Another week, another helping of reviews of games that may have passed you by.
• What the fox going on in Super Lucky’s Tale
• Pooh-related antics that aren’t X-rated for once in Disneyland Adventures
• Paint-based platforming in Splasher
• An adventure that has nothing to do with Elliot Ness in Elliot Quest
• By-the-numbers RPG Switchery in Revenant Saga
• Going back to the future in Time Recoil
• Dialling 1471 (or *69 if you’re American) in Another Lost Phone
As usual, each review (except for the last, for reasons which will become clear) is accompanied by a First Play video, in which I captured the first 15-30 minutes of each game as I played it for the first time.
This way you can see how I reacted to it at first, and then how the game eventually panned out in the review.
Super Lucky’s Tale
Microsoft Studios / Playful Corp
Xbox One, Windows 10 (Xbox One version reviewed)
What is it? – A 3D platformer in which a young fox called Lucky is trapped in a magical book and has to save its worlds from the evil Kitty Litter gang.
Is it any good? – Nothing Super Lucky’s Tale does is remarkable in any way: it’s your standard 3D platformer harking back to the days of Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and the likes.
However, while it may not make any attempts to push the boundaries of the platforming genre, what it does offer is perfectly functional and entertaining.
Lucky is an endearing mascot, a cheery chap with an expressive face and a spring in his step that made me smile.
And even though the occasional 2D-only sections and one-off puzzle stages only add a little variety to the mix, I still had fun playing it.
It isn’t going to win any awards for originality but it’s a nice 4K platformer for only £20, and should entertain you for the five hours or so it takes to complete 100%.
Microsoft Studios, Asobo Studio
Xbox One, Windows 10, Xbox 360 (Xbox One version reviewed)
What is it? – An Xbox One port of the Xbox 360 Disneyland simulator, which was previously only playable with Kinect controls.
Is it any good? – The Xbox 360 Kinect version of Disneyland Adventures had me feeling more conflicted than almost any other game I’ve played.
I’m a huge fan of Disneyland, and Adventures provides a remarkably faithful recreation of it, right down to the individual buildings and small signs on Main Street USA.
The problem is, playing with Kinect’s inaccurate control scheme was an absolute ball-ache, to the extent that simply walking through the park became an exercise in patience
This Xbox One edition fixes that by letting you play with a controller, and it makes a world of difference: exploring the ins and outs of the detailed environments is now far more enjoyable.
To be blunt, at its core it’s still really a game for young children, and much of it is a collectathon where you follow a golden line from mission to mission, but any Disney fan who’s a child at heart will get a kick out of exploring this one and meeting the wide variety of Disney characters wandering around.
The Side Kicks
Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam (Switch version reviewed)
What is it? – A 2D platformer in which your character can interact with any paint that’s splattered onto the stage.
Is it any good? – I didn’t really know what to expect with Splasher, but given its pedigree – its creator Romain Claude was a designer at Ubisoft who worked on Rayman Origins and Legends – I was curious.
Turns out I was right to be, because Splasher is a fantastic platformer with a brilliant paint mechanic which continually throws up interesting ideas.
Your character is nice and sprightly – think the likes of Super Meat Boy or ‘Splosion Man – and controlling him is straightforward enough that you can quickly get used to zipping around the levels, which feels awesome to do.
Combine that with its fantastic art style and its silky smooth 60fps frame rate and this is a seriously impressive game that, despite its short length, will have you happily replaying it after the credits roll.
Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam, Wii U, 3DS (Switch version reviewed)
What is it? – A retro style 2D platformer in which a young chap called Elliot must find the cure to his curse before he’s transformed into a demon.
Is it any good? – You’d be forgiven for being sick of retro-style 2D Metroidvania indie games by now but, in Elliot Quest’s defence, it was first released three years ago.
After making appearances on a bunch of other systems it’s finally made its way to the Switch, and it’s still essentially the same game.
