Monday, June 01, 2020

"Atomicrops" Review


The likes of "Animal Crossing" may provide welcome escapism for those overburdened by the stresses of daily life. But for those who need a little more conflict in their farming simulators, here sprouts the combustible "Atomicorps" to provide just that.

In the unorthodox act of adding pyrtoechnics and combat to what's known as a placid genre, Bird Bath Games has concocted an intriguing hybrid that yields a bumper crop of thrills.

As is usually the case with games based on tilling the land, you're out to maximize your harvests and yield maximum profits while stretching your resources to the extreme.

Toting along a water bucket and gardening tools, you're also packing heat. Mutated varmints run rampant, eager to ravage your garden, derailing your dreams of hauling in untold riches.

The real-time strategy aspect heightens the urgency of your products and layouts.

The oddball gameplay doesn't always flow, often coalescing in awkward bottlenecks that disrupt the momentum. Likewise, the action sometimes seems superfluous and as much a load of busywork as the planning and planting aspects.

Overall, though, the varied aspects of gameplay do more to complement than they do to detract from one another. That the wily ecosystem somehow functions is a delight to behold.

Publisher provided review code.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

"Knight Squad" Switch Review


A medieval-themed "Bomberman" peppered with MOBA elements, the single-screen mayhem-fest "Knight Squad" rounds up as many as eight players to scramble for weapons and power-ups as they scrap to become the last one standing.

Originally released in 2015, the game has jousted on PC and Xbox One. Now it rides to Switch, with the Extrachivalrous DLC in tow.

The five-person developer team Chainsawesome Games continues its momentum with the port, making it seem as though it was meant for Nintendo's console all along.

Game modes include variants on last man standing, capture the flag and soccer. Any way you play, expect wild shifts in momentum due to the ludicrously overpowered drops that spice up the field of play.

Temporary invincibility, long-ranged attack capabilities and explosives have a "Mario Kart" Blue Shell-like ability to rubber-band struggling players back into competition, but there is still enough balance that the most skilled players usually come out ahead.

The accessibility makes the game an excellent choice for families looking for board game-style thrills to fill the days and keep the party going into the knight.

Publisher provided review code.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

"Sega Ages Thunder Force AC" Review


The Sega Ages line has excelled at excavating classics from the past and delivering pixel-perfect ports to the Switch. Bringing to life the dream long stoked by homebrew enthusiasts, the series continues to make the publisher's buried gems shine on TVs and handhelds.

Originally released in 1990 on the Sega Genesis, "Thunder Force AC" follows the bullet hell formula established by the likes of "Gradius" and "Life Force." As side-scrolling levels trot out increasingly hellacious and bizarre ships and creatures, you scavenge for upgrades and enhancements that help tip the balance in your favor amid the hectic barrage.

The dev team at TechnoSoft brings over a more manageable version of the eight stages, throwing in save states and an easier difficulty comically dubbed "Kids Mode" for those whose skills aren't quite up to par.

The art style, which made the most of the 16-bit technology available at the time, is impressive for its texture and creativity, enhancing the sense of elaborate menace you face throughout. But you'll be pardoned if you don't have the presence of mind to sit back and appreciate the visuals, because you're always a split second or overreaction away from demolition and a frustration-filled restart.

Like most games of its era, "Thunder Force AC" is meant to be replayed ad nauseum in order to acclimate to its patterns and master its intricacies, gradually building up your ability to survive and advance. The rise to the level of mastery it takes to annihilate a boss is a thunderously satisfying endeavor.

Publisher provided review code.

Monday, May 18, 2020

"Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix" Review


Anime visuals meet peppy grooves in a screen-tapping sensation that's a welcome and refreshing surprise for Switch owners.

In the franchise's Switch debut, "Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix" is an adaptation of the 2017 PS4 game "Project DIVA Future Tone."

Rhythm games have registered on Nintendo handhelds since the days of "Elite Beat Agents" on DS, and this one proudly carries on that tradition.

Using either traditional buttons or Switch-geared controls, you lose yourself in the music and register your prompts in time to the beat. With more than 100 songs in the mix -- each with diverse natures that span the gamut of influences -- there's little chance of boredom, even during extended play sessions.

Gyrating characters and sassy themes abound, providing enough of an edge on the material to keep you off balance. Developer Sega AM2 takes full advantage of the system's capabilities, optimizing the game toward handheld mode.

Even though the game is best enjoyed on the fly, this isn't something you can hunker down with comfortably in a waiting room or on a commute. Expect to make a head-bobbing fool of yourself as you feel the flow and rock out with your headphones on.

"Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix" is best enjoyed by your lonesome while lounging on your couch or bed. It also makes for a lively party game, pumping out wild sounds and visuals as crowds gather round. But any way you decide to play it, the game is a load of bouncy fun.

Publisher provided review code.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

"Super Mega Baseball 3" Review


The "Super Mega Baseball" franchise comes along just when sports-starved gamers need it most.

Boiling down the sport to the exuberance of its very essence, the dev team at Metalhead Software keeps upping the ante in its over-the-top baseball series. Coed teams with XFL-sounding team names take each other on in exaggerated clashes.

Despite the overpowered pitches, hits and throws, the gameplay remains surprisingly balanced. The result is that scoring lines and stats tend to be fairly authentic analogs to real-life contests.

Since the game lacks licenses, there's no roster update impetus for fans to keep buying its sequels. However, there are still plenty of reasons for fans to re-up. For one, the bulk of the online community will no doubt migrate to the newest entry.

Also, Metalhead continues to refine its game. The visuals get a boost, all the way down the line from character animations and facial expressions down to backgrounds.

Micromanagers who prefer front office duties to on-field action will be pleased. There's a new franchise mode to sink your teeth into, letting you put together your dream roster and put out administrative fires.

What began as something of a lark has morphed into a full-featured baseball sim that ditches the burdens of reality whenever possible. "Super Mega Baseball 3" is ready to be called up to the bigs.

Publisher provided review code.