Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Should Video Games Be Reviewed?

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A question that has plagued both reviewers and gamers since the dawn of video game reviews. Usually, at least in my experience, you’ll find two groups of people: those who want to do away with ratings to focus on the review’s written content, and those that insist ratings have become a standard in the industry. For my reviews, I like to use both the content and rating to give the best overall impression of a video game. However, I still believe that ratings are important because they have become an industry standard. It gives readers a quick impression of how good (or bad) a video game may be, though it tends to create a bigger problem.

Unfortunately, giving any video game a rating seems to encourage readers to skip over the written content to find the game’s overall rating. A video game rating without any context is actually quite useless. I may give a game a “9/10,” but there’s a chance the reader will dislike the game, regardless of my score. That is where the written content should come in handy, however, if it’s being skipped, then the written content means nothing.

Another issue that I see often occurs when two games receive the same score. Does that mean both games are equal in experience? No, absolutely not. But, I have seen – and imagine I will continue to see – arguments that start because of this scenario. “This game is clearly better than that game, so why should it receive the same score?” While not verbatim, that is something I often see pop up around the fantastical world of the Internet. A good example of this could be when I give a Wii U eShop game a 9/10 and a Wii U game a 9/10. In no way do I consider the Wii U eShop game to be of a similar quality of the Wii U retail release. I tend to group the games into two separate camps and score them based on the content relative to other games released in their individual categories.

These thoughts were stirred up by an article I read over at Game Crusaders. Erik dives into the subject deeper than I do, so I thought I’d share the article that inspired this small piece. So, click here to read “Let’s talk video game reviews”.

Disclosure: Game Crusaders is in my links list, and Mini Fortress in their list, however this piece was written of my own accord.

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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Online Support for Wii and Nintendo DS to be Discontinued in May

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Looks like Nintendo is finally ready to pull the plug on their online services for Wii and Nintendo DS games. This includes Wii games played using Wii U’s Wii mode and Nintendo DS games on Nintendo 3DS. Online functionality for these games will end on May 20, 2014, just ten days before the launch of Mario Kart 8.

Here is a list of services that will be shutdown:

  • Online play and matchmaking
  • Leaderboards and tournament data
  • Sharing of user generated content (ghost data, user created levels)
  • User exchange of in-game items or characters (Global Trade Station)
  • Free add-on content or downloads (new levels, in-game items, Mystery Gifts)

The Wii and DSi shops will still be open, as well as any on-demand video services.

Here’s a full list of Nintendo games that will be affected by this discontinuation of service:

Nintendo DS

  • 100 Classic Books
  • Animal Crossing: Wild World
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
  • Clubhouse Games
  • Custom Robo Arena
  • Diddy Kong Racing DS
  • Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
  • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
  • Fossil Fighters: Champions
  • Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  • Mario Kart DS
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
  • Metroid Prime Hunters
  • Personal Trainer: Walking
  • Picross 3D
  • Picross DS
  • Planet Puzzle League
  • Pokémon Black Version
  • Pokémon Black Version 2
  • Pokémon Diamond Version
  • Pokémon HeartGold Version
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time
  • Pokémon Pearl Version
  • Pokémon Platinum Version
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
  • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
  • Pokémon SoulSilver Version
  • Pokémon White Version
  • Pokémon White Version 2
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
  • Star Fox Command
  • Style Savvy
  • Tenchu: Dark Secret
  • Tetris DS
  • WarioWare DIY

Nintendo DSiWare

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
  • Metal Torrent
  • Number Battle

Wii

  • Animal Crossing: City Life
  • Battalion Wars 2
  • Endless Ocean
  • Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep
  • Excitebots: Trick Racing
  • Fortune Street
  • Mario Kart Wii
  • Mario Sports Mix
  • Mario Strikers Charged
  • Pokémon Battle Revolution
  • Samurai Warriors 3
  • Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
  • Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  • Wii Music

WiiWare

  • Dr. Mario Online RX
  • Excitebike: World Rally
  • LONPOS
  • Maboshi’s Arcade
  • My Pokémon Ranch
  • ThruSpace
  • WarioWare DIY

Other

  • Wii Speak
  • Wii Speak Channel

Check out Nintendo’s website for more info on the discontinuation of their Wi-Fi services.

Nintendo finds Strange Crate in Canadian Wilderness

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Nintendo of Canada stumbled across a strange crate in the depths of the frozen Canadian wilderness. What’s inside? Keep coming back throughout the week to find out!

