Category Archives: Featured Content

The Legend of Dark Witch Review

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Release Date: October 16, 2014 | Price: $3.99
Genre: Action/Platformer | Platform: Wii U eShop
Publisher: Circle Entertainment Developer: Inside System/Flyhigh Works Games

I really enjoyed the last game Circle Entertainment published – Demon King Box for the curious – so I jumped at the chance to review their latest. That game is The Legend of Dark Witch, a game I discovered just last week. The Legend of Dark Witch is a 2d sidescroller that mixes elements from Mega Man with elements from Gradius. Lots of developers choose to emulate the Mega Man style, but not a lot then mix that with the power-up system of Gradius.

the-legend-of-dark-witch-ss1The Legend of Dark Witch is a story about a witch named Zizou Olympia and her quest to recover the stolen Syega crystals. Syega crystals are a mysterious source of power that to unlock their full potential. Zizou, a god responsible for restoring magic, appears and begins to fight through the country to question its residents on whom has stolen all the Syega. As you play through the game, you’ll uncover more bits of the story, though after the short opening cut scene, you can get right to the action.

There are three difficulty modes to choose between: easy, normal, and lunatic. My initial reaction was to play through the normal mode, though I soon discovered that to be a more difficult task than I expected. The Legend of Dark Witch isn’t too difficult during the game’s levels, though its boss fights are extremely difficult. So, to get used to the game, I decided to first play it on the easy difficulty mode. This made The Legend of Dark Witch a much less frustrating experience, and in fact, it became one of the more enjoyable experiences of 2014. Though, the game is definitely worthy of a second play on a higher difficulty, should you want to overcome its difficult nature.

Like Mega Man, you get to choose the level you want to tackle. At the end of each level, a boss waits while you fight through a variety of enemies and platforming challenges. Beating that boss will net you a new power-up, which can then be used at any time by Zizou. This would make the game nearly identical to Mega Man, but its Gradius influence is large enough to make it a different experience.

The Gradius influence is felt in the game’s install system. As you defeat enemies, TRES will be dropped and can be used to power-up Zizou. Like Gradius, when a certain amount is collected, you can activate a power-up, or collect more to activate a different power-up. You’ll be upgrading Zizou’s speed, attack, type of attack, etc., when using this install system. Installations can be set to automatic, semi-automatic, or manual, which is the closest to Gradius. You will lose TRES – the amount depends on the difficulty – if you get hit by the enemy, so being cautious becomes a necessary element of the game. After beating a level, you will retain some TRES which can then be used to buy permanent power-ups in the game’s shop. These include powering up your weapons and increasing Zizou’s health.

the-legend-of-dark-witch-ss2Zizou uses a projectile attack called the liner shot that can be power-up multiple times. Also, you can just hold down the button to attack, which is a nice touch. Despite being able to use boss weapons, the basic attack is all you really need to beat the game. In fact, the boss weapons are very disappointing with their only use being to defeat other bosses with less hassle.

The levels of The Legend of Dark Witch are linear, though the action is constant, which makes the game a lot of fun. What I particularly enjoyed about the game’s levels are their themes. You get cliche platforming themes like forest and beach, though there are unique ones like Twilight Prison and Chelsea School Dormitory.

The graphics of The Legend of Dark Witch are gorgeous. While there is no stereoscopic 3d – which seems to be the norm with a Circle Entertainment game – the game’s 2D sprites and animation are fantastic. Rounding The Legend of Dark Witch out is a fantastic soundtrack that is full of the energy needed to power through this game.

Final Thoughts:

The Legend of Dark Witch is a fantastic action sidescroller that combines reliable elements from other video games. In particular, borrowing the power-up system from Gradius makes The Legend of Dark Witch an intriguing title that fans of sidescrollers will want to see for themselves. While the game can be frustrating on the game’s normal mode, the power-up system will help you battle through the struggle. The game will take a little over an hour to complete during your first time through, though an unlockable character – with a different set of power-ups – and a ton of additional content give the game a lot of replay value.

8.5/10 – Great

Review copy provided by Circle Entertainment

Turtle Tale Wii U Review

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Release Date: October 9, 2014 | Price: $2.99
Genre: Platformer | Platform: Wii U eShop
Developer and Publisher: Saturnine Games

Shelldon is back to fight Captain O’Haire and his gang of Monkey Pirates in the Wii U version of Turtle Tale. I previously reviewed the Nintendo 3DS version of Turtle Tale, so initially I was going to skip over the Wii U version. However, I thought it would be neat to take a look back at the game to see what has changed for the big screen. So, have changes made Turtle Tale on the Wii U worthy of a double dip?