This means an action platformer with five dungeons to explore and a bunch of special abilities to find along the way, allowing you to backtrack and reach new areas in that classic Metroidvania style.
Chances are you’ve seen this sort of thing before, and it could be argued that there are already better retro-style platformers on the Switch, like Shovel Knight. However, if you’re in the need for more of the same and you fancy a change of scenery then for £8.99 / $9.99 you could do worse.
Kemco / Exe Create
Switch, Steam, iOS, Android (Switch version reviewed)
What is it? – A turn-based RPG. Poor Albert has been subject to a mad scientist’s experiment and is now sharing his body with a Revenant, a demon of sorts. Time to get rid of the prick.
Is it any good? – It’s a shame to see what Kemco has become.
The Hiroshima-based publisher has been releasing games since the mid 1980s, and was best known for the Top Gear titles.
In recent years though it’s been churning out a constant stream of mobile RPGs – 20 of them in 2013 alone – and Revenant Saga is a port of one of them.
At its core it doesn’t do anything too wrong: the world exploration is a throwback to the 16-bit days (albeit with more detailed graphics that make it look more like a Flash game), and the battles are basic polygonal affairs that are more reminiscent of PS2 RPGs.
However, everything’s presented in such a seemingly half-arsed way that you’re constantly left thinking “ah, that bit could have gone a bit better”.
Battles are piss easy for the most part, dialogue goes on for an eternity and the character animations are laughable, rarely going beyond the sprite wildly shaking any time they react to something.
There’s an understandable temptation to get Revenant Saga because it’s currently one of the cheapest RPGs on the Switch. But as my granny used to say, “if you buy cheap, you get cheap”, and there’s really nothing remarkable about this one.
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Steam, iOS (Switch version reviewed)
What is it? – A twin-stick shooter with a focus on manipulating time: both by travelling through time between stages, and slowing time down during gunfights.
Is it any good? – Another week, another twin-stick shooter on Switch. Seriously, with the likes of Neon Chrome, Jydge et al on Nintendo’s handheld you’re pretty much spoilt for choice if that’s your bag.
Time Recoil is one of the better offerings, though it does take a wee while before it gets to that stage.
There’s a lot of initial faffing around, with lengthy and slightly convoluted dialogue and a handful of early levels which are just too short to be properly engaging.
Eventually though the stages get bigger and more difficult, and the game’s true mechanics start to shine through.
Once you realise it’s all about chaining together kills – time slows down for a while after each one, and getting a few in a row grants you special abilities – everything clicks and it becomes fun to play.
On a personal level, I still reckon Jydge is my twin-stick shooter of choice on the Switch, but Time Recoil is an interesting alternative.
Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story
Plug In Digital / Accidental Queens
Android, iOS, Steam (Android version reviewed)
What is it? – A narrative puzzle game in which you try to find out what happened to the previous owner of a phone you’ve just found.
Is it any good? – Earlier this year I reviewed A Normal Lost Phone, an interesting mobile game about finding someone’s phone and browsing through it to find out more about who it belonged to.
While I praised the general idea, I was a bit unnerved by the idea of a game that encourages the access of a stranger’s personal information, even to the extent that one puzzle has you sending a draft email from their account.
The sequel Another Lost Phone is more of the same, but this time it opens with a sizeable disclaimer stating that in no uncertain terms should you ever do this with a real person’s phone. Nice work, that’s all I needed.
Sadly, I just couldn’t connect with Another Lost Phone as deeply as I could with its predecessor. I felt its puzzles were a little too abstract compared to the first game, and as such I was less curious to see what would happen.
My advice is to give A Normal Lost Phone a go first. Then, if you really enjoyed it and want more of the same, give this slightly less compelling sequel a try. Both games will only take an hour or two to beat, but for only a couple of quid each they’re an interesting diversion.
In order that I could write the above reviews, I received copies of the above games from their respective PRs (except for Super Lucky’s Tale and Disneyland Adventures, which I bought with my own money). The content of my reviews and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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