New Club Nintendo Reward: Pre-order a Sweet Luigi’s Mansion Figurine

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Nintendo is offering Club Nintendo members a sweet Luigi’s Mansion figurine to celebrate the Year of Luigi. This figurine won’t be available until 2014, however, fans can pre-order their figurine now for 1500 coins. A bit pricey but certainly one of the cooler Club Nintendo rewards.

Get your Luigi’s Mansion Figurine Here

A Brief History of Ghost Houses from the Super Mario Series

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Throughout the years, the Super Mario Bros. have jumped their way through a variety of environments, but none are spookier than the haunted locales known as the Ghost House. These haunted houses now appear in just about every Super Mario game, but they weren’t always a staple for the series. In fact, they didn’t appear until…

Super Mario Bros. 3 – The Haunted Mini Fortress of Desert Land

super-mario-bros-3-world-2-mini-fortressTechnically, the Mini Fortress from World 2 isn’t a “Ghost House,” but it does mark the first appearance of the ghostly enemy known as Boo. Mini Fortress levels can be quite intimidating, especially when you combine its foreboding walls with Boos, Thwomps, and tricky platforming. If players can manage to escape the nightmarish level design, they still have to face off against Boom Boom.

 

 

Super Mario World – The Ghoulish Ghost Houses of Dinosaur Island

Ghost Houses would make their official debut in Super Mario World. While these Ghost Houses are inhabited by Boos, they also introduce a variety of tricks designed to spook the player. Players must go up against moving floors, green bubbles of death, and maze-like layouts while eerie, spine-chilling music plays in the background.

Super Mario 64 – The Macabre Mansion of Peach’s Castle

super-mario-64-big-boos-hauntDubbed Big Boo’s Haunt, this three-story mansion from Super Mario 64 is one of the most frightening haunted houses in the Super Mario series. Whether you enjoy hunting for ghosts or riding on creepy merry-go-rounds, this haunted house delivers; however, its most frightening moment belongs to a possessed piano waiting to drain the life from unsuspecting players. Adding to the area’s asphyxiating atmosphere is an equally eerie music track.

 

New Super Mario Bros. Series – The Maze-like Madness from a New Series

Ghost Houses made their triumphant return in each of the four New Super Mario Bros. games, but it’s their maze-like structures that make them memorable. While Super Mario World Ghost Houses had their share of hidden exits and cryptic secrets, these new Ghost Houses usurp the Super Nintendo game with fake walls and some of the more confusing door mazes in the series.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

These aren’t the only four examples of haunted houses and frightening areas from the series; Super Mario Sunshine has Delfino Hotel, which has been taken over by King Boo and friends, Super Mario 3D Land has puzzling mazes and creepy elevators, and of course, both of the Super Mario Galaxy games have entire planets infested by the darker enemies of the Mushroom Kingdom.

Nintendo Land Receiving a Permanent Price Drop in November

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Another tiny piece of Nintendo news comes with the announcement of the new, New Super Mario Bros. U Wii U Deluxe bundle, and it’s regarding the former pack-in title. Alongside the new Wii U bundle, Nintendo will be reducing the price of Nintendo Land by $30. Starting November 1, players can pick up a copy of Nintendo Land for just $29.99.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Launch Trailer

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Super Smash Bros. U Screenshot – Toon Link Blasts Off

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More Super Smash Bros. U Screenshots

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Review

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Review

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The other half of an epic Zelda adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons gives players – if they choose to play a linked game – a lengthier adventure. As I have reviewed The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages first, this review will focus on not only my experience with the core Oracle of Seasons game, but also on the additional content one can experience when linking both games together.

legend-of-zelda-oracle-of-seasons-ss1The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons takes place in another world outside of Hyrule. This time, Link visits the world of Holodrum where he meets the goddess known as Din. Within moments of meeting one another, the sky turns black and Onox – the General of Darkness and main baddie of Oracle of Seasons – kidnaps Din and throws the land of Holodrum into disarray. With the seasons acting erratically, Link must partner with the Maku Tree to find the Eight Essences of Nature to return Holodrum to normal, and to confront Onox.

