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Sega photo
Sega

Sega: 'We weren't too happy' about the Wii U version of Sonic Boom


3DS is the flagship now
Jun 11
// Chris Carter
Collectively, the Sonic Boom series was the worst selling Sonic subfranchise in history. It only managed to scrape together under 500,000 copies for both the Wii U and 3DS platforms. Big Red Button, who handled the ...
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero photo
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is looking gorgeous in new E3 trailer


Back in all her hair-whipping glory
Jun 10
// Ben Davis
Half-Genie Hero, the newest entry in the Shantae series, was funded on Kickstarter back in 2013. Today, WayForward released the E3 2015 trailer for the game, and it looks to be coming along quite nicely! The trailer shows of...
Yooka-Laylee music photo
Yooka-Laylee music

Yooka-Laylee teaser track sounds straight out of Banjo-Kazooie


Glacier World
Jun 10
// Jordan Devore
Ooh, this is nice. Composer Grant Kirkhope shared the unfinished track for Yooka-Laylee's ice world, and it sounds right at home for a game that leverages fond memories of Rare's glory days. The crowdfunding drive has smashe...
Ratchet & Clank photo
Ratchet & Clank

PS4 could use more games like Ratchet & Clank


This sure looks nice
Jun 10
// Jordan Devore
"Play the game based on the movie based on the game." Next spring, Ratchet and Clank return for, well, Ratchet & Clank. Insomniac Games is working on a re-imagining of the original PlayStation 2 title, "revised to tie in...
Sonic Boom photo
From out of nowhere
Sonic Boom didn't do too well on 3DS and Wii U. They were two of the worst performing Sonic games in history, and were rated very poorly across both platforms. Despite that, the cartoon series is doing very well. Sonic B...

Nicalis photo
Nicalis

Is Nicalis teasing more 1001 Spikes or something new?


1001, 1002, 1003...
Jun 08
// Zack Furniss
[Update: A little digging on Twitter shows us that Tyrone Rodriguez from Nicalis and Samu Wosada of 8Bits Fantatics have been exchanging ninja graphics for a little while now. Samu also released a free game called Goody Bad H...
Unlocking The Kid photo
Unlocking The Kid

Oh, right, Super Meat Boy is going to break me


Hello darkness
Jun 08
// Jordan Devore
We learned this morning that Super Meat Boy is coming to PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. I was ecstatic, and not merely because the game is going to be free at launch for PlayStation Plus members. Most of all, I looked forward to...
Yoshi photo
Yoshi

Check out Yoshi's Woolly World's amiibo functionality in action


These hellish creations
Jun 08
// Chris Carter
Are you scared of the amiibo skin functionality in Yoshi's Woolly World? I am! Thanks to this video from the Odderz Plays YouTube channel, we now have an idea of what these demon spawn creations will look like in-g...
SUPER MEAT BOY photo
SUPER MEAT BOY

Super Meat Boy is finally leaping to PlayStation


Launching free on PS Plus in 2015
Jun 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Super Meat Boy is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, Team Meat just announced. The good word comes nearly five years after the platformer originally landed on Xbox 360, as pictured in Lisanne Pajot and James S...
Xeodrifter photo
Xeodrifter

Metroid-like Xeodrifter is coming to the Wii U


Currently on 3DS and PC
Jun 08
// Chris Carter
Last year, Renegade Kid released Xeodrifter out into the world. It took time time, but it was eventually confirmed for the PSN. Now, according to a podcast from Nintendo Enthusiast, we know that it is also coming to the ...
Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Happy Friday! Here's some adorable Yooka-Laylee art


This should kickstart your weekend
Jun 05
// Brett Makedonski
Happy Friday! Tell your boss you're going home now because Brett Makedonski said "By the power vested in me by the state of the R.O.B.O.T., the weekend starts now." He'll understand. He also does whatever strange people on th...
Action Henk photo
Action Henk

Time-trial platformer Action Henk leaps to consoles this summer


Beards for all
Jun 05
// Jordan Devore
Action Henk has been described as Sonic the Hedgehog meets Trials. I don't disagree. It's a platformer in which toys race across building blocks, slide down plastic orange car tracks, and grapple hook over the floor (because ...
Inside photo
Inside

