Shantae (GameBoy Colour) Review: Nintendo Switch

How does the Half-Genie Hero’s debut hold up after almost 20 years?

WayForward, an independent videogame developer and publisher based in California, have certainly made reputation for themselves over the last decade. Though the company was founded in 1990, it’s not been until the last decade that they’ve become a common household name. Memorable titles like Ducktales: Remastered, Aliens: Infestation, and most recently River City Girls have well and truly proven the studio’s knack for creating modern side-scrolling games and keeping this retro genre alive.

River City Girls Nintendo Switch
Kyoko and Misako fight for their boyfriends in River City Girls (2019)

However, one WayForward series stands hips and shoulders above the rest. I’m of course talking about the entrancing, belly-dancing, eponymous Half-Genie Hero: Shantae. Conceptualised in the mid-’90s during the boom of Nintendo’s killer handheld, the Gameboy, it wasn’t until the end of the console’s life cycle that Shantae made her debut on the videogame stage. In a bold move, the game was developed entirely for the GameBoy Colour and released in 2002 after the launch of the GameBoy Advance, a choice that game director Matt Bozon says contributed to the game’s poor sales.

Shantae Art Nintendo Switch
Shantae’s stylish character design definitely put WayForward on the (treasure) map.

Despite its poor sales performance, the original Shantae is widely-recognised as one of the best games released for the GameBoy, and it pushed the hardware to its limit. Additionally, gaining quite a cult following, it has become one of the most valuable games on the handheld, with original boxed copies occasionally going for upwards of $3000USD. Almost 20 years since its inception, WayForward’s flagship character now boasts five separate entries and over 3 million sales across the entire series. An incredibly impressive figure for a series that initially struggled for financial success!

Shantae Gameboy Color Colour Prices
Screw BitCoin, I’m going back in time to tell myself to invest in Shantae.

Now in collaboration with Limited Run Games and Modern Vintage Gamer, WayForward have revived the original Shantae title, republished, enhanced, and ready to dance on Nintendo Switch. This means that for the first time ever, all 5 games in the series can be played on a single console! So forget about taking out a personal loan to secure a copy of the original Shantae, because for a mere $10 it’s time to step back in time to one of the best GameBoy Colour games ever made.

Shantae Dancing Sprite Gif

Plot

Scuttle Town is a peaceful abode by the sea, bordered by a vast desert and inhabited by a cast of quirky characters. It’s also home to a mystical Half-Genie who lives not in a bottle, but in a lighthouse. However, that peace is soon interrupted by the nefarious lady-pirate, Risky Boots, who catches wind of a ancient technology recently unearthed in Scuttle Town: the Steam Engine. With the ability to produce an immense amount of power, Risky will stop at nothing to make this mystical invention her own, and whisks the dangerous device away for her own selfish plans.

Shantae Ret 2 Go Nintendo Switch
Shantae is always ret2-go!

As the self-appointed “Guardian Genie” of Scuttle Town, it’s up to Shantae to get Scuttle out of trouble! In order to thwart Risky’s plans, Shantae must recover the four Elemental Stones, each of which can be used to harness a unique power that can run the steam engine indefinitely. Spread out across Sequin Land and protected within ancient labyrinths, Shantae will need to uncover her hidden genie powers to obtain the mythical items and put an end to Risky’s escapades once and for all.

Gameplay

This initial entry in the series introduced a style of gameplay that has helped define all the other Shantae games that followed it. A unique blend of side-scrolling adventure, platforming, exploration and RPG elements combine with clever animal transformations making for a GameBoy experience unlike any other. I’d go so far as to say this is some of the most ambitious gameplay you’ll find on the console, and thanks to this it has aged incredibly well. The game takes place over three main areas: the overworld, dungeons, and towns, splitting the game into three distinct styles of gameplay.

Exploration: Spread across a sprawling map, there’s a vast world to explore in Sequin Land, which at times sometimes feels a bit overwhelming due to its impressive size for a GameBoy game. Each location has distinct enemies, platforming challenges, and environmental puzzles that you’ll need to overcome by using abilities that are acquired throughout the game. Using her hair as a weapon, Shantae will also need to fend off enemies spread throughout the overworld.

Shantae Overworld Gameboy color Colour Nintendo Switch

With a day-night cycle, numerous hidden collectibles, and expansive exploration, you’ll spend the majority of your time trekking the overworld in between its dungeons and towns. This can occasionally become bothersome, as the technical limitations of the GameBoy mean the screen is only capable of displaying a small portion of the area, and considering Shantae at times controls like a floating brick, you’ll often fall into obstacles that you have no way of predicting or avoiding.

Dungeons: Four major labyrinths appear during the game, each containing one of the four Elemental Stones. These are comparable to dungeons from early Zelda games, which feature a unique ability that will need to be utilised in order to progress. Through the mystical power of dance, Shantae can transform into one of four creatures: Monkey, Elephant, Spider, and Harpy. By rescuing the dungeon’s genie and unlocking a new transformation, you’ll be able to gain access to new areas and solve puzzles in order to progress. Then, at the end of each dungeon awaits a large boss that often also requires clever use of the transformation. These dungeons are entertaining, satisfying to solve, and in my opinion the overall highlight of the game.

Shantae Transformation Elephant Gif Nintendo Switch
Transforming into an elephant lets Shantae smash through obstacles.

Towns: These laid-back areas are the most entertaining aspect of Shantae, featuring colourful characters and incredibly amusing dialogue. By chatting with NPCs you’ll obtain not only snippets of information to aide Shantae on her quest, but also some legitimately hilarious conversation. Each town also contains a shop to purchase items like potions and weapons, a bath house to restore your health, a Warp Squid (for fast travel), and generally some form of optional minigame that can be played to accumulate currency. It’s a nice change of pace and some of the most unique presentation in a GameBoy game.

Shantae Nintendo Switch Gameboy Color Colour Zombie Caravan Joke
The Zombie Caravan is my personal favourite and is packed full of hilarious dialogue.

Visuals

When playing Shantae, there’s one key fact to remember: this is a port of a GameBoy game. While the newer Shantae games feature gorgeous, vibrant, detailed graphics, the original somehow manages to achieve this despite the technical limitations of the hardware at the time. Character and enemy sprites and their animations are detailed, environments are colourful and packed full of detail, and the towns offer an impressive over-the-shoulder view unlike anything I’ve encountered in a game of this era.

Shantae Nintendo Switch Gameboy Colour Pixel Art
The pixel art is particularly eye-catching.

WayForward managed to create a unique visual aesthetic drawing influence from both The Legend of Zelda, Aladdin, and real life Middle-Eastern Culture. This game’s visuals have formed the foundation of the series as a whole through its distinct art style and iconic character design. For players wanting to appreciate this further, there’s the inclusion of a bonus art gallery which features plenty of interesting concept art.

Shantae Nintendo Switch Gameboy Colour Art Gallery

Audio

At the time of its creation, the music of Shantae was composed by a mostly-unknown video game musician, who had actually dropped out of school to take up game music full-time. Having made soundtracks for only a handful GameBoy games, WayForward recruited the young musician and in doing so unknowingly helped create one of the most prolific VGM composers of all-time: the now legendary Jake Kaufman. Best known for his incredible music to Shovel Knight, Jake’s distinct chiptune style shines through every track of Shantae, which features many songs that have been used throughout the entire series.

Despite being a mixture of blips and bloops coming out of a Gameboy, the soundtrack has a distinct Middle-Eastern sound, as if being played by an 8-bit oud. It’s appropriate for the setting, catchy as heck, and honestly never gets old, which is important considering GameBoy tracks often have very short loops.

