Cyanide and Happiness: Freakpocalypse Nintendo Switch review: this one’s for the fans

Point-and-click games just don’t come along as often as they used to. I still remember the golden era of LucasArts games, where you could literally pick from a handful of adventures that tested your mettle, and maybe a little bit of your funny bone.

Fortunately, the developers of Cyanide and Happiness: Freakpocalypse remembers these days, and have fashioned their game to play out with a bit of point-and-click goodness, while also retaining the rude, hilarious humor that we’ve come to expect from the out-of-control comics. The end result is a game that’s a bit on the short-but-sweet side, one that’s more notable about the journey than the destination. But if you’re a fan of Cyanide and Happiness, that’s sure to be your speed.

In the game, you portray a bullied kid that simply wants to make something of himself before he graduates as a nobody. The game follows his misadventures over the course of the day, where things get a little too out of control for their own good. Fortunately, the writing never strays too far from the weirdness we’ve come to expect from Cyanide, so we’re in good hands.

Keep in mind that Freakpocalypse is the start of a trilogy, so you won’t quite get the full tale here. In fact, you’ll probably just experience about five to seven hours of gameplay depending on your choices, which is a bit tight considering the game’s $20 price tag. But there’s lots of moments that make the trip worthwhile, along with gameplay that’s relatively easy to get into.

Now, let me just give you a heads up. If you’re unfamiliar with Cyanide and Happiness, this might not be the game for you. That’s because it revels in rudeness. Like, the main star, Cooper, goes through the type of humiliation that would infuriate us in real life to no end. To the point of maybe punching someone. But that’s the attitude that the series has always gone with, so if you’re familiar with its approach, you won’t mind it so much.

That said, the humor that’s on display in Freakpocalypse isn’t bad. There’s a lot of good jokes here, even if you might wince at one or two of them, and they all tie in rather well with the story, leaving you eager to see what the next adventure in the saga may add.

The gameplay itself isn’t really that challenging, as you can solve some of the game’s puzzles with ease and get around without much effort. But the focus here is on the story and the characters, as crude as everything is, which explains why it’s more for the fans. But the devs did a great job nailing down the format.

What really shines in this Cyanide and Happiness game, however, is the presentation. The visuals are exceptionally well done, coming across like an animated show based on the cartoon, right down to the stiff character movements and some interestingly designed scenarios. What’s more, the voice work is excellent; and the sound effects really fit the bill in terms of Freakpocalypse’s tone. Just don’t expect this pill to be swallowed so easily. It is Cyanide and Happiness, after all.

Really, you’ll get more mileage out of the game if you’re a fan of the series. Freakpocalypse makes it clear from the start that it’s not for everyone, and some may not even see it through to its end depending on how much you can stomach. But the development team stayed loyal to the comic’s material, and there are some good moments – and laughs – to take in here if you can weather the storm. Plus, honestly, we have to support point-and-click games as much as we can if we want to see them make a comeback. Even if we have to put up with a Freakpocalypse to get there.

RATING: 7.5/10

Interview: Hitting the turnbuckles with RetroMania Wrestling

Let’s be honest. The landscape of wrestling games these days hasn’t been earth-shattering. WWE 2K20 wasn’t the best AAA game out there by a mile; and WWE Battle Grounds, while an improvement, still fell victim to corporate planning via its microtransactions.

However, not all is lost. Fire Pro Wrestling World has a great community; and there’s also RetroMania Wrestling, a loving follow-up to the classic WWE Wrestlefest. Now, of course, it’s not licensed by any group, but it does have a number of superstars to its credit. The game has been out for Steam for a little while now, and it drops on Xbox One this Tuesday, with a release to follow afterwards on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

We recently caught up with the game’s team lead, Michael Hermann, to discuss how the game came together, its reception, and what fans can expect in the long haul. What a rush, indeed.

First off, congrats on the Steam launch of the game! How has feedback been thus far?

So far so good. We had one little hiccup at the beginning but I am proud we are at 86% Very Positive rating on Steam which is awesome.

Why do you think it’s taken so long for a WWF Wrestlefest-style game to hit the market? Do you believe there just wasn’t any interest at the time in retro wrestling, or maybe something different?

I think it is because making wrestling games is pretty hard. There is a ton of artwork that goes into a game like this. It has been no easy task getting this done!

How did you go about putting the roster together for the game? Must’ve been difficult with so much talent belonging to official companies.

