ibb & obb must be played co-op. It absolutely must. While you can control both characters on your own if you so desire, it will undoubtedly frustrate you to no end. Hell, even playing co-op with a friend (locally or online) will probably frustrate you. This platformer has some difficult, tricky puzzles that require everyone to be on the same page. Because communication is so important, you have the option to paint on the screen to convey where you need the other player to go. This is a neat idea and definitely comes in handy, but it's pretty limited and won't fully substitute actually talking to each other. In any case, the puzzles are great. ibb & obb gets a lot of mileage out of two characters who have no special abilities. Their environment is constantly changing, though, and the gravity-swapping gateways introduce plenty of situations where you need to figure out how to get the right amount of momentum to pass through one end and land on a higher ledge. Solving one of these puzzles by propelling yourself across the screen is pretty fun and will leave you feeling like a genius. Just make sure your co-op partner is someone you work well with.
Parcel doesn't give off the greatest of first impressions. It starts out as a simple puzzle game where your character can only pick up and push blocks in order to navigate around lasers. The problem is that block-pushing puzzles have been done to death, and the special levels in particular are maddeningly difficult. The game also advertises itself as a co-op experience, but not every level is co-op enabled (or co-op enabled for four people), so extra players will often find themselves sidelined. Do yourself a favor, though, and speed through the first "chapter" as soon as possible (skipping the special levels entirely), because the following groups of levels are so much better. Each section introduces a new character, and it's these new characters that breathe some much needed life into Parcel. In the second section, for instance, you start to use a magnetized character that can pull blocks towards her. Pairing her with the original block-carrying guy gives way to puzzles that are challenging and clever without being so hard that you want to pull your hair out. You can even use the magnetized character to crush and destroy the laser robots, which is really satisfying. With more consistent co-op support, Parcel would be awesome. Played alone, it's still pretty good. But you'll need to suffer through a few tough levels first.
Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe is one of the biggest surprises I've ever had in a game. Originally included within Kirby's Triple Deluxe and then published as a standalone game on the e-shop, it's an incredibly basic rhythm game that has you taking control of King Dedede and bouncing on Drum platforms to the beat of various songs from the Kirby series. The premise is simple, yet unbelievably satisfying. The timing and controls are married together so well that you'll rarely feel like a death is unfair and the large scoring system will make sure that those that enjoy multiple playthroughs will be playing the game for quite some time. The absolute best part is that the game's segments are broken up into such nice little chunks that songs never feel too long and it always keeps you coming back for more. If you like rhythm based games at all and miss the genre, come rest in the great arms of King Dedede.
Pokemon Shuffle is essentially the same as the Pokemon Trozei puzzle series where you are pitted against Pokemon and must arrange your box of Pokemon into various matches of three to four to do damage to your enemy. However, after you completely drain the Pokemon's health bar you are then allowed to attempt to catch it. Each match consumes a heart (you earn one every 30 minutes) and you can use jewels you earn from battles to trade for gold or hearts. Hearts? Jewels? Gold? All clearly terms for currency, right? Yep, but the game surprisingly either has a really soft pay wall or none at all as I have progressed incredibly far in the game without spending a dime yet (on stage 137 as of this writing). The best thing is that the game is fun and challenging enough to stay fun even after the eight hours I've spent with it. If you have a 3DS/2DS/N3DS and like puzzle games at all, Pokemon Shuffle is easily worth the download as it's just a wonderful game and one of the best examples of what the free to play genre should be.
I love Borderlands. Borderlands 2 wasn't bad, though I found it broke something from the original game that I loved (really overpowered classes). Thankfully, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has brought that back to me. The Pre-Sequel is an oddity of sorts. A game handed off to a different developer for a sort of spinoff game to keep the brand fresh in fans' minds rarely ever works, right? Well, BL: TPS is that magical one in a million times where it's actually better. The writing is funny and mostly purged of the ridiculous memes that were soaked into the flesh of BL2 while actually managing to make you feel really connected to the characters, which in turn makes you feel completely horrible for murdering most of them in BL2. The best part is that while the writing is good, the gameplay adds enough with the Oxygen system and new character classes (most of which are totally overpowered) that it's just a blast to play through and experience everything that the game has to offer. If you are a fan at all of the series you owe it to yourself to experience this game just for how it will change your view of some of the bosses in BL2.
