Moonlighter is like if Recettear and a Roguelike had a baby. You play as a shopkeeper outside of an ever-changing dungeon. Your task is to sell goods to people. When you do, you earn money so you can get better equipment and craft better items to either sell or use yourself to go in to the dungeon. Clearing the dungeon will yield new items, which you can craft and sell in your shop, et cetera. It’s a big ol’ capitalism loop. The dungeon is different every time you enter, which makes it that much more fun. There’s 5 different entrances to the dungeon and characters to interact with so there’s presumably an end, but with the varying dungeons, bevy of characters to please, and loot to grab, you may not ever want to see it.
It’ll be coming out in 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch, and Mac/Linux.
Tunic has so much style it hurts. Zelda is the easiest comparison — you’re a lone adventurer (in this case a lil fox) in a mysterious world who collects items that open up new paths. If Hat In Time is a cute-as-heck platformer, this is a cute-as-heck action/adventure game. The controls are tight and responsive and the combat feels fluid and satisfying. An extra layer of polish/intrigue to this game is the concept that it’s a game you’re just discovering that was made in a foreign country, so you’ll see parts of the manual in the game and all the text is in a made up language you don’t understand. Even the website has this language peppered about.
This game is one of the ones we were most excited by at PAX South, so be on the lookout for it coming out later this year to PC, Mac, Linux, and consoles in 2018.
Once upon a time, @PeterMolydeux had a joke game description in which you play as a hole in the ground. From that, Ben Esposito created one of the most simple, but compelling games at PAX South, Donut County. The mechanics are simple — you play as a hole in the ground swallowing things up. The more you eat, the bigger your hole gets, which allows you to eat bigger things. Think reverse Katamari. Between levels, you’ll also get a glimpse into the lives of the citizens of Donut County which has been upended by this dumb hole. The art style is simple and effective, the humor isn’t overdone, and the gameplay, though simple, is satisfying.
Donut County is coming to PC, Mac, and iOS in 2018
The other day I stopped into my local GameStop to see if they had any of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Funko Pop!s available. What I discovered when I walked in, however, was much more exciting. Recently, Mega Construx released a line of Pokémon-themed building block sets. Being the Pokémon fan that I am I was at first embarrassed that this line had completely flown under my radar when it was announced back in February, but at least stumbling on them the way I did was validating.
There were about twelve sets in total, roughly six larger boxed sets and six little minifigs sort of that come in a Pokéball. I bought a little Eevee Pokéball on the spot. I figured I’d get one of the small ones to dip my toe in a bit, see how I like them. When I got home, it took me about ten minutes to put together (which really only took that long because I kept dropping all the pieces.) Once the figure was complete, I was hooked. At first it looked a little janky with the thick little legs and awkward tuft of fur on its chest but eventually all that became part of its charm.
A couple of days later I went back to the store and pored over which of the larger sets to buy. What I like most about the line is there are a few different themes; besides the smaller figures, a couple of the larger Pokémon are represented, like Charizard and Gyarados. The line also includes the starter mid-evolutions, Charmeleon, Wartortle and Ivysaur as their own stand-alone sets. Each of the starters, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur, along with Pikachu are paired off for battle scene building sets.
After much, much deliberation, I decided to go with Charizard. I also picked up Abra and Magikarp, a couple of my favorites, from the line of smaller sets so I can display next to little Eevee.
Again, the little ones were quick to assemble; total time for both of those was about fifteen minutes. Charizard, on the other hand, took roughly an hour to build. The build instructions were slightly confusing as the way they’re drawn isn’t as clear as what you’d get from a LEGO manual. I managed, though, and I’m really proud of myself.
I’m also really proud of this Charizard, which turned out to be a nice display piece. A lot of the articulation is really good, especially around the head, legs and tail. I would have liked if there was a bit more articulation, like maybe if the arms moved a little better and get some moveable fingers and jaw in there but I also realize that those features would impact the price, which may turn off a few potential fans.
As far as quality, it’s easy to tell why LEGO is the cream of the crop. That’s not to say Mega Construx are bad; in fact, they’re intricately designed and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon they’re meant to replicate. However, the building aspect of the set was difficult at times. I found myself struggling to click blocks in place, having to rely on using my teeth to get the amount of pressure that I needed. This could have been due to some microscopic defect in the stud that made it just too big to fit. In fairness, though, it could have just been small parts and sweaty hands (it was a really hot day, you guys.)
