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Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars photo
Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
by Darren Nakamura

A little more than four years ago, Nintendo released Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! on the original DS. It continued the series' focus on the miniature Mario robots, to the chagrin of fans of the platforming in the original. In our review, Jonathan Holmes said "It didn't make me feel much, or think much, or have much of a memorable effect on me at all."

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars plays the same as Mini-Land Mayhem!, but with a few new features. It remains a puzzle game that acts as filler; it can be picked up and played just as easily as it can be put down and forgotten.

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Review: Starwhal photo
Review: Starwhal
by Robert Summa

Even though narwhals look like some sort of bastardized version of a dolphin and unicorn, they are actually whales -- hence the name narWHAL. However, the horn that gives most narwhals their distinctive look is mainly associated with males of the species. Sorry, it's a guy thing.

In Starwhal, that tusk is your key to everything. In the game's chaotic and seemingly random moments, paying close attention to your tusk can be your only sign of refuge.

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Review: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines photo
Review: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines
by Josh Tolentino

Like many games of its type, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines features a tiny graphic in its text boxes to remind players they can press a button to advance to the next line. Usually the graphic is of an X or O button pressing itself, but Oreshika's is of a little weasel pushing a button with its nose.

It's animated, and viewed from the side the little weasel can also look just like a person, sitting on their knees Japanese-style, bowing respectfully, over and over. That behavior's almost emblematic of the game's attitude, as it's so eager to let players do what they like (sometimes to their own detriment) that it almost comes off as desperate. 

But hey, they're gonna be dead soon anyway, so perhaps some deference is warranted.

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Review: Helldivers photo
Review: Helldivers
by Conrad Zimmerman

Mankind has expanded throughout the galaxy, having come together under one government, a "managed" democracy. From the Super Earth homeworld, humanity spreads its message of liberation and freedom to every planet they land upon; the liberation of their natural resources and freedom from human opposition, that is.

And if you don't like it, expect them to spread a whole lot of ordinance instead.

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Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 2 photo
Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 2
by Chris Carter

I didn't expect to enjoy the first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 as much as I did. It was nice to see Barry and Claire back in action, and the co-op elements were implemented in a neat asynchronous manner. Not to mention the killer Raid Mode that might be the best iteration yet.

The good times keep rolling in Episode 2 with a great atmosphere, more Raid levels, and an compelling-enough narrative.

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Review: Screamride photo
Review: Screamride
by Chris Carter

When I first saw the debut trailer for Screamride, I assumed it was a simulator. Growing up with Sim Theme Park and RollerCoaster Tycoon, I relished the idea of creating and managing my own commercial park and divining new and innovative ways to thrill people.

That's not what Screamride is. Instead, it's more like a series of minigames based on three concepts -- creation, destruction, and riding. You do that over and over, with mixed results.

In the end though, Frontier Developments' formula is a therapeutic way to spend an afternoon, even with its faults.

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Review: Blackhole photo
Review: Blackhole
by Conrad Zimmerman

There certainly have been a lot of creative 2D platform games releasing over the last couple of months, enough that there seems to be some genuine competition in the genre. If you're finding yourself in a position where it has become difficult to choose, allow me to make it easier. 

Get Blackhole. Problem solved.

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Review: Homeworld Remastered Collection photo
Review: Homeworld Remastered Collection
by Jason Faulkner

In 1999, I was 11 years old. It was a time when every video game purchase was a gamble. The best you could do was to read a review or watch a grainy, minute-long Quicktime video that you spent an hour to download on 56k while hoping your $50 wasn't spent in vain. I discovered some of my favorite games with just the blind promises of the back of a box. Starsiege: Tribes, Suikoden II, Half-Life, Giants: Citizen Kabuto and more were all stabs in the dark that paid off with hours of enthrallment in front of the glow of a CRT.

As a young sci-fi fan, all anyone had to do back then to wrestle my hard-earned money from my wallet was throw some spaceships on a box. More than likely, if my mom allowed me, I'd fall in love with the simple promise of being whisked away to the stars. Sometimes my gambles paid off, like with Star Trek: Klingon Academy and Freelancer, and sometimes I'd get a dud like Allegiance, which was a good game, but one whose servers had been shut down before I even bought it. However, none made a bigger impression on me than Sierra's Homeworld did. The top-notch writing and 3D playing field etched themselves into my memory and left me clamoring for a sequel. 

