Let’s take a look at … – Undertale

Undertale is a game by developer Toby Fox, a name that probably doesn’t mean much to you … for now. It’s a pixel-based RPG that was quietly released on Steam in early October, but once mainstream game sites picked up on it and started writing about their experiences, the game blew up. With quotes floating around like: “Made me cry”, “contender for game of the year”, and “I haven’t played anything like this before”, it was hard not to be intrigued by what players were experiencing. After playing the game 3 times, and with over 25 hours invested, I can safely tell you that this game is easily in my top 5 indie games I’ve ever played. It’s something absolutely special.

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For those who have played the SNES classic Earthbound (also known as Mother), you’ll feel right at home here. Dialogue that breaks the 4th wall, characters with the strangest quirks, and enemies that make no sense but interact with you during battles in ways that are impossible to describe. You have the choice of Fight, Items, Act, and Mercy. Depending on what you choose you might be talking, hugging or petting an enemy during battle. There are also many, many more options depending on the enemy you are fighting. Choose to a spare an enemy and you can select Mercy to avoid killing it all together. Want to murder its face, choose Fight and play out the battle in a timed event where you have to press the attack button at the right time for maximum damage.

Every battle will play out a little different depending on if you choose to kill or spare. Every enemy has a unique attack which might require you to do some platforming to avoid projectiles, pressing the directional pad in different directions to avoid being hit. It varies from moving around like you are playing a “shoot-em-up”, to just sitting there and not moving against the dreaded “blue attack” (it’s hardly scary, just don’t move). I never once got bored with any battle as I was constantly kept on my toes by each unique attack. It’s incredibly brilliant and fresh.

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The soundtrack is a chiptunes, 8-bit style score that was so catchy and engrossing I would sometimes just turn it on and listen to it while I was doing other things that day. Not much more to say except that it’s masterfully crafted, changes on how you play the game and will pump you up when it’s time to play a deciding battle. The music takes a perfect package and wraps it up in an equally perfect bow.

The story is the most important part of this game and I will not be spoiling any of it. It takes so many turns, making you think one way and then changes it all on you over and over. The game has 3 endings that provide a different experience each one you go through. What does that even mean? I’ll explain…

Your first playthrough will be the normal ending. No matter how you play you will be forced to get this ending. Once you’ve finished you have some choices. Do you spare every enemy you come across or kill them? This aspect of choice is an important mechanic. No matter how you play through the game’s roughly 6-8 hour story you’ll be learning what it means to spare a life or take it. Maybe you’ll run into a battle and that enemy starts using powerful attacks against you and just wants to hurt your character. Maybe you’ll come across a frog that just wants to be complimented and doesn’t intend on harming you. How you deal with these choices affects how the game will play out in the end.

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The game’s alternate endings are The Pacifist Ending and Genocide Ending, requiring you to have beaten the game on Normal, and then on your next playthrough either choose to spare every life or take every life respectively. There is no middle ground here, so I recommend looking up some guides prior to taking these on. Be aware they will challenge you emotionally, strategically, and physically. I managed to unlock all 3 and by far the hardest was the Genocide Ending.

Without ruining anything, there are two bosses in the game that require you to take part in some of the most grueling, fast-paced, and extremely enjoyable battles I’ve ever come across in a game. One battle takes upwards of 15 minutes to finish and required my full attention and focus to beat it. After many hours of trial and error, I was able to finish it and the feeling of excitement I got was beyond comparison. I also felt kind of terrible too. Terrible because I don’t know if I really wanted to kill this character, but I had no choice. This is what makes Undertale so special.

Each ending is unconventional, each character plays an important role, and each battle is so unique that this isn’t the kind of game you run through and quickly dispose of. You want to see what happens, you are invested in the world and characters. They are your friends, maybe they’re your enemies; it just depends on how you play the game. I promise you that every ending will surprise you and give you something you’ve never seen before. Just remember, if your game shuts down because an enemy deletes your save file, all you have to do is reload. 🙂

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This is a game where words cannot do it justice. This review is all how I felt when I played this game and the surprises I encountered in every meeting with the characters and every battle. Nothing is what it seems. Currently at over 7000 reviews with an Overwhelming Positive review score this game is something that doesn’t come along often. This might be the best $10 dollars you’ll spend this year as you’ll be experiencing something unlike anything else. Undertale stole my heart, made me hate myself sometimes and filled me with determination unlike anything I’ve played before. Hands down, this game will affect you in one way or another and will leave an impression on you for years to come. It’s perfect.