No. If you have already purchased the Nintendo 3DS version, there is really no reason to buy it again on the Wii U. Well, unless you really want to play it on a much bigger screen. Essentially, Turtle Tale on Wii U is identical to the Nintendo 3DS version. For those that haven’t played, here is a quick rundown of the gameplay. You control Shelldon on his journey to take down the invading Monkey Pirates. The game is a 2D, sidescrolling platformer with action elements. Shelldon uses his trusty water gun, which is still a lot of fun to use, to take down enemies. Turtle Tale is a conglomeration of classic platforming elements, and is generally a good game.

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As for what remains the same: levels, gameplay, music, sound effects, graphics, enemies, and end game bonus. So, in a nutshell, everything is the same. At this point, you must be wondering if there were any changes in the Wii U version, and there are, but they are small and almost insignificant. The most obvious change is that the graphics are in a higher resolution. This has made the backgrounds more noticeable, and really brings out their beauty. However, the characters haven’t received the same bump in beauty as they are still quite generic, however, I wouldn’t consider them to be bad. Other graphical changes include making crabs under the sand more noticeable with a darker outline. I can’t say I ran into the problem of being ambushed by them on the 3DS version, though if it helps somebody, it’s a valid change. The other big change is that Shelldon now has more invincibility after being hit. Again, I never had a problem with this in the 3DS version, but I’m sure it makes the game easier for some.

There are no added levels in Turtle Tale, so you’ll be making the trek through the same 15 levels across five worlds again. Though, Turtle Tale does offer a much harder second quest after you beat each level after collecting all 1,500 pieces of fruit, which was in the 3DS game, though it should now be easier to complete thanks to added invincibility.

Final Thoughts:

There’s not much to be said about Turtle Tale that hasn’t already been said. It is a decent platformer and would be a great way to game the afternoon away, that is, if you haven’t already played it on the Nintendo 3DS. It won’t be much of a challenge for gaming’s elite, though I can certainly see children falling in love with the game. At $2.99, it gives you about two hours of gameplay, including the second quest, and more if you choose to replay a second time. If you’d like to experience the game’s changes, you should be able to download an update for the Nintendo 3DS version now that will synch it up to the Wii U version.

7/10 – Good
Review copy provided by Saturnine Games

Ice Cream Surfer Review

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Release Date: September 4, 2014 | Price: $5.00
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up/Arcade | Platform: Wii U eShop
Developer and Publisher: Dolores Entertainment S.L.

Quirky shoot ‘em up games ran wild on the Famicom back in the eighties. However, shoot ‘em up titles with that same Famicom quirkiness haven’t been quite as plentiful in the modern era. Don’t fret, though, because Dolores Entertainment has brought back the quirkiness with a game known as Ice Cream Surfer.

Ice Cream Surfer is a 2d, side-scrolling, shoot ‘em up game that delivers the quirky ways of old. The game starts with a short cut-scene that shows an evil vegetable army – led by a devious looking Broccoli – that is determined to ruin the fun for those with a sweet tooth. If you’re looking for quirky, that scene should tell you a lot about the tone of the entire game.

Before you begin, you get to choose between five characters, each with their own unique abilities. Some characters are long range fighters, while others are more comfortable with an up close and personal style. Each character having their own abilities definitely adds some variety to this title, which is certainly needed as Ice Cream Surfer can be compared to eating a Popsicle.

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There are six levels in Ice Cream Surfer, all of which take only a few minutes to beat. It took me about 40 minutes to complete the game, which could have been shorter had I not incurred as many deaths. Regardless, those six levels rewarded me with a good experience. There are a variety of enemies to fight, some with unique attack patterns, that kept Ice Cream Surfer feeling fresh until the end. Aside from your regular attack, you can perform special moves that are helpful for getting yourself out of an overwhelming situation. Perhaps the biggest draw of the game is being able to power-up your abilities by collecting Popsicles, and adding points to your score by collecting gems. All in all, the levels themselves are pretty easy to clear, especially if you’re using a long ranged fighter, however, some of the bosses might take a few tries to beat.

While the game is short, I still very much enjoyed playing through the game, however, that doesn’t mean Ice Cream Surfer is devoid of flaws. My biggest issue with the game are the “phantom deaths” that occur during gameplay. I say phantom deaths because I’m left wondering exactly how it is I died. I figured out early that I can’t touch the game’s item boxes – these must be shot open for their reward – though I quickly discovered that I was accidentally running into enemy shots. At times, there is so much going on that it is easy to miss an enemy attack, which you will likely end up touching without realizing it. However, there were still other times where the term phantom death could certainly apply. The other flaw that I almost never even noticed occurs when playing with just the Wii U GamePad. Some of the game’s sound effects and music aren’t played through the controller’s speakers, which you would only notice if you tried out the game’s Off-TV mode.