Limbo developer's follow-up 'Inside' sees a delay


For Xbox One
Jun 05
// Chris Carter
Developer Playdead has one released game to its name -- Limbo. But that one title has gone on to take the indie world by storm, and has since been released on nearly every platform known to man. For the past five years the st...
SteamWorld Dig photo
SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig will arrive on Xbox One this Friday


'A few special gems for Xbox One owners'
Jun 04
// Chris Carter
SteamWorld Dig was originally on target for an Xbox One release in late May, but now we have confirmation from developer Image & Form that it will release this Friday, June 5. This debut will see SteamWorld on n...
Gravity Ghost PS4 photo
Gravity Ghost PS4

Gravity Ghost is headed to PS4 with some new content


Erin Robinson's first console game
Jun 02
// Darren Nakamura
Gravity Ghost released early this year, and I thought it was a touching tale alongside its entertaining zen gameplay. Though it was well received critically, its audience has been limited to those playing on PCs. Soon, that p...

Disney Infinity 3.0 expands with the Star Wars and Inside Out playsets

Jun 01 // Alessandro Fillari
For those who aren't familiar, or maybe just a bit confused about what Disney Infinity is, this title brings players into an open world and unified experience to craft unique and original playgrounds for Disney characters from the past and present. Much like the Skylanders series, characters are acquire by purchasing actual figurines that can be uploaded into the game via a world disc, a real world scanner. While you can create levels and unique scenarios and share them with others online, you can also dive into unique playsets centered around specific Disney films and television shows. In its third year now, Disney Infinity has seen a number of upgrades and additions. With last year's expansion introducing Marvel characters, they've also spent some time upgrading the gameplay and general design. In order to do this, they recruited help from independent developers such as Ninja Theory, Sumo Digital, and United Front Games where they worked on the key areas of combat, racing, and additional character support respectively. With general development handled by Avalanche Software (note: not the same Avalanche behind Just Cause), they've found the creation of Disney Infinity to be a rewarding and satisfying experience. "The two words that come to mind are 'humbling' and 'gratifying," said the GM of Avalanche Software John Blackburn while reflecting on his work on Disney Infinity. "I feel so fortunate to work with all these brands, and it's a dream come true in a lot of ways[...] I'm pretty happy that people have responded to it in the way that have, and have accepted it and are looking forward to the new versions right now. I want to make sure we're doing a good enough job that we're really trying to make high quality kids and family entertainment, because that's been more and more difficult as a business to do. So it's very gratifying to see that we're doing it right." With the 3.0 expansion, new environments and characters will be added to the core game, such as the recently announced Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic (based on the prequel trilogy), Rise Against the Empire (original trilogy), The Force Awakens, and also Pixar's Inside Out playsets. While Star Wars will be largely combat and vehicle focused experiences, Inside Out will experiment more with platforming in surreal environments. Much like the film, the gameplay centers around the emotional state of a young girl named Riley and her changing perception and feelings. Set sometime after the film, players take control of Riley's emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear, when she experiences a nightmare after falling asleep during a scary movie. The playset focuses on platforming gameplay through Riley's dreamscape, where environments and enemies take on a variety of different properties, such as warped gravity and the ground turning into hot lava. Each character has their own unique abilities and skills which will serve them throughout the adventure. After seeing the movie, I was itching for another trip into the bizarre and evocative world from Inside Out, and the Disney Infinity playset serves a great follow up to the film as it's basically the sequel to the film. Moreover, it fleshes out many of the settings and areas from the film, such as the dream productions studio where Riley's subconscious craft her dreams by way of old school film production. It's a very colorful and imaginative world, and it's likely the most unique playset Disney Infinity has had yet. The devs at Disney Interactive were very excited about what the new playsets can offer. "Every year a new fan is born," explained the VP of production John Vignocchi. "We're sitting here in the hallowed halls of Pixar, and everyone there will be someone who sees Toy Story for the first time, and we want to make sure that when they pick up Buzz Lightyear, or another favorite character, and when they play with them inside of Infinity, that he is just as cool as he was in the film." Even though I've only had some minor experience with Disney Infinity, I was quite surprised with the creativity found in these playsets. Perhaps this was coming off of my high after seeing Inside Out a month early, but I was very pleased with the translation from film to game. With the writers and directors from the film working with the devs, along with the same voice cast including Amy Poehler and Bill Hader, they wanted to ensure that it would be as faithful as possible. It's pretty crazy to see how much Disney Infinity has grown over the years. What was once a strange experiment trying to catch on to the Minecraft and Skylanders craze, has now turned into a title that's really come into its own. It's pretty impressive to see how much detail and content is packed in the title already, and with the new 3.0 expansion hitting this Fall, the Disney universe is about to get a bit bigger for fans to explore.
Disney Infinity photo
It's a small world after all
Who knew that Disney's strange and bizarre mishmash of characters into one large game would turn out to be such a big hit? I know, a Disney title with a bunch of Pixar, film, and legacy characters would've sold regardless, bu...

