The series finale of Samurai Jack is finally here! The review will be posted on this article page Â on Monday, so until then let us know your thoughts in the comments. Did it do justice to the series?
Treyarch’s Zombies is the one that started it all, and the beloved mode has evolved a lot over the years and with different Call of Duty developers. For Black Ops 3, Zombies Chronicles offers eight remastered maps from World at War through Black Ops 2 with improved graphics, audio, and Black Ops 3’s Zombies features. It’s a greatest hits collection with enough variety to bring in new and veteran Zombies players alike, and it makes it worth revisiting Zombies at its roots.
Chronicles has a strong foundation in its map selection–it includes smaller, more manageable maps like World at War’s Nacht der Untoten alongside more complex, story-centric maps like Black Ops’ Ascension. If you’re new to Zombies, you can hone strategies on the simpler maps, and if you’ve been a fan of Treyarch’s Zombies for a while, at least one of your favorites is here. There’s also good variety in map structure and the strategies they each call for, from the more open Shi no Numa to the small, easily-overrun rooms of Verruckt.
These maps are now better than ever thanks to the fantastic technical improvements. Atmospheric enhancements, from eerie screeches to subtle lighting changes, supplement the more straightforward graphics upgrade, and they make the same gripping, stay-up-all-night zombies rounds you remember feel fresh and modern. The most noticeable change, especially in the heat of the moment, is the enhanced audio–the horrible death rattle of a gunned-down zombie and the unearthly howling of the Hellhounds are grating in the best way. The guttural snarls behind you feel more urgent, and that translates to greater tension even on maps you played to death the first time around.
Years-old strategies need a bit of tweaking thanks to the introduction of Black Ops 3’s Zombies features, and which further help in keeping the classic maps from feeling stale. Gobblegum and its various perks, for example, are optional, but depending on what you get, you might play a map differently compared to the way you remember. The change-up works well for groups that have a mix of new and returning players, too, since it gives newcomers an opportunity to be a bit more involved in the plan instead of just following someone who’s already routed the map.
The Black Ops 3 features also work for newer players on their own, particularly those who started with Treyarch’s most recent game. If you don’t have the nostalgia going into Chronicles, small things like Gobblegum help to modernize the older, less-involved maps without overshadowing what made them favorites to begin with.
Atmospheric enhancements make the same gripping, stay-up-all-night zombies rounds you remember feel fresh and modern.
Chronicles also includes Black Ops 3 weapons, but they make very little difference in how you strategize–they’re really just there to keep the collection in line with Treyarch’s latest. It is nice to pick up the Kuda early on if you spent any time at all with Black Ops 3’s multiplayer and want something a bit more familiar until you can get to the Mystery Box, but you’ll still end up crossing your fingers and hoping for the Ray Gun anyway. Of course, that Ray Gun is as satisfying to fire as ever–it’s just disappointing that the weapon additions are mostly fluff.
Zombies Chronicles takes a good combination of maps and upgrades them with great attention to detail. Newer Zombies features keep the collection modern, but its greatest strength is in the lighting and audio upgrades, which make the Zombies experience that many fans obsessed over before feel creepier, more tense, and more exhilarating than ever.
NBA Playgrounds attempts to fill the void left by beloved series like NBA Jam and NBA Street. And while it can be a fun, flashy arcade game, it quickly succumbs to its own repetitive gameplay and presentation–with frustrating results.
Playgrounds has only one game mode in both single-player and online multiplayer: two-on-two. Aside from an Exhibition mode used for practice, the bulk of your time in Playgrounds is spent competing in tournaments around the world on one of six courts, styled after real-world cities such as New York and Shanghai. You have to play through three-minute games before your team is able to compete in the five-minute championship, which unlocks new courts and player-card packs that grant you a new selection of the game’s 150-plus real players from the NBA’s 30 teams.
Playgrounds is quick and fun–in the short term. A lot of the game’s offense and defense comes down to timing. Once you get that down, it adds a fun sense of rhythm to the game–knowing when to release a shot, the best time to try for a steal, or when to attempt an alley-oop. But a lack of AI responsiveness disrupts that rhythm. Computer-controlled teammates won’t always react when you direct them to set a pick or initiate an alley-oop, which can lead to the shot clock expiring or an easy steal for your opponent. You eventually learn that you can only consistently rely on your AI teammate to shepherd the ball while you look for open space on the court.