Flaws aside, I can’t help but say how much I adored the game’s graphics. These are some of the most colorful pixel graphics I have ever seen. The game’s art lends to the quirky theme of the game, which is evident when you fight a giant baby seal that tries to kill you with his love. There are plenty more images like that throughout the game, plus you get to see polar bears riding on ice cream, which is quite delightful. The game’s soundtrack is just as enjoyable as the graphics. In particular, I like how the game sounds like an old arcade game. There’s something about that specific sound that sends nostalgic shivers down my spine.

Final Thoughts:

Ice Cream Surfer is a short, but good experience, for the most part. Aside from a few flaws, it’s easy to recommend Ice Cream Surfer if you’re a fan of quirky shoot ‘em ups. It’s $5.00 price point makes it affordable, especially if you plan to play through the game with each character. However, those not convinced might want to wait for a sale before committing to a purchase.

7/10 – Good

Review copy provided by Dolores Entertainment

Spikey Walls Review

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Release Date: September 18, 2014 | Price: $0.99
Genre: Arcade | Platform: Wii U eShop
Developer and Publisher: RCMADIAX

Spikey Walls was announced just a month ago and its release is already upon us. RCMADIAX set out to deliver Wii U owners a Flappy Bird clone, and a Flappy Bird clone is exactly what we get. While Spikey Walls is devoid of any real creativity, it does one thing that improves upon Flappy Bird’s gameplay.

Spikey Walls is an arcade-like experience that focuses entirely on the gameplay, so don’t expect to find a narrative here. At its core, Spikey Walls plays exactly like Flappy Bird. You control the flight of a fly as spiked walls of various sizes continuously scroll to the left, and your objective is to safely fly between gaps in those walls. Each gap you clear will add 1 point to your score total, which makes achieving the highest possible score the ultimate objective. Where Spikey Walls excels is in its control scheme. Using the A button to keep flying is not only simple, it’s precise. Precision is what made Flappy Bird an aggravating experience, whereas the precision of a button makes Spikey Walls much easier.

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While Spikey Walls nails the gameplay, it doesn’t do anything to elevate it, or expand on the original premise. New gameplay modes or mechanics could have made this a deeper game. However, the reason games like this have any charm is in the challenge of beating high scores, which is something you’ll be able to share with the Miiverse at launch. Hate or love this simple style of gameplay, Spikey Walls does exactly what it sets out to do.

As for the rest of the package, Spikey Walls hits both good and bad points. For the most part, the game’s graphics are passable, though I prefer the colorful world of Flappy Bird. That being said, I especially find the fly’s design to be quite charming, and I like the game’s user interface. The static grey brick background when combined with the scrolling walls creates a distracting effect. Ditching the busy background for something more subtle could make Spikey Walls a better experience. As for the audio, there are no sound effects in the game, making it feel unpolished. Lastly, the game is better played without sound as the music is quite grating on the ears.

Final Thoughts:

If you want a Flappy Bird experience on the Wii U you’ll find one in Spikey Walls. You could buy worse for $0.99, though Spikey Walls is the kind of game that gets played a handful of times. It could make for some interesting party games, and I’m sure some YouTubers will find pleasure in making videos of the game. Whatever way you spin it, Spikey Walls is a lacking experience that has better gameplay than Flappy Bird, but lacks the charm that made Flappy Bird a massive success.

4/10 – Below Average

Review copy provided by RCMADIAX

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS Demo Impressions

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While I wasn’t lucky enough to receive any Super Smash Bros. for 3DS Demo codes in my e-mail, I did manage to snag a code from a local game trading group. Naturally, I have been furiously playing the game all weekend, and now I’d like to share my impressions.

First off, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS feels absolutely fantastic. The controls don’t feel weird to me at all, though it did take a game or two to get used to them. The game is faster and less floaty than Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but a little slower than the fast-paced Super Smash Bros. Melee. I once preferred Brawl’s slower gameplay over Melee, mainly because I felt like I had more control over the characters. However, after a recent stint with Brawl, the game felt way too slow for my tastes. Luckily, this new game speeds things up and just feels fantastic overall.

As for the characters, I’ve been spending most of my time with Link, Villager, and Mega Man. I very much disliked Link in Brawl, but wow, is he a lot of fun to control this time around. I found it very easy to transition between all of his moves, and felt that the Bow, Bomb, and Boomerang special attacks were more effective. All of his smash attacks are effective, though some of his moves leave him vulnerable for a tad too long. Regardless, I can see Link being my number one favourite after the full version is released.

