Hidden Gem: Crash N Tense (fan-made game)

Developer: Metalsonic3 aka Jargonfox
Publisher: Sonic Fan Games HQ

This probably won’t be old news to some people of the Crash Bandicoot fan base, but for others, you need to see this.

There’s an extraordinary amount of love for the orange marsupial. He was the first of the Sony craze to be reviatalized after the glory days of the late 90’s and 00’s. Ever since then there’s been repeated amounts of tries to keep him in the relevant light, but sadly the good attempts were cancelled, and the bad ones were published.

The fans, however, had plans to help him prosper. Go, and look for Crash fan games, and you’ll find so many. The fans have discovered why the unique formula of Crash Bandicoot worked for its time, but didn’t age well. 3D Platforming is a beast. I hate being one of those writers that claims to have never made a game, which is why I tried my hand at programming before giving in to my passions. Making a game that takes off is a combination of luck, and vision.

The most notable platformers of all time would be the Jak and Daxter series, and Mario. It’s impossible to say which of the previous two are better, because they are apples and oranges. Jak and Daxter is platforming with a story. Mario is platforming with gameplay. Both are fun, but serve two different purposes. Jak creating a functioning world, and Mario is for being the pinnacle of platform gaming.

All that to say, Crash is the weird middle experiment between a cohesive world, and pure platforming. It succeeded in the world of 3D by being a 2D game shifted so left and right became forward and back. It would become its own niche, and wear out quickly as the minds of Naughtydog saw, we fans saw with Wrath of Cortex. That’s why Twinsanity, and the Titan series, changed direction.

Twinsanity did show fans that an open world Crash game with a cohesive world is possible. It is a natural evolution, platforming is seamless, and the challenge is an adequate ascension.

Unlike Jak and Daxter, and Mario, getting around in Twinsanity is, most of the time, a one-way street.

Twinsanity is a precursor for a solid foundation of 3D Crash to work from. Lots of fan projects have used it as a template for that fact alone. But one fan game in particular decided to take two steps back, and bring Crash into a highly successful light that may take Crash Bandicoot further than 3D.

Crash N Tense went to 2D and slapped hand drawn art all over it to make Huge Adventure, and N-Tranced blush.

I played through all three levels of their demo and was amazed by the attention to detail. The crouching while holding on to the bars, the little faces he gives jumping, and hanging, and the way Crash and Coco behave during each and every breath is more love than I think the original developers made.

The controls are nearly perfect. In my opinion, the stop mechanics of Crash 2 were crisp, and clean, and Crash 1 had sluggish handling. The controls for N Tense did not hinder the game-play at all, so if they were the final product, it would be an excellent final product.
However jumping gaps as Coco in her kart is a nightmare. The box was extremely small and hard to find to make it perfectly across large and small gaps. I had the most failures there.

Obviously there are many things still in the works so I have no other critiques. Years ago, the games frame rate was colossal slow, and the animations were basic, Metalsonic3 cranked out more blood and sweat and made a flawless cartoon-ish Crash that rivals any Crash conception, and longer level layouts than the original trilogy themselves.

Best of all, this game is free, and it doesn’t take a good laptop to run.

In conclusion I make this same argument for Yooka-Laylee. It was fine as 3D, but the choices made and transition have proven that side-scrolling works in favor, overall. Mario works well in 3D because of how much toil went into making it work. Twinsanity proves Crash can work in 3D, but it only scratched the surface. Linear 3D like the crash trilogy is just side-scrolling from behind. The 2.5D with the trilogy might have been better for Crash, save the running, biking, flying, wave riding levels. This fanmade Crash game is proving just that. 2D Crash is better because of what more it can do. A modern 2D cartoon Crash Bandicoot works exponentially better than a classic Sonic.

Up and Coming: Hazelnut Bastille

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Keeping it Real
…in Hazelnut Bastille

Grab your inventory bags, slip on some quick boots, and find your best headphones, because another great indie title is here to join the ranks of legend.

Today we’re going to take a look at Hazelnut Bastille.

It’s inspired by Zelda!

Yes, there it is, now the obvious has been spoken. And it’s not a bad thing, if it wasn’t Zelda it would have been something else, and we would be making other games in it likeness. And as far as icons go, Zelda is truly a great game to model.

