Tag Archives: switch

Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk (SWITCH)

lorcodpack‘Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk’ finally gets an international release. Are you the proud owner of a Nintendo Switch and/or a PlayStation4? Then read on and discover why this is important to you!

From Nippon Ichi Software – known for the Disgaea-series – comes a dungeon crawler RPG, not unlike Etrian Odyssey. As a matter of fact, this game could have been their love child. Ultimately though, it’s clear that the grotesque comic relief, the gorgeous art style and the ever clever gameplay clearly comes from the developers of Disgaea.

In Labyrinth of Refrain the Dusk Witch Dronya (a.k.a. Baba Yaga) is summoned to the town of Refrain, which rests upon an unexplored underground maze. It’s not known who built the elaborate labyrinth, nor for which purpose; although there are rumours about a slumbering demon king whose awakening could end the world. What is known is that the labyrinth is filled with clouds of miasma, a substance that kills any human it touches. Dronya isn’t in the least fazed by this. As a matter of fact, the busty and bewitching beauty seems to have come to the quaint little town with here very own agenda. And, of course, with her apprentice Luca and a cursed tome, said to have been written by the only man to explore the labyrinth and survive…

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As the player, your soul has been sealed within the ‘Tractatus de Monstrum’, the fabled cursed book. Dronya has no qualms sending you off to the maze because A.) you can withstand the deadly miasma and B.) you’re relying on puppet soldiers to explore and fight.

Create unique puppets slash fighters by assigning them a job or class (called Facet in this game) and by tweaking a whole lot of interesting gameplay-influencing parameters such as preferred stat growth.

Once created, puppets are ready to be arranged in groups or so-called Covens. A single Coven may contain multiple soldiers. It’s your job to direct and steer multiple Covens during battles. These fights are, by the way, comparable to those of other RPGs, with a few added extras. But no big surprises there.

The fun is, of course, in exploring the vast labyrinth. A handy map will assist you to do just so. More maze levels become available while you progress during story mode by finding story-related items, defeating bosses or reaching certain places. The labyrinth is a 3D dungeon which is explored from a first-person perspective. Enemies are represented by symbols and – if necessary and possible – can often be avoided. Just keep in mind: for every move you do, the enemy gets one too.

Between missions or when you need a breather, Dronya’s caravan is yours. Create new puppets, synthesize equipment at the alchemy pot or spend your hard-earned mana to open up extra gaming options like renaming puppets, easier/harder difficulty settings, risky ways to earn experience…

 

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The game never gets dull as story and gameplay interchange at a pleasant pace. The fascinating story unfolds slowly and intricately – leaving you with you with many more questions – but truly shines through its dialogues and comic relief.

The learning curve is fair albeit just a tad slow. You’ll be taken by the hand for quite some time. Which is, all by all, not an unnecessary luxury as there is a lot of ground to cover to truly grasp all gaming aspects. Luckily, tutorials can be reviewed.

Though some gaming options as tweaking various character parameters won’t be necessary for novices, veterans are sure to get their kicks out of it as they set the game to their liking.

 

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The story, the gameplay and the many gaming options will keep you pinned for quite some time. Especially since content is sporadically being unlocked as you progress, easing you into the game. The many side quests will have you returning to the maze. If not, you’ll do so for the many characters you can’t help loving.

‘Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk’ is a dungeon crawler RPG to marvel at and cherish.

Marco

Guns, Gore And Cannoli (SWITCH)

ggccovGuns, Gore and Cannoli had players assume the role of Vinnie Cannoli, an infamous mobster kneedeep in a zombie outbreak sometime during the thirties. Thanks to Vinnie’s fighting talents and survival instincts they could cut a bloody path straight through the zombie hordes, using a braod variety of bloody weaponry.
I was hooked.
And now there’s part 2! Which promises to be bloodier, gorier, funnier than before. Just what I wanted!

In guns, Gore and Cannolli 2 the main part is once again played by Vinnie Cannoli. The maffioso with a mouth has been taken captive by goons of the Dark Don. This shady character is a new mob boss, who is out for Vinnie’s blood. Literally! When Vinnie learns this Dark Don also has a deal going on with the Nazis, his already simmering blood starts to boil, and he goes berserk. He goes on a bloody rampage, using an updated array of guns, and violences his way through hordes of mobsters, monsters and Nazis, all the way up to the Dark Don.