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My second favourite character – so far – has to be Villager. Villager could actually be this game’s Meta Knight as he/she is way overpowered, though that’s why I found him/her fun to use. He/She has great launching moves with the forward smash bowling ball and the excellent tree planting down special, plus his/her up special recovery is absolutely broken. I love it. His/Her other special moves are also fantastic and have a variety of uses. His/Her neutral special can be used to grab projectiles of all kinds to be used later, likely resulting in some major damage. Lastly, his/her side special is quite versatile. You can launch a Gyroid rocket at your foes, or ride it for recovery, or just to get closer to your opponent. Villager is a varied fighter and a great addition to the roster.

I need to play with Mega Man a lot more before I can form a better opinion, though he is still a fun character to use. His standard attack throws me for a loop because I’m expecting him to throw punches, instead, he attacks with his Mega Buster. You can charge up his buster by using the side smash attack, which is quite satisfying when delivered. His Rush recovery is neat, but as most smash fans know by now, you can cancel out of a weak launch attack with it. His overall moveset is quite nice with almost every move being a reference to his past games, specifically the powers he gained from robot masters.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about either Mario or Pikachu. I barely played as either of them, though they both seem like they can be formidable opponents. Neither characters were ones that I gravitated toward in other Smash games, and I likely won’t use either of them much when I get the full version.

Nintendo has given us an awesome demo to play while we wait for the full version of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS to release on October 3, 2014. It gives us enough to hold us over, though it doesn’t come close to satisfying even the smallest thirsts for the new games. With only one stage – complete with its Final Destination option –  a handful of items, assist trophies, and Pokeballs, and five fighters, there’s plenty more to experience come October 3rd.

Tappingo 2 Review

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Sequels are to be expected in the world of video games, well, it’s to be expected for anything that is successful. So, shortly after Tappingo (a well-received puzzle game developed by Goodbye Galaxy Games) was released, a sequel was announced. Tappingo 2 promised to fix the issues found in the first game, and of course, more puzzle gaming for 3DS owners. With that being said, is Tappingo 2 worth a look? Absolutely.

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Tappingo 2 has identical gameplay to the original, though there are some nice tweaks that enhance the gameplay in the sequel. Here’s a quick recap: the Tappingo games have the player extending lines from numbered blocks to create an image. Lines will overextend until they reach a dead end, so creating the image with the desired length is essential to solving each puzzle. Of course, some lines must be extended before the player can properly extend another line. Extending lines is easily done by tapping a block and sliding the stylus in the direction you want to extend. Players can also undo their actions by tapping the block the line originally extends from. The gameplay is extremely easy to learn, and most puzzles are fairly easy to solve, both of which make the game quite addictive. So, that’s the game in a nutshell, but there are still some important additions to talk about.

The main addition to Tappingo 2 is the zoom feature. The zoom feature is only enabled on the game’s larger puzzles and it makes solving those puzzles a more enjoyable experience. In the first game, players could accidentally extend lines they didn’t want to, which made larger puzzles a pain to solve. The zoom feature is such a simple addition, though it’s one that makes Tappingo 2 the better game. Another addition – or enhancement – is the sound effect that plays after extending a line. Not having that sort of feedback in the original made the game feel slightly off. It is a nice addition to Tappingo 2, and it can be turned off, though there’s still a certain delay that occurs when extending lines that feels odd. It’s actually an extreme nitpick, though I had trouble finding anything else to criticize about this game.

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As for the game’s presentation, Tappingo 2 certainly delivers. The user interface has received a nice bump in quality, and the game’s visuals in general are simply great. Tappingo had a calm, relaxing, yet catchy soundtrack, which Tappingo 2 also delivers. It’s hard to say if one soundtrack is better than the other because they are so similar in style. I’ll give the edge to Tappingo 2 because there are two tracks in particular – the urban and tropical sounding ones – that I love to listen to over and over.

Final Thoughts:

If you liked Tappingo, then Tappingo 2 is a must purchase. If you’ve never played the original, but you love puzzle games, Tappingo 2 is worthy of a look at its low price of $2.99. The game is packed with puzzles – 104 to be exact – and includes cameos from Two Tribes and Renegade Kid games. Puzzles can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes to complete, so there is plenty of playtime here for the price. The gameplay is excellent, the control is close to perfect, the soundtrack is stellar, and the visuals are stylish and pleasing. Tappingo 2 is a gem on the Nintendo 3DS eShop and a must purchase for puzzle game fans.

