Persona 5 Strikers review: not your typical Warriors

For years, Persona has worked as a solid role-playing series, engaging players with its epic storyline and memorable characters. But the series has also made the foray into other genres, like fighting (Persona 4 Arena, anyone?) and even dancing (who doesn’t remember the Dancing All Night spin-off?). But now, with the success of Hyrule Warriors and the later Dynasty Warriors games, Atlus has teamed up with Omega Force to give Persona 5 a try with the formula. Enter Strikers.

But this isn’t your typical entry in the Warriors phenomena. Sure, you get to beat up enemies like crazy with a number of members in the Persona cast. But you also get to experience some cool action/role-playing elements that fit wondrously into the series. The end result is a game that might surprise you from left field, even more so if you’re a fan of the franchise.

The events within the game follow Persona 5, but it’s easy to get caught up if you didn’t necessarily conquer that game. It revolves around Joker, Morgana, and their crew of Phantom Thieves once again getting caught up in a whirlwind adventure, all revolving around – wait for it – a corrupt and highly popular phone app. What follows is a journey that sees the Phantom Thieves doing what they do best – wreaking havoc.

While the story sounds silly. Omega Force has done a splendid job blending it in with the Persona universe, making the game feel just as fresh for its world as the latest Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity did for Legend of Zelda’s. These guys understand what makes a world tick, and modifying it into their familiar Musou system is really something.

The gameplay isn’t routine Musou, though. Sure, there are hundreds of foes to beat up, but we’re talking about Persona here. There are some crafty role-playing portions that really blend in rather nicely, making each of the bigger battles in the game lively and fun to partake in. What’s more, seeing what each character brings – instead of just the typical Joker – is refreshing, and may have you changing up your favorites. After all, it’s Phantom Thieves, not just a Phantom Thief.

This also opens up the game’s world rather nicely, as you explore Persona’s world and discover new enemies that you can get the jump on. What’s more, the special techniques are dazzling, albeit limited, per an SP meter. Balance it properly, however, and you’ll watch the Personas flash across your screen with ease.

That said, the game can feel a little grindy at times, and, with any Musou title, there is the possibility of repetitiveness setting in with some players. Still, there’s more freshness here than we were expecting, and that makes Persona 5 Strikers something special in the typical field of Musou games.

It also looks fantastic, with a wonderfully designed world and great character animations that almost appear ripped straight from the Atlus universe. Fans will be right at home here, and the Switch version doesn’t disappoint. The camera can be slightly problematic in some places, but not enough to delve off the sheer energy this game provides. The soundtrack is excellent as well, along with the dialogue and sound effects.

Even without the core Persona experience on Switch (we didn’t even get Arena, man!), Strikers stands out as a gem on the system. It plays wonderfully and offers a deeper experience than we’re used to from Omega Force, and the presentation is on point, despite some mild hiccups. If you’re any kind of a fan – or you just want to keep busy until Joker and his team make their next go-around – you shouldn’t miss the chance to add this game to your library. It’s like a heist that works in your favor.

Overall: 8.5/10

Star Wars: Republic Commando returning this April

The team at Aspyr Media is having a field day with re-releasing Star Wars games at the moment, including hits like Jedi Academy and Episode I Racer. But now things are getting serious, as it’s set to squad up this April with the return of Republic Commando.

The first-person shooter/strategy game first debuted on the Xbox platform years ago, then recently resurfaced when it becomes available as an enhanced title for the Xbox One and, later on, Xbox Series X. But now Aspyr wants to introduce the legend of the Delta Squad to more players, as the game will be available on April 6th for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. In addition, it will also be reasonably priced, going for just $14.99.

The game won’t have multiplayer like the original version. However, improvements will be made to the game’s controls to make them a little more current, so they work wonders with the DualShock 4, DualSense and Switch controllers. So you’ll have that going for you. Plus it’s bound to look great!

