Archive for the ‘arcade’ Category

Fizzball Review

October 14, 2008

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This game is much harder to review than Prof. Fizzwizzle. It maintains all of the stellar presentation aspects and has exceptional production qualities, but is even more focused towards younger and more casual gamers. Fizzball is a Break-out / Arkanoid clone with an element of Katarmi Damacy thrown in. Like Prof. Fizzwizzle there is an exceptional Kids mode and a multitude of levels, the problem lies in the stale rehashed gameplay. On the one hand, it’s the most advanced breakout game I’ve ever played, but on the other hand, it’s a breakout game. This game almost needs two different reviews: One for very casual gamers and kids under 10 and another for more avid and mature gamers. For the casual gamers, the young, or anybody who is not tired of another bat & ball game, Fizzball offers a fantastic game with excellent graphics, presentation, and a plethora of features and other bells and whistles. For the more avid gamer, this game warrants a demo download to check out the unique interface, power-ups, and graphics, but after a couple levels of the demo, most gamers won’t think twice about playing this game again….simply because they’ve played dozens like it already. In my book, the best Arkanoid game of all time is still tired, dull, and just not enough to hold my interest.

Gameplay: 4/10
Pros: Tons of power-ups, levels, and features. The Katarmi Damacy aspect of growing the fizzball by swallowing up small objects and moving up towards larger ones is neat and novel.
Cons: The Grubby Games’ artistic design and sleek interface cannot overcome a stale and overused bat and ball gameplay mechanic. This is a case of exceptional programmers just brainstorming a game from the outset that would not have compelling gameplay. Game is in the WAY TOO casual department.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Exceptional presentation, animations, and consistent feel and look from Prof. Fizzwizzle. All the graphics have real depth and give the game a cartoony 3D feel. Just looking at the title screen impresses.
Cons: Stages and Level graphics get repetitive.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Catchy and fun music returns from Professor Fizzwizzle
Cons: Animal sounds are blasé

Lasting Appeal: 2/10
Pros: There are a ton of levels to play and the game is fully featured
Cons: After playing the first 5-10 levels, the unique features of this breakout clone wear off.

Average: 57.50%
Tilt: -7.50%
I really wanted Fizzball to be better. It oozes quality, has a sleek presentation, and is very endearing. But underneath all the features, beautiful, colorful animations, and catchy music is a game I have played for years. I remember Atari Pong, owned the big lumbering 1989 gameboy, grew up on the NES, SNES, and Genesis and have played breakout games for over a decade. Grubby Games is an exceptional duo, but for me, this type of gameplay is the bottom of the barrel. So for Avid and Long-Time Gamers:

Verdict: 50%

On the upside, if you have a child under the age of 10 or if you are a casual gamer and have no idea what Arkanoid or an Atari is then you will probably love this game. It is very endearing and is one of the best Breakout games I have ever played. It is an excellent game for the more casual / younger market. Maybe that was Grubby Games intention all along, to focus on the casual gamer.

Verdict for kids/casual gamers: 75%

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PixelJunk Monsters Review

October 13, 2008

PixelJunk Monsters also went on sale at the Playstation Store for $4.99, but unfortunately I bought it right before the price cut. Fortunately, the game is very addictive and challenging. PixelJunk Monsters is an endearing tower defense game where your tiki man builds towers to defend his Tiki Jrs (or whatever they are). There are ground and air baddies and slow/fast monsters and all these factors make selecting the correct tower quite difficult. The game is incredibly challenging and requires some trial and error, but the game is so enjoyable to play I haven’t really minded replaying the levels. There’s always that sense that you can correct your mistakes and strategize your defenses better. The presentation is excellent and the sound/music is very unintrusive and quaint. The whole game comes off as a sort of fairy tale land which works very well and gives it that wholesome and enjoyable tone. For $5, you gotta buy this game. There’s even local co-op which is really well done.

Gameplay: 9/10 – Tower Defense done right – challenging, deep, but not too frustrating
Graphics: 8/10 – Simple clean 2d art looks great but definitely is not stressing the PS3’s hardware
Sound/Music: 9/10 – Music and Sound are the final touches that create the uplifting tone for the game
Lasting Appeal: 8/10 – Challenge and Co-op go along way in extending the lifespan of this game, but it doesn’t change the somewhat low level count.

Tilt: +/- 0.00%

If you love this game and need more levels there’s always the Encore Pack, but honestly I was happy paying $10 for this game and would be thrilled to pick it up for $5.

Verdict: 85%

Castle Crashers Review

October 13, 2008

Castle Crashers finally arrived in late August and has been surrounded by controversy. First, there was the alleged rumored price of $22.50 that caused the internet to erupt in outrage…no worries though, the game is only $15. Then there were the 2 heinous bugs that caused the Behemoth’s devlog and Castle Crashers site to crash. I have actually suffered both bugs…. 1 bug being that I cannot play online at all and the other being that my Level 28 knight, unlockables, and save file were erased on me right when I got to the Marsh level. Despite these bugs, I’m still a huge fan of Castle Crashers and have happily surpassed the point of first game erasure.

