Bionic Commando PS3 Review

     With my current backlog of games I have been plowing through a stack of old games that I'd like to get through.  Some of them are great, and some are not so great.  Bionic Commando is definitely one of the not so great games.

     Capcom began with Developer Grin updating the old NES Bionic Commando for the modern era.  At first glance the game appears to have a lot going for it- decent graphics, a cliched but tolerable story, and a cool bionic arm that allows players to fulfill their Spider-Man dreams of swinging through a city.  What we got was unfortunately a muddled mess of a game.

     Back in the old NES days games were tough but playable.  I think they really focused on that aspect because pretty much anything can kill you here.  The most intolerable are the radiation zones.  If the bombed city you are progressing through has high radiation on one side of the street and on the other side of the street also contains said radiation as well, there's a damn good chance you should be roasted in the middle of the street as well.  What makes this even more problematic is the fact that about half the enemies can send you flying into these instant death zones- sending you in all probability to the last check point- which is often times the beginning of the level.  Extremely irritating.  And seriously- who puts a single level checkpoint 10 feet from the end of the level?!?
     Death also happens if you are in water.  The logic is if you fall in water, the bionics would pull you under and you'll drown.  That's a fair assumption, but when the character continually "drowns" in waist deep water it's absolutely infuriating.
     Then there's the combat.  It isn't too awful on its own.  What makes it bad, is the fact all enemies are far faster than you and they have perfect accuracy.  Snipers know exactly where you are in every level.  There is no way you can skirt them or stealthily sneak up and dispatch them.  Their rifles are always trained on you and their shot speed is far too fast.  The heavy enemies can only be damaged by a weak spot on their backs, but since they always keep their back away from you getting behind them is an issue made worse by the sluggish camera and motion control.
     Making matters even worse Grin thought it perfectly acceptable to throw in a multitude of enemies.  So instead of fighting a couple at a time, you often face 2-3 heavies while snipers take potshots at you and the the grunts and machine gunners unload into your body.  Unfair is the first thing that comes to mind.  There isn't a good balance here.  Especially when your weapon selection and choices are severely limited (mostly your handgun) because they want players to rely on the arm which is a very poor idea as the range is ultimately melee, leaving you exposed for all to shoot.

     Speaking of the arm controls, more often than not the swinging wouldn't open the reticle to grab or leave me slamming into invisible walls mid-swing.  The swinging isn't remotely fluid at all- there is a constant failure to find things that you can latch onto which inevitably leads to death and restarting at- you guessed it- the last checkpoint.  I also found a huge issue with grabbing objects.  Many times the color of the reticle would change while I was targeting a throwable object and the bionic arm would latch onto the ground under the object.  Not fun while you are being gunned down.
     Another thing to note is that sometimes I made it to the end of an area and had no idea how to proceed.  After a bit of frustration I broke down and looked it up.  Somehow I had missed, multiple times, groups of enemies that I needed to kill and they didn't spawn- necessitating the replay of the level again.

     When it comes to story Bionic Commando is some of the most cliched storytelling ever.  Nathan "Rad" Spencer was a soldier that got turned on by the government.  He got imprisoned and lost his lady.  He is needed so they secretly re-enlist him and in exchange he gets his arm back and information on his missing lady.

     What happened here is sad.  There isn't an open world that you may explore.  All the trailers and things I saw had me thinking it would be an open area to roam and play in, but alas it was not.  That was a huge mistake for this game.  Honestly- the best part of the game is some of the locations, they are stunning.  But the gorgeous vistas are not open- the result is the world they've placed you in is constricted.
     It is a shame really.  I think if Grin had more money and better designers, I think Bionic Commando might've done well really- as it stands it's merely a massively flawed and forgettable experience.  All the best sections were the non-combative ones where you could just roam around and look at stuff.  This is a game that you can judge by the last "Boss" encounter- relegated to the biggest cliche in a game comprised of cliches and topped off with a QTE.  Not even a real fight.  A QTE.  What an embarrassment.
     But then again, that's most of the game.


Escape Dead Island: New Unraveled Trailer and Release Date

     Deep Silver's upcoming game, Escape Dead Island, has gotten a nice new trailer and a release date.  We get a wonderfully new distinct and vibrant color palette filled with oceans of blood spraying everywhere.

     Escape Dead Island serves as a bridge between the two previous games, telling the tale of Cliff Calo- who winds up stranded on the island after being disowned and heading out to shoot a documentary but ends up crashing his boat on the island.  He sets out to unravel the mystery of the infection and document the things going on.  What sets this apart from the other games is manifold- in looks, and in gameplay- the creators have altered the way things are experienced.

     Right off the bat- Escape has a new look.  A bright and colorful cell-shaded world.  The third person play (a departure from the first-person perspective of the first two games) and the new art style have really caught my eye.  They've even added a stealth element to the game- allowing you to sneak up and silently kill zombies- as Cliff isn't immune to the infection sweeping the island.  That may account for the strange cerebral hallucination-like episodes from the trailers.

     One other thing that really caught my attention was the fact inventory items don't degrade.  They'll stay in your inventory.  It always bothered me that cracking a few skulls with a crowbar would cause it to break in the earlier games.  I could hammer away with a real crowbar on concrete and steel and it wouldn't have that effect, let alone on some much-softer zombie skulls.  This addition will work like old adventure games where each new item will unlock a potential new explorable area on the island.

     Escape Dead Island will be available on Nov. 18th for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.


Donald Glover is Finally the Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales)... Kind of...

     Lifelong Spider-Man fan Donald Glover will finally be able to put his favorite superhero on his list of official jobs.  Next year he'll be voicing Miles Morales, the mixed race Ultimate Spider-Man from the comics in 2011, in a dimension hopping episode of Disney XD's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors.  He'll come into contact with a parallel world trekking Peter Parker and both characters might be moved by the encounter.

At least it's a start.  It's about time.  
     It'll be a big occurrence for Miles as he'll be meeting his hero, who has died in his own universe.  Maybe he'll learn a thing or two about balancing his school life, being a kid, and the new-found responsibility of being a superhero.