The trailer is below, so give it a look and prepare for the return of the Commando! Now, if we can just get some TIE Fighter titles going…

Neversong Nintendo Switch review: far from the same ol’ song

Metroidvania games seem to be popping up like crazy as of late. There is a possibility you could miss out on a good one as a result, but these are always fun to come back and discover. In fact, I’ve never even heard of Neversong until I was introduced to it by a colleague.

Like most Metroidvania games, it’s all about the quaint beauty of what you find within the world as you explore through it. And while Neversong’s overall game length isn’t quite as extensive as other titles on the market, it packs quite a bit into its short but sweet adventure.

In the game, you play Peet, a kid who goes investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend in the midst of an imaginative, but dangerous, town of Neverwood. Along the way, you’ll visit six different areas, each with their own bosses and other terrors, as you attempt to fend them off with a spiked baseball bat, and work alongside buddies and a helpful bird to find out what’s going on.

Where Neversong truly excels is within its story. It’s fascinating to see how this all unfolds, thanks to fun dialogue that doesn’t really stay too down in the dumps, even though the tone is definitely about on the same level as, say, Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro. There’s also some interesting twists, and even time for a song or two, playing out rather beautifully when the situation calls for it.
As far as gameplay goes, Neversong has a bit in common with the indie darling Hollow Knight, although there are some differences when it comes to getting around. You can use a pair of gauntlets to grab ropes and find better maneuverability; and your pals can lend a hand in certain situations too, even with something as simple as a few words. It can be a little loose at times, especially with character control, but it still works. And the boss fights are a lot of fun, albeit a little challenging.

When it comes to presentation, Neversong also scores an impressive win. It looks gorgeous with its well-designed world, and the animations are pretty well done. There’s also a bizarre approach to character design that must be seen to be believed. The music is also terrific, thanks to some awesome piano tunes that play consistently in the background. Get the headset for this one if you can.

Alas, the journey does come to an end all too soon. But a game like this is really more about that the destination anyway. Neversong has more than enough within its few hours of play to warrant a look, and the exquisite soundtrack and engaging storyline will keep you intrigued as you continue on your way. There are better Metroidvania games out there, and yet this one gets a hearty recommendation as well. There’s always room for one more, right?

RATING: 8/10

Nintendo Direct 2021

They got us in the first half. 

Nintendo had players eagerly awaiting the Nintendo Direct announcement today on February 17, all to hear what Nintendo has in stock for us in the first half of 2021. With recent announcements like Sephiroth added to the Super Smash Bros. roster, the upcoming 35th anniversary for Legend of Zelda, and a few choice older games being mentioned for a reboot, we can look forward to an interesting Direct.  

Nintendo Direct starts out with the new adventure where Pyra had gone missing… Rex searched all over for her only to find her on a lone floating rock. Pyra brings the power of the Aegis to Smash! We can look forward to some of her best and beautiful moves used in-game, but don’t let Pyra get caught in a pinch, as Mythra will awaken and take over the battle for Pyra! Not one, but two! We can look forward to seeing moves like Chroma Sight on unsuspecting Smash players. Not only is this a two-for-one character, but you can change freely between them both! As well as the two characters, you get the whole team for support as well as a new map on the back of the dragon.  

Super Smash Bros. brings Xenoblade Chronicles 2 into the game, with a SMASH! 

Fall Guys appears next in the Nintendo Direct, now coming to Nintendo Switch! Get all that glorious fun silliness on a whole new system this Summer 2021! 

You have 22 minutes before the solar system is destroyed. In this new game, it will reset every time your 22 minutes is up. You can try to stop the sun from exploding, or cruise and enjoy the solar system of Outer Wilds this summer! 

Famicom Detective Club is next to make an appearance on the Nintendo Switch. A Classic JRPG game is brought to North Americas and the rest of the world. Both games will be brought to the Nintendo Switch. In the first game, you’ll look for your memories and try to figure out who did this to you before it’s too late. In the next game, you’ll be looking for a girl whose story is tragic, but can you save her from it?  

