My backlog extends beyond Steam... devonrv’s profile

In other words, you’ll occasionally see me post about…maybe not obscure, but perhaps unexpected games. I’ve already brought up such titles as Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean as well as Fluidity, and you can expect more in the future.

As for my BLAEO wheel: whenever I buy a game on Steam, I always play it a little bit right then so that nobody can say that I bought a bunch of Steam games I’ve never played. That said, I’m going to keep a game labeled as “never played” until I reach it in my backlog and plan on playing it actively.

Also, since there are some games I never plan on 100%ing, I’ll probably just use “beaten” for all the games that I’ve beaten, even if I’ve technically “completed” them as well. I’ll use “unfinished” for when I plan on going back to play all of a game’s content, even if I’ve technically beaten it already.

Lastly, here’s my review of my favorite game, as well as an explanation of differences between all of puzzle’s sub-genres (something not many people seem to know):

Well, I gave this genre a try.

  • RaidersSpherePth

    11 hours playtime

    no achievements

This is a flight simulator, a genre whose controls I found to be more focused on being realistic rather than responsive. For example, rather than holding left turning you left, holding left tilts your plane, and your plane slowly starts to turn left while you leave it in its tilted state (but if you keep holding left, your plane will keep tilting, even going past you being upside down, etc.). So, if you miss your target and need to turn around, you need to tilt the plane until it’s near-horizontal, then hold down to tilt up, which speeds up the turn, but even doing all that, it takes a solid five (5) seconds to make a 180-degree turn. Plus, since the camera stays level with your plane, the camera tilts when you do, which can be really disorienting. Sure, there’s a radar, and it does help, but the radar can only detect your targets (as opposed to the nearby buildings and other obstructions, which will be your bigger enemy since crashing can kill you in one hit). In fact, the game’s challenge is less about shooting down the enemies before they shoot you, and more about fighting the controls and trying not to crash. The game knows this, too, since there are entire missions where you just have to navigate an empty hall without crashing, but these are ironically the easier missions since the obstacles are all presented head-on with plenty of room to react rather than in an arena with enemies hiding between two walls in a narrow hallway, meaning you need to approach just right in order to have a chance at hitting them.

Combat also strives to be realistic as well. This means that there are only two types of attacks: normal bullets that move too fast to be dodged (you just have to hope the enemy misses), and guided missiles. While the missiles can be dodged, there doesn’t seem to be much consistency with how to dodge them; sometimes, the same move that dodged a missile last time will get you hit the next time. The most consistent way to dodge them that I found was to make sharp turns, but that results in the aforementioned disorientation and possible risk of colliding with nearby walls that were just out of view (and I’m still not entirely sure if it’s a 100% guaranteed way to dodge them). Plus, if it’s one of those missions where the priority targets are in hard-to-lock-on positions, it may be better just to take the hit so you can finish the objective. I think I preferred Blue Lightning’s approach where you could also shoot the missiles down instead of dodging, even if that was technically less reliable due to all the smoke. Sure, that was an on-rails shooter rather than an arena-based flight sim, but I’m sure it could’ve been adapted for this game’s genre; maybe pushing a button could go into a sniper mode where you could aim at the missile and shoot it without losing your current trajectory.

Even the difficulty curve isn’t well implemented, being mostly flat with a few difficulty spikes. You’ll frequently find yourself clearing multiple missions in a row on your first or second try, only to reach one mission that makes you do something crazy and ends up being way harder than all the surrounding missions. For example, the third mission tasks you with defending an object from multiple fighter pilots, which are not only moving targets, but can also shoot missiles back at you, meaning you frequently have to put your attacks on hold just to stay alive. Also, since this is the third mission, you’re likely still trying to wrap your head around the controls. Oh, and lets not forget that enemy fighter pilots can dodge your missiles just as reliably as you can dodge theirs, making it impossible to hit them reliably (I beat the game and still can’t tell you what distance is too soon and what distance is too late). It is true that your planes also have machine guns, but not only do these have a much shorter range than missiles (the game literally won’t let you hit enemies if they’re too far away, regardless of your aiming skills), but they’re also significantly weaker than missiles, to the point where you’ll run out of time well before killing a single enemy with them. Needless to say, this one mission is a pretty big difficulty spike, and even after lowering the difficulty to Easy (which AFAIK only affects how often enemies shoot missiles at you), it still took a few tries for me to beat it–heck, I’m not even sure if there’s a way to do it without getting lucky (it might as well be random). The crazy thing is, right after this mission, the game goes back to having stationary targets with minimal resistance, almost like the devs knew that moving targets were too hard for newcomers (but then why not remove this mission from the game, or at least move it further in?). In fact, not only do fighter jets not become priority targets again until near the end (heck, the only real boss fight is a 1v1 against another fighter jet), but the game has an enemy that hovers in the air and shoots missiles, effectively being a stationary (read: easier) version of fighter jets, and they’re introduced during the next “defend this spot” mission, and even then, only the ground targets are the ones attacking the point. Sure, it’s another difficulty spike due to the fact that you still can’t see how much health the object you’re defending has (and the time it takes for said object to fall is much less than the mission’s stated time limit), but it’s much more reliable than the third mission.

However, I think my biggest issue is with the graphics. For the most part, it doesn’t matter since you can tell what and where everything is (as long as it’s in view of the camera). However, there are two missions where you need to fly dangerously close to a large, untextured obstacle: the first is during a “reconnaissance” mission where your targets are objects on the ceiling, and the second is near the end when you have to fly through a storm. For the recon mission, you at least have the benefit of your targets being their own model, which is much easier to tell the distance from, but you’re also being targeted by missiles during this mission (and you’re not allowed to bring your own missiles, either, so it’s not like you can fight back; you just have to avoid them), so it’s really easy to get turned around and end up with your plane pointing at a solid purple texture, even if your radar claims your target is right in front of you (or if you do somehow end up pointing at part of the ceiling that isn’t purple, the texture is far too blurry to tell how far away it is).

The storm mission has a cloud pattern as the texture on the ceiling and floor, but the walls are all a flat, grey texture. Not so bad at first, but there are parts where the game makes you fly through a narrow tunnel within said walls, and said tunnels have that same flat, grey texture all around the tunnels. Even with the lighting, you can barely tell which direction the tunnels twist and turn toward, and I’m 99% sure that the tunnel at 3km before your destination has zero lighting applied to it at all, meaning you’re once again flying straight into a flat texture with no way to tell where to go, only now you don’t have the ability to try reorienting yourself to look for a more clearly-defined object.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this game. Honestly, if it weren’t for those two missions, I might’ve been able to say that flight-sim fans might like it if it’s on sale since it does have some variety with the missions, but I can’t see zero visibility being fun for anyone, especially on top of the other issues I mentioned.