Despite the fact that your partner is often unreliable, the moments when the AI behaves according to plan can lead to impressive displays of teamwork. You’re rewarded for flashy play during games by pulling off alley-oops, fancy dunks, and stealing the ball from opponents. These moves fill up your team’s special meter, which, when full, pays out a random “lottery pick.” One such lottery pick guarantees a player’s shot will go in from any distance after passing the half-court line, or even if it’s being blocked by the opposing team. Another one awards two extra points for dunks, helping to transform a close game into a four-point lead at the drop of a hat.
The hope of getting a lottery pick, as well as the fear of having one used against you, keeps games tense. You may find yourself pumping your fists in excitement one moment, then throwing your controller when an opponent gets a lucky opportunity the next. The give and take of this system’s rewards and punishments are immediately apparent and encourage improvement in your overall strategy.
There’s a definite feeling of accomplishment in the process of getting better at Playgrounds. Finding a break to make a three-pointer, disregarding traditional rules to shove an opponent away from the ball when they’re most vulnerable, or capitalizing on a fleeting opportunity for a flashy dunk all feel great, and smart plays are often rewarded with expressive, hype-inducing animations.
Despite the fact that each character has his own stats, they rarely feel distinct from each other during a game.
Special mention has to be given to Playgrounds’ dunks. They’re impressively choreographed–your player may do flips, spins, or even knock opponents down in midair, all before nearly ripping the rim from the backboard. Conversely, it’s maddening to watch your opponent do the same when your defensive lapses lead to a creative display of dominance on the court, but in a way that inspires you to consistently do better, rather than to quit.
One of Playgrounds’ main draws is no doubt its goofy aesthetic, which is a direct homage to NBA Jam. Unlocking new characters is enjoyable in that you’re treated to detailed-yet-stylized takes on real-world players. But despite the fact that each character has his own stats, they rarely feel distinct from each other during a game. You can easily get by using the initial roster, and once you settle on a pair of go-to players, subsequent recruits ultimately feel like trophies on a shelf–awarded for playing well, rather than new tools.
Variety ends with the game’s visuals, though. There isn’t much else to do other than playing through a tournament. In Exhibition, you have some added options, like the color of the ball or how long a game lasts, but in tournaments, you play the same four rounds over and over across the game’s six levels. Getting stuck on a particularly hard final round can be immensely frustrating, given the lack of an alternative mode or palate cleanser. This monotony is exacerbated by the game’s two announcers–Ian Eagle and EJ Johnson–who repeat the same corny jokes each game.
Playgrounds’ online offering is also plagued by this lack of content, also launching with only one game mode. But playing against an actual person does help alleviate some of the game’s repetition. Online games tend to be far goofier and more sporadic, with two players competing not just to win, but to do so in style. Reckless performances in the name of fun gives Playgrounds’ multiplayer games a level of slapstick enjoyment not found in single-player.
Even if Playgrounds’ single-player mode lacks the unbridled merriment that makes multiplayer so enjoyable, finally getting the upper hand in a tournament is rewarding and exciting in its own way. But even at its best, Playgrounds doesn’t offer enough variety to keep you engaged for long. Playing the same game type over and over, with only levels and opponent names changing, quickly gets old, no matter how good they feel in the moment. Even one additional game type at launch might’ve made the overall package more enjoyable, but as of right now, it might be best to wait for Saber to patch in some variety.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection is one of the hardest games I’ve ever played–but only at times. Certain games, Resident Evil 4 being a famous example, use a dynamic difficulty system, invisibly adjusting to keep the action challenging but not frustrating. Super Rude Bear Resurrection does something similar, only in a much more obvious, tangible way.
