Category Archives: Mini-Review

Undertale and Player Choice

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So, I have this friend. We’ll call her ‘Lauren’, because, well, that’s what her name is. She plays a lot of video games, and plays a lot of music from a lot of video games, and is generally very enthusiastic about them to a degree that borders upon indescribable. She tends to criticize video game plots and characterization and themes because let’s face it, no matter how far video games have come in the past couple years, there have been just as many steps backwards. And besides, if one loves a thing, one should criticize it in the interests of making it better. I guess what I’m saying is, when Lauren recommends a game, I tend to listen to her because she puts a great deal of thought behind her recommendations. So, when she recommended that I play a little indie game by the name of Undertale, I paid attention.

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to write about games that were popular and that everyone already knew about. And here I am, writing about a game that everyone has at least heard something about in the past couple of months. But here we are.

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Opening Turn – Catlateral Damage

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Video games have a long, storied history of allowing a person to step into the shoes of some of the worst people imaginable. Sometimes it’s by design, such as in the case of the psychopathic crime simulator Grand Theft Auto or in equally psychopathic archaeological crime simulator Uncharted. Sometimes it’s by choice, such as in Mass Effect where you can make the conscious decision to be a jerk. And sometimes it’s by complete accident, as in pretty much any game that doesn’t take into account the law of unintended consequences. For example, I’m certain that in the process of throwing all those fireballs around, Mario has probably caused a forest fire or two. Or even in something so completely oddball as Katamari Damacy, you’re basically dealing with someone being a jerk on a large scale by being one on a smaller scale.

Anyway. Catlateral Damage is just one more game where you play as the worst asshole possible. Only this time you are also a cat.

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Opening Re-Turn – Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition

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Normally, I don’t review multiple versions of the same game. These days, if a game comes out on multiple platforms, a) those versions aren’t terribly different from each other, and I’ll note any differences I do know about in my original review, and b) I usually only have time to play a game all the way through once. It’s only in a very special kind of circumstance when I play the same game through more than once on more than one platform.

It does happen though, and this is one of those times. I happened to come across a copy of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: Ultimate Evil Edition for Playstation 4 (which from here on I will just call Diablo III  for ease of conversation). I knew that the game was different now than the original was when it launched, so I was looking forward to seeing just what those differences involved.

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Mobile Madness, January 2014 Edition

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January is an astonishingly busy month for me, and as I’ve been playing a lot of games that I’ve already reviewed (ZeldaFinal Fantasy XIV, etc.), I think that now would be a good time to give a sort of brief overview of the mobile games that have captured my attention for one reason or another. And since these games have some pretty similar mechanics, I decided I’d sort of group them into the same review and discuss the ways they are similar and different, and which are actually worth playing.

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A Link Between Worlds, or How to Change a Formula Without Breaking It

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The Legend of Zelda is a series that, at this point, needs no introduction. It has been continually developed for over twenty-five years, and was definitely instrumental in popularizing the combination of puzzle, exploration, and adventure elements that is the series trademark. Games from the series regularly appear on lists of the greatest games ever made, and it is one of the two series that must be present on any piece of Nintendo hardware that is released.

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Incremental Fatigue: Annual Releases and Getting Older

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When I started writing this article, I fully intended on it being a review of Magic 2014, the latest release of the Magic: the Gathering self-contained video game (which, thankfully, drops both the ‘the Gathering‘ and the ‘Duels of the Plainswalkers‘ suffixes). I really did. And it’s still going to be, at least in part. However, as I opened up the game itself to give myself a mental refresher on it, as it has been out for a few months or so at this point, I realized that the feeling I was having when I started to play the game again was something that really should prompt a bit of consideration. I found that not only was I really not in the mood to play it, I couldn’t really imagine a time when I would want to grind through even the short, predictable matches that would unlock entire decks worth of cards, one card at a time, all over again.

And in that moment, I finally understood why someone would spring for paying a buck or two in order to unlock content that is available to the player through gameplay progression.

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Opening Turn Mobile: Reaper

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Sometimes I really question the decision whether or not to apply the label of ‘mobile’ to a game. I mean, sure, technically any game that can be played on a smartphone or tablet is a ‘mobile’ game. For a lot of people, though, the term has some negative connotations to it. I really don’t think that negativity is earned in a lot of cases. There are certainly quite a few ports of games that used to be console games, such as a sizable chunk of the NES and SNES Final Fantasy games. There are also a fair number of match-three and physics-based-puzzle games as well, and in a lot of cases, these work better on mobile devices than they would in any other medium. There haven’t typically been a great number of action RPGs that are native to the platform though. Sure, there are a few, such as the Zenonia series, but one cannot say there is an abundance of them. This is the void that Reaper: Tale of a Pale Swordsman is aiming to fill.

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Opening Turn Mobile: Box Cat

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Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BOX CAT!

Uh. Okay. So this game doesn’t have anything to do with Batman, or boxes. But there are cats!

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Depression Quest: A Glimpse Into A Darker World

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[Warning: The game I am about to describe contains scenes intended to show the effects of deep depression. As a result, people who do suffer from depression may be triggered by some of the scenes in the game. I have included links at the bottom of this post to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as iFred, an organization dedicated to researching and preventing depression.]

When I was shown Depression Quest by a friend, I didn’t really know what to expect. My first reaction was to be wary of it. A game that simulates depression? Certainly, at best, I thought it would be a game that just repeated things that people have already heard over and over again: to seek help from a licensed professional. At worst, I expected it to miss the mark entirely.

Well, let me just say that I was extremely surprised.

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Opening Turn: Celestial Mechanica

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With the release of the Free Bundle, which vows to deliver TRUE INDIE content to the masses, we at Attack Initiative have taken it upon ourselves to sample this content and write some things about it. I decided that for my part, I would play a bit of Celestial Mechanica and contribute my thoughts on it. I will admit that I MAY have been drawn to it, in part, by the presence of the wonderful and talented Laura Shigihara in the trailer. So what did I think about the rest of the game? Well, I’ll tell you. As is my custom with short indie games, apparently, this might be a bit shorter than normal, but do not let that lead you to believe that the game itself is not worth playing! Continue reading

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