     While Glover knows this isn't the same as playing him on film- he still hasn't given up hope.  Many of us fans are pulling for him to get something like a slightly older version of Morales in a film of some sort, I mean he already gets it- he knows what makes Spider-Man both relatable and timeless:
      "I never liked Superman that much, because I was like, 'Yo, this dude can't die. It's too easy,' " Glover says. "Batman is pretty fly. He's a close second, just because he doesn't really have powers. He's just a justice-driven vigilante.
     "Spider-Man is the best because you just don't know who he is, and he's funny and he's poor. I understand Spider-Man a lot on that level. He's just trying to make it."
     We need some more diversity in our superhero stuff.  Come on Marvel and Disney, we need this.  Here's another post I did quite a while ago about the subject of "No Miles Morales Coming to Film."  We need a live action Spider-Man without James Garfield constantly pursing his lips.  It's annoying and Peter Parker has gotten a bit cocky in the current movies.  We could use something new and interesting like Morales' story.


     Source [ USA Today ]

The Regular Show: Best Park in the Universe Review (Android)

     As a Regular Show fan, I consistently find myself drawn to things with the name attached, and of course video games for the show are aplenty.  With The Regular Show: Best Park in the Universe we get something quite good actually, unlike most mobile and browser games.

     In Best Park in the Universe, perpetual slackers Mordecai and Rigby are left in charge after manager Benson heads to a conference.  In an effort to get some get some days off they want to clean the entire park and end up embroiled in a plot with a space cowboy to make their park the titular best in the universe.  Like most of their exploits they end up being idiots and attempt to save their park for the most selfish of reasons, and much hilarity ensues.

     The game itself is mainly comprised of a straightforward beat-em-up with a very, VERY light RPG leveling system in the form of a small skill tree.  For characters you get to choose a tag-team from the main Mordecai and Rigby, but you can also play as Muscle Man and Pops (any combination of the 4 choices), which adds an entire new realm of humor to the battling.

     Over the course of 3 maps (5 levels each) you must battle your way through swarms of various enemies such as space bikers, zombie businessmen, and robots.  The difficulty curve is decent until the last couple levels of the 3rd map where it skyrockets.  All the enemies seem programmed to surround you and attack until you are dead.  Simple enough.  This wouldn't be much of a problem with the leveling system, but it's the controls that make it a problem.  you can't always be sure who you'll be hitting, if anyone at all- sometimes the characters will just swing at air even though you're right on top of the enemies.

Just Flexing Some Pecs as Muscle Man!
     Honestly, an on-screen D-pad could've helped this game immensely.  When trying to evade attacks you'll find yourself tapping or holding parts of the screen and the character just stands there immobile, which opens you up to being surrounded and beaten to death swiftly in the later levels.  It is very frustrating with how it fails to function when you need it the most.  The attacks are all swipe based in the various directions and combinations to create a nicely natural feel.  Only the movement part of the controls feel lacking and I believe a D-pad would've solved most of the issue.

     As for graphics and sound- Best Park in the Universe has top notch in both areas.  They are clean and crisp- graphics are vibrant and wonderful, and the sounds have great voice-overs for the characters.  Hearing Pops ask during his "special attack" if anyone wants to wrestle never loses it's touch, consider his highly effeminate and crazy old man-voice.  I have to be honest here and say I saw a ton of screen tearing (see my Muscle Man Pec Flexing screencap above) and the app crashed at least 15 times over the course of a few days.  There are problems, but since the game was only 99 cents it wasn't much of an issue, more of an annoyance.

     In addition to the main 15 total levels, there are a few minigames to play.  The first is an enemy horde wave mode to defeat as many enemies as possible before you die.  Simple and fun.  The second mode "Epic Destruction" is a destroy-as-many-circuit-towers-in-two-minutes-mode.  Another nice and small challenge- nothing special, but a nice little distraction.  The third mode is "Speed Search Mode" a duck collecting mode.  This mode is the worst part as a result of the poor movement control.  You have to time your movements for maneuvering through many series of lasers- which is made much more difficult because of shoddy movement controls.
     Update:  Just found out the 4th lock is a "Boss Rush Mode."  You get to fight all the bosses back to back.

     The look and feel of this game is something that I believe has actually done some justice for the series, which is open to an entire world of games- they just aren't quite getting most of them right.  I really hope the game makers for any future Regular Show games take note and learn from this and go from there.  This sets up a decent foundation, but that's about it.  This reminds me of the Nintendo 3DS's Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land, they had a solid base, and just didn't get it right.  Fun for what time I played, but not really memorable.
     Overall- if you are a fan of either brawler beat-em-ups or The Regular Show, Best Park in the Universe is worth your time.


The Legend of Korra (Platinum Games) Release Date and New Pro-Bending Mode

     Hot on the tails of The Legend of Korra's Book 3 TV show finale, we get some new information for Activision and Platinum Games' game-of-the-same-name including a new mode, release date, and a bit of potential for future Korra games.

Are you ready for some Pro-BENDIIIIIINNNGGG!?!?!?!
     The newly announced Pro-Bending Mode allows players to compete in 3 versus 3 matches of the game from the show.  It will be a mode that unlocks after completing the main game for the first time.  You'll get to play as Korra (Water), Mako (Fire), and Bolin (Earth).  They'll even including the tie-breakers and Face Off's on the small raised platforms that will heighten the importance of countering opponents moves.
     It doesn't appear to be a ton, but an extra mini-game of sorts, and that's all right by me.  Pro-Bending mode will add just a little bit more to keep me interested in the game after I've beaten the main game.

     In addition to that, during the IGN with Activision's Robert Conkey, he states that they love Korra when asked about the future of the game series, but they are currently focused on making this the best possible game they can make it.
     Sadly, there is no mention of the Nintendo 3DS Korra strategy game from previous articles.

     The Legend of Korra is set to be released on Oct. 21 for Playstation Network and PC, then on the following day (Oct. 22) on the Xbox Marketplace.

     Source [ IGN ]


Penguins of Madagascar Movie: Trailer 2

     The second trailer for the best part of all the Madagascar movies has arrived (well, ok- it arrived a couple weeks ago, but I've been super busy)!!!

     Of course they kept the best part of the first trailer- the cheese doodles scene- and they've added a nice bit of the penguins when they were children.  This film is looking unbelievably amazing.

     The Penguins of Madagascar Movie hits theaters November 26th.

     On a side note- where did Rico's scar go?  I don't recall seeing it in the Madagascar films, but it was readily apparent in all the television show episodes- so maybe they got rid of it...  
     ...but it was such a nice and subtle touch to the team's infinite-stomach-storage member.


