Saturday, October 24, 2020

"Umihara Kawase BaZooKa" Review

"Umihara Kawase BaZooKa" is a platformer that tasks you to wield a bazooka and fishing rod to knock out scores of dopey enemies. Think of a side-scrolling Skee-Ball with a little "Reel 'em In" tossed in.

The dev team at Success keeps the tone light and fast-paced, with little barrier to entry, even at the toughest difficulty. A breezy, party game feel races through every pixel and sound, providing an upbeat, friendly feel that can serve as a nice break for those needing an escape from doom and gloom.

It takes a bit of patience to endure this brand of fun, though. Repetitive battles and drab environments make the game wear out its welcome more quickly than you'd hope, giving you little reason to proceed other than to keep your momentum going.

Local multiplayer can spice things up, letting you test your skills against up to three other players. The shared mayhem will no doubt spark laughs, both with and at the content.

"Umihara Kawase BaZooka" is a title designed for players with eclectic tastes and a casual skillset. Bouncy and peppy to both its advantage and disadvantage, it bops along to its own oddball beat. 

Publisher provided review code.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

"G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout" Review

Of all G.I. Joe's gaming forays, the one that left the most lasting impression on me was in the RTS-lite "Toy Soldiers: War Chest." 

The understated, milquetoast "G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout" may not do much to move the needle in terms of brand recognition, but is able to parlay the feel and look of the characters in that game into an action-heavy shooter.

Developer GameMill Entertainment hit its modest expectations with a serviceable, spectacle-free slice of fan service.

Most of the draw comes in the 17-mission single-player campaign. Twelve characters who span the comics, toys and animated series pop up in major roles, playing on the nostalgia factor for all it's worth.

Leading the Joes against the world-dominating Cobra terror organization, you use an array of machine gun fire, grenades, power moves and old-fashioned melee moves to slaughter your way to glory. There aren't many surprises in store, but there's something comforting in the mindless, unchallenging combat.

GameMill understandably skirted online multiplayer in favor of couch co-op and competitive combat. It's hard to imagine rustling up three other people who care enough about the game to tangle in standard capture the flag, assault, king of the hill and deathmatch formats. But if you can supply the people, the game has got your back.

While "Operation Blackout" doesn't reinvent G.I. Joe as a viable gaming franchise, it doesn't embarrass itself either. If you're a lifelong fan of the goofy characters and paramilitary antics, you'll feel right at home here.

Publisher provided review code.

G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout Image

Monday, October 12, 2020

"Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia" Review

Superfans don't need much to hook them. "Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia" checks most of the boxes for fans of the show, but does little else to go beyond fan service.

Based on the Netflix series, the plot has you guiding Jim Lake Jr. as he takes on Porgon the Trickster Troll, who is trying to bring on the dreaded time-pocalypse. There is action aplenty, with loads of enemies to pummel as you roll toward the end of each level.

What might have been an inspired throwback instead seems somewhat muted. 

With creative input from Guillermo del Toro, as well as the series' voice cast -- including Emile Hirsch, David Bradley, Charlie Saxton and Lexi Medrano -- in tow, there was a chance for something exciting. But developer WayForward falls victim to the uninspired design of many licensed games.

Expect repetitive levels, dull enemies and tedious visuals that fail to live up to the vigor of the source material.

Cut scenes are usually skippable trifles in platformers, but the story moments provide some of the more intriguing draws here. Those who have followed the storylines of the Netflix show won't need much convincing to play the game to get the full flavor of the saga.

This one will have you hunting for something better.

Publisher provided review code.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

"Commander '85" Review

 "Commander '85" is the pioneer hacker's dream come to life. Just as in the 1983 film "War Games," you play as a child of the 80s with a fancy new computer with untold powers.

At the other end of your DOS prompts and your fuzzy manual modem awaits a burgeoning world to be shaped in your image via a series of command prompts.

The vision that Developer The Moonwalls is carrying is admirable and captivating. The execution, though, is as clumsily executed and obtuse as modder newsgroups of the infant internet.

Just about everything meaningful you accomplish in the game is done at your bedroom computer desk. You're massaging prompts, codes, passwords and adjustments that will seem foreign to anyone who came of age after Windows was introduced.

You're locked into a battle of trial-and-error against the programming itself, forced to use your ingenuity to decipher the correct prompts to advance you toward your task, whether it's cracking your school's report card database or manipulating powerful forces.

While retro charm abounds in "Commander '85," going it alone is an exhausting experience. If you want to progress with minimal frustration and adequate speed, you're best of digging up a walkthrough. While the game is fun to experiment with, it's also often as frustrating and slow as a Commodore 64.

Publisher provided review code.