As you can see, both of the Oracle games have similar stories, albeit with different settings, characters, and a different primary gameplay mechanic. In Oracle of Ages, you had to travel between the past and present to save Labrynna, but in Oracle of Seasons, you must become a master of season manipulation to save Holodrum. Of course, like every Zelda game, Oracle of Seasons also has a large overworld to explore. The overworld connects everything in the world together, including the towns and dungeons; however, with the Rod of Seasons, you can change the season – when standing on special tree stumps – which happens to affect the landscape of the overworld. For example, when changing the season from fall to winter, snow may pile up in particular area, opening up a new path to explore. Using the Rod of Seasons to manipulate the seasons is essential for exploring and overcoming many of Holodrum’s obstacles.

Oracle of Seasons also has an underworld to explore called Subrosia. Subrosia is home to a mysterious race of fire-resistant citizens known as Subrosians. Subrosia can be accessed by finding hidden portals and happens to play a huge role in Oracle of Seasons. Located within Subrosia is the Temple of Seasons, a temple that was once located above ground in Holodrum. The Temple of Seasons is home to the four Season Spirits and must be visited multiple times to unlock the full potential of the Rod of Seasons.

legend-of-zelda-oracle-of-seasons-ss2Aside from the Rod of Seasons, the rest of Oracle of Seasons has gameplay similar to every other Zelda game, which isn’t a bad thing. There are eight challenging dungeons and bosses to tackle, series staples such as bombs and swords to master, as well as some new, creative items. One of standout items are the magnetic gloves, which gives Link magnetic powers that can help him cross chasms and move metal objects, both of which can be useful when solving puzzles. Lastly, while puzzles still play a role in Oracle of Seasons, the game focuses more on straight forward encounters when compared to Oracle of Ages.

As promised, I’m also reviewing the ability to link both games together. This idea is brilliantly executed, starting with an added heart container – giving you a total of 4 HP at the beginning – in your linked adventure. This isn’t the only change either, as characters from Labrynna appear in Holodrum, rings from Oracle of Ages can be transferred to Oracle of Seasons, and of course, the extended ending. After defeating Onox, players are treated to the true ending of the Oracle games, which includes two additional boss fights. Lastly, players can also experience new quests that require bringing codes – or secrets as the game calls them – to characters in the opposite game to unlock new item upgrades and more.

Visually, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is identical to Oracle of Ages. While both games feature detailed sprites and an awesome art design, these Game Boy Color games don’t seem to push the handheld to its limit.

One area where Oracle of Seasons doesn’t quite measure up to Oracle of Ages is in its soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, the soundtrack is great, but it lacks the variety of compelling tracks that made the dungeons of Oracle of Ages fun to explore.

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4.5/5 D-Pads: If you enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is recommended to complete the epic adventure. Oracle of Seasons tends to be easier than Oracle of Ages, and happens to be shorter by a few hours, but is a complete Zelda experience from beginning to end. Both games can be purchased on the Nintendo eShop, which happens to make linking and switching between games a breeze.

10-in-1 Arcade Collection Review (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

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10-in-1 Arcade Collection Review

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I need to admit something: I’m a sucker for video game compilations. Whether that compilation consists of newer video games (Metroid Prime Trilogy) or of classic games (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), I just can’t resist the value of owning multiple games for a decent price. Therefore, I was instantly interested when I discovered 10-in-1 Arcade Collection from Gamelion Studios.

10-in-1 Arcade Collection is a video game compilation which includes 10 games based on classic arcade games. At first glance, updating classic arcade games with fancier visuals and new ideas might seem like a great idea, but sometimes the classics shouldn’t be touched.

The most attractive thing about 10-in-1 Arcade Collection is that you get 10 games for $3.09. However, not every game in this collection is of equal quality. Games range from poor to good, but the package as a whole feels uneven.

10-in-1-arcade-collection-ss1One thing I noticed about the games from 10-in-1 Arcade Collection is that they all consist of 20 levels and are extremely easy to control. Some games will continue after level 20, though you will begin at the first level, even though the game recognizes it as level 21. As for the controls, you’ll only ever need to use one or two buttons in conjunction with the D-Pad/Slide Pad, making it easy to pick up and play.

The first standout game is Black Nightmares, which is obviously influenced by Space Invaders. In Black Nightmares, you play as a character attacked by waves of nightmare armies. You have the ability to shoot energy balls, and if the action gets too hectic, you can hide behind barriers and let them absorb the enemies’ attacks. Useful power-ups may also fall after you destroy an enemy, often giving you an enormous advantage.