P.S. Starting the game opens up an options window, with a drop-down menu claiming to have support for Anaglyph 3D. This is a lie; selecting the option does nothing.

P.P.S. This game has a bad habit of having dialogue appear during your mission, but unless you’re fluent in Japanese, you’ll need to rely on the auto-advancing text to understand what’s going on, meaning you’d need to take your eyes away from the game-play and risk not seeing potential hazards just to read it (ugh, it’s Astebreed all over again). This is especially frustrating during the tutorial because you risk missing the game tell you how to play, but pushing the pause button skips the tutorial!

I didn’t think a game could have much less tactical options than the Shadowrun Returns games, but oh boy, did I get proven wrong quickly.

  • Overfoil

    9 hours playtime

    7 of 50 achievements

This is a roguelike RPG. After being told the story’s basic premise, you’re thrown into the world with no direction. It seems aimless and confusing at first, but you’ll soon find out that there isn’t really that much to the game: there are various islands scattered around the map, and landing on one triggers a random sidequest based on the inhabitants and/or the terrain (so you can get the same sidequest on different playthroughs). Most of the time, this just results in a few dialogue trees that put you back on the map with whatever reward the sidequest offers in less than a minute, but if you do get into combat, you’ll find that it consists of little more than a basic hex grid, your units, and the enemy’s units. There’s no larger or smaller maps, and only rarely are certain tiles made inaccessible via walls or pits (there are no other tiles besides “ground” and “not ground”), so individually speaking, battles are never that challenging. The trick is that healing items are uncommon and can’t be used during battle, while healing spells only consist of slow regen (2 HP after 2 turns) on top of having cooldowns, and they can’t be used outside of battle. In other words, if you get into too many battles, you’ll die via attrition, and since this is a roguelike, losing just once sends you all the way back to the beginning. In other words, not only is combat dull and lacking in strategy, but you’re also encouraged to avoid as many fights as you can due to the permanent-death mechanic, meaning you’ll only really like this game if you’re okay with bare-bones exploration and simplistic dialogue choices (often, the only time the “correct” answer isn’t obvious is when all of the dialogue choices sound stupid).

As for the combat mechanics themselves, each character has a move phase, an ability phase, and an attack phase, in that order (so you can’t attack first and then move on the same turn). As is common in RPGs, attacks can have a percent chance to miss or deal critical damage, and some moves have a percent chance to apply status effects, but this game goes one step further with attributes. Basically, after a battle, your team members can get permanent (for that run) stat changes based on what happens, but this can be even more random. If a team member dies, you might get an attribute that lets you deal more damage against whatever type of enemy killed said member OR end up with an attribute that lowers your stats if another member dies! If one character happens to miss a bunch during one battle (which is already something that’s out of your control), the game could decide to give that character a permanent drop in accuracy! If you win a battle with low health, that character might get a permanent drop in movement range! Honestly, why do people like roguelikes? Is it purely for the thrill of randomness, of not knowing whether all of your skill and knowledge of past runs can be made irrelevant by the game randomly screwing you over?

However, I think what bothered me the most was the ending. The whole game, you’re trying to find the Everking, and when you finally get there, you’re stopped by an old man who lets you know that the Everking was the bad guy the whole time (which you’d already kinda know if you’d fought the Vorn King already). Does the game let you fight the final boss, who is literally standing right there in front of you at this point in the narrative? Nope, the game ends your current run and expects you to start all over again. Yeah, no thanks.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it, but at the same time, I kinda recognize that the game isn’t really made for me (but at the same time who IS it made for?). I wouldn’t have gotten the game if I realized it focused less on the actual tactics and more on roguelike-style retrying and world-building (which IMO doesn’t get much focus, either). At least I got it for free.

My brother only had two of the three Konami ReBirth games, so I never got to play this one until now:

It may not be official box art, but it's more legible than the Wii Shop icon

This is a side-scrolling run and gun. Sure, you can jump, and sure, there are platforms and pitfalls, but similar to Midnight Wanderers from Three Wonders, the focus is more on taking out the hordes of enemies that get thrown your way. With that said, there’s more to this game than mindless enemies running at you from both sides of the screen: there’s actual level design here, too. Sure, the arrangement of platforms is simplistic enough, but it’s the addition of the 8-way-shooting enemy right there that gives the game its challenge and fun factor. It may not be the best example of level design, but it helps show how even simple applications of level design can prevent a game from being repetitive without having to introduce entirely new things for the sake of “variety.”

Oh, and let’s not forget that the game has infinite continues, which automatically makes it better than the entire classic Contra trilogy (and Contra: Hard Corps). It doesn’t save your progress though; only unlocks and option settings, so if you need to stop in the middle of the game, you’ll either need to leave it paused for a while or start over.

Unfortunately, this game has some problems. In the very first level, there are bits of metal falling from the ceiling, leaving fire trails and exploding when they hit the ground. These are purely background effects, but they’re so numerous that they make it hard to see the small purple projectiles that will actually hurt you, even though said projectiles are technically on the layer in front of the other effects. Not a very good first impression. The game also very frequently likes to spam cannon fodder (enemies that just walk in a straight line) from the sides of the screen constantly, and they only really serve two purposes: 1) pretend like there’s stuff going on during the empty parts of levels, and 2) come in for a cheap hit when you’re dealing with the actual level design. What’s worse is that each enemy’s death effect is also an explosion, resulting in that much more clutter on screen. In fact, if you combine this with the fact that dying causes you to respawn right where you are in the level with a couple seconds of invincibility, you’ll see that the game has the same problem as Broforce, in that the devs seemed to use the death mechanic as a free pass to scatter cheap hits throughout the game.

Stage 2 is the nostalgia stage: the first half is very similar to the first stage in Contra III, just with the mini-boss from the first stage in Contra 1, and with a new bat enemy that comes at you from behind and blends in with the normal crowd of enemies coming at you from behind. You can technically see those bat enemies in the background before they attack, but only if you know to look for them among the carnage (it’s kinda hard to see the bat stick out its head and take flight when it’s blocked by three cannon fodder soldiers and two explosions, with four more enemies attacking you from the other side of the screen). The second half of stage 2 is reminiscent of the vertical mini-boss from stage 3 in Contra III, just without the whole “position yourself precisely between the boss’s legs” part. To be fair, the mid-boss and main boss of this level are original (I think; I never made it very far in Contra: Hard Corps).

