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12:01 PM on 04.14.2015

Review: Mortal Kombat X

Fighting game developers are in a really tough spot when it comes to sequels. If you don't iterate enough, newcomers will be tempted to call it a "rehash." If you iterate too much, hardcore fans may feel alienated by the vast...

Chris Carter



Review: Titan Souls photo
Review: Titan Souls
by Steven Hansen

I've always clamored for the all-boss-fights game. Shadow of the Colossus, an inescapable inspiration here, did it right and others have done it wrong, like Prince of Persia (2008), but I love the idea of removing fluff encounters. A JRPG that was all boss fights and no grinding could actually make for strategic battle. Strategy RPGs that don't allow for excessive grinding, like XCOM, are essentially "all boss fights."

And here, with Titan Souls, despite the Shadow of the Colossus influence and Souls-stolen title, I'm finding the closest analog to be Super Meat Boy. It'll grind you up.

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Review: MLB 15 The Show photo
Review: MLB 15 The Show
by Steven Hansen

The Giants have won and lost back to back one-run ballgames to open the 2015 baseball season. They lost a starting pitcher and right fielder to the DL, scratched a first baseman and another starter with injury, called up a rookie to eventually take the series.

At nearly 42, Bartolo Colon, whose belly jiggles like flan in an earthquake and whose helmet routinely flies off while he is batting, was the opening day starter for the Mets. Half of the Arizona Diamondbacks look like Earthworm Jim. Mat Latos has a 94.50 ERA. Did you see Puig throw from foul right to third? Cubs fans have been pissing in beer cups (called "making Coors Light") at Wrigley Field because the bathroom lines are too long.

Baseball, sport, humanity. These things are interesting because they are our stories. The same stories we've always had, with different details, made newly interesting. The problem with MLB 15 The Show as a routinely well-made baseball simulation is that routine dulls. We want to see the dropped routine fly ball, the overthrown routine intentional walk. Not a fucking properly modeled Nike® Air Max MVP Elite 2 Speed +4 cleat buyable for 600 Stubs.

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Review: Pokémon Rumble World photo
Review: Pokémon Rumble World
by Chris Carter

Nintendo has been dipping its toes in the water of DLC and free-to-play with mixed results. Although it has done a great job creating worthwhile add-ons that don't feel like rushed day-one cash grabs, the whole amiibo situation has caused a lot of problems, mostly due to rare figures that sell out in seconds, locking out content behind impossible-to-obtain toys.

Free-to-play worked out great for Nintendo with Rusty's Real Deal Baseball and Steel Diver: Sub Wars, but Pokémon Shuffle was far too stingy with the ability to let people play the game. While Pokémon Rumble World essentially distills into a mindless hack and slash, it also hosts a fair free-to-play scheme.

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Review: Etrian Mystery Dungeon photo
Review: Etrian Mystery Dungeon
by Chris Carter

Mashups are often born purely for fanservice-related reasons, and as you can probably guess, the results are mixed. For instance, it would be tough for an RPG developer to make an action game based on two different puzzle properties, but odder mixes have been done in the past.

With Etrian Mystery Dungeon, it feels like a match made in heaven. Spike Chunsoft and Atlus have been making RPGs for what seems like a lifetime, and Etrian Odyssey is basically a Mystery title already strictly in terms of its dungeon crawling emphasis.

As one would expect, it mostly works out even if the formula is a bit dated.

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Review: Dyscourse photo
Review: Dyscourse
by Darren Nakamura

A common thread in new school adventure and role-playing games is the emphasis on player choice, with an implied promise that through individual decisions players can build a unique narrative. In practice, that often produces choices that feel important in the moment but do not actually alter the overarching plot in a meaningful way. Events diverge a bit in the middle, but converge again so everybody ends up in the same place.

Dyscourse strives to make good on the promise. It plays out like an old Choose Your Own Adventure book, where two runs through can end in different places with different characters, all determined by protagonist Rita's choices.

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Review: Affordable Space Adventures photo
Review: Affordable Space Adventures
by Patrick Hancock

It isn't too often that a game makes great use of what makes a console unique. More often publishers and developers are looking to get it out on as many platforms as possible, which makes console-specific ideas feel tacked on or ill thought out.

Affordable Space Adventures is a Wii U game that knows it is a Wii U game. GamePad and Miiverse integration are perfect, and I'm not sure that sentence has been made before. 

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Review: Crimzon Clover World Ignition photo
Review: Crimzon Clover World Ignition
by Chris Carter

Every so often, something will come across my desk that I completely overlooked at the time. Valdis Story: Abyssal City was a perfect example of that.

For a while now readers have been asking about Crimzon Clover World Ignition, and I finally set aside the time to play it. That ended up being a good choice.