Another standout game from this compilation is called Tangled Space, a game that is nearly identical to Asteroids. Like Asteroids, the screen wraps around vertically and horizontally, and you must shoot and destroy asteroids. Like Black Nightmares, Tangled Space also gives you access to power-ups, one of which makes you immune to damage.

Without going into too much detail, here are some details on other 10-in-1 Arcade Collection games that I enjoyed.

Gem Breaker – a challenging brick breaking game inspired by retro classics like Breakout – is a neat, albeit short, brick breaking game.

Puzzle fans will be happy to learn that there are two decent games for them in this compilation. First up is Ghost Cage, a game that draws inspiration from Tetris, Columns, and Dr. Mario. Ghost Cage is quite challenging right from the beginning, but because of its accessible and addictive nature, it will likely appeal to a large number of people. Box Logic is the other puzzle game that I enjoyed. The objective in Box Logic is to push boxes around until you slide them into their designated slots.

Lastly, I also enjoyed a game called Perfect Landing. The goal in Perfect Landing is to safely guide a spaceship to the landing pad whilst avoiding enemies.

The last four games are noticeably lower in quality including two that are downright poor. The most palatable of the four is Special Delivery, a generic runner-type game that is interesting enough to complete at least once. Ninja Monkey, while it starts out OK, it becomes unbearable as soon as the third level. In Ninja Monkey, you play as a Monkey that must throw shurikens at demons flying through the sky. These demons quickly become difficult to defeat and overwhelm you with enemies quickly.

10-in-1-arcade-collection-ss2Then there is Saucer Room, perhaps one of the most boring games I’ve ever played. Your goal is to control a snake-like chain of flying saucers to collect items to disable a force field. The control is horrendous and the game feels like it’s running in slow motion. Finally, the last game is Devil Maze, a game that looks like it was made by a novice student of a video game development program. The goal of this game is to collect every star on the board without running into the devils.

10-in-1 Arcade Collection has a nice overall presentation that consists of clean visuals and colorful, retro-inspired graphics. However, there are games that could use some work, including the Saucer Room and Devil Maze games. Also, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection does sport some fine looking 3D effects, which is an especially nice touch for the better games in the packages. I’ve had some good to say about the games, but I wasn’t fond of the game’s generic soundtrack. It’s hard for me to explain, but it has a sound that I’ve found off-putting since the NES era.

Final Thoughts:

Void of real feelings of nostalgia, 10-in-1 Arcade Collection doesn’t quite measure up to the games it takes inspiration from. There are a few good games here, but don’t expect to find masterpiece material amongst the compilation. It’s low price of $3.09 somewhat lessens the sense of buyer’s regret, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone.

5/10 – Average

Purchased on the Nintendo eShop

Wakedas Review (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

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Wakedas Review

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Puzzle games and handheld devices go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise to see Circle Entertainment bring Wakedas to the Nintendo 3DS. Developed by FK Digital – the developer of Witch & Hero – Wakedas (pronounced Wa-Ke-Da-Su) means let’s separate it. Combining the meaning of both “WAKE”, which stands for a separation of some sort in Japan, and “DAS,” an auxiliary word often used with cube games, you get the color separation puzzle game known as Wakedas.

wakedas-nintendo-3ds-eshopWakedas is an easy to learn puzzle game that challenges the player to separate and match colors on a grid-like board. The concept can be compared to that of solving a Rubik’s Cube. There are 300 puzzles in the game, separated into three levels; 100 3×3 puzzles, 100 4×4 puzzles, and 100 5×5 puzzles.

To solve a Wakedas puzzle, players must make sure that each color is separated and placed beside a matching color. Each puzzle is separated into blocks and always has at least two colors, though more colors are introduced as you play. To match these colors, players must slide portions of the grid, horizontally and/or vertically, using a simple swipe of the stylus. In fact, the game is played exclusively on the touchscreen.

Wakedas starts off easy, but gradually increases as you work your way toward the 300th puzzle. To keep things interesting – and definitely challenging – new types of blocks are introduced. You’ll encounter blocks that are separated into different colored triangles, blocks that are locked and cannot be moved, as well as blocks that rotate as you slide the puzzle. These additional elements keep Wakedas fresh and fun throughout the entirety of your experience.

As I mentioned above, Wakedas gameplay takes place entirely on the touchscreen, but there are images displayed on the 3D screen, as well. These images add a little extra to the presentation, but add nothing to the actual gameplay. Plus, despite being displayed on the 3D screen, the 3D effect is disabled entirely. The visuals on the touchscreen are simple, but colorful and effective for a puzzle game. Tying the entire package together is a soothing soundtrack that encourages mental clarity.