A new age of battles begins on our next slide in Nintendo Direct. In this beautifully drawn game, Samurai Warriors 5, you’ll continue the history of your Samurai character, all new designs, and visuals this summer.  

Legend of Mana is coming to the Nintendo Switch! For those of you who remember this piece of work from back in the day, you’ll see the upgraded visuals and sounds. You can join forces with additional characters, where each has their own adventures. You can choose between new music or the original soundtrack. They also brought a new mini-game to the game to help keep you busy when you’re deciding what to do! 

Monster Hunter makes its debut today in the Nintendo Direct. Monster Hunter: Rise brings us back to the original storyline of Monster Hunter, where 50 years later they start to take their home back.  Enjoy updated graphics and familiar faces from Monster Hunter

Mario Golf makes its way back to the Nintendo Switch with new features to enable your golf game. Beautifully redone courses and new music lends to a whole new way of playing Mario Golf. You can now play Mario Golf with buttons or using the motion controls to get a real feel for the club. Plenty of new ways to play Mario Golf, including SPEED GOLF where you and your friends will tee-off at the same time and race to the end of the course. Nintendo Miis are available to customize for your Mario Golf adventure where you will have the main campaign to go from Rookie to Pro in no time! 

Nintendo went on to announce some old games that will be coming to Nintendo Switch in a download called Nintendo Arcade available later today for download.  

Play as Travis Touchdown as you fight all kinds of different enemies, but that’s not the weirdest part. You’ll have to go around town and do some chores and odd jobs, in order to unlock to next boss. The fate of the world is at stake, so get ready to kick some alien booty. No More Heroes 3, available August.  

Exterminate demons in heaven. Play as an assassin in heaven, because someone’s gotta do the dirty world. Use cards to attack and move your character through the world, if you can’t keep moving, you’ll start from the beginning. Neon White, be the last sinner, winter 2021. 

DC Super Girls, play as the girls of DC. Batgirl, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman are joined by Harley Quinn. Teen Power is available June 4, and perfect for that little superhero in your life.  

Remember Plants Vs Zombies? Well, now they have the complete edition available on the Switch in March! You can tackle all the missions, bosses and just enjoy the original puzzle game! With new graphics and updated controls for the Switch, this is a must-have for that Zombie Killer in your life.  

Save faces!!! Miitopia!  Miitopia is making its way to the Nintendo Switch! Join ANYONE on adventures and save or defeat your friends. You can customize your miis even more now as they added new hairstyles, clothing, and sound options.  

Animal Crossing announces that Mario’s 35th Anniversary items will be available to order in March! As usual, you’ll order these through the Nook Shopping, so enjoy them as you can use them as they were intended! Wanna use a pipe to travel? Make sure you put two down!  These items will become available on March 1st! 

Your morals and your strength will be tested in this next game from Nintendo. Fight with Fredrica, Benedict, and others as you follow your chosen path. Project Triangle Strategy, the Saltiron War broke out against the land of Azerala. In a tactical RPG, you’ll need to be aware of how close you are to your enemies. Link attacks together to make stronger spells, team up with your allies to survey the battlefield and prepare for war. Coming 2022, the demo will be available after the Nintendo Direct.  

Star Wars makes its appearance on the Nintendo Switch, with STAR WARS Hunters, coming 2021. Set between Episode 6 and 7, it’s an all-out PVP game. Play as your favorite heroes, and save, or defeat the universe.  

Kung Fu City, play with a team as you run around town playing a ‘dodgeball’ type of game. Run, hide, and hunt down your enemies. Customize your characters with anything you can think of, want to be the dude from Call of Duty? Want to look like Samus? You can do it. Coming Summer 2021.  

The next game based in Japan. Side-scrolling fun for the whole family, making your way home to Tokyo you’ll come across many enemies and new friends. World’s End Club, coming May 28th

Hades is getting a Physical Release that comes with the original soundtrack and a thirty-two-page graphic artwork for you to admire for days on end. Coming March 19th.  

Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3 are all coming out on the Nintendo Switch. Play the original storylines that brought us knuckle-deep in super ninjas fulfilling their destinies. Ninja Gaiden Master Collection, coming June 10th

Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity is getting an expansion pass that will cover the next six months with updates directly to the game.  

February 26th Bravely Default 2 will be available! 

Side-scrolling medieval fun, now supporting local co-op. Ghost and Goblins resurrections is available for pre-order! 

Apex Legends comes to Nintendo Switch! Double XP for two weeks after launch on Nintendo Switch, on March 9th.  

Fall Nintendo Direct for more Legend of Zelda news, including updates about Breath of The Wild 2. For now, they are releasing Skyward Sword HD on the Switch coming out July 16th. Specialized Legend of Zelda Joy-Con controllers are also coming out to add to your Legend of Zelda collection! 

Splatoon makes its appearance next, with a full-on customizable character and pet a new world… Splatoon 3 makes its way onto the scene! Enjoy updated graphics, moves, and smooth handling. New character looks will add to your total custom look! Coming to the Switch 2022. 

So much in the first half from Nintendo, we can look forward to a busy year for all kinds of fans!

Check in, in the fall for the second half!

Five Wii games that still need to come to Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch has become so popular that even ports of earlier games are selling incredibly well for it. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Bayonetta 2 and the just-released Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury are proof of that.

Thus far, we’ve gotten most of the Wii U games on the Switch, save for certain releases like StarFox Zero. But what about the Wii? Wouldn’t some of their games be an ideal fit on the Switch? Heck yeah, they would.

With that, we’ve got a few suggestions of Wii games that we think would be right at home on the platform. Hurry, Nintendo, they’re not going to release themselves!

Wii Sports

Don’t laugh at this suggestion. Wii Sports has become one of the most popular games of all time on the Wii, and continues to sell surprisingly well on the used game market today. So a re-release for the Switch just makes sense, with players using their JoyCons to try and outscore their opposition. For good measure, Nintendo could add Club features to the game, along with online play, so fans won’t feel so isolated as they stay stuck inside from COVID-19.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

We mentioned earlier how we want The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Switch. And we’re likely to get that. But you know what game doesn’t seem as likely? The Wii release Skyward Sword. This is a thrilling adventure in its own right, and Nintendo could easily bring it to the platform with enhanced visuals, various gameplay options and maybe even some new content for fans to relish. Well, either this or The Wind Waker. Or hey, how about both?!

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor

Easily one of the best shooters released for the Wii, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is still an excellent game by today’s standards – and a perfect candidate for release on the Nintendo Switch. With different control schemes, fantastic visuals and maybe even the original Sin and Punishment as an unlockable bonus, Star Successor could easily be a hot-seller for the platform. And, hey, Treasure isn’t doing anything at the moment, sooooo…

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

While it is great to have contemporary Kirby adventures on the Switch, it wouldn’t hurt to give his Epic Yarn adventure a try on the platform. It did really well releasing the game on the 3DS a little while back, so obviously HAL Entertainment can bring it to another platform – and with Switch-exclusive features and game control schemes to boot. Oh, and we’ll totally take online co-op as well, if only because we don’t want to leave players…strung along? Heh.

Metroid Prime Trilogy

Finally, since it’s going to be a while until we see Metroid Prime 4 surface on the system, Nintendo should fill the void by giving us one of the greatest trilogies in recent memory on the Switch – and that’s the Metroid Prime Trilogy. The release did extremely well on the Wii, even becoming hard to come by at one point. So a re-release – complete with its Steelbook case and collectibles – would be just the thing to get us by in 2021. Please?

Why the Time Is Right For a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Remake

2021 could very well be a big year for The Legend of Zelda.

There’s been all sorts of whispers that Breath of the Wild 2 could get a big reveal this year – and maybe even a release over the holiday season. But there’s also been talk about the return of some of Link’s earlier adventures for the Nintendo Switch, like the Wii classic Skyward Sword.