Stage 3 puts you on an in-motion truck (falling onto the road kills you) where you have to defend yourself from waves of enemies. The mid-boss of this stage is also the first part where it became obvious to me that the devs never intended for players to be able to react to anything on their first try. Sure, each wave of projectiles has a way to get past them unscathed, but they come out so fast that you won’t have time to figure out what that way is until after a couple game overs, especially since there’s no way to do short hops: pushing the jump button means you’re committed to doing a full jump. Also, the one attack with slow moving projectiles doesn’t make it clear what the only correct path is and which other paths will trap you between the projectiles and the border of the screen. Oh, and let’s not forget the flurry of missiles that shows up right before the mid-boss does; I’m still not sure how to get past them unscathed. At least the checkpoint is right after those missiles, right before the mid-boss. The main boss follows in the same vein, with one attack shooting a flurry of projectiles at only the bottom part of the truck, followed by a stream of missiles that you need to shoot downward to hit. This is also a good example of my belief that the game wasn’t really designed around these controls: you need to shoot down to hit the missiles, but if you hold down, you duck and aim to the side, so you need to jump and hold down because if you hold down and jump, you drop below the platform you’re on and hit the lasers. You also can’t shoot diagonally without also walking forward, which also means that, if you’re ducking, you can’t turn around without standing back up. Each of those details isn’t really a problem in isolation, but combined, you can start to see how the game is deviously designed to appear solid before stabbing you in the back.

The first part of stage 4 restricts your movement even further by having you cling to a single metal rod that constantly moves down (and sometimes side to side), but if you can keep the homing missile weapon that shows up at the beginning, it’s really easy (especially since, like stage 3, there’s no constant barrage of cannon fodder). The mid-boss decides to break form by having the formerly-background-effect explosions actually hurt you this time. The second part of stage 4 goes back to being more of a platformer with level design, but there’s also no cannon fodder enemies being spawned constantly! It might have been the best part of the game, except now there are foreground objects obscuring your vision, potentially blocking enemies and other hazards from your view. Plus, the main boss goes back to being rather unfair: spiked blocks constantly come from the ceiling, and the only way to avoid damage is to wait for the boss to punch them away (and the boss’s punch also hurts you), but enemies can also spawn from broken blocks, and when you combine having to avoid the boss’s punch and the enemies and the fact that you only have 1/5th of the screen to do this in since the boss decided to punch the right side for the third time in a row, I’m not even sure if this boss can be beaten without getting hit, with the possible exception of being extremely lucky. Even on Normal mode, it took all 7 of my lives just to scrape by this part.

Stage 5 decides to break the game’s streak of not-having-cannon-fodder-enemies by having cannon fodder enemies show up again. It’s not too bad until you get to the heart boss, which is now at the top of a staircase with each step separated by a bottomless pit. The boss also still spams normal enemies at you, so the only surefire way to defeat it without getting hit is to walk back and forth on a single step (since, again, you can’t shoot diagonally without walking, and jumping will just get you hit by the enemies walking on the ceiling) and occasionally aim up if you see an enemy about to slip past your defenses. I won, but my thumb started to hurt. After this, the game decides to introduce the only enemy in the game that you can stand on without getting hurt, but once you make it past them, you get a surprisingly forgiving boss fight that resembles the boss of stage 3 from Contra 1, except a worm comes out of its sides instead of more projectiles, and even though more of those stand-on-able enemies show up as cannon fodder, it seems like players might actually be able to react to the boss’s attacks, with deaths actually being the player’s fault. Either that, or it just has way less health than all the other bosses; all I know is that I beat it on my first try, only dying a couple times.

After that is a checkpoint and the actual final boss. Rather than have any kind of visual indication for which attack is coming, the boss’s pattern is instead conveyed by which angle the camera rotates toward. Its attacks mostly consist of throwing a bunch of junk at you, with one pattern just having the junk orbit around itself, meaning you can’t damage it due to all the junk in the way, before it throws it all out randomly and moves on to its next attack. The upside-down attack is probably the worst one since not only is the boss once again behind unkillable junk, but you also need to watch for which one is about to charge into the ground, and when it collides, more junk ricochets off randomly and can be hard to dodge.

Lastly, I want to point out the game’s hard mode. In theory, it’s everything a hard mode should be: enemy HP and attack strength are unaltered, with the changes instead being with enemy placement and giving bosses an extra attack. In practice, this serves to exacerbate the game’s existing problems of clutter and cheap hits (the stage 2 boss’s punch move suddenly gets much faster, meaning you’ll be hit by it on your way back down from jumping over the last punch). I decided to give up trying hard mode during the latter half of stage three, where dying at the wrong time causes the game to respawn you on a platform that’ll get destroyed in a couple frames, causing you to fall down and die again.

So, do I think this game is worth five U.S. Dollars? Maybe, but just barely. It’s always nice to play a game that has actual level design (especially after playing a long streak of games that, well…don’t), but while old-school design certainly has its merits, nobody is going to be impressed by how many sprites the Wii can display on screen at once. I would say to wait for a sale, but the Wii Shop Channel isn’t known for having sales, and besides, the service was shut down anyway, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying an entire Wii just for this game. EDIT: Whoops, apparently the game was ten dollars! Yikes.

From the dev commentary: “if [the story doesn’t work], the rest of the game just compounds on that error”


Extend Dong

  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong

    37 hours playtime

    15 of 60 achievements

This is a turn-based tactics game, just like the last two. You spend AP to move and attack, and outside battle, you explore and examine objects to progress. The main difference is that the variance for hit chance is much higher than the last two games: even from the very first battle, you could get anywhere from 60% to TWELVE (12) percent (!!) depending on how far away you are from enemies, and this is on Normal mode! Aside from that, combat is unchanged: cover only increases the chance an attack will do less damage, and there’s no other level design to make combat interesting or have any tactical depth at all, so the game relies on percent chances to make things seem challenging. This game also has voiced parts, but no options for subtitles or pausing cut-scenes. There’s also optional dev commentary (that also doesn’t have subtitles and can’t be paused), and if you turn it on and listen to it, you’ll notice that they only ever talk about the narrative and aesthetics, conveniently failing to mention anything about the combat and how terrible it is.

