Oh uhh also next month is our 100th issue! It’ll be a big special issue that we’re hoping will be the best one we’ve ever done, but we won’t be able to do that without our wonderful writers and readers, so if you, yes you, are interested in contributing a bonus section to Critic Corner, then hit me up at any of the contacts on my userpage! Thanks in advance!
Paper spears, about as useful as a paper plane in a combat situation.
It's been a while since I've reviewed an enemy, and since I've recently been on a jungle expedition (totally not a lie…), I decided to review the Spear Guy, which are also known as Jungle Guys, apparently. Spear Guys are basically Shy Guys with face paint and large pointy objects that are held in the air; effectively they're the protestors of the Shy Guy Union.
Either a charging mechanic that was never used, or a running away mechanic… that was never used.
Unsurprisingly these Shy Guys first appeared in a Yoshi game, more specifically, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Here, they were quite the enemy to defeat, one had to get 'em from behind as their shield could block a Yoshi's tongue, though why spiked cactuses couldn't is still unknown to this very day. And thankfully, they return in its sequels as well, where they function the same way which is great because they functioned brilliantly already.
Yoshi's Island: Hawaii Edition.
One of the best things about Spear Guys is the unpredictability in what game they'll appear in next. We all anticipate another Yoshi's Island appearance, but a Paper Mario appearance was not something on the cards, or ancient tribal dunes. Nor were appearances in Mario Party Advance, although that may be because we were hoping for the traditional Mario Party gameplay; Mario Power Tennis, where he appeared summoning thunder magic in one of the best ways ever: interpretative dance; or even as cross-dressers in the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
Overall, Spear Guys are one of my favourite Shy Guy variants, sure they're as deadly as the fly currently sitting on my ceiling, but the sheer unpredictability in their next appearance coupled with the fact that use interpretative dance to summon the ancient tribal spirits means that I might not eat these when I play a Yoshi game. Okay, that's a lie because it's so fun to see their spear and shield go flying away after eating one.
Hey, guys, I'm here for more fangames you probably don't care about! The fangames I've been playing lately I haven't finished, so this one will be short with one Mega Man game - Quint's Revenge.
Yes. That exists.
For those that don't know, Quint is a character from the infamously low-effort GameBoy equivalent to Mega Man 2, Mega Man II. Each of the GameBoy games besides the last had an exclusive original character known as a "Mega Man Killer". Quint is the joke of the group, basically, and most sources don't even count him as one. Quint is a giant joke for two reasons - his backstory is stupid (he's brainwashed Mega Man from the future!!!!!) and his fight is pathetic (he sits there, spawns 4 effortlessly dodged rocks, and then tries to jump on you, wash, rinse, repeat). He didn't get his own Special Stage while the other three Killers did in Mega Man 10.
Quint in his natural habitat.
So some insane person decided to make a game about Quint, and it's actually surprisingly good, considering that this game was reportedly made in someone's free time during the development of their bigger game, Mega Man Revolution. The gist of the game is that you, surprise, play as Quint, who has a few new abilities that Mega Man doesn't have. He has a dash ala Mega Man X, and holding down the dash button will allow you to continue dashing as long as you hold the button. Quint also will not get knocked off ladders if he gets hit on them, and he can jump in the air after he walks (not jumps) off a ledge. He can also duck, but you use that ability...probably twice ever? Also, Quint cannot charge; this ends up not mattering much though because enemies and bosses have very low invincibility frames.
Vertical quick lasers.
You have your standard Mega Man game length - an intro stage, 8 Robot Masters, and 6 fortress stages. You can choose any of the 8 Robot Masters from the original Mega Man II right after the intro stage. Each of the stages have a new idea that make things more interesting and engaging than their original stages in both the NES and GameBoy games. Metal Man's stage has molten lava and instant-death gears you have to run from, Crash Man's stage has time bombs, locked doors and bomb conveyor belts, Air Man has tiny cloud platforms that move in a straight line and disappear on contact with a wall, Wood Man's stage has season changes, Top Man's stage has Quick Lasers (aaaaaaaahhhh), Needle Man's stage has needle platforms and huge spike walls that you can only dodge by hiding behind glass walls, Hard Man's stage has balls n' chains, and Magnet Man's stage has enormous magnets that have a much stronger pull than the magnet enemies. They're all used well and make the stages pretty fun - even the Quick Lasers aren't too unfair, and thanks to Quint's fast dash you have more room for error than you might think.
Half of the weapons are unchanged and the other half are different. Magnet Missile, Hard Knuckle, Leaf Shield and Air Shooter are the same. Metal Blade is now Metal Catcher, which is a fast but weak item-grabbing weapon with Metal Blade's ammo. Needle Cannon is now Needle Crusher, a powerful, short-range weapon that functions like Needle Man's headbutt attack. Top Spin (why did you have to go???) is now Spinning Top, a slow, bouncing, weirdly functioning weapon that still OHKOs everything it affects, and Crash Bomber is now Crash Blaster, an extremely powerful screen-clearing weapon. The selection of weapons is pretty good, and the majority of them found a lot of use. Hard Knuckle could use some more ammo, though.