But the big talk revolves around a remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, the legendary adventure that made its debut on the Nintendo 64 in its heyday. Still regarded as one of the best games in the series, a remake would hit the spot for the Nintendo Switch, even all these years later.

So why is the time right for this game to get the remake treatment? Well, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Let’s take a look.

It worked for Mario

Back in September, Nintendo shocked its community by releasing a three-pack of Mario’s greatest adventures for the Switch, including a fantastic looking edition of Super Mario 64 from his Nintendo 64 days. The game became a colossal hit, and will likely sell a few million copies more before Nintendo “retires” the three-pack by the end of March 2021.

Its sales indicate that players don’t mind pouring down some cash for a well-made set of remakes, so that shows great possibility when it comes to doing the same for good ol’ Link. A three-pack featuring Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess and, yup, Ocarina of Time would do the big N some good, and boost sales for the system as the company continues to try and make new games in the midst of COVID-19.

So don’t be shocked if we see some sort of Zelda pack announced alongside some form of update for Breath of the Wild 2, just to keep fans content. And, hey, it’d be great to see Skyward Sword embrace a traditional control scheme to boot.

Nintendo loves nostalgia

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Nintendo, it’s that it truly embraces its nostalgia. Take a look at the company’s releases for 2021 so far. We’re getting Super Mario 3D World this coming week, with a new expansion that’ll push it beyond its original Wii U release a few years ago. And then there’s New Pokemon Snap, the long-awaited follow-up to the Nintendo 64 cult classic that had us printing out pictures so long ago.

Yeah, it seems that Nintendo isn’t likely to pass up an opportunity for players to enjoy a classic experience on a new platform. And that’s why an Ocarina of Time re-release just makes sense. Players could easily revisit favorite parts of the game, all while taking in the slightly refreshed visuals or enjoying the controls working so well on the Switch format. And, hey, it would bring in a boatload of money for Nintendo, which isn’t the worst thing out there.

Nostalgia sells, and Nintendo knows it. So don’t be too shocked if it considers a cash-in to give players a new taste of Ocarina of Time.

It could tie in with the Nintendo 64 Classic

There have been rumors for the longest time about Nintendo giving its N64 platform the same treatment that it gave the NES and Super NES in terms of plug-and-play value. While that has yet to be confirmed, they continue to build up feverishly; and the re-release of Ocarina of Time could help generate more interest in its release.

We’ve already seen Super Mario 64 do wonders on the Switch platform, thanks to that 3D All Stars release; and there’s been talk that the Nintendo Switch Online service could get a taste of N64 goodness down the road as well. But, for now, re-releasing Ocarina of Time could gauge just how popular the format could be, either in a plug-and-play fashion or with digital titles. Or, hey, maybe even both – look at how well StarFox 2 went over when it took those routes.

It just makes sense that Ocarina of Time come out, as it could do well for its platform while still serving a mighty need to satisfy players. It’s just a win-win scenario all around – and that’s more than enough reason to give it to us, Nintendo. C’mon.

Not to mention that the game worked really well on the 3DS platform, as the trailer shows below. It’s a guaranteed victory on Switch, we assure you.

Heroes of Hammerwatch review – pixel battle madness

Considering that the indie market is rife with games right now, you might have missed out on a 2017 gem called Hammerwatch. This retro-styled adventure game hit all the right notes with its initial release, and found a pretty strong following within the indie community. Well, if that one didn’t get your attention, then its follow-up, Heroes of Hammerwatch, certainly should.

Like the original game, Heroes attains the same pixelated art style that makes it work so well with retro gamers and newcomers alike. However, at the same time, it also has you taking on waves of enemies in the hopes of scoring loot, while working alongside three friends in online co-op. It expands its universe really well, and is worth playing as you begin to settle into the dog days of fall.

