Metamorphosis: PlayStation 4 Review

Metamorphosis is a first-person puzzle and platforming adventure game. It was developed by Ovid Works and published by All In! Games in August of 2020. The game was inspired by the mind of Franz Kafka, a groundbreaking novelist and short story writer from the 20th century. The game is based on his novel The Metamorphosis which was published in 1915. This game was absolutely beautiful, and the game itself was overall a great experience. However, there were some issues that I will further explain for my rating on it.

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What’s the Story Here?

You play as a man named Gregor, a great salesman and friend of Josef, who awakens after a celebratory night out to find himself changing into a bug. You set out on an adventure to figure out why this transformation happened, only to also discover your best friend is being arrested for unknown purposes and a whole new underground society of bugs that work for the same corporation. Throughout the game you encounter puzzles, twists, and turns of an unknown world, and discover yourself and what truly matters. You’ll find yourself in a lot of predicaments, and making new allies along the way. In the end, you’re left with ultimately a choice that tests your true nature.

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The Good and the Bad

This game was extremely aesthetically pleasing to journey through. I absolutely loved the art style, and the graphics were breathtaking not only in the human world but also in the insect world as well. The game really captivated the time setting as well visually. I also very much enjoyed the gameplay aspects of this game. The platforming was very well done in a way that made you guess where you could and could not climb. There was no clear direction other than you paying attention to the dialogue and making sure you explored every nook and cranny of every area. The collectibles would be hidden in the most obscure places, and none of the bugs that you needed to speak to really stuck out, and all of them on some level were interactive. This made exploration worthwhile which is extremely important in most action games and platformers.

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My issues with this particular game actually lied with the story and the performance. Short games like these mostly rely on two things, gameplay or story. This one had great gameplay, however, in this particular case, it was laid out to be more story-driven. It was not like most mindless platforms because it had that touch of action-adventure. The way the game was designed made it heavily reliant on the experience, but the story was made so obscurely and you did not really form any relation or bond with the character. It was pretty much a case of talking to fellow bugs that would say go here and do this, but no emotion behind the main character or back story revealed. The other issue for me was performance, though bear in mind it could mostly be the platform that this was played on. The load times I expected due to playing on the Playstation 4 Pro, however, the frame rate drops, and the game freezing was something not expected. The frame rate would often crash after loading, finding collectibles, talking to NPCs, and just running or jumping on various platforms. The game would also every now and again freeze up forcing me to restart the game. Upon researching this seems to have been a common problem for most consoles.

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Is This Buggy Game Worth It?

I do highly recommend the game despite some issues. It’s an overall satisfying and short experience. Short games are sometimes a godsend for those with little time, and who doesn’t love a platformer fix? I overall enjoyed this game and even took the time to platinum it. I only hope to see more similar and improved work from this developer in the future.

DVS Score: 6/10

Persona 5 Royal Playstation 4 Review

Persona 5 is a Japanese Role-Playing Game with turn-based combat developed by Atlus. It is the 6th entry in the Persona franchise as well as being a part of the greater Megami Tensei franchise. Persona 5 Royal is an updated release of Persona 5 that adds over 20 hours of new content and scored a whopping score of 96 on Metacritic making it the 3rd highest-rated game on Playstation 4 game of all time. This entry in particular is a great start for new Persona players and is a fantastic entry for long-time players or JRPG fans in general. This game can be bought used and new in your local stores such as GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Or you can buy it online via the PSN store for Playstation 4 and 5. It still sells for 59.99 USD, however, I promise you that it will be worth every penny!

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What is Persona?

The Persona Franchise started in 1996 stemming for the Megami Tensei series and has undergone huge transformations since the beginning of the series. The games always take place in Modern Japan following a group of students in high school that all have to face their inner self, otherwise known as their persona, and overcome trials they face that happen around them. A persona can be explained as the manifestation of ones personality as explained in every game. The main characters are able to use their persona to fight enemies in the cognitive world to force a change of personality, or as per the 5th entry a change of heart.

Persona 5: The Story Premise

Persona 5 takes place in Modern Japan as every entry does, and follows the main character known as Ren Amamiya. Ren is a character who ends up forced under probation due to false accusations from a corrupt politician. He ends up staying with a family friend in Tokyo for a year and temporarily starts attending Shujin Academy. It is there that he befriends fellow students like Ryuji Sakamoto, Ann Takamaki, and Morgana, a mysterious cat- like being that has ties to the momentos, but remembers nothing of his past or of who he is. Learning from Morgana’s lead, they form a group called the Phantom Thieves, whose mission is to change the hearts of the corrupt to lead to a better society. They do this by tackling the inner palaces of the corrupt and stealing their treasure, which forces a change of heart. They also accomplish this by entering the cognitive world of the momentos and endless palace of society’s collective hearts.