9.5/10 – Excellent

Review copy provided by Goodbye Galaxy Games

Swatter – Free Mutant Fly Swatting Game

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Description:

Swatter is an arcade-like homage to the Fly Swatter game from Mario Paint. Use your trusty Super Swatter to swat mutant insects as they invade your home.

Instructions:

Use your mouse to control a super swatter to defeat mutant insects. Left click to attack those pesky mutants! Press Enter (or P) to pause

Tips:

  • Increasing or decreasing your mouse’s sensitivity can make Swatter easier, and more enjoyable to play.
  • Swatter works best in the latest version of Chrome.

Other info:

Music by Ozzed and is licensed for commercial use under Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Send bug reports, feedback, etc. to fortressgames(at)minifortress.com.

Swat Mutant Insects Today in Swatter

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Just last week I was finishing up my first ever complete video game. Now, that video game has gone live thanks to the clay.io service. On Friday, I uploaded Version 1.0.0 of Swatter, a “fly swatting” game that is most definitely inspired by Mario Paint’s Fly Swatter. The game was never officially published until Saturday evening, due to a bug on clay.io’s end, but it is now ready to be played.

Before starting development on Swatter, I was working on another game – I will reveal this game down the road – and thought it would be an interesting project to see through to the end. I can say that I am extremely happy with how Swatter turned out, especially as a first project. Is there room for improvement? Of course, I’d be ignorant to say no. Things I have in mind if I ever had a chance to remake the game include: HD, hand-drawn graphics, improved AI, more mutant insects, multiplayer, etc. Speaking of improvements, I had to face some bugs just yesterday, meaning my first improvements to the game came within two days of publishing.

One bug completely broke the game after exiting Survival mode, and the others required specific actions to be completed. One in particular let you win the game and gain an achievement just for pausing and exiting during the final boss battle. Obviously these were bugs that ruined the experience and had to be addressed immediately. There are some other changes and additions, so how about some release notes for Version 1.1.1?

Release Notes for Swatter V1.1.1

Bug Fixes

    • Fixed bug that deactivated the player’s ability to swat enemies after exiting Survival and opening the arcade mode.
    • Fixed a bug that caused the player’s health to not deplete when damaged after exiting Survival mode and opening arcade mode.
    • Fixed a bug that caused the game to play events that occur after destroying a boss.

Changes

    • Players now can’t access the pause menu after the Super Swatter is destroyed.

Additions

    • Added View Leaderboards/Achievements to the Title Screen.

I really have nothing else to say at the moment, though if you want to ask me questions, please leave a comment below and I can address it in a future blog post. For now:

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Demon King Box Review

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Release Date: August 21, 2014 | Price: $3.99 | Rating: M
Genre: RTS/RPG | Platform: 3DS eShop
Publisher: Circle Entertainment | Developer: Lanon

Circle Entertainment is no stranger to Nintendo’s digital stores as they’ve published quite a few DSi games over the years. Now, Circle Entertainment is focused on bringing digital games to the Nintendo eShop. Their latest offering on the Nintendo eShop is Demon King Box, developed by Lanon, a visually stunning, real-time strategy game with RPG elements.

demon-king-boxDemon King Box tells the story of a demon pig named Poohdark and his quest to help the Demon Lord reclaim Demon World. Demon Lord, once the ruler of Demon World, was sealed in the Demon King Box by humans in a previous war. After many years, the seal on the box weakens and the Demon Lord escapes. Now, the Demon Lord calls upon Poohdark to help him lead an army of demons against the human warriors.

The story is told mostly through dialogue between the game’s many characters. This method is perfectly fine for a game like this, though it sometimes falls apart because of the game’s translation and overall broken English. The story, while never really too complicated, can be hard to follow at times because of the above issues. In fact, the story is the only downfall of Demon King Box as the game delivers on all other fronts.

Demon King Box puts the player in control of an army of demons, each with their own abilities and stats. Each level takes place on a battlefield that is separated into five different lanes. It is your responsibility to summon demons to one of the five lanes to defend your demon hero, and fight an army on the opposite side. Summoning demons is done simply by touching their icon on the touchscreen, then dragging them to the desired lane. Smaller demons can only occupy the main three lanes, while the two lanes in between those three are for summoning the larger demons.

Summoning demons will use up spirit, which gradually regenerates as you battle. Each demon takes up a specific amount of spirit, so choosing wisely at the beginning of each battle is a must. After summoning a demon, they will go through a cool down period before they can be summoned again. Overall, this system is extremely easy to learn and use, which makes Demon King Box a joy to play.