It’s a hardcore platformer in the mold of Super Meat Boy, but with a novel twist that gives meaning to the countless deaths you’ll suffer throughout. Corpses persist after death and can be used to create a safer path through levels (where one false step will send you back to the last checkpoint). In essence, almost every death serves to make the game slightly easier–though you can also clear levels without ever dying. It’s a delightful concept that further enhances a game that’s already strong thanks to its wealth of ideas and fantastic soundtrack.
At its most basic, Super Rude Bear Resurrection is a fairly straightforward platformer, tasking you with navigating stages filled with all manner of deadly spikes, arrows, swinging axes, more spikes, and creatures that toss snowballs at you harmlessly–until those snowballs just nudge you to your doom. You’ll maneuver through levels using simple jumps and wall jumps. You have no offensive capabilities, and the game doesn’t offer any special abilities to unlock or power-ups to find. You could, in theory, complete any level right from the get-go, although it’ll likely take dozens–or, more likely, hundreds–of deaths before you’re able to consistently overcome the trickiest obstacles.
The level design shows a tremendous amount of care on the part of developer Alex Rose Games. Stages are meticulously crafted to maximize difficulty without feeling unfair, but they’re also created in a way that allows for corpses to ease your path. A carcass might block incoming arrows or give you a safe spot in a row of spikes to jump on, and it can destroy certain traps when it comes into contact with them.
It’s easy for the corpses to pile up, particularly due to the way Super Rude Bear Resurrection’s levels toy with you. The game plays with your expectations and sets up hazards to punish you for relying on anticipation, rather than your reactions. Many deaths stem from hazards located immediately after checkpoints–these are seemingly placed for the explicit purpose of punishing your eagerness to immediately get back into the action after respawning. You can practically hear Alex Rose chuckling to himself every time you rush into an easily avoidable death. That might explain the mocking remarks of your floating companion, who also delivers the story (and jokes), allows you to destroy corpses in your path, and lets you scout out the areas ahead.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection isn’t an especially long game, although seeking out no-death runs, better leaderboard rankings, secret worlds, and dialogue (easy to miss the first time around) provides ample incentive for multiple playthroughs. The primary upside to not being long is also what’s most impressive about Super Rude Bear: it never runs out of steam. It feels fresh from beginning to end thanks to the way it consistently sprinkles in new types of challenges over the course of the entire game. Falling spikes, NPCs with hammers, arrow launchers, homing missiles, spinning lasers–you won’t play for long without encountering a new idea.
Some of these new ideas introduce interesting ways of interacting with corpses. Deaths caused by missiles and lasers freeze your body into an ice block. In the case of the missiles, ice blocks can provide stepping stones over a gap or block further missiles from being fired, while lasers pull the ice in, thereby preventing the lasers from reaching you on your next life.
“On the strength of its pacing and basic mechanics alone, Super Rude Bear Resurrection would make for an extremely engaging platformer. The addition of its corpse mechanic elevates it to something greater.”
Further adding to the variety are the boss fights littered throughout, each with its own unique gimmick that doesn’t feel at odds with the platforming framework of the game. One tasks you with avoiding spikes and the attacks of a breakdancing robot while standing on a rising platform. Another requires you to ride a moving platform through an otherwise standard level while avoiding a flying enemy that attempts to knock you off or crush you. The latter was particularly memorable, as being knocked down doesn’t guarantee death; provided you’re skilled enough, you can jump off of the boss itself and potentially recover. Whereas the bosses in Super Meat Boy have always felt to me more like obstacles that stand in the way of returning to the regular action, Super Rude Bear’s boss stages were among my favorites in the game.
Later levels ask a lot, requiring an almost-superhuman level of precision to complete without a death–an accomplishment I couldn’t even begin to sniff over the last quarter of the game. Yet, because of instant respawns and an excuse to continue listening to the stellar soundtrack, I never found myself frustrated, even when a particular section would cause me to die dozens of times. In fact, it was often hard not to laugh as I amassed an abundance of corpses (every one of which is dumped into a pile from the top of the screen at the conclusion of a level, just as a reminder). These attempts where I clearly wasn’t going to set a new time on the leaderboards often became fun experiments to see just how much I could screw with the design of the level.