With that said, we’re not looking at a plagiarized knock-off. We’re actually about to delve into a successor, and possibly the next Zelda Hazelnut to carry on the torch of inspiration.

There is an adult sized wallet of homage that’s been sacrificed into the project, way more than what a regular elf-boy’s wallet can hold!

First of all let’s take a look at the graphics, and the enemy styles. They’re practically ripped from the early 90s.

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From the hearts, to the items equipped, the flow of water, shadows of higher landscapes, and the text boxes themselves, Aloft Studios did their research, to deliver a game that not only mimics the 16-bit era style, but IS the 16-bit style.

In speaking of style it wouldn’t be complete with the music. Aloft is super proud and honored to have brought a legend, Hiroki Kikuta, to assist them in composing a few tracks. His work can be found in games like Secret of Mana, Soul Calibur V, and my personal favorite Shining Hearts.

But of course their roster of musicians bringing magic to the land of Hazelnut wouldn’t be complete without their other composer Shannon Mason. You can check out her work on YouTube, she has a playlist with some really high-energy songs like, “Firelands Planet” and “Main Menu”

What I love the most about this game is their item system, and their crafting and bartering mechanic. Enemies drop stuff. Stuff is also found everywhere. And the dwellers of this lost land don’t have a currency. They only deal in items for other items. That makes me really happy, not having to worry about a currency, and for once thinking about the challenge of saving a potent healing item for an item that could change the way I play the game.

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Also, Devil Fruit? Me thinks Gum Gum powers might be in store! XD

… (cricket chirping)

As of right now we can expect the game to be released on every type of PC, and the Switch! Thanks to exceeding their goal, players will have a couple of extra content patches to play with.

As if we would need extra content to keep us busy, Aloft has made numerous lands for this young woman to explore. That’s right, young woman, her name presumably is not Hazelnut.

We can expect a lot from Aloft, for Hazelnut and the future. When I spoke with them, they were happy to tell me of some other projects in their plan that also will be in the retro style.

I think you will see other Retro-styled games from us in the future, especially 8bit, which I am also quite fond of. We have two other major projects which you will get see from us as well: Sticks And Starships is an Engineering and Systems Management game in a voxel environment!  -Aloft

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If you’re not hyped yet, go look at their Kickstarter page. You’ll see just how they know what they’re talking about. I learned a few things about graphics and music just reading myself when preparing this entry. The demo can be played right now, and you may want to get it because there’s a place you won’t see in the final game!

So there you go! Hazelnut Bastille. It’s shaping up to be the next Shovel Knight.

…But it’s definitely going to be better than Super Meat Boy.

Kickstarter Page:

Hazelnut on Steam:
https://store.steampowered.com/app/968710/Hazelnut_Bastille/

Shannon Mason:

 

UNDERTALE 2!

I see what you did there Toby… Undertale, switch those letters around and you get Deltarune.

Nice

Yesterday, a diamond was found in the rough.

Don’t be staggered by anything else, it is official, this comes from the download off of Tobyfox’s Twitter page itself. Undertale 2, actually called Delta Rune, a prequel/sequel like game, is here, in it’s demo capacity.

 

 

Just finished playing after a few hours of going through the entire demo experience. And I have to say, WOW! What a way to bring Undertale back! The mastermind behind it all  still has it; story, characters, details, humor, and world building really make me want to keep playing this demo over and over again.

The feeling that this game is going to be bigger than its predecessor is real. With turn based strategy, more characters, and in field challenges, THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO MAKE A SEQUEL.

Well done Mr. Fox sir, you have truly taken a step into the right direction.

THAT ENDING TOO!

I am hyped for this new project, Deltarune. And if he wants to make a Kickstarter for it, I’ll be there with my empty wallet in hand.

P.S. Don’t worry about going back to the original game and reinserting the name Kris as your character, it won’t do anything. I checked, believe me.

RWBY Season 6, Episode 1 Review

‘Sup Shenanigites!

Are you ready for another supercharged, funny, dramatic, fun-fueled season of RWBY?

The wait is almost over!

My wife and I got an early screening opportunity and sat through the final episodes of season five, a developer commentary, and then the grand unveiling of Season Six.

