Review: Shovel Knight

Originally published on on June 26, 2014.

Playing Shovel Knight will result in you knowing more puns about digging than you’d ever wager.

Seriously, indie developer Yacht Club Games even has a town NPC dedicated to making as many puns about the titular game hero’s weapon of choice as possible. And yes, I chortled at almost every single one.

It’s been more than a year since that fateful reveal of the retro-styled action platformer on the eve of PAX East 2013. With Ex-Wayforward folks and composer Jake “virt” Kaufman working on it, it’s easy to understand the hype.

But like with every crowdfunded project, there ultimately comes the time when an indie developer has to start putting its money where its mouth is.

So dig deeper to find out if Shovel Knight really is the retro bombshell that everyone was hyping it up to be. Or is the game too grounded in the 8-bit days of yore?

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Review: Mario Kart 8

Originally published on May 29, 2014 on

I know what you’re thinking. Mario Kart 8? There’s that many of them?

With the Mario Kart franchise reaching its 22nd anniversary this year, you’d think it would look and feel stale by now. But in typical Nintendo fashion, Mario Kart 8 rejuvenates the series, this time debuting in high definition.

And it sure looks pretty.

It’s no lie that Mario Kart’s first foray into HD is a welcome upgrade, but a bigger question has been lingering in my head since its reveal at E3 2013 last year. Does this new iteration shake things up in a novel way a la Double Dash!!, or does it settle for its track record (pun fully intended) of enjoyable yet decidedly safe and unwavering design?

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Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Originally published on on Feb. 17, 2014.

When Nintendo announced Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze as a follow-up to Retro Studios’ Donkey Kong Country Returns at last year’s E3, some fans felt bummed that it wasn’t the developer’s glorious return to the Metroid Prime series.

I think they’ll be singing a different tune once they start playing the game.

There’s no monkey business behind it; the game’s style and feel are largely the same as its 2010 predecessor. You’re still ground-pounding, rolling, shooting out of barrels and collecting bananas and coins. Nevertheless, there are a number of improvements that are readily apparent in this Wii U sequel, and Cranky Kong’s celebrated reveal is only a small slice of the proverbial banana.

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Review: Sonic Lost World

Originally published on on Nov. 15, 2013.

Making Sonic’s latest adventure a Nintendo exclusive was a curious gesture on Sega’s part.

Regardless of whether Sega saw something special in the Wii U’s GamePad capabilities or if it was just a matter of backdoor corporate politics, fans have been undeniably curious to see if this latest outing could continue the positive track record left by Sonic Colors and Generations before it.

So does Sonic Lost World succeed, or is it a lost cause?

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Review: Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

Originally published on on Oct. 7, 2013.

News of a videogame adaptation of the Angry Video Game Nerd seemingly came out of nowhere back in April, but given the Nerd’s extensive repertoire and a feature film that’s currently in post-production, its recent release seems as ripe a time as any.

Developed by FreakZone Games and published by the folks at Screwattack, the game not only serves as an ode to classic 8 and 16-bit titles of yore, but works to remind fans both old and new of what “Nintendo hard” difficulty is like.

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Review: Sleeping Dogs

Originally published on on Sept. 7, 2012.

I’ll say it: I’m really glad that Activision dropped True Crime: Hong Kong.

Without that move Square Enix wouldn’t have picked it up and push United Front Games to craft what would become Sleeping Dogs. What initially ran the risk of cancellation, or worse: being a mediocre True Crime game, was revitalized and given a makeover.

I first got my mitts on Sleeping Dogs at PAX East this past year, where I was wowed by the game’s intense melee combat system, which is reminiscent of Batman: Arkham Asylum’s.

Nevertheless, a Batman-style fighting system alone can’t make this game a keeper. The question is whether or not Sleeping Dogs excels in its entirety.

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Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

Originally published on on May 2, 2012.

Last year, I was absolutely enamored with Polish-based developer CD Projekt RED’s work on the PC role-playing game,  The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. I enjoyed the game so much that it easily became my Game of the Year for 2011.

Since then, the developers were hard at work on an Enhanced Edition of the game for Xbox 360, toiling for over a year to bring all the PC game’s content over to consoles and then some.

Though I was very curious about how well the game could transition from PC to game console given its scope and highly detailed visuals, what I found was a job well done – even with some minor hiccups.

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Review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Originally published on on Dec. 14, 2011.

Since the official reveal trailer of the game back at E3 2010, I was stoked for the newest entry in the Zelda series. My experience and love for Zelda goes as far back as 1994, when my child self was introduced to the wonder that was A Link to the Past. Since then, I’ve always gotten giddy for a new big Zelda release.

You may hear talk on the internet about whether Skyward Sword really is the best Zelda game yet. I personally feel that it’s certainly up there. Despite some noticeable issues, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a masterpiece and quite possibly the best Wii title to date.

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Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Originally published on on Sept. 8, 2011.

Ion Storm’s Deus Ex for the PC remains one of my most favorite videogames of all time. It blended the FPS and RPG genres perfectly, and its emphasis on giving the player open-ended gameplay options when it comes to exploration and decision-making is something that still resonates in the open-ended and sandbox games of today. Suffice to say, the Mass Effects of today really owe it to Deus ExDeus Ex: Invisible War was the sequel that followed, and it got quite a mixed reaction among the diehard Deus Ex fan base. I, myself have not finished the game, although I did find it pretty disappointing.

A third game in the series was announced way back in 2007, and I was excited, if not a little wary, as the game was not being supervised by Deus Ex creative directors Warren Spector and Harvey Smith of the now-defunct Ion Storm, but by newly-formed Eidos Montreal.

A lot of the fears I initially had about this new sequel were quelled when the first cinematic trailer hit the internet last year. The music and tone of the game just hit me in all the right spots. Now that the game is out and I’ve played through the PC version, it’s time to decide. Eleven years after the original: is Deus Ex: Human Revolution a worthy successor?

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Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Originally published on on July 11, 2011.

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play, also known as one of the worst-kept secrets in the whole world, was officially announced by the company all the way back in February. Since then, it was delayed several times - eventually making its way to European markets on April 1 and Canada on April 28.

For the US, it was delayed yet again, finally making its launch on Verizon’s network on May 26.

I’ve had the device for a little over a month now. Here’s what I think about this interesting gaming phone.

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