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Persona 5 Gameplay: Original versus Royal

Persona 5 gameplay can be one of the most addicting, and time-consuming experiences out there. This especially goes for gamers like myself who need to do everything and anything I can in RPGs. The franchise has always made it to where you need to monitor how you spend your time, because you have a deadline to complete a palace per corrupt person. In Persona 5, they make it easier for new Persona players and veterans by actually giving you a deadline and more time in general. On average you get around 18 days to change the corrupted one’s heart. Between this time you need to decide carefully on how you want to spend it, because the game also revolves around making money, upgrading equipment, increases your social stats, and building relationships. You get two periods of time to decide what you want to do, which is afternoon and evening. You can only enter momentos or the palace during the afternoon, however you can work, hang out with people, or do fun activities at either time. Your mornings are filled with school, which on certain days you can answer questions to increase your knowledge. The 5 social states you can work on are Knowledge, Guts, Proficiency, Charm, and Kindness. Social Stats are extremely important because they allow you to be able to work certain jobs, be able to hang out with people and perform certain activities. Building relationships with your friends is also extremely important, because they give you benefits during combat, creating and fusing personsas, and even modifying weapons.

PERSONA 5 | Fastest way to Dauntless skill, Guts rank 4 - YouTube
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Persona 5 Royal not only adds to a lot of the gameplay, but also adds new characters and a new palace. Some of the changes made the gameplay a whole lot better. For example, momentos is not only a place to fulfill requests, but also a great grinding tool. In most Persona games grinding is a tedious chore, mainly because in palaces the enemies do not give you a huge amount of experience. You can pick and choose who to bring since the experience is divided amongst party members, but either way it becomes a lot and tedious chore. Momentos changes in Royal with a beautiful character named Jose. He is tied to momentos and able to change the conditions within it, as well as become a shop for resources. In momentos you can collect stamps on each floor to dump into different status bars that change experience earned, money earned, or item drops. This allows grinding for experience or money to become a hell of a lot easier. On top of that, you can even reassign your stamps depending on what you want to grind for.

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New characters, and a new palace are also a huge bonus for Persona 5 Royal. Aside from Jose as previously explained, you also get Kasumi Yoshizawa and Takuro Maruki. Both characters are not only well-designed story-wise, but you also get the storyline extended through mid-February with your new palace. Maruki comes to school as a therapist looking to help kids involved in the first incident with Komoshida, a corrupt teacher that is assaulting students and sexually harassing them. Maruki is a genuinely kind-hearted character who wants to reach out to help students overcome mental obstacles, however, due to issues in his backstory, his persona becomes twisted and distorted. Kasumi is another great character design. She presents herself at the beginning of the game, but you can not form a relationship until after the Komoshida Palace. She is a gymnast genius who offers to train you in return for you becoming a mentor. You find out later that she struggles with depression and self-worth, for reasons I will not bring into the light to avoid spoilers. She will later become a playable character and part of the Phantom Thieves Team.

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In addition, Persona 5 Royal has new locations to visit in-game such as the Jazz Club and Kichijoji’s club which allowed you to increase your social status with each character and strengthen them. The game also brought new weapons, armor, accessories, personas, and an additional form for each persona. On top of that, you also get two bonus endings to the story! I honestly did not think the original true ending could get any better. That ending left me with so many emotions after everything I had been through. Playing through persona is an experience like no other. The relationships you build with each character are so authentic and meaningful, it feels as if you yourself have a relationship with every character. You live the life of Ren and the true ending gives you not only closure but ultimately a sense of reward as if you earned it. But the two additional endings put everything into perspective, and show the difference between ignorance and reality. They were extremely well designed, and really make you think about whether or not you have done the right thing and whether or not you’re in over your head. I won’t go into too many details to avoid spoilers, but I urge interested players to do multiple playthroughs because every option is that good.

To summarize the experience that Persona 5 Royal adds versus the original version, Atlus added in the Thieves Den which is accessible to the home screen. Here you get to access new bonus content by using earned currency. This currency can give you additional cut scenes, artwork, character models, and even music! As someone that is a glutton for music, the new additions to the sound tracks were absolutely phenomenal. Music is arguably one of the most important parts of most games, and the fact that they added it in to the Thieves Den is rewarding and satisfying.