Hell, this game gets things wrong that the previous entries got right! There are more typos in the script, you can’t deselect drone buffs (even if you only switched to the character and didn’t actually click one of said buffs, meaning you can’t switch characters again without spending AP), and if you die, the game doesn’t bring up a game over screen: you have to open the menu and load a save manually (oddly enough, if you die, you can still move allies, but can’t attack enemies due to fog of war).

To be fair, Decking segments have gotten a significant overhaul: rather than being a reskinned combat segment where you only have one party member and enemies miss you most of the time, it’s a semi-stealth segment where you have to avoid search-lights that move on set paths (P.S. avoiding things in real time when your character moves by automatic path-finding is a recipe for disaster); if you get caught, the alarm state goes up, and if the alarm state gets full, then it turns into a reskinned combat segment where you only have one party member and enemies miss you most of the time. There’s also a brand new mini-game added for unlocking points-of-interest in Decking segments, but I didn’t think it was explained very well and found it rather confusing; luckily, the game gives you the option to force past them at the cost of raising the alarm state (failing the mini-game raises the alarm state anyway).

There’s also a new mechanic added that let’s you go straight from exploration mode to attack mode, but it’s only ever available if there are enemies or explosive barrels nearby (so chances are you won’t be able to use it when you’d most want to, e.g. use healing items outside of battle). Then again, running circles around the final enemy in a Decking mission to wait for the “lower the alarm state” item to be usable again is the closest the game ever gets to having strategic options within combat.

The game’s difficulty is also out of whack. With Dragonfall, at least that game saved the hardest mission for last, but for this game, every combat segment was about the same except for the final part of the Geomantic Sabotage mission, where you have to fight a group of five mages. Not only do their attacks deal 19 damage (to your max 40 HP team, save yourself), and not only do they have a high critical hit chance (deals twice as much damage), but three of them start off on Dragon Lines. In the previous games, Ley Lines only ever altered percent chances, making them practically irrelevant, but in this game, using a spell on a Dragon Line causes it to bounce to another random target after hitting the first target, which means three of the five attacks deal at least 19 damage to TWO of your party members. Needless to say, this mission was significantly harder than even the final boss, and just like last time, I only won by using summoning spells to increase the number of team members on my side (something I never had to do again).

Still not recommended.

Check it out, everyone: someone on this site is posting about a Kirby game!

Come on, Kirby doesn't take up nearly enough of the box! Make him bigger next time!!

Return to Dreamland is your typical Kirby platformer: along with your standard left/right movement and jump ability, you can keep pushing the jump button to FLY INFINITELY. Also, just like other traditional Kirby games, you can hold the attack button to eat enemies and star blocks, at which point you can either shoot them out as a projectile weapon or swallow them to absorb their powers (if they have one), and swallowing two or more enemies with powers triggers a roulette that gives you a random power (the power-combinations from Kirby 64 may be gone for good). New to this game is that if you shake your Wii-mote, you can eat specially-designated stone blocks (on top of being able to eat further and more at once), and shaking the Wii-mote is also how you escape the grip of larger enemies (and how you deal the finishing blow to the final boss). You can also abandon your power by pushing the minus button, at which point it turns into a star and bounces around for a few seconds; it’s actually a good idea to do this (especially with mini-bosses) because the game likes “hiding” the optional collectibles behind barriers that can only be broken with maybe one or two powers, one of which was that enemy you just killed, and no, you don’t get to backtrack to where it was, so you have to play the whole level again just to get that one last collectible.

Obviously, being a Kirby game, you can expect the difficulty to be fairly low. It’s far more substantial than something like Shu, but, like, if the official New Super Mario Bros. games make you rage-quit, this is the franchise for you. I lost count of how many levels start off with what’s basically a flat hall with the occasional enemy that only attacks whenever it feels like it, without even so much as a spike trap or bottomless pit (that, again, you can just fly over). To make things even easier is the game’s main gimmick: Super Powers. Basically, every two-or-three levels, around the half-way point of said level, there will be a glowing enemy that the camera will focus on for a couple seconds, and swallowing this enemy will grant you said Super Power. They only consist of one attack each (on top of having a limit to how much you can use said attack before it runs out and you go back to being normal Kirby), but said attacks are much more powerful and further-reaching than standard attacks. Plus, these segments always have that one object scattered throughout the room that only interacts with the aforementioned Super Power, and triggering the one near the end opens a portal to an auto-scrolling segment followed by basically-the-same-mini-boss-each-time-except-maybe-the-arena-is-a-bit-different-now-or-maybe-it-has-one-new-attack, and defeating said mini-boss gets you two more of the game’s optional collectibles. Honestly, I’m not that big a fan of the Super Power segments since they come across as scripted and gimmicky (though less so than Giant Kirby from Triple Deluxe since this game at least starts to do interesting things with the Super Powers by the final world, like making you time the snowball-dash between crushing pillars). It seems like it’s only there for the power-fantasy element: “Hey, remember all these mini-bosses that made you actually put forth some effort to get through them? Now you can kill them in one hit! Doesn’t that feel so amazing?”

Well, at least the rest of the game is fairly solid. The difficulty in the main game doesn’t really think about picking up until you make it to the boss of world 5, but there are plenty of optional segments that help add some challenge. On top of the auto-scrolling segments mentioned previously (where you’re being chased by a harmful wall of purple that slows down if you get too close), there are segments where you can race an enemy holding a key in order to unlock a door, which usually leads to another optional collectible; it helps spice up what would otherwise be average rooms. There are even segments where the key is just sitting there, but you actually have to hold the key and bring it to the locked door yourself (and holding an item prevents you from flying, though you can still jump). Similarly, there are a some segments where you can enter a giant shoe (which also prevents flying), and if you want whatever secret is at the end of the section, you have to time pushing the jump button at the moment the shoe stomps on an enemy in order to make a full jump (otherwise, it’s just a small bounce that’ll force you to abandon the shoe before you fall into a pit).