So what’s new?

Although the game is mostly unchanged, the Switch port makes several welcome improvements that help this near 20-year old game feel just a bit more modern. Save states are available, meaning that at any time the game can be paused and saved/loaded, which makes some frustrating areas much less tedious. I found myself not using it much, but it’s a welcome addition for those not accustomed to retro games. There are also several added visual options allowing the game to be played at a native resolution, with a sharp filter, or with an LCD screen effect layered on top.

Shantae Nintendo Switch Gameboy Colour Pixel Visuals Sharp LCD Filter
Sharp filter (left) and LCD filter (right).

The entire game now also includes the “GBA-enhanced” version, which features improved colour palettes and an additional “Tinkerbat” transformation that can be unlocked, allowing Shantae to fly. These all come as welcome additions, but do not add any massive enhancement to the overall gameplay.

Conclusion

Considering this piece of GameBoy history would have previously cost you almost $1000 to own and play legitimately, a mere $10 feels like a bargain to experience the first game in this brilliant series. Though the gameplay at times may feel clunky and frustrating to control, there is a wealth of enjoyable content in Shantae that ensure you forget any of its shortcomings. Not only is this an incredibly charming, amusing adventure introducing an iconic cast of characters, but it’s also a sheer technical marvel when you remember that it was designed solely for the GameBoy Colour. Although it might not be Shantae’s most outstanding performance, fans of the series and retro gaming alike would be foolish not to at least give this excellent Switch port a go.

Shantae Nintendo Switch Gameboy Colour Pixel Art Dancing Sprite

So, why should you play it?

  • You’re a fan of the Shantae series and want to explore its origins.
  • Retro platformers are up your alley.
  • Gorgeous pixel art and catchy chiptune soundtrack.
  • Satisfying dungeon design akin to older Zelda titles.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Dated gameplay compared to the rest of the series.
  • Controls are at times clunky and frustrating.
  • Won’t appeal to those not fond of retro games.

A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Spelunker HD Deluxe Announced for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

You’re really gonna dig this game.

Strictly Limited Games brings an awesome and addictive platformer from the 80s – from legendary developer TOZAI – to PS4 and Nintendo Switch! Retro fans need to prepare themselves for a real challenge. Spelunker HD Deluxe will be available as Limited and Collector’s Edition for pre-order from Sunday, June 6th midnight (CEST) at the Strictly Limited Games Shop! The digital version for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 will follow in Q3 2021 by ININ Games. 

Dedicated retro game fans might remember the original game, which was first released for Atari 8bit computers back in 1983. Or also the PS award-winning “Spelunker HD” that was released for PS3. And now Strictly Limited Games proudly presents Spelunker HD Deluxe coming with awesome fresh graphics and a new game mode!

Spelunker HD Deluxe Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 Strictly Limited

A variety of game modes and many different stages will provide players with a lot of challenges on their way to seek out the mystery that lies in the depths. All of the modes can be played as single player, but they are also supporting online multiplayer with up to six people and offline multiplayer with up to four people allowing the players to explore the caves together!

  • Adventure:
    Players can explore 100 stages by fighting and jumping their way through enemies and obstacles
  • Competition:
    The best cave explorer wins! In this mode, players can compete with their friends
  • Championship:
    The name says it all… This mode includes another 100 super-difficult, challenging stages that seek for real cave exploring experts
  • Endless Cave NEO:
    In this mode, players can compete and see how far they get in endless, randomly generated caves

Whilst exploring dark caves and avoiding getting beaten by the dangers that lurk in the depths, players can enjoy a fresh visual appeal with new 3D assets and a realistic cave atmosphere, accompanied by a catchy, memorable soundtrack. But those who prefer to keep it classic, will also get their money’s worth – the well-received “Classic Mode” that was also included in the PS3 version will still be available in Spelunker HD Deluxe. So retro fans can enjoy beautiful nostalgic pixel graphics and 8-bit sound for the original Spelunker experience like back in the early 80s.

Spelunker HD Deluxe Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 Strictly Limited

Players that are ready for a real challenge can get themselves an awesome limited Edition at the Strictly Limited Games Shop.

Spelunker HD Deluxe Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 Strictly Limited

The Limited Edition Features:

  • Game for Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4
  • Booklet
  • Individually Numbered

The Limited Edition is available for €29.99 and limited to 2700 copies for Nintendo Switch and 1500 copies for PlayStation 4.

Spelunker HD Deluxe Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 Strictly Limited

The Collector’s Edition Features:

  • Game for Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4
  • Collector’s Edition Box
  • Spelunker Figure
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Sticker
  • Flyer
  • Large Reversible Poster
  • Soundtrack
  • Level Guide
  • Booklet
  • Individually numbered

The Collector’s Edition is available for €59.99 and limited to 1300 copies for Nintendo Switch and 700 copies for PlayStation 4. If you’re wanting to secure a copy, before sure to keep an eye on this link for when the pre-orders go live, as they won’t last long: https://store.strictlylimitedgames.com/collections/spelunker

Rise of the Slime Review: Nintendo Switch

Is it high time for the Slime to shine?

Every hero needs to start somewhere. That’s why ever since the dawn of slime, RPGs begin with the player leaving the comfort of the starting town, collecting trivial items, rescuing a couple of cats, all while smiting hordes of low-level monsters for precious XP. Though mobs sometimes appear in the hundreds, few enemies can hope to achieve the level of fame as that of the simple Slime. Name a popular series and it’s almost certain to have its own iteration of this iconic enemy! But despite becoming an immediately-recognised staple of the genre and even its own trope, the Slime is usually battered, down-trodden and quickly cast aside once the player has levelled-up.

Left to right: Dragon Quest (Slime), Atelier series (Puni), Bravely Default (Slime), The Legend of Zelda (Chu-Chu), Neptunia series (Dogoo).

However, the role of the Slime has since changed, with the creation of games that seek to emphasise the importance of this iconic adversary. Games like Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, Slime-San, and Slime Rancher portray the character in a completely different image, sometimes even as the main protagonist. Joining the ranks of these sublime Slime games is the roguelike deck-builder: Rise of the Slime. An indie title impressively crafted by a one-man team, Maris Bunovsky (who is the game’s sole creator, artist, and developer), the game launched yesterday on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series S | X.

So does Rise of the Slime join the ranks of other prime slime games, or is it a giant steaming pile of goo?

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch

What’s a “Roguelite Deckbuilder?”

Games like Slay the Spire and the Hand of Fate have defined this subgenre, which combines randomised RPG elements with turn-based combat, focused on a deck of cards that is improved/expanded during progression. The gameplay of Rise of the Slime is exactly what you would expect from this subgenre: randomly-generated levels, challenging combat, and a sizeable pool of cards/abilities that mean no two playthroughs are exactly the same. In a genre that has become increasingly complex since its conception, Rise of the Slime goes back to basics and offers gameplay that is initially approachable and simple.

Slay the Spire Nintendo Switch
“Slay the Spire” introduced gameplay that helped define the genre.

Gameplay

Starting in the Cemetery of the Ancients (hub area), you’ll have the option to customise your slime with power-ups, bring along a pet to aide your quest, and then choose one of three gameplay modes. Challenge Mode is a continuous map with no checkpoints, Short Run features a plethora of “mutators” to adapt your Slime, and Old Path is a longer, more forgiving experience. I played a few hours of each and noticed a significant difference despite the same base gameplay.

