Crabs. Normal-sized. They are enemies. Let’s move on.
Isle of Bxnes is a game out of time. Quite literally, it’s an action-RPG set in what appears to be prehistoric times (though maybe there’s been some sort of world-shattering something or other, and this is actually posthistory?), with a couple neat variations on fightin’ and levelin’ to make it stand out.
More key, though, is the fact that it looks and feels like an under-the-radar early ’90s title, the sort of quietly subversive, experimental thing you’d see semi-regularly back when folks still didn’t have–or didn’t think they had–this whole game development dive down to an over-precise science. So, Isle of Bxnes evokes the attempts of those twenty years ago to make intelligent, boundary-pushing, forward-thinking games. Maybe it just came out last month, but it’s still all those things.
You’ll be spotting Triforce-like figures in this title like a conspiracy theorist spots Illuminati symbols in currency.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is a new Zelda game from Cornfox & Bros. Ltd., and if you can’t get on board with that then, well, sail on.
Of course the game doesn’t actually star Nintendo’s famed hero of Hyrule or its titular princess. It’s just a shameless—that’s wholly, in-your-face shameless—copy of those classic Link adventures, Windwaker being a particularly strong source of inspiration. From the precocious tone, to the mechanics, to the overall visual style, it’s all Zelda, Zelda, Zelda, and Oceanhorn never tries to hide it. So, for now at least, you’re going to have to pretend you don’t know what a heart container or Triforce is, okay? Because Oceanhorn doesn’t merely succeed in aping the superficial elements of a Zelda game—that’s what it does best.
For some kings, that whole “divine right” dive is just a bit easier to swallow.
King’s League: Odyssey is curiously ineffable. It’s an odd combination of squad-based tactics, RPG leveling, management simulation and territory control—a recipe for overreach and disaster if there ever was one. But, the thing that leaves one scratching one’s crown in confusion with this title isn’t that all these systems collide into each other and make a royal (ahem, a royal) mess of things, but that they actually slide over and around each other quite snugly, with no friction—bad, or good—to speak of. King’s League is a coherent title, for sure. And yet, I’ll be damned if I can explain what I actually did while playing it.
It’s kind of like restoring a painting, only more like… destroying. And there are skeletons. More than usual.
I’ve been trying to unravel the pun in Evilibrium’s title. Now I’m not sure I like puns anymore.
The eponymous “evil” is surely the demons and other assorted nasties you fight and collect in this game of collectible cards and… RPG-adventure? (One assumes? But not really. It’s mostly cards.) The “(equil)ibrium,” in turn, fairly describes the game’s intricate mesh of currencies, power-ups, timers and what have you–a series of mechanics piped together and feeding into each other, all carefully balanced to give the player… something. Damn, stumped.
You see, Evilibrium is a game with a secret, and a big one at that. It’s absolutely terrible at keeping it, all shit-eating grin and smug self-satisfaction, but, for at least a few minutes, it’s able to hold its ruse together. Like, two minutes.
Listen. Everyone. Mages can wear armor now. Check your prejudice. It’s 2013, not 1960.
Combat Monsters is a complicated game disguised as a simple game in turn pretending to be a complicated game. But it’s still pretty straightforward. (Except not.) It’s a collectible card joint with a tactical element, the kind where you’re the general of a ragtag bunch of fantasy mainstays–orcs, werewolves, the ever-thrilling humans, and so on. Now, if you suspect this one might be spreading itself just a bit thin, what with all the intermingling of mana curves and formations and buffs and gear and… well, okay, yeah, it is. Probably. But who’s to say thin is always bad? It’s not. (But it is. A little bit.)
So: the basics. But then again, it’s mostly basics in Combat Monsters. So many of the elements at play here ring familiar. The deck-building mechanics are more or less as you’d expect. A minimum of thirty cards per deck, with cards ranging from summonable monsters, to weapons and armor, to permanent buffs and instants you can cast on foes mid-battle. All these have different mana costs, which totally makes sense.
Artemis was the goddess of wilderness, childbirth and P-P-P-POWER SLAMZ.
Wrestling “entertainment”–as opposed to actual wrestling sport–has been described as the modern equivalent of ancient Rome’s panem et circense. Bread and circuses to please and distract the masses from a possibly-horse-coupled emperor. An undeniably negative reading, but it does at least suggest there’s something, or some things, inherently appealing about watching veiny he-bulks with flamboyant alter-egos slam each other against hard things in a highly ritual fashion, even to those who readily note mainstream wrestling’s, uh, political issues. You know, like, being racist. And sexist.
So here’s Wrestling Storm then, jumping into the ring all flashy and cocksure since we’re going for that conceit apparently. It’s a collectible card game with a wrestling theme handled about as straightforward as such an admittedly odd combo can be (though it’s certainly not the first). And this simulated fake wrestling, just like real fake wrestling, is regularly off-putting, undercooked, or just plain frustrating, but, damn it all, still has a curious appeal.
“Stay still. Their googly eye vision is based on- no wait he saw me.”
As an adventure-RPG/collect-a-thon in the vein of… well… Pokemon is the most illustrative comparison (but don’t put too much stock in that), Monster Adventures is a game about bending insufferably cute creatures of nature to your will, so that you can exploit them in cockfights and the day-to-day menial labor of a small fantasy town.
But, no, uh, it’s also dark. Because the thing about Monster Adventures is that it gets the addiction, the drive to keep torturing collecting living creatures things just right. What’s unclear is if, underneath the game’s cuddly veneer, there’s much else to it. Other than big ol’ googly eyes, that is. Those are spot-on. Shudder.
Hey, dude, you ever think about how, like, weird real time strategy is? Like, just what is “real” “time” anyway, man? Kinda assumes that all “real” time is the same and, maybe this just me being an “agitator,” but I think a certain Mister Al Eisenstein might have a thing or… several things to say about that. You dig?
That’s why Machines at War 3 is such a groovy proposition, temporally speaking. An iOS port of a PC title that’ll totally do you a solid and give you a chance to relax, catch your breath, and queue up a hundred or so little Navy SEAL dudes to blast your probably communist foe back into the first tech tree. Like, I might be a spacey, anachronistic stereotype of a reefer-head liberal, but I’m no peacenik, brothers and sisters. Which reminds me! I totally zoned out and forgot my ICBM was ready…