Thursday, April 02, 2020

"HyperParasite" Review


"HyperParasite" lives up to the "hyper" portion of its name.

The twin-stick, top-down shooter has you rampage between rooms, possessing passers-by and assuming their abilities to take down enemies, open passageways and maneuver through foreboding terrain.

As a bitter alien life form who seeks to upend humanity, you work your way from street lowlifes, all the way up to the upper echelons of government hierarchy.

The endgame is nothing short of sparking the apocalypse.

"HyperParasite" makes being evil and destructive feel oh-so-good.

Developer Troglobytes Games delivers an energetic, lightning-paced romp that never lets up on its momentum.

There's often so much going on in each single-screen zone that it's tough to keep tabs on what's happening, but the chaotic feel only adds to the pulsing energy of the affair.

While many of the challenges presented by "HyperParasite" can be dispatched with the same formula, there's enough fun and inventiveness in the routine to keep it feeling fresh more often than not. "HyperParasite" counts on its appeal thriving as things get out of control.

Publisher provided review code.

Monday, March 30, 2020

"Gigantosaurus" Review


Switching from among four colorful prehistoric lizards, you scamper through linear levels in "Gigantosaurus" in pursuit of a slew of flashy trinkets. The gameplay is as basic as you can get, but the fundamentals are solid, if unspectacular.

Based on the animated Disney Junior series and Johnny Duddle book, "Gigantosaurus" follows the "Crash Bandicoot" and "Banjo-Kazooie" template for sprinting, collecting and bashing action that never lets up.

The downside is that there's little challenge to the affair. The dev team at Cyber Group Studios understandably prizes accessibility above all else, playing to the show's base while minimizing overtures to parents and older siblings who find themselves pulled along for the ride.

As many as four players can join in the mayhem, taking control of one of the bumbling, stumbling protagonists. There are mild educational themes at play, encouraging qualities such as bravery, inquisitiveness and honor. The endgame is to solve the mystery of the colossal Gigantosaurus, but the joy comes from the ebb and flow of the journey.

Parents may find that "Gigantosaurus" comes at just the right time. Working equally well as a skill-builder and time-killer, the title is a suitable way to blow off some steam and break up the quarantine-spawned malaise. Playing the game beats watching episodes of the show over and over again.

inquisitive Mazu, playful Tiny, timid Bill, and courageous Rocky 

Publisher provided review code.

PHIL ON FILM: 5 Shows to Binge in April 2020


For my full post, click here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Book Report: "A Passage to India"

A Passage to IndiaA Passage to India by E.M. Forster
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

No single book did more to spark the tide that would turn into Indian independence than "A Passage to India." Its importance as an incisive critique of British imperialism and systematic racism can't be dismissed.

That still doesn't make E.M. Forster's book an easy read.

Choppy and dull while spiced up by occasional dollops of intrigue, the story is a largely shapeless and aimless meandering that stumbles along its stilted path of a morality play that serves as an excuse for a plot.

The best way to appreciate the book is anecdotally, cherishing E.M. Swift's poetic ways of painting scenes of a far off time and land, as well as the characters' distinct tones and cultural backgrounds. If only the book succeeded as much as a captivating tale as it did an anthropological case study.

In the Audible version, Sam Dastor gives a heroic effort to inject some life into the book's many slow moments, but there's only so much a narrator can do to make something so dry palatable.

I'm glad I plowed through "A Passage to India." It made me feel more worldly and expanded my appreciation of the way things were on the other side of the world a century ago. But this is a case in which the destination is more valuable than the journey.

Publisher provided review copy.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Bubble Bobble 4 Friends" Review


"Bubble Bobble 4 Friends" gives the "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" treatment to the 1980s and 90s platformer.

With co-op available for up to four players, ININ Games brings back the classic series in chaotic form, with the players aiding and messing with each other in equal measures.

Giggles and elbows abound as you trek through the 100 levels with friends. Collectibles and hidden crannies abound.

There's also a side game at play, tasking you to discover letter bubbles that spell out the word "EXTEND." Find them all, and you'll unlock more facets of the design.

Colorful visuals meld with a catchy, chiptune-style soundtrack to conjure a retro-friendly feel that brings the older games to mind while also pushing the series forward in significant ways.

A satisfying way to bring back a blast from gaming's past, "Bubble Bobble 4 Friends" is a lovingly crafted and invigoratingly breezy way to revisit the adventures of Bub and Bob. 

Publisher provided review code.

Friday, March 20, 2020

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" Review


Set in a steampunk-influenced world, "Granblue Fantasy: Versus" packs 2D-fighter and side-scrolling brawler aesthetics into one hack-and-slash package.

The characters are diverse and distinguished while also balanced. The lore is engaging and well-conceived. And the visuals tie it all together with verve and panache, luring you into the realm of might, magic and exotic contraptions.

There are three modes in which to test your might. The main RPG mode lets you level your character and advance the story. Versus mode allows you to square off in one-and-done matches against a friend or the PC. And Arcade is a traditional match tree that puts you through the paces against all comers until you either emerge triumphantly or wither away from the challenge and give in.

The game makes the transition from mobile platforms to console with confidence and ease, with developer Arc System Works taking advantage of the additional power and visual fidelity to make the game feel as though it were built from the ground up for the PS4.

Those familiar with Arc's contributions to the likes of "BlazBlue" and "Guilty Gear" will feel right at home in the frenzied yet fair strike-parry-block metagame of mental wrestling.

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" may not have the name recognition of its predecessors or competitors, but its fresh take on the genre is a welcome departure from the norm. In a time when escapism and empowerment fantasies are more needed than ever, the game came along just when it was needed most.

Publisher provided review code.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Wunderling" Review


Sick of their kind being stomped on all their lives, one member of the tribe has finally learned to jump. The skill becomes a game-changer in the squad's eternal clash with their arch-villain, Carrot Man.

Out for sweet vengeance, the Wunderlings run amok over the colorful, polygonal platformer landscape, dumping the usual routine on its head.

Developer Retroid has loads of satire-minded fun with the concept, twisting accepted gaming cliches. A goofy and satisfying romp, the game goes beyond its story gimmick by infusing the platforming with solid design and clever twists.

Light puzzle-solving keeps the action from becoming monotonous. Clever writing in the story segments is another incentive to keep hopping.

Wunderlings are sort of the ugly cousin of the Minions or the Little Goombas that Mario has stomped for the last 35 years, and the protagonist's angst-ridden resentment makes them charming antiheroes to get behind.

A winning underdog much like its subject, "Wunderling" is retro-tinged fun for Switch and Steam players alike.

Publisher provided review code.