In certain cases, the game actually becomes far too easy with even just a few deaths. Thankfully, if you find that to be the case, higher difficulty settings restrict the ability to destroy traps, leave behind corpses, and even use checkpoints. These options give you the flexibility to make the game as difficult as you want, which is great, since it’s most satisfying when played at the highest difficulty you can tolerate. The thrill of making it through a tough level with little help is matched by few other platformers I’ve ever played.
Not everything is quite so well executed, however. Visually, the game isn’t always clear about where you can safely stand or whether a corpse will protect you–spikes or blades sometimes extend beyond a body but won’t hurt you. The lack of an overworld is disappointing, if inessential, but the inability to access leaderboards anytime other than at the end of a level feels like an unfortunate oversight. A glitch when changing difficulties would cause the sound to drop out until I paused and unpaused the action. And certain level elements, such as falling icicles, are occasionally triggered before they should be after a respawn, which requires a quick death to reset. Because this only happened after a death, it never cost me a flawless run, but it was nonetheless a small source of frustration.
For all of these minor gripes, none of them stand in the way of enjoying nearly every second of playtime. On the strength of its pacing and basic mechanics alone, Super Rude Bear Resurrection would make for an extremely engaging platformer. The addition of its corpse mechanic elevates it to something greater, allowing it to simultaneously serve as an extreme challenge for the most diehard platforming fans as well as a game that can be enjoyed by the novice crowd. Super Rude Bear Resurrection demands a lot from you, but the satisfaction of success is immense in the end.
Capcom is big on cashing in on its extensive gaming history, so yet another blast-from-the-past package of 8-bit games from the company is no surprise. In this case, the theme is Disney–and a good reminder that, when Disney put its name on a game back in the day, it was a pretty sure bet you’d be in for a good time. Disney and Capcom had a great track record of solid NES titles based on beloved late-’80s/early-’90s cartoons, and now those 8-bit classics are available in one affordable package.
If you’re the kind of person who even just sees the word DuckTales and instantly hears “woo-ooo!” in your mind, Capcom’s gifting you a retro treat here. Six games are included in the Disney Afternoon Collection, and they are the kind of side-scrolling platformers so prevalent in the NES’ heyday.
You’ll find DuckTales and DuckTales 2, both Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers titles, Darkwing Duck, and the aerial shooter TaleSpin in the collection. These are largely straightforward ports of the original games made to fit your HDTV, but they’re otherwise untouched replications of the original NES versions. You can turn filtering on and off on the fly to smooth out the pixelated graphics and stretch the game to fit your screen (or leave the bordered version true to the original aspect ratio), but none of the graphics have been explicitly retouched.
Given the nature of this collection, the entire pack feels like an historical artifact. In their day, Capcom’s Disney-themed games had impressively high production values, solid level design, and otherwise stood out thanks to their recognizable cartoon cast. They also shared another defining feature–they were almost universally, uncompromisingly difficult (a trend that would continue well into the Super Nintendo years).
The Chip ‘n Dale games were cooperative platformers, which was distinctive for the time. DuckTales offered players the ability to take the large worlds in whatever order they wanted and offered replay value with the ability to revisit previously explored worlds, since the levels were full of secret gems. Darkwing Duck focused on side-scrolling shooting and a humorously noirish atmosphere that was countered by a controller-throwing level of potential frustration due to game mechanics and difficulty level. The odd duck out (so to speak), TaleSpin, starts off almost like a side-scrolling arcade shooter, where you can only shoot one slow bullet at a time, which can be upgraded over time. The pacing is such that every shot must be timed perfectly, or you’re doomed.
The games themselves are only part of the appeal here, though. Capcom has included a plethora of additional content as well. The Disney Museum lets you stroll down memory lane and provides some interesting perspective on each game and their characters. The goodies offered in the Museum include ads, concept art, and soundtracks. Given the historical nature of the games, this is a particularly nice touch that adds more weight to the idea that once, long ago, these were premium-priced, triple-A titles.
Each game also comes with two new modes: Boss Rush and Time Attack. Boss Rush distills the game down into a gauntlet run made up entirely of bosses, as the name suggests. Time Attack adds an interesting layer of social gaming to the mix–this mode lets you race through the levels against the clock but also links to online leaderboards to let you compete against the world for the fastest times.
