Tag Archives: switch

Dragon Sinker (SWITCH)

DraSin – afbeelding 1A good RPG is always a reason to celebrate. Especially when it comes to JRPGs. Dragon Sinker blends the best elements from tried games, gives them an extra twist and puts a giant cherry on top.

The folks at KEMCO and Exe-Create know what they’re doing. Just a few minutes in this game prove that an 8-bit retro-adventure is still as exciting as it was yesteryear. The look and feel of the very first Dragon Quest, a story which reminds of Lufia and a gameplay not unlike the job system from Final Fantasy V. Still interested? Read on!

A long time ago humans, elves and dwarves united forces and defeated the evil dragon Wyrmvarg. He wasn’t very keen on taking things lying down. So after many years he stood up again, demanding sacrifices. Now a new generation of heroes rises in search of the legendary weapons to put a definite end to His Scaly Evilness.

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Expect to lead a colorful cast on a journey throughout all corners of the world. Grassy plains, dark caves, high mountain tops and other exotic locations await you. You’ll fight turn-based battles against monsters and bosses, stay at inns and raise the troops morale and their stats with new weapons and shiny equipment. Speaking of your allies: each and every one of them has its very own job class. Warrior, thief, priest, baker… Don’t care for a particular job or mastered it completely? Why not have your mage transform into a bard?

And here ends the well-trodden path. Dragon Sinker adds depth to the genre by forcing you to compose several teams. Control up to three parties of max four characters each and exchange them when needed. Even during battles, you’ll need every skill set you’ve got! Some enemies are particularly vulnerable against certain attacks and character types. Not unlike Pokémon: you don’t take a Pikachu to a ground-type fight. That’s common logic. And it runs even deeper than this: the more dwarves in your team, the less chance one of your allies succumbs to paralysis, blindness or a poison attack. Elves protect against status debuffs. Combine this knowledge with more than 16 different jobs and you’ll soon realize that Dragon Sinker brings a lot of interesting strategic options to your battles.

As the silent protagonist you even have a say when it comes to dialogue choices. The phrases you pick don’t change the outcome of the game. However, they do get funny reactions from your allies.

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Don’t be fooled by the retro-animation, nor by anything you may have picked up from other RPGs: Dragon Sinker throws mean adversaries at you. The game constantly lulls you into a false sense of security. Even when you have been training your characters. Gamers who don’t pay attention, see their party pay the ultimate price. There are no save points to be found, but progression is saved whenever you like. Your allies are so considerate as to point out a nearing boss fight. Still lost a battle? Even one that didn’t look like quite a big deal until a small fry used a mass attack spell against your party? Don’t fret: the game lets you start over the battle. As long as you don’t give up, nothing is lost.

Once a while you will need a bit of level grinding before tackling the next area. This never feels like a chore. The many sub quests on offer in towns and cities, have you backtracking just a bit. Ideal for getting those extra needed experience points. Don’t miss out on the rewards for completing these quests: powerful weapons, rare potions and new characters/jobs!

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It’s not hard to get hooked on Dragon Sinker. If unforeseen circumstances do force you away for a while, it’s easily to get into the game again: controls are intuitive, the map always points to the next main goal and a story summary retells your previous adventures.

Even now RPGs from yesteryear celebrate their golden era, like it never passed away. KEMCO successfully translated their formula to current gameplay standards. Rest assured: Dragon Sinker is a valuable addition to your game collection.

Marco

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

Syberia (SWITCH)

syberiacnxgI’ve always been a huge fan of point ‘n’ click adventuregames. There’s just something about solving puzzles, talking to everyone that crosses my path and picking up and pocketing everything that might be useful… It just speaks to me, you know? Needless to say, I was very excited when I learned of 2002’s classic Syberia return on Switch.

In Syberia players get to play as Kate Walker. Kate is a lawyer who is sent on company’s orders to a small village in the French Alps. There, she is to oversee the takeover of a small robotfactory by a big toy company. unfortunately, the elderly owner of the factory recently passed. On her deathbed, she confessed her brother, who everyone thought dead, is still alive, which makes him sole heir to the factory. Kate has to find this mystery brother for the takeover to go as planned.