amiibo photo
amiibo

Chibi Robo gets a 2D action platformer on 3DS and an amiibo


Chibo amiibo
May 31
// Jonathan Holmes
Love 'em or hate 'em, the power of amiibo is undeniable. Case in point, I spoke to several people this last Friday that had just happily picked up the newly released Splatoon amiibo, but were planning to pass on the game its...

Review: Adventures of Pip

May 29 // Chris Carter
Adventures of Pip (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)Developer: Tic Toc GamesPublisher: Tic Toc GamesReleased: June 4, 2015 (PC, Wii U) / TBA (PS4, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 When Pip kicks off you're introduced to a tiny kingdom fated to be saved by a princess who can create and control pixels -- a sort of Star Wars-esque "Force" that guides the universe. Of course, an evil villain (the Skeleton Queen) wants it all to herself, and captures said princess, crafting the world in her image. It's up to Pip, a lone pixel, to save the day. The premise is fairly cool because it's not overly-meta, at least, not obnoxiously so as some recent games tend to be. It embraces the theme just enough to be adorable, and the queen in particular sports some very neat looking animations. The actual game is a platforming romp, and it's very quick to start. Pip will have to make do in his pixel form at first, which can jump and float, with the ability to kill enemies by jumping on their heads like Mario. Levels are designed with an SNES feel to them, mixing retro graphics, 8-bit, and 32-bit styles, which remind me of classics like Disney's Magical Quest. The main gimmick of course is the aforementioned evolutionary procedure. Using "Bitstream enemies" (read: glowing blue things), Pip can evolve into a boy. His new found abilities include punching and wall-jumping, and can be best compared to getting a mushroom in a Mario game. You can also devolve at will, sparking an explosion that does damage to enemies, and opens up certain walls. To get back to your boy-state, you'll have to find another Bitstream foe -- levels are designed around this concept so you won't get stuck. [embed]292813:58703:0[/embed] What I really like about this system is that it freezes the game when you change forms, adding a bit of tactical value to the act. Sometimes you'll need to kill an enemy to evolve mid-air, jump over a bed of spikes, then blow up a wall to land safely. There's also other nuances like the fact that pixel-Pip can bounce higher off springs, and so on. After several levels you'll also earn the 32-bit version of Pip, which can now use a sword to deal more damage and break blocks. Interestingly, 32-bit Pip cannot walljump -- so you'll need to devolve to the boy to solve some puzzles, and in turn, evolve again, and then revert all the way back to a pixel. It doesn't really get old or tedious. It takes just the right amount of time to switch back and forth, and again, the levels are designed directly around this concept. It's great. As you progress, a bit of wear and tear will set in. You'll save citizens from danger as collectibles of sorts, an endeavor that I tired of after the first few stages. There's also a problem with the level layouts themselves -- they're generally not memorable. While there is a great deal of interesting puzzle-platforming situations, I really can't recall any of them after completing the game, which takes roughly five hours to do. There also came a point where I stopped even trying to locate and open jewel chests to earn the only currency available in the game. The main reason is that the item economy is completely off-kilter, as vendors charge an arm and a leg for everything -- some items will take you an entire playthrough to earn, and they aren't even gamebreaking or special, which is nuts. Don't expect a whole lot of extras or options either. The PC version just has a pair of sliders to tinker with the sound and music volume, the launcher has a few resolution choices and a windowed option, and it sports three save file slots. That's it in terms of functionality. Adventures of Pip is an inoffensive platformer that doesn't do a whole lot wrong, but it won't stand out in your mind a few days after beating it. While it does last though, it'll bring a smile to your face. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Adventures of Pip review photo
From pixel to hero
I've always been fascinated by games that tackle evolution. Not necessarily the scientific principle, but the mechanic -- though a few titles like the brilliant E.V.O.: Search for Eden have managed to address both. Adventures of Pip which features a tiny pixel that turns into a real boy, and then a hero, isn't quite as groundbreaking, but it's still fun to play.

