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
The team behind Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! certainly had all the pieces in place to make a compelling title. WayForward has a long history of making good-to-great experiences using licensed properties, and the show (especially creator Pendleton Ward) certainly enjoys and reveres the medium. The first collaboration was a riff on Zelda II, an inspired choice that was nostalgic without being overdone. This second title’s inspirations are less clear. READ MORE
When faced with following up Super Mario Galaxy as the flagship home 3D platformer, developer EAD Tokyo made a product out of cobbling together disparate smaller ideas. There’s the new (Cat Mario), the recent (local multiplayer), the classic (the overworld) and the callback (character abilities). This, meshed with the 3D Land aesthetic, sounds like it would be promising but uneven, a pile of good things that just can’t come together in a logical way.
But no, Super Mario 3D World is great both in parts and as a whole. READ MORE
“Pac is back,” touts the back of the box, despite Pac-Man not actually having gone anywhere. It’s cool, though; I get the sentiment. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a new cartoon for a new generation of Pac-Man fans, and this is the logical video game tie-in. It’s pretty inoffensive as far as platformers aimed squarely at children go, and has a bit of charm that ensures the game a full-page ad in this year’s GameStop Holiday Guide. As cynical a cash grab this may be, it isn’t without merit. READ MORE
The task of working on the modern branch of the Sonic franchise is an unenviable one. The 2D-3D split has been successful for Mario, but Sonic never had anything like 64 or Galaxy. Even Rayman, with the well-received Rayman 2, decided not to sustain two branches and return to the original 2D formula. So while the Sonic 4 games have found success with little innovation, the larger games are forced to keep wandering in the desert until something new works. READ MORE
The Dark Knight has come a long way since the days of the first Batman games. It had gotten so bad that any fans of the character were thankful for even a mediocre game. Thankfully, 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum changed everything for both Batman and comic-based games in general. Both it and its follow-up, Arkham City, are considered by many to be two of the best superhero games around.
Now, with Batman: Arkham Origins, a new developer is brought on to tell a prequel story all about Batman’s first encounters with some of his most famous villains. After two stellar titles, expectations are high; unfortunately, the game fails to meet those expectations in many ways.