Toren: An Intriguing Game of Growth

     Swordtales, an independent developer from Brazil, and publisher Versus Evil have come together to create a wonderful game called Toren.  They are calling it a dark fantasy adventure, and the visuals have taken many cues and inspiration from games like Ico, Journey, and the soon to be released Rime- creating a place of wonder and danger.  Just watch the trailer, this game appears to be much more than what it first appears to be.

     "Toren is a 3D adventure game with beautiful graphics, immersive gameplay, which leads the player through an introspective and captivating journey using the deep concepts like time, religion and mortality.
     Built around an epic poem, the game takes the audience in an torrent of discoveries about the greatest myth of all. 
     A game to be experienced, in which the player will grow and change along with the tower and its heroes."
     Swordtales seem to have struck something amazing here- the progression of time.  The character, Moonchild (Could that be a call back to Bastion's Mother's name in the NeverEnding Story???), even appears to age through the trailer while she is scaling the titular tower, and that sounds amazing.  Think of the ramifications of that small act in game.  Aging and mortality.

     The "timeless world of Toren" might have more meaning than the texts from the site let on- and it draws my attention when the character ages in a timeless place.  Moonchild grows enough to attack a small dragon and that is something to think about.  This game has a lot of potential and I fully look forward to trying it out when it hits PS4.  In fact- this, along with Rime, look to be the perfect filler while we all wait for The Last Guardian's re-introduction.

     Toren will be available on PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux in early 2015.

     Source [ Toren ]


Gravity Duck: Review

     Noodlecake Studios with Woblyware and Ravenous Games have produced another simple 2D platformer that manages to be both interesting and consistently mundane.  That isn't to say it isn't worth playing though.

     The premise is that a massive Easter Island looking stone head wants you, a duck, to collect all his golden eggs.  But this plot is barely given much thought- the chief draw here is the ability that the head bestows upon the duck- to flip gravity.  You can't jump at all, you simply reverse gravity and fall in the opposite direction.

A giant stone head and a duck.  What more could you ask for?
     This simple new power is used in conjunction with some gravity rotating yellow orbs to solve roughly 100 levels of short puzzles.  There is nothing to strenuous in terms of puzzles- nothing to rack your brain with- but the concept does prove to be fun enough to want to keep playing.  The lack of challenge is low enough that you can nearly always tell what to do as soon as the level begins.

     The downsides are the controls were occasionally unresponsive leaving players slightly frustrated when a lack of response movement leads directly to death.  In addition, sometimes you need to dive blindly into areas and die because your view is severely limited in places (no camera movement).  Once in a while the enemy laden areas need a bit of trial and error to figure out due to their swiftness, but it isn't too awful.

A fashionable top-hat is the reward for collecting all the golden eggs.
     For only a dollar, Gravity Duck provides plenty of simple, cute, and pixely puzzling entertainment.  Perhaps the gravity manipulation and level design for the coming "City" DLC will prove to add a little more variety for our entertainment.  I hope they add some more progression, balance, and flow to the levels and challenge to come- I would like more of a sense of achievement from the puzzles- something a little more like a 2D version of the phenomenal PS Vita game Gravity Rush.  There is a wide range with the concept they've used, if only they'd take it to the next level of its potential.

FEZ 2: Never Going to Happen," BECAUSE... "You Don't Deserve it."

     FEZ Developer Phil Fish is producing some highly inflammatory remarks again.  This time he's actually posted one of my favorites and it's directly concerning the sequel to the game that gained him both loads of money and notoriety:
     This is actually sad for many reasons- first, I just finished playing the brilliantly created FEZ since it was free on the Playstation Network (it is a tremendous game) and secondly, it's comments like these that will prevent him from any future work.  He's alienating gamers by callously attacking the people that got him where he is.  A very unfortunate circumstance indeed.

     There's levels of professionalism and things like this only serve to "feed the trolls."  So he's kind of burning bridges to any new fans that might be made.  Even with the following Tweet- a gamer asks with genuine sincerity and Fish's response is exactly what's become quite typical to his character:
     Sure, we may not deserve a sequel, but there are better ways of saying it.  But then, does he deserve the money from all the people that supported him?  The gaming market goes both ways.

     What makes this extra terrible is Fish does post some informative and insightful things, such as this Tweet about the #Ferguson situation and how we need to demilitarize the police and start with real life accountability- too bad he isn't taking it to heart for himself:


R.I.P.D.: The Game: PS3 Review

     Much like the movie this is very loosely based on, R.I.P.D.: The Game has a terrible charm about it.  It is not a good game, but it's not even close to the worst movie tie-in game either.  I picked this up on a whim about a week ago on the Sony Playstation Network because it was only $2.99 and decided to give it a chance.

The graphics really aren't too bad.  Having no witty banter to listen to is quite unfortunate.
     What I found instead of the typical dismal story game with a series of simple levels, ended up being a 2 player co-op horde mode story game.  Oddly enough I found I actually enjoyed it as well.  Being limited to the 2 main characters from the film- Roy (Jeff Bridges- in the film, he's just his character from True Grit) and Nick (Ryan Reynolds playing himself in the movie as always).  Sadly there are no other choices, not even their alternate looks from the film- James Hong and Marissa Miller- which would've added a nice dash of fun and hilarity to the game, I mean the weapons these 2 avatar versions use in the film are both unlockable (a Banana and a Hair Dryer), so why did they exclude the 2 extra skin options?

Playing as James Hong would've been hilarious.
     Another major thing lacking is here the voice acting- neither Reynolds nor Bridges were used.  There is barely any dialog and the story is through comic-booky art and text.  Where is all the witty repartee from the characters from the movie?

     The gist of the game is similar to the film in that it is essentially a supernatural ripoff of Men in Black.  You are tasked with hunting down a Deado named Hayes and to do so you must fight through 5 encounter waves of Deados over and over at the handful of locations.  When you've done it enough a last level appears that has a few minor things to complete before taking on Hayes himself.  Incidentally the difficulty on the last level is roughly 10 notches above the rest of the game.

     Since none of my friends had the game I couldn't play with a second person- and there are no bots to help you through- so it got a bit tedious towards the end.  The lightly progressing weapon system was a nice, albeit a very minuscule, addition.  There are mini challenges in levels and a betting system (I couldn't use because there were no 2nd players encountered) as well.  But that is about it.  All the trimmings that may have been added were somehow forgotten.

