Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, or “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Sides of a Modern Shooter”

There is a scene early on in Gore Verbinski’s 2011 animated western, Rango, in which Johnny Depp’s titular chameleon is attempting to endear himself to the townsfolk after bumbling his way into town. Through a display of increasingly frantic and outrageous dramatics, he weaves a fantastic tale of his fight with a band of notorious outlaws, an account which the townsfolk have completely bought into by the end despite being fabricated on the spot and held together with the thinnest of logic. Though the scene’s primary purpose is to position Rango as a respected member of the town, as well as to play off his insecurities and reliance of acting in all his social encounters, it also feeds into one of the most persistent and engaging tenants of spaghetti westerns: a stranger’s tale told over a glass of whisky at the town saloon. Continue reading Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, or “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Sides of a Modern Shooter”

Pan-Pan Presents The Most Charming Of Shipwrecks

There are a few core facts I know as of now about Pan-Pan. First, that it is being published by Swedish art-house developer, Might & Delight, creators of the wondrous Shelter and various other pretty projects. Two, that it is being developed by the single-man studio, Spelkraft, whose primary goal is “to create ‘pure’ entertaining and creative interactive experiences,” an endearing mantra evident in his work. Which brings me, finally, to three, that Pan-Pan looks positively lovely, with an art style evoking something between The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Adventure Time. Continue reading Pan-Pan Presents The Most Charming Of Shipwrecks

JumpJet Rex makes 16-bit platforming cool again

JumpJet Rex acts as the continuation of a distinctly mid-90’s branch of game design. A 16-bit arcade platformer, TreeFortress Games’ prehistoric space escapade merges the divergent sensibilities of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, into a game that is as smart and enjoyable as Super Mario, and as undeniably cool as Sonic the Hedgehog. Continue reading JumpJet Rex makes 16-bit platforming cool again

Glitched Invites You Through The Fourth Wall

Now is a great time to be an Earthbound fan. The last year or so has seen the first two games finally made available legally again on the Nintendo eShop, the heavily Earthbound-inspired Undertale releasing to borderline obnoxious amounts of praise, and the darkly comedic Lisa closing out 2014 by reminding us that humanity will always be terrible. Continuing to carry the Earthbound torch long left abandoned by its progenitors, is En House Studios’ Glitched, here to demolish the fourth wall and put frogs in suits. Continue reading Glitched Invites You Through The Fourth Wall

The Purring Quest Can’t Keep Its Hairballs Down

The Purring Quest is a much cuter game than it is an enjoyable one to play. It seems worth getting that much out in the open right from the onset, as whether or not developer Valhalla Cat’s feline focused platformer is worth any sort of consideration, depends on how much its premise can carry it for you. If you exist at the center of a Venn diagram consisting of cat related paraphernalia, armchair philosophy, and graffiti calling for substance legalization, The Purring Quest is able to provide at least some amusement for a very distinct audience. For those less immediately taken in by celebrity cat cameos and catnip jokes, The Purring Quest quickly becomes more chore than delight. Continue reading The Purring Quest Can’t Keep Its Hairballs Down

Metrico Finds Beauty In Bar Charts

As an idea, Metrico is antithetical to much of what has been accepted as conventional game design wisdom. With most games doing everything they can to minimize how conscious you are of the controller sitting in your hand, the deliberateness with which Metrico calls attention to every input performed by the player is both unorthodox and risky. In subordinating the significance of an input’s outcome to focus entirely on the input itself, developer Digital Dreams have created something that is refreshing in its lack of pretensions and ancillary diversions, but ultimately overburdened by the Vita’s plethora of extraneous features. Continue reading Metrico Finds Beauty In Bar Charts

Fran Bow Gets Lost In Its Own Madness

Horror as a genre requires a particularly elegant approach to be successful. It is certainly possible to scare someone through blunt manipulation of disturbing images and a reliance on proven tropes, but horror that lingers, sticking to its audience like the aftermath of a bad dream, that takes something more. To its credit, Fran Bow initially understands this to a level that is truly chilling. But as developer Killmonday Games takes on more and more plotlines, shuffling the player deeper into an incomprehensible madness, Fran Bow falls inside the depths of a convoluted narrative mess from which it is never able to crawl back out of. Continue reading Fran Bow Gets Lost In Its Own Madness

Pokémon Go isn’t about collecting Pokémon, it’s about collecting places

To quickly recap the past week, the long awaited mobile spin-off of Nintendo’s perennially popular monster collecting RPG, Pokémon Go, was finally released to the world at large (whether officially or otherwise), and seemingly everyone with a smartphone is now racing to catch them all. That race is actually fairly literal in this instance, as Go’s hook is sending players to real world locals in order to discover what Pokémon have congregated around various landmarks. It’s a fantastic concept (albeit, dubiously effective here), but where Go both succeeds the most and misses its biggest opportunity is in this same conceit that makes it so compelling: exploring the area around you. Continue reading Pokémon Go isn’t about collecting Pokémon, it’s about collecting places

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