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch
How does a slime even use a lever?

Each area is divided into 20+ individual rooms within a distinct locale (Forest/Swamp/Lava etc.), which feature small environmental puzzles, upgrades or items, and of course, lots of enemies to try stop you. A single run will take anywhere between 30 minutes to over 2 hours, depending primarily on a combination of luck and skill. Four different decks are available at the beginning of a run and allow for vastly-different options in combat, focusing on close combat, ranged, ailments, or a combination of each. These decks don’t necessarily dictate how you should play, but provide a foundation of combat on which you build with additional cards as you progress.

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch
I took a liking to the fire deck, which can quickly backfire.

Combat is where your slime will spend most of its time. Using the deck provided, you’ll take turns against enemies on a side-scrolling battlefield. A “mana system” limits how many cards can be used in a single turn, and will require you to prioritise moving, attacking, defending, or status cards like fire or acid which can afflict both yourself and the enemy. HP does not automatically regenerate between encounters, so conserving health during combat is of the utmost importance. This becomes difficult as enemies can quickly overwhelm and overpower you, which must give the poor Slime some horrid flashbacks of its RPG days. Unless you gain specific abilities or cards during a run, the combat, especially during boss fights, can become unfairly difficult and will quickly lead to frustration and failure. For a game that appears effortless on the surface, it can descend into brutal difficulty.

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch

Additional cards will be unlocked upon completion of each round of combat, and can be chosen to best suit your current deck. Positive and negative “mutators” will also appear randomly in the environment, which can be either a blessing or a hinderance, and will dramatically change your success in each run. Upgrades may also be purchased throughout each run, improving both the Slime itself and the individual cards in the deck. The game also claims to offer permanent power-ups that can be purchased in the hub world prior to a run, though frustratingly I constantly encountered a bug that removed any upgrades immediately after leaving the room (which massively hindered my progress through the game).

Visuals

Without a doubt the most appealing and charming aspect of RotS is its adorable visuals. Somehow managing to be equal parts cute and gloomy, Maris crafts an aesthetic akin to that of a picture book. The heroic Slime and all other characters appear as cut-outs supported on paddlepop sticks (that’s a popsicle stick for all you non-Aussies out there), and move just like a puppet show. This style allows the characters to pop out of the background, which provides an often atmospheric backdrop to the action occurring in the foreground.

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch
The game is very cute at times.

I did find myself on multiple occasions stopping to appreciate the game’s illustrations, which are packed full of vibrant colours and extra details. Other aspects of design such as the UI, menus, and cards, are equally attractive, and feel like a more charming version of Hearthstone. Overall, it’s a style that feels right at home on a Nintendo console and is especially suitable when being played in handheld mode.

Audio

The only aspect of the game not created by Maris is its soundtrack, which has been composed by Arletta Supe, a Latvian musician who has made her videogame music debut in Rise of the Slime. Although it’s far from the catchy chiptunes or sweeping orchestral scores one might associate with the slimes of JRPGs past, Arletta offers a relaxed, ambient soundtrack that matches the aesthetic of the game. You’re not likely to find yourself humming these songs or adding them to a game music playlist, but they provide a means of enhancing the atmosphere of each environment. It’s a prime example of background music.

Conclusion

As an introductory title into a niche subgenre of games, Rise of the Slime provides an adorable experience that is initially simple and approachable thanks to its lack of complexity and charming visual aesthetic. It’s an ideal title for younger players wanting to dip their toes into this unusual gameplay. Though one would expect a slime typically to be squishy and smooth, there are many aspects that are still rough around the edges. Combat can often feel unfair, the pool of cards available becomes repetitive after several hours of gameplay, and I encountered significant bugs (and several crashes) which significantly hindered my progression. It’s a fun game for a short period, but not quite enough to commit hundreds of hours of gameplay like I would for other roguelikes.

Rise of the Slime Nintendo Switch

So, why should you play it?

  • Wanting to give the roguelike/deck-builder genre a go.
  • Adorable visual aesthetics appeal to you.
  • After a significant challenge? You may actually enjoy the difficulty.
  • Slime!

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Can be unfairly punishing.
  • May encounter bugs that will hinder gameplay.
  • Becomes repetitive after several hours.

A review code on Nintendo Switch was provided for the purpose of this review.

R-Type Final 2 Review – Nintendo Switch

This one’s for you if classic shoot ’em ups R your Type of game.

Originally released in 1987 into arcades across the globe, the original R-Type is widely celebrated and often referred to as one the best shoot ’em up games ever made. This quintessential title featured addictive side-scrolling gameplay, advanced graphics for the time with huge, detailed bosses, and punishingly-difficult gameplay designed to chew through your spare change. In fact, the original game became so popular that it has since been ported to over 15 different platforms!

Left to right: R-Type (arcade), R-Type (Gameboy), R-Type: Dimensions (PC)

It should come as no surprise that such a successful game would spawn a multitude of sequels, spin-offs and compilations. During the ’80s and ’90s the genre was booming, and the R-Type series saw three direct sequels during this time. However, with advances in gameplay and home gaming consoles, focus for shooting games turned from the humble shmup to the now massively-popular FPS. As one last hurrah, the developer Irem decided to release the series’ swansong on PlayStation 2: R-Type Final. Released in 2003, this was intended to be the “final” game in the series and featured a massive roster of 101 unlockable ships.

R-Type Final Playstation 2
The critically-acclaimed R-Type Final on PlayStation 2.

Plot twist: R-Type Final was not the final R-Type (much like Final Fantasy is not the final Final Fantasy).

Almost two decades later, a Twitter post surfaced on April Fool’s Day 2019, showing off a teaser trailer for the ironically-named R-Type Final 2. Much to the surprise of fans across the globe, this was no April Fool’s joke at all! Later that year a Kickstarter was launched touting the return of the iconic shmup, raising over $1,000,000USD thus reviving this beloved series. Now almost 18 years since the last main title, it’s time to once again blast your way through swarms of galactic aliens in R-Type Final 2 for Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PlayStation 4.

Premise

As a direct sequel to 2003’s R-Type Final, you take on the role of a lone pilot in an endless war against the Bydo, a mysterious galactic race waging war against humanity. Having struck the source of the Bydo in Final, humanity has been able to develop more advanced anti-Bydo weaponry in order to retaliate. With a vast array of aircraft and artillery now at your disposal, you’re tasked with recovering the remaining war records from the initial conflict and to put an end to the Bydo once and for all.

The story is paper thin, as is the case for most games that focus almost entirely on gameplay. At the beginning of the game you’ll be presented with brief interactions between characters to set the scene, but outside of this any aspects of the story are delivered through simple bonus descriptions that are found in the game’s gallery and manual.

Gameplay

This is where any shoot ’em up truly shines, and R-Type Final 2 is no exception. If you’ve played any other shmup game, you’ll immediately be familiar with the majority of the gameplay, which involves piloting a spacecraft through multiple levels, fending off hordes of enemies, and confronting a large boss at the end. It’s simple gameplay that has been refined over decades, but the basic concept is mostly unchanged. Each level is scattered with power-ups that will enhance your weaponry or provide unique weapons that are more powerful but focused, or weaker with the ability to clear the screen. There are also stereotypical charged attacks, which can be devastating but leave you open and vulnerable while charging.

R-Type Final 2 Nintendo Switch Laser
The laser is slow but powerful, and useful against larger enemies.

