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Review: Xeodrifter photo
Review: Xeodrifter
by Jonathan Holmes

A lot of the kids who grew up with Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda are now older than than their creators were when those legendary Nintendo franchises were first released. Some of those kids are now videogame developers themselves. Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid is one example. He created Xeodrifter in five months, fueled by financial stress, time constraints, and a raw love of Super Metroid. You can read about his process here

Showing your Metroid DNA on your sleeve is a blessing and a curse. It instantly communicates to the relatively large Metroid fan base that your game was made for them. It also sets the bar incredibly high. Begging for a comparison to Super Metroid is a dangerous thing. As we saw with the reaction to Other M, a disappointed Metroid fan can be an intensely spiteful force. 

My guess is Xeodrifter won't inspire that kind of caustic reaction in the Metroid faithful. If it were an official Metroid game, it would rank near or above many of the other games in the franchise. As long as you go into it expecting something short and sweet, it's hard to imagine that Metroid fans will be disappointed. 

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Review: The Crew  photo
Review: The Crew
by Brittany Vincent

A great racer to me doesn’t focus on an abundance of customization options or entire garages of cars. It doesn’t even serve up solid multiplayer modes or an interesting soundtrack. It keeps me playing.

And let me tell you, unless it’s Mario Kart or a stupidly solid racer that entrances me from its opening credits, that doesn’t happen very often. I don’t care about winning a tournament and I have no interest in being a professional race car driver like Jerry. 

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Review: Kalimba photo
Review: Kalimba
by Chris Carter

Games built around co-op have always had a place in my life. When I was younger, I had a lot of friends who were gamers, which made it easy to pick up and play multiplayer titles. As I grew up, I attended college, met more gamers, and then met my wife, who also plays games.

As such, I almost always have someone who is down to co-op. Thankfully, Kalimba not only has one of the best cooperative experiences around, but it also has a strong single-player element.

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Review: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- photo
Review: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
by Chris Carter

I've spent many late nights with Guilty Gear. Week-long tournaments, money-matches between friends; it was the perfect series to play around with, and one of my most competitive. But as time went on, the franchise started to get a little stale. We saw the same exact character models, the same movesets, and not much in terms of innovation.

Guilty Gear Xrd changes that significantly with a complete overhaul of the visual style on top of everything that made Guilty Gear so great in the first place.

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Review: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris photo
Review: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
by Darren Nakamura

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a surprise hit for me. I had never been a huge Tomb Raider fan, but its focus on puzzles, asymmetric cooperative multiplayer, and replayability drew me in. It's hard to believe that was already four years ago.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (abbreviated as Lara Croft: TOO, which any word nerd will appreciate) picks up the torch from Guardian of Light, adding four-person multiplayer, new puzzle mechanics, and updated visuals. It has a great formula for success, but it slips a little in execution.

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Review: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX photo
Review: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX
by Brittany Vincent

The odd concept of melding a host of characters from Square Enix’s seminal Final Fantasy series, Disney’s perennial film favorites, and a cast of original personalities, seemed as though it was destined for failure. I mean, who would want to hear Donald Duck’s honking lisp while sharing the screen with the likes of Cloud Strife or Sephiroth?

Being a Square fan, I had to try it out though, and not only did I fall in love with the games, but I rediscovered my love for the Disney franchises of my youth. Although it took almost four years for a sequel to be released, Kingdom Hearts was and is a series that has stuck with me. Then, when Kingdom Hearts II was released in early 2006, I bought it immediately.

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Review: Destiny: The Dark Below photo
Review: Destiny: The Dark Below
by Chris Carter

Having basically played the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below nonstop since launch, I've experienced everything it has to offer. That in itself is an issue, because although I have played more than the average person, to exhaust the content this early isn't a good sign.

While Destiny feels just as great as ever, perhaps even more-so due to the design of a few mechanics herein, I can't help but feel underwhelmed just like I did back in September.

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Review in Progress: Destiny: The Dark Below photo
Review in Progress: Destiny: The Dark Below
by Chris Carter

Destiny was released earlier this year, and like many hyped games, it failed to deliver on its promises. The good news? It was still a well crafted shooter, and practically everything involving the actual gameplay was excellent. In fact, I find it hard to go back to other shooters now -- that's how good Destiny feels.

Unfortunately, the folks over at Bungie made a number of design choices that prevent players from consistently having fun. There was also backpedaling over the past few months -- some of which led to changes to the raid -- that brought even more glitches alongside of the update.

So far in my testing, The Dark Below plays out similarly. The core of the game is still intact, but there's a lot of weird choices that prevent it from reaching its potential.

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Review: Ultraworld photo
Review: Ultraworld
by Darren Nakamura

During the first fifteen minutes of Ultraworld, I was blown away by how bad it was. It was "you have got to be kidding me; this must be a joke; one out of ten" bad. The gameplay was trite, and it was matched with some of the most inane, pseudo-intellectual drivel in recent memory.