It’s All About the Looting

Heroes of Hammerwatch begins on the most basic of principles, with general weapons to use and a little bit of progression as you carry along. However, as you get your hands on more loot (relax, there’s more than enough to go around), you’ll be able to unlock new gear and progress even further. However, as you get stronger, so do your enemies. And you’ll need to work closely with your allies in order to survive the next wave.

It looks tiny, but Heroes of Hammerwatch packs on a whole bunch of content.

The game can be played solo, in case you don’t really have friends to depend on. However, it’s a bit of a struggle doing so, as this was built with co-op in mind. It does do great for practice, though, so it doesn’t help to get a headstart there.

Once you do, though, inviting friends into the fray and taking on adversaries is a ton of fun. It’s great to work together and clean house while looting up and becoming more and more powerful. What’s more, you can make your way through the game to get New Game +, where a true challenge awaits. And there’s DLC on the way, which should add further to the adventure. (No word on whether it’s free or paid content yet, but it’s likely worth it either way for fans of the series.)

The game plays really well, with a battle system that’s easy to adapt to and gameplay options galore, with more than one way to progress. That really opens up the personable customization, making your character feel more like your own. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Visuals Pop To Life

Along with a solid gameplay system, huge progression options and replay value, Heroes of Hammerwatch expands upon the presentation of the original. The pixel-based graphics are wonderful, popping to life while never really stretching beyond their means with slowdown or anything like that. The developers at Crackshell really did a fundamental job capturing the old-school nature of the game, while at the same time giving a fresh approach that works really well here.

Needless to say, things get explosive in this game.

The sound is equally nice, with great sound effects and music that play along with each battle you get into. Pop on a pair of headphones and soak in that soundtrack!

The real question some players might have is, “Can I enjoy Heroes of Hammerwatch even if I didn’t play the original?” The answer is yes. It’s a highly adaptive game that works for fans and newcomers alike, although, again, it’s best if you have a battle group in tow alongside you. Single player is good for practice, though.

A Battle Worth Enduring

With a solid presentation, fun progressive gameplay and lots of replay value with options and New Game +, Heroes of Hammerwatch is worth sinking your teeth into. All that’s left to wonder is what the developers will do with the franchise next.

RATING: 8/10

Heroes of Hammerwatch proves to be a worthy successor to the 2017 indie fave.

Hotshot Racing PlayStation 4 review: did someone say throwback?

Arcade racers aren’t really that common nowadays – probably because we don’t have arcades at the moment. (Damn it COVID!) But, fortunately, there are some developers out there that are trying to give us that classic “throwback” feeling, back in the days when we were more concerned about getting first place instead of getting a lofty update filled with racing stats.

Hotshot Racing is the latest attempt to bring back the “good ol’ days,” from the team at Lucky Mountain Games (with some help from Sumo Digital). It’s all about that old-school rush, with polygonal racing cars and models, and tracks that look like something out of the Virtua Racing school. It’s a little on the short side when it comes to content, but it has mileage to spare – perfect for a game of this nature.

Taking It For a Spin

You start the game by choosing your racing circuit, in this case from various Grand Prix championships. You’ll start at the beginning, where you can get accustomed to the control of your car, and also choose your driver of choice, who provides commentary throughout. At first, it can seem a little annoying, but it actually adds personality to each race, and you’ll soon develop favorites as you go on. They have back stories that provide a little more detail as well.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Then you get into the racing action itself, which is pretty good. The drift system does take a little bit of getting used to, as it’s far different from the drift-happy days of, say, Ridge Racer. But it’s a concise system, and one that can actually net you power as you continue. You’ll be able to use that for boosts, which are crucial when it comes to scoring a first place victory.

As you go on, the competition gets a bit tougher, with more aggressive AI that has no reservations when it comes to knocking you off the track. You’ll see some hints of this rage in the beginning, which may force a restart if you feel up to it.

There’s a lot to do outside of Grand Prix, though. There’s also a fun Cops and Robbers mode, where pursuit is the name of the game. We haven’t had this much fun with a mode like this since Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Also interesting is the Drive Or Explode mode, where you have to keep going fast or your car blows up. Hmmmm, sounds like a particular Keanu Reeves film out there. (No, not Constantine, you doofs.)