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I had a great time! Blood is dripping from the screen, enemies run around bleeding, on fire, de-limbed! Explosions! Nazis! Mutants! Crazy weapons! It’s as if developer Crazy Monkey Studio stook every bit of enjoyable pulp literature and combine dit to make this encredibly entertaining shoot-em-up!

Vinnie is controlled with the left stick and aims using the right. Aiming is done in a 360 degree circle around Vinnie. He jumps like magic Johnson and kicks like mr. Miyagi. I’m flying through the levels like crazy, all the while grinning like an idiot. Dark Bavarian castles, bunkers, the landing in Normandy… Vinnie blasts enemy scum everywhere. And the fun only increases in multiplayer. Three extra players can join Vinnie in a co-op battle against the enemy hordes. Fun guaranteed!

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Grapics are also very satisfying. Guns, Gore and Cannoli maintains the same handdrawn visual style of its predecessor. The cartoonesque violence  works well in tandem with the buckets of handdrawn blood. Voiceacting and soundtrack are on the same level of quality, and I’m regularly laughing out loud at the many popculture references.

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Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 just makes me smile. In a good way. And I bet it’d make you do the same thing. Go now, young padawan, and buy it!

Jan

The Adventures of Elena Temple (SWITCH)

etcovIt’s publicly known that in the NerdTimesGeek household there’s an undying love for the Game Boy. The brick-sized system was a staple of our youths and has carved itself a special little place in our hearts. So when news hit that developer GrimTalin was making a game that paid homage to said system, me and the spouse were immediately on edge. We simply had to try to play and review this!

Players assume the role of Elena Temple, archeologist/treasure hunter extraordinaire. The poor lass is stuck in a treasurefilled temple, that’s just crawling with creepy critters and deadly traps. She has to find a way to the exit, and in passing, pick up as much treasure as she can carry whilst evading and avoiding all things nasty for her health. Luckily for her, Elena carries a pistol. Which is pretty useless, considering it only carries two rounds. So blasting a way to the exit is not an option. No, Elena will have to call on her (the player’s) wits to reach that exit.

I’ve mentioned it already: Elena Temple looks and feels like a retro-game. Simple graphics, simple (yet catchy) soundtrack and supersimple controls. It really feels as if I’m back in the eighties, sprawled out on the living room floor with my best friend, taking turns playing. The only thing missing is his mom nagging about being holed up inside while the weather outside is great.
The game is filled with hilarious takes on systems of back in the day. Players can find information on all the failed (fictive) systems Elena was ported onto. An even greater addition is being able to play the game on each of these. Who doesn’t like playing on a Some Toy, or a Maple computer or even NS-Bos? We can switch to any of these versions, at any time in the game, without losing progress. it makes the whole experience that much more fun.

A nice little puzzler/platformer, this The Adventures of Elena Temple. The only minor gripe I have is its length. It only takes a few hours to reach the exit… Luckily, there still are tons of coins and diamonds to be found throughout the huge temple, so replay value is pretty high, especially counting the various versions one can switch between.

I’m a fan! It’s been a while since I’ve had this kind of nostalgic fun, made me feel like a spry young lad again. Not to be missed by retrofans!

Jan

Save The Ninja Clan (SWITCH)

stnclcovI should’ve written this review a while now. But it was so hard to get up from the floor, where I was curled up in fetal position. Crying over my failed trillionth attempt at a level. And when I ded get up, I had to look allover for the Switch, which I’d foolishly thrown away. And when I finally found it, I had to get help to dislodge it from the wall it was embedded in.
Yes. Save The Ninja Clan is that frustratingly difficult.
And no, apparently I can’t handle that.

I’m in control of a cute little ninja, and, in order to have his clan survive, I need to guide him through a plethora of levels, each bursting with deadly enemies and boobytraps. Piece of cake I can hear you think, but nothing is farther from the truth. Save the Ninja Clan is a platformer of the kind where every jump has to be extremely precise, and where every millisecond counts.