There are two different types of levels in Demon King Box: regular battles, and boss battles. The objective during regular battles is to defeat a set number of enemy demons while defending your demon hero. The demon hero you choose can be important as each one has different HP and abilities that can help you sway the battle in your favor. In boss battles, defending your demon hero is still important, though instead of defeating a set number of enemies, you must defeat the boss demon at the end of the lane.

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On the surface, Demon King Box seems repetitive, though there is enough content here to keep the experience fresh. After each battle, you will receive food that can be fed to your demons to level up their stats. Levelling up your demons will be necessary to overcome some of the more difficult levels, though testing different teams of demons will also be important. You’ll get new members for your team as you play the game, so mixing and matching becomes a big part of the experience.

Visually, Demon King Box is absolutely stunning. Its anime-like, hand-drawn graphics are a delight to look at. These visuals are stylish and colorful, giving the game an excellent sense of uniqueness amongst the countless pixel games. There is no stereoscopic 3D in Demon King Box, though its absence is certainly not missed. The game is rated M and there is some slight nudity, though the game never crosses the line and isn’t constantly shoving it in your face. In saying that, the game is certainly not for the younger audience. Before concluding this review, I want to add a small snippet about the game’s audio. The music and sound effects are both great and add to the game’s overall atmosphere. Maybe the music won’t be remembered like themes from Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, though it serves its purpose well in Demon King Box.

Final Thoughts:

Demon King Box is a worthy purchase at $3.99, especially if you’re into line defense games with RTS and RPG elements. The main game will take anywhere between 6 and 7 hours to complete, with more hours put into leveling up your team, exploring post game content, or getting all the game’s achievements. Demon King Box is a surprise hit and an excellent addition to the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

9/10 – Excellent

Review copy provided by Circle Entertainment

I Present to You my First Video Game, Swatter

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I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would be typing those words. However, the hype is real: I’m about to publish my first video game. That video game is called Swatter.

Swatter is a HTML5 game developed with the Construct2 engine that pays homage to Mario Paint’s Fly Swatter game. While the concept isn’t exactly original, the gameplay is something I have adored since my first “coffee break.” However, there are a few things that set Swatter apart from Mario Paint’s Fly Swatter. The first would be that Swatter doesn’t feature real insects, instead, you will find cartoon-like, mutated versions of some common insects. The second thing would be that Swatter features a health system instead of a lives system. Finally, the game also features two game modes: Arcade and Survival.

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Arcade mode gives the player 30 levels of mutant fly swatting madness to overcome. The objective of each level is to swat all the mutant insects. The game gradually gets more difficult as you progress, which includes the introduction of new enemies and attack patterns. Also, there will be boss fights that give you a break from the game’s main form of gameplay. While you have three hit points, you are given an infinite amount of tries to beat the game. When you beat Arcade mode – or get sick of trying to beat it – you can head over to the game’s Survival mode.

In Survival mode, the objective is to… survive. You will be given one life and three hit points to last as long as you can against a swarm of mutant insects. This mode will feature the enemies found in Arcade mode, but no bosses. Also, this mode features the ability to post your score to our Clay.io leaderboard.

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Swatter has been in development since June 1, 2014, so for nearly two months. I designed the game, created all the graphics and animations, programmed the events, and created sound effects. The only thing I didn’t do was the music. The music is being provided by Ozzed.net, which, in my opinion, fits what I wanted for Swatter. I have been extensively testing the game myself over the past two months, though I did have two outsiders test the game and provide feedback.

Swatter will first appear on clay.io and be free to play, however, I am exploring other options. One of those is to publish the game here on MiniFortress.com, where it will also be free to play, and another is to offer a downloadable version for PC/Mac/Linux on itch.io for $1. Of course, any updates or additional content that are added to the game will be free, including the downloadable versions.

So, when can you get your hands on Swatter? Well, I’m aiming for an August 29, 2014 release date, which would be this Friday. The only things that would hold the release back are unforeseen problems with publishing the game on clay.io, and/or any game breaking bugs that I detect before then.

Soon Shine Review

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Release Date: August 14, 2014 | Price: $1.99
Genre: Action Arcade | Platform: Wii U eShop
Publisher and Developer: Dahku Creations

Soon Shine is the second game from Dahku Creations to hit the Wii U eShop. Much like its brethren, Chubbins, Soon Shine opts for a simple concept that is easy to learn, but hard to master. In fact, Soon Shine can be best compared to classic action arcade games that gradually become more challenging as you play. While the game’s classic gameplay style might not appeal to everyone, there’s no denying that Soon Shine delivers fun and challenging gameplay.