     There is a lot wrong with this game- hit detection is horrendous, no instructions so everything is trial and error, no way to crouch or cover, and it all-around fails to really explain anything- BUT- I found I still really liked playing the game.  There is something about this stupid, plain-old horde-shooter that I can appreciate.  Being that this game is essentially a knockoff game, being God Mode same maker Old School Games, of a knockoff movie I am surprised it turned out to be remotely entertaining.  If only they spent a little longer- adding things like random multiplayer matchmaking, more locations, more skins, and more variety in general and much, much more content- this game may have been able to rise above its lackluster quality.


The Last Guardian Update: Big Surprise: Won't be at Tokyo Game Show

     This game should be retitled "The Lost Guardian" due to its inability to seen anywhere despite Sony's repeated assurances that is still on the way.

     Eurogamer questioned Sony Worldwide Studios' Shuhei Yoshida if we might catch a glimpse of this elusive beast at the 2014 TGS.  We of course get a no- but with the extra comments:
     "When we are ready. I cannot confirm any timing because we are waiting for it to be in a state where we are happy that this is the game. We have a certain time frame in our mind, and the team is making great progress, but still not to the point that we can say that, here you go."
     A mere 5 years after being first announced at the 2009 E3, it has been in a perpetual state of delay.  I don't mind because if Sony has enough faith in Team Ico's game, it must be something amazing.

     A part of me hopes they'll incorporate some elements like Journey's multiplayer, or that the world of The Last Guardian will make Shadow of the Colossus' map look like a single room.  In a long shot- if they ported this to the PS Vita, sales would skyrocket for the portable wonder.

     Why all these setbacks?  Yoshida commented on that as well.
     "The technical issues on PS3 and the way it was engineered didn't work.  It worked to some extent, that's why we had a date in mind."
     "That was a mistake," Yoshida admitted, "but at one time it was looking possible. It has been totally re-engineered. They're still working on it. I've been seeing the progress."
     The reason behind all the postponements does make sense as it sounds like they completely rebuilt the game.  While infuriating to have to wait, the next time we see The Last Guardian it may be a whole different game- better graphics, better system, and much more than we originally thought we were going to get.  But can that compete with our expectations?  We shall see.

     Source [ Eurogamer ]


Bloodborne: Gamescom Gameplay Trailer

    Today Masaaki Yamagiwa of Studio Japan showed the new Bloodborne gameplay trailer and it is a thing of beauty.  Focusing on the combat and its new aspects it looks like we might be in for a treat with the so-called "Regain" system- allowing quickly decisive players to gain health back for counter attacks.  
     Strategy and skill will be given a new meaning- so unlike the Souls games this one will have a high risk- high reward play, giving players an even better sense of achievement.  Instead of waiting patiently for openings, we'll have a greater incentive to return fire.
     We FromSoftware fans don't have to worry, as this is still not a simple hack-and-slash, and will retain their trademark RPG elements and difficulty.  I look forward to walking the dark streets of Yharnam, blade in hand.

     Source [ Playstation Blog ]

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Last Hope Trailer (Tiny Tina's Mother and Claptrap's Action Skill)

     With the soon to be released Borderlands: The Pre-sequel we get a brand new trailer and some nice ideas of what Claptrap's skill might be.  It looks to be just as ridiculous as he is, involving a pirate like ship version of himself and possibly a disco ball as well.

    Also- at 1:23, could this be Tiny Tina's Mom???

Nice Space-Skag count on her arm!  (Coule this be Tiny Tina's Mother?)


Rime: The 2014 Gamescom Trailer is Truly Wonderful

     Premiering at Sony's Gamescom 2014 Press Conference, Rime looks like a cross between Journey, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Shadow of the Colossus and mixing in the enchanting beauty of a strange island like Myst.

     Rime's official trailer description is “The story of a boy who must use his wits and ingenuity to survive – and ultimately escape from – a mysterious island and a terrible curse.”

     I've been waiting for a full trailer of this game for about a year now (since Sony's 2013 Gamescom Press Conference), and it does not disappoint.  While all of us Team Ico fans wait for Sony's "Re-Introduction" of The Last Guardian we'll be getting Rime instead to ease the interim.
     Rime is a game about a boy stranded on a mysterious island- where discovery happens through exploration and interaction.  Chris Jones, Sony Xdev Studio Europe and developer, gave a nice lengthy description of the game for Sony's Europe Blog:
"Rime is set in a unique ancient world of mystery, intrigue and adventure. Set on a beautiful island, a boy wakes on the shore to find he’s lost, with the only the island and the animals to accompany him.
You guide the boy through the island helping him unlock the puzzles, in the trailer you can see that there are puzzles all around and finding them is just a matter of perspective, (Did you see the fox? Watch the trailer again!)
As well as following the story of the boy, the island is also an integral character in the game, and it will not give up its hidden secrets easily. Who is the boy? Why is the boy here? Why is he alone? Ultimately the game is to find the answers to all of these important questions.
In a beautifully crafted world, you will see stunning vistas as you play through the game and delve deep into the islands true meaning."
     The game's creator, Raúl Rubio Munárriz, further described this world in an interview with Polygon (which also has a very interesting line-"Every time you explore this island or islands you are going to experience it differently." I added the emphasis.):
     "The island itself is a character. The ambition was always that the island would tell the story. It is reacting to your presence. The seagulls and boars react to your presence because you shouldn't be there. You are a trespasser.
     "The island is a paradise, but that does not mean that what you see at the start is the same as what you see at the end. This is not a game about black and white. It is not about good and evil. We are trying to play with what the player takes for granted. This is a puzzle adventure game but that doesn't mean that you are going to enter houses and start gathering stuff. I see this environment, it is beautiful, but something is wrong. Who built this?"
     With an air of mystery and subtlety Rime looks to be an amazing experience.  Alongside games like No Man's Sky, the PS4 lineup keeps getting better and better.

     I suppose with the recent Tomb Raider and Xbox One exclusivity deal it makes me wonder about this game- as Microsoft had declined Tequila Works' Rime, and now Sony is going to reap the quiet majesty that it has become.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Xbox One Exclusive: Is Crystal Dynamics Making a Huge Mistake?

     There seems to be quite a rage over the poorly announced Crystal Dynamics decision to make the Tomb Raider reboot's sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, an Xbox One exclusive.