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Review: Wave 4 amiibo Shopping photo
Review: Wave 4 amiibo Shopping
by Chris Carter

Yesterday, Nintendo unleashed hell on earth pre-orders for Wave 4 amiibo figures. The current lineup includes Robin, Lucina, Ness, Pac-Man, Charizard, Wario, Jigglypuff, Greninja, and three Splatoon flavored toys.

As someone who follows this craze partially for reporting purposes and in part due to personal interest, it was the absolute worst day yet for amiibo fans.

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Review: Attack the Light: Steven Universe photo
Review: Attack the Light: Steven Universe
by Ben Davis

Videogames based on television shows can be pretty hit or miss, but usually they miss. The same can also be said for mobile games in general. This makes something like Attack the Light, a mobile game based on the popular cartoon series Steven Universe, a very tough sell.

Luckily for Steven Universe, the developers of Attack the Light did everything they could to keep it loyal to the show while creating a brand new adventure for the Crystal Gems. A big part of this surely had to do with Rebecca Sugar's involvement in the game's development. Sugar, the show's creator, had a hand in writing the story of Attack the Light as well as helping with some of the design choices, and it really shows.

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Review: Evolve: The Hunt Evolves Update photo
Review: Evolve: The Hunt Evolves Update
by Nic Rowen

More than a month ago Evolve came out to tepid reactions and muted fanfare. Today's release of the game's first major content update, delivering on the Hunting Season Pass and the pre-order Monster Expansion Pack, might have curious players wondering if it's worth a second look. I'm going to go right ahead and dash those hopes now.

While the four new playable hunters and the new monster to terrorize them with might represent some of the best ideas Turtle Rock Studios has had yet, they don't do anything to change the core problems of the game. Given how expensive this DLC feeding frenzy is, and how little you get for it, even hardcore fans will want to do some soul searching before handing over their wallets.

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Review: Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious photo
Review: Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious
by Steven Hansen

Forza Horizon has long been considered the Fast & Furious of games, so this standalone release makes sense. Unfortunately. it's not much more than a thin, thin Fast & Furious skin over Forza Horizon 2, a bit of a disappointment to the Fast & Furious fan in me. It is a nicely concentrated dose of Forza Horizon 2, though. Enough to sate me, a casual racing fan. I'm not buying Horizon 2, but I gladly played this for a few hours until I'd exhausted it. However, I wouldn't buy this for the $10 price it hits starting April 10, either.

Rather than doing a traditional review for the equivalent of a Pepsi Man or Sneak King, I (Jeep) Wrangled Brett Makedonski to talk about the cross-over.

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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Ascendance photo
Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Ascendance
by Chris Carter

I've come to really enjoy Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer months down the line. It's withstood the test of time, and although I was skeptical of Sledgehammer Games' first Duty outing, it has done a decent job at differentiating itself from Treyarch and Infinity Ward, and in most ways, it has already surpassed the latter.

The latest pack is Ascendance, which brings in a few extras outside of the typical four-map, one-zombie level delivery system. It's a better effort than Havoc thanks to the injection of some grappling hooks, but for $15, not every piece of the puzzle carries its load.

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Review: Paperbound photo
Review: Paperbound
by Chris Carter

I don't think I'll ever get tired of arena battle games. I can see myself as a grandfather one day, playing my favorite character in a future iteration of Super Smash Bros., reminiscing with my progeny about how great the old games were, and how overpowered Meta Knight was decades ago. It's those kinds of people who will enjoy Paperbound, the newest arena kid on the block.

While it doesn't have the panache of many other recent arena games like Samurai Gunn or TowerFall, it's still a decent way to spend an afternoon with friends gathered around the couch.

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Review: Story of Seasons  photo
Review: Story of Seasons
by Brittany Vincent

As a fan of both casual and intermediate simulation and farming games, the Harvest Moon series has always been a mainstay for me. I grew up on several different iterations of the Natsume-published entries beginning with Harvest Moon GB, dabbled with PlayStation 2 releases, and graduated to portable DS titles that found me clearing derelict farms of trees and debris and dating the farmer of my dreams.

Story of Seasons, the latest “proper” entry in the Harvest Moon series, is the first modern farm sim to channel the glory days of my youth. 

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Review: Axiom Verge photo
Review: Axiom Verge
by Conrad Zimmerman

It seems like a foregone conclusion when looking at Axiom Verge that comparisons are going to be made to Metroid. It is, without doubt, similar in more ways than it differs from Nintendo's iconic franchise.

The differences matter, though, and Axiom Verge merges classic environment design with new mechanical twists, producing a game that feels both familiar and fresh at the same time.

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