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In Soon Shine, your task is to try to survive an attack from ravenous spirits for as long as you possibly can. To survive, you must use the sun and moon’s power to destroy the spirits before they can reach the sun/moon; however, don’t worry too much as spirits can be destroyed while they are sapping the sun/moon’s power. Spirits are destroyed by tapping them on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen, though certain spirits can only be destroyed by sunlight, while others must be destroyed by nightlight. To switch between the sun and moon, you must make a sliding movement across the touchscreen. This feels natural and is extremely important to master as you’ll be using it quite often.

As for the spirits themselves, they spawn in five main colors: red, green, purple, black, and white. Black spirits must be killed by sunlight and white spirits by moonlight. The catch for the other colors is that darker reds, greens, and purples only spawn during the day, and can only be destroyed during the sunlight. Of course, this means that lighter reds, greens, and purples will spawn during the moonlight. Also, spirits that spawn during sunlight will stop dead in their tracks once you summon the moon. The same can be said about those that spawn during the moonlight.

Destroying each spirit will add points to your total score, but to really garner a high-score, you must game the system to create massive combos. Creating combos is extremely simple and is done by destroying same color spirits in succession. However, as simple as creating a combo is, the challenge lies between being able to flip back and forth between the sun and moon to keep building it. This combo system is hectic and forces you to either sacrifice some of the sun/moon’s power, or chicken out and destroy incoming spirits. Soon Shine showcases a winning combo system, one that offers plenty of depth to those that are paying attention.

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There are three modes of gameplay in Soon Shine, all of which are nearly identical save for some slight differences. Standard is the standard mode of play, which happens to let you use items. Purist mode denies you the ability to use items, while Timed is basically a three minute version of Standard mode. Getting a high-score in all three modes is important for earning tokens. Earned tokens can be used to buy items, new backgrounds, and new music. Items can refill your health, destroy spirits, and more, all of which can come in handy during gameplay. Also, the ability to buy new backgrounds and music is a nice touch and will serve to push gamers to unlock everything.

Final Thoughts:

Soon Shine is an absolute delight to play. It offers easy to learn gameplay, flawless controls, a deep and rewarding combo system that is hard to master, as well as a charming and relaxing soundtrack. My only criticisms of the game are directed toward the graphics and lack of online leaderboards. As for the graphics, they are definitely a step above Chubbins, though there are a few jagged edges that I would have preferred not to see. Online leaderboards would increase this game’s value even more, though I guess an alternative would be to brag about your scores on the Miiverse. As an overall package, Soon Shine offers hours of challenging, score attack gameplay for just $1.99.

9/10 – Excellent
Review copy provided by Dahku Creations

Shut The Box Review

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Release Date: August 7, 2014 | Price: $0.99
Genre: Tabletop | Platform: Wii U eShop
Publisher and Developer: RCMADIAX

Shut The Box is the second of three games in RCMADIAX’s “Tabletop Gallery” series to hit the Wii U eShop. While the first game in this series, Poker Dice Solitaire Future, brought forth fantastic visuals and decent gameplay, Shut The Box delivers the opposite: decent visuals and fantastic gameplay.

Shut The Box is an extremely simple game to learn – which I found out is based on a real tabletop game of the same name – and even more fun to play. The objective in Shut The Box is to eliminate as many tiles as you can from a total of 27 tiles, which is made up of three sets that are numbered 1 to 9. This is done by tossing some dice and eliminating as little as one tile that matches the numbers on the dice. For example, if you roll a 6 and a 2, you will be responsible for removing the 8 tile from the board. I mentioned that you need to choose as little as one tile, that’s because if, using the above example, the 8 tile has already been removed, you can choose as many tiles needed to make up the number 8.

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To my surprise, I found this concept to be quite appealing and actually have trouble quitting the game once I’ve started playing. This is partly due to the fact that a perfect score is 135, and the temptation to reach that score is extremely alluring; so far, I’ve only managed to score a 130. Much like Poker Dice Solitaire Future, your score and moves depends on luck, though the ability to add tiles together feels strategic and that’s something I love. One could argue that this element is also present in Poker Dice Solitaire Future, but I feel it is much better executed in Shut The Box.

Shut The Box is controlled entirely on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. The touchscreen controls work as you’d expect, so there are no complaints here. However, I feel that the sense of style found in Poker Dice Solitaire Future has disappeared in Shut The Box. Objectively, the graphics aren’t even bad, though I can’t help but feel the game could have received an extra visual bump.