And the results are in…

It’s going to be great.

The writer’s are still keeping to the humor that makes the show great, and keeping up with the action that held us at episode one *clicks off headphones*.

And in keeping with style, the visuals have received a great upgrade, the landscapes are looking absolutely gorgeous, from the moment the episode opens, to the end, the ascetics stay incredible looking, as well as the effects, and the lighting.

Myself personally was hoping for that last little tweak on the character models that will make them complete, but they’re still the good looking renders from last season.

The Grimm however are looking highly intimidating and better than ever.

There’s even a new character that comes into the mix, but I won’t spoil it here. For now though, I have a good feeling that they will add so much more to the story and the RWBY experience. So here’s to a new season!

 

 

My Hero Academia: Big Screen Action

***SPOILER FREE***

This is a review for the movie My Hero Academia: Two Heroes.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an anime movie in theaters. Probably the old Pokemon movies? Teen Tians: Trouble in Tokyo? (That was in theaters, right?)

Sigh, it’s been a while.

Anyway, My Hero: Two Heroes was a fantastic movie experience. The animation did not disappoint, the story, voice acting, (Yes, I watched dubbed and I think the voices are great- CATCH ME OUTSIDE!) was excellent, and the story makes an addition that enhanced the universe of Academia.

The stories theme of successor plays out extremely well in two ways, between All Might, his old sidekick Dave, and Melissa and Midoriya. Melissa is the daughter of Dave, a near genius at inventions, much like her father.

Everyone from class 1-A is here to represent, most of them involved in the plot while a handful get a couple shots of screen time.

The movie plays out like you can expect in all the glorious ways. You’ve got a little exposition for those watching for the first time, all the main characters finding their way into the plot (rather cleverly and creative in my opinion), action and Mineta humor, Iida hand gestures, Bakugo insanity, and Midoriya muttering.

Overall, me and my wife had a great time being with the anime fans of Lexington joining together and having a great time, and we weren’t disappointed.

ALSO,

Watching a movie that is CANON wasn’t so bad either!

9/10

Here’s a nice wallpaper for you!

Games in Development Done Right (and severely Wrong)

          It’s funny how life is sometimes. Your game choices are just… bad. The fault is hard to place, publisher? Developer? Hand-eye coordination? These are legitimate concerns. It would be nice that every game we pick up will be a masterpiece (The biggest ten of all tens!!) that we can all take to the streets and celebrate, tossing our lives aside and dancing to music and feasting so much we lose count of calories.
But unfortunately, we pick a game, and sometimes even invest all of our blind faith, and come up more than disappointed. It leaves us questioning if we have good tastes, or even understand what makes a good game at all.
Wait- no? Just me? Oh.
Allow me to explain my selfish, pointless ramblings. I just finished two blockbusters in nearly a day. Against my preferences, my wife had us play Detroit: Become Human. I wasn’t in the mood for it. There was no fantasy element, no swords, no magic, or anything.
          I had no idea of the gargantuan reputation that was behind it. At first, the expectations of Detroit were: boring, real life simulation, plot-less, money-taker. Little did my moronic brain realize the developers were the minds behind Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. And even less did it elude me of the amount of hours that were poured into the script and the motion capturing. I was in for a ride!
Detroit: Become Human is no doubt worthy of its accolades. Aside from control problems, and the inability to fast forward cut scenes or skip them, it was a memorable game that strictly rides on its narrative to succeed. And I feel it accomplished that task. More than accomplished even, Detroit is an experience that does more than satisfy your gamer, but it also opens the floor for inner exploration like few other games do.
~SPOILERS AHEAD~
Mainly, it deals with androids becoming sentient, and desiring a place in the world of men as equals.