R-Type, however, manages to set its gameplay apart from other shmups through its use of the Force (no Star Wars copyright infringement intended), a small independent ship that can be attached/detached which pilots and fires autonomously. Effectively utilising the Force is essential if you want to progress through R-Type, as without it you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed by enemies with no hope of clearing the screen. Power-ups to your ship will also transfer to the Force, and produce some unique attacks depending on whether it becomes attached to either the front of the rear of your ship. Some circumstances require quick management of this, as you’ll have enemies approaching from both sides of the screen.

R-Type Final 2 Nintendo Switch Boss Fight
Using the Force to fire backwards is a vital tactic.

Difficulty is undoubtedly punishing, as is the case for most games in this genre, made more challenging in R-Type as your ship can only take a single hit and screens are often littered with bullets and hazards. You’ll most likely find yourself having to play through levels ad nauseum before finally gaining a grasp on patterns of attacks; though it is satisfying to pass through a level unscathed once you’ve had enough practice. There are also several different difficulty levels, which sadly I had to resort to playing on “Kids” difficulty for part of the game (this destroyed my fragile masculinity).

Visuals/Performance

Having played entirely on the Nintendo Switch, I started R-Type Final 2 with the expectation that the game’s visuals would be dumbed down in order to accommodate the handheld. Although this is partly the case, as this version of the game is not quite as visually-detailed, it is barely noticeable. The game’s cheesey sci-fi cutscenes are a pleasure to watch and environments retain an attractive sci-fi aesthetic befitting of the game’s tone.

R-Type Final 2 Nintendo Switch Cutscene Visuals
The CGI cutscene at the beginning of the game looks excellent.

With detailed environments, particle effects aplenty, and a busy screen sometimes packed with projectiles, the game manages to perform incredibly well with very few drops in framerate. My gameplay was 50/50 handheld and docked during which I noticed very little difference in terms of performance. It’s a pleasant surprise to play a game with so much going on while having no compromise to the handheld mode.

Music

Composed by Yuki “Sato” Iwai, the soundtrack to R-Type Final 2 accompanies your journey through space and features the typical electronic beats that tend to be heard in shmup games. Having worked on several previous titles in the series (as well as quite a number of Mega Man games too!), Iwai creates tracks with a soundscape that are fitting for the aesthetic of each level. Although most are immemorable and none are particularly catchy, the songs will at least not get on your nerves after being heard repeatedly after each death.

Extra Features

Are you a completionist? If so, R-Type Final 2 is your dream. There is an absolute plethora of unlockable content for those that chase that elusive 100%. Completing levels will award you with currency that can be spent in the shop: unlocking decals for your ship, modifications to your space suit, or buying resources that can be spent on upgrades. There are 99 (probably even more!) different ships that can be developed in the museum and will likely keep completionists busy for hours on end. I managed to finish the game by unlocking only 17, as you’ll generally be able to find a model of ship that suits your style of gameplay.

R-Type Final 2 Nintendo Switch Museum
You’ll spend quite a bit of time in the Museum upgrading your aircraft.

Strangely there has also been a photo mode added to the game, where you can dress up your pilot in different outfits, purchase silly poses, and stand alongside your spacecraft taking pictures with it. Photo modes are mostly suited to games with vast worlds and gorgeous, detailed environments (like Horizon Zero Dawn or Ghost of Tsushima), so this is an odd addition and feels incredibly out of place. Out of curiosity I briefly decided to give it a go and would likely never touch it again.

R-Type Final 2 Nintendo Switch Photo Mode
Not something I ever imagined I’d do in a shmup game.

Amusingly, you’ll also unlock the option to customise the game’s name from a set of chosen words upon completing the game. It’s simple, but I had far more fun messing around with this than the photo mode.

R-Type final 2 Nintendo Switch Custom Name
That’s the shmup where you play as a cloud, right?

Conclusion

With its classic gameplay, punishing difficulty, and enough content to keep you coming back for more, R-Type Final 2 is a modern shoot ’em up that successfully carries on the legacy of this iconic series. Fans of the genre will be elated to play R-Type Final 2, especially those who supported the Kickstarter and have been eagerly awaiting the release of the game. Though if you’re not a die-hard R-Type fan and instead just looking for an excellent shmup experience to play on the go, this should be at the top of your list. Be warned though, as this game is not for the faint of heart and may instead be a trial by fire for those unfamiliar with the genre.

So, why should you play it?

  • If you’re a fan of shoot ’em ups, you’d be mad to pass up on this.
  • One of the best arcade-style shooters on the Switch.
  • Completionists will be overjoyed at the amount of unlockable content.
  • An excellent challenge to test your gaming skills.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • If you’re completely new to shoot ’em ups, try one that is more forgiving.
  • Poor reaction times? Not the game for you, as your ship only takes a single hit.
  • Those not fond of playing the same stages numerous times should avoid this game.

A review code on Nintendo Switch was provided for the purpose of this review.

Before I Forget Review – Nintendo Switch

In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of indie games and small teams of developers, videogames have provided a means of discussing impactful topics. Often with only several people working on a game, this allows for unique insight into subject matter that might not otherwise be possible for triple-A titles. Notable titles like the widely-celebrated and brutally-difficult Celeste, which cleverly discusses depression and anxiety while climbing both a literal and figurative mountain, or Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a dark fantasy in which the player is made to experience psychosis, are both brilliant representations of mental health in video games. Games like these do not stigmatise or portray such difficult topics in a negative light, but rather help to promote understanding and discussion.

Chances are you may know someone, or have friends or family who have a loved one affected by dementia – in Australia alone there are 472,000 people living with dementia, and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. This complex collection of symptoms can lead to memory loss, confusion, and impairment of thinking, making even simple daily activities into challenging tasks. A condition for which there is no prevention or cure, and of initial signs that can often be subtle or vague. Dementia is chronic and can progress to the point where it can become debilitating or even fatal. So how can a videogame attempt to replicate and provide insight into such a complex set of neurological symptoms?

This has been achieved in Before I Forget, a story-rich experience that is less of a traditional videogame, and more of a succinct interactive, artistic insight into the emotional impact of dementia. Created by 3-Fold Games and conceptualised at a Game Jam in 2016, the game launched as a Humble Original for PC in 2020 and received a BAFTA nomination earlier this year as a “Game Beyond Entertainment” (which has been received by games such as Hellblade and Animal Crossing: New Horizons). Now available on Nintendo Switch, how does such an impactful, thought-provoking game fare on a handheld console?

Story

The player takes control of Sunita Appleby, a Indian Cosmologist and a celebrated scientist – though these accolades have since become remnants of her fragmented past. Once a brilliant mind, Sunita is now affected by symptoms of dementia; her memories of family and friends fade in and out of view from within the window panes of her small home in which the entire game takes place. Finding herself trapped in her own porch, a small post-it note adhered to the wall sparks a memory of her loved one.

Unpaid bills lay scattered that Sunita has no recollection of, voice messages are left on her phone by friends who are now complete strangers, and through empty hallways echo the sound of melancholy piano played by none other than virtuoso pianist, Dylan Appleby, Sunita’s husband. This short story follows several days of Sunita’s life as she seeks to find Dylan and overcome simple challenges at home. Though the story takes place from her current perspective, you’ll be able to piece together her past through recollections, forgotten conversations, treasured mementos, and nostalgic flashbacks of key life moments.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Sunita Dylan
Sunita and Dylan are never seen in the game; you’ll find their images throughout the house.

Although short, the story is insightful, emotive, and at times even amusing and heart-warming. Impressively Before I Forget manages to achieve a deep emotional connection between Sunita and Dylan within a timeframe where most other videogame narratives would only be setting the scene.