Although the story continued in Homeworld: Cataclysm in 2000 and Homeworld 2 in 2003, the series went dark and new copies weren't even available. THQ's bankruptcy in 2013 led to the franchise's rights going up for auction. After acquiring the IP with the winning $1.35 million bid, Gearbox announced it would be bringing an updated Homeworld and Homeworld 2 to a new generation in the form of the Homeworld Remastered Collection.

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Review: Ironfall: Invasion photo
Review: Ironfall: Invasion
by Chris Carter

Developing a Gears of War-like cover shooter for Nintendo 3DS is unconventional, but that's just what VD-Dev did with Ironfall: Invasion. Featuring both local and online multiplayer, as well as an 11-stage campaign, the project seems fairly ambitious for the handheld, and as you'd expect, there are mixed results.

While multiplayer turned out well enough, the campaign is a mess.

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Review: The Deer God photo
Review: The Deer God
by Ben Davis

In a lot of ways, The Deer God is a love letter to nature. The idea was born from the developers' childhood memories of playing in the woods and seeing wild deer, and that admiration of the outdoors is quite apparent. The forests, fields, and other natural locations are simply gorgeous, and playing as a deer is as soothing as you might expect.

However, these tranquil moments eventually give way to some rather unfortunate gameplay decisions. I got a good sense of what the developers were going for, and in some respects they succeeded. But at times, it felt like they had too many ideas, or were trying to please too many people, resulting in a few areas of gameplay that fall flat or don't seem to fit in very well. It's still a very charming adventure, but it's hard to look past its flaws.

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Review: Pneuma: Breath of Life photo
Review: Pneuma: Breath of Life
by Brett Makedonski

Pneuma: Breath of Life is, through and through, a creationist tale. There's no theory of evolution, carbon dating, or Darwinism to cause debate. It's one god and the world that he brought into existence mere seconds earlier.

As it turns out, being the only inhabitant of a world is a dull affair.

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Review: Aaru's Awakening photo
Review: Aaru's Awakening
by Conrad Zimmerman

Aaru's Awakening is an unrelenting challenge of a game, which places players in the world of Lumenox, a mystical land in a precarious state of balance between four deities who rule it, Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Night. Now that balance is being disrupted, as Dawn sends a faithful warrior, Aaru, to travel the domains of the other gods on a quest to remake the world.

Dark and twisted lands await.

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Review: Roundabout photo
Review: Roundabout
by Brett Makedonski

For its first game, developer No Goblin seemingly subscribed to the K.I.S.S. school of thought: "Keep it simple, stupid." But, perhaps the studio misunderstood the acronym to mean "keep it simple and stupid." That'd explain how Roundabout revels in its own absurdity while revolving around a rock-solid gimmick: rotation.

Yes, the notion of motion is at the center of Roundabout. There is literally not a moment in gameplay where action is at a standstill. Even the most innocent, non-meaningful proceedings in Roundabout squarely feature its constantly spinning limousine -- a trademark that it rightfully relies heavily upon.

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Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 1 photo
Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 1
by Chris Carter

Resident Evil is in a weird place. After the middling Resident Evil 6 and the public flogging of Operation Raccoon City, I'm sure Capcom got the message that it needed to go back to basics. It did just that with Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS, which was met with enough positivity to warrant a full-on set of console ports.

Then Capcom reached overwhelming amounts of success with Resident Evil HD, a game that's as basic as you get in terms of fundamental survivor horror. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 may be more action-oriented than some other entries, but it's a damn fine showing for the series.

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Review: There Came an Echo photo
Review: There Came an Echo
by Darren Nakamura

Iridium Studios started out as a tiny developer with a humble Kickstarter for its rhythm role-playing game Sequence. It saw enough success that lead designer Jason Wishnov was able to fill out his team and spend more time taking on a much larger project. 

Four years later, There Came an Echo is finally out. Though it plays nothing like the studio's previous project, the two do share some striking similarities. Both are built on a neat idea, both explore themes of morality in science fiction, and both are a little rough around the edges.

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Review: Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora photo
Review: Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora
by Jason Faulkner

I’ve really been delving into the indie scene lately. There’s a huge amount of games coming from smaller development studios, and I’ve found a few that really impressed me. When I heard that a “crime noir Metroidvania with a cat in a fedora” was available to review, I was all in. I mean Cave Story, Terraria, and Shovel Knight are indie titles that could all fall under the fairly vague “Metroidvania” genre and they’re some of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.

As I played Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora, I found myself alternately intrigued and absolutely disinterested. Some things were well executed, while others were distracting and annoying. Having such fond memories of exploring Castle Dracula and Zebes, I expected a title that took on their mantle to continue the gaming traditions they established, but what was here was sandpaper compared to those classics’ smooth marble.

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