Get some friends together and have some laughs!

And then there’s multiplayer, jam packed with up to eight players. The best way to go with a game like this, however, is splitscreen. It’s great going up against friends in various modes and seeing what you can do in each circuit. There are other options as well, however, if you feel like competing a different way. Just be prepared for some real road hogs out there.

The Look’s The Thing

Another magical element to Hotshot Racing is how wonderful it looks. I mean, it’s simple compared to some of today’s other racers, but it’s a wondrous throwback to the 90’s style of design. The polygonal look of the cars and drivers is just about perfect, and there’s a hint of customization where you can make it feel more like your genuine ride. On top of that, it’s great to see various tracks in different locations, adding some variety to the proceedings. The track count overall is a bit on the short side, but, again, the game is loaded with replayability thanks to multiplayer options and modes.

Call the cops!

The sound is good too, with cheesy rock music playing in the background and some good voiceovers by the characters, though some are better than others. The sound effects are good too, right out of the Daytona rulebook, it seems.

Get Ready To Race

Arcade racers don’t really come along too often anymore, so Hotshot Racing’s arrival is a gem. It’s reasonably priced at around $20; and though the track offering is on the limited side, there’s so much to dig into here when it comes to drifting arcade bliss, character selection, modes and multiplayer. You’ll have a ball – and then, like us, get on the phone and bug Sega about releasing another Sega Rally. We need our very long easy right, baby.

RATING: 8.5/10

An arcade racer that checks out in every category, Hotshot Racing more than deserves your money.

Bite the Bullet Xbox One review: bon appetit

With games like Contra and Metal Slug setting such a standard (lest we forget about the brilliant Gunstar Heroeseither), a side-scrolling shoot-em-up needs something to help it stand out in this day and age. Fortunately, that’s just what Mega Cat Studios does with Bite the Bullet, a unique adventure where digesting your enemies is just as vital as taking them down. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a gorefest and a gorge fest.

There are some unique power-ups you’ll discover along the way, and sometimes a little food can go a long way. But it also keeps the game from reaching its (ahem) fullest potential. As a result, it’s definitely got its joyous moments, but just narrowly avoids being the stuff of legend. Still, if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s worth a shot.

Getting Your Belly Full

What’s interesting about the food digestion dynamic in Bite the Bullet is that it serves as both a necessity and maybe even a curse. You need to eat food in order to keep your health bar from dwindling. However, you might end up stuffing yourself a bit too full, and as a result, your performance may suffer a bit. There’s a fine balance to find here, and it kind of throws off the hectic action that the game has in store otherwise.

Finally, heroes that aren’t afraid to pack on a few pounds.

That said, it’s a great idea, and mostly executed about fine. Plus, there’s some cool things that happen to your character depending what you eat. See, the food you digest actually has an effect on your DNA. As a result, you can do different abilities, or even make some of them permanent if you choose. Just remember, taking one path doesn’t always guarantee success, so you’ll want to experiment.

Other than that, the power-ups are cool enough; and there is some notable action, though it does slow down a bit at times.

A Yummy Presentation

Backing up the game’s acceptable amount of action is a presentation that can’t be beat for fans of the genre. First off, despite some slowdown issues, the visuals in Bite the Bullet look very good, between some sharp animations, great background detail and even some neat lighting effects. It’s old-school taken to the next level, and it suits the game well.

Not to mention the soundtrack, which is absolutely excellent. It’s fun to listen to, especially if you pop on a set of headphones and bop along to your own beat. We couldn’t get enough of this.

“A salad bar? No thanks.”

Finally, you can go through a few customized touches within the game. Not only with your soldiers’ DNA, mind you, but also their appearance. You can create the hero of your dreams with a fairly easy-to-use system. Just remember, it’s the actual DNA components that change how they play, not necessarily how they look.