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Negative Feed Back

My only issues with the game were very minor. I personally found to access the new palace was somewhat of an inconvenience. In Persona you get to pick and choose how you spend your time as previously mentioned, but for the players like myself who went for the platinum in one playthrough, I learned that the new palace is something you can completely miss. To get every trophy and experience everything in the game, it is impossible to max out every relationship. Everything needs to be balanced and to access the new palace you need to max three particular relationships. These include Goro Akechi, Kasumi Yoshizawa, and Takuro Maruki, which was very frustrating in the limited amount of time you have and the fact that you are forced to choose. This in a way takes away from the experience of forming the bonds you want to form, but it was not something that ultimately impeded my experience with the game.

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To Summarize, Play Persona 5 Royal Now!

I can not recommend this game enough! Persona 5 Royal is an emotional roller coaster. This game succeeded in every way imaginable and improved upon an already near-perfect game. The gameplay is solid, the side content is perfect, and the story is downright incredible. This is one of the few games I have played that made an impact in gaming and gave me an emotionally satisfying time. I can only urge players to pick it up and put the time into what I can only describe as an incredible experience.

Rating: 9.5/10

Why Is Godzilla Worth So Much On PlayStation 4?

In 2014, Bandai Namco decided to give Godzilla another try on the console front, after years had gone by since the glory days of Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee and Godzilla Save the Earth. So, on PlayStation 4, it released a contemporary fighting game featuring the giant monster and his buddies, trashing everything as best as they could.

The game didn’t quite fare as well as the company was hoping, as it got poor scores from critics and didn’t sell as well as it would hope. And when the license faded, it decided to quietly end its production and move onto other projects.

But then something happened. If you do a quick search for the game on eBay, you’ll find that it’s become an impressive collector’s item, with complete copies selling for anywhere between $160 to $250 – and maybe even higher if the game is brand new and sealed. That makes it the rarest PlayStation 4 game out there, aside from the physical version of Gravity Rush Remastered, which also didn’t get that big a production run.

So what happened? Did the game strike a chord alongside the same levels as the previous PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube Godzilla games? Or did fans just want something featuring the big lug, since there are really no other games featuring him?

Even though most critics found the gameplay lacking in the new Godzilla game, there’s no question that its essence is true to the original films of lore. IGN actually noted in its review (with a score of 4.5, by the way) that “the spirit of the old-school monster movie is where Bandai Namco absolutely nails it.”

The game was actually developed by the team at Natsume, a bit of a stretch from the previous developers of Godzilla games. However, the team did its homework, going for that old-school mantra and even going as far as leveling up the destruction so that it took advantage of the PS4 hardware. For good measure, players could also unlock special modes related to Godzilla, such as Evolution Mode, the Kaiji Field Guide, and even the peculiar Diorama mode, featuring a number of memorable monster models. This would allow players to recreate infamous battles from the films.

More than likely, the sheer essence of classic cinematic Godzilla is what makes the game such a huge draw. For good measure, it’s also got a who’s who of monsters from the films, as follows:

  • Godzilla, four versions (including the 1995 version and the more current 2014 one from the box office hit)
  • Anguirus (Showa)
  • Rodan (Showa)
  • Mothra (Showa)
  • Mothra (Heisei)
  • King Ghidorah (Heisei)
  • Hedorah (Showa)
  • Mechagodzilla (both the 1974 and 1975 versions)
  • Biollante
  • Battra (Larva and Imago)
  • Space Godzilla
  • Destroroyah
  • Gigan (the upgraded 2004 version)
  • Super Mechagodzilla
  • Mecha-King Ghidorah
  • Type-3 Kiryu
  • Jet Jaguar (YES!)

There’s just a ton of content here for old-school fans, as well as those thirsting for a big monster fight. Again, the controls may not have been as smooth as Melee, but regardless, it set the stage for some big monster encounters – and still kind of does today.

As for why fans may have passed upon it at release, it didn’t get as much hype as many were expecting. That may have been due to the lacking reviews at the time, or the fact that the license just wasn’t as big of a draw as, say, Tekken or Soul Calibur. That’s a bit mind-boggling, considering Godzilla’s universal appeal. And let’s not forget the movie that came out at the same time, too.

But now fans are discovering it and even asking for a reprinting, though the license is likely out of Bandai Namco’s hands at this point. There’s always the possibility of a sequel, especially with Godzilla vs. Kong creeping up on us next month. But, for now, if you want to track down the original, it’ll cost you a pretty penny. But, hey, to some of us die-hard kaiju fans, it’ll certainly be worth it.

Long live Godzilla!

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

Neon Abyss Xbox One review: go ahead and dive in

We’ve seen enough roguelike shooters make their way onto digital shops over the past few months, it can be easy to miss out on certain ones. Neon Abyss is one of them, a game with an interesting name – can you really light up an entire abyss with neon signs? – and a lot of fun under the hood. The real question is finding that hook that makes you stick with it in the long run. Fortunately, I did.