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I’ll admit, this plot sounds like the plot to one of those cheesy Mexican telenovellas, but keep in mind there’s robots involved here! Every aspect of life in the small village seems to be invaded by robotics in some way. From doorbells to churchbells: there’s robotic touches everywhere! The entire village has a sort of steampunk look and it looks believeable to boot.

Moving Kate around couldn’t be more simple. Walking is done using one of the sticks, running is a mere press of a shoulder button and other actions are also just one button press away. Simple. The Switch and adventure games seem to be a match made in gamer-heaven. Before you know it, you’ll be running around the village, talking off people’s ears and picking up everything that isn’t nailed down. Just like old times!

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Also just like old times: everything else. Syberia isn’t a remake for Switch, it’s a mere port. Meaning graphics haven’t gotten a makeover. Sound didn’t get redone. Everything seen and heard might have been amazing 15 years ago, but nowadays seems a bit clunky. Kate seemingly floats on thin air through all the drawn environments, and some looped music and sounds just seem old…

And even though controls are nice and easy, they could have been smoother. Kate bumps far too often into invisble barriers, making the grand environments seem claustrophobically small. She also switches direction when running from screen to screen, making her go back and forth if I don’t let go of the stick everytime she goes offscreen…
Smooth, it is not.

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Syberia still is a very enjoyable game, with a very enjoyable and well-written story, but I wonder if it didn’t deserve a more thourough cleanup for it Switch debut.

 

Jan

Steamworld Dig 2 (Switch)

swd2covernxgDo you remember Steamworld Dig? The crazy platforming/puzzle game featuring Rusty the robotcowboy as the main character? The game recently got a sequel, placing players in the role of Dorothy, Rusty’s friend. Following the events of the first game, Rusty has disappeared without a trace. Dorothy goes on a quest to find him and encounters several mysterious happenings along the way…

Style-wise, nothing has changed. Steamworld Dig 2 still is a 2D platformer, I’m still digging like crazy, and I’m still mining for ore and valuable minerals. And everything is still looking as nice as ever. It’s like playing a cartoon!

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The emphasis in this second installment is perhaps leaning a bit more towards the platforming element. Dorothy is a nimble little bot, and jumps from one rock to the other without so much as breaking a sweat. I mean oil stain.
Same goes for wallclimbing. Dorothy walljumps as easy as walking on flat ground. It all makes exploring the mine a bit easier. Which is not a bit thing, ’cause there is a ton of mine to explore. There are legions of enemies, and massive amounts of ore and minerals. There are even secret passages and rooms, that contain cogs and artifacts.

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Those cogs can be used in the mining town on the surface. With them, we can upgrade the upgrades of our equipment. You see, each piece of equipment can be leveled up using cash wemade from selling ore. With each level, several extra mods become available, which can be installed using cogs. It all makes for a lot of different combinations of gear, so players can suit up according to their own playing style. It also makes me go back to the mine time and again, digging for ore, artifacts and cogs. Even more than I’m focusing on the main objective…

Transportation tubes also make a welcome return. There strewn throughout the mine, and once wi clear them from rubble, I can  travel between them. It not only makes exploring a bit easier, it also helps in lowering difficulty. Once I’m near death, I can easily make my way back to a tube and ride it up to the surface to recover.

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Steamworld Dig 2 is a game you should play. Not only for fans of the first game, but also perfectly suited for newcomers to the franchise. So get your pickaxe out, dig for someore and go buy Steamworld Dig 2 from those profits!

Jan

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch)

skttLast year, I was impressed beyond words by Shovel Knight. I called it a “platforming marvel, a refreshing fountain of nostalgic feelings for the 8bit era”. I called it “required gaming”. I longed for a sequel.

Silently, Shovel Knight kept getting updates. All of those updates are now bundled with the newest campaign in Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove.

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In this new campaign, Spectre of Torment, Spectre Knight takes centre stage. The campaign shares the same retro 8bit styling with the original. Enemy characters and even some levels were recycled. The entire system of treasurehunting was copied. But who effing cares? The pure joy and fun that were so in abundance in the original, are back with a vengeance.

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Sure, the game is hard. And checkpoints tend to be far apart, but that’s just part of the fun. Everytime we fail miserably, we start over cursing like a drunken sailor, but ready for more 8 bit fun.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: two thumbs up. Required gaming. Download that DLC ASAP, and if you happened to have missed the original Shovel Knight: go and download the bundle.  You’ll enjoy it. I promise.

Jan