Licensing was difficult. We had to navigate ownership of all the wrestling gimmicks and seeing who we could get and who we could afford. But I really targeted guys I liked. We were really going for an eclectic roster and I think we have a great one!

What kind of modes are incorporated into the game? Are there any that are considered fan favorites at the moment?

Right now we have Story mode, 10 Lbs of Gold, Retro Rumble and Versus. I think everyone likes them all! It is a great mix of game modes to keep people busy trying all the different types of matches. 

How have the live broadcasts for the game been going? Any chance we can get a Blue Meanie show going?

They have been great! We love to pop into  streams and see who is playing. As for the Meanie, you never know!

Any word on the console versions just yet? We know they’ve been delayed, we assume you’re just making sure they’re good to go before they launch.

Xbox is coming March 23rd. Switch shortly after, just trying to confirm with Nintendo. We are waiting to hear back from Sony.

What’s the word on DLC? We’ve already seen some announced wrestlers, but is there anything else you can tell us about what’s in store?

Nothing at this time. We are planning our DLC and have already started to work on it. More details to come soon.

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to making a “retro” wrestling game such as this?

Well, most of the difficulties have been due to my inexperience making games. Estimating time frames has been tough. Everything is always more complicated than you think it will be. But we are just about over the finish line.

And finally…what does the future hold for Retromania? Could we see a sequel down the road? Or is it too soon to tell?

Who knows?!? We are keeping our options open and we will see what happens after our initial launch.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League review: go home, Whedon, we got this

When Justice League released theatrically in 2017, it was pretty much a disaster. Not that I hated it personally, but it kind of alienated the vision that the original director Zack Snyder had for it in favor of Avengers helmer Joss Whedon. It pissed off fans with its quippy tone and lackluster action scenes, not to mention the whole thing with Superman’s “lipgate.” (Don’t ask, really.)

Then began a surprising movement for the “Snyder cut” of Justice League. It had an amazing momentum and a tremendous amount of pull, despite some people saying it would never happen. What’s even more shocking is Hollywood listened, providing $70+ million to give the director the chance to make the movie he wanted.

And what a movie it is. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a whopping four hours in length. And what’s more, it’s 4:3 format, akin to the IMAX screen instead of the standard widescreen, which pissed off a few folks. But what’s important here is Snyder got done what he really wanted to get done, without studio interference and, more importantly, involvement from Whedon. And, boy, what a difference his story makes.

Though it is lengthy and a bit heavy on the slow-motion (a Snyder staple, if you recall 300), Zack Snyder’s Justice League is remarkable. It lends a bunch of detail to characters that were sorely needing it before, and also answers prior questions from the universe. It also provides a great deal of kick-ass (and bloody!) action, as well as better detail on the visual effects and, most importantly, hardly any “lipgate” to speak of. Fans are sure to love it.

The story’s about the same – Steppenwolf wants to unite three powerful universal boxes to please his boss Darkseid, while Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and company try to stop him. However, there’s so much more going on here. Much more comes to light about Cyborg (Ray Fisher) including how his character came to be, and his father’s dark role in the process – which is a lot deeper than you may realize. We also learn a lot more about Steppenwolf himself, and what makes him far more sinister than the theatrical cut could ever deliver. There, he was a smug jerk that didn’t have much reasoning. Here, he’s deeper, and far more threatening.

And then there’s Darkseid himself, a menacing force that could easily go toe-to-toe with Thanos in a bar brawl. He’s foreboding and powerful, and lends incredible weight to the story. Alas, it’s not likely we’ll see his story come to fruition anytime soon, but you never know. After all, Warner Bros. did greenlight this little nugget; and depending on feedback, they could likely continue.

The tone for this Justice League is a lot darker. There are “f” bombs here and there, some bloodshed (Wonder Woman dispatching terrorists this time around is remarkable) and a nice finale that actually gives Superman and Steppenwolf far better treatment. There’s also some surprising returns of characters we’ve seen in the past, most particularly the Joker, played by Jared Leto. He doesn’t take the crown away from Heath Ledger, mind you, but it’s great to see him in a much better form than his glittery, somewhat Suicide Squad appearance. Also, I can’t get over how rad it is to see Joe Manganiello back as Deathstroke, even if it’s not for very long.