UUhhhhh...   This was a terrible idea.
     Obviously as both a Playstation user and a Tomb Raider fan this news is a huge disappointment.  What makes this news even worse is the fact that Square-Enix was complaining about the commercial "sales failure" of the reboot not meeting expectations.  Well I hope they cut down their estimations by two-thirds, because the PS4 is currently outselling the Xbox One 3 to 1 and they've now lost out on a huge market chunk.

     Sure it may be only temporary because it's listed "For Holiday 2015" so presumably they'll be released later for PS4 and PC, but we'll have to wait for an official statement in the mean time.  Head of Crystal Dynamics Darrell Gallagher says that they "aren't walking away from our fans that play on Playstation and PC" because those systems get a consolation prize- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.  This isn't quite alienating their fanbase, but it is definitely shooting themselves in the foot and wondering why they're bleeding so bad.

     Really, according to their Tumblr post, it seems they think that by limiting the console release will somehow cement the Tomb Raider brand into our hearts.  What I want to know is who is getting money out of this.  Seriously- this seems like a disastrous marketing decision, and limiting it to the Xbox One console is a huge mistake.

     Source [ Tomb Raider Tumblr ]

Thomas Was Alone: Review: PS Vita

     If you were to go back and name your favorite character from the last year or so, there's a good chance you would not name a quadrilateral.  Thomas Was Alone might change that.  I even laughed when I heard that this was a game about "friendship and jumping."  After playing it, I was stunned at its uniqueness took me by surprise.
Thomas was alone. Wow. A weird first thought to have.
     Creator Mike Bithell has gone and given more character to a bunch of four-sided shapes than some entire games do for human ones.  Thomas (an AI) gains self awareness and begins to attempt to free himself from his program and along the way he meets many other sized rectangles with their own personalities and special ability traits.  Who would've thought a bunch of generic names and colors could be contained with 4 tight angles to become entities we can relate to?

    The core game is a platformer reduced to its basic principles.  Getting each AI entity to their specific doorways out.  Sometimes it's one character and one doorway at a time, sometimes it many, many more.  Through simplicity Bithell has achieved a level of artful wonder that is compounded by the humorous commentary narrated by Danny Wallace.  The story, lighting and music are all perfectly meshed together to create a joy in gaming that is hard to match by anything in the Triple A game category.  Even the controls are honed to perfection.  Everything in this game fits together as well as the geometry that comprises it.

     Thomas Was Alone, but not anymore- it's short and sweet, with just the right difficulty curve without becoming frustrating.  The minimalism is so memorable, these quadrilaterals won't soon be forgotten.  Bithell has shown an understanding of games enough to have succeeded in making me sympathize with a handful of colored shapes for a small experience of wonder.  Thomas Was Alone is endearing and heartfelt, and can be considered a modern equivalent of a painting by Piet Mondrian.

     Note: This was from a draft on 04.27.2014


Bay & Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gets a Sequel Release Date Announcement

     Hot on the tail of an opening weekend box office of raking in $93.7 million globally, Paramount Pictures has announced a TMNT sequel.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will hit on June 3rd of 2016.

Cowabunga dudes!
     So far writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec will be returning, and Michael Bay's company Platinum Dunes will be producing the sequel as well.  No word yet if Jonathan Liebesman will be coming along in the Director's chair though.

     Maybe we'll finally get some Casey Jones action...

     Source [ Variety ]

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Bay & Liebesman Movie Tie-in Game) Review for Nintendo 3DS

     Publisher Activision and developer Magic Pockets teamed up once again to give us yet another mundane Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  That isn't to say it's all bad- this new Nintendo 3DS Bay & Liebesman movie tie-in has quite a few merits, and a fair amount of enjoyability for any TMNT enthusiasts out there.
     I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising that this wasn't a Triple A title because there wasn't any marketing campaign for it- hell, the Gamestop staff didn't even know it was available when I went in to pick up my preorder.

     Spoiler Warning!

     The story has little to do with the film, apparently taking place after the film and The Shredder is alive.  April sends the Turtles on a slew of small missions in very linear levels.  It begins with Master Splinter missing and grows from there.  The plot is sparse and spread over the game's 15 story missions and 10 side missions.  Its brevity could've been easier to swallow if there was more action to be had.  The battles become tiresome swiftly and by the 3/4ths completion time I was hoping the end would come much sooner than it did.  What makes the story irritating is the fact there is often repeated phrases by the Turtles that doesn't come close to what the dialogue boxes say and it is super distracting.
     On a good note, they've included some nice takes on a few other familiar faces from TMNT history.  Baxter Stockman, the Rat King, and Slash all make appearances.

     The good part of the game are the near-button-mashing combat.  It isn't as awesome as it sounds, because in later stages combat becomes a slog- you have to be familiar with each individual Turtle's specialties and use each of them to best effect the circumstances at hand.  Then the most annoying aspect of the game is the slowing mechanic employed by many enemies that slow you to a crawl.  It is downright maddening when you are surrounded by enemies and can't move faster than a slug.  To make that effect worse- it is used constantly in the last quarter of the game.  It is a poor decision to use this effect to prolong the late game.  You might think I'm kidding but towards the end you get bombarded with huge amounts of extremely damaging enemies that can eat away your life bar in seconds if you get caught in a "slow" status while being swarmed.

     The skills and leveling systems are quite nice.  Each level gains some skill points to disperse among whatever Turtle(s) you favor and the weapons can either be found or made in a crafting section in the sewer lair area.  Weapons have various attributes and some come with added elemental status effects like poison or electricity, but it really doesn't change much.  (A note about the lair- one really overlooked problem in the game is an inability to change which Turtle you are in the lair itself.  Anywhere else in the game it is possible, so how did they miss it in the lair?!?)
     Each Turtle has unique abilities and it really does change how they are played and how they feel and it adds a nice element of strategy to the game.  Both active and passive skills may be chosen, and it really comes down to your chosen playstyle which is really nice.  Raphael becomes a near-invulnerable tank, Leonardo can cut through swathes of shielded enemies, Donatello is good for horde control, and Michelangelo is perfect for long range attacks.  This gradually increases the ways you can use each character as the game progresses.  Sadly though, each Turtle has a unique way to access "special areas" like Donatello hacking his way through or Michelangelo using chains to go down a manhole- but there are so few of these included that it seems tacked on at the last minute.
     Honestly, once I leveled Mike up, he makes the end levels and the absurdly lengthy last boss fight (and last challenge extra battle being a repeat of this) far shorter than it would've been with any of the other three.  This may sound terrible, but trust me- it is a very, very drawn out battle where you have to fight not only The Shredder, but all the previous bosses (one at a time) and repeated shadowy versions of all the Turtles.  Using Mike's multi-hit shuriken with all its boosts and the boomerang and saved me on tons of boring play time with that lazy end boss structure.

