HYPER BEAM Review! iOS/iPhone

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Do you miss the arcade games of old, where twitch reflexes and split-second decisions meant life or death, high-score or nothing? Then grab your iPhone, boot up the AppStore, and head straight to Rinikulous Games’ new space shooter HYPER BEAM. Let your thumbs do the talking as you negotiate with enemies via a death laser, also known as the mighty Hyper Beam!

If you like attractive minimalist design, space, and bullet-hell action with inventive touch controls, you’d be well-served to give HYPER BEAM a try. You won’t survive long, but what a life it will be!

Check out my full review with more info and screenshots at KeenGamer.com! Also check out my review of Rinikulous Games’ last excellent mobile game, Lonely Sun!

CLADUN RETURNS: THIS IS SENGOKU! Review!

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The classic dungeon series is back with Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! With a new Nobunaga-era backstory and more dungeons than you can shake a pixel at, NIS’s brilliant bite-sized RPG is bigger, funnier, and more loot-filled than ever! Grab your controller, laptop, or Vita, and dive into this retro-themed masterpiece that’s sure to take years of your life (and you’ll love it!)

It comes down to this: Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! is a treasure trove of time-killing pleasures, the kind of game where boredom has to be sought to be found. Between dungeon crawling, loadout tweaking, magic circle and fortress-fortifying, drawing, and composing, there’re just too many play options to detail. The dungeons look good, play great, and will have you coming back for more.

Check out my full review with more info and screenshots at KeenGamer.com!

OPERATION ABYSS: NEW TOKYO LEGACY Review!

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Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is an excellent dungeon romp through a near-future sci-fi Tokyo.Finish that high-school class quick, so you can gear up and dive headlong into a quest for missing students that’ll lead you into fierce battle against bizarre enemies. Best of all, this dungeon-crawler won’t make you crunch more numbers than math class! (Unless you’re into that.)

For those unfamiliar with Wizardry games, especially their later Japanese-spawned entries, suffice it to say that they consist of first-person dungeon wandering through grid’ed environs, where players control a party of characters in turn-based combat and have a metric ton of stats, gear, and spells to play with. Operation Abyss contains all of those traits, but trades the more common sword and sorcery theme for a near-modern future filled with high-tech laboratories and medical facilities hidden beneath local high schools.

Where Wizardry games, and their recent ilk such as Stranger of Sword City, often lose people is in the complexity of their numbers’ systems. Players need to be aware of no less than two dozen stats and traits to fully utilize their party, and often the mere act of equipping a new sword can take minutes. The fun comes from eventually fine-tuning your crew into the ultimate monster-slaying heroes, but it can come at the price of playability. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy skips this terrifying time-sink by using story progression as a way to spread out the introduction of new stats and systems. Certainly this is nothing new to the gaming world, but being able to plunk your way through a few dungeons before having to worry about crafting is a nice change of pace, and makes learning the complexities of the game engine a gradual pleasure, rather than a brick wall on the highway.

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is both fun and approachable, like the best guest at a party. It doesn’t bore you with convoluted ways to make your guacamole taste better, but you know it could if you asked for it. It’s as complicated as you want it to be, and a nice challenge no matter what.

Check out my full review on KeenGamer.com!

RAIN WORLD Review! PC / PS4

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Rain World is indie developer Videocult’s new survival platform title published by Adult Swim Games. Taking place in a world of deadly rainstorms and vicious carnivores, players take charge of a single lonely slugcat, who must evade and survive long enough to reunite with it’s family. Will you be able to get back to the safety of your home, or be pounded into oblivion by a torrent of crushing water?

It comes down to is this: Rain World is a gorgeous game with great storytelling and a very slow pace. It has some bits and pieces that are more in favor of art than fun–such as non-skip-able animations and a dreary color palette–but there’s still great gameplay and a huge amount of content for all that (over 60 hrs. on the first play-through!)

If you’re the kind that likes to sprinkle some art house movies in between binge-watching cartoons, then you ought to consider Rain World a must-have, a 10/10, an insta-buy. However, if you’re just looking for the average Mario-Meat Boy-Hedgehog experience, then consider that you’ll be getting a game more focused on careful planning than twitch reflexes. Consider also that you’ll be getting a beautiful story, though–for us, that’s worth it.