Chris Terrio gets to handle scriptwriting solo this time around (nope, no Whedon, and that means no “oh, snap” references), and does a great job. Again, it’s a bit overpadded in places, but the characterization is something else. Fisher does even better here as Cyborg, because, well, we actually get to see what makes him tick, and why he is what he is. His growth is awesome.

Not to mention the others. Gal Gadot is still excellent as Wonder Woman; Henry Cavill rocks it as Superman (especially as he comes face-to-face with Steppenwolf for the first time); Ezra Miller strikes a great tone as Barry Allen/Flash, even if his love for K-pop faded in this cut (at least there’s still Rick and Morty); Jason Momoa gets to shine as Aquaman in various ways; and Affleck, yes, is still a good Batman. A bit on the growly side at times, but who cares? Also, kudos to Jeremy Irons getting more screen time as Alfred. Yes.

Some may complain about the VFX being somewhat incomplete, but I barely noticed. Sure, during the finale, some of the characters might be a slight bit iffy, but I was still impressed by what got done with COVID-19 restrictions and all. Even in the IMAX format, the film looks very good.

And the new Junkie XL soundtrack is excellent. It replaces Danny Elfman’s score, which wasn’t really that flawed to begin with. But it definitely hammers home the more serious tone, and how.

So, the bottom line is this. Yes, it’s long. No, not everything will make sense, as I’m still trying to figure out how that hero at the end showed up. And sure, the slo-mo could’ve been sped up in parts. Nevertheless this take on Justice League from Zack Snyder is worlds better than the original – and keep in mind, again, I somewhat liked it. Here, we’ve got better storytelling, more enjoyable fights to watch, some decent FX, and solid performances. Not to mention a few surprises here and there.

Now then, about that Suicide Squad director’s cut…

(Zack Snyder’s Justice League is on HBOMax now. There’s rumor of a home release, but nothing confirmed just yet.)

RATING: 8.5/10

Sony takes over EVO championship series

So, yeah, 2020 wasn’t the greatest year for a lot of events. But one that got hit particularly hard is EVO, the yearly tournament where some of the best fighting game players in the world compete for glory.

Last year’s event didn’t take place because COVID-19 struck so hard. And while there was an online event in the works, it was also scrubbed after its chief executive, Joey Cuellar, was accused of sexual misconduct, leading to his dismissal.

But fret not. EVO 2021 is ready to return this August, and this time it has a major new partner behind it – Sony Interactive Entertainment. Through a deal with the Endeavor talent agency, the company will take over and present Evo Online in just a few months, as part of a joint venture with a group called RTS.

Tony and Tom Cannon, the co-founders of the tournament, noted they will remain “closely involved as key advisors.” Their full statement from Twitter is below:

“Evo would not be possible without the collective passion and collaboration of the fighting game community, and we’re deeply grateful for your dedication over the past 25 years. We know last year was challenging due to the pandemic, and the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of Evo Online involving a former team member who has been completely separated from the company.

“We want to reaffirm that harassment or abuse of any kind has no place within Evo or any of our future events, and we’re taking every precaution to make sure members of our community will always be treated with the respect, dignity, and decency you deserve.

“In order to deliver on the trust you have all put into Evo, we realize that we need an experienced strategic partner who truly respects the spirit of the FGC. This is why we’re excited to announce that Evo has become part of the joint partnership of Sony Interactive Entertainment and RTS. The new partnership is committed to bringing amazing tournaments and competitive gaming experiences back to you this year and beyond.

“We’re thrilled to work with the teams at PlayStation and RTS to bring you Evo 2021 Online this August. More information on the event will follow.”

This will likely take away the “indie” feel of the event, and also may feature titles that are PlayStation specific, like the best-selling Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. But we’ll see what the companies have in store in the months ahead.

Good luck to all parties involved!

Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection arrives on Nintendo Switch

Who misses the Neo Geo Pocket Color? We sure do. For years it was a must-have portable system for fans everywhere, offering a wealth of strong first and third party games before its inevitable demise. But now it lives again, as SNK has released a new collection for the Nintendo Switch that you won’t want to miss!

The Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 goes for $39.99 and includes ten different titles from the Neo Geo Pocket Color library. Some of these titles were previously released in standalone form, but if you missed out, you can get them again here. And what’s more, the collection also includes other favorites, including the two Metal Slug games.