Now, you may think that whole “ ‘s “ in the title would imply that Kirby has to journey back to his home, but Kirby actually starts off in Pop Star and spends five worlds with the promise of being able to go somewhere else. Instead, that whole “return” is meant to imply a return to form after 11 years without a new, traditional Kirby game, and this is reflected in just how much content is recycled from earlier entries. I’m okay with normal enemies being the same since level design is what’s supposed to keep platformers engaging, but half of the mini-bosses are lifted from Kirby’s Adventure, and all of the mini-bosses are regularly recycled throughout the game. It takes until the final world for the game to start doing unique things like “now there’s a cannon in the boss’s room!” or “you have to fight two mini-bosses at once!” There’s even a level that’s just a mini-boss gauntlet because, hey, Kirby’s Adventure did it, and people liked that game, so clearly everything in the game must be a good idea! Even the final boss takes some cues from the final boss of Super Star/Super Star Ultra, but at least it has (mostly) its own attack pattern. However, I think the most annoying part of the game is that if you lose your power (and there are a few attacks that force this if you get hit by them), you won’t have any way to attack the boss on your own; you have to wait for the boss to throw a special projectile or for a collision to generate fat, yellow stars that you can absorb and throw back at it. There were a few times where I found myself just standing around, waiting for the boss to throw me a bone (or energy ball or whatever), and if you get your chance and miss, like with the final boss that likes to teleport without warning, you get to wait some more. I also found it weird that, whenever I died against a boss, its health seemed to go down much faster the second time than the first. At least the game managed to incorporate Super Powers for a couple bosses while still giving them a bit of challenge, which was neat.

Even though the entire campaign is built around single-player, it’s possible to play this co-op with up to four people. Similar to NSMB Wii’s multiplayer, the camera tries to keep everyone on screen at once, potentially leading to there not being much camera space to see incoming enemies, and players can also bounce off of other players to jump higher (except in this game, that’s usually a bad thing since if we wanted to go up some more, we’d just use the built-in flight mechanic!). However, unlike NSMB Wii, anyone who gets too far away from Player 1 gets teleported back to Player 1 (it even delays the respawn if Player 1 was shot from a cannon and hasn’t landed yet). Another exception is that, in NSMB Wii, anyone could come back as long as there were more lives and someone else still alive. In this game, Players 2-4 can keep coming back even if the life count is at zero (though another life gets spent if it’s above zero); however, if Player 1 dies, everyone goes back to the last checkpoint (or the beginning of the level if the life count is at zero). Playing multiplayer can even break some of the optional challenges: rather than having to throw the key onto the conveyor belt and run to the other side before it falls down, one player can be on the other side to catch the key as soon as the other player throws it onto the conveyor belt. It also helps the boss fights not be so time consuming: Kirby may still have to wait for something to spit back at the boss, but Meta Knight, King Dedede, and that one random Waddle Dee never lose their weapons and can keep up the offensive. Oddly enough, while none of Kirby’s powers have any friendly fire, the giant shoe and the equip-able cannon do have friendly fire, so if you’re playing multiplayer, you’ll have to be careful not to hurt your allies (Super Powers also seem to have friendly fire, what with the knock-back animation playing, but actually looking at the health bars seemed to show no change).

Despite any recommendation I could give, this is one of those games where you already knew whether or not you’d like it by reputation alone. If you’re a huge Kirby fan that somehow doesn’t have this game yet, you’ll enjoy it (it may not be worth buying an entire console over, but that’s what Epic Yarn and Rainbow Curse are for). Are you looking for an easy game, something to introduce someone else to video games, or just something to have fun with no more than three other people you know? Then yeah, it may be worth checking out on sale. However, if you’re looking for a more challenging experience, or if you believe that succeeding games in a franchise need to do something drastically different than its predecessors to be worth checking out, then this isn’t a game for you. The game does have a few challenging parts, but it takes its time getting there.

Let me know if you found the hidden reference in my post. Spoilers


    2 hours playtime

    10 of 27 achievements

This is a twinstick shooter (one that actually focuses on the shooting part, unlike PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate). Left stick moves, right stick aims, right trigger shoots, and left trigger jumps. You might think that whole “ability to jump” would make this a platformer, but no; similar to Apotheon or Dust: An Elysian Tail, actual platforming is near nonexistent, with the main focus of the gameplay being on combat. You move though a couple hallways, then get trapped in a room with enemies spawning in around you, and when you kill most of them, you get to move on, usually to another arena. You can also collect secret skull icons, but they’re usually hidden behind fake walls that obscure your vision, so it isn’t really worth trying to collect them.

First, a special mention to how bad the graphics are: everything looks samey and blends together. If that were limited to the backgrounds and solid tiles, that would be one thing, but enemies can also be hard to make out from the surroundings, which can result in you taking hits or even dying to something you didn’t even know was there (and despite how large the game claims your health can be, it drains pretty quickly in certain scenarios).

It gets worse when you realize that most enemy projectiles are military-shooter-style “too quick to dodge” attacks rather than arcade-shmup-style shots. It’s basically if you took Shadow Complex and removed everything the game did right. Combine this with the fact that later enemy waves teleport in with the exact same effect that items use to teleport in and the fact that enemies barely give you a second to react once you’re in their line of sight before they shoot at you, and you’ll see that the game essentially combines the worst elements of repetitive and unfair: each arena isn’t different enough from the others to change the winning strategy of “wait behind a wall and shoot anyone who spawns near you before making your way to the other side of the arena.”

Plus, not only does the game rarely have any variety in level design, but a few of the instances that do manage to have level design end up being very obviously cheap (as opposed to the more subtle cheap hits you’ll take as a result of not seeing the enemies). For example, the game has elevators: they stay in position until you hit a button, then they move vertically until they reach their destinations. However, in the third level, the game introduces platforms that look exactly the same as the elevators, but they start falling the moment you land on them, and the game also introduces them over a lava pit (so you’ll likely die when you first make it there), and they also only show up in this one level. There’s another level that consists only of two arenas joined by a short hall at the top, and after a couple waves, one side fills with lava and you need to jump up to the hall to go to the other side. However, if you’re not fast enough, the hall doors will close and either trap you with the lava or trap you in the hall, at which point the hall fills with fire and you die.

The final boss is kinda the best part of the game. Sure, when you get it half-way down, more enemies start to appear and it chases you faster and faster until it moves faster than you can, and sure, it can basically kill you in one hit, and sure, only the grenade launcher will knock its attacks back, but you always auto-target the boss, which lets you focus on dodging until you realize that you have to move away from it in a figure ∞ instead of just circling the arena. It’s the closest the game gets to having an honest challenge.

But yeah, this one isn’t recommended. If you’re looking for a platformer, I’d sooner recommend Oniken or Maldita Castilla. Sure, they had problems, but they at least did a few things right.

Percent chances were a mistake.

You know what waterfalls are? Imagine that, but instead of water, it's dragons.