Check out my full review with more screenshots at KeenGamer.com!

TAIKER Review!

We sit down with TAIKER, a Mega-Man inspired platformer about a pretty girl and her sassy-ass robot. With gorgeous anime art, great character modeling, and tight controls, it’s an interesting debut from Taiwanese indie dev duo Team 4U. Is this the Mighty No. 9 we all were hoping for? Read on to find out!

Taiker has some troublesome bugs and lacks a nice menu system, but it also has smooth combat and an attractive design. For some of us, that’s enough, but others won’t be able to look beyond the problems.

Hopefully, Team 4U will keep up the good work of supporting Taiker and continue fixing its problems. If they do, Taiker will end up being the must-buy it deserves to be!

 

Check out my full review at KeenGamer.com!

KITE Preview!

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16-bit shooters are reborn in the early-access title KITE! Super Nintendo and Genesis fans take heed because Kite’s Universal Soldier vibe and 90’s-era pixel graphics make blasting through a cyberpunk dystopia sheer bliss! Hop on board now, because this title is already a ton of fun.

Get more details at my KeenGamer.com Preview!

SNES REVIEW – PHANTOM 2040 (1995)

The game has good multi-layered scrolling effects, such as these roaming parrots flying behind the foreground ...
The game has good multi-layered scrolling effects, such as these roaming parrots flying behind the foreground …

The Phantom 2040 cartoon series from 1994 is perhaps one of the lesser known Phantom comic character outings, but it stands out as one of the best, thanks to its intelligent plots and bizarre character designs (props to Æon Fluxcreator Peter Chung).  The show ran for only two seasons, but spawned one of the most undeservedly overlooked platformers of the era, the titular Phantom 2040 for the SNES (which also had versions released on the Genesis and Game Gear systems).

What makes the game stand out?  Sure, it has tight controls, unique weapons, and smooth animations ala Flashback, but what else?  How about Metroidvania style levels with multiple ways to complete them, and a branching story that leads to differing twists and over 20 unique endings based on how your progress through the game?  Yes, 20 endings, and while you may not get them all, you’ll definitely be starting over after completing the game to take that missed pathway, and then the next one, and then the next one, and so on until you simply can’t remember which ones you took and didn’t take.

The Inductance Rope tool lets you scale walls, swing from the ceiling, and get to those hard-to-reach places ...
The Inductance Rope tool lets you scale walls, swing from the ceiling, and get to those hard-to-reach places …

On it’s surface, the game plays like a smoother Another World crossed with any ol’ platform shooter, letting you blast, jump, and power up your way through the future city of Metropia on a quest to stop corruption and crime.  But soon enough you’ll realize that you’re in for more of a Metroid experience, thanks to the  Inductance Rope too that lets you scale walls and swing from the ceiling ala Bionic Commando. You’ll be scouting out how to get that difficult-to-reach power up, and you’ll find yourself using the city map between levels to re-visit previous locations to open up more areas thanks to newly acquired items.  Speaking of items, while many are weapons, there are some unique ones in there, such as pellets that you can drop to douse local flames.  You can build quite a hefty arsenal if you put the time in, and most items are worth playing around with, even if not required to progress.

The story is told through illustrated cut scenes, occasionally launching into animated full-screen affairs that show the wonder of the SNES’s later days.  Like the show it’s based on, the game’s story has more variety and flair than most of it’s ilk, and I found myself checking out the Peter Chung-designed weirdos portraits for a while before I even read the next plot reveal.

Gotta love a good animated cutscene ...
Gotta love a good animated cutscene …

Where Phantom 2040 succeeds in gameplay, story, atmosphere, and variety, it lets down a little in the sound department.  None of the music or effects are overtly terrible, but everything from the digitized shout on a new-game start to the enemies’ explosions seem somehow muted, like a collection of great audio clips were neutered on their way through production into mere adequate fair.  The graphics are the opposite, however; while the Phantom and some humanoid enemies seem to stand too erect and walk too stiff-legged, the animations and rendering on everything else is worth studying.

In the end, I can’t recommend Phantom 2040 enough; I’ve beat it, but I haven’t finished playing it, and is there any better compliment you can pay a game?

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