If you do manage to get them clicked into place and realize you put the piece in the wrong spot, good luck getting it apart. Unlike LEGO, Construx don’t come with a handy separating tool so, once again, I lucked out that I had a mouthful of teeth to do the job. In fairness, though, I don’t fault Construx for this. It took LEGO years to realize a tool like this was a necessity and since they likely have a patent on it, Construx will need to design their own.
As I mentioned earlier, in addition to the larger sets, the series offers a few single figures, such as Pokémon’s mascot, Pikachu, and a few other fan favorites, like Eevee, Magikarp, and…Zubat. What I like most about these are the packaging; they all come in a plastic Pokéball that can be used as a display base once building is complete. And at around $7 each, they’re a pretty good deal. Considering LEGO minifigure blind bags can retail for right around $5 and only have about 5 pieces each and a substandard display, these Pokémon characters are basically a steal.
Even the larger sets are a good value. At this time, the biggest set was Gyarados, with a total of 352 pieces retailing for $30. Compared to some of LEGO’s franchised sets, that’s an amazing deal. The LEGO Batman Movie Riddler Riddle Racer playset has 254 pieces and is regularly priced at $35 (though was on sale for $24 at the time of this writing, for whatever that’s worth).
Then again, you get what you pay for. With LEGO being the Cadillac of building blocks, the Pokémon Mega Construx don’t size up to quite that level. Sure, the models are well done and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon, but the builds aren’t as sophisticated as what one would expect from LEGO.
It was a great choice for Mega Construx to jump into the Pokémon arena, especially given the mainstream popularity of Pokémon GO. Building sets like these now appeal to a wider audience since they are familiar with the characters. Even though they aren’t perfect, they are fantastically modelled and offer great playability.
Bottom line: I want more. Not just “I want to buy more sets,” which is definitely true. The low price point and great showcaseability really make these sets a good value despite their shortcomings. When I say I want “more,” I mean more sets. I want this line to do well so that Mega releases additional sets, like maybe the Generation 1 legendaries, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo. Even a tiny little Mew hovering over a Pokéball would be sweet.
Also, I want to see some from the later generations of games: Tyranitar, Hoot Hoot, Lucario. There are so many great Pokémon that would make amazing display pieces that this could go on forever…just like the games!
** NOTE: During the time of writing the SNES Classic had yet to be announced, and as such Nenedamus was still awesome and ahead of the game **
Nostalgia is wasted on the young. So many things in gaming these days are sequels, or updates, or HD special editions, or whatever the hell most companies feel like repackaging to sell to the old folks like me. And thankfully for something refreshing from that formula, the NES Classic was released – a mini console that thanks to today’s technology was able to pack 30 classic games from Nintendo’s 8-bit era into one convenient unit. It opened for $59.99 and it sounded pretty good at the time. Classic Nintendo IP like the Mario and Zelda series along with Metroid were now plug and play, with many other popular titles rounding out the 30.
And those positive vibes lasted for roughly 38 seconds.
There was absolutely no way in the infinite 8-bit hells that this price was going to remain steady. Just like all other re-issued nostalgia it was going to be bought in bulk, stocked out, and sold to gouge the highest bidders for profit. I saw the device go as high as $600 on eBay (a 1000% price hike for those playing along at home) and people jumping at the opportunity to have one. 1.5 million units were sold in just a couple months on the market. Which turned out to be… well, all of them.
So now we come to the recent development in the NES Classic saga. Recently Nintendo, without any warning or heads up, stopped production on the mini console a couple weeks ago. They have since announced that they would cease production in not only the North American region but in Japan and Europe as well. What happened next, though, surprised the hell out of Old Man Nene though for such a simple thing – the gaming community, at least what I’ve seen on social media, lost its damn mind. But it didn’t make any sense to me. Most kid gamers my age still have our NES and games intact. Younger gamers have online emulators and ROMS. Why was this such a big thing in the gaming community that I simply couldn’t bring myself to care about? What was the draw? Well kids, to all you Aging Gamer faithful that listen to Old Man Nene in his rocking chair tell you how it used to be – I can only offer the immortal words of DJ Khaled:
Congratulations. You played yourself.