     When the game was over I felt it was a half-hearted cash grab timed to coincide with the theatrical release, but for the $29.99 price tag, I'd say it was worth it.  There's enough here to please long time Ninja Turtle fans, and plenty for the young audiences.  (Although the difficulty seems a tad on the high side for children players.)
     It isn't awful by any means.  And actually I think this is a great improvement over Magic Pockets' Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  Many small improvements, but at least they are in the right direction- this one is almost a dungeon crawler/beat-em-up/RPG.  Almost.
     Really, I think they need to make a game like the Marvel Lego Superheroes- a massive open-world 4 player action-adventure RPG loaded with little stuff to do (think of a combination of Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto) and designed solely for endless fun.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

Bay & Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Review

Holy Cow- It's not completely awful.
     Since its announcement Bay & Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has fought an uphill battle against TMNT fandom.  From mild disrespect to outright hatred, I'm sure he got flooded with hate mail.  Many of us had plenty of reservations about the changes to our beloved franchise which only grew in number as more and more trailers were released.
     Eastman & Laird had created something we all loved and it has stood the test of time through each relaunch.  It started out as a joke- a ninja turtle- but became something much, much more.  Somewhere under the initial idea- it contained a grain of genius and grew into something great.
     When Megan Fox was cast as April O'Neil, or even worse- when William Fichtner had been cast as The Shredder, I was horrified.  But as many have forgotten- our long-time turtles have gone through many, many alterations over time.  Some of them far worse than this.  I'm looking at you Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  So I kept in mind the fact that this was a huge deviation from what I grew up with, and that made a world of difference in my watching the new film, because these Ninja Turtles are for a new generation.  After the recent couple seasons of the tremendously well-done new Nickelodeon animated series TMNT fever was bound to strike again, seemingly on the nose each fourth year of the decade.

     SPOILER WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead.

     Bay and Liebesman may have made these four brothers into The Incredible Hulk's smaller cousins, but it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  This new incarnation of the turtles is by no means a good movie.  But that isn't to say it's a bad one either.  There were moments of genuine entertainment here.

     For one large surprise- something that was both bad and good for me- was the focus on April.  What they did right was make her a real journalist.  She is someone that wants to make a difference and sets out to get it done while being relegated to having to do low brow journalism on trampolines.
     What they did wrong was two-fold- 1. they made her the object of everyone's gawkery, and 2. they tried to cram her into the origin story of the turtles.  For how far she goes out of her way she is never given credit for her intellect- but always gets noted for her looks.  If they at least gave her more credit for her ideas, the problem may not have seemed so large.  As it is it's purely sexual objectification.
     How did her boss not still let her do the story based on the symbol she found at ALL THE CRIME SCENES?!?  That is a great piece of evidence, even if the rest of her story seemed ridiculous.

     The ogling should've been toned down and the story should've been changed.  Seriously, not everyone needs to be related to the origin, and she certainly has a lot of coincidental ties with the foursome AND the bad guys.  Such implausible connections make a lot of viewers roll their eyes.  Give it a rest, that is lazy and cheap on the writers' part.  We don't need over-complicated plots that lose any sense of semblance.  (Strangely enough, she is more the focus of the movie than the our Renaissance named friends and the movie might've been more accurately titled April O'Neil.)

     Speaking of the Shredder, why did they even bring him in?  The film-makers haven't given us a reason to believe this guy is as capable as we have come to know.  He's become a 7 foot tall Transformer samurai... and might be more if they continue with this storyline if you caught the scene near the end.  Way to jump the gun and give him the ultimate armor before we see how well he does in regular armor.
    Why didn't they give us something that showed how dangerous he really is?  They show us he can take down enemies while his hands are tied, but then he never fights without the suit from then on.  There was no build up- he isn't given room for it because the needlessly fast paced clip of the film.  Even his own daughter Karai felt underutilized.  Maybe it has to do with the fact they tried to tell a fate of the city story, instead of a nicely compact story with the shadowy underworld of New York.  Yet again Hollywood tries to make it too big.  This film is best when it's on the small scale.  When the turtles are taking down Foot soldiers and cracking jokes.  They don't need to save the city or entire world.  Not every tale needs to be of disaster proportions.

      Master Splinter was taken too far- both in looks (he's extra creepy looking here, the earlier design was slightly less so.) and his being their father, despite the fact he's roughly the same age as the turtles when in the lab.
     Splinter does get to see some fighting- and they handled that impressively.  I actually really liked how they incorporated his tail into the mix.  I would like to think that that scene is what my admission price paid for.  It is well executed but should've probably been much later in the movie.  In fact, I may have enjoyed it much more had he not looked like a damn Fu Manchu rat-monster.

Good lord- Splinter is downright grotesque.  I just had to say it.
     Even the blatant product placement is something we could handle if the rest of the film was wrapped up nicer.  Clean up the script, tone down the ultra fast pace- not every scene needs to be constantly in motion!  Give us a smaller story- one of actual family- and make sure it isn't a completely formulaic check-the-box list of things.  We can handle the mythical 99 cheese pizza if we are given reason to.  We can grow used to liking the new brutish forms the Turtles have taken.
     We fans want something that'll move us, in a new and interesting way.  Sure we love the little nods to all the old series but we want real substance.  There needs to be real investment into the future of these Turtles if they want to maintain our fandom.  Give us the heart of the TMNT, not just the muscles and weapons spruced up with witty banter.  It isn't only about the action- that's why the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is the one I regard as the best ever.  It tells a story of a family, not an expositional dump of a story of family.  They are very different things.

     Like I said at the beginning, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn't the best movie, but it isn't the worst either.  If they get their act together and make another one, which will presumably happen due to the nature of their enduring popularity- they should take notes from the Nickelodeon series' writers.  The property has survived many worse iterations, it'll go on long after this film.  I mean they've got a start already- when the Turtles are acting as the tight knit family it works well- particularly the scenes when they first meet April and the elevator ride.  Those moments nailed the characters perfectly.