The full list of games is as follows:

  • SNK Gals’ Fighters
  • Samurai Shodown! 2
  • King of Fighters R-2
  • The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny
  • Fatal Fury: First Contact
  • SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
  • Metal Slug 1st Mission
  • Metal Slug 2nd Mission
  • Dark Arms
  • Big Tournament Golf

You can also check out 3D models of the games and their cartridges, and play them either in full-screen or the classic monochromatic, with a number of system designs. You can challenge a friend in some games as well.

So if you miss the old Neo Geo Pocket Color, or you’re just feeling nostalgic, this collection should be just the thing you need. Now if we can just get Vol. 2 to come with the Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Octopath Traveler is coming to Xbox Game Pass

As if the news that Outriders was coming next month wasn’t enough, Xbox Game Pass subscribers have yet another surprise title to look forward to in a matter of days – Octopath Traveler.

Yes, the game, which originally released as a Nintendo Switch exclusive a while back before making its way to Steam, will now debut on the Xbox platform in both standalone form and as a playable title on Xbox Game Pass. It’s set to arrive on March 25.

For those that missed out on it, there’s a trailer below (the Nintendo Switch one), along with the game’s official description:

“Eight travelers. Eight adventures. Eight roles to play. Embark on an epic journey across the vast and wondrous world of Orsterra and discover the captivating stories of each of the eight travelers. Use each character’s distinctive abilities in and out of battle and make decisions to shape your path.”

The game was a massive hit on previous platforms, and now it should reach out to an even wider audience while debuting on Game Pass.

The Xbox program has become immensely popular over the past few months, thanks to key additions like these. And there’s more to come, as Undertale joins the service today, with Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition and others joining later this month. Star Wars: Squadrons will also be available later this week, as part of EA Play.

Haven’t subscribed yet? You can learn more about Xbox Game Pass here!

Outriders is Xbox Game Pass bound

Ever since the release of its extended demo last month, Outriders has been getting some serious buzz. The latest game from the developers at People Can Fly and Square Enix looks to be an excellent shooter, one that you can play alone or with friends in co-op. Coming soon, all Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get their turn.

Microsoft recently announced that the game will make its debut on the service the same day that it’s set to release on other platforms – April 1st! And no, it’s not a joke – and it won’t be a limited release.

The company noted in its statement, “Starting April 1, Xbox Game Pass for Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can jump into this true genre-hybrid from Square Enix, which combines brutal combat with deep RPG systems. Outriders is set in the distant future where players attempt to colonize a planet that they believe to be a new home for humanity. Turns out, the planet doesn’t want them there. Oops.

A mysterious storm called the Anomaly burnt out all the tech that’s more advanced than a lightbulb, hyper-evolved the wildlife into ferocious monsters, and colonization efforts broke down into a bitter war of attrition for the last remaining resources available to humanity.”

Considering that Microsoft just added a bunch of Bethesda games to the service, this continues to push the tremendous value that Xbox Game Pass offers. And with E3 2021 around the corner, the company isn’t done yet.

Outriders will also be available on PlayStation 4 and PC, with enhancements on PlayStation 5 to boot. Check out the latest trailer below!

Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 Nintendo Switch Review: Middle of the Road

A deep driving experience can go a long way, as games like the Gran Turismo series have proven. Arcade-style also works, as Microsoft’s incredibly good Forza Horizon 4 and classics like Blur and Split/Second have done. However it’s when you try to get all your racing eggs in one basket that you could be asking for trouble.

That’s the fate of Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, the latest in the monster truck racing series from Rainbow Studios. It continues the status quo that made the original such a hit, giving you a bevy of monster trucks to collects and tracks to tear up. Although while it may satisfy fans, it doesn’t really evolve enough past the original, and some of its problems remain intact. That’s not to say there isn’t a fun time here – there is – but unlike the MX vs. ATV series that Rainbow also works on, there’s not really enough growth here to embrace. It’s just spinning its monster wheels.

Steering into trouble

There’s some questionability with the gameplay involved with Steel Titans 2. On the one hand, Rainbow did do something cool with the structure in which the trucks handle, as you can move the front and rear wheels independently. This allows you to turn a lot tighter, something ideal with the short-range tracks, and also lets you get more of an angle when it comes to “crushing” the ramps and getting some serious air.

Yet there’s also the downside, revolving around the trucks themselves. Yes, they’re mighty, and can really take out a lot in their path. Nevertheless performing tricks can be a crapshoot because they’re so likely to be flipped over. And when you flip over, it can take quite a bit to get back on all four tires again. It’s a practice that gets very tiring and takes away from Steel Titans 2’s overall momentum.