Tl:dr – Undertale is one of the best indie games to come out in the last 5 years.  Fans of Earthbound will immediately see the similarities but will be immediately surprised at how different of an experience this game is.  The choices you make in Undertale matter, they affect you and those around you.  With non-traditional RPG elements, amazing soundtrack and a touching story and cast you’ll be hooked.  Multiple endings that are actually worth earning make this game something more than a beat it and walk away type of game and you’ll never forget your time in this world.  Simply put there is nothing out there like this game.  It’s an unforgettable experience.

Score – 10/10, Perfect

Steam Page – Steam £6.99/$9.99

Demo – http://undertale.com/demo.htm

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Guns, Gore & Cannoli (XBONE)

Earlier this year we covered the title Guns, Gore and Cannoli; an action-packed 2D run ‘n gun featuring a mobster working his way through the zombie apocalypse. You can read that article here. Well, that was on PC, and it’s now released on XBONE and we were lucky enough to get a review code to see if the console version matches that of its PC counterpart. Let’s take a look .. again!

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Starting with performance, the game runs great. It’s certainly not a last-minute dash to get to another platform. It’s clear time and effort has gone into making the game run soundly on whatever platform you choose. The game suits a gamepad incredibly well, with tight, self-intuitive controls. In Heather’s article she mentioned she has trouble with the controls, sometimes hitting wrong buttons; I had no such issues!

The quality of the art and other resources is on point also. There’s no scaling or compromise in quality; the game looks and feels just as crisp as the PC version. I did experience some loading times higher than I would have expected. Not huge, but enough for it to catch my attention, but it’s hardly a problem. The content is well worth the extra few seconds loading. Maybe it’s because I’m used to gaming on a PC!

Best of all, the game is priced fairly. The title is currently £6.99 on Steam, so I was expecting a price tag of ~£10 for console, but it’s only £7.99. A really nice pickup price for the XBONE. To be honest, mine has sat unused in the corner for the most of the time I’ve had it as I can’t justify paying 2x more for a game than I would do on Steam. It’s awesome that this isn’t the case with Guns, Gore & Cannoli and it’s given me a reason to keep my XBONE out for a while!

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I’d like to just share few thoughts on my own experience with game. A cinematic brings the game to a start, introducing Vinnie, a mobster on a mission to capture someone. Sleeping on a boat he learns that the world has been overrun by zombies. Naturally, been a mobster and all, he’s well kitted out and does not deviate from his macabre task. From here on you work your way through a multitude of environments, collecting new and exciting weapons as you progress, and meeting new enemies to test you.

One thing that I really liked was the difficulty. The game looks great, has a really funny story, and as such I was expecting something much more casual that what it is. The game puts up a fight, and if you don’t stay on your mobster toes it will punish you. Everything Heather said in her original article about the title I can 100% corroborate, and it is well worth the 9.5 we gave it originally. I’m not that far in, and already I’ve fought across a boat, a dockyard, a town, and met a wide range of interesting enemies!

A zombie football player that knocks you on your ass every opportunity he gets. A pinup zombie resembling Marilyn Monroe that likes to jump about, and another female zombie that can’t stop burping out some horrible green gas! I’ve also met a couple of NPC characters, all of which are funny and interesting dialogue with Vinnie. The game is lots of fun, plays great, looks great and sounds great, and it arrives on XBONE as strongly as it hit PC.

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Tl:dr – Guns, Gore & Cannoli is now available on a number of game consoles and it’s no shoddy port. It’s clear the Crazy Monkey put time and effort into ensuring quality across the board, and the XBONE version is just as good as its PC counterpart. At £7.99 (or your regional equivalent) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have this title on your XBOX. Get it downloaded!

Rating – 9.5 (again!)

