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Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is probably among the best purchases I’ve made this year and is easily one of the more memorable experiences. It’s pretty sad when a $15 download title is just so much better and so much more enjoyable compared to a lot of hyped “triple-A” titles that have come out this year. I’ve actually spent more time playing Shovel Knight and other stuff like Papers, Please than I ever put into games like Watch Dogs. That’s mainly because Watch Dogs just wasn’t very good, but it also seems to be a growing trend with all of these big budget games turning out to be boring and uninspired while the smaller, and often independent, games shine so much brighter. I suppose it’s something that has been going on for a while now, but I never really took a whole lot of notice until recently. Anyway, enough about all of that and onto Shovel Knight!

shovel-knight-levelThe whole concept of Shovel Knight is ridiculous and awesome or perhaps just ridiculously awesome. I mean, a knight that goes around fighting people with a shovel is just hilarious in its own right but the idea opens up some interesting gameplay ideas. Personally I would have loved to see some more elements that involved digging and some interesting secrets and puzzles to go along with it but at its core Shovel Knight is an action platformer first and foremost. I want to compare it to something like Mega Man but I don’t actually have a lot of Mega Man experience. Shovel Knight might actually be closer to, a lot closer actually, Duck Tales–even down to Shovel Knight’s ability to bounce continuously on enemies and certain objects with his shovel. There’s a lot more to it than that, however. In addition to bouncing and swinging your shovel you can also collect and buy various relics and upgrades throughout the game. There’s a wide variety of optional sub-weapons that you can acquire that not only help in defeating baddies but also provide some additional help in the platforming department by granting you the  ability to walk and travel over spikes or flight a short distance.

The overworl layout of Shovel Knight looks somewhat similar to Mario Bros. 3. All of the levels are connected by paths and in order to progress you need to defeat bosses to unlock the way through. There are also a few optional side areas where you can gather some extra treasure and even some wandering bosses. A few towns are also available and you can talk to NPCs and buy upgrades there. Each of the actual levels are themed to a specific boss like Mole Knight, Plague Knight, Propeller Knight, etc. This is what reminds me a little bit of Mega Man, especially since you get the option of a few levels at once and can tackle them in any order. Sometimes this can even prove to be helpful if there is a handy relic in another level that might make things easier for you later on.  The game is actually pretty difficult and you will die at least a few times be it from enemies or platforming. At the end I had 85 or so deaths so maybe I just suck. When you die you lose a portion of your acquired treasure and go back to the nearest checkpoint you reached, which can sometimes be pretty far away. Some of the treasure you lost will remain at the spot of your death in the form of floating bags and if you are able you can regain some of it. The higher treasure amount you have, which is what you use to purchase stuff and acts as somewhat of a score, the more you lose.

shovel-knight-bossMy first run at Shovel Knight lasted around 8 or so hours and that was only at about 97% item completion. A new game + option exists which lets you carry over all your stuff into a harder version of the game and right now I’m working through that. A form of achievements also exist called Feats. Some of them are fairly easy while others are just straight up crazy. I mean, complete the game without dying? Don’t fall into a single pit? That’s just crazy but that’s another cool aspect about this and games like it. You can really make it as hard for yourself as you want by trying to beat the game without getting any relics, by destroying the checkpoints for money, trying to beat it in under 90 minutes, etc. All of which also have an attached feat.

Shovel Knight is a fantastic game and one that I wish could just keep going on and on without end. If you have a Wii U, 3Ds, or PC then you really need to check it out. The visuals are incredibly charming and the sprites are just awesome. The music is catchy and there is actually a lot of good variety to it. Plus the game is just loads and loads of fun. Support Shovel Knight and maybe we will get a sequel if we are lucky.

Moon Chronicles: Episode 1

Moon Chronicles is an episodic first-person shooter and remastered version of the DS game ‘Moon’.  The first episode contains the first four chapters of the game along with a bonus training mission all for $8.99. The rest of the game, releasing over time, will be spread out across three more episodes for about $1.99.

moon-chroniclesEpisode 1: One Small Step

Gameplay in Moon Chronicles is driven by waypoints guiding you through exploration and investigation of a moon facility. Throughout the levels you’ll be confronted by drones and spider bots along with a couple boss fights.  Accessing computer consoles will give you access to more story information as you try and discover what happened to the rest of your team.  [Read more...]

