternate and more challenging route through the following stage. And only by clearing all the alternate routes will you be able to enter the true final stage. The Path of the Valkyrie plays by a different set of rules compared to the main game. Those life orbs you collect indicate how many times you'll be allowed to respawn. Exhaust all your lives and you will be shunted back onto the main path, unable to reenter that level's alternate route without replaying the previous level again. In other words, there isn't much room for practice and experimentation on the Path of Valkyrie -- you are expected to be a master already. I don't mind hardcore difficulty, but the requirements to reach Volgarr's finale strike me as just a tad too restrictive. Essentially, you're being asked to 1CC (one credit clear) the game, or close enough to it, all without ever getting touched once. I've never been one to attempt "perfectionist" runs in anything, which require a level of patience and perseverance far beyond that required to enjoy the base game. If I had to draw the line dividing what I'm willing to endure for the sake of enjoyment, that would be it. That aside, the rest of Volgarr exemplifies the type of experience few games dare to attempt these days. It will humble you, make you feel weak and inadequate. I started playing with great confidence, and within minutes I was reduced to a whimpering mess. I even considered giving up a couple of times, resigning myself to writing a scoreless review. But somehow, in some way, I mustered enough energy to go on. My journey may technically have only just begun, but seeing even a single ending has given me a deep sense of accomplishment. I understand that not everyone is looking to put their pride on the line with every game they play, but sometimes we need a reminder that games can be a test of skill. What kind of test would it be if the average person could coast along merely by doing the extra credit? By guessing the multiple choice? What kind of hollow victory is that? Like a drill sergeant, Volgarr the Viking is here to yank us out of our comfort zone and put us through hell unending. If you survive, you'll feel like the biggest badass of all time.
Volgarr the Viking review photo
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