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Ninja-ing on one’s own is never fun, so players can switch between three types of cute ninjas. Each of these have their own special abilities, that should help overcome certain obstacles. But frankly, I didn’t see the use of them. Just keep trying over and over with one type of ninja works just as well.

Underneath all that frustratingly difficult leveldesign, there’s a nice layer of humor hidden. Ninja’s tend to venture into places where they shouldn’t come, and when they do, the game tries to dissuade them with a funny error message, warning them away. Should they continue and stumble into the obvious trap, the game is quick in laughing at them via the same error-popup.

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With it’s nice 8-bit look, cool soundtrack and extremely hard difficulty level, the game should be enticing enough forplayers to come back to and give it one more try. If not, there’s always collectibles to be found.

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Save The Ninja Clan is one heck of a nice little platformer. Its difficulty level means it’s not for the easily giving up type of gamer though.

Jan

Super Daryl Deluxe (SWITCH)

super daryl deluxeDespite this game’s title, Daryl is far from super. Or deluxe. He’s an ordinary, somewhat nerdy teenager. The only things that make him stick out from the crowd are his bell bottom jeans, sweet cowboy boots, sweatband and that little bit of fuzz on his lip some might call a moustache. Other than that: average cakes. Daryl floats carelessly through life, and judging by the look on his face, also mostly thoughtlessly. He’s recently transferred to an interdimensionary high school where nothing is as it seems…

And we’re off! I’m left with Daryl, and it’s up to me to explore the school hallways and to try and make friends. The making-friends bit is harder than it seems, though, as everyone needs something done. It’s your standard “get me this and I’ll get you that” RPG routine, but weirder.

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Because everything in Super Daryl Deluxe is off the rails. I mentioned the interdimensionary school, right? Well, it looks like a regular place of learning, but behind classroom doors lurk portals to other dimensions and beings. The chemistry lab, for instance, is crowded with hostile antropomorphic beakers and flasks. And don’t even get me started on the Arts room. It’s rare enough to find Beethoven and Mozart in the same room, let alone having Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo joining them. Deliciously absurd and funny!

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Daryl is left to his own devices for combat. He has a basic couple of moves that can be upgraded or expanded, and when he’s earned enough, new, more powerful moves can be bought. Every move can be mapped to a button of the player’s choice, leading to a very short learning curve. Battling is in the style of good old fashion beat-em-ups, but some moves have a bit of a lead-in, which makes combat cumbersome at times.

While the combatstyle would lead you to think that Super Daryl Deluxe is a mere beat-em-up, there’s so much more to the game. Often, players will find themselves exploring the hallways, looking for items much in the style of a point-and-click adventure. The upgrading of abilities, equipping of items and clothing and questing are very much like traditional RPG’s and the exploration sometimes handles like a platformer. To label Daryl with a single genre, would be like using mustard as ice cream topping: you just don’t.

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Next to the off the wall humour and overall odballness, the art is what made Super Daryl Deluxe stand out for me. It has this wonderful hand drawn style of animation I just can’t get enough of. And the amount of hours I’ve sunk into the game while I should’ve been reviewing it, just proves my point.

Jan

Death Road To canada (SWITCH)

drtccovHow long would you hold up against a horde of zombies? In Death Road to Canada you get the chance to prove yourself. All the way from Florida to -you guessed it- Canada, the only zombie proof place in the ’hood. On the road you get to deal with robbers, food shortage, wild mooses, heartbreaking choices, cranky allies… Oh, and zombies. Let’s not forget about the zombies!

Death Road to Canada is a randomly generated road trip action-RPG. Every time you play, everything’s randomized: the places you get to choose or are forced to visit, the people you meet on the road, events… The challenge is to try and get your hands on weapons, food and other stuff while keeping yourself and your allies alive. The only thing that all of those gaming sessions have in common? Canada is hard to reach. Very hard.