Castle Crashers exudes tremendous personality. Dan Paladin’s hand drawn graphics are superb and there is a ton of humor and extra animation work that create mostly great moments (thief washing scrubbing clothes in the river, Ice/Barbarian Boss taking the time to laugh at you, Barbarian punching knocked down gray knight) and some not so funny ones (Thieves Forest animal crapping is just too much…Owl ok…deer & bear excessive). The sheer amount of work, animations, characters, levels, etc that went into this game is incredibly commendable.

Let’s get to the particulars. I’ve already talked about the great graphics and animations, the story is thin… 4 knights have their 4 chicks stolen, but all the animated sequences (there’s no dialogue) put together an interesting, if shallow story. The music is very catchy especially the shop theme and suits the eccentricity and theme of the title very well. The gameplay recreates the arcade co-op beat-em-up gameplay perfectly. It’s instantly playable, and the leveling system gives the game depth. Leveling up unlocks deeper combos and magic abilities. There’s also an immense amount of content to unlock from weapons, animal orbs, secret characters, etc.

It is a very big letdown that Online has been completely unplayable (I got about 30 secs of all you can quaff online once) but the Behemoth has assured its fans that a title update and downloadable content is on the way. I have played the game splitscreen and it is way more fun with a friend, even if a little less challenging. The major negatives for me have been the bugs (erasing my save was especially infuriating) and the annoying enemies that stand off the stage and shoot projectiles at you. All in all though this game is superb, utterly unique, and a must buy on XBLA. Hopefully, the online issues will be fixed and we’ll all be questing online in the coming weeks.

Orange Knight Rules!

Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound/Music: 9/10
Lasting Appeal 9.5/10

Average: 93.75%
Tilt: -0.75% (sorry gotta take some off for the bugs)

Verdict: 93%

Addictive Football Review

October 9, 2008

Addictive Football reminds me of the old Genesis or SNES FIFA soccers (sorry for the soccer reference, I know it’s football…even though American Football is the best damn sport ever). Much like the old FIFA’s, the Addictive Football is very easy to pick up and play…and very fun to play against a rival or friend. Addictive 24/7 definitely succeeds in making a…well…addictive game. It lacks real teams, players, etc. but that’s to be expected. It may not be for everyone at $20, but is certainly a deal at $9.95.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Ah the simplicity of the 16-bit era, Controls are simple: pass, shoot, and move- and work well. The goalies are smart and surprisingly adept. Easy to pick up and play and great with a friend.
Cons: I found the players moved sort of slow. The AI was a little too good for my tastes. My biggest gripe though was the lack of a defensive tackle or similar ability…it’s a fun little football game and there’s no reason there can’t be some tackling look at Mario Strikers- you can push and tackle anybody…and it makes it really fun.

Graphics: 7/10
Pros: Clean graphics, with easily discernable teams and players. The ball is easy to follow and the graphics are very much in the 16-bit vein with a higher pixel count. I particularly liked the menus as well.
Cons: Player models are a bit goofy and kiddy (in the menus and in the celebration GOAL Window). Definite lack of WOW factor and variety in the graphics.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Fits the style of the game and blends really well with the gameplay and theme. Music definitely gets your heart pumping for competition. I was also fond of the kick and other ball sounds.
Cons: Sufficient sound, but again there is sort of a lack of variety and focus in the sound/music department. Everything, but the theme/menu music and ball sounds fades from memory.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: 4 types of pitches, 10 teams, and 5 different gamemodes. The best of all of this is the Custom mode which allows you to set the skills of your own players and create your own team. Multiplayer is really fun as mentioned above.
Cons: The variety of levels to play in is the biggest detractor. I would’ve liked to see a little more fantastic and fun pitches…like an Ice themed Stadium or Lava and whatnot. This game isn’t really a football sim, it’s about being fun and I think some extreme pitches would’ve really helped the variety and lasting appeal. Online Multiplayer would’ve skyrocketed this score to a 10, but with Indie titles I understand the lack of resources and development teams to achieve this.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt: +0.25%

This game definitely delivers in the addictive department and is VERY fun against a friend. It totally took me back a decade playing my friends in similar games at each others houses every weekend (I am still a mean MK2 player). For $10 it’s a real value and a great buy…at $20 I think the value depends on if you even know what a Genesis is and if you are a particular fan of Football (soccer) games or sports games in general. All in all, Addictive football is a very light and fun game.