Gameplay

Some may classify Before I Forget as a “Walking Simulator“, a sub-genre of games in which the primary gameplay involves controlling a character that walks and interacts with objects to unravel a story (think Dear Esther & Gone Home for example). In order to focus on a narrative, aspects of gameplay are minimal, though this does not detract from the overall experience of the game. Sometimes even navigating throughout Sunita’s small house can be a difficult task, as could be the case for those with dementia. Particular parts of the game may fool you into thinking you’ve gone in the wrong direction, or surprise you with hinderances that in reality do not actually exist.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Dementia visuals
Even the simple task of walking can sometimes be difficult.

Interacting with certain items in the game will prompt flashbacks of memories, in which you’re given insight into Sunita’s life, her relationship with Dylan, or her childhood. Although these events are mostly quite straightforward, they provide more depth to the narrative. You’ll likely miss a lot of these small details during your first playthrough, as not all of them are necessary for progression, which provides some incentive to play the game an additional time.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Flashback Art
This stargazing flashback of Sunita’s childhood is particularly heart-warming.

Visuals

This is one of the most appealing aspects of Before I Forget – I’d compare the visuals to a fusion of real life and an impressionist painting. At the beginning of the game, the surroundings are dull and devoid of colour to represent Sunita’s lack of memory. With further progression and interaction with more elements, her memory breathes life into the game’s visuals and colour begins to once again wash across the house like watercolour paint slowly spreading across a canvas. It’s a beautiful visual effect and is highly satisfying to see a bland room eventually transformed in pastel colours – quite a unique way to gauge the player’s progression through the game.

Rooms will begin to regain their detail and colour as you explore them.

Despite being played on the small, handheld screen of the Nintendo Switch, the simple visuals of the game still look incredibly attractive thanks to this art-style. There were even moments where I found myself pausing to admire the surroundings and snap a few screenshots before moving on.

In juxtaposition to the game’s gorgeous visuals, there are hindering visual elements designed to represent Sunita’s symptoms of dementia. Often the screen will have a hazy visual effect or at key moments will distort to appear chaotic and confusing, making it intentionally tricky to navigate an otherwise simple hallway. I would have liked to have seen more use of these sort of visuals though, as there were only a couple of instances where they had a significant impact.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Dementia visuals
At times Sunita feels trapped or lost within her own house.

Audio

Clever audio design is a key aspect in Before I Forget. Heavy footsteps on hardwood floors might prompt you to explore your surroundings, echoing piano notes from the distance call you to walk towards them, and thoughts and conversations from the past regularly play out in Sunita’s head. You’ll also hear quite a bit of dialogue throughout the game from Sunita, her mother, and Dylan. All have excellent performances from their voice actors and become highly emotive toward the end of the game. The simple piano soundtrack too is quite fitting, as music is often played by memories of Dylan who is a talented pianist. Here’s a short snippet in which you can literally watch the world go by while you enjoy the music:

Though I usually find myself fawning over game soundtracks, my favourite aspect of the audio is the inclusion of a full developer commentary. When starting the game you can choose to turn this on, and in doing so you’ll be prompted with hovering speech bubbles throughout your journey through the game. These snippets each a couple minutes long, contain interesting banter from most of the team who worked on the game, and felt as if I was listening to an interactive podcast. I wish more indie games would include commentary like this as an added bonus! It really offered me incentive to play through the game again with the commentary turned on.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Developer Commentary
These optional floating speech bubbles can be scattered throughout Sunita’s journey.

Conclusion

At only an hour long, Before I Forget feels like less of a traditional videogame and more of an interactive art piece, designed to offer insight into the topic of dementia and does so by portraying an impactful story with emotional character connections in a single sitting. In consulting with two psychiatrists (Dr Donald Sevant and Dr David Codling) for their medical expertise, 3-Fold Games have managed to create a melancholy but poignant story that highlights the challenges faced by those with dementia. I personally found myself to be quite moved by the experience. Though not all will find the game appealing, players with a fondness for artistic games or those seeking a narrative with an important message will find the experience worthwhile.

So, why should you play it?

  • You enjoy concise games with a focus on an emotional narrative.
  • Artistic games with very basic gameplay usually appeal to you.
  • You’d like to try understand a bit more about dementia.
  • It’s hard to find time for long games – this game can be easily played and completed in a single sitting.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • You’d rather play games to keep yourself occupied for hours at a time.
  • If videogames are more of a way to escape life’s tricky topics rather than to experience them.

To seek help regarding dementia, or if you need to help a family member or a friend that is affected, you can reach out to the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or via the Dementia Australia website.
If you or someone you care for is in need of support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.

WCTV Podcast #4 – Hunting Season

Recently I’ve been invited to appear on WindyCornerTV’s channel to help record a podcast! Earlier this year we recorded and episode for the 10th anniversary of the Nintendo 3DS, and decided to make the podcast a regular thing!

In each episode we’ll discuss recent releases, games we played and reviewed over the last couple of weeks, and interesting topics from the games industry around the world. In this episode we discuss the biggest release of the last month: Monster Hunter Rise! Robert also dives into his experience with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on the PlayStation 5, we chat about the recent VR version of DOOM 3 for the PSVR, and I discuss my time at the Hamburg Games Conference and recent review of Everhood on Nintendo Switch.

You can watch the podcast here:

Stay tuned for future episodes and be sure to check out WindyCornerTV’s channel!
In the next episode I’ll be talking about my weekend playing the Diablo II: Resurrected technical alpha.

Nintendo Indie World Showcase Summary – 14.4.21

Road 96, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals and OlliOlli World among the highlights of the Indie World Showcase

Autumn is in the air, and the latest indie adventures on Nintendo Switch are here with the cool change. During the latest Indie World video presentation, Nintendo detailed 21 games from independent developers that are coming to Nintendo Switch – with three having launched today.

Indie games featured in the showcase include Road 96, a procedural story-driven game from DigixArt that will change depending on the choices you make; OXENFREE II: Lost Signals, a direct sequel to the original acclaimed supernatural game from Night School Studio; OlliOlli World, Roll7’s new skateboarding action game in the totally gnarly OlliOlli franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a side scrolling beat ’em up invoking the Turtles’ legendary 1987 design; and The Longing, an experimental real-time adventure from Studio Seufz that launched today for Nintendo Switch.

Additionally, an Indie World sale is starting today in Nintendo eShop, offering discounts on select indie games for Nintendo Switch from now until 25th April.

To view the Indie World video in its entirety, visit Indie World – 15/04/2021 (Nintendo Switch).