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After a short and sweet tutorial, you’re off on your own. Or not. That’s up to you after you have chosen your lead character: a randomly generated avatar or a custom built persona. Opting for the latter gives you a plethora of possibilities. From the usual suspects like name, eye colour and clothing to perks and (personality) traits. Only these perks and traits have any influence on how the game plays out. A character with medical skills doesn’t need that many medkits to heal others, while one with an athletic build is prone to deal more damage. Personality, on the other hand, influences group dynamics and how party members get along with one another.

You get to choose a buddy from the start of your game. On the road you’ll meet other people (and dogs!) who would like to join your quest to Canada. It’s up to you to fool them into the lulling embrace of safety by numbers or to leave them to die as zombie bait. But, please: be picky! A good perk is hard to justify with a nasty trait. You’ll soon discover that the opposite holds truth too. If tough choices need to be made or if group morale declines to a point beyond salvation, then these are things to go by.

After you have chosen team members, you’ll hit the road. Driving around in your car, stopping to stock up on fuel, food, medkits, weapons and ammunition. Or not… The game is peculiarly unpredictable. Even though most of the choices are made by you. Opting to skip a place to scavenge? You’ll lose the fuel and food you would have consumed anyways, but save on medkits because there was no risk on getting bite marks. Did the car break down? Nothing a good mechanic can’t easily take care of. No such person or skills in your team? Then you need to continue on foot. Quite a hassle, but the game will soon throw you a car to use. Car keys? Sorry, you’ll need to find these by yourself.

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The fun part of this road trip is sitting behind the wheel. It’s up to you to choose where to go and how to solve problems. Even between two scavenger hunts. After all, your party often argues and looks up to you to decide on matters. Will you raise morale by singing songs by a camp fire (with the risk of luring zombies) or by throwing out a team member (so there’s more food for the rest of you)? Have you even thought about the toll-demanding robbers on the bridge? Or the wounded moose? Choices a plenty, but you will need to make the right ones. You’d almost forget there are zombies shambling about.

The game is so chock-full of humour, memes and pretty little details that you’d almost forget that there’s a zombie horde out there. Luckily, you’ve got quite an arsenal at your disposal: nearly anything you can get your hands on. Throw furniture at the undead, hit them with umbrella’s or behead them with an electric hedge trimmer. The possibilities are as surprising as they are endless. And funny without getting into the gore of most zombie games. This game is all about tongue in cheek comedy anyway and strays from the cheap scary tricks most other zombies games divulge on.

The pixels in this game are huge. It’s a retro-looking game after all, as are more games nowadays. But the animation is anything but old-looking. Count on fluent animation without being too graphic or gory. Rather funny. You wouldn’t say by the graphical choice of the developers, but the game sports rather contemporary tunes. Not the stuff that will stick in your ears for days. Just your good old non-intrusive background music.

 

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Let’s not mince meat, brains or words… The game ain’t easy. The difficulty curve peaks fast. To get through the game, you’ll need three things: skills, luck and upgrades. The latter one can be bought with so-called zombiepoints which can be earned in-game. No exaggerated luxury, even for veteran players.

Are we there yet? Death Road to Canada will make you think, say and repeat that question more than once. The game feels unfair and overwhelming at times. And still, it’s too good to give it a rest. Every death is just a reason to start over again. Because it’s different and surprising every time you play. Which brings lots of replay value. Did I mention the unlockables once you reach Canada safe and sound? What are you waiting for? Get in that car! Death Road to Canada is no doubt and hands down the only zombie-apocalyps game in history where zombies are the least of your troubles.

Marco

Spartan (SWITCH)

Spartan – Afbeelding 1This… is… Spartan! A platformer in the truest sense. 500 B.C. is where it’s at, in ye olde country of Greece. You are king Leo. Royally pissed because all weapons, armour and gold have mysteriously vanished. At the same time Greece is riddled with magical portals, which suddenly appeared. It’s up to you to find out who’s behind all of this and to get back the stolen goods. No one messes with a Spartan!

King Leo looks like a chibi God of War. Any further comparisons end here: they both are from Sparta and that’s about it. Spartan is a platformer after all. You’ll run, jump and climb your way through 24 levels spread over 4 worlds with some bosses added to the mix. Meanwhile you collect coins and use your sword to slice and dice enemies before they can make minced meat out of you. Attacks and obstacles can be blocked with your shield or by avoiding them altogether. You’ve got some fancy moves after all. Like the double jump which seems to be a given in platformers.

