Pic taken from the Steam page because I can’t be bothered to take a screenshot right now.
Darkest Dungeon Beta Review
Yes, it’s another Roguelike-like. I don’t care if you’re sick of them, because I probably never will be. Darkest Dungeon is a dungeon crawler inspired by the legions of Roguelikes, and is nearly as brutal. It achieves this through extreme difficulty, a constantly high body count on your team, and the psychological terror it inflicts upon your heroes. This version is incomplete, but the sturdy skeleton of a great game is there.
When people call Darkest Dungeon a Roguelike, it’s a misnomer because although there is permadeath and mostly randomly-generated dungeons, the dungeons themselves are for the most part linear, and you can even use a scouting skill to show what’s up ahead. Darkest Dungeon has a definite inspiration from the dungeon crawlers of old, but it is a different thing in itself.
Risk of Rain
Roguelike-likes have swiftly become my favorite video game genre, outclassing politically trendy walking simulators and self-flagellation platformers by a long shot. There is randomness, but in a good Roguelike or Roguelike-like (we’ve got to find a better word for this genre) it is tempered by the requring of a large amount of technical skill, a knowledge of the items/levels/etc., and an understanding of the process by which the game’s content is delivered. Risk of Rain succeeds admirably.
I know I just came back from a despair-fueled six month hiatus, but my father passed away yesterday and I’m traveling back to Iowa to visit my family. He always gave me encouragement and looked up video game stuff for me to write about even though the only game he cared about was Pong. Updates will probably resume next week. Thank you, dear readers, for your patience.
A Review of Masters of Doom
Doom was a legendarily great game that will be remembered until the MayanNazis initiate the Obamocalpyse of 2023 and at last exterminate humanity, but you don’t need me to repeat the praises that have been heralded for two decades already. This is a review of a book. Continue reading
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth — GOTY 2014
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is everything I could have hoped for. I wrote two articles in 2012 and 2013 about how much I loved the original and its expansion, so I spent much of 2014 anticipating this remake. I was not disappointed.
I took a few hits to get a better screenshot. I promise.
Shovel Knight: Actually as Good as People Say It Is
Shovel Knight gets it. It doesn’t follow the cargo cult routine of indie games who use sprite-based graphics instead of good game design; it groks its favorite NES games but also aims to improve on them instead of miring in dead memories.
You know how I’m always griping about phony indie games that pander to lazy nostalgia instead of living on their own merits? Unlike most indie game creators that claim their work is “8-bit” and “retro”, Shovel Knight’s team poured their souls into their game’s creation. It is clearly inspired by the later NES games, especially Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and the second through sixth Mega Man entries. Instead of making the game look like a jittery Commodore 64 reject and calling it good, Yacht Club Games went out of their way to recreate the look of an NES game but also made it play much like one. This alone would make Shovel Knight noteworthy, but the game itself is also a blast from start to finish.
There will be no article this weekend. I will be watching the Evolution fighting game tournament for several days and complaining about the results on Twitter. There’s one benefit to being unemployed!
Thoughts on Nintendo as a Brand
I read this article recently, and the confused LA Times article it draws upon. These two articles (despite their flaws) bring up some interesting concepts that I think are worth exploring in more detail.
We all know it: Nintendo games aren’t like other games. There’s something about the games Nintendo publishes that makes them stand apart from the rest of the industry. It’s not just the visuals or the different franchises — there’s just something about Nintendo games that makes them special, something you can’t always put your finger on.
— John Kinsley
The Ninja Warriors – The Best Beat-Em-Up
Beat-em-ups were in vogue in the early 1990s. Capcom’s 1989 Final Fight is responsible for legions of imitators (many by Capcom themselves) and they introduced a surprising amount of variety for a genre that consists largely of walking in one direction and punching street thugs. It’s true that beat-em-ups had more than their share of excellent entries in the late 1980s (Double Dragon II: The Revenge for NES, for example, is just superb) but arcades and home consoles in the 1991-1994 time period were in my opinion the best for the genre.
Ascendant: A Capable But Flawed Roguelike-Like
Ascendant is a 2D platformer with randomly-generated procedurally-generated levels and loot. The action is unforgiving and the plot is negligible—two things I find refreshing in a video game. Ascendant owes a lot to Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac (two other challenging Roguelike-likes). I’ve seen many procedurally-generated platformers in recent times, and it’s a trend I definitely appreciate.