  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall

    46 hours playtime

    12 of 39 achievements

This is a turn-based tactics game. Similar to its predecessor, you use the mouse to move and examine icon-laden objects outside of combat, use AP to move and attack during combat, and create your character at the beginning of the game (with all the same options from before available and exactly zero new ones). There are some notable changes, though: in the last game, examining an unimportant object would just have a yellow text window appear for a few seconds rather than display a proper text box that you could take your time reading. In this game, not only is that exactly the same, but it has also been extended to combat abilities, so you either need to be a quick reader or you’ll have to mouse over the same icon a couple times just to know what the move does. The game still has fog of war, but now you can click in the darkness, which makes navigating the hub a bit quicker. On top of this, the point-and-click elements seem to have been toned down (at least in comparison to that one segment in the Universal Brotherhood in the last game) while the combat throws more units at you (and said units use AOE attacks more often). However, the most major change is how progression is handled. The previous game was more linear, with only the occasional side mission. This game, on the other hand, is only half story missions, while the other half is you taking on side quests until the game decides you can continue the campaign. Also, only some of the side quests count toward progression while the others are just optional (though they can unlock things like more items in the shops or upgraded attacks). This game also has far fewer team members to choose from, but you do have a few core members that don’t cost any money to hire.

Knowing how easy the last game was, I decided to try out hard mode. However, it turns out I misinterpreted the Reddit post: the game might increase the enemy’s hit chance, but the more blatant and further reaching consequence is that YOUR hit chance DECREASES. Rather than the 99-70% range that normal mode had (and 70% is already pretty bad; just ask Fire Emblem fans), hard mode’s range is closer to 40-70%, and that 70% is rare and only if you get at point-blank range and use the “increase hit chance” spell. It’s so bad, I got the “land a shot with less than 30% hit chance” by accident because that was the best hit chance I could get at the time. There was even a point where I got game over because none of my team members managed to hit the last enemy in the group. If you read my last post, you might remember that one of the spells has a super-high chance to hit (not that the store description tells you this). Well, that spell goes from being your best attack to being practically your only viable attack (and the hit chance drop is so bad, even this move can drop into the 80s at times); the only exception are AOE attacks since, even if they “miss,” there’s still a small chance that they land close enough to your target to deal damage. I literally just ignored all the other attack spells because of how unreliable the hit chance makes them.

So yeah, combining all that with the fact that the game has more enemies and that said enemies use AOE attacks more often, I did have to use healing items more often. However, this is only because of artificial difficulty rather than any kind of proper challenge. No amount of tactical skill in the world will save you from the game randomly deciding that none of your attacks hit; if it weren’t for that, the game honestly wouldn’t be that much harder than its predecessor. Seriously, this is worse than the hard modes that only increase enemy HP and attack power.

Hard mode notwithstanding, there are some improvements to the last game. For one, enemy reinforcements don’t pop in during the middle of your turn, and outside of the very last battle, they show up far away enough that you actually have time to react before they attack you, which is nice. There are even a few parts where enemies are smart enough to avoid being baited into other rooms where you can just swarm them with your own attacks. There are also timed missions (whether you just have to survive for a certain number of turns or win before then), and while they’re fairly uncommon, they help add a bit of variety. Most Decking segments are still as easy as ever despite hard mode, but there are more opportunities for you to use a Decker, and there’s even an actual boss fight within the Matrix (though you only have one character to fight said boss with, and in hard mode, your hit chance rarely goes above 60% for this part).

Unfortunately, level design is as plain as last time, with the only tiles being ground, wall, and cover (which is the same as wall but presumably provides some kinda defensive bonus if a unit is next to it). This also leads me to another issue: in the previous game, attacks either did normal damage, half damage, or critical damage, while in this game, there are a whole bunch of unexplained factors that could result in the attack doing any number of damage, usually ending up being lower than the stated damage (with critical hits being the only exception). You can flank an enemy and deal less damage than a frontal attack. You can land a hit, but still do no damage because the attack was randomly “blocked.” It’s impossible to anticipate what will happen.

The final battle is also a huge difficulty spike compared to the rest of the game. After a needlessly lengthy segment where you only fight enemies specifically designed to be weaker than the other enemies you’d fight at this point in the game (and that only show up in this mission), you’re greeted with what’s basically an open room with little cover and only three enemies. When you’re around halfway done with those enemies, a swarm of reinforcements show up, and they get first move, meaning you’ll be attacked by enemies that you may have expected, but didn’t know where they’d show up. Also, the mission is timed (8 turns), and the actual final boss only shows up when the timer is around half-up (and of course, he shows up with more units of his own and all of them also get first-turn advantage). Even knowing about the reinforcements ahead of time, I’m not even sure if this battle is possible unless you have the summoner on your team to give you an extra party member, but even then, each turn, the summon has a percent-chance to escape your control (it’s low, but it only needs to happen once, and it goes up each turn). Oh, and let’s not forget that, of course, the final boss has more health and attack power than the surrounding enemies, and you only have a few turns to kill him, and let’s also not forget that even if you do everything right, you still need the game to let your attacks hit.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this game, either. There are some minor improvements to how the game handles its combat, but it still only exists to appeal to those who treat gameplay as a means to be more immersed in the narrative rather than those who expect the gameplay to be engaging by itself (why have actual difficulty when you can just make it feel hard by lowering all the player’s hit chances?). It’s everything I don’t like about RPGs rolled into one package.

Well, this one was disappointing.

  • Cursed Castilla (Maldita Castilla EX)

    2 hours playtime

    2 of 16 achievements

This is a platformer. You’ve got horizontal movement, a jump, and a ranged attack which can be aimed left, right, or up (or down if you’re in mid-jump). Levels contain chests scattered throughout them (I don’t think any are hidden; they’re all out in the open), and some of these chests will contain a weapon emblem; if you wait, it cycles through all the possible weapons, and collecting it will replace your current weapon with the one shown. You can also find secondary items that likewise replace your current secondary item (if you have one), but these are in fixed positions and won’t cycle between each other.

The game is clearly modeled after old-school platformers, for better or worse. On one hand, it doesn’t try to add hack ‘n’ slash elements that completely defeat the point of platformers, nor does it think that giving the player new equipment without changing up anything else results in “variety,” and the best part: it has actual level design! Yay!