Purchase – XBONE £7.99 or your regional equivalent | PC/Steam £6.99/$9.99

Trailer –

Indie Showcase … – WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS

WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS is a challenging, beautiful and amusing 2D sci-fi action game set in space. The story of this is brilliant: Foolien, the boss of the aliens, is watching Earth TV one day, and sees a huge waterpark. Envious of the brilliant time use meat bags seam to be having, he decides he wants to build his own. Problem is, Foolien’s planet has fallen short of water, so he looks towards Earth to sort that.

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To thwart Foolien’s plans, you play the role of an astronaut determined to save the world from the onslaught of water-stealing aliens. The key features of the game are:

  • Challenging and exciting gameplay in over 80 various levels
  • 4 awesome heroes with jetpacks capable of different power and speeds
  • Different types of enemies such as crazy robots, strange creatures
  • Spare your life by collecting drops of water Obstacles such as laser, propeller blades …
  • Easy control and amazing art with fun combat.
  • Fight again and again to get the best time possible and a glorious three star rating!
  • Break your keyboard or controller out of anger!
  • Battle your friends down to the mini second on the leaderboards

To defeat the aliens you will need to complete a vast range of levels that require both skill and mental capacity. The quicker you complete the levels, the more starts you get, and the more worlds you unlock.

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WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS is currently on Steam Greenlight, and has an active Kickstarter campaign that could use some love. If the game looks like fun, then make sure you head over to the Greenlight and Kickstarter pages and show your interest; I’m certainly looking forward to playing it!

Let’s take a look at … – Coffin Dodgers

The feisty elderly residents of a retirement community weren’t going to just accept the Grim Reaper’s threat to come collect them in three days, challenging him instead to mobility scooter races to escape his grasp. This amused Death, so the top 7 residents take to the town streets in this amusing kart game by Milky Tea Studios.

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Story mode begins with you choosing one of the 7 quirky characters, each with a unique back story. 13 races are divided among 4 areas of increasing difficulty, the Village, Town, Farm, and Graveyard, with the final race (the Showdown) combining all areas. In order to advance between areas, you must rank above your elderly competitors. If you wind up at the bottom of the pack, your soul will be taken.  Higher placement in the pack also means more rewards, which gives you the ability to upgrade your scooter. Better engines, weapons, and other perks are available for the right cost, helping you advance through the more difficult environments.

Gameplay is typical of traditional kart games. During the race, you need to avoid environmental hazards and have a good handle on your acceleration and braking to manage the many curves in the road. Each lap offers several chances at picking up items to help you protect yourself, speed up, or attack other racers. Oil spills, rocket boosts, shields, guns, and more are available if you drive through the item marker in the road. You can only carry one at a time, so timing is important. You also have a melee attack available, which can be charged up. If someone is aiming for you, you will see warning symbols to give you the chance to avoid the attack. Survive four laps around each track and advance to the next race, upgrading your scooter along the way.

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Other game modes are available including time trial, quick race, and open world options, including exploration and a game where you have to find an item in the map within a set time. Multiplayer has both online lobby and local multiplayer options. Unfortunately, the game is too new to really have anyone else available in the lobby, but maybe that will change as more play the game.

Controls are sensitive. I tried playing both with a controller and keyboard, and keyboard is impossible for me. Some of the attacks are hard for me to coordinate, but generally, the controls are as-expected for this type of game. Graphics are simple, colorful, and cute with maps that are bright and cartoony. I’m a bit of a grammar-nazi and found a type-o in the opening story, which annoyed me a little, but overall, the game is well-polished.

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One complaint I have and saw that the others have, is for the cost ($10.99 on Steam), this is a bit of a short game. Especially since online multiplayer is dead in the water right now, there isn’t too much to offer once all the races are beaten. If this goes on sale, though, it’s worth a buy if you like kart games.

Tl;dr – Coffin Dodgers is a unique twist on kart games where your elderly scooter racer avoids Death’s grip by ranking high in races around town.  Upgrade your mobility scooter to help you advance through harder races and show the Grim Reaper who’s boss.  This game has potential but the price is a little on the high side for how short it is.