The highlights revealed in the video include:

  • Road 96 from DigixArt: In a narrative-focused game with a mix of adventure, exploration and puzzle-solving, Road 96 tells a procedural story with thousands of potential paths to take. Meet characters from all walks of life and learn their intertwining stories. The decisions you make – both big and small – can drastically alter your experience. There are many roads. Which one will you take? Road 96 drives onto Nintendo Switch later this year.
  • OXENFREE II: Lost Signals from Night School Studio: Published by MWM Interactive, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is a supernatural narrative adventure game about a researcher who stumbles upon ghostly happenings. Five years after the events of OXENFREE, Riley returns to her hometown of Camena to investigate mysterious radio frequency signals causing curious disturbances. OXENFREE II: Lost Signals comes to Nintendo Switch in 2021.
  • OlliOlliWorld from Roll7: The bold new entry in the OlliOlli series is here! In OlliOlli World, tear up the streets of Radland and search for the mystical skate gods in this slick action platformer. With super-tight controls and level design that flows with your combos, you’ll have a blast mastering tricks, meeting colourful characters and discovering the hidden secrets of this vivid and vibrant world. OlliOlli World launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge from Tribute Games: With a blend of retro and modern visuals, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge finds the four favourite turtles kicking some serious shell in classic arcade-style beat-’em-up action. Up to four players can play locally* or online in this bodacious game developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu, who also published Streets of Rage 4 and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge launches for Nintendo Switch later this year.
  • The Longing from Studio Seufz: With a beautiful hand-drawn art style and an intriguing story, The Longing is unlike anything you have played before. The big twist: You don’t actually have to play to see how it ends. But that doesn’t mean you should just sit idly by. As main character Shade, you must wait 400 days for your king to awaken. While waiting, you can explore dark caves, complete time-based puzzles and collect items. Start your countdown clock now, as The Longing is out now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Annapurna Interactive: Two new games from Annapurna Interactive, the award-winning publishers of Florence and What Remains of Edith Finch, are coming to Nintendo Switch. These are just the latest artistic gems from the publisher’s already impressive library of games:
  • Hindsight from Annapurna Interactive: Hindsight from developer Joel McDonald is a poignant narrative game about an older woman reminiscing about her family. The objects from her past serve as portals into long-lost memories, revealing a decision that forever changed her life. Learn more when Hindsight launches for Nintendo Switch this year.
  • Last Stop from Annapurna Interactive: Last Stop from developer Variable State is a single-player third-person adventure set in modern-day London, where you play as three separate characters whose worlds collide in the midst of a supernatural crisis. What connects these three strangers? Where will fate lead them? Find out when Last Stop launches for Nintendo Switch in July.
  • Aerial_Knight’sNever Yield from Aerial_Knight: This is not your typical “runner” game! Run, jump, slide and dash through a futuristic Tokyo-styled Detroit to a head-bopping soundtrack as the protagonist Wally to save what’s left of the future. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield slides onto Nintendo Switch on 19th May. A demo will be available to download now in Nintendo eShop.
  • FEZ from Polytron: Gomez is a 2D creature living in a 2D world. Or is he? When the existence of a mysterious third dimension is revealed to him, Gomez is sent out on a journey that will take him to the very end of time and space. Use your ability to navigate 3D structures from four distinct classic 2D perspectives. The critically acclaimed FEZ is available now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Aztech Forgotten Gods from Lienzo: If you’re looking for a grand adventure inspired by Aztec mythology, look no further than Aztech Forgotten Gods from Mexican studio Lienzo. Gain powerful arm upgrades, traverse different areas within an advanced Mesoamerican metropolis and encounter all sorts of characters to uncover ancient secrets. Aztech Forgotten Gods soars onto Nintendo Switch this spring.
  • There is No Game: Wrong Dimension from Draw Me A Pixel: Despite its title, this really is a game! There is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a point-and-click comedy adventure filled with riddles and puzzles. If you’re looking for something different and experimental that’s full of surprises, look no further. There is No Game: Wrong Dimension is out now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Cris Tales from Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK: Drawing inspiration from classic and modern JRPGs, Cris Tales incorporates time traveling into its storyline and combat with a variety of surprise effects, like making enemies younger and thus easier to defeat. While exploring this handcrafted, dark fairy-tale world, you’ll recruit a diverse cast of allies and discover new realms. Cris Tales lands on Nintendo Switch on 20th July.
  • GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon from Konami Digital Entertainment and GuruGuru: Showcasing a stylized Japanese aesthetic, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon delivers a dynamic hack-and-slash roguelite experience, filled with perilous dungeons, fierce boss battles and intense, skill-based combat. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon launches for Nintendo Switch next year.
  • Beasts of Maravilla Island from Banana Bird Studios, LLC: In this 3D adventure game, take on the role of a young wildlife photographer who traverses Maravilla Island’s magical ecosystems to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their behaviours and, most importantly, photograph their majesty. Beasts of Maravilla Island launches for Nintendo Switch in June.
  • Skul: The Hero Slayer from SouthPAW Games: Take on an entire army to rescue your king in this 2D fast-action roguelite. And the best part? To progress in the game, you’ll need to swap abilities, which is done by swapping … heads. With 90 playable character variations, each with their own special abilities, you might think you’re out of your skull in real life. Skul: The Hero Slayer launches for Nintendo Switch this winter.
  • art of rally from Funselektor Labs Inc.: Will you master the art of rally? Drive iconic cars inspired by the golden era of rally racing on challenging stages through stylized environments set around the world. art of rally launches for Nintendo Switch this winter.
  • KeyWe from Stonewheat & Sons: KeyWe is a cute, cooperative postal puzzler starring two small kiwi birds working in a whimsical post office. They must jump, flap and butt-slam across an interactive landscape of levers, bells and buttons to get those messages delivered on time. KeyWe launches for Nintendo Switch in August.
  • ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights from Adglobe: In this dark fantasy 2D action-RPG, encounter horrific enemies against whom a moment of inattention could be fatal. Overcome these hardships and seek the truth with the help of fallen knights. ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights launches for Nintendo Switch on 22nd June.
  • Weaving Tides from Follow the Feathers: Call your Weaver and soar across a stunning woven landscape. Set out on a journey to explore ancient dungeons, solve puzzles, wrap up your foes and unravel the great mysteries of a long-forgotten past. Weaving Tides, a charming single-player adventure set in a world of magic and textile, launches for Nintendo Switch in May.
  • Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective from Darjeeling: Adapted from the children’s book series, Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective takes you across incredibly detailed mazes to retrieve a powerful artifact. On your quest, you will interact with more than 500 items or characters, find over 100 hidden objects and wander about in beautiful locations. Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective launches for Nintendo Switch this autumn.
  • The House of the Dead: Remake from MegaPixel Studio: The classic arcade rail-shooter is back with a new makeover and exciting gameplay changes. In this multiplayer game, you’ll suit up as a pair of government agents sent to investigate disappearances only to find hordes of undead monstrosities. The House of the Dead: Remake launches for Nintendo Switch later this year.

…and that’s a wrap!
Some really awesome titles announced – very excited to play these. Oxenfree is a personal favourite of mine and is one of the best games on the Switch, so I’m most looking forward to the sequel. What’s top of your list from this bunch of indies? Reach on on socials and let me know!

ENTER THE REAPERS’ GAME ON JULY 27 – NEO: THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU LAUNCH DATE CONFIRMED

New Trailer Highlights Characters, Gameplay Alongside PC Version Announcement

SQUARE ENIX® has announced that the action role-playing game NEO: The World Ends with You will release on July 27, 2021 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Nintendo Switch™ system and confirmed a PC version of the game will be available on the Epic Games Store this winter (ANZ).

Some familiar faces appear alongside the new cast of NEO: The World Ends With You.

The long-awaited follow-up to the RPG classic The World Ends with You follows protagonist, Rindo, as he explores the heart of Tokyo to uncover the mysteries behind the sinister “Reapers’ Game,” a life-or-death battle for survival in which he has been forced to take part. A new trailer, that debuted today, offers an introduction to a new cast of characters, a vibrant and fashionable equipment system, the game’s hyper-stylish action battle system, and much more. The trailer is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xSVYX1FLMGQ

A screenshot of a video game

Description automatically generated
The pin-badge system is back again, and as stylish as ever.