Final Thoughts:

Wakedas is a challenging, but fun puzzle game that I believe fans of puzzle games will enjoy. The amount of time you put into the game is dependent upon how long it takes you to solve each individual puzzle. In my experience, most puzzles took me around a minute to solve, but there are plenty that take much longer. For just $2.99 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, it’s hard to ignore the value that Wakedas gives to gamers.

8.5/10 – Great

Review copy provided by Circle Entertainment

SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt Review (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

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SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt Review

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Digging in the dirt isn’t a new concept in the video game world, but none do it quite like SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt. Being dubbed a “platform mining adventure” by its developer, SteamWorld Dig is exactly that, a 2D platformer with adventure elements and, of course, mining.

You play as a mining steambot named Rusty. Upon arriving in the mining town of Tumbleton, Rusty assumes the role of miner to provide the town with resources, the same role previously occupied by his late uncle Joe. As Rusty digs through the depths of uncle Joe’s mine, he begins to uncover not only an ancient civilization, but also a new source of power.

steamworlddig-3ds-ss1Story elements are slowly revealed as you play. The citizens of Tumbleton will exchange small snippets of dialogue with Rusty; some conversations reveal details of his uncle’s mining expeditions. In general, the story isn’t particularly compelling, but the mystery is enough to keep you digging.

Of course, SteamWorld Dig is a game about digging, an enormous amount of digging. Rusty starts with a humble Rusty Pickaxe that can only dig in soft ground. As you dig through the underworld of Tumbleton, you’ll come across certain blocks of dirt that contain resources. After mining these resources, you can take them back to Tumbleton to exchange them for cash. With this cash you can buy upgrades for Rusty’s equipment, and a variety of additional items that will make the adventure a little easier. This is something you will be repeating often throughout your time with SteamWorld Dig.

Exchanging resources also increases Rusty’s level, which is essentially like gaining experience points in an RPG. As Rusty’s level grows, you’ll unlock new upgrades for Rusty’s equipment. There are a lot of upgrades to buy in SteamWorld Dig, and each one will make digging less of a chore. Also, new shops and locations will open in town as you gain levels.

While mining for resources is a big part of SteamWorld Dig, to continue your adventure you must uncover a number of uncle Joe’s caves. Each cave contains a new ability that Rusty must use to continue his descent. Some of these abilities take advantage of Rusty’s steambot features and will consume water. One of these abilities is a steam powered drill that Rusty can use to drill through hard ground.

My favourite part of SteamWorld Dig is the large interconnected map and non-linear progression. You literally get to dig your own path through the earth, and that path will be represented on the underworld map. Personally, I think this is a nice touch, and because the game is structured this way, you will inevitably uncover different paths each time you play. While your path isn’t a predetermined one, a marker will appear on the map which indicates the position of the game’s important caves. Lastly, controlling Rusty is extremely easy, and it’s a lot of fun to use his large repertoire of abilities and equipment.

steamworlddig-3ds-ss2Unfortunately, there are a couple of things I didn’t like about SteamWorld Dig. First, while there are enemies in the game, they feel like a complete afterthought. Combat is practically non-existent and the enemies hardly pose a threat. My second complaint is the digging in general; this activity is quite boring and can be compared to the monotony of doing chores. Thankfully, upgrades do help lessen this painful task.

Back on the positive side of things, SteamWorld Dig looks fantastic with 3D enabled. Its gorgeous sprites pop nicely against the layered backgrounds, offering a nice sense of depth seen in the best Nintendo 3DS games. Also, I really dig (I couldn’t resist) the game’s western themed soundtrack, though nothing really stands out.

Final Thoughts:

SteamWorld Dig is an interesting game, but is weighed down by some small flaws. In general, you can tell there was a lot of work put into the development of the game, and that can be seen in its upgrade system, and inviting non-linear structure. Personally, I would have liked the digging mechanic to be less of a chore, plus it wouldn’t hurt to add more variety to the gameplay. I was able to finish SteamWorld Dig in approximately 4 hours, but you could easily get more out of the game if you continue exploring and upgrading Rusty. SteamWorld Dig is $8.99 and is available now on the Nintendo eShop.

7/10 – Good

Purchased on the Nintendo eShop

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