Reviews

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Is a better digital replication of the physical Magic: the Gathering experience a better digital Magic: the Gathering experience? That’s the quandary facing the newest installment of Wizards of the Coast’s Duels of the Planeswalkers standalone game series, as it comes closer and closer to feeling like Magic Online under heavy competition and pressure from games like Hearthstone. READ MORE

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I want to like Abyss Odyssey. It’s chock-full of concepts that appeal to me, and if you asked me to review the design document instead of the finished product, it’d get top marks. In historical Chile, a warlock has descended into the abyss and taken a nap. That’s fine, as warlocks are weird guys, and they can sleep where they want. The unfortunate thing is that the warlock has a vivid imagination, and the abyss is causing his nightmares to come to life and terrorize the people on the surface. Your job: get to the bottom of the abyss, kill the warlock and save the people of Chile from being gored and eaten by horrible monsters.  READ MORE

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Drinkbox Studios first released Guacamelee! for the PS3 and Vita last year. It made appearances on two of our Staff Picks lists, but due to circumstances beyond our control, it never got an official Snackbar review. Thankfully, an updated Super Turbo Championship Edition was recently released to all the home consoles, giving us a chance to correct this oversight.

This finely-crafted love letter to both Mexican culture and video games in general is, at its core, a Metroidvania-style adventure with a combat emphasis taken from arcade-y beat-’em-ups. As you progress through the game, you will receive new attacks and other moves that will aid you in exploring the various areas in which the story takes place. As a Metroidvania, there will inevitably be backtracking as your new abilities gain you access to areas that were previously closed off, but most of it is narratively justified until you reach the endgame. READ MORE

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Arc System Works is known, at least in the West, for its anime-style fighting games. With XBlaze Code: Embryo, though, it’s dipping into another side of one of the BlazBlue universe, straying away from intense combat and floating into the gentle waters of the visual novel. Despite the fresh (to us) approach, is XBlaze worth the journey? READ MORE

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I’m torn.

On one hand, Munin is a well-assembled puzzle game. On the other, it’s almost completely devoid of plot and wastes the Norse setting completely. You play as the titular Munin, one of Odin’s two messenger ravens. The other raven, Hunin, is mentioned once in a screen of text and then never seen again. Loki has transformed Munin into a mortal man, and Munin must scour the world for his feathers. After collecting all of them, Munin can return to Odin who will, presumably, slap Loki on the hand and make him promise to be a good boy from now on. READ MORE

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Ubisoft’s recent push towards releasing smaller, downloadable titles alongside its big hits has been a positive step in the right direction. It began this trend with Child of Light and is continuing it with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Utilizing a striking art style, provided by the publisher’s UbiArt framework, Valiant Hearts covers a time in history rarely presented in the medium and, thankfully, does so with a level of sophistication you don’t often see in games about war.

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Influences from the NES era are nothing new. This has been an ongoing trend in indie games, often to draw on the nostalgia factor and also cut the costs of developing in HD. Some might even say the trend is getting a bit overdone, and I might have agreed with them until now. Shovel Knight has proven that combining old art styles and mechanics, and mashing together old genres, can still be done well. READ MORE

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Battle Princess of Arcadias is not the type of game that Nippon Ichi is typically known for. When I hear the company’s name I think of the turn-based combat of the Disgaea series, but everything in Battle Princess takes place in real time. There is one key similarity, though: female characters are considerably more than just eye candy. READ MORE

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After spending some time with (deep breath) Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha’ (whew), I came out of it like a kid stumbling out of a major house party for the first time: overwhelmed, dazed and unsure of what happened, but feeling like, despite the sensory overload, I had a lot of fun. I just wish I could get invited to more parties. READ MORE

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Both good music games and good puzzle games have value outside of the mechanics themselves. One gives you a reason to listen to new music, and the other keeps your head in check and reinforces pattern recognition. Arc System Works, known for its work in the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, released Magical Beat, a hybrid rhythm-puzzle game, in the arcades in 2012. Two years later, it’s on North American Vitas. READ MORE