A Good Treat

No, Bite the Bullet won’t change the shoot-em-up world, due to some slight problems with its gameplay and having to actually balance your meals. But it’s based around a solid idea, and it’s good fun. Plus the presentation is among the best in this genre, as you’ll like what you see and hear. Grab your silverware – or controller, I suppose – and dig in.

RATING: 7.5/10

Not the best the shoot-em-up genre has to offer, but Bite the Bullet is a delectable treat.

Double Kick Heroes Xbox One review: shine on, you crazy demon

There are lots of rhythm/music games that you can delve into right now, even if the genre isn’t exactly hustling and bustling like it was in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. There’s all sorts of classics to dive into, like the memorable Gitaroo Man; and, of course, you can’t go wrong with Cadence of Hyrule on the Switch.

But it’s been ages since we’ve had a pretty good title that’s resorted to “headbanging,” or blasting along to the likes of classic heavy metal with a good head of hair. (Yes, that includes mullets.) And this is where Headbang Club comes in with Double Kick Heroes, a game that relives those glory days the best it can, complete with a fun story mode and an array of pretty good tunes.

Get Down With Your Bad Selves

Does it have the same quality line-up as, say, Rock Band 4? No, and that’s mostly due to budget. But the developer does a good job anyway, with an assortment of tunes and challenges that will keep you on your toes. When you’re not banging your head, that is.

In the game, you take control of a band that’s all gathered together in a little cruiser, hitting the open road while zombies, demons and other monsters pursue you from behind. Your job is to hit beats that appear on the bottom of the screen to keep attacking them, so they don’t catch up to you.

The show must go on.

On easier difficulty settings, Double Kick Heroes is a cinch and will get you accustomed to the controls. However, bump it up a notch and you’ll see two rhythm tracks to match up instead of the one, as well as having to steer the car on the road to avoid obstacles. It can be a little challenging at first, but Headbang managed to create a suitably balanced game here, once you get used to it.

What’s more, there’s a lot included with the game. Arcade lets you play any song you unlock right off the bat; and Adventure mode has a great story to tell, revolving around the band that you’re playing as. Then there’s Hellgate mode, for those that really want to bump up their rock skills. How hardcore is it? Well, there’s a Gojira song. So that about sums it up.

Overall, the gameplay works, though harder settings might be a bit weary for newcomers. But it’s got its own appeal to it, something that works in a genre that’s seen all sorts of examples in how to master music. Double Kick fits nicely right in there, and should suit fans to a tee.

A Good Retro Style, and a Decent Soundtrack

For Double Kick Heroes’ visuals, Headbang sticks with the old-school, with an 8-bit style that really works for a game like this. The multi-scrolling apocalyptic settings are excellent, and it’s fun to watch the characters rock out while the world ends around them. The screen is also conveniently set up, with the action on the top screen and the beats conveniently scrolling by on the bottom. Again, it might be a bit much for some, but it’s easy to follow after a couple of rounds.

A mutant tank? Seems like a good time to unleash some firepower.

As for the soundtrack, it’s mostly indie tunes, although it is great to see Yann Ligher and Carpenter Brut (look them up, seriously) provide some contributions. I just wish some songs weren’t simply in one mode, like that Gojira challenge exclusively in Hellgate. And there’s no word on DLC, so it would be nice to hear about some kind of expansion.

Rock On With This Indie Fave

Also, the monster noises are great, albeit a little brief. But you came here for the rock, not the suffering, right? Unless you’re down with both, that is.

While Double Kick Heroes’ lack of AAA bands and somewhat questionable difficulty may not do it for some, Headbang has made an appealing game that caters to the wannabe rock gods out there. It’s a music/rhythm game that nails its chords properly, and is good fun to play, especially for those up for a challenge. And its visuals are appealing, right at home that want to take in an old-school presentation. Turn off the Nickelback for a moment and enjoy the good ol’ days of monster rock, because this game is worth it.

A game that rocks out with its schlock out, Double Kick Heroes is a good time.

RATING: 8/10