     The film may be riddled with plot holes and has an overabundance of preposterous things going on that make no sense at all, but you know what- in the end I enjoyed it.  Not all of it of course- Bay and Liebesman don't wield Director's power with the subtle grace of a doctor's scalpel- they use it like a neanderthal's bludgeon- but just enough to keep me from fully fearing the inevitable sequel we'll be receiving.  Mostly because of Michelangelo, who totally steals the show.

     My apologies for rambling on so long here, but perhaps they'll listen to the fans and make something less generic and subsequently more meaningful in the future.

     For my other Turtles posts [ TMNT ]


Delver Review (Steam Early Access)

     Delver.  A simple first-person, roguelike dungeon crawler that I've had in my Steam watch list for some time, and picked up during the big summer sale.  Because it's in the Early Access state, there is still a few kinks to work out, and in the time it sat in my watch list is has made major leaps forward.

     Take the role of an adventurer that tries their fate in the dark dungeons (and probably dies horribly). Fight monsters, grab loot, hoard potions, and level up!  
     Quest for the Yithidian orb at the darkest depths of the dungeon and attempt to bring it back to the surface - getting to it may be the easy part. 
     I'm actually glad I waited for this, the graphics got a huge bump up from their original blocky to a more original cartoony look.  When it comes to roguelikes, we have had been inundated with them lately, only a few are greatly notable such as Rogue LegacyWayward Souls, and Eldritch - and I think we can add Delver to that list.
     What appears to be merely another generic dungeon crawler is actually a very rich roguelike that has loads of danger and enemies to cut swathes through.  Really, this is almost exactly what I wanted out of the NES version of Might & Magic.

An earlier version of the game.
     Delver contains plenty of light RPG elements such as a small leveling system,  mini-map, and an inventory that due to the never leaving the dungeon with equipment format- requires you to just toss out anything you've used or don't need any more.  Simple art, decent play, and good controls. Having the map and inventory buttons be I and M keys is a poor decision with the WASD directional controls. They should be placed near those keys for quick and easy access.

     With the randomly generated dungeons, you can run into some tough problems- I had a run with 6 Beholders all in one small area in an early level with nothing for long range battle- but for the most part it remains interesting enough to keep you playing after each death.  The gold you gain carries into the next life (for use in the stores at the camp) because once you enter a dungeon, you stay until you die and lose everything else.  That isn't too bothersome though because you never really gain enough health through leveling up or weapons and armor that are too good, so it isn't as detrimental as it sounds.  The cost of death here isn't very high, which only becomes an issue after you beat the boss and start to make your way back to the top floor exit and get rushed by large mobs of freshly spawned enemies.

     For all that Delver offers, it seems to lack that something to reward any progression, because each death results in having to start over.  What really bothers me about this is that the potions change what each one does for each run, so you have to use at least one of each color right away to make sure you won't poison yourself when you desperately need to heal later.  It wouldn't be too awful, but you don't find many as it is.  On one of my earlier trips into the dungeon, I got a poison potion right away and died within minutes of entering, simply to see what kind it was.

All the essentials: a broadsword, potions, a scroll, an ice wand, and most importantly- cheese.
     Roaming the atmospheric levels is a remarkable experience.  The lighting and sound keep you invested in the game and the randomized nature keeps you wanting more.  Even with the small amount of issues the game has tons of replay value.  Each run through is about a half hour of fun and gives you another chance to find a little bit more of the story which is strewn throughout the levels in the form of notes that are occasionally in hidden areas.  While I'd like the game to contain more story, there is something very appealing about how players stumble across small bits of story that fills out the world in the game.

     With a few minor adjustments Delver could easily come to be one of the most addictive and fantastic roguelikes out there, but until then it's just hours of entertainment.  Even making the potions stay the same for all playthroughs would improve the game significantly.  I sincerely hope the developers really hone whatever makes this game so wonderful, it contains a special something that keeps bringing me back.

     With Update #5 comes an interesting fix: The Yithidian Orb is Orbier now.  What else could we want?

     In reality, Delver is still a lot of fun even if you aren't much for roguelike games and worth the price.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review (NES) The Original Nintendo Game

Bebop and Rocksteady.
     The first foray of the TMNT into the video game world isn't one of the brawler beat-em-ups that defined the series right after this installment.  It's actually this top down view with deadly tanks, and side scrolling platformer levels upon entering sewers or buildings game on the original Nintendo.
     This game was more unforgiving and imbalanced than it rightly should've been- creating play that is far from fun and it punishes players for failing to adapt to the horrendous control scheme.  The problem with the difficulty here is that is due to arbitrary problems and poor level design you are forced to fight through wave after wave of enemies that should be menial but aren't.  Dark Souls feels like a lackadaisical stroll in comparison- at least it is fair and the controls are tight.

You get to drive the Party Wagon!!!
     Perhaps if the controls for TMNT were better the tediousness might have been simply a fun challenge, but instead it devolves into pure frustration.  If a player moves a single screen over in the level, every enemy respawns.  An infinitely respawning group of enemies that do massive damage if you even touch one gets to be really irritating while you also have to struggle with the awful controls.  Even worse is the fact that there are plenty of filler stages and places that don't contain anything necessary for progress and serve mostly to deplete what little resources you have.
     The platforming is also a problem as a result of terrible jumping mechanics.  If you bump a ceiling you drop straight down- often right into the line of fire you jumped to avoid.
     Compounding this problem is the fact that while you may choose which of the 4 Turtles you want to play as at any time, Michelangelo and Raphael are nearly useless because their weapons have nothing for range.  Many players just resort to using them in heavy damage taking areas so they can prolong the use of the only two Turtles worth using, Leonardo and Donatello, as they give you much more range.  

Diffuse the bombs.
     Somehow this is an extremely flawed game that I loved as a kid, but not as much as the drastically better TMNT: The Arcade Game, which was released in the same year.  Any fondness I once had was drown in the infamous underwater "Dam Level" that will no doubt go down in history as one of the biggest torments to any children that suffered beneath the waves.