The final addition to the Disney Afternoon Collection is the rewind button, which boosts the enjoyment of these challenging diversions. Pressing the left shoulder button instantly backs the action up so you can try again. It works throughout every game, and you can even use the feature to go back to the very beginning of a level. To say it’s a sanity saver for those not used to punishment of this magnitude is an understatement.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is a refined time capsule that covers a very specific chapter in gaming history. While these games might not be anything to get overly excited about individually, in a package that includes plenty of history and extras, this collection is a nostalgic curiosity with heart.
The search for an Arcade in Maryland has never been a horrible experience for a native or even a visitor in Maryland. Though getting the best arcade to play and enjoy your video games has truly been a difficult task to partake. This article makes your work easier; you will find it cool to locate your best arcade agreeing to your preferences. Most of these places may shock and wonder how you just missed a weekend, holiday or that fantastic moment outside such a fascinating environment.
Sportland Arcade: One of the best arcades in Maryland, located along the Ocean city boardwalk. At sportland you will get the hottest, best and classic video games ever. It offers coin and ticket redemption games where you can attempt your windfall. Sportland Arcade has the best scenery because of its location along the ocean. Here you will enjoy different arcade games which are standard as per your choices. When I was there I saw a big truck that said Russell Anthony Exteriors Maryland on the side, so it looks like Sportland might be receiving some exterior improvements.
Marty’s Playland Arcade: This is one the most appreciated fun centers by many fans. Video and redemption games are all-over in this Marty’s playland arcade. Games like pac man, dozens of pinball machines, big buck HD harpoon Lagoon are just but a few of that you will enjoy at this arcade.
Gamers’ Niche Gaming Lounge: Here you find Maryland’s crucial video gaming lounge, where you will meet the latest video game soothes, historical games and modern sound system.
Arcade Heroes: At Maryland, in a place called Cockeysville; North of Baltmore is the Arcade Heroes offering a diversity of games unlike any other Arcade. They have EM pinball and up-to-the-minute pinball machines as well as the new Spiderman, coupled by hi-tech video game solaces, pool place and over forty games up for your best moments.
Adventure Park USA: Touted as one of the Maryland’s huge arcade by her fans, Adventure Park has over 100different games. These games are Colorama, modern video games, racing and shooters games, boogying games, skee-ball among other classic games.
Fantasy World Entertainment: In this arcade you will enjoy games like Guitar Hero, dance-dance revolution, arcade classic; Galaga and Pac man, star Wars battle pod, and other fascinating modern video games.
Players’ fun zone: One of Maryland’s arcade with finest the Video games. These allow for more fun and interactions which is a major characteristic of this arcade. For fun prizes you need to players fun zone, classic, best physical and interactive video games.
You will be amazed at the eccentric experience in these adventurous arcades in Maryland.
To close out this list I also want to include a review of the hottest video game in 2017 (in my opinion) and to Business Insider.
We all know that technology and the virtual world are evolving real fast. Thousands of movies are being produced every day, and even more so, hundreds and hundreds of video games are being released by the minute. Now the question is, where can we get good, quality video games around our communities?
There are some who may find buying games online is a hassle, and that they would want to “get the feels” or even try out some of the games—which is not a common thing online. Gamers would therefore choose to video game stores, where they could ask for proper and immediate assistance before they would buy the product.
Of course, not all video game stores would provide quality, customer service. Some would just try to make the transaction with you, while some would really make you get excited into buying it, because store clerks and their other personnel have been really trained to put your interests aligned with their services. This article will help you know more about the best places in Delaware where you could find quality, video games.
Our first on the list is a Video Game and Game rental store called Dr. Gamefix. Located on Cleveland Ave., Delaware, Dr. Gamefix eyes to “work harder so you can play sooner,” as their mantra implies. They do not just sell and rent video games, but also specializes in all video game console repairs. Currently there is a tarp over their roof as Russell Anthony Exteriors Delaware fixes their roof. Their new exterior will definitely be an improvement. This is a place where you could definitely maintain having a non-stop gaming lifestyle.