NEO: The World Ends with You combines a striking, anime-style Shibuya with fast-paced gameplay, an amped-up soundtrack from composer Takeharu Ishimoto (THRILL Inc.), and an intriguing story to create an unforgettable experience. Players can explore and enjoy the sights, sounds, and culture of this bustling city, fight monsters alongside their allies in flashy battles, and complete missions as they learn more about the “Reapers’ Game” and fight to change the fate they’ve been handed.

The iconic Shibuya scramble crossing. Just with a lot less people.

You can find out more about Neo: The World Ends With You, which launches on July 27th 2021, via the official website:
https://square-enix-games.com/neotwewy/en-us/

The Funniest Game on Switch? Say No! More Review – Nintendo Switch

Did you have a ball playing Katamari Damacy? Did you think Untitled Goose Game was a honking good time? Looking for another light-hearted, hilarious game? Then Say No! More.

Have you ever been in a situation where you just wanted to shout “NO!”?
Can you imagine if you didn’t even have the option? If refusal was considered taboo?
Where no matter what was asked of you, even the most tedious of tasks, you had to say “yes!” with enthusiasm.

Welcome to the world of Say No! More, a game that developers, Studio Fizbin, claim to be the world’s very first “NPG (No-Playing Game).” Through literally teaching the player to say “no” more, the game emphasises the power behind using this simple word that we too often take for granted. With its unique simplicity, quirky sense of humour, heavily-stylised visuals and superb voice acting, Say No! More delivers a unique experience I KNOW you won’t want to pass up.

So what makes such a simple concept so entertaining?
Well there’s NO time to waste, read on!

Say No More Nintendo Switch

PLOT

It’s your first day at a new job, you’re one of three new interns hired to work for an unnamed massive corporation. Exciting, right? No.

Only minutes into the new job you find out there is a hierarchy that must be obeyed. And as a lowly intern, guess what? You’re the bottom of the ladder. Anything that is asked of you must be done with enthusiasm, in fact it’s impossible to refuse. But why is that? The word “no” does not exist. It has has been completely outlawed, banished and hidden from society.

Get your superior a coffee? Sure, that’s reasonable!
Unjam the printer that your work colleague so kindly stuffed up? Rightio!
Work unpaid overtime for the fifth time this week? Yes, I would love to!
Even give up your adorable unicorn lunchbox because your supervisor forgot their lunch at home? Of course!

Say No More Nintendo Switch Unicorn Lunchbox
Yep, everyone in this game wants a piece of your badass unicorn lunchbox. Who wouldn’t? Just look at it. Majestic.

But this all changes when you stumble across a hidden tape above your dilapidated office desk. A tape containing a forbidden word that has been lost to society. In listening to this tape you gain a power that others in the world would not even speak of: the ability to say NO!

Say No More Nintendo Switch Tape
The world’s shortest audiobook.

In possessing this unique newfound skill, the oppressed intern seeks to rise up and quite literally spread the good word. What follows is a plot that is not only hilarious, but at times meaningful and strangely heart-warming. What starts out as a simple concept, evolves over 8 chapters into something much more dramatic than I had ever expected from a comedy game.

But how do you say “no” more?

GAMEPLAY

Before assaulting office workers and superiors with a barrage of refusal, you’ve got to look the part, right? The game begins with a detailed character creator, despite the very minimalist low-poly graphics. It feels like a combination of Mii Maker and creating a character in The Sims, allowing you to stylise your character’s facial features, clothing and accessories to be as exciting or boring as you wish. I went for a pretty generic salaryman look (that somehow looked a bit like Robert Downey Jr?).

Say No More Nintendo Switch Character Creator
Change your face? No plastic surgery required.

After creating your character, you need to give them a voice. Impressively you can choose from shouting “NO!” in seventeen different languages, each with a feminine or masculine voice. The voice acting is in English, but this shouldn’t stop you from exploring all the different ways you can refuse someone! Definitely a nice touch. For your entertainment here’s a short clip of how to say “no” in the languages available:

Ever wondered how to say no in Gaelic? No?

Once you’ve created your character and chosen your preferred language, the game drops you into a story that takes place across 8 different chapters. Each is about 10 – 15 minutes long and is packed full of hilarious dialogue, amusing conversations between characters, clever easter eggs, and silly slapstick comedy. Levels follow a linear route akin to an on-rails shooter, but instead of firing bullets you’ll be blasting office workers with the sheer power of your words alone. This is simplistic gameplay at its finest and is approachable enough for literally anyone to play. Even my wife (who is usually terrible at games, sorry!) enjoyed it.

Say No More Nintendo Switch Gameplay
Probably don’t do this in your real-life office though…

As you progress through the chapters, you’ll be given additional means of saying no. Certain situations may require you to respond with an angry, a lazy or a sarcastic no. To further humiliate your colleagues, you can perform actions like sarcastically clapping at them, laughing or nodding your head, all of which have certain situations where they are most appropriate. You’ll also be able to hold down the button to charge up a more devastating “NO” that usually causes havoc by launching the unfortunate office workers or inanimate objects that stand in your way. These are all clever ways of adding slightly more depth to a game that could otherwise be finished just by pressing a single button.

Say No More Nintendo Switch Controls
Next time you have to say “no” to a work colleague, try sarcastically clapping at them while doing so. It’ll go down well, I promise.

Though the gameplay in Say No! More is simple, its comedic delivery is where it truly shines.

COMEDY

I’m in no way exaggerating when I say that Say No! More is quite possibly the funniest game I’ve ever played. Throughout the few hours playing the game, the vast majority of the time was spent either in legitimate laughter or with a big cheesy grim on my face. The game is absolutely packed full of superbly-written clever dialogue, witty responses, and a satirical take on the office lifestyle (which I can really appreciate being an office worker myself).

A few snippets from the game, including a reference to some obscure monster-fighting RPG.

My personal favourite parts of the game are delivered in the form of motivational speeches. The tape which teaches you how to say “NO!” is actually delivered by a character that I can only describe as if Hulk Hogan became a motivational speaker. Levels will be scattered with excerpts from this character as you listen to more of the tape, allowing you to unlock further secrets of this powerful word bestowed upon you by your brawny teacher.

Say No More Nintendo Switch Hulk Hogan Nogan Motivation
Your mentor, or as I like to call him: Hulk NOgan.

VISUALS

As you may have already noticed, the game employs a distinct low-poly art-style with vibrant colours and exaggerated animations. I’d say it has a similar aesthetic to Katamari Damacy, which in my opinion is a very good thing. Though detail is limited, this seems to fit well with the comedic style of the game and means the screen can be full of activity with little-to-no drop in framerate. The game performs well in both handheld and docked mode and looks vivid and visually-pleasing.

The low-poly art style of Katamari Damacy Reroll (2018) vs Say No! More.

AUDIO

The soundtrack is quite simple, comprised of peppy, upbeat music that you might expect to hear in the background of an office training video. During the tape sequences however, you’ll feel as if you’ve been thrown into a workout video, as heavy riffs accompany “Hulk NOgan” yelling motivational lines at you.

While none of the tracks in the game will likely find their way onto your favourite game music playlist, the voice acting and delivery of the game’s hilarious dialogue is something worth writing home about. Every single word in the game is voiced, including all the office worker NPCs you’ll often fling out of the way without a care in the world. If you stop to listen to them you’ll enjoy short monologues that aren’t only amusing, but often also insightful.

Say No More Nintendo Switch Dialogue
Take the time to listen to your co-workers. You might learn something from them.