Rogue Legacy photo
Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is still awesome (and aggravating) on Xbox One


Hustlin'
May 27
// Jordan Devore
The last couple of times we talked about Rogue Legacy coming to Xbox One, a bunch of you let the good vibes flow, so here's the bookend to that coverage: it's available now for $14.99. Better yet, the title is only $11.99 (20...
Valdis Story photo
Valdis Story

Valdis Story gets two new characters and a lot more in a free update


On Steam now
May 25
// Chris Carter
Valdis Story: Abyssal City is pretty great, and I'm very thankful that multiple community members put it on my radar last year. Now, courtesy of a free update (which should now be live on all platforms), you can enjoy two new...

Review: Nom Nom Galaxy

May 22 // Chris Carter
Nom Nom Galaxy (PC, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Q-GamesPublisher: Q-GamesReleased: May 12, 2015MSRP: $9.99 Nom Nom takes on the concept of capitalism head-on, with one major resource sought after across the galaxy: soup. You fill the shoes of an Astroworker on behalf of Soupco, a company hellbent on dominating the universe with market share. So hellbent, in fact, that you'll sabotage enemy competitors, and defend your base from deadly onslaughts. So a lot like real life. Jolly capitalism! It's a silly plot, but it sufficiently motivates you for the events that unfold over the course of the story. As for the gameplay, think Terraria. It's a platformer at its core, but it also features a hefty amount of exploration on uncharted planets, seeking out resources, building new structures, and battling the hostile inhabitants within. To survive you'll have to covet pockets of air and utilize weapons like a buzzsaw to chop up foes. The Astroworker also has a number of tricks up its sleeve, like the power to build ladders, and so on. It's pretty open-ended, even in story missions that have succinct objectives. Your ultimate goal in most cases is to build soup machines, gather ingredients, craft the soup, and then ship it out on soup rockets to the rest of the galaxy. A part of the HUD in the top-right corner is dedicated to tracking to your competitors, who are also working "behind the scenes" to ship out more soup than you. It all meshes with the story, and although it gives the proceedings a sense of urgency, it never evokes feelings of dread. [embed]292558:58618:0[/embed] Building out a base is often times an enjoyable experience, as you can design elevators to get around easier, and turrets to defend your base at specific chokepoints. Think of the latter strategy like defending the WWE Championship Belt -- sure, you're at the top, but now you need to keep it that way. It's definitely fresh and rewarding the first few times you do it, but by the 10th or so invasion, it starts to lose its luster. Exploration is often filled with new experiences, including boss fights, but base defense is usually a static affair. This is especially true in sandbox mode, where mission parameters cannot be met, bringing about an end to the cycle of repetition. In addition to the campaign there's also multiplayer on any given map, though I haven't had much success with getting it to work a week after launch on the PS4. Whether this is a result of poor netcode or a lack of community is up in the air, but suffice to say that you likely won't be enjoying this feature that often. There's also a selection of weekly challenges, from straight-up races to combat challenges. Races can feature gadgets like pogo sticks, and are actually pretty fun to play when you're not wrestling with the jumping physics. It's one thing to have weak jumps in an easy-going open world format -- another in a pinpoint-precision challenge. Since they feature online leaderboards and two-player co-op (four online if you can muster them up), they serve as a nice distraction. Nom Nom Galaxy isn't particularly exciting, but it's a whimsical little journey that does a decent job at world building. Despite the fact that people are probably clamoring for "more PixelJunk Monsters" as we speak, I'm glad that Q-Games continues to try new things. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nom Nom Galaxy photo
The great soup war
You really have to give it to Q-Games. With the notable exception of PixelJunk Shooter 2, it has tried something different with pretty much all of its releases, from slot car races, to tower defense, to music visualizers. Not every game is a smash hit, but they all have something unique to offer, including the newly minted Nom Nom Galaxy. 

