As I am sitting here trying to figure out what to say about Shovel Knight, nothing much comes to mind. It’s a competently made game that has a lot of throwback references to other better games that inspired it. The things it does, while usually well done, just don’t have that spark that makes me feel like I do about the true classics of old and even how I feel about the more hidden gems from the 8-bit days. There’s something about all of the new games that come out with this type of throwback appeal that just rubs me the wrong way. I keep trying new ones every so often and I am always unimpressed and disappointed. I don’t feel that my expectations are too high as I am not expecting the next timeless classic, but rather just hope that it’s good.
The standard shovel strikes really lacked range of any kind. The extra magic and other abilities weren’t particularly fun to use. The music is 90% forgettable and a lot of it is really obnoxious sounding. Bosses just jumped about throwing a bunch of shit everywhere (sometimes said “shit” would get lost in the background), but I’d still defeat them easily in spite of frequently taking hits. Super predictable boss rush in the end game and double form final boss fight. The whole currency loss when you die then retrieve it or it’s lost forever, you know, because Dark Souls is a thing people like. Let’s forget that that’s a mechanic that totally doesn’t fit this game. In fact, the Souls series is great because of how it all comes together. There’s no one thing about the Souls series that you can extract for a different game that will make me like it more. All this does for Shovel Knight is make sure you have to grind for currency in King Knight’s stage whenever you need it because later in the game you won’t give a shit about money at all by that point.
I am done with these self-styled throwback 8-bit “retro” games. They always disappoint me. Wake me when 32-bit becomes the new retro style du jour. Perhaps that’ll work better.
RATING: 4 out of 6
Code of Princess
+ graphics are pretty nice and animate well
+ combat is fun with easy to pull off fighting game style special moves
+ dialog is fully voiced and frequently funny
+ lots unique characters to unlock and play as
– backgrounds don’t have much going on in them
– music is merely adequate
– framerate takes a massive dive if playing multiplayer with more than one other person
Going into this game I didn’t realize how much I would dig what is effectively a new Guardian Heroes headed up by two of the biggest guys behind said classic, director/character designer Tetsuhiko Kikuchi and lead programmer Masaki Ukyo! I had a lot of fun kicking ass and (literally) taking names. The banter between the characters was funny and charming with my favorites being Lady Zozo, Allegro, and Juppongi. My favorite character to play as was Master T Drakkhen because he had a good mix of hard hitting hand-to-hand combat and magic spells that could wreck the fuck out of bosses.
If you have any fondness for Guardian Heroes and have a 3DS, do yourself a favor and pick up Code of Princess!
RATING: 5 out of 6
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
+ visuals and animation are extremely good in spite of being a cross-gen game
+ combat is simplistic but satisfying with stealth being good fun
+ ship sailing and combat is surprisingly awesome
+ voice acting is fantastic
+ Kenway’s Fleet mini game is cool way to earn extra money
– present day Abstergo segments are super lame
– forgettable story
– some pointless collectibles
This was my first Assassin’s Creed experience ever and I loved it! The whole ship sailing and combat that was introduced in Assassin’s Creed III was perfected here and is my favorite thing in the game. There’s a surprising amount of strategy in engaging enemy ships in battle. You have a few front cannons, fire barrels can be dropped from the back, broadside cannons (either aimed or not), mortar strikes, and if all else fails, commence with ramming speed! When you weaken a ship enough you can pull up along side them, board them and then take the ship as yours and use it to repair your ship, lower your wanted level, or put it on your fleet for use in the Kenway’s Fleet mini game. The standard on-foot gameplay is pretty great too with stealth being the preferred way to dispatch your enemies, but you’re still a formidable threat even when face-to-face with them. There’s also a lot of side content to pursue if you wish like obtaining maps to hunt down buried treasure, accepting naval and assassin contracts to complete, taking out forts on the open sea and making them your own. The mentioned Kenway’s Fleet mini game can also be played when away from the game on your phone so you can earn in-game cash by sending acquired ships on missions of trade which I thought was pretty neat. My most disliked thing was the present day Abstergo segments as it literally took you out of the game to force you to fuck around at virtual Ubisoft. Luckily the times those were forced on you were usually short and few and far between.
Overall, my first experience with an Assassin’s Creed game was fantastic, perhaps I started on too high a note because I might just be disappointed by any other game in the series since they will likely not have the absolutely amazing sailing stuff. Nevertheless, this will most likely not be the last Assassin’s Creed game I play. Great stuff!
RATING: 6 out of 6