The fortress stages are pretty neat, cribbing the gimmicks from previous stages and doing some other neat things along the way. The first stage gives me a rare example of a devil boss that I've seen that is actually fun, thanks to the low invincibility frames allowing you to get many shots in. The second is a fun ice stage with magnets and a walrus boss, the third is a miniboss rush with a joke fight against the Buebeam Trap (one shot of Crash Blaster will kill it), the fourth is re-fights, the fifth is a fight against Wily's PIRATE MACHINE, and the sixth is the final stage, with crazy elemental variants on the enemies and a 4-phase Wily fight.
There is one flaw, though - the music is pretty bad. Before, it was said that the tracks were placeholders, and that they would be replaced soon, but the music is still pretty "meh" even after they've updated the music. I'm baffled why they didn't use RushJet1's Mega Man II Remade soundtrack. By the way, RushJet1 is a guy that does great NES-style music, and he's done remixes of all of the music in the first three Mega Man games for both NES and GameBoy. Check him out on Bandcamp, his work is great.
Overall, Quint's Revenge a pretty neat game and a fun but quick play, and a quick Google search should point you to the game. See you next month!
I’ve discovered that Western-style RPGs become a lot more entertaining if you imagine that all the NPCs are actually the people you see in infomercials. They seem so incapable of performing even the most menial of task, but lacking the kind of ingenuity of modern day products catering to their brand of ineptitude, they instead require the assistance of a grizzled vagabond with way too much spare time on their hands to give them a hand, just blankly standing there or meandering about until you return with the goods and/or disembodied carcasses.
To that end, we have The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game I’ve chosen to review even against my best judgments because I’ve not played either of the previous games nor read any of the books, which likely makes me the least qualified authority to have any opinion on it. However, I am a professional journalist who goes out of her way to educate herself, so I asked experts – namely, some friends of mine – to summarise for me and they simply said “sex and violence,” which alone already puts it high on the list of games that’ll never see the light of day in Germany. Sorry, Edo.
Moving on, the game places you in the shoes of long-time protagonist and the frumpiest man in the world Geralt of Rivia, a human imbued with special powers – called Witchers. Taking place in medias res of a great war going on in the most whitewashed continent in the world, Geralt seeks his estranged girlfriend whereupon he learns that their adopted daughter, Ciri, has returned after an extended vacation and is currently on the run from her frostbitten landlords, the titular Wild Hunt. Actually, the reason they’re pursuing Ciri is because she has elder blood which will allow the Hunt to unlock hidden powers, or the gates to heaven, or the world’s most perfect pizza for all we know.
As with many RPGs if its ilk, Wild Hunt’s gameplay is quest-driven, meaning you progress by walking to the lazy berks with exclamation marks hanging over their heads and sorting their shit out like a domestic care worker. Most of the missions can be summed up as simply go to where the big yellow marker is on the minimap, murdering and looting everyone along the way, but differs primarily in the investigation mechanics. Instead of specifically telling you what to do next with a trail of minimap breadcrumbs, Geralt is able to investigate key areas for clues or trails like a medieval private dick. While a lot it can be reduced to click on all the glowing red things in your special witcher vision, I think it’s a better way of going about quest progression since it grants a greater sense of agency to the player, which offers something different from the hand-holding experience of Skyrim.
Speaking of player agency, the sheer degree of depth to the crafting and upgrade system is staggering! Anyone who knows me knows that I love crafting mechanics in games, but I’m always let down by the process in most games being shallower than a PETA representative, which makes Wild Hunt’s layered approach so much more appealing to me. The number of potential supplies you can obtain to use in either crafting or alchemy is insane, and most potions, bombs, armour, and weapons require ludicrous amounts of items to create, and even afterwards they can be upgraded even further or, depending on the type of armour, be imbedded with runes to add special properties to them. Weapons and armour in particular require careful attention, because the majority of them are locked off until Geralt reaches certain levels, and some are heavier than others creating problems for the weight threshold in his inventory. If you decide your broad iron chestplate clashes with the ruby-studded elven boots, you can always disassemble them into more crafting resources for a small fee at the smithy; hell, even quest items can be smelted down for parts (after they’ve served their original purpose, of course)! Legend of Zelda, this sure ain’t.
As for character upgrades, Geralt earns Ability Points every time he levels up (experience being gained by completing quests) which can be pooled into any of 70 different ability slots, spread across four colour-coded categories; Combat (physical offense and defense), Signs (magic abilities), Alchemy Skills (items, such as potions and bombs), and General Skills (augmenting base stats and skills). Geralt can only wrap his head around so many talents, however, so you’re restricted to equipping a maximum of twelve abilities at a time. The equip slots are actually split into four different branches, with an additional Mutagen Slot for each; Mutagens are basically DNA samples of hideous, grotesque monsters, so Geralt figures the best use of them is sticking them inside his body, which provide him with even more stat upgrades on their own, but have their potency boosted ever further if placed in the same set as Abilities of the matching colour. It’s like medieval drug mixing, except it makes your dick more erect instead of killing you.
For all this beautiful customisation depth, I found the combat itself to be a bit sorely lacking, much like my sex life. While I did eventually get myself into a rhythm, the swordplay feels very Assassin