Fortunately, it gets better. After a fourth wall-breaking twist, the game opens up and becomes more enjoyable as a relaxed exploration game through its sharply colored world. However, better than terrible can still be pretty bad.

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Review: The Talos Principle photo
Review: The Talos Principle
by Darren Nakamura

While playing The Talos Principle, much of my time was spent sitting at my desk, chin in hand, deep in thought. I can only imagine the puzzled look on my face as I considered options, ran scenarios in my head, and generally did a lot more thinking than most games ask of players.

The Talos Principle consists of two largely separate interactions: physics-based puzzles and philosophical discussion. The real strength of the title is that while each could reasonably exist without the other, both elicit the above response in equal measure. The demand that the player really think is the thread that ties the whole game together.

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Review: Peggle Blast photo
Review: Peggle Blast
by Chris Carter

My criteria for enjoying a game with microtransactions is simple -- am I having fun, and can I consistently have fun without feeling like I need to pay out? Unlike some people who hate microtransactions on sheer principle, if I can play through an entire game without having to indulge or otherwise pay attention to them for one moment, they naturally don't detract from my enjoyment of said game. 

If a game entices me to want to pay, I'm generally okay with it, as long as I can play the core game unfettered. See Path of Exile for this model. It works.

Peggle Blast on the other hand is a travesty that attempts to subvert fun at every turn. Shame on you, EA.

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Review: Secret Ponchos photo
Review: Secret Ponchos
by Chris Carter

I'm loving how much easier it is to bring indie games to consoles this generation. With tons of nasty hold-ups like WiiWare sales thresholds, lengthy and expensive certification and patching processes, and a general negative attitude towards indies by big publishers, every console manufacturer has made strides in that department.

In the case of Secret Ponchos, Sony actively helped developer Switchblade Monkeys bring their game to the PS4, by offering up development kits and additional assistance. That partnership paid off as Ponchos has just launched by way of the PlayStation Plus program.

It turns out that it was an endeavor worth pursuing, but I'm hoping there's more meat on its bones down the line.

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Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: Iron From Ice photo
Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: Iron From Ice
by Darren Nakamura

The War of the Five Kings might be one of the bleakest collections of events in A Song of Ice and Fire, the series on which HBO's and Telltale's Game of Thrones is based. The entire continent of Westeros is at war, heroes are slain, villains rise to power, and it is around this point that many readers and viewers finally accept that everything will probably not be okay (to put it lightly).

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series takes place toward the end of the conflict, but that does not mean everyone is safe. The kingdom is undergoing a restructuring of sorts, and those who were allied with the losing factions walk a thin line between loyalty and destruction. House Forrester of Ironrath in the North is one such clan, caught up in a conflict much greater than itself, struggling just to survive.

[Note: spoilers for the source material and events during the prologue of this episode are present in this review. Proceed with caution if you have not yet finished A Storm of Swords (Book Three) or Season Three of the HBO series.]

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Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker photo
Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
by Chris Carter

From the moment I played the Captain Toad minigame in Super Mario 3D World, I thought to myself "this would make a great downloadable title." It seems as if Nintendo can hear my thoughts, because it did just that.

Priced at a budget level, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a natural expansion from the levels found in World, with more complex concepts and that same beautiful art style. It may not be enough to warrant full price for some, but for those seeking more Toad, it delivers.

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Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum photo
Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum
by Darren Nakamura

[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

When Tales from the Borderlands was announced, it was met with cautious optimism. Telltale's basic game structure that focuses on dialogue and choice seemed like a good way to explore the harsh planet of Pandora through the eyes of people who are not mass murderers. There are a lot of colorful characters on the planet, and not everybody has a backpack full of weapons and a thirst for blood.

As it turns out, there are exciting stories to tell for those who would sooner talk their way out of trouble than fight. Telltale really knocked it out of the park with this one.

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Review: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions photo
Review: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
by Brett Makedonski

Geometry Wars games have always been, in a sense, one-dimensional. They present the player with the seemingly simple task of "shoot everything in sight," and that's the sole objective apart from staying alive. The onslaught of flying colors and booming music molds the experience, but the core remains uncomplicated. For many, that's enough to be held in the highest regard when discussing twin-stick shooters.

In 2008, the heralded Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 vastly and competently iterated upon its predecessor. It added a handful of new modes, each one legitimately fun and addictive in its own right. But more importantly, it fueled sincere and passionate competition across online leaderboards -- a social dynamic that few games since have been able to recapture. In many ways, it was the perfect game.

All hyperbole aside, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions makes Retro Evolved 2's efforts look puny by comparison. It adds depth in so many more ways than just literally, but never strays from the formula that makes Geometry Wars incredibly lovable. It's certainly the most ambitious and fully realized title in the series to date, and it's difficult to imagine a different take that would improve it. In many ways, it is the perfect game.

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