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You will wonder about the use of the life meter, though. Most close encounters with spears, circular saws and enemies will throw you back to the previous save point. Which will happen a lot. The difficulty curve gradually builds up during the first levels and then suddenly decides to stop holding your hands. You can change the difficulty (Wimp or Spartan) but there’s no reason to do so. Unless you’re keen on easily refilling your life energy. But since the meter immediately runs out once you stumble into a trap… Oh well.

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Bosses are what you can expect from a game like this. Yes, the cyclops and Medusa are both there. Boss encounters seem overwhelming at first but are quite manageable once you get to know their moves.

King Leo controls a bit floaty. You wouldn’t say, going by his bulking chibi build, but he is. Especially during (double) jumps and those often crucial wall jumps. It takes time to get used to. Even after an hour of intense gaming you find yourself wondering how you could have missed that jump or why that enemy got to you. Controls could have been a tad tighter.

Level design leaves a bit to be desired. Levels often look bland or overly complicated. It’s one or the other with nothing in between. Especially during later levels it’s quite noticeable that the difficulty curve doesn’t grow proportionally to your experience. You’ll find yourself dying on things you shouldn’t.

Graphics are rather plain. The game was built using the Unreal Engine, which guarantees a smooth framerate. Not an overly exaggerated advantage since the game depends on your flawless button input for avoiding those pixel perfect hit boxes.

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Spartan is not a bad game. It’s not a good game either. There are other titles on the Nintendo Switch with the same gameplay premise, executing things on a better level. But, the game does what it needs to do when it comes to returning to the roots of old platformers. Spartan promises AND delivers a hard game for die hard gamers.

Marco

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut (SWITCH)

saccovA bunch of teenagers sets up camp right next to an eerie lake. They settle in for what should be a carefree summercamp, but Skullface is lurking from the bushes. The deranged serial killer vows not to rest until each one of the teenage nuisances is brutally murdered…
It reads like a plot for a good old slashermovie, but it’s actually the plot of a puzzle game. No action-, shooter-, survival horror- or adventuregame, but a simple puzzler.

Players get to play as one of many serial killers. The killer is then set loose in a small environment, littered with obstacles, but also with potential victims. The goal? Simply move the killer towards a victim, without hitting any traps, and kill without mercy.

There’s a catch though: the killer can only move in straight lines, horizontally or vertically, and runs from side to side only stopping when hitting an object. So there’s a lot of logical thinking involved in planning out a route to the next victim. Luckily enough, there’s a handy rewind button. One simple press and the game rewinds one step, so a stupid mistake can be undone without having to restart from scratch.

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And believe me when I say stupid mistakes are made aplenty. Our intrepid serial killer is far from invincible. Traps that can be used to drive victims into, are just as harmful to players. Some levels are riddled with cops who shoot on sight, and there’s even levels that have to be completed within a set number of moves before SWAT arrives and (you’ve guessed it) shoots on sight.

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There’s tons of content in Slayaway Camp. There’s a number of ‘movies’, each with their own killer star and dozen or so levels. There’s even more killers and bloody finishing moves which can be bought with coins earned by playing. It all adds up to a very high replay value.

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Never thought I’d have this much fun with a ‘basic’ sliding puzzle. I’m sure the setting, content and ingenious levels have to do something with it but still.
Me.
Enjoying sliding puzzles.
Who would’ve thunk it?

Jan

Alteric (SWITCH/PSVITA)

altericnxgThe world is square. Especially if you’re a rectangular thingy.

Alteric offers a challenging platformer with hardcore gameplay. Are you up to the challenge? Great! You’re playing as a white square moving throughout levels while avoiding obstacles. Your goal is to reach a giant triangle so you can advance to the next levels where you can. Well, you know… Wash, rinse, repeat. But of course it gets harder every time, as there are even more bottomless pits, circular saws, deadly spikes and laser beams awaiting you after every corne… uhm, triangle.

