Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a return to the 16-bit glory days of the JRPG genre and was originally released for the Sega Genesis in 2010, over a decade after the last official release for the system. It was conceived as an attempt to emulate the core concepts that made other RPGs of that era so memorable, and it largely succeeds in doing so, both for better and for worse. Pier Solar developer WaterMelon ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to remaster the game in HD for release on modern consoles (along with — of course — the Dreamcast), and it is this “definitive” version of the game that will likely gain exposure to a wider audience as copies of the limited-run Sega Genesis version can be very difficult to find. READ MORE
Developer Shin’en has become known for two things during its long run of supporting Nintendo download platforms: fast-paced shooters and quirky games that get a lot out of limited hardware. Art of Balance is certainly representative of the second group, a simple-on-the-surface stacking puzzle game with a zen-garden aesthetic that allowed for some cool water and lighting effects in a minimalist environment. The first game was a WiiWare standout, and after a foray on the 3DS eShop, the franchise heads to the Wii U in a form clearly shaped by the experiences developing both previous entries. READ MORE
Most of the time, it’s the object of a review to evaluate a game on its artistic merits, like what it’s trying to communicate and how it goes about delivering on that vision. With some games, though, like this fourth installment of the Skylanders series, what we’re looking at is undeniably a product: a collection of bullet points loosely tied together and pressed on a disc for consumption by mass-market shoppers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for every game, but it does make the “film criticism” school of reviews largely inappropriate.
So I’m going to follow Trap Team‘s lead and package together some bullet points for you. READ MORE
Do you remember the end of Skyward Sword? When Link had to plow through wave after wave of bokoblins as he made his way to the center of the Sealed Grounds? Wasn’t that an awesome change of pace for the Legend of Zelda series? Well, if you liked that, you will absolutely love Hyrule Warriors, which takes Koei Tecmo’s successful Dynasty Warriors franchise and applies Nintendo’s world of Hyrule and its storied history. READ MORE
At the outset of Over the Moon Games Studio’s debut offering, The Fall, a figure in an advanced combat suit plummets towards a planet for reasons never explained. Seconds before slamming into a rocky outcropping, the combat suit’s self-defense systems automatically kick in, initiating antimatter shielding that lets the suit blast through the obstacle without harm. The figure then proceeds to carve a fifty-meter hole into the surface before finally coming to rest.
This self-defense system is operated by an artificial intelligence called an armored robotic interface device (ARID), which is also capable of piloting the suit independently should the user within become unresponsive. After a fall like that, “unresponsive” is probably the best-case scenario, but since almost all of the suit’s diagnostics and advanced functions were disabled the AI has no way of knowing anything more than that. Driven by its Asimov-like three parameters — “must not misrepresent reality,” “must be obedient” and “must protect active pilot” — it decides that finding medical attention for its pilot is its primary objective. READ MORE
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
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
Let’s be honest right up front and admit that the Mario Kart series has settled into the same familiar wheel-spinning evident in a lot of Nintendo’s long-running franchises lately. Of course, there really isn’t that much room for improvement, since the series has been incredible for just about its entire run. Mario Kart 8, like most of its predecessors, adds a couple of interesting new minor features, mixes up the roster (now including five babies and seven Koopalings!), and of course provides 16 incredible all-new tracks along with the now-standard 16 retro courses without noticeably breaking anything important. READ MORE
With the ability to turn production sketches directly into in-game assets, the UbiArt engine supplies some breathtakingly delicate visuals to Child of Light. The unique graphical design, combined with a haunting piano-dominated score, bring the story of Aurora’s journey through Lemuria to life in a way that will be remembered for a long time. While not flawless, this odd blend of turn-based RPG and flying platformer is certainly an experience worth investigating. READ MORE
Games starring everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero, Spider-Man, have had a rough history. The majority of them turn out bad, or at least underwhelming, but there have been a few exceptions. Titles such as Spider-Man 2 and Web of Shadows have managed to put Spider-Man in an environment that is perfectly suited to his abilities by including an open world to explore and a combat system that feels in tune with his fighting style.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is another in a long line of games hoping to recapture the magic from those success stories, but it stumbles far more than it succeeds. READ MORE