On the other hand, the game just doesn’t seem to be thought through very well. The platforming is never too complex, usually being limited to gaps in long, flat floors or a large pit with a bunch of moving platforms, so to add challenge, the game has enemies throw projectiles at you, sometimes quite a bit of projectiles, sometimes bouncing projectiles, sometimes guided projectiles, etc. That wouldn’t be so bad if the mechanics allowed for precise movement, but the jump mechanic is only one step above Castlevania 1 jumps: while your horizontal speed isn’t set in stone the moment you hit the jump button, you can only alter your speed slightly (especially if you jump straight up), so it isn’t uncommon to dodge one projectile only for another one to hit you before you can do anything. On top of this, you have knockback on damage, and you don’t regain control until after you land on solid ground, which only serves to exacerbate the previous problems by having cheap hits knock you into instant-death spikes or pits. What’s worse is that the game also only lets you have two of your own projectiles on screen at any given time (or one projectile if you have the three-way shot), and it can take a second for them to leave the screen (come on, even Mega Man let us have three shots!), so even though enemies are shooting a bunch of their own shots at you, you need to be careful because missing could very well get you killed really fast. It honestly doesn’t feel like the mechanics were designed around the rest of the game.

Even with better mechanics, the game would still have a few issues. Here are three specific places I’ll highlight as having bad level design. The first is the turtle bridge in stage 4. It’s a long lake with turtles coming from the right to the left, and if you fall in the water, you die. Also, there are floating spike-balls over the lake you need to jump around. Okay, that’s fine, but once you get one screen’s length into the area, the turtles stop spawning from the side of the screen and instead come up from the lake, meaning you now have to wait for them to appear while slowly being moved backward by the turtle you’re on. This spot also just so happens to be right after you jump past the first spike ball, so while you wait on the turtle, you’re being moved back to the hazard you just passed (perhaps even barely given the game’s mechanics), and you can’t anticipate where the turtle will be since it could be right by you or one turtle’s length away. This is also the place where you find out that if you just barely make a jump, you’ll land on the platform only to fall off anyway, as if the player’s jumping sprite and standing sprite have different hit-boxes.

The second is the worm boss in stage 5. First of all, it starts off off-screen, so you might think you just have to keep going forward until you find it, except it turns out it was behind you the whole time and you were supposed to kill it before it reaches the end. Second, it only shows its weak point every so often, and this, combined with all the enemies scattered throughout the hall, means you only barely have enough time to kill it, and only if you abuse the fact that you can attack quicker when closer to your target (remember you can only have two shots on screen at once!).

The last one is the last part of stage 7. Not only is there a Forest Maze segment where you have to go the correct way to proceed, not only do you have to deal with guided projectiles with only the game’s outdated mechanics to see you through, not only do you need to get a key from one room and make it past the next room unscathed to unlock the way forward (lest you be forced back to the beginning of this segment again because dying starts you after the key, but doesn’t let you keep the key, and you need that key to progress), but after that is a downward vertical section filled with more guided projectiles and instant-kill spikes. You have to climb down chains to progress and avoid the spikes, but you have to kill the projectiles before they knock you into said spikes, but you can’t attack while holding on a chain (nor can you simply let go), so you have to jump between them and aim downward, but you grab the chains automatically and there’s only so much room until you reach the ceiling and don’t forget about how the jumping mechanic works (in other words, you kinda have to hit them on your first or second jump before you get hit into the spikes and die). Honestly, the boss of this level is super easy in comparison (I beat both phases on my first try).

On a side note, you can unlock a post-game level (stage 8) if you find five blue squares. However, if you beat the game without getting all of them, you have to start over from the beginning if you want to try for it; no stage select or indication of which levels have the ones you missed or anything that would let you get right to the point. Plus, two of them are hidden in BS ways anyway (one of which is the first one, and since the game makes no indication that they even exist until after you find and collect one, that’s a pretty clear case of the artificial-replayability that plagued many old-school games like Mr. Gimmick).

Plus, the game is really short. Kero Blaster has a better content-to-price ratio, for crying out loud (20 extra minutes for two dollars cheaper)!

So yeah, I don’t think I’d recommend this game. While I do prefer the general idea and design philosophy of old-school platfomers, this one went too old-school and ended up with quite a few issues that should have been ironed out by the 90s. If you’re still interested, check out it’s free version, simply called “Maldita Castilla” (without the “EX”); heck, the free version might be better since it apparently doesn’t have that near-perfection-demanding worm boss.

I actually bought this game a few years ago, but I put it off since I planned on playing the Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES Shadowrun games first, similar to how I played all of the Strider games in order (except Osman; yet another game I never got around to playing). However, it’s become increasingly clear to me that that’s likely not going to happen for this one, so I finally decided to stop putting it off.

Just according to renraku.

It being given away for free didn’t help matters, either. Oh well.

EDIT: almost forgot the thing:

  • Shadowrun Returns

    23 hours playtime

    no achievements

Anyway, this is a turn-based tactics game with point-and-click-adventure elements. During non-combat parts, you have to click on a location to walk there (WASD and the arrow keys just move the camera), and the distance from your character to your click location determines how fast your character decides to move. The game also has fog of war, meaning you can’t move to an area that is still blacked out, so even though you go to the hub area multiple times and there’s never combat in said hub area, the game won’t let you single-click to move to where the upgrade shops are since that area gets un-explored whenever you go on a mission. Sometimes, a symbol will show up momentarily on an object when it FIRST comes into your view, and if you click on the symbol, you interact with said object: the hand symbol indicates an item you can collect, and a magnifying glass symbol indicates either world-building descriptions or clues for the point-and-click fetchquests you’ll have to do. My issue with them is that they disappear after a few seconds, and mousing over them sometimes won’t get them to reappear. Sure, you can hold “alt” to make all the ones in your view reappear, but that’s only told to the player during loading screens, meaning it only has a small chance to appear at any given checkpoint. What’s even worse is that if you click on it and get prompted with a choice of “do X” or “take no action” and you click “take no action,” there are a couple times where game will remove the icon even from the alt key, as if you chose to do the thing, at which point you have to reload a save if you finish exploring and realize that you actually do want to do X. In contrast, the intentional puzzles are really easy: computer asks for a name and password (always multiple-choice, by the way), and after getting it wrong, an icon suddenly appears over the trash can with a letter that says “Dear X, don’t forget that your password is Y.” Sometimes the information is a bit more spread out, like in the Universal Brotherhood’s office, but that just makes the switch-hunt longer, not harder. When the game’s puzzles aren’t that easy, they’re even easier: there’s one part where you need to get someone to leave the room, and if you speak to them and say “nevermind,” they say something along the lines of “well, it’s my break, so I’m going to leave the room.”