Final Thoughts:

Shut The Box surprised me with its addictive and fun gameplay, which coupled with its attractive $0.99 pricing makes it a must buy for fans of the genre. There’s honestly not much more to say other than I believe the game’s entrancing music kept me playing even longer than I expected. Actually, now that I think of it, having the option to change backgrounds, tiles, and music would give the game some much needed visual and aural variety.

7.5/10 – Good
Review copy provided by RCMADIAX

Mario Kart 8 Review

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It’s hard to believe that 22 years – give or take a few months – have passed since Super Mario Kart was released on the Super Nintendo. I’ll never forget how amazed I was the first time I used a lightning bolt to shrink my competitors. I’ll also never forget spending hours upon hours battling it out with my brother in the game’s spectacular Battle Mode. Fast forward to today and I’m plopped in front of my TV playing Mario Kart 8; however, I’m no longer enjoying the series’ Battle Mode.

Nintendo’s Wii U has taken quite a beating in the media since launch, partly due to its skimpy lineup of desirable software. Of course, the console is now garnering a healthy lineup of software, which includes the likes of Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and yes, Mario Kart 8. Finally, those looking forward to the frantic gameplay of the Mario Kart series in HD can satisfy their desires.

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Mario Kart 8 has everything you love about the previous games while adding new twists to advance the series. Grand Prix – the game’s primary single player mode – returns with 8 cups comprised of 16 brand new tracks and 16 revamped retro tracks. Of course, you can also try your hand at beating the game’s speedy ghosts in Time Trials – doing so will win you some cool Miiverse stamps – and race your friends locally and online to determine the ultimate Mario Kart 8 champion. You can also play against your friends in the disappointing Battle Mode, which is made up of select tracks instead of traditional arenas, though you’ll likely focus most of your time racing against your pals. Paired with classic items, these modes are what fans have come to expect from a new Mario Kart game, though Nintendo has defied gravity once again to offer a brand new way to play.

The biggest additions to Mario Kart 8 are the new anti-gravity sections. Much like how the glider and propeller allowed you to fly in the air and drive underwater in Mario Kart 7, the new anti-gravity sections spiced up the design for the new tracks. Most notably, these sections allow you to drive on a variety of walls and ceilings, and lets you opponents for a brand new spin boost. These sections add even more excitement to the already successful kart racing formula. Even the retro tracks have added anti-gravity sections that completely change how you approach those tracks. My only complaint would be that it’s not used nearly enough as it should be, especially when you consider the possibilities in Battle Mode – a singular square arena connected by anti-gravity pads anyone?

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Of course, with each new Mario Kart game comes new items, and Mario Kart 8 certainly doesn’t disappoint. The most prominent new items are the Piranha Flower, Boomerang Flower, and the Super Horn. These items are fantastic additions to the series and give players new ways to approach each race. The Piranha Flower will hover in front of your kart waiting to take a chomp out of your opponents, giving you a speed boost with each chomp. Boomerang Flowers will give you a boomerang that can be used up to three times. Lastly, the Super Horn was added as a way to block the dreaded Blue Shell, though you can honk it to blast away your foes, as well.

While not a new addition, Mario Kart 8 lets you mix and match kart pieces just like in Mario Kart 7. You’ll gradually unlock new kart pieces by collecting coins during races. While most of your choices will be unlocked with coins, some special golden pieces are unlocked by achieving various in-game tasks. Kart pieces can drastically affect your kart’s stats, so it’s best to mix and match until you find a combination that you like to use.

Aside from single or multiplayer Grand Prix and Battle Mode, you can race against people from around the world in this game’s fantastic online mode. The online mode works similar to other Mario Kart games, though it’s most like Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7. The big changes include a limited number of tracks to vote on between races and the ability to create and host your own tournaments. Of course, you’ll also be racing to build up your player score by coming in the top group of each race.

Final Thoughts:

There’s not a whole lot left for me to say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn’t been covered by now. Some things I didn’t cover above include the game’s stunning HD visuals, amazing soundtrack, and the ability to edit and upload highlight videos to YouTube. As a whole, Mario Kart 8 is a stellar, console-selling beast that caters to the die-hard fan, as well as those that may not necessarily consider themselves huge Nintendo fans. It controls and looks like a dream, plus offers plenty of tracks, karts, and modes to keep you coming back. It’s worth the asking price of $60 and will likely be a mainstay in many Wii U libraries. Lastly, whether or not Nintendo believes the game’s Battle Mode is important, its halfhearted inclusion keeps this Wii U title from obtaining a perfect score. Nintendo, if you’re reading this, that mode is most definitely important to the people.

9.5/10 – Excellent

Obtained by purchasing at retail

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