Written by Twisted Ideas
I’ve been behind on review again, not because I haven’t been play any games. The games I’ve been playing aren’t necessarily recent. Guacamelee and Shovel Knight have recently gotten second winds due to going cross platform. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a Vita launch title (made by the developer behind Guacamelee) and MonsterBag was a free PS Vita game from April. Let’s just say that I’ve had a lot of great gaming in the past little while.
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox 360
Free for PlayStation Plus for PS4 owners in May is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Developed by DrinkBox Studios, this update offers is the DLC from the original PS3/Vita versions, new areas integrated into the main story and 4 player co-op. You play as Juan, a farmer who is killed by Carlos Calaca, a skeleton lord of the Land of the Dead. Juan wakes up in the Land of the Dead and is granted a lucador mask, giving him the power to return to the Land of the Living, defeat Calaca and to save the world and the love of his life.
Guacamelee! is a 2D action platformer in a loose Metroidvania style. Many areas are initially inaccessible as the game leads you down a specific path. You’ll be unable to progress through some areas until you learn new abilities that allow you to break through colored blocks and skills that increase your mobility. When you return to previous areas, you can continue through the game and find hidden upgrades.
Most fights takes place in enclosed arenas with a specific set of enemies. These arenas can have hazards that can be used to your advantage or make fights more difficult. The combat is simple but the game expertly has some enemies shielded by everything except for the color associated ability and enemies that can only be fought in one of the two dimensions.
Guacamelee! is a fantastic game that simplifies the Metroidvania style for a faster paced game. Combat is basic but it’s flexibility allows for a natural flow for fighting and the game can make even the weak of enemies challenging with the right combinations, shielding or placement. They really explore what you can do with their platforming. It’s never too punishing and performing multiple actions in the air just to make it across a gap is rewarding. The visuals are striking and vivid, the Mexican themed soundtrack and world is great and this update is worth a second look for players who’ve played the original.
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
Developer: DrinkBox Studieos
Platforms: iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Mutant Blobs Attack is another title from Drinkbox Studios. This was a downloadable PS Vita launch title and a sequel to About a Blob. This has been on my download list for a while and I coincidentally downloaded it shortly after I finished Guacamelee again. You play as an alien blob that has been experimented on in laboratories and manages to escape. The blob is out for revenge as he patiently eats and grows larger and larger.
It’s a 2D puzzle platformer and is similar to LocoRoco or a 2D version of Katamari and is divided into 24 levels plus 5 motion controlled levels. Your goal is to absorb enough objects to grow big enough to pass through corks blocking your path to the exit. There are platforming challenges which involve avoiding deadly lasers, spiked walls and hostile enemies. The blob’s mobility is limited to rolling, jumping and wall jumping but he can repel and attract himself and objects against metallic surfaces and float in the air in certain areas. Each level has score challenges and blob friends to rescue that will let you see the whole level.
DrinkBox Studios have been on my radar lately. They’re a Canadian developer that had a presence at TCAF 2015 demoing their upcoming game Severed. The update to Guacamelee came out close to that time and I downloaded Mutant Blobs Attack shortly after. They know how to take familiar gameplay mechanics from 2D platformers and refine them with great level design and feel. Their games are charming and unique because of the fresh experience they have created. They don’t have a huge list of games developed but they are all worth playing.
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Platforms: 3DS/2DS, iOS, Linux, OS X, PlayStation 3/4/Vita, Xbox One
Shovel Knight is a very successful Kickstarter game that originally was on the 3DS and Wii U and has finally went cross platform with PlayStation and Xbox. Your play a Shovel Knight, who has lost his partner, Shield Knight after exploring the Tower of Fate. After a time, The Enchantress emerges from the Tower of Fate and sends The Quarter of No Order loose on the world. It’s up to Shovel Knight to stop The Order and The Enchantress.
Shovel Knight is a NES inspired 2D platformer which is a cross between Megaman and DuckTales. Shovel Knight uses his shovel to fight and “pogo” off enemies and objects. He can bounce off of them to reach high places or safely clear gaps. Shovel Knight can use money he finds to buy health and magic upgrade, useful relics that increases your fighting capabilities and new skills and armor. If you die in a level you drop 1/4 of your money. You have a chance to recover that money if you can reach it before you die again.
Each stage is filled with platforming, pitfalls and hazards, each ending in a boss fight. There are checkpoints scattered through the stage and can be destroy for easy money. The downside to that is that broken checkpoints cannot be used after you die. Throughout the levels features various secret and hard to reach areas that watchful eyes will find. These areas tend to have challenging platforming sections and occasionally will contain a relic that you can buy.
Shovel Knight is an incredibly polished platformer and Yacht Club Games really shows its old school roots with the 8-bit visuals and on classic and modern platforming mechanics. The game is challenging and dares to temp players with risk/reward situations, like breaking checkpoints or the secret areas with difficult platforming. The level design is fantastic and when combined with relics you can have creative ways to traverse the stage. If you’re a classic 2D platforming fan then Shovel Knight has welcomed itself to just about every gaming platform.
Platform: PlayStation Vita
MonsterBag was a free PlayStation Plus game for the Vita this past April and is fairly unique. You play as a living blue monster who poses as a bag. One day, his owner, Nia leaves for school. Feeling lonely, MonsterBag follows her but inadvertently causes trouble; This spirals to an adventure to various locales with an alien invasion, death and destruction and a heartwarming story between two friends.
MonsterBag is a stealth puzzle game. It’s divided into several levels where you have to move behind a line of people without being seen. Your goal for each level is to reach the end of the line, usually towards Nia, but if you are seen by other people they will brutally kill you. Watching their eyes, you have to avoid detection. Most levels have people who won’t let you pass until you use items in the area to distract, satisfy or get them killed.
MonsterBag is a charming game with a unusual affinity for violence. Nia and MonsterBag have death and destruction happen all around them and they treat the game as a heartwarming story between best friends. It’s a little morbid but it works. The puzzles start off simple enough. You aren’t given to much to work with and deaths aren’t detrimental to progression. The latter half of the game will test your problem solving abilities and your patience. It’s a short experience but overall this is a game worth checking out.