Kirby: Triple Deluxe

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is the latest entry in the series and, like some past titles, it comes with a few different modes for you to play around in along with some additional unlockable modes. I believe this is Kirby’s first game on the 3DS and everything looks really nice. The visuals are very nice and charming and the 3D depth effect is among some of the best seen on the system. You don’t usually encounter many titles where the 3D is so well done and enhances the experience. I think I can name about three titles where that’s the case. But anyway, here’s a brief breakdown of each of the game modes in Kirby: Triple Deluxe.

new-kirbyStory Mode

This is the main adventure of the game and likely the place where most of your time will be spent. You play as Kirby and travel through six different worlds filled with half a dozen levels each. Kirby’s basic moveset is pretty limited and doesn’t let you do much more than jump, float, puff air, and perform his classic inhale. The gameplay mechanics branch out quite a bit more after you swallow certain bad guys and copy their powers. I don’t know the exact number of powers but there seems to be quite a bit of them and they include stuff like fire, ice, archer, fighter, Ninja, beetle, bell, and so on. Lots of different stuff to check out with different play styles. [Read more...]

Mario Golf: World Tour – A Hole In…Fun?


That title doesn’t really make any sense, but I figured we need to start being trendy and make puns out of our review titles. What I’m curious about is whether that sounds negative or not. A hole-in-one is a good thing but I imagine a hole in your fun is less desirable. Then again, it isn’t saying there is a hole in a one but rather that the hole was hit in one shot, right? So if you say hole-in-fun would that mean that they made it fun on the first try? If you read through this entire paragraph then I just wasted precious moments of your life. No refunds.

So I should probably clarify that I do think that the game is very fun. I haven’t played any of the previous Mario Golf titles but I have heard good things about them. Well, at least about the Camelot developed ones. I heard those had some RPG elements which sounds pretty cool to me. Camelot did make this game as well but from what I’ve seen there do not seem to be any RPG elements. Sounds like kind of a stupid thing to be disappointed over; not having RPG stuff in your golf game. Still, the game is very enjoyable. [Read more...]

Nintendo is Lost Right Now


Nintendo released their earnings report, and things aren’t looking so hot.  The Wii U didn’t sell nearly (even close) to as many units as they projected, and even after lowering their expectations they failed to meet the new numbers.  Ouch.

We are Nintendo fans.  I think they are one of the better video game companies out there, and have been since I can remember.  For as long as I’ve played video games (since 1990) they’ve been making games I love.  There was a time when not a month would go by without there being a new beloved Nintendo title on the market pulling in fans.  Something is starting to change.  There are fewer and fewer first party titles.  Hardware is releasing without support.  THe company as a whole is putting off this sense that they have no idea where they are going, how they are going to go there, or why.

I think this can all be fixed.  Here’s what I would do.

nintendo-first-partyRelease more -NEW- FIRST PARTY titles

Seriously.  Wii U came out November 2012 and we still don’t have a new Zelda to play.  Smash Bros is still not out yet, and the Mario games we’re seeing are starting to be formulaic.   If I were Nintendo I would create a very clear roadmap of when to expect the major franchise releases.  They don’t want to dilute the brands at all by over-releasing titles, but people have to know that there is at least a plan.   The Wii U can’t be a device that just plays older Nintendo games, even though they are awesome.

alpha-sappireMake a Pokemon game for the Wii U

This one seems obvious to me.  The latest installment of Pokemon introduced a ‘3D’ world on the Nintendo 3DS.  Nintendo would be crazy not to capitalize on a fully-realized Pokemon game for their console.  Pokemon sells hardware.  Use that to your advantage!  Yes, Nintendo only owns a third of Pokemon, but money changes minds.

Oh, and while I’m talking about Pokemon did you hear about the Sapphire and Ruby re-remakes?

Integrate your handhelds into your console market


The Wii U and the 3DS are both great consoles.  Individually they are already neat devices, but I want to see more interaction between the two.  I think Sony is on to something with the Vita and how well it interacts with the PS4.  I’d like to see the 3DS play games with the Wii U, and even take control or act as a companion device.

Stop being… weird

Lately Nintendo has taken  this… weird ‘oddball’ style.  The last two Nintendo Directs have shown that whoever has taken over for their marketing thinks all Nintendo fans are 32 year-old stoners.  Being weird once or twice is okay, but making it part of your brand isn’t.  Be yourself.  Be that youthful company who mastered the art of creating franchises appealing to and entertaining for all ages.

Marketing Nintendo games should be the easiest thing on the planet.  Focus on the dang games!