Monthly Archives: February 2018

Aqua Kitty UDX (SWITCH)

aknxgA sudden shortage of milk has Earth’s cat population in a panic. The furry felines are forced to look elsewhere for their source of calcium and discover a rich milk vein underneath the oceans. A team of cat-divers goes out to see, accompanied by a catpain (Yes, I know that’s a silly pun, but I couldn’t NOT make it.).

I can hear you all thinking: “It doesn’t need to get any goofier than this.” But beware: it gets goofier than this. My job, as a cat-aquanaut, is to protect the little pussies that are pumping the milk from all the dangers that are lurking on the bottom of the ocean. Mysterious sea-monsters are trying to kill them, and even stranger jellyfish are trying to abduct them. Luckily, my submarine comes equipped with all kinds of weaponry and power-ups are strewn about the seabed.

Playing is a blast. The sub dashes left and right to blast the fishes to bits. Steering works like a charm and the turbo fire mode makes sushi of the biggest enemies with ease. The difficulty level shoots up pretty quick though, and more than often I find myself lamentig the one kitty I failed to save.

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Replay value is quite high, what with all the cats I’m trying to save, but there’s also an added arcade mode. In this mode, players only get a set number of hearts, and once they’re gone, it’s game over man! Restart from scratch. Luckily, there are diamonds to collect, wich can be used to buy upgrades for the sub, all while playing.

 

On top of that, there’s also the Dreadnought mode. Here the objective is to destroy a giant ship, One that’s bristling with guns and swimming in enemy-infested waters.

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And there’s more! In infinite Espresso players are set loose in a dark ocean where endless streams of enemies are unleashed upon them. The aim being to stay alive as long as possible. Luckily, there’s no kittens here to concern myself with…

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Add to all that a charming retro 8-bit look and soundtrack, and you’vegot yourself a winner in my book! Aqua Kitty UDXis a must-have, especially considering how cheap it is.

Jan

Quest of Dungeons (SWITCH)

qodNXGYet another dungeon crawler?  You bet! The genre crawled back into existance, got a make-over and deserves your attention. If you ever decide to give it a shot (again), go for Quest of Dungeons.

In Quest of Dungeons you assume the role of a hero. The choice seems limited to four typical character classes (Warrior, Wizard, Assassin and Shaman) but determines the way the game will play out for you. After a short and absurdly funny intro to the story, you get dropped into a dungeon that’s vastly different every time you decide to pay it a visit. Rooms, enemies and loot are randomly generated and never found on the same spot as during your previous play. And then it’s business as usual. Fight your way from floor to floor, defeat enemies to earn experience points and strengthen your character, plunder loot to go shopping with… And once you’re bested, you start all over again. Come again? Yes, all over again. No checkpoints, no save points, no pity.

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Actually, this is not another dungeon crawler. Quest of Dungeons has so much more to offer: a real challenge, funny wordplay jokes and a lot of replay value. Worth your while. Upfall Studios has done its utterly best to deliver a stand-out gameplay experience that will have you doing a standing ovation. The 16-bit graphics are obviously retro with their limited animation and oversized pixels, but that’s all a game like this really needs. What you need while playing, is your thinking cap. After all, enemies around you only move when you perform an action. Any action. It pays off to stand still and have a look at your surroundings instead of hacking, slashing and magicking your way through the dungeon. There’s a lot of satisfaction in luring an enemy into a bear trap or into the spikes you nearly avoided. Keep your eyes peeled at all times: it takes little effort to get surrounded by a deadly horde and to be forced to start the dungeon from square one. Lucky for you, tomes offer knowledge of new character skills, optional quests net you extra experience points for finding lost relics and defeating minibosses and when the need arises, just close doors to block enemies. Because enemies stalk you once they get their sights on you, but they can’t handle doorknobs. Can’t find any weapons, armor or potions? Buy them with your hard-earned cash and treasures at local shops. Loot, by the way, is easy to find. In the bloody remains of defeated enemies, contained by treasure chests (what else would they hold?) and by breaking randomly placed furniture.

Newbies don’t need to feel any shame for choosing the ‘easy’ difficulty setting. The game is quite punishing to even the most seasoned dungeon crawler. But do try ‘hard’ or ‘hell’ when ‘standard’ is like a spring breeze to you. No matter the difficulty setting, you will find yourself level grinding or returning to a previous floor. After all, randomly generated floors easily get the best of the ignorant gamer. Before you know it, you are trapped with a miniboss that’s just too strong. No matter the preparations you took. During your first dungeon visits, you’ll often see the title screen… Again and again and again. Demotivational messages during loading screens and by enemies do soften that last blow to your head and secretly force you to pick up your sword, wand, bow or staff once again. And you should, because high scores get posted on online leader boards.

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The story, the dialogues and item descriptions are all directed by an absurdly funny sense of humor. Real gamers will recognize the many references to other games. Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Resident Evil IV… Even popular memes. Sound is a bit below par: it seems like the grunts and groans from enemies and bosses were recorded in someone’s kitchen. But the music will linger in your head for days. Replay value a plenty! As long as you don’t stick with your favorite character. The game challenges you to complete a set of feats. From opening your first treasure chest to beating minibosses and for completing one of the dungeons. The first one is quite a challenge. Don’t be fooled by its looks! Oh, and the reward for finishing the first level is a character from another recently released indie Switch game.

Whether you’re a casual player or finish four dungeons before breakfast, Quest of Dungeons will keep you hooked for a long time. And now it’s on Nintendo Switch, you can play anywhere!

Marco

Steamworld Dig (SWITCH)

swdcA while back I was gushing over Steamworld Dig 2 on Switch. Despite having never played a previous installment of the franchise, I got sucked in right away. I loved the game’s art style, gameplay, story…  Everything about it just clicked. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to review the Switch remake of the game that started it all: Steamworld Dig.

I play as Rusty, a new bot in town. I’ve been called here by my uncle, who needs help in the mine. Rusty soon discovers his uncle is a goner, and that there’s more at play in the mine than your random ore-digging.

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The game’s mechanics are simple: I dig deeper into the mine, beat enemy critters and salvage ore and diamonds. Whenever my bag of holding is full, I venture back up to the surface, sell the ore, buy upgrades for my gear then venture off deeper into the mine once again. It may sound like a drag, but it’s all very entertaining. The deeper I go, the harder the game becomes. New enemies pop up, and more than once I foolishly lose track of where I’m going. Or rather: where I was coming from. It’s impossible to dig upwards and with my eyes on a shiny price, I often dig myself into holes too deep to climb out of.

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But with some tweaking, and some clever upgrades, Rusty slowly becomes unstoppable. Thicker plating, pneumatic drills and jackhammer fists, all kinds of steam-powered goodies… Whatever I need, the stores in town are probably selling.

I simply love the Steamworld series, even though I started in the wrong order. Steamworld 1 feels just as fresh and new as its successor. And it never gets boring. In fact, I can hear the ore calling to me now. The need to dig is becoming strong… Too strong… Someone send help, I just can’t stop!

Jan