This was a nightmare for many, many children.
     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES is a mediocre game at best, and the difficulty curve proves to be its greatest undoing, most notably because the TMNT should really be aimed at kids.  If they hadn't included a never-ending stream of respawning minions or even a level select option the game might've left young players with better memories, but as it is, nostalgia won't cover its abundance of faults.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]


TMNT: Turtles Forever (Full Un-Cut Widescreen Version) Review

     With a mere two days until the release of the Michael Bay & Jonathan Liebesman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters across the US, I have been rewatching to review a bunch of old films.  Outside of the 1990 Original Motion Picture, the best movie easily goes to TMNT: Turtles Forever.

     Created with a multipurpose design.  It served as the finale to seven seasons of the 4Kids TMNT show and as the 2009 mark of the 25th anniversary in one brilliant combo pack.  What happened is all the right things were brought together to bring generations of Turtle incarnations into one unbelievable movie.

     A teleportation incident on the Technodrome and winds up tearing through dimensional divides and bringing the 1987's Ninja Turtles into the 2003's cartoon's world.  Through a series of world destroying circumstances they wind up meeting animated versions of the original Mirage Comics' Turtles.  All animated in their individual styles.  When you hear this, it sounds like a mishmash recipe for disaster- it sounds ridiculous, silly, and downright stupid.  But this film is far from it.  Far, far from it.

     The creators did an unparalleled job bringing together the Turtle's version of the multiverse.  Every scene shows that writers Rob David, Matthew Drdek, and Lloyd Goldfine clearly not only understand the TMNT, but they understood their changes through time and what made them work so well.  They've captured the essences of three different types of the TMNT and I would be hard pressed to say anyone else has ever matched this fantastic quality.
     They even perfectly portrayed the way the characters handle running into alternate versions of themselves- watching the 4Kids Turtles react to their incompetent 80's counterparts is continuously hilarious as they wonder who they are talking to when they break the 4th wall and speak to the watching audience.  Then the grim and gritty Mirage Turtles arrive and make the 2000's generation seem like nice guys.  Even the Shredder's realization when finding his better, newer, and very different self is priceless.  They've even thrown in a bunch of extra bits and characters in the background if you keep your eyes peeled.

     The 4th wall breaking takes a whole extra step when they realize that destroying the Mirage Comics' TMNT will destroy all of the iterations and everything created from them- heroes, villains, and everything in between.  It would be like Eastman and Laird had never created them in the first place.  A truly defining moment of brilliance in writing for television.

     Any fan of the TMNT should watch TMNT: Turtles Forever, it is a phenomenally handled and clever work of art.  It shows their change through time for new and different generations, it shows that they can all exist together and all be wonderful as well... even if it's the new Bay & Liebesman movie.  When 4Kids Entertainment made this, they succeeded in making something to bridge the gap between parents and children that enjoyed the Turtles in a way that could be shared together across generations.  The collision of three vastly different TMNT worlds has miraculously created something that is absolutely magnificent.  As it stands, this was the perfect tribute to TMNT fandom.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]


TMNT Nintendo DS Review (2007 Game)

     With the CG animated film being released there were a slew of movie tie-in games.  For some reason the Nintendo DS version got the shaft, even worse than the Sony PSP version which had far superior graphics if I remember correctly.

     Whoever thought this game should be the precursor to all the "Such-and-such RUN!" games should've been fired.  There is the only the most minimal combat in this game and ignoring the TMNT's staple game mechanic throughout the years was this games first and biggest mistake.  In those few moments the controls are garbage- they contain the most pitiful combos I've ever seen.  Since each normal attack pushes you forward quite far, sending you far beyond Foot soldiers if you are even slightly off target, it leaves you wide open to get cut down.  Really, it comes down to spamming the attack button and hoping for the best.

     What comprises a majority of the game is running through the city and dashing back and forth responding to button prompts to jump or swing in the most clunky and sloppy way possible.
     It is a considerable part of the game, to an absurd extent- all you do is push one of three buttons- left, right, or center- ad nauseum.  This costs the game a lot because it eliminates any real exploration they might've had and sapped any enjoyment they could've had in this game.

     To make matters even worse there are corners that cameras aren't fast enough to follow you around, moving jump points that can lead directly to death if the landing point moved, and areas where you have to "charge" a jump by holding the button down for no real reason I could discern.

     The one thing that was kind of redeeming is a mini-game of sorts where one of your turtle brothers shows up and if you can race and catch them, they'll launch you far ahead for a boost in time to complete the level.  Unfortunately the boost only serves to help you retrieve the collectible token letters T, M, N, and - you guessed it - T.  But trying to collect them is a chore because the whole game is awful- so I didn't even bother attempting it, which would necessitate replaying levels to take different paths for the letters I hadn't found.

     TMNT may have begun with an original idea that was initially great, but somewhere along the line it became the befuddling mess we got.  I've played a LOT of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games over the years, and this one is easily the worst.  Even Out of the Shadows is a masterpiece in comparison.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

Devious Dungeon Review (Android)

     I found this little gem while looking through the recommended games for Wayward Souls.  Devious Dungeon is a super simplistic rogue-like, or at least a rogue-lite because you don't really lose built up stats or stuff.  But that isn't always a bad thing.  Here you are a hero charged with going into the kingdom's catacombs to rid the place of these monstrous usurpers.

     There's the scarcest form of an RPG type leveling system for your character, as well as purchasable (either through IAPS or collecting coins in game) armor, weapons, potions, and jewelry to further enhance your efficacy in monster slaying.  The randomly generated levels through five worlds get to be very familiar and finding any of the "secret areas" is almost a joke because by the end of the game you can usually guess the map because they aren't too large, and are all too familiar after playing them a few hundred times to earn coins.    

     To break up the typical rogue-like structure, there are checkpoints every three levels that makes it much more tolerable of the high number of deaths you'll suffer (even touching an enemy causes damage).  All your purchased upgrades and equipment follow you as well.  This makes it a smoother play for some.

     Somehow, it isn't nearly as bad as it sounds.  Ravenous Games has made something extremely enjoyable for small bits of time.  You can load and play through a level in just a minute or two, and it avoids any chance at boredom by just being short and good.  The controls are superb on the touchscreen, making the platforming action go over easy.

     There is just enough variety to keep players coming back for a little more entertainment.  Every level comes down to finding the key, then the door to the exit, and slaying everything in your way to looting coins and destroying bosses.  It would've been nice to be able to choose other characters or classes, but as it is, the game is great because of its simplicity.

     Devious Dungeon is the simplest platforming action RPG rogue-like possible, but it packs a tremendous replay value for its $1.99 Google Play price.