Verdict: 79%

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Dodge that Anvil Review

October 9, 2008

Dodge that Anvil borrows a lot from classic Looney Tunes: the main character is a rabbit and falling anvils are one of the most deadly and threatening objects to said rabbit. Unlike many of the shoddy Looney Tunes games out there, Dodge that Anvil does a great job instantly pulling you into a cartoon world. You’ll smile from the gameplay, world, characters, and antics in this title. This is an excellent little title, with a simple premise: grab/harvest carrots while dodging anvils, but ultimately a deep gaming experience thanks to armor vests, hardhats, jumbo veggies, flippers, etc. I should also mention that the game won the AdultSwim Award at the 2006 IGF, and was a finalist for the best web browser game so Congrats to RabidLab on that. Onto the scoring breakdown:

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Very easy to pick up and play controls and game mechanics. There is lots of depth with purchasable gadgets, exploding beach balls, veggie bombs, etc.
Cons: Not a fan of the auto-jump feature and thought the mouse movement could be touchy.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Instantly appealing with a very clean and perfectly themed 3-D engine and landscape. The 2-D rabbit character works really well in keeping the Cartoon feel alive in a sleek 3D landscape. The menus, presentation, and tutorial screens are absolutely phenomenal…Presentation pushes this score up a notch
Cons: More animations for our lovable rabbit hero would’ve brought him to life more. Game as a whole lacks graphic variety after awhile (I’m reaching for critiques I know).

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Cartoony to the max sounds enhance the Looney Tunes Feel. The game features music…
Cons: but the music isn’t very good, memorable, or even very loud. The Sound/Music department is probably the weakest part of the package, but for me it’s also the least important department, so no worries.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: The story is delightful and engaging and as you progress more and more things become available- this spurs you to keep playing. As season’s pass on, you have the ability to play levels again for high scores, perfect harvests, etc.
Cons: Like most platformers, there is an end to the story and when that’s over, you have to really want to play the game on a new difficulty in order to get much replay value out of the title. That’s really just a fact of most platformers rather than a bash on this one.

Average: 83.75
Tilt: +2.25%

This game is instantly appealing and offers approachable gameplay to almost every game skill level. Everyone should click HERE to play the browser game and check out RabidLab’s website. You can also download the DEMO here and of course BUY the game if you enjoy it as much as I do.

Verdict: 86%

Minigolf Mania Review

October 9, 2008

MiniGolf Mania is a gem. It’s just tremendous fun. It is the only game I have played in the last 24 hours (which says a lot trust me) and I only took breaks to take notes, sleep, eat and the like. During one of my breaks, I headed over to and realized that MiniGolf Mania is #2 best sports game of the year…so I’m not the only one. This game is very deserving of not only a demo download, but a purchase.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: Tons of zany power-ups, outlandish holes, obstacles, etc. My favorite feature has to be the special ability balls, which add a touch of twitch gameplay. Basically, after hitting one of these balls you can click to activate it’s ability…my favorite is the nudge backwards…this basically reverses the ball in real time. Once I got this ball, my scores drastically improved along with the fun I was having.
Cons: I wish there was a camera more like Hot Shots Golf, where you could see the contours and easily rotate the camera and look around. The Fly-by is sufficient, but I wanted more control with the arrow keys or something. I also would have preferred that the putting interface was a hold (to draw the putter back) and release (to hit) interface rather than a double click. It is hard to measure power and distance at first and the cup can be unforgiving.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Love the cartoon / handdrawn looking backgrounds. The 3-D engine is very attractive despite its simplicity…Torque consistently pops up in games that impress me visually (see Marble Blast). The crazy boost blasters and bounce pads look great and add to the zany feel. Playing the game sort of feels like you are in some crazy, zany world with wacky & fun physics.
Cons: Some of the polygons and backgrounds outside the hole (monochrome sand) detract from the feel. Safari animals do not fit the visual feel of the game and seem out of place…I was expecting more cartoonish and free-roaming animals.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Music is good, subdued, and well-suited to golf. Noises of the clinking ball are spot on.
Cons: Nothing really stands out as bad, there’s just nothing exceptional to warrant above the solid-good range.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: Game is FUN to play. 3 Courses and a 9-hole tutorial can entertain you for awhile with their multiple modes, wacky design, and ability balls definitely warrant the price of admission. The worldwide rankings and ability to enter a name/password and then collect points really motivates you to keep playing.
Cons: Could definitely have used another course especially since the gameplay is rather quick and you can breeze through one fairly quickly. I would have also liked to see some online matchmaking or head to head.

Average: 85.00%
Tilt: +3.00%

The game is instantly accessible and very enjoyable and when a game is really fun, you always want more of it and really can’t hold it against the game. The game delivers in the fun department and that’s what’s important. TopMeadow definitely deserved the #2 spot for best Sports game of ’06. You can learn more about MiniGolf Mania over on their website. Definitely check it out.

Verdict: 88%