It’s basic economics and mindshare. Firstly, Nintendo never meant for this to be an ongoing product – why would they when the Switch was just around the corner? This was always going to be special edition and never a permanent offering. The number of units manufactured was set to reflect that. Look at any supply and demand scenario – the second the “super rare” tag gets slapped on an item the price spikes like a rocket, and people are willing to pay more for a scarce product. What Nintendo did was create an artificial demand and gamers responded precisely the way they were supposed to.
It’s like some small restaurants that have lines for blocks leading to their front door. Sure it’ll draw more people and generate more demand, but they don’t tell you that there’s only 10 seats inside and that’s what causing the line.
[Side note: that was an angry morning in Philadelphia for Old Man Nene. I just wanted some pancakes.]
Secondly, they created an environment where gamers would have Nintendo control every free thought in their brains for the foreseeable future. The NES Classic dropped in November 2016. The Switch hit shelves four months later in March 2017. Look at the timing of those events, including the NES Classic price gouge in the middle. This is not a coincidence. It could be argued that hands clamoring for the NES Classic could ultimately lead to a Switch sale. Bummed that the NES Classic is done for? That 8-bit longing, along with murky rumors about a virtual console on the Switch, could be enough mind control to have gamers shelling out fistfuls of cash in the future for games they bought already via the NES Classic. I mean it’s not really that far a stretch… I’m sure there’s a bunch of Square-Enix fans that have 7 different versions and releases of Final Fantasy IV.
In the end, my prediction is this: The NES Classic is dead, but I can see a SNES Classic in the not too distant future.
So go ahead and be mad that you couldn’t get an NES Classic. Celebrate and rejoice if you managed to snag one. But remember this kids – in the end we’re all just logic boards in the gaming machine.
[And while I cannot condone a workaround that theoretically involves easily constructing a Raspberry Pi powered RetroPie DIY unit, legend has it (seriously you guys) would only take an hour to get together, be ultra cheap and allow you to play your old 8 and 16 bit games. I can also neither confirm nor deny such things exists.]
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace is in the early stages of development, so early in fact that it’s not even on Kickstarter yet. That didn’t stop the developer from having a fully playable level from the demo at PAX South.
It’s got some rough edges, but it’s already rather polished. At its core, it’s a platformer game in which you take control of Ray, a girl who can switch between different colored dimensions to make objects appear or disappear. Each of these dimensions also gives her abilities like high jumping, fast running, and block destroying. Once you get used to switching between dimensions, it becomes much more like a Sonic game in which you feel compelled to go as fast as possible, switching dimensions quickly and trying to think on your feet.
Prisma is still in its early stages, but give their Kickstarter a look when it goes live later this month!
Sundered is a game that leaps out at you from a sea of titles at a gaming convention. It’s art style has a way of pulling you in, making you want more.
Sundered is a Metroidvania style platformer/exploration game in which you take control of Eshe, a wanderer exploring seemingly endless, always changing caverns filled with eldritch horrors. The controls solid and responsive and the game’s difficulty is a little more than Super Metroid (we died 3 times in the demo), making it feel like a substantial single player experience. Details like the hand drawn art and pencil marks when the camera is really zoomed in all combine to make this a visual feast that also delivers on a tight experience.
Sundered is coming out to PS4 and PC in July but you can Kickstart it right now here!
In RiME, you play a boy exploring a strange island trying to work your way to a pillar in its center. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, meet a super cute fox, and try to figure out the mysteries of your surroundings and what could have happened to make it the way it is now.
RiME feels a lot like Zelda mixed with Journey in the best possible way. The art style is stark and gorgeous, varying dramatically for different areas in the game. The world is all laid out in a way that’s easy to understand visually, which is a good thing since the game features no dialog or text, so you’re relying on just trying things out and being observant to solve puzzles.
RiME is due out summer 2017 on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Arms, Splatoon 2, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Monster Boy started as a Kickstarter project called “Flying Hamster.” Since then, the team welcomed Ryuichi Nishizawa and turned the game into Monster Boy, based off the Wonder Boy in Monster World, a mashup between the Wonder Boy and Monster World series. Please go look those up if you have no idea what we’re talking about.
The player takes control of Jin, a boy who can transform into five different monsters to solve puzzles and take down enemies with a variety of abilities. This platformer hearkens back to old school platformers in the 80s and 90s — simple gameplay, peppy music, bright visuals. Like a Saturday morning cartoon video game that you set your alarm for.
Monster Boy is simultaneously releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.
