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Exploration platforming makes its extensively flawed return, but do the pros outweigh the cons? It’s a strong “maybe”.

I’ve said about the first Epic Mickey that it was a flawed, but ultimately deeply engaging exploration platforming experience. We don’t have enough of the genre these days, so when the inevitable sequel to the game– tag-lined “The Power of Two”– was announced, I felt quite a bit of reserved excitement. If Junction Point could manage to take the good of the first game, strike out the bad, and add just a few minor touches, we would have this generation’s Banjo Kazooie. After playing the game, I still stand by that concept.

The problem is that they didn’t do it.

Picross e Review

Posted on 8 years ago by (@Patricklous) in 3DS, Reviews | 0 comments

Game Info:

System: Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
Genre: Puzzle
Players: 1
Release Date:  September 6, 2012 (EU), At Some Point, I Guess (US)
Developer: Jupiter
Publisher: Nintendo

There sure are a lot of Picross games out there. Whether they’re calling them Picross puzzles, Nonagrams, Pixel Puzzles or Griddlers, developers have been releasing these logic puzzles in video game form since they first became popular in the early 90s. Though the concept behind Picross certainly wasn’t invented by Nintendo, the company has published numerous compilations of the puzzles over the last two decades, usually handled by Japanese developer, Jupiter. With so many different versions of the game out there, surely all the different features introduced and refinements made should result in “The Definitive Picross Game.”

That game was Picross DS. Picross e, the latest of the Jupiter-developed, Nintendo-published puzzlers, feels like a massive step backwards.

Platforming Fans: You have a new game to buy. I’m not kidding either.

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MegaMan 2 was a game I grew up on. I never beat it as a kid- it would be ten years until that accomplishment- but I played it more than any other NES title I owned, plowing through the harrowing platforming puzzles, dodging beams of light on FlashMan’s stage, and cursing (as good as any 6 year old could, anyhow) at the frustrating spikes scattered about BubbleMan’s underwater fortress. By age 8 I had beaten every robot master thirty times over, and though I never defeated Wily himself, I got as close as anyone else my age.

I was- and still consider myself to be- a very skilled platformer.

It is with great consideration, then, that I concede (temporary) defeat in front of the latest game I have had the pleasure of reviewing. That game is ‘Fractured Soul’, a dual-screen platformer from the makers of nothing you’ve likely heard of. If you want to know more about the developer, you can read my interview with them here. If you want to know more about my concession to ‘Fractured Soul’?

Simply hit the break and I’ll tell you all about it.

Never heard of Heroes of Ruin? Check out this launch trailer!

It was a very long time ago that I first played Gauntlet Legends on Nintendo 64. For some reason it sits in my mind as one of those “N64 classics” despite not REALLY doing anything revolutionary at the time. Maybe it’s the really funny running animations? Still, it was fun, but thinking back it really wasn’t as good as I remember. Terrible? No, not at all. Just not great.

Then comes along the latest game from n-Space, Heroes of Ruin. I remember playing it at E3 last year and not being terribly impressed, but when I got back from L.A. it seemed like people were raving about it left and right, saying it was going to be the 3DS’s Diablo, or a true game for those that have been waiting on that old Gauntlet DS game that got cancelled. But is it?

Sort of.

Game Info:

System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Rhythm/Adventure
Players: 1-2
Release Date: April 5, 2012 (EU)/July 10, 2012 (US)
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

Whatever happened to rhythm games? Sure, we all saw Guitar Hero and Rock Band achieve mainstream success, but what happened to the weird subset that blended the usual rhythm-based gameplay with unique visual styles and character-driven storylines? While games like Gitaroo Man and Parappa the Rapper became critical hits, the genre seems to have fallen off the radar lately (probably because you didn’t buy Elite Beat Agents*). Thankfully, there’s now Rhythm Thief, a Sega produced “rhythm game revival” of sorts. With the combination of Samba de Amigo director, Shun Nakamura, and Space Channel 5: Part 2 composer, Tomoya Ohtani behind the game it should be a success, but does it successfully follow the path paved by its predecessors?

Dear Internet,

Two things. Number one, I actually do know how to pronounce the name of the game. Number two, stop telling me to do ‘regular’ and ‘informative’ reviews. Information about the game is on every other video game website ever- including this one. You don’t need me telling you things that you can find elsewhere more easily. Number three, I’m getting a new camera that isn’t crappy.


Game: Bomb Monkey
System: 3DS (eShop)
Developer: Renegade Kid
Release Date: June 27, 2012
Price: $5.00


It’s games like ‘Bomb Monkey’ that make me wish there wasn’t so much pressure to add a numbered score to game reviews. Admittedly, I hold none of this pressure myself because I have nothing to lose by doing things differently, but in general you’ll see a game like this come along and it’s going to score 6s, 7s, and a few 8s. Maybe even a 9 or two if it’s lucky. You can tell this just by looking at it for three seconds, or from hearing someone describe it.

It’s destined to these scores of “decent-but-not-great” not by value of its production or design, but by virtue of the fact that it’s a casual puzzle game. Like Mario Party or Just Dance, its score doesn’t stand among others in its genre, but rather among those like Zelda or Skyrim; games so grand in scope and lengthy in execution that they deserve the highest industry praises.

‘Bomb Monkey’ neither tries nor needs to be like this. It’s a puzzle game whose objective is simple and if it were anything else would be a worse game for it. Does this mean it’s fair to bound it to scores below 8 or 9? Just because it’s a different kind of game? Should I rate it a 7.5? 7? 6.5? Some might say yes, because it’s not as good as Zelda. Some would say no, because it’s not as good nor worse than Zelda- it’s merely different.

I got an iPad a few weeks ago.

Since then I’ve nabbed a ton of games for it, from the terrible free ones like McDonald’s Happy Meal Builder (seriously, try it) to the top-notch like Plants vs. Zombies HD. The accessibility of games and the dangerously cheap cost of them had me all but convinced that this was the way casual gaming would be from here on out. I thought “Well, this is it. Gaming as a whole sure isn’t dead, but it may very well be slipping out of its casual hayday.”

Then, to my great luck, I got a review code for Art of Balance Touch! on the 3DS eShop. A simple game upon first glance, but given a few minutes with it and I realized something rather pleasant: Games are still better on dedicated gaming platforms than phones and tablets. They just are.

Game info:
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Release Date: November 25, 2011 (EU)/February 14, 2012 (US)
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai

After the Nintendo DS became a virtual Mecca of fantastic RPGs, it’s strange that the console’s older brother has been around for almost a whole year with barely any games to scratch that role-playing itch. Aside from Atlus’ Devil Survivor: Overclocked, there haven’t been any other RPGs on the 3DS, so thankfully Namco Bandai are finally trying to fill the niche with this recently-released port of Tales of the Abyss. Originally released on the Playstation 2 back in 2006, Tales of the Abyss —part of Namco’s long-running Tales series— told an anime-styled story about “the meaning of birth” and was met with fairly positive reviews. But the PS2 is a completely different system to Nintendo’s handheld console, so does this RPG make the transition to a portable system completely intact?

Game: Mutant Mudds
System: 3DS (eShop)
Cost: $8.99
Release Date: January 26, 2012
Developer: Renegade Kid

I haven’t done a game review in a long time. There are a lot of reasons for that, but mostly it boils down to the fact that I normally don’t enjoy trying to sift through everything I feel about a game, stamp a number on it, and then tell you to buy something you may or may not like. Nothing really makes my opinion better than any of your guys’, and it’s taken a while for me to fully realize that. Still, I’m giving reviews another shot anyway, and hopefully I won’t look back on this one with as much regret as I do my Call of Duty: World at War and The Conduit reviews. Those games are not as good I claimed, but I’m pretty sure this next one is.

What game do I have the pleasure of reviewing today? The astonishingly charming platformer, Mutant Mudds.