CONCLUSION

So is Say No! More just another indie game on the Switch that you should ignore? NO!
It’s a unique comedic romp through an office that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone thanks to its witty dialogue and simple, approachable gameplay. Surprisingly, the game also delivers a deeper message about the importance of being assertive and by the end you might even take onboard some of the life advice it provides.
Completion will only take 2 – 3 hours and you’ll be laughing and smiling the entire time. I’m predicting this game will be quite a hit with YouTube “let’s players” looking to share a hilarious game with their viewers.

So, why should you play it?

  • You enjoy light-hearted games filled with humour.
  • Can’t commit to 100-hour JRPGs? Here’s a brilliant game that you could finish in a single sitting!
  • Work in an office? You’ll relate to this satirical take on the office lifestyle.
  • You’d prefer a game for sheer enjoyment rather than a challenge.
  • Needing to learn to assert yourself? Say No! More.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Bland sense of humour? Don’t enjoy silly games? Maybe not for you.
  • There are NO other reasons not to play this game!

Say No! More launches TODAY for Steam, Nintendo Switch and iOS.
You can find out more about the game here: https://www.saynomo.re/

A Nintendo Switch review code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection Review – Nintendo Switch

You’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.” – Ronald Weasley on Ghosts n’ Goblins: Resurrection (probably)

If you grew up playing video games in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you had some exposure to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series: a side-scrolling platformer known for its notoriously brutal difficulty, unforgiving gameplay, and protagonist Arthur who strips down to his boxers to rescue his beloved princess. What started as an arcade game (no doubt designed to chew through unsuspecting children’s quarters) eventually gained enough popularity to garner entries on almost every gaming platform ever made, as well as numerous spin-off games (including the much-beloved Gargoyle’s Quest/Demon’s Crest).

Above: the original arcade release, Ghosts ‘n Goblins on NES, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES, and Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins on PSP.

Well, for those masochists out there that played the previous games and didn’t drown in a pool of their own tears, or crumble under the sheer weight of their own shame, the series has been Resurrected and finds its way onto Nintendo Switch with a brand new entry: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection.

PLOT/PREMISE

Do you play a Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the plot? Of course not. Though they still added one anyway. Like a storybook, the game quite literally unfolds in a scroll to reveal Arthur and Princess Guinevere enjoying stroll on a grassy knoll (as royalty are oft to do), when the helpless Princess is picked up and carried away by demonic forces. Princesses have a tendency to get into situations like this, because why else would our heroic protagonist venture through so many treacherous circumstances if not for love? It’s cliché, and almost identical to all the previous games, but this doesn’t really detract from the game in any way.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox
Don’t you hate when demons steal your princess before you can even put some clothes on?

In order to save the Princess, you’re required to navigate through numerous hazard-filled levels, scattered with demonic forces who will stop at nothing to break Arthur’s armour and see him humiliated in his boxer shorts. It’s a simple premise that newcomers will find easily approachable and does not stray far from the original formula, which will please series veterans.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Map
The first few levels in the game, which kindly allow you to choose how you’re going to die.

GAMEPLAY

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And Capcom has done just that: changed very little in Resurrection. Gameplay is what you would expect from the series, with multiple challenging levels combining tricky platforming with punishing enemy placement, and massive boss fights that will have you almost throwing your controllers in frustration. Arthur can take multiple hits as his armour dismantles, however powerups are plentiful and seem strategically-placed alongside checkpoints to help you with some of the more difficult segments.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Red Arremer
Yep, the infamous Red Arremer is back too, and still as annoying as ever.

Combat is a crucial aspect of Ghosts ‘n Goblins – you are given access to 8 different weapons which are dropped at random by enemies or found in chests throughout the level. Some have significant reach like the lance, while others hit closer but deal heavy damage like the hammer, as a result you will have to choose the best weapon for your situation. You’re also locked into attacking in only four directions adding to the retro feel of the game. Though this combat might feel archaic in any other brand new game, it seems fitting for Resurrection, as the gameplay feels just as it did decades ago.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Lance
Arthur’s signature lance attack, the starting weapon in the game.

Some neat additions have been included in Resurrection, most notably its adjustable difficulty. The player can choose difficulty (Page -> Squire -> Knight -> Legend) at the beginning of a level and on the fly. After dying you’ll be prompted whether you’d like to swap to an easier difficulty. It’s nice to have the option, even if I ignored it the entire time for risk of damaging my own pride.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Fire Fox
Seriously considered turning down the difficulty for this area. But I powered on!

Levels are now scattered with Umbral Bees, which appear like floating spirits that can be collected on contact. Some of these are in very precarious locations, or require quite a bit of skill to collect. These can be spent on a literal skill tree, which will unlock attacks, passive and active abilities that can be used during gameplay. Equipping these to your Magic Waistband will unleash devastating attacks to decimate enemies on-screen, or my personal favourite which duplicates Arthur and any of his attacks.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Lightning Skill
One of the first special abilities, which launches lightning across the screen.

If you’d rather not suffer alone, you can now die alongside a friend! The addition of a co-op mode lets player two join in as one of spirits, each of which have unique abilities that can aid Arthur in his quest. It’s a simple addition, but if you’ve got somebody willing to assist, it might just give you that extra leg-up you need to overcome a tricky level.

VISUALS/DESIGN

Without a doubt the most unique aspects of the game are its visuals and artistic direction. The entire game, menus, environments, enemies and bosses are all designed as if they belong in a picture book. It can be a bit jarring for those who have played previous Ghouls ‘n Ghosts games and will likely polarise many players. While I found it to be a bit odd at first, the aesthetic soon grew on me and I eventually found it to be not only quite attractive on the small Switch screen, but very fitting considering the level design moves across like an animated scroll.

Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection PS4 PS5 Nintendo Switch Xbox Headless Boss
The picture book-style visuals are especially noticeable during the game’s boss fights.

Where the previous games in the series have been either pixel art or quite simplistic 3D designs, the new art style of Resurrection seems to offer a refreshing take on existing characters/enemies and adds a level of detail not seen in the series.

SOUNDTRACK

If you’ve played the previous games, you’re probably more than familiar with many other songs you’ll hear in Resurrection. You’ll probably also have slight PTSD hearing them too. What’s brilliant about the soundtrack to Resurrection is how it incorporates the original chiptunes. In paying homage to many of the original songs, the actual chiptunes play at the same time alongside orchestral rearrangements of the songs. It’s almost as if you took a medieval band and a baroque orchestra and you gave them a Gameboy and said, “play this futuristic instrument.”

Most of the themes loop regularly, and you’ll hear them repeat constantly with each death, but I never found them to be grating. The composers have made music for some notable Capcom titles, including Marvel vs. Capcom, Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter. Overall it’s a short but sweet soundtrack coming in at 35 minutes, but cleverly blends chiptunes into vastly-different musical styles.

CONCLUSION

Visuals and minor changes aside, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection brings back classic retro gameplay that feels just as if it could have been released 20 – 30 years ago. Though this may not appeal to some, it’s a game that is fuelled by nostalgia and will certainly please existing fans of the series. In introducing difficulty levels that can be changed on the fly, Resurrection makes the series more approachable for those who aren’t skilled at platformers or become easily frustrated by failure.

So why should you play it?

  • You like challenging games (or are a masochist).
  • Looking for a game that can be enjoyed in short bursts.
  • You’d prefer simple, arcade-style gameplay over complex games.
  • You’ve previously played and enjoyed any of the other Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • If you become easily-frustrated by failure.
  • You’re not a fan of retro games.
  • Not good at platformers? This is not the game for you.

A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.