Some game developers try to emulate the style of classic pixel games and achieve something between nostalgia and amusement. Then you have a game like Warlock’s Tower, which just looks like it’s always been a Gameboy game and dares you to tell it otherwise.
The graphics of Warlock’s Tower look exactly like an original Gameboy game being played on the Super Gameboy player, complete with being able to change main color from green to orange yellow. All of that helps Warlock’s Tower in the charming area, but the underlying gameplay is really cool, too.
At it’s core, Warlock’s Tower is a puzzle game in which you take control of a mailman trying to avoid monsters and deliver a letter to the warlock of the titular tower. Each move you make takes away one life, but there are tokens on each floor to increase the number of lives you have. It’s a puzzle to be able to figure out which tokens to get at what time and using what directions. The game even has Twitch integration so you can interact with your chat while you play.
Warlock’s Tower is out now for PC.
Has Been Heroes
Has Been Heroes is a Roguelike inspired by Plants Vs. Zombies.
Oh, what, you need more?
In the game, you’ll take control of three characters, each with their own lane. Each character has a different number of attacks, attack power, and control of spells. It’s up to the player to time their attacks accurately, swap characters, and utilize spells cleverly to fight back hoards of enemies.
At first, it takes a bit to get used with character switching and the concept of enemies having points with which to block your attacks, but very quickly, you’re pausing the game less, attacking with one character, swapping another in after the shield is broken to follow up with a health attack, and using spells on the fly. It’s satisfying to feel in control, but also like your heart is in your throat trying to figure out if your abilities will be off cooldown before the next enemy reaches you.
Has Been Heroes comes out March 28th for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
If you watched our live stream of the Nintendo Switch announcement, you will know that we did not have a kind word to say about Arms.
After having played the demo at PAX South, I may as well be Shrek – because now I’m a believer. For a game with such a strangely picked title and looking like the least fun game on Wii Sports, Arms has no business being as good as it is. The controls are responsive, the customizing of characters feels good, but isn’t overwhelming, and above all else, the game is really fun. I also have a feeling the developers knew it was kind of a goofy game. I mean, it’s called Arms and one of the characters is called Master Mummy. Someone is in on this joke.
The game is also surprisingly deep with strategy, given how much jumping, dashing, cancelling, and your special can really make or break a fight. Overall, it’s quite fun and actually gives you a bit of a work out if you’re competitive. The only downside is you need two pairs of Joycons to play it, and jeepers, those are expensive.
Arms will be out at launch for the Nintendo Switch on March 3rd.
Did you like the first Splatoon? Good, because Splatoon 2 is just like that, but slightly better.
Remember when Left 4 Dead came out, then a year later Left 4 Dead 2 came out and it was almost identical, but had better stuff in it? That’s exactly what’s happening here. Splatoon is a great game that just didn’t reach a wide enough audience because the Wii U’s sales were so poor, so it’s actually a great idea to add some stuff to it and release a sequel on the Switch where the user base will be, presumably, much larger.
There’s not much different between the two games, other than the addition of the Splat Dualies, dual pistols that focus more on PvP than painting the ground. They give you the ability to dodge roll, which is pretty powerful especially if your opponent is using the gyroscope and having to contort their torso just to see you.
Splatoon 2 is out this Summer for Nintendo Switch.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It’s hard to say anything new about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That being said, videos don’t quite do it justice.
We’ve watched trailers and gameplay videos showing the opening scene of Link coming into the world for the first time. It was impressive seeing it the first few times, but actually experiencing it live, immersed by the sound, experiencing that transition into the cut scene is like the first time you realize Final Fantasy VII doesn’t just take place in Midgar. Seeing Death Mountain way in the distance and knowing you can go there is mind boggling.
The game isn’t without its faults — some button mapping could use some work and if we’re being nitpicky, the lines on the edges of textures can be a little jagged — but none of it even comes close to tainting the sense of adventure, freedom, and wonder felt from the first time you pick up the controller.
In the short demo, we only activated a tower, fought some bokoblins, and did part of the magnesis shrine, but the world felt alive. The concerns about it maybe being too open and sparse may still prove to be correct, but at the present, no Zelda game has given us this many goosebumps since Ocarina of Time.
You can play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on either Nintendo Switch or Wii U March 3rd.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Prisma and The Masquerade Menace, Sundered, and RiME
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge