Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is more fool’s gold than a true treasure – Review

After a month and a half of playing this darn game, my thoughts on it still evolve, but at the very least, I have a better understanding of what’s going on with its core. While Pokémon Scarlet and Violet may be in my lower tier of mainline Pokémon titles, it certainly has heart, and I’ll continue playing it in the near future. But it took a lot of effort to find that spirit — this is a game you must fight to enjoy.

The Jackbox Party Pack 9 is funny, if players can put in the work – Review

Several elements make the annual Jackbox collections of games so enduring and enjoyable, and one that Jackbox Games should be proud of is the series’ accessible nature. Even for those who don’t game, Jackbox provides experiences with concepts easy to wrap one’s head around. And while The Jackbox Party Pack 9 still mostly succeeds in continuing this streak, some offerings in the 2022 title are a little less high concept.

Splatoon 3 shows that the familiar can still feel fresh – Review

There’s a pervasive stigma when discussing video game sequels, an idea that each subsequent entry has to radically shake up formulas in order to remain relevant. But more so than other art forms, video games are tech products too — iteration should be just as important as innovation. Even so, most major game sequels have nuanced additions and changes that will be monumental to any long-time player, while providing something novel for new players — and Nintendo’s third-person shooter Splatoon 3 certainly falls into both camps.

RiffTrax: The Game slightly misses the point of modern snarky commentary – Review

It’s fair to suggest that we all desire some degree of validation from friends, and one way to achieve that is by making them laugh. Recent years have brought us party video games, namely the packs from Jackbox Games, that are specifically designed to provide a canvas for producing guffaws with quips and drawings. What The Dub?! from Wide Right Interactive combined this with a love for “so bad it’s good” cinema, but its follow-up RiffTrax: The Game adds some branding — and what comes with the brand takes a bit away from the joy of making your friends cackle.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus has an addicting gameplay loop covered in a compelling world – Review

There are three times throughout Pokémon Legends: Arceus where a different NPC faces your character and gives them an ominous warning: “Pokémon are terrifying creatures.” For as adorable as they are, Pokémon can electrocute, burn, freeze, and generally hurt you in unimaginable ways. The phrase is a principle at the core of this Switch title’s gameplay, but also its story.

Windjammers 2 can be a great esport, but also a big learning curve for new players – Review

A common misconception with competitive video games is that they have to be somewhat overly complex and, to a degree, inaccessible. Whether it’s a shooter with layers of systems or fighting games with too many combos to memorize, some games appear too daunting for casual players, who then leave it to the “pros.” Windjammers 2 is a curious case — it’s inviting to all players with its easy concept, but becomes a steep rabbit hole of skill creep as you discover its ins and outs.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is frantic and uneven, but quite endearing – Review

It’s difficult to compare the experience of playing this game to any one other title, as it often feels like a mosaic of interlocking ideas. What results are moments of surprise and satisfaction, but interweaved with an overwhelming feeling of stimulation. There’s quite a lot to juggle in the moment-to-moment gameplay of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It can get quite messy, even late in your playthrough. Underneath these controls and systems is a human and heartfelt story set against a trippy world.

The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is a strong selection of multi-layered amusements – Review

There’s a level of stress that any game, video or otherwise, can give to a potential player as it tries to onboard you to its unique ruleset. Every annual pack that developer Jackbox Games delivers has five chances to convince you that not only is its content fun, but it’s worth learning. Each successive pack has provided more complicated minigames, but The Jackbox Party Pack 8 has enough noteworthy hits that should hopefully prove to be accessible.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl uses pointed fanservice to shroud its flaws – Review

This is indeed a fighting game where Nigel Thornberry can wavedash — the question is whether or not there is more to the product as a whole. While the title from Slap City developer Ludocity certainly has a lot of passion and thought into the fighting mechanics, the licensing woes and a lack of budget show in the final game. There is certainly fun to be had, but subtle shortcomings may have Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl less in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate territory and closer to Shrek Super Slam.

Review: New Pokémon Snap turns wholesome photography into a numbers game

There are countless video games designed to bring simple joy to players, usually with adorable visuals and relatively easy and relaxing mechanics. Even still, mainstream video games are obligated to include objectives and a sense of challenge, often to a point where you have to work and jump through hoops for some solace and a pleasant shot of dopamine. Enter New Pokémon Snap, the long-awaited sequel, and a game that has you grind to earn that wholesomeness.

Review: It Takes Two has the heart and imagination of a classic animated movie

Whenever a video game utilizes classic narrative and gameplay tropes, it may be difficult to not see it as derivative rather than as a homage. The previous title from developer Hazelight and director Josef Fares, A Way Out, had this pitfall. However, the studio’s follow-up cooperative-only title, It Takes Two, demonstrates that variety and humor are key ingredients for turning familiar elements into a unique blend.

Review: Hitman 3 is an achievement in sandbox shenanigans, several years in the making

Before playing this game, the sheer existence of a third new Hitman game was enough to excite me. Because of how familiar I was with the gameplay mechanics, I was eager to hone my skills, take on new challenges, and learn new locations in and out. With that, Hitman 3 was almost exactly the game I wanted and expected — sometimes predictability and familiarity can be that comforting.

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War throws back to bonkers gameplay and silly storytelling

As ineloquent as this may sound, Black Ops Cold War is a weird game. It plays like a tug of war between the advancement attempts that Infinity Ward put forward in last year’s Modern Warfare and Treyarch’s own mechanical contributions to the series over the years. What results is a product that tries to have its cake and eat it too, except that Black Ops Cold War seems to want to eat multiple, different cakes. It’s a strange entry in the series that lacks polish and quality. Still, I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun with it, in the way I would with a flaws-and-all action flick.

Review: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope recalls familiar horror tropes, to a major fault

With The Dark Pictures Anthology, it is quite obvious and explicit that Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games is attempting to muck about with as wide a spread of horror tropes as possible. It’s certainly an advantage for the ambitious project — there are countless horror cliches and gimmicks stuck in our collective minds. But in the midst of my first playthrough of Little Hope, the sophomore entry of The Dark Pictures, I questioned whether or not these tropes were worth having any affection over.

Review: The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is a mix of creative and overly complex concepts

One of the most endearing traits of any Jackbox Party Pack is how high-concept most of the games contained within are — you can explain the premise of these games to any novice and create unlimited hijinx. But with Jackbox Games turning in a new collection every year, more concepts are going through the pipeline, and the mass volume of them are diluting the ease of use of these packages. The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is undoubtedly fun, but explaining these concepts to new players is more of a challenge than ever.

Cloudpunk touches on gender and race with messy sci-fi allegories

It quickly becomes clear that Cloudpunk is trying to be forward-thinking with its allegories and commentary, with AI and androids becoming stand-ins for minorities, namely people of color and trans people. But despite apparently good intentions, the parallels and metaphors made become blurred and bungled together. In a way, this story is a demonstration on some of the fallacies of modern attempts at cyberpunk, with an aura of cynicism that is becoming tiresome.

Review: Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix proves nostalgia can only drive you so far

Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is an anachronism of a video game, looking like it came from the 2000s while including characters from recent television shows. The first Nickelodeon Kart Racers, from 2018, was soulless and cynical, but I can say that the sequel is twice the game its predecessor was. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much, as the first game set the bar so low that it’s below even Rock Bottom.

Lovingly Evil emulates the anxiety and ticking clock of conventions

Back in the day when in-person conventions were allowed, I would enter the floor with a sense of purpose. I was there to work, of course, gathering connections, networking with likeminded people, and attending panels. With limited time and so many moving parts on a given day, conventions would become draining, and with all of the personal interactions in between, it becomes clear that these events are a juggling act. Yes, we were all there for some form of career advancement, but we wanted to see people. These events were a mix of business and pleasure. People are seeking connections, but sometimes they may seek connections.

REZ PLZ Review: Live, Die, Platform, Repeat

In what is informally called the “splatformer,” player characters are expected to die numerous times through harrowing levels designed for trial-and-error. For REZ PLZ by Long Neck Games, death is not only an expectation but a requirement. This is a game that plays with the video game-y concept of respawning—though instead of presenting some sort of existential primer on impermanence, it comes off as a grisly buddy comedy.
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