Second is Game Stop, which has ten stores around the State of Delaware. It boasts itself as “the World’s Largest Selection of Game Products.” They provide the hottest and most updated video games there is around the world, and also sell a wide array of gaming systems not just for PSP, but also for Nintendo Wii, 3Ds, DS, Xbox 360 Play Station 3 and so on therefore they are highly preferred.
Last on our list for Delaware video games is The Video Game Guy. Located in Raven Rd., Wilmington, DE, this store takes pride in selling vintage systems, games and accessories for old school gamers. So, if you are a person who patronizes the classics, this store would be perfect for you!
There are a lot more video gaming stores around the state, but we’ve picked these ones just for you. Upon careful review of these places, these three would give you gaming experiences of a lifetime.
Last but not least I want you to see a review of my new favorite game Forza 6.
A Tampa Game Designer who truly wants to achieve success online will need an SEO Agency Tampa. The way SEO works keep changing from time to time. There is, therefore, the need to hire an expert whose job it is to know the current trend in optimizing a website. What the Tampa Game Designer will stand to benefit includes:
1. AN IMPROVED WEBSITE: If you cannot be seen, then, it is assumed that you do not exist. The need to improve your website so it can reach the people you want as well as potential clients cannot be overstated. It is very difficult to rank high when an organic search is done if you do not improve the visibility chances of your website with the proper use of SEO. The good part is that you spend less on other marketing strategies of attracting traffic to your website if it ranks high when an organic search is done.
2. TAPPING INTO AN SEO AGENCY TAMPA EXPERIENCE: Inasmuch as there are lots of Do-It-Yourself guidelines out there, nothing beats experience. There are situations that require experience to manage like ranking and so on. Their technical know-how when it comes to building links to your website and being abreast of the changes that are used to rank websites will be useful to a Tampa Game Designer. Time is money, so it makes sense to avoid trial and error and go for the much-valued experience.
3. IMPROVE RESULTS: The only way to achieve success is to have a plan. It is with the plan drawn that success can be measured against. To make a plan that will help a website improve its rankings, you will need the experience of an SEO Agency Tampa to make a realistic and effective one. It is easier to track the progress of your website when you make the right one that will help you achieve results.
These are some benefits a Tampa Game Designer will get by hiring help to optimize a website. With the experience and technical know-how put int improving the website, there will be increased traffic to the website. The aim is for people to visit online and order for the latest video games. An increased traffic to the website will definitely result in an improved conversion rate and a low bounce rate. This is why having a website that ranks high when organic searches are made is sweet music in the ears of a Tampa Game Designer.
Shovel Knight is defined by its likeness to games from the era of 8-bit consoles. It takes inspiration from games like Mega Man and Ducktales not only in its pixel- and pitch-perfect audiovisual aesthetic, but also in its mechanics–Shovel Knight is a resolutely unforgiving 2D platformer. Peril is almost always present on screen–be it a bottomless pit or a tough enemy that can quickly whittle down your health–making this a game that demands your undivided attention as much as it does your quick reflexes. Specter of Torment is the latest expansion to Shovel Knight, a prequel that’s available as a standalone campaign on Nintendo Switch or a free update to those who already own the main game, and it follows the titular Specter Knight as he sets out to gather an army for the series’ primary antagonist, The Enchantress.
Specter Knight’s default skillset is dramatically more varied than that of Shovel Knight, with a focus on the lightness and dexterity of his character, as opposed to Shovel Knight’s heavier, brute-force feel. Specter Knight has an innate ability to wall jump, mount ledges, and vertically scale walls for a short time. Most significantly, Specter has the ability to perform a mid-air scythe dash on enemies and certain environmental objects, an attack which sends him flying at an angle and is used for traversal as much as it is for offence.
The execution of these moves is simple, requiring nothing more than a timely press of the attack or jump buttons, and together they make Specter feel like a powerfully agile character who is a joy to control. But with these abilities come more difficult challenges in Specter of Torment’s new platforming levels. Unlike Shovel Knight, whose stages gradually grew in difficulty and were gated in an overworld map style reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, Specter of Torment presents you with the full selection of what I personally found to be equally-challenging stages and their accompanying boss fights, available to be tackled in any order in a structure more reminiscent of the Mega Man series.
