I’m not much of a Snoop Dogg/Lion fan, but I do like a good rhythm game, so I was fully prepared to enjoy this one. Despite the horribly cheesy presentation, I actually was having fun in the beginning. It reminded me of Elite Beat Agents on the DS. I kept thinking how much cooler this would be played with a touchscreen instead of a controller. So maybe iOS/Android would be the better place to pick it up if you’re at all interested. Pass on the XBLA version, though. It quickly falls apart. The game attempts to increase the difficulty by mixing button presses with directional movements, but this is either broken or just harder to pull off than you’d think. Missing a “note” will sometimes cross out the rest of the commands in a chain, thus adding to the frustration and setting you up to fail. If you retry a particular song too many times, the game will start glitching by rendering blank notes or leaving text on the screen that obscures your view. Considering how the background fighting is already a huge distraction, these glitches pretty much ruin it. I’d still like to see how it plays out on a mobile device, but I’m done with the console game.
Labyrinth Legends is a cute, little dungeon crawler which tasks players with saving their newly wedded bride. The simple premise and visuals are incredibly deceptive, as the game is actually kind of difficult. None of the levels have checkpoints. While this does not pose a problem at first, as you progress through the game, the overpowered bosses and respawning enemies will drive you insane, forcing you to restart levels over and over again from the beginning. As you defeat enemies, you’ll be lucky enough at times to win loot, which helps boost your makeshift knight’s defense and offense, but these loot drops don’t come often enough to mean a great deal to the gameplay, and the items are rarely different enough from your original items to elicit any sort of excitement. By far, the biggest disappointment in this game is the controls. They’re floaty and not anywhere near precise enough. Dragging boxes for puzzles and walking on platforms especially proves to be seriously frustrating. You may be charmed by the look of this game, but trust me and don’t give it a chance. It’s just not worth the time or frustration.
I have played a lot of tower defense games in my day, and I used to say they were my favorite games. That is still true today, but only well-done tower defense games. Go Home Dinosaurs is not one of the good ones. A good TD will let you choose your own way to win. Each level felt like it had a predetermined set of towers to choose from and where to put them. Any variation would result in failure or creeps getting through. I didn’t really like the money system, towers, characters, or sounds. It’s an obnoxious game. Worst of all, the player is only allowed an arbitrary number of towers and tower types per level. I didn’t like that about Plants vs. Zombies, and it’s worse here. I’d rather deal with more creeps and have to build more/stronger towers than deal with a balancing system that feels like an afterthought. Go Home Dinosaurs is not the worst TD around, but I didn’t enjoy it. I think this game was designed specifically for kids. Just because something is designed for kids does not mean adults will hate it. It does this time, though.
Being that I had such a good time with Poker Night 2, I thought I’d give the original game a try. Poker Night at the Inventory doesn’t have as strong of a cast, but the dialogue is still incredibly well written. Hearing Tycho from Penny Arcade and the Heavy from Team Fortress 2 discussing colleges is extremely entertaining. Even Strong Bad (a character I usually dislike) manages to have some really hilarious lines. Given that the dialogue is still fantastic, the biggest and most obvious difference between the original and the sequel is the difficulty. Poker Night 2 has some of the most cutthroat AI I’ve ever faced, where Poker Night at the Inventory has some of the dumbest. I mean, there is virtually no challenge in this game. It almost seems like your opponents don’t actually know how to play at all. Sure, you’ll lose a few hands, but if you bust out, it is entirely your fault. The unlockables that the game has aren’t as numerous (or awesome) as Poker Night 2’s, but they still make the game a total joy. As long as you like Poker or at least a couple of the characters, this is definitely one to play.
I love indie games, but the whole “here is a unique gimmick that will get you to want to play my game” is starting to wear on me. Snapshot’s “thing” is taking pictures of objects in the level and moving them around. Other than that, it is a rather straightforward, yet charming, platformer with collectibles. There are multiple things to do on each level: get to the end, find all the stars, find the secret objects, and if you can, do it very quickly. Although, I found the times to be almost impossibly difficult, with either a mouse and keyboard or a controller. It may be cliche, but this game feels like it came out of a time machine. If I didn’t know better, I would say it’s an SNES port. Bright colors, minimal story, scaled difficulty, extra achievements, good character, plus it’s polished and fun. It’s hard to say why I couldn’t really “get into” this game. Perhaps it’s my indie game fatigue, but whatever it is, I still rather enjoyed my time with Snapshot, and I believe you will too.
Doc Clock is a game with a really cool sounding premise. The idea is to take objects in the environment and create inventions to advance past obstacles. You can even store items in a talking sack until you need them. Like I said, it sounds great, but unfortunately, in practice, it is all but broken and uninteresting. It’s basically Scribblenauts without the ability to use whatever you want. Also, the dialogue between the sack and Doc Clock is intolerably bad. It’s just poor writing, bad “jokes,” and it’s unnecessary. I started out excited, but as with every other game like this, it quickly feigned. There is a lot of visual polish, but some thing just drove me insane. I don’t need Sonic the Hedgehog to blast across the screen, but Doc Clock moves really slow, and he can’t jump. Games like Max and the Magic Marker, Scribblenauts, and now Doc Clock always sound interesting, but the gimmick quickly dies, and playing them becomes a chore more than anything else. I’m looking forward to uninstalling this one.