The game holds you by the hand for the very first levels and then mercilessly drops you into the frying pan. To the point where reaching the goal is either because you’re getting better every time or just got lucky.

The game uses crispy clear minimalistic graphics. Lame? Not at all! You wouldn’t want to get distracted while you’re focusing on an incoming projectile while trying to avoid a circular saw that’s coming from behind you. Just to reach a series of moving laser beams. And you can forget about that pause button: the action just continues. Are you standing on a slope? Keep moving as not to glide from it. Something coming your way? Keep running! The game doesn’t cut you any slack. It keeps you on your toes the whole time. Whether because you’re being hunted by a mob of angry little squares or because the floor is giving away while you’re trying to reach the end of a room.

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One of the key mechanisms of the gameplay is the ability to switch between worlds. Stumped by a wall? In the other world it’s just a passage way. Can’t double jump your way over a pit? Warp back and find a very temporary safe platform. The difficulty ramps up quickly. You’ll soon find yourself switching between two worlds while trying to double jump from one danger to another.

You would almost forget there’s a story to this game. You’re the soul of someone who died. A piece of light energy trapped in the alien space between two worlds. But forget about the story. You don’t play Alteric for its plot twists.

You won’t play this game for fun either. Actually, you will… At least, as long as you don’t get discouraged easily, just because you tried some level for the umpteenth time before you finally reach the goal or just give up. There are some save points but they are meagerly spread around the deadly rooms. Most levels don’t even have any save points at all and require you to finish them in one go.

The end level bosses are a welcome addition. Call them ingenious, frustrating, murderous or anything you like. After their defeat, they’ll give you lots of satisfaction. And bragging rights!

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The controls demand precision, just like the game expects precision from you. That makes things fair. Except for that one button that changes the environment. That one got mapped unfairly. You move with the control stick or with the buttons below it. You jump with the A button. But why, oh why did they have map the button to change worlds to the Y button? Nothing as frustrating and cramp inducing than trying to coordinate and push four buttons at the same time. But, hey, maybe there will be an update? In that case, I do hope that the shoulder buttons are used too. It would make the game just that slightly easier. And so much better to handle.

Care for a challenge? Can’t go wrong with Alteric if that’s up your alley. Be prepared for a world of hurt, cursing and frustration though! But, after all, that’s why you’re a gamer, isn’t it?

Marco

Turtle Pop Journey to Freedom (SWITCH)

cover_largeI’m always happy when I can review a game by a relatively new publisher. So when Singaporian studio Zengami released Turtle Pop on Switch, I was there. At breakneck speed, completely unlike a turtle. In Turtle Pop, players get to play as adorable turtle Bebo and his equally adorable pals. They’re on a quest to rescue all hidden turtles scattered throughout the various islands that make up their habitat.

The game is essentially a puzzle platformer. Each of the turtle friends has abilities that can help players. At the touch of a button, Bebo can make the Turtle Genie appear. A floating turtle, that can switch certain blocks to clear a path, or throw bombs and food. The bombs are fairly self-explanatory: they go boom. Useful for clearing a path. The food grants special bonuses, like higher jumps for a set amount of time. It also has healing capabilities.

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Collecting the lost turtles isn’t quite as easy as it seems though. As long as they are visible on screen, I can switch between each of them individually. I can also link them up to Bebo, provided they are close enough. The turtles then mimic each of the main turtle’s movements. Which can be really helpful, but also a real bother sometimes. Dangerous crevasses and cliffs have to be jumped and bombs have to be avoided. All in all, it’s a sometimes nail-biting, mad-driving experience to get all the little brainless reptiles to the goal.

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Turtle Pop really stands out with everything going on in between levels though. The more you play, the more collectible cards you earn. These cards can be used to upgrade the Genie, or to expand the bomb and food capacity. There are also cards that farm coins, which can be used to upgrade the cards themselves. Confused? Don’t be. It’s quite simple, and you won’t have to bother with the card mechanic in-game.

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While Turtle Pop may seem ‘for kids’ with its cutesy look, adults will also find this a quite fun and challenging puzzler. I certainly did, and I’m eagerly awaiting new stuff from Zengami…

Jan