Doom & Destiny is one of those games that you know exactly what you're walking into five minutes into it. A simple 2D turn based RPG isn't anything to write home about by any means, but the writing is hilarious! Well, mostly hilarious. Of course, more than a few jokes fall flat, but a majority of the jokes are good as long as you like terrible puns and sophomoric humor. Which, I totally do, so my time with the game was well spent. Other than the humor and writing, there's really not much to Doom & Destiny. Sure, there will be cool little moments in battles now and again, but you're more or less just cutting your way through hordes of enemies to be treated to some terribly wonderful puns. What I suppose I'm saying is that while I do recommend Doom & Destiny for the writing (funny games are few and far between these days), the gameplay feels so stale that I wouldn't suggest spending a great deal of time with it unless you really love classic RPGs or just need something to play.
I realize some games intentionally have bad controls, and that's what makes them fun and hilarious to play with friends. Starwhal tries to be such a game, but it is absolutely maddening. Your character is top-heavy and has a tendency to dive forward, so you must constantly adjust your direction. At the same time, the controls are very sensitive, and every attempt to correct a nose dive more often results in you spinning around in circles. It's pretty annoying when you're trying to battle with friends, but everyone's stuck in their own corner, flailing about like fish out of water. Yeah, I get it. That's kind of the point. But the controls are so spectacularly difficult that dealing with them gives me a stomachache. While the single-player challenges are a nice way to try to acclimate yourself with the game's touchiness, the level design grows too tricky long before you feel like you're getting the hang of it. Granted, if you and your friends like to get intoxicated when you play games, then Starwhal will end up being the funniest thing ever. But if you're sober, you'll probably hate it.
I put off reviewing this one for a while, because it seemed like Player 2 needed to point the Wii remote at the screen to play (which is always a turn-off). And, yeah, that is an option, but you can also use the touchscreen on the gamepad for the same result. That just wasn't immediately obvious to me. So I do like that there are multiple ways to play the game, and I'll admit that the "catch the celebrity" idea is clever, but this two-player competition is pretty lackluster overall. The game favors the celebrity player way too much. Not only can the celebrity hide behind obstacles and dash to escape the paparazzi's camera, but he/she can touch fans to regain points. In fact, Player 1 can just let his/her character get dragged against the side of the screen, where the paparazzi can't reach them. Now that's just broken gameplay right there. But even if both players agree not to rely on cheap tactics, there's simply not enough substance or content to get excited about. As a mini-game in a much bigger game, this would have worked great, despite its flaws. As a standalone, however, you'll play it for maybe 15 minutes and then never touch it again.
I'm a pretty big sci-fi buff, so of course I enjoy the Alien series. Unfortunately, I haven't liked the games related to the series too much aside from the general awesomeness of Aliens vs. Predator, so imagine my excitement whenever I saw Alien Isolation! Imagining it? Yeah, keep imagining. Alien Isolation is an odd game. It is incredibly high quality and the work put into the presentation and atmosphere of the game work, but the problem is that the Alien isn't used in the best way that it could be. See, I had always envisioned tense standoffs while hiding from the Alien on a ship in the depths of space and while that is certainly something you do, the game has a fair amount of jank. By jank, I mean that almost every single time the Xenomorph spawns into the environment you're almost instantly warned by the game's frame rate dropping which happens in a way that you pretty much always have time to get to safety. This isn't to say you won't die, but it is to say that the Alien ends up feeling more like a slight nuisance. None of this is to say the game is bad as the gameplay is fun, the atmosphere is engaging, and the voice acting and story are enticing. The problem is really just an unimpressive villain. This is definitely something you should play if you're wanting a survival horror game, just don't expect something like the Hunter chase from Dead Space 1.
Whenever the vanilla edition of Dead or Alive 5 came out, I liked it, but was unimpressed by most of the content presented. It was still a good game, but it was really feeling like it was lacking something. Thankfully, that odd thing that I felt like it was missing has returned for DOA5: Last Round! This game has it all! Better voice acting, tons of rebalancing, new characters, great netcode, and (best of all to me) tons of costumes! The story mode is more of the same from the vanilla version, but the better balancing makes the game such a greater joy to play. By far, the best thing about this release is the netcode, though. If you play this, you owe it to yourself to try the online at least once as it is infinitely better than the online in any other DOA game that has come out and is even better than the netcode in any of Capcom's recent (non GGPO) fighters. I picked this game up mostly betting that it would give me something to play around with until Mortal Kombat X releases, but I was surprised to find that I will likely be playing this still long after MKX has come out. I've been a fan of the Dead or Alive series for over a decade now and it feels weird to say this, but DOA5: Last Round is the best game in the series yet. If you enjoy 3D fighting games in the least bit, then I highly recommend giving either the retail or free to play downloadable version of this a play.
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