Mega Man 8 photo
Mega Man 8

The underrated Mega Man 8 will arrive on the PSN next week


Ohhh yeah
May 22
// Chris Carter
It truly is a "Mega" May. There's a ton of new releases on the Wii U Virtual Console, Tron Bonne has been re-released, and now, Mega Man 8 is coming to the PSN (PS3, PSP, Vita). Amazing! It has flaws, like terrible ...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

The Mighty No. 9 PC beta is being pulled later today


Grab/play it while you can
May 20
// Chris Carter
For those of you who backed at a certain level for the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter, you were granted access to a PC beta by way of Steam. That test is ending today, so if you haven't had a chance to try it out, go download ...

Review: Schrodinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark

May 18 // Darren Nakamura
Schrödinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark (PC, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Italic PigPublisher: Team17Released: May 12, 2015MSRP: $9.99 Raiders of the Lost Quark takes place in the quantum world, zoomed in so far the elementary particles of matter are visible. Previous knowledge about quantum physics is not required to play, though it does enhance the experience a bit. For instance, there are six flavors of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange. Schrödinger's Cat uses the first four flavors of quark in his platforming adventure (charm and strange are much rarer), and just like in real life, the quarks combine in groups of three. This central mechanic is smart. It allows Schrödinger's Cat to employ a lot of different abilities, using only the four shoulder buttons. It starts off with basic combos: three up quarks form a propeller that will carry the cat upward, three down quarks form a drill that will destroy terrain downward, three top quarks form a protective bubble to safely pass through hazards, and three bottom quarks form a platform to stand on. From there, quarks of different flavors can be mixed and matched. Two ups and a down (or two downs and an up) will form a missile that can be fired in any of the four cardinal directions. It ends up being one of the most useful abilities. With all of the combinations, there are 14 different abilities. Though it sounds confusing, it all comes fairly naturally, and there is a helpful quick reference on the pause screen detailing all of the different constructs. [embed]292295:58563:0[/embed] At its best, Quark takes the quark combination mechanic and applies it to a puzzle platformer. Half of the levels are designed, giving the player a specific set of quarks to overcome a specific task. Though several quark groupings can achieve similar outcomes (the copter, base, and bounce constructs will all help Schrödinger's Cat move upward), a limited supply of quarks means having to choose wisely, considering what will be left for other tasks. If it were just the puzzle platformer levels, Schrödinger's Cat would a tight little game that does its thing well. It's unfortunate that between the puzzle levels are procedurally generated filler areas. Though they still make use of the quark combination mechanic, the abundance of quarks takes away any sort of interesting decision making or a need for much forethought. Though there are 14 different abilities, I found myself mostly using the same 4 in these sections. There's no need for creative problem solving when the copter, missile, bubble, and net can do everything that needs to be done. It highlights the drawbacks of procedural generation. It can be a powerful tool for two types of games: enormous sandboxes that would be unreasonable to hand-design (Minecraft) and short, replayable experiences that reward experience over memorization (Spelunky). Raiders of the Lost Quark is neither of these. The procedural levels aren't interesting enough to merit a huge open world and aside from some new dialogue there isn't a whole lot of reason to replay it after going through once. Another downfall that stems from the procedural generation is in the environmental art. The destructible terrain and the chunky grid look outdated in the best cases. At worst, the environments are almost nauseating in their color choices and design. This come in stark contrast with the character artwork. Cutscenes have a sharp cartoon look, and the animations are smooth and visually interesting. Schrödinger's Cat's movement and combat animations are particularly good. The supporting cast members have really inventive designs, bizarre enough to fit well in the weird and wonderful subatomic universe. The art for the quark combinations is noteworthy as well. Looking closely at each construct, players can pick out which quark is performing which function, as they all stretch, bend, and combine together. It even helps from a gameplay perspective, where each design is memorable enough on its own that it helped me recall which quarks to summon for a particular ability. Even with the ones I used less frequently like the parachute, I can picture which colors go into it and use that to activate one without having to pause for the reference. Though the overall story is silly, the writing is good. Comedy in games is difficult, but Raiders of the Lost Quark had me laughing out loud a few times. That said, I'm a science geek, so your mileage may vary when it comes to the physics jokes. On a more disappointing note, I did run into a handful of notable bugs during my play through. On multiple occasions I got stuck in the level geometry. Sometimes there would be a creature listed for capture but that creature wasn't actually present, leading to unnecessary time wasted scouring the area. The Bosons were especially hard to work with; they are supposed to attack one another when brought too close, but I had several that wouldn't budge. None of these issues were gamebreaking; a reset to the last checkpoint or leaving and returning to an area fixed all of them. They still hurt the experience through wasted time. None of those waste as much time as the procedurally generated levels, which are easily the biggest flaw in Schrödinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. They take up about half of the play time, present very little worthwhile gameplay, and feel like a drudge by the end. If it cut all the fat and featured only the smart puzzle-platforming found in the hand-designed levels, Raiders of the Lost Quark would be a leaner, more engaging, and ultimately much better game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Schrödinger's Cat review photo
A superposition of good and bad
"Schrödinger's Cat" refers to an old physics thought experiment that highlights the weirdness of the quantum theory. Though it generally applies to very small particles, a device could be designed that leverages the prob...

