August 30, 2012

Review – They Bleed Pixels

Review They Bleed Pixels
From the jagged teeth of buzzsaws to the spiked walls and floors beneath and above every slim bit of ground players will grasp in the search for some small space to breathe, They Bleed Pixels. Toronto developer Spooky Squid has crafted a platformer without pity, where the typical spiky pitfalls of the past are only the opening to a world of malevolently placed enemies and obstacles guarded by blades of precise timing – eager to spill the blood of opponents and players alike in gathering an offering for whatever dark Gods of old are in league with the design of its stages.

But this isn’t a game that’s hard for the sake of being so, nor some attempt to simply join other recent titles that wear difficulty as the primary incentive and reward to be bragged about at some They Bleed Pixels survivors meeting later this year.

They Bleed Pixels examines the space of traditional platformers, and knowing the habits of those that have grown up playing them, challenges players to make more of the wasted space around said platform. It does this by often providing very little solid ground to stand on, but also forces a new perspective on old habits by offering new spaces to cling to.


March 21, 2012

Review – Sine Mora

Review Sine Mora
Time is the fire in which we burn, and pilots seeking to survive the hazardous skies of Sine Mora will want to cling to every fading ember for the chance to learn why the flame that burns half as long also burns twice as bright.

The joint 2D side-scrolling shooter from Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture places the emphasis entirely on that flickering flame, with a time clock often reserved for boss battles in other shooters continually ticking down throughout the entirety of this game.

Make no mistake, every second within Sine Mora counts, because allowing time to slip away is the only way to die.


November 14, 2011

Review – Otomedius Excellent

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 10:10 am

review otomedius excellent
After much doubt, delay, and speculation, Konami’s side-scrolling shooter, Otomedius Excellent, has landed in North America, hoping to tempt genre fans with barely clothed heroines and inspirational notes taken from the holy book of Gradius.

Aspirations to live my life as cliché stirred a desperate want to love this release – Travis Touchdown has Pure White Lover Bizarre Jelly 5, and I was going to have Otomedius Excellent. But as much as I can appreciate this game upsetting the digestion of Western audiences with wrappings your mother would certainly disapprove of, I’d rather play the aforementioned shooter mini-game found within No More Heroes 2.

Beneath the bubblegum aesthetics, Otomedius Excellent is a hard game to love, striving to find ways to break my heart with an experience I could love nearly everything about, except for having to actually play it.


November 4, 2011

Review – PixelJunk: SideScroller

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 1:00 pm

Review PixelJunk SideScroller
Way back in 1990, when I was but a freshman in high school, I received R-Type for the TurboGrafx-16 as a Christmas present. As anyone who has played the game knows, it is an absolutely punishing horizontal shooter. I lost count of how many times I blasted off to destroy the evil Bydo Empire only to be met with failure, and I’m not too ashamed to admit that I never cleared the final stage. Nevertheless, I refused to give up, and in fact, the game’s extreme difficulty level may have made me love it more.

R-Type requires players to methodically conquer each stage one small step at a time. Getting just a tiny bit further in a level is cause for celebration. The more I played, the further I eventually progressed, learning exactly where on the screen I needed to position my humble spacecraft at any given moment. I can’t think of any other shooter in which so much trial-and-error, memorization, and perseverance is required to succeed.

“But Mister Raroo,” you might wonder, “Why are you spending so much time talking about R-Type in a PixelJunk: SideScroller review?”

Because, dear readers, playing SideScroller is very much like playing Irem’s masterpiece. SideScroller is clearly a love letter to the classic horizontal shooter genre of yore, and it contains elements that bring to mind games like Gradius and Darius, though more than anything, I couldn’t help but think it would fit most comfortably in the R-Type family.


October 19, 2011

Review – Aliens: Infestation

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 1:44 pm

Aliens Infestation Review
The U.S.S. Sulaco drifts silently through space, short on a flight crew but freshly infested with those iconic monsters that mostly come at night.


Without Ellen Ripley to save the day, the task of investigating and once again attempting to exterminate the alien menace falls on a new squad of marines – four to be exact. The initial lineup of characters offers the typical bravado, and includes an obligatory “Vasquez” character. And that initial tip of the hat is only one of the many ways Infestation illustrates a profound love for the James Cameron film. From an early cat cameo to an additional mini-game that challenges players to stab the DS stylus like a knife between on-screen fingers, this is the Aliens game that never arrived when 2D was the norm and not the occasional throwback treat.


June 8, 2011

E3 2011 – Hands-on PixelJunk SideScroller

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 4:29 pm

Handson PixelJunk SideScroller
The PixelJunk Shooter games didn’t light my world on fire, to say the least. I thought they looked gorgeous and the concept was great, but I just didn’t find them to really be all that much fun. Getting through levels was more work than play, in my opinion.

But PixelJunk SideScroller? Ah, it might be love! I adore 2D shooters, and this is perhaps one of the best to come along in a quite awhile. If you grew up playing horizontal shooters, you know the drill. Pilot a craft left to right through horizontally scrolling stages and blast everything that moves. In many ways SideScroller feels like it was ripped right from the golden age of space shooters.

Even the game’s logo is clearly an homage to Gradius. Super cool.

And the retro love doesn’t end there. The game is designed to look as it were being displayed on an old CRT monitor, complete with washed out colors and scan lines. The screen also warps a little at the edges, which is a charming touch. The environments are a mix of vivid neon colors and minimalist vector graphics. It’s kind of like the lovechild of PixelJunk Shooter and Trajectile (Q Games’ cool rocket-firing puzzle game for DSiWare). The experience is only enhanced by the soundtrack, which is very akin to the spacey, beat-heavy tunes found in the Shooter games. It’s safe to say Q Games knocked another one out of the park in the audiovisual department and the end result is lovely.


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