Rating – 7/10

Purchase – Steam £8.99 ($10.99)

Trailer – 

Let’s take a look at … – Guns, Gore & Cannoli (PC)

The zombie craze rages on, inspiring movies, television shows, and video games, and we can’t get enough.  In a unique spin on a world overtaken by the rambling undead, Crazy Monkey Studios and Claeys Brothers Arts bring us an action-packed 2D platformer, Guns, Gore & Cannoli.

Vinnie Cannoli is your typical badass mobster in the 1920s.  Prohibition is in full swing, and so is organized crime.  Vinnie is sent out on some mob business and runs into a bigger threat than his rival mobsters: hoards of flesh-hungry zombies.  Vinnie has to use a plethora of weapons to escape and complete his mission, enthusiastically eating cannolis along the way.

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This shoot-em-up side scroller features basic, but not easy, combat.  Vinnie picks up new types of weapons as the game progresses, including hand guns, tommy guns, shotguns, revolvers, flamethrowers, grenades, and rocket launchers.  It’s up to you to manage your ammunition (more of which is available along the map for you to pick up), make sure you accommodate for reload times, and choose the right weapon for different types of enemies.  To give himself a little time to line up a shot, Vinnie can kick enemies away, which stuns them briefly.  There are also elements in the environment that can help you- barrels to explode, cars to blow up.  It’s easy to get surrounded by hoards of zombies and intelligent mobsters, so assessing the situation and coming up with the best way to combine your weapons and items in your surroundings is vital for your survival.  Many of the weapons are very satisfying to use, especially the flame thrower.  I will admit to cackling in glee while I send multiple enemies to their crispy death, screaming and fleeing in agony.

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The major group of enemies you will face are zombies.  There are a wide variety- undead mob guys, cops, soldiers and sailors, sexy women, butchers, even leprechauns.  They are all unique, whether it be some kind of protection they might have (like a helmet) or special ability (like speed or toxic belches).  You will need to learn the best way to defeat each type before you become overrun by a hoard.

Other enemies include rival mob members, rats, and the environment itself.  The gangsters are much smarter than zombies and can duck and hide, requiring a different strategy than you might use going after the undead.  Watch out for fires all over the city, which can kill you if you get stuck in them, and be careful when blowing up barrels and cars- they will hurt you too.  One of the clever aspects of this game is that the zombies will attack your rival mobsters, buying you a little bit of time where you can focus on killing the undead first while the ones you haven’t killed yet help you take out your living enemies.

You’ll see your health ticking down as zombies claw at you, mobsters shoot you, and fires burn you.  You can be revived by finding and eating boxes of delicious cannoli as you proceed along the map.  Health regen is full and quick, thankfully, but sometimes it just doesn’t come in time.  You will inevitably die.  Checkpoints are relatively fair, but even then, sometimes starting over too many times can be infuriating.

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I used a controller while playing this game.  The key binds are different than I’m used to, and I still make mistakes hitting the wrong buttons even after playing for quite awhile.  This gets really frustrating when you’re trying to fire and instead accidentally switch your weapon.  Basic controls are to switch weapon, fire, reload, throw grenads, kick, and jump.  The graphics are colorful, fun, and unique, hand drawn and HD.  Movement is fluid and the 1920’s detail is clever.  Anyone who appreciates gratuitous animated gore will love this game.  Killing fat zombies, for example, will cause them to explode their guts all over your screen, temporarily blocking your view.

To make this game even more fun, try the local multiplayer.  You fight along Vinnie in your own perfectly tailored suit and wingtip shoes.  Cannolis are shared, so health regen happens for each character at the same time, which is a feature I appreciated.  Multiplayer allows for respawn, although you come back with very low health, so it’s important to find some more of those cannolis as soon as possible.  Once everyone on your team is dead, the game restarts at the last checkpoint.  I had a great time playing this way, probably more than playing alone, which gets very frustrating sometimes.

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Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is available now on Windows and PC for £6.99, with Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U version to follow.

Tl;dr – Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is a fast-paced, shoot-em-up, 2D side-scroller with gorgeous hand-drawn, gratuitously gorey graphics.  Help your enthusiastic prohibition-era gangster fight his way through zombie hoards and rival mobsters, and stay alive by treating yourself to “some good cannoli,” as Vinnie says with his mouth full.  A great twist on the zombie fad!

