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The Kirby series has a long history of experimentation. From Epic Yarn to Mass Attack, the pink puffball has been seen as Nintendo’s test subject for a multitude of crazy new ideas despite the series’ otherwise well-regarded formula. 2005 saw the release of Kirby Canvas Curse, considered by many to be the first great original Nintendo DS game and a fantastic new experimental take on a well-worn formula. It only took Nintendo ten years, but here we are with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, a spiritual successor to Canvas Curse utilizing a new, unique art style. While it doesn’t stand up to the 2005 classic, Rainbow Curse still has plenty going for it.

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Despite my insatiable urges to slaughter digital monsters, I don’t consider myself a violent person. I’ve never been in a real physical fight, nor do I plan or want to. But I’m no saint; I don’t totally remove myself from any kind of physical conflict. I probably say “hit him!” while watching a hockey game more than recommend my team shoot or score. I’ve watched UFC, professional wrestling and even some boxing matches. The preparation, technical skill and thrill of competition sweeps over me when watching the combatants, but that isn’t anything special or unique. I still don’t want to be in their position, nor do I lack empathy when I discover the short and long-term injuries these athletes suffer in the name of entertainment. READ MORE

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Strategy games have taken many forms over the years. From running a successful business to conquering territories or taking the fight directly to your opponents in real-time battles, it has everything you would want and then some. Now, you might be asking, “what if I want a strategy game that lets me carefully plan my escape from a highly secure prison?” First, that’s an oddly specific question which somehow only relates to this particular review. Second, The Escapists is the game for you.

While it could be described as a puzzle game as much as a strategy game, The Escapists is all about learning the ins and outs of your temporary confinement and finding a way to successfully break free.

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As I made my way across a shallow river, my foot slipped, I cracked my head against a rock and floated downstream on the current. Upon regaining consciousness, I suddenly found myself beset by bandits. How many, you ask? I won’t know until the dealer reveals the next card, but with my luck, it won’t be good for me. In Hand of Fate, a unique blend of deck-building, action-RPG and choose-your-own-adventure, my luck is rarely good. READ MORE

Graham and Jeremy bust out a SNES Mouse to show off this totally-in-English-but-never-released-overseas title from Nintendo and Game Freak, Mario & Wario. See how it basically set up the mobile puzzle game template in the early ’90s!

New episodes of Gaijin Guide are posted every other Wednesday.

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I want to like Raven’s Cry. Actually, I take that back. I like the naval combat in Raven’s Cry. Actually, I take that back. I like the naval combat in Raven’s Cry when I turn down all of the graphical options as low as they go to bring the frame rate to a reasonable level. I expect the seas to be choppy. My system exceeds the recommended specs handily, and running at medium settings produces a pirate-themed slideshow. READ MORE

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I really appreciate good world-building. For me, the sign of a solid, well-crafted setting is the ability to re-use it in other creations beyond the original and its sequels or expansions. This isn’t something that happens in the board game world very often without a licensed property being involved. A good recent example is Fantasy Flight Games’s Android universe, which spun off into Infiltration and served as a natural fit for the revival of Netrunner.

Level 99 Games has now done something similar, taking its World of Indines, most notably seen in its BattleCON Street Fighter-style fighting games, and exploring one of its key locations: Argent University. READ MORE

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When looking at the lineup of games published by NIS America, hToL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary doesn’t exactly fit in. You’re expecting to see more anime-styled RPGs and strategy games with a lot of humor and assorted silliness. You’re expecting to see months of gameplay and a sensibility that seems out-of-place among most Western titles but right at home on a system like the Vita. You’re expecting to see exploding penguins.

The last thing you’re expecting to see is The Firefly DiaryREAD MORE

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With so many indie games flooding the gaming space these days, it has become unsurprisingly difficult to stand out in the crowd. Thankfully, many developers are stepping up, crafting games with innovative gameplay hooks, or in the case of the new side-scroller Apotheon, unique visuals. Inspired by ancient Greek mythology and utilizing an art style which truly looks unlike any other game, Apotheon attempts to draw you in with its surface-level hooks, but doesn’t deliver gameplay to match its incredible aesthetic.

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In 2008, Turtle Rock Studios evolved the cooperative shooter with the landmark release Left 4 Dead. In the years since that title’s release, there have been other developers pushing the genre forward by iterating on that original blueprint. With Evolve, Turtle Rock Studios sets out to make the next big leap in this game space again by focusing on asymmetrical gameplay. The result is an interesting concept that plays unlike nearly anything else I’ve experienced, and is incredibly exciting and fun when it works on all fronts. Unfortunately, far too often the actual matches fall far short of this occasional glimmer, and a frustratingly slow progression system makes the game feel more sluggish than fun. READ MORE