Again, fans that have gotten used to the first one probably won’t mind. But Rainbow Studios probably should’ve balanced these trucks a little bit better, as it’s too easy to veer off course in some scenarios – and off your tires in others. For that matter, the AI can be scattershot. In some races, it’s incredibly easy to defeat. But in others, these cars put on more of a challenge than you might expect. It can really throw players off when they’re expecting a zig and getting a zag. The multiplayer’s all right, but hardly worth writing home about.

Finally, there just aren’t enough new events to go around. Sure, there are a number of events – four in all – with many races to be conquered during each one. But, again, there’s just not enough new stuff here. It just feels like the dev stuck with what worked, and then piled onto that foundation instead of building something new, like it’s done in the past. It can be real frustrating, though, again, some rough riders probably won’t mind.

Some unique world design

Where Steel Titans 2 does have a leg up over the original game is within some of its track designs. There are some great themed tracks here, including one that K9 lovers are sure to love (giant bones and all), as well as a spooky graveyard setting that’s perfect for, say, Grave Digger or any other spooky trucks you have in your arsenal. Some of these tracks look excellent, and are a real romp to race through, provided you have a hang of the complicated controls.

The trucks look good too, with splashy, stylish designs and decent physics that represent their real models. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed, and can unlock some new models to add to their collection as well.

As for the sound, it’s not really that imaginative. The announcer voice is generic at best, and the music selections are generally average, with nothing to make you feel like you’re taking part in a monster truck rally. But the engine noises are fantastic for each model, so when you gun it, it actually sounds like it makes a difference. Again, that’s probably something the die-hard monster truck racers will savor the most.

This One Jam-s Up Too Much

While I like some of the ideas within Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, it just doesn’t have enough good ones to go around. Most of the modes are repeats, the AI is lackluster, and the problematic engine makes it all too easy to crash your truck. Despite the bright spots – particularly the innovative track designs and the dual-wheel control system – it just can’t get over its, ahem, Monster problems. This is one series that could use a bit of overhaul. After all, it worked for MX vs. ATV, didn’t it?

RATING: 5/10

What the Dub?! lets you unleash your MST3K dubbing skills this April

Who doesn’t like bad movies?! There’s something about sitting around and mercilessly letting a bad movie have it, just to soak in all its cheesiness. Ask anyone that’s seen an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Rifftrax just how great this can be.

And now you’ll have a chance to do it in game with What the Dub?! A new game from Wide Right Interactive – the same studio that brought us Freedom Finger, it’s a party game where you get to make up the best dub lines, and then watch as people vote which ones are the funniest!

Up to 12 people can take part in the action, viewing over 300 public domain clips (sorry, no Star Wars here) and then overdubbing missing dialogue within them. From there, the players, along with six audience members, will be able to vote on their favorite dubs! Then it’s winner take all for bad movie night. You will need to provide your own popcorn, tho.

The action can be seen in the trailer below, and, yes, the dubbing is as bad as it gets. But hey, if you ever wanted to unleash your inner Joel or Mike, this is the game for you!

What the Dub?! drops on April 8th for Xbox One/Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch and Steam/PC.

Turbo Kid returns – as a video game!

It’s funny how some things come full circle – like the legacy of Turbo Kid.

Initially released in 2015, the film has become a cult classic in a short amount of time. It focuses on a scavenger who finds himself going against hostile forces, with only a BMX bike and a mysterious girl named Apple to help him.

The film’s got a notable cast, including good ol’ Michael Ironside, hamming it up as Zeus. But what’s even more impressive is that it’s making a comeback – and not in the way that you might expect.

A Canadian development team by the name of Outerminds has announced that it’s working on a video game adaptation of Turbo Kid, set to release sometime in 2022. As you can see from the teaser trailer below, it offers up a great deal of BMX riding and action-packed combat, as well as a structure straight out of Metroidvania. Oh, and of course there’s bloodshed, because, hey, it’s Turbo Kid, right?

That said, it is going to be a little while before the legacy kicks back into high gear, as the game isn’t set for release until sometime in 2022. Platforms also haven’t been revealed just yet, but we should know more soon enough.

So keep on the lookout. Oh, and if you haven’t seen Turbo Kid just yet, you should fix that. It’s available now on-demand, as well as on Blu-Ray. Check out the movie trailer below.