But okay, I’ve already expressed my dislike for point-and-click-style puzzles in previous posts, so can the combat make up for it? Well, that might depend on your build. The game begins with you selecting your species, class, and dialect: species determines the maximums for your stats, class determines what equipment you start off with (I imagine you can easily change classes after the tutorial battle), and dialect only comes into play for unlocking, like, two dialogue choices throughout the entire game, most of which don’t even provide additional benefit; just slightly different responses from NPCs. I chose a mage, and the game ended up being really easy (disclaimer: I played on Normal mode). Not only are all spells cooldown-based rather than MP based (meaning you never have to worry about conservation), but there’s even an attack spell that (almost) always guarantees a 99% hit chance (the highest a hit-chance can get in this game). That’s something you’ll need to rely on later in the game, because just like in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, anything with a hit-chance below 80% is practically guaranteed to miss, and evasion is pretty much the only thing the enemies get better at as the game goes on.

In fact, combat in this game is so easy that the game starts to do cheap things in a desperate, unsuccessful attempt to add challenge. There were only two times in the game I got someone on my team killed: the first was during the tutorial mission since, being used to Advance Wars, I didn’t realize clicking a location counted as using AP (which, okay, that was on me), but the second was when I moved too close to a couple of turrets (this being the first time turrets are introduced in the game), and they had a passive ability called “overwatch” (also the first time it shows up in the game) that has them shoot at me if I get too close. Yup: the first time you encounter this ability is when you take damage from it, and both attacks must have criticaled because they brought my full HP team member down to zero HP. After that battle, seemingly every enemy had that passive equipped, but it never got as bad as two at once (and somehow also dealt far less damage, too).

Another cheap thing the game does is, during the final mission, reinforcements will pop in and move in the middle of your turn, so you suddenly have an extra enemy or two to deal with after spending half of your AP dealing with the current enemies.

But like I said: the game is easy enough that you’ll rarely have a character go below half health, much less get killed entirely. In fact, there are “decking” missions where one character in your team has to go into “cyberspace,” but even though this one character regularly has to go against five enemies at once, it’s still really easy to take out a couple enemies before you might need to heal (and I wouldn’t be surprised if some enemies in cyberspace have a 0% hit chance). The game also tries to be unique by making you hire your team on a per-mission basis, and while it’s an interesting idea, I was never strapped for cash and could always hire a full team after spending money upgrading my own gear.

Overall, this game is hard to recommend. It’s more focused on world-building than game-play; even the final boss couldn’t succeed in killing any of my party members (though one ended up with low health, so I used a healing item, resulting in the first time I used a consumable item in the game). There is a “hard” mode and a “very hard” mode, but according to this post, it only increases the enemies’ chance to hit; of course, that kinda doesn’t matter since you can almost always open a door and move behind the wall to lure the enemies to you to kill them before they can attack (which is what I did most of the time anyway), and the attacks I received during the final boss never missed anyway. It might make cyberspace missions more difficult, but not much beyond that.

I wasn’t expecting to beat this game so quickly, but I guess three hours is about how long Super Metroid was.

This is a platformer with cover-based shooting mechanics. You have your usual winding, interconnected map and progression-based weapons that are staples of all metroidvanias traditional metroidvanias. The main gimmick with this game is that enemies will come at you not just from the 2D plane of which you’re allowed movement, but also from the background, at which point you need to rotate around the Z-axis to attack them. The problem here is that both the left stick and the right stick only adjust your aim on the X- and Y-axes; the only way to attack enemies in the background or foreground is to rely on a finicky auto-aim mechanic. You can also perform an instant-takedown on lesser enemies by running up to them and pushing B, provided they’re close enough to the 2D plane you move on (enemies can still hurt you during your take-down animation, though).

Gonna start with the positives: I thought the map design was pretty solid; there isn’t a whole lot of retreading-the-same-ground if you just want to go from start to finish without getting too many secrets. Of course, if you do want to get the secrets, the game’s map puts a “?” on spaces that have an item you haven’t gotten yet and a dot on spaces that used to have an item, but you got it already. The only problem with this is, near the end, there’s a self-destruct segment that permanently blocks one area from you, and if you didn’t get all the items there, too bad, the game autosaves.

Another thing I like is that you start off with the flashlight (this game’s version of the X-ray scope), which means you can clearly distinguish any destructible object from the rest of the environment by shining the flashlight on it, which makes the object in question change color (with the specific color referring to which item you need to use to destroy it). Honestly, I’d be in favor of actual Metroid games starting off this way (though I guess the Metroid Prime games did that with the Scan Visor). The only issue here is that the flashlight has a battery life, but it quickly recharges when it runs out, so I’m not really sure why they made it run out in the first place.

My main problem with the game is how it handles enemies; i.e. that whole “cover-based shooting mechanic” the game has. It has been a while since I played Super Metroid (or even Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission), but one thing I can say with confidence is that the enemies complemented the level design; you weren’t just jumping over platforms, you were dodging projectiles and enemies (which deal contact damage, don’t forget). The exact same enemy as before could make you rethink your approach slightly just by having it placed in differently-designed terrain. In this game, all enemies just shoot at you, and their bullets move too fast to be dodged (with the one exception being guided projectiles that you have to shoot down), so you either need to wait behind cover until they stop shooting, or the more likely option of just taking the damage either to kill them or run past them (especially when you realize reinforcements will just keep coming from the background, so you have to run away). To drive that point home, there are a few turret segments where you’re stuck on one location and just move the reticle around to shoot at the incoming waves of enemies; I’m guessing you’d have to dismount the turret to dodge any incoming attacks, but it takes a second to mount/dismount, so I feel like you’d just end up taking damage anyway. There may be a few times where you’ll need a bit more strategy (maybe throw a grenade to take out a couple before they notice you), but the vast majority of enemy encounters are nearly identical. It gets kinda dull. I know I played on Normal difficulty, but I imagine that the higher difficulties do nothing besides increase enemy attack power and HP, which would just increase the time you have to wait behind cover, and I’m not a fan of games that make me wait (I also wouldn’t want to be punished for the game’s own finicky Z-axis aiming).

Oh, and let’s not forget that the alternative to enemy encounters is empty rooms, which make up around half the game. At least the boss fights are okay.

Overall, this game is hard to recommend. It isn’t a bad game, per se (certainly better than the game in my previous post), but it completely misses what makes platformers fun by turning every non-boss encounter into a cover-based shootout. If you’re looking for a more traditional Metroidvania, I say look elsewhere, but if you’re still interested in this game, at least wait for a good sale.

P.S. The guns in this game have limited clip sizes, so after firing enough, your character will stop firing to reload. At least you have infinite ammo, but it’s still a pet peeve of mine to be punished for shooting too much.