July 31, 2011
Outland is more than a simple homage to Treasure's classic shoot-'em-up Ikaruga. A game that marries the fluidity of platforming with the madness of a bullet-hell shooter in spectacular fashion, Outland crafts a stylish, nail-bitingly challenging two-dimensional action side-scrolling game. A game where the simplest of jumping puzzles become extraneous death courses, bullets of red and blue hues flooding the screen in a dazzling, horrifying display. An exercise in skill and patience, as it were -- and a beautiful one at that.
July 13, 2011
To say that MDK is "quirky" would be an understatement. Accurate, but understated. It looks simple enough on the surface -- a typical third-person shooter of the '90s -- but underneath that veneer is an assortment of oddities and an off-kilter sense of humor. If you're familiar with Shiny Entertainment's work, they're involvement will come as no surprise to you, their penchant for whimsy being clear. If you aren't familiar, what you get is an eccentric, underwhelming, though cheap and entertaining shooter perfect for an afternoon's worth of fun.
July 9, 2011
Ivy the Kiwi is hard. Hellishly hard. It may look like something out of a children's storybook, but make no mistake: beneath its charming, inviting exterior lies a frustratingly difficult game of escort. It coaxes you in with its unassuming storybook aesthetic only to run you down hard with myriad obstacles with relentless abandon. This is a game that single-handedly disproves any claims of games becoming too easy, harking back to the days of extreme trial-and-error and requiring fast-action to succeed.
If that sounds menacing, then I've successfully conveyed the level of challenge present in Ivy the Kiwi. (Okay, so that last line is rather hyperbolic. You get the point, though.) Rather than be a deterrent, however, the relentless challenge is the appeal. Much like the bullet-hell variety of shooters, Ivy the Kiwi is a game that revels in its difficult nature, making no compromises whatsoever for the sake of accessibility. Harsh? Perhaps, but it's that no-holds-barred attitude that makes Ivy the Kiwi endearing and immensely rewarding.
July 8, 2011
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a racing game that moves too fast. One such game is Wipeout HD, the latest from Sony's futuristic hovercraft racing series. A series always known for moving at insane speeds -- 600 mph being the average -- the action is often hard to follow. Turns arrive without notice, your craft ramming into them time after time; explosives go off all over constantly, covering the scene in a flurry of lights as participants rub against each other and the rails; the camera making drastic, sudden changes in perspective, loosing sight of your vehicle for a second or two in the process. It's incredibly overwhelming, especially on difficulty levels higher than "novice."
The chaotic landscape may intimidate, and frustrate, but that exhilarating, out-of-control nature is also the very appeal of Wipeout HD. It's not often you get the chance to move faster than a hundred miles per hour, if that. Though HD is technically a new installment, its content is lifted from previous Wipeouts, making this a sort of "best of" entry. If you've up to this point played Wipeout religiously, unless the prospect of online play sounds appealing to you, there is therefore little to coax you to buy. For new players, however, there's plenty of worth -- just don't expect to get the hang of playing Wipeout quickly.