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10:00 AM on 10.23.2014

Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

I've always thought that Shantae is a bit of an underrated series. While WayForward can be hit or miss these days, I can always rely on their ability to craft a good platformer. Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the DSi ...

Chris Carter


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Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth photo
Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
by Darren Nakamura

"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ideas to be found here: new systems to explore, new technology to research, and new obstacles to overcome.

But even with everything new, Civilization: Beyond Earth is still Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet. And it is exactly as good as that sounds.

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Review: A City Sleeps photo
Review: A City Sleeps
by Nic Rowen

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

It's a weird time to be Harmonix. It is hands down one of the most successful and influential independent developers of all time. It led the development and popularization of an entire genre of games over the last generation; who else can say that? At the height of its power, the company released a near-perfect game with Rock Band 3, and it's still just about the only studio to have ever done right by the Kinect.

But times change, the rhythm-game craze is over. All of those plastic instruments Harmonix built its name on are gathering dust in closets or bargain bins, and the masses openly celebrated when Microsoft took the Kinect out of the box. So what is Harmonix to do?

Go and make an old-school 2D shoot-'em-up, apparently.

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Review: The Legend of Korra photo
Review: The Legend of Korra
by Chris Carter

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 had to be the announcement of a Legend of Korra game, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games. Yes, that Platinum Games -- the current master of action titles.

It's only been a few months since the reveal of said Korra game, and already it's out on just about every platform imaginable outside of the Wii U. While the core result is indicative of Platinum's seal of quality, it feels rushed in many ways.

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Review: Samurai Warriors 4 photo
Review: Samurai Warriors 4
by Chris Carter

While the Dynasty Warriors series is often heralded as the pinnacle of Omega Force's hack-and-slash catalog, the lesser-known Samurai franchise has been churning out some of the best games in the stable.

Based around the Sengoku era of Japan, Samurai Warriors mixes things up with unique offerings like ninjas, samurai, and historical figures such as Goemon Ishikawa and Musashi Miyamoto. If you can get past the repetition, Samurai Warriors 4 delivers another hearty helping of action the developer is known for.

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Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved photo
Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Fantasia holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I both grew up playing instruments, and whenever a song comes on from the film, we get to share a little moment as Disney fans. Yes, PhilharMagic is one of our favorite attractions at Disney World.

So when I heart that Harmonix was making a Fantasia game, I got excited -- until I heard that it had at least one song by Drake in it. Of course, my full judgment was reserved for the finished product, and I found it to be a magical experience overall.

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Review: Fairy Fencer F photo
Review: Fairy Fencer F
by Brittany Vincent

If you want to think outside the box, the role-playing genre may not be the perfect playground for you -- at least, when it comes to traditional Japanese titles, which generally confine themselves to a set of tried-and-true mechanics. For some, that’s acceptable. We know what we’re getting into, and what to expect. When it comes to Compile Heart’s latest, Fairy Fencer F, it’s clear that the company. famous for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. went back to basics in order to tell its newest story of fairies, furies, and fencers.

Unfortunately, “back to basics” in this instance translates to a dull slog through menus, tutorials, and conversations interspersed with combat. And while the combat is enjoyable, there just isn’t enough of it to propel you through the slower parts.

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Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation photo
Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation
by Alasdair Duncan

Alien: Isolation has received a lot of praise over its faithful recreation of the original film's lo-fi take on science fiction. "Truckers in space" was the aesthetic director Ridley Scott set out to capture and the decks and corridors of the shipping vessel Nostromo defined a sci-fi art style for 35 years.

Titan has a new book out showcasing the concept art and illustrations that inspired Isolation but they could have just as easily come from a book showing the ideas behind the original movie.

[Don't forget to enter our competition to win a copy of The Art of Alien: Isolation. Just click here for more info.]

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Review: The Evil Within photo
Review: The Evil Within
by Chris Carter

I grew up happily playing Shinji Mikami's games, and he's probably one of the most influential directors/producers that ever lived. I remember the first time I played Resident Evil, the day I bought Devil May Cry from EB Games, and the exact moment when my friend showed me God Hand.

All in all Mikami has worked on over 20 major games that have impacted the industry in some way. Even if The Evil Within is one of the worst in the bunch, it's still in good company.

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Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus photo
Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
by Brittany Vincent

In the world of Senran Kagura, excess is the rule. The outfits are skimpy, the plot threads are ludicrous, and the breasts are laughably large, so huge in fact that you wonder how the skimpy bras the girls are eventually stripped down to are actually wrangling those things.

But beneath a veneer of silliness and near-parodical levels of fan service lies a brawler with plenty of hack and slash goodness to offer.

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Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments photo
Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
by Alasdair Duncan

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's weighty novel Crime and Punishment, the central character robs and murders a loan shark and pawn broker but justifies the act in his own mind because he will use the money for good. Doestoyevsky's anti-hero believes that even murder is justified if some benefit can come of it, that even a wicked act can have some merit. Eventually, besieged by guilt, he confesses to his crime and accepts his punishment. 

Throughout Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, there are frequent loading screens where you'll see the titular detective flick through Dostoyevsky's work and it seems to have had an effect on him. Now Sherlock can decide if a crime truly was justified and how he will punish the guilty. It's a novel approach that unfortunately only partially works out.

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Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day photo
Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day
by Kyle MacGregor

The Short Peace project was born out a desire to unite some of Japan's most talented artists and tell stories about the country's past, present, and a possible future. The result is a lovely bouquet of action, romance, and social commentary, a collection of four animated short films that are thought-provoking, gorgeous, and brilliant in just about every way.

The anthology also includes a game, Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, a modest collaboration between Grasshopper Manufacture and Tokyo Jungle studio Cripsy's that seems doomed to live in the shadow of greatness.

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Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel photo
Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
by Darren Nakamura

[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can imagine that mantra circulating the 2K Australia office as the team worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox had a huge hit on its hands with Borderlands 2, and there is not much reason to mess with a winning formula.

To be clear, a lot of what matters is new. The story, playable characters, environments, dialogue, and physics are all new. Despite that, it all feels very familiar. Where a number of core systems were significantly upgraded between the first and second games in the series, The Pre-Sequel's additions are much less pronounced.

One odd aspect of some of the new content that this entry brings to the vault hunting universe is that it feels more like Borderlands than Borderlands 2 in some ways, for better and for worse.

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Review: Bayonetta 2 photo
Review: Bayonetta 2
by Chris Carter

Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.

Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.

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Review: Dance Central Spotlight photo
Review: Dance Central Spotlight
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Although it's been a lot tougher to get people together for a Dance Central party than a Rock Band one, Harmonix's new franchise gave some hope for the Kinect, as it was one of the most accurate games for it.

The series isn't as groundbreaking as it used to be -- especially in the era of Kinect-less Xbox Ones -- but it's still good for a fun dance session every so often. That also goes for Dance Central Spotlight.

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Review: Neverending Nightmares photo
Review: Neverending Nightmares
by Nic Rowen

Mental illness is terrifying. Depression is a soul vampire that will suck the light right out of you. Obsessive compulsive disorder does not make you a supernaturally great detective like it does in the movies. It makes you paranoid and agitated, a raw nerve constantly scraping against a coarse world. The insidious, pervasive terror of mental illness can be far more horrifying than any chainsaw-wielding maniac could ever hope to be.

Which is exactly why Neverending Nightmares works.

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