The game doesn’t have much story to speak of, and most of its elements seem borrowed from other games, particularly Enter the Gungeon (with its teleport system) and even a hint of The Binding of Isaac (with finding “followers” that provide enhancements). But Team 17 and its developer, VEEWO Games, pack enough goodness to overcome some of the “borrowing” from other games and make this one feel like its own. Especially as you begin discovering the hidden stuff while digging deeper.

There’s an Abyss of Danger Here

The first thing you’ll notice is just how well structured Neon Abyss is. At first, looks can be deceiving, as it can take a while to get going. But then you start to discover hidden rooms, themed goodies, and those wondrous eggs, and you really get to see how it all comes together.

One of the more engaging boss battles in the game.

Not to mention it’s fun as heck clearing out a room of enemies. The game utilizes a classic shooting system that works really well here, even though there are times your bullets might hit an object instead of an enemy. (It’s not an accuracy thing, just an occasional slip o’ the stick.) It’s good fun, and the challenge definitely picks up as you start running into bosses that won’t hesitate to mow you down with patterened attacks.

Not to mention the enhancements from those eggs you find. They aren’t entirely game changing, but you can feel the differences that they make, so they aren’t a waste of time. And the other weapons you find, while not over-the-top creative like Gungeon, are worthwhile, so stock up when you can.

Overall, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but Neon Abyss offers solid gameplay for hours on end, and you can’t go wrong with that.

A Good Looking Game

While some may think Neon Abyss doesn’t go over the top with its visuals (it’s definitely an older style, akin to Gungeon), VEEWO has added some nice touches here and there to keep the dungeon hunting from going all “same ol’ same ol’” on us. A few of the themed rooms are spectacular, and you can even engage in a dance party before you jump in for the fight of your life, if you please. The game also features solid old-school animations, and some downright haunting boss designs. (Not quite Carrion haunting, but pretty close.)

This dungeon has a damn bar!

The music is also pretty cool, a nice mix of classic tunes that play in the background while you shred everything. The enemy effects could use a bit more variety, but not bad. And it sounds really cool when you’re taking the game on the go with your Nintendo Switch.

It Doesn’t Change the Genre, But Neon Abyss Makes a Solid Dent

This likely won’t replace Enter the Gungeon as an all-out classic on the gaming front; but Neon Abyss has a surprising amount of goodness to offer if you stick with it long enough. The game design is a lot larger than we expected, and the cool “neon-esque” vibe it gives off can be felt within its visuals and sound. It’s a solid game, but it’s missing that certain spark to push it to the next level.

RATING: 7.5/10

Ah, well, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll find this Abyss well worth jumping into.

It doesn’t revolutionize roguelike games, but Neon Abyss is a fine entry nevertheless.

Ultracore PlayStation 4 review: history restored

It’s funny when we see a project rise back up from the dead, even when it seems like it would’ve never seen the light of day. Gearbox resurrected Duke Nukem Forever, for better or for worse; and Nintendo even brought back its long-lost StarFox 2, initially as a selling point for its SNES Classic before releasing it for Nintendo Switch Online’s service.

And now we have Ultracore, a game that was initially developed for the Sega Genesis back in the ’90s by Digital Illusions, a company that would later go on to become DICE. Yes, the Star Wars: Battlefront II and Battlefield developer DICE. For some reason or another, this game never saw the light of day, probably due to its original publisher backing out.

But now, thanks to ININ Games, it lives again. And while some people may argue that its limitations are a bit on the frustrating side, there’s something about playing this, finally, and seeing how fun it actually is. If retro gaming is your thing, this is a must-have.

Simple Yet Effective

Story really doesn’t matter too much in Ultracore. But then again, the same could be said for a lot of Sega Genesis fare back in the 90s. You’re a super-soldier making their way through a series of corridors, blasting any robotic threats that you come across while uncovering security cards to get into new areas. You’ll pick up additional items and new weapons along the way, and also discover hidden paths, a neat addition to many games from this era.

Shoot, shoot, shoot, repeat.

What’s great about Ultracore is that, while it still remains firmly in the old-school, the developer added some modern options, like the ability to use twin-stick aiming when it comes to obliterating enemies. This is especially helpful in comparison to general aiming, which involves you swiveling the analog stick around while you shoot foes. That said, it’s still a well playing game all around, and pretty exciting for the five-something stages that it lasts. 

Alas, it’s a one and done deal, as there are no save points in the game, nor any sort of passwords. So you either beat it in one shot or start all over again a bit later.