But that’s just one plot, another involves one of the sentient robots running away to have a simple life, and another plot seeks an android to find out what it truly is. It’s a debate that’s as old as science fiction, right? Can robots be humans? If they feel does that make them alive, does that give them a soul? Can the Kamske of humanity create beings with souls?
The answer -or rather answers- will forever be spread across the spectrum of yes and no. As long as there are different people, no one will truly believe in the same thing anymore. But I digress, Detroit: Become Human did have me challenge my beliefs, as I’m sure it did the many other millions that played the game. And no matter what side you sit on, you will be challenged to think whether the humans are right, or whether the androids deserve a chance.
For me personally, I’m on the human side. I’m old fashioned you can say; humans can only beget humans the traditional way, no robots with souls will ever happen. But there was one moment, one tiny little moment, that didn’t happen in any significant plot point, and didn’t even happen within the three characters. I was stricken by Chloe. To avoid spoilers, I’ll say it’s not what happens the first time you beat the game. Instead, this once staggering moment happened while my wife and I were jumping chapters, trying to fill in empty flowchart points, when Chloe stopped, looked concerned and then asked, “Are you okay? Is everything alright? Did something happen today? You know I’m always here for you when need to talk.”
Freaking sympathy!
The android emulated sympathy and me feel like someone cared enough to listen to me and hear about my problems.  It was too strong a thing for me to just whimsically cast away. And it speaks to my personal self as someone who deeply loves it when someone genuinely cares for no reason and extends a helping hand, or ear. David Cage, the writer and director poured his heart and soul into this game to make those moments happen for everyone, in every way so that anyone who plays this game will be challenged to think; is it possible, and where do we draw the line as humans?
But, in speaking of pouring heart and soul, one company did not live up to their legacy with the latest “masterpiece”.
And I’m still a big fan of them. They made a couple of great titles before; critically acclaimed and cult classics are their bread and butter. They too spent years in development. But this one little cake needed a bit more time in the oven.
That game was, The Last Guardian.
I was so stricken with The Last Guardian during it’s development; another Shadow of the Colossus was on the way!
And then it finally came out.
I pre-ordered the big box with the nice statue and steel book, the cute little stickers, and I had Trico on the mind as best ally of all time. Once the game started, I was enthralled with the graphics, and the way Trico reacted to me. He followed me everywhere, with his eyes, and when he felt better he literally followed me. Trying to squeeze through tight spots with his head, and jumping great distances I spent an hour climbing all on my own. And the shield, the shield mechanic with the laser tail was a great thing to play with for hours. It was fantasy, it was magic, it was laser tails! But all of it blinded me. But what was I blind from?
The truth I tell you, the truth.
The Last Guardian was a boring game.
          You can beat the game in less than five hours! And kudos to whoever manages to do that, because not only is the game boring, but the controls are the worst controls in any Playstation 4 game ever. Trying to climb on Trico is a nightmare. He moves constantly, and you don’t know if you’re going to make it to his head without finding yourself on his belly. Don’t ask the camera for help, becuase it will just stare at the wall the whole time. And the location of the game? What location! You’re in a bunch of buildings that you can hardly identify as unique. They all look the same, you can easily get turned around if you’re not paying attention, and I did.
I played the game when it first came out, and went halfway through wearing these goggles preventing me from seeing anything wrong. All I could see were these huge cut scenes of small length (they lagged mind you). The frame rate chopped whenever there were too many of those animated armors on screen trying to kidnap me. And Lord help my poor machine if Trico went berserk, or flew, or… anything…
So anyhow, life got in the way, and I didn’t play it for a long time. Until Detroit came out. After we finished I felt good, so I decided to finish some other games, and Last Guardian had been there just waiting for me. And the moment it started again, the goggles were off. Everything I had a qualm with I picked up from that second go around. I was lost, I didn’t know if I was going the right way, although I was going the right way the entire time, nothing except new scenery told me. And I suppose that’s not a bad thing, but when I knew what was right it didn’t feel fun. And that was it, it wasn’t satisfying figuring out how to progress, that’s not a puzzle, a puzzle is having all of the pieces in front of you, and figuring it out so you get that “yes!!!” moment. I wasn’t relieved when I found the next area to go to, I spent the entire going “Oh great, what’s in this place?” There was a moment where I needed Trico to launch me up using an old-style wheelbarrow, and it was an hour before I positioned that dumb dog-dragon in the right spot to toss me like a dwarf.
And I told the elf. One. Hour.
~SPOILERS AHEAD~
And then there was the final boss. There was no way of knowing what to do without looking up a guide. That little annoying ball of darkness was fine if you made it smaller, but not too small. Where was that in the game before that hinted at me to know that? NO WHERE!
Trico gets the stuffing beat out of it, its tail pulled off, and wings crippled by other Tricos with masks and dark eyes. The story becomes revealed (which isn’t much), the furry creatures capture little kids to keep feeding the glowing green ball so its stays alive. But since you the main character gets free thanks to a freak lightning storm, we’re able to stop the cycle. It’s cool and all, but…
I don’t really care.
I mean the green ball can’t take kids anymore from their villages anymore, and the other creatures can’t be under its control, but then Trico gives the kid back, flies away, presumably dies, and the boy grows up happily ever after. He even finds the shield he used which awakens a Trico (or two) back in the valley where the whole game took place.
…Great?
It took them seven years to make the game. And the game I think falls short in everything. Controls were utterly garbage. The rest I rate, “could have been better” characters, story, landscape, puzzles, ending, post game content, everything.
          I looked up articles on the development, and the team had a great idea in mind. They took the surprising fact that everyone loved Agro more than Mona from Shadow of the Colossus. They ran with that idea, and they did a lot, but they didn’t reach it for me. I didn’t have a great relationship with Trico, he wouldn’t obey the commands I gave him, probably because his coding was too complicated. I was too frustrated to love that thing anymore. Agro was a great friend! But Agro and the Wanderer weren’t always needed for every puzzle, and Agro only had a few commands to follow and places to be. If a game were to be more focused on the aspect of a boy and his dog, then it needs more than escaping a tower together, and cramped hallways with noxious gas and ghostly, grabby armor. It needed more emotion, and perhaps Trico needed to be scaled down a bit. The relationship between them needed more focus on the build up- which it had, in the beginning- from it trying to eat us, to us on its back while we’re charging at full speed, doing sweep attacks, with a crowd of enemies. I didn’t feel Trico’s motivation.
          And so between the two, I felt more emotionally connected to Connor, Marcus, and Kara, than a supernatural creature. And I was supposed to! I was supposed to cry for Trico, fight for him, love him, and play with him numerous times through, but I couldn’t. All I could see was the “puzzle” to solve in order to advance.
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Amazing…
Detroit: Become Human for me gets all the accolades of the highest achievement, 9’s and 10’s across the board.
The Last Guardian to me only gets a 4, maybe a 5. If the controls were on point it would only make it to a 7, or even an 8 maybe, but they are that bad.