Bottomless pits and other instant-death hazards feel more abundant in Specter of Torment, and proceeding forward almost always involves more than just careful jumping. Stages often require you to chain a series of movements together in order to keep Specter Knight airborne for extended periods of time over treacherous ground, and one fumbled execution could mean a complete do-over. You might climb the side of a wall to get you just enough height to wall-jump towards a series of swinging chandeliers, letting you scythe-dash into each one and eventually fling yourself across the room to mantle an opposing wall. Managing to reach a checkpoint after perfectly overcoming a series of obstacles without fumbles or fatalities is always a thrilling relief. The dexterous demands of performing these moves means that progress always feels satisfying and well-earned, even when it feels second-nature.
Each themed stage adds its own unique mechanical twists to the game’s platforming which need to be internalised too. There are some incredibly memorable ones such as scythe surfing, which sees Specter Knight ride his scythe like a skateboard and grind rails to move through stages at speed–but otherwise the majority will be familiar to those who have played the main Shovel Knight game, albeit with minor twists to better accommodate Specter’s abilities. This is unsurprising, given the game’s prequel nature and the appearance of many of the same characters and worlds, but the new level designs still feel more demanding.
Specter of Torment also features many of the same formidable level bosses as the original Shovel Knight, and although many of the battles with them seem a bit too similar to their previous appearances, some are altered significantly to make the most of Specter’s mobility, and can come as an enjoyable surprise to those familiar. The fight with Propeller Knight, for example, no longer takes place on a static platform, but in the midst of many tiny, cascading airships, requiring you to continually scramble upwards while dodging attacks.
The completion of each level allows you to purchase additional Curios, Specter of Torment’s unique version of Shovel Knight’s Relics, which allow for the use of special abilities at the cost of a consumable meter. Each Curio has its own distinct use to aid in the dispatching of enemies or to ease the burden of traversal. For example, the Hover Plume gives Specter Knight the ability to float in mid-air for a short duration, and Judgement Rush allows Specter to ignore pits and walls and teleport directly to an enemy. Each tool adds an interesting new facet to the way you can approach Specter of Torment’s levels, but the entirety of the game can be completed without using them. I found that relying on Curios diminished the sense of satisfaction that came from overcoming difficult obstacles using only Specter Knight’s base skillset, and tended to avoid them.
Much of what made the original Shovel Knight a success can also be found in Specter Knight. Level designs also cleverly act as intuitive tutorials, demonstrating the possibilities and limits of what you can and can’t do in particular stages without explicit explanation. Shovel Knight’s penchant for rewarding exploration is also still present. Secret paths and areas are strewn throughout the game’s stages and hub world. Some are obvious, but some can come as a small surprise to those who are willing to push the limits of the traversal abilities. The game’s checkpoint system–which allows you to actually destroy a checkpoint for monetary reward at the risk of having to re-traverse more of the level upon death–is still a clever mechanic. And Shovel Knight’s sense of humor and charm still manage to shine through, despite Specter of Torment’s more melancholic tone. Small moments like watching a reunited skeleton couple perform a waltz, playing with a cat, or simply enjoying the lighthearted dialog of NPCs provide nice moments of levity.
While it only took us a few hours in total to complete the game’s story mode, Specter of Torment felt well-paced and never unnecessarily short. The density of challenge contained within its individual stages meant that I was always entirely concentrated on the next obstacle, but Specter of Torment attempts to pace its demands on your mental state every few levels with short, interactive narrative interludes that serve as an enjoyable prequel to this prequel campaign. Specter of Torment also offers a new game plus option upon completion with a slightly more demanding health mechanic, and also offers a challenge mode which presents a variety of platforming and boss fight trials under strict restraints.