The Run and Gun Mantra

Along with the classic shooting gameplay we’ve come to expect from games like these, Ultracore also highly benefits from a solid 16-bit style presentation. The graphics aren’t exactly a runaway success compared to other retro releases these days, but they are solid, with good animations and level design. The enemies could be a bit more varied, but the bosses make up for it with a large, foreboding design. The game operates nicely and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to its gritty, grainy appearance.

Likewise, the music is a treat. Listening to it, there are some fun beats here, even if they manage to go on repeat every now and then. The sound effects are meaty as well, especially with the bangs and explosions that pop up. No complaints here.

Oh, there’s platforming, too!

There’s even an alternate mixed soundtrack as well, and it fits the bill just as well as the original tunes. Definitely give it a listen if you can.

A Short But Sweet Return To Form

So, no, Ultracore isn’t the longest game out there, as you’re likely to plow through it within a matter of hours. And the lack of additional options may feel like a letdown to some. But considering the history of this title, we’re lucky that ININ Games was able to preserve it in such a rightful manner. It’s a lot of fun to play; its presentation can’t be beat; and the modern control touches and alternate soundtracks deliver more than necessary. If only all long-lost projects could be given this kind of treatment.

RATING: 8/10

A short but definitely sweet ode to one of DICE’s long lost secrets.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 Nintendo Switch review: once bitten, twice sly

We would’ve been content enough with the masterful Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from Igarashi-san and company when it released last year, if only because we’ve been waiting for ages for our Symphony of the Night itch to be scratched. But Inti Creates launched a surprise from left field with the 8-bit style Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, a thrilling throwback title that fit right in with the short but sweet legacy of the series. And now, while we wait to see what Igarashi has planned next, that team has already returned with a sequel.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 pretty much picks up where the first game left off, with a handful of characters battling evil forces with an array of weapons. Like before, you can switch between these heroes with ease, using their abilities to access new areas and uncover secret goodies. But is the adventure worth it the second time around? We’d definitely say yes.

Some New Faces To Join the Old

The only returning character from the first game is Zangetsu, the warrior who’s relentlessly hunting down enemies. He’s joined by a number of favorites, particularly Dominique, an exorcist who knows a thing or two about using her spear; as well as Robert, who can nail enemies from afar with his rifle; and Hachi, a dog that can summon a demon tank. Yes, you read that right. You might’ve seen him in Ritual of the Night; and now he’s on full display here.

That’s one way to make an entrance.

You can balance between characters to find all the goodies within the game, and use them against some of the mega-bosses here, which are better designed than the original game. They require a lot of damage and a bit of strategy, including a weird pseudo-train boss with a hero embedded on the front, complete with shield. It’s just…odd. But fun in its own Bloodstained sort of way.

What’s great is how Curse of the Moon 2 lets you revisit completed stages. This is ideal when you unlock all the characters, as you can explore unreachable areas and even take on new strategies for bosses to wipe them out much more quickly. And each one has something special, though, honestly, Hachi is likely to be your real favorite here. Let’s be honest.

The gameplay is exquisite and just as solid as the original game, if not a little more refined. Death can still come cheap in certain areas, just like the Castlevanias of old; but it’s about what we’d expect with the territory, so that’s not entirely a bad thing.

And what’s more, collecting everything in the game unlocks an ending that really wraps up the adventure nicely. It’s worth the effort.

A Presentation To Be Proud Of

Inti Creates once again pays full-on tribute to the classic Castlevania games with Curse of the Moon 2. Its 8-bit heritage shines in every aspect of the game, from the multi-scrolling backgrounds that are reminiscent of Dracula’s Curse past to the neat little animations. And what’s more, the level design is stunning, even if it’s not an open world like Ritual of the Night. Its point A-to-point B method works just as well as the first game.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is a hot time.

I also liked the mid-stage sequences, which not only get you acquainted with each character’s abilities but also lets them interact with each other in humorous ways. They’re short but definitely sweet.

And the music is awesome, dare I say. It sounds like something you’d hear from the Castlevania games of old, taking advantage of 8-bit processing like a champ. Not to mention the sound effects resemble something from the NES era as well. It all sounds wonderful, especially on a headset. There are no character voices, but they aren’t really needed here.

Accept This Curse As Your Own

I’d like to think that Curse of the Moon 2 continues to move the Bloodstained series along in its own special way. It improves upon components from the first game, while at the same time introducing effective and memorable characters (HACHI!) that really add something. Some more stuff to do after collecting everything would’ve been ideal, but overall, this is one Curse that’s well worth the acceptance.

RATING: 8.5/10

A sequel that continues to carry the Bloodstained name with pride, Curse of the Moon 2 is worth partaking.