Monochroma photo
Monochroma

Monochroma will not be coming to a lot of originally planned platforms


From the Kickstarter campaign
May 15
// Chris Carter
Back in May 2014, Monochroma was released. It was another Kickstarter success story that proved that the model can work, despite the fact that it had a rather middling reception at launch. Well, it partially-worked, as t...
Evoland 2 photo
Evoland 2

Evoland 2 is part shmup, part platformer, part RPG, part puzzler...


Cute little microcosm
May 14
// Jordan Devore
After watching this debut trailer for Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder, I regret missing the first game. The basic concept of an adventure that evolves from 2D to 3D and spans multiple genres is the s...
Mario Virtual Console photo
Mario Virtual Console

New Super Mario Bros. returns on Wii U tomorrow


I'd like Elite Beat Agents, please
May 13
// Jordan Devore
In 2006, many of us were desperate for another 2D Mario game, and Nintendo finally came through with New Super Mario Bros. for the original DS. From what I remember, it was a good game. Perhaps not great, but certainly suffic...

Review: Action Henk

May 13 // Jordan Devore
Action Henk (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: RageSquidPublisher: RageSquidReleased: May 11, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Action Henk, who I desperately want to call Action Hank, is past his prime. He's a toy, and a middle-aged, beer-bellied one at that. If you played this game back when it was on Steam Early Access, you can dress him up as a certain ring-carrying blue hedgehog. More than just a fun nod, it fits. There are hints of Sonic the Hedgehog in how Henk builds up his speed, how he roars through loops, and also in the chipper, infectious music. But for as fast as Henk moves, and he is always moving (or you're messing up), it's not hard to follow him, and he doesn't get lost in the chaos. Ghosts are a big help in that regard. Even on your first time through a level, you can race alongside an AI ghost, allowing you to see precisely what it takes to achieve a bronze, silver, or gold medal before executing the winning strategy yourself. This cuts out a fair amount of guesswork and, as a result, unnecessary (see: cheap-feeling) failures. [embed]292039:58519:0[/embed] It's not just running across wooden blocks and vaulting over the (lava) floor of a messy kid's bedroom. Crucially, our aging action hero can slide down ramps to pick up extra speed. Knowing precisely when to start and stop sliding makes all the difference on the leaderboards, as those fractions of a second add up rapidly. It's hard to put into words how enjoyable the movement system is, so I'll just say this: some 70 levels later, it doesn't let up. I'm still digging it. Eventually, Henk comes across a Hookshot, though it's only usable in select levels. Which makes sense, given that the device demands bigger, more open-ended environments to accommodate its huge range. It fits in so well with the existing physics and feel of Action Henk. Flying off a ramp and firing the shot at the exact right moment to fling Henk directly forward is a never-ending joy. The way the device is introduced partway through the game led me to believe there might be more abilities or items later on but, sadly, there aren't. There are more characters to unlock, though. Stages are capped off with a head-to-head race against another toy -- beat them, and they'll join your side. By earning every gold medal for a stage, you'll unlock a coin collection level. These are more compact than the standard fare but they're also less linear. The challenge is primarily in figuring out the best possible route to grab every coin within the time limit. Clear these levels, and you'll earn a new character skin (including one reminiscent of Michael Jackson from "Thriller"). Even if I didn't have the goofy Sonic outfit for Henk, I probably would've stuck with him anyway. I found most of the other characters grotesque. Besides racing against AI and player ghosts, there's also a separate multiplayer mode complete with a chat room. Here, you're competing against other people in real time. You can redo the course as often as you'd like until you're satisfied with your score or the clock runs out. While it's the same old levels from single-player, there's a greater sense of urgency and competition. Finally, there's a level builder with Steam Workshop support. The editor is quick and intuitive to use thanks in large part to the simplicity of the user interface and building blocks. Just drag, drop, copy, and paste pieces onto the screen until you've cobbled together an obstacle course. It's that straightforward. Making something worth sharing will take more time, of course. Barring the final, post-credits set of levels -- which is absolutely brutal -- it shouldn't take more than a few hours to get through Action Henk with decent rankings. Although the game doesn't outstay its welcome, that can be difficult to appreciate. I was left wanting more, particularly in terms of level variety, but the essence of the game is great. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Action Henk review photo
Toy story
Going into Action Henk, a time-trial platforming game starring action figures, I expected to grow frustrated. I figured that once the training wheels came off, the challenge would rise to a point where perfection, or somethin...

Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Yooka-Laylee will have DLC, which 'won't start development until it ships'


Good
May 12
// Chris Carter
Playtonic has reached the two million mark for its Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter, and now, it's thinking far ahead of its "extra polish" stretch goal. It has set its sights on DLC, and the way it is handling it...

Review: Toren

May 12 // Chris Carter
Toren (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: SwordtalesPublisher: Versus EvilReleased: May 12, 2015MSRP: $9.99 Toren is a surreal game. You'll start off as an infant, quickly growing into a young girl who is seemingly trapped in a giant tower without any real context. The story is primarily told through clever poems, which are never on the nose or in your face. It's a good idea, as there are some awesome moments, like one specific event near the start where prose will shoot across the screen while looking into a telescope. Most of the narrative relates to the heroine and her direct conflict with a dragon, but a lot of it is also internal, and deals with the hero's journey trope in a unique way. It's just a beautiful game inside and out, but it's a bit rough around the edges. It's not optimized very well on the PC, and even using a decent rig (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M 8GB, 8GB RAM, i7-4810), Toren was consistently sluggish on the two highest (and even on medium) graphical settings, among a host of glitches like falling through floors and the camera getting stuck occasionally. There also isn't a whole lot in terms of menu customization, with a scant few resolution options, a fullscreen toggle, and a few checkboxes for motion blur and SSAO (screen space ambient occlusion). Additionally, I had a lot of problems with controller support. Despite trying multiple times with both Xbox One and PS4 gamepads, the functionality would often break mid-game, or wouldn't work in the first place. I can only assume it's handled better natively on the PS4, but the PC port, which is the only build I currently have access to, has been a source of contention for me. Gameplay-wise, Toren works on a three-button system -- one for actions (attacking or grabbing, usually), one to jump, and another to "look." Most puzzles involve rather simplistic platforming, but it must be said that the entire experience is just as soothing as the art style. In particular, I really like how the look button gives you vague hints without telling you directly where to go, and the solutions will usually have you saying "I can't believe I missed that" out loud (in a good way). It plays out much like your standard action-adventure game, with elements of free-roaming, puzzle-solving, platforming, and even stealth. In other words, it has a little bit of everything. Toren's jumping mechanics are a tad rough as they're very floaty, but the development team keeps things simple, so you won't be ripping your hair out too often outside of the aforementioned issues. Puzzles include things like dropping sand into specifically marked shapes, snapping statues into place (like Resident Evil), and so on. Said stealth sequences are equally simplistic, mostly involving quick movements to avoid an omega-attack from the dragon. You're not going to find a whole lot of cocnepts that aren't already present in other adventure games, but they're done well here. Thankfully, every aspect simply feels connected and in its proper place. For instance, early in the game you'll acquire a sword and turn into a young woman. Most gear acquisitions feel like an accomplishment with an emotional reward attached, rather than an item that raises your stats by a few points. These RPG-like mechanics are few and far between in favor of the more standard action-adventure elements, but welcome. Toren is a very cool concept that's held back by its rough presentation, especially on the PC platform. Truth be told though, I think developer Swordtales should keep making games and simply refine its touch, as the studio clearly has the knack for it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Toren PC review photo
No, not the Warcraft race
When I first saw Toren, I was intrigued. It has a killer art style, and the concept of seeing a young girl grow up into a woman before our eyes to fulfill a mysterious destiny is an interesting premise indeed. Sadly, not everything goes as smoothly as you'd expect, at least when it comes to the PC version.


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