Rating – 9.5/10

Trailer –

 

 

Let’s take a look at … – Serious Jam: Last Sam Standing

Hello, my crazy indie gamers! Find yourself in a position of potentially being trampled by the wild? I’d rather not catch myself in such a roar … Get it? Heh? Anyway, you’d best be careful then in Serious Jam: Last Sam Standing, a side-scrolling arcade shooter from BigO! You can join in on this run-and-gun which is available on Game Jolt!

In Last Sam Standing, you control a character named Sam who, wielding dual handguns, must shoot incoming creatures before they trample him, or move the freak out of the way. While trying to avoid being trampled, Sam can also pick up one of his other brawny mates, the African or the Cowboy, who wields a cannon or machine gun, respectively … or yet another Sam. The longer the trio survives and the farther they go, the more points earned before death!

Along this deadly desert trip, you will encounter warthogs and what seem to be explosive, headless baboons (and if you get far enough, what seem to be green, walking alien brain robots, and possibly more) . There are also powerups surrounded by the dangerous creatures. Powerups include ‘Serious Speed’, ‘Slow Moo’, ‘Holy Sam’, and ‘Serious S–t’, which the first two of them actually speak for themselves—speed up or slow down time, respectively—as for the last two … from what I have been able to figure out, I believe ‘Serious S–t’ must spawn a varied number of mates before you … and ‘Holy Sam’ … makes your character(s) flash? Anyway, as you reach higher point levels, you unlock new things, such as achievements or new playable characters that you can pick up as you would the others.

If all this hasn’t gotten you excited yet, then maybe the retro 16-bit desert accompanied by the ‘Neolith’ background music track will do that job! Its graphic style works out smoothly and flows nicely throughout. While playing, you’ll hear satisfying splats and booms from those which you kill, or if you’re clumsy, those under your control … all with exciting . When you pick up one of your mates, they’ll greet you with various tough-guy responses, for example, the titular response ‘This is getting serious!’. Lastly, as you run over powerups, their distinctive themes play, such as ‘Holy Sam’ and its ‘Hallelujah’ chant.

Throughout my time playing Last Sam Standing, I think I’ve improved my skill at the game and have found it very addicting. It’s one of those things where when you die, you want to try again, and discover what lies further on. Most of what you find in-game, however, you have to either determine yourself or ask the developer, as to what each element does or means, such as the powerups, controls, and the wild creatures, for all of which information outside playing the game is nil. In order to figure out what each is or does, you would need to pay much attention to those details. Also, you will notice from time to time that you have either unlocked an achievement or a new character. In my experience, I have only figured out what the unlocking of a new character means—so far for me, just the 3-way shotgun guy—but still have not a clue what the achievements are for.

Since months after starting my review, it’s been quite a long trip: determining game after game how the elements work. The small game that it is, it’s still hardly ever an issue coming back for more. After all, I’d have yet another chance to do a some research and have some fun while at it. On the flip side of things, this seems to be a near-exact copy of the Android version, minus the Ranking system … so PC users are missing out, but still not too much. The lack of information and the size of Last Sam Standing are also bummers. In the first place, I have to wonder why there are achievements in the game. The only spots you ever see them are either in-game, when you earn the achievement—whatever it is you earned it for—and then in the game settings file, which contains all the statistics for overall game time—which none other than highest score are ever seen constantly in-game. Other features that lack are more options to select from the game’s menu, which only offers ‘Play’ and ‘Exit’ (again, no ‘Rankings’ for PC). There being statistics in the game, there should at least be a section for such and as well for the achievements, making them less pointless.  I also noticed that when you activate one of the speed-adjusting powerups, the frame rate will change—which is not generally good, according to a friend. But again, despite the lack of these features, Last Sam Standing is no doubt invigorating to go through multiple times!

Overall, Serious Jam: Last Sam Standing never fails to have invigorating gameplay! With its fluent environment and the exciting background tune, Last Sam Standing may have you going for multiple runs!

BigO’s risky boomer gets 7 exploding Sams out 10!

You can play the game for yourself here > http://gamejolt.com/games/shooter/serious-jam-last-sam-standing/27739/