Metal Roly Polys! Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Review

(((TO ALL MY STORY DRIVEN GAMERS!)))

If shooting game are not your cup of tea, prepare to think about making an exception. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is adhering to the Sci-Fi fans in all of us, with it’s new take on a futuristic earth where we rely more on robotics in our warfare than ever before. And if you thought RPG game elements were the only place you could get a good story and awesome then you are in for a treat!

I mean, look at these pictures!

Robot Punching!

Blowing up planes with a bow n’ arrow!

And of course these guys that catch my eye…

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Metal Roly-Polys!!!

The graphics look amazing, the sounds, gameplay, and multiplayer experience has been worked to the liking of the player this time. According to the random video that plays in Gamestop the creators unleashed the Beta to us so they could fine-tune it to the bugs and problems WE had with it. So suffice it to say, they really paid attention to us with this installment!

A lot of people have a problem that it’s not a glorious remake of World War 2, and to that I say, ‘why do you want another one?’ There’s over two-hundred other games devoted to that time in history, go play those!

This continues the series of the Black Ops line, and its taking part in the imagined future. I couldn’t be more intrigued, and can’t wait to try it out…

On a next-gen console that is…

I have a PS3 right now, and they have taken the Campaign out because it can’t handle this…

4-Player Co-op Campaign baby!

I’m impressed and can’t wait to try it. As well as there infamous Nuk3town map, Zombies mode, and GIANT ZOMBIES mode!

That’s right, GIANT Nazi Zombies!

So this game is coming out for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and XboxOne, on 11/6/15 and the time is drawing near! Let’s get out there and celebrate this new path that a classic first-person shooting franchise is breaking out into full blown science fiction!

***I am not paid by anyone to write this. I am legitimately excited for this game. I have a thing for science fiction and futuristic robotic warfare video games.***