Specter of Torment is a finely-crafted 2D platformer that is satisfying in all respects. Simply controlling Specter Knight–flying through the air and slicing through enemies–is a joy in itself, and being able to push your ability to control these skills in overcoming the game’s cleverly-designed and challenging levels is always an exhilarating feeling. Specter of Torment is a focussed, polished, and satisfyingly challenging game that’s well worth experiencing whether or not you’ve had the pleasure of playing Shovel Knight.
Since both Nintendo and Sony seem intent on not continuing their line of revered hovercraft racers (F-Zero and WipeOut), it’s good to know other developers are happy to pick up the slack. Witness Fast RMX, a digital-only launch title for the Switch, that fills this niche nicely. Astute racings fans may recognize this as the semi-sequel to the excellent if boringly named Wii U racer, Fast Racing Neo (itself the sequel to the Wii game, Fast Racing).
Admittedly, it’s likely not many will recognize this series at all, but given the dearth of launch titles for the Switch, maybe the game will finally get its due. Fast RMX resembles WipeOut, but plays more like F-Zero with its looser, more casual steering and physics. It’s a solid middleground between the two games, with some outrageously designed tracks and a frantic sense of speed.
For those who did play Fast Racing Neo, it should be noted this is essentially an upgraded version. It contains the previous game’s 24 tracks (including the DLC content) and adds six new tracks. This new version sports the same vehicles, three speed-based leagues, and game modes with the except of time trials, which are due to be added later. In Lieu of any world building or story, your only options are to hit the track for a quick race or work your way up the ranks in championship mode. Pick your speed machine of choice and head out to a variety of exotic and futuristic locales to take on the best of the best.
Fast RMX tracks represent a varied array of themes. You can race through sharp and shiny chrome-filled urban sprawls, ice-covered landscapes, jungles, deserts, outer space, and more. Environmental effects ranging from storms to asteroid strikes add flair as well, and make your task slightly more difficult than usual. Tracks typically feature roller coaster-like designs, with looping roads and massive jumps. At times, the tracks seem designed more for effect than skill, however, with off-kilter obstacles like hard to avoid giant turbines and jumps that are too disjointed and easy to crash against, especially when racing in the game’s fastest leagues.
These races are brought to life with exceptionally good graphics–this is easily the best looking game on the Switch (at launch) next to Zelda. Vehicles are creatively designed and detailed, and the myriad of locations look terrific. The game also runs at 60 fps/1080p on your TV, even when playing split-screen multiplayer. The audio is more serviceable than exceptional, with an expected, if standard techno soundtrack.
The overall structure of the racing is a bit odd. The championship mode consists of three leagues (or speed classes), but all use the same 30 tracks. You only get one shot at placing in the top three on any given track within a championship, which makes the lack of a practice mode (or time trial) regrettable. Unlocking tracks in the championship mode also leads to the ‘Hero’ mode, where you have one life to race on a single track and must place first.
In Hero mode, your boost energy also powers your shield, so there’s an interesting dynamic between gaining more speed and preserving your ship. This all amounts to an intense alternative to the standard racing of the championship mode.
There are no weapons in Fast RMX, but absorbing energy from special pads on the track is vital. Energy comes in two flavors–blue and orange. You can phase shift your ship’s energy field at any time between the two colors and the idea is to hit a pad with the corresponding field activated. So, hitting a blue energy pad while your ship is blue, gives you a massive turbo boost. Crossing a blue pad while your ship is orange will result in a loss of speed. Fast RMX gets a lot of mileage out of forcing you alternate phases in rapid succession, and makes the already fast races feel slightly more energetic.
Multiplayer support includes both eight player online and four-player split screen support, in addition to local online (where each Switch owner needs their own copy of the game). The split-screen play is excellent and highly customizable to get exactly the type of race you want. Online play works smoothly, but just throws you into a random game. Aside from players voting on the next track, there are virtually no options. There’s not even an ability to find friends or choose leagues yet.
So, Fast RMX isn’t as polished as the games it’s trying hard to emulate, but certainly isn’t a wash. It’s fast, looks excellent, and offers a great variety of tracks. The racing is fun, even if some of the track design is less than stellar. If the online multiplayer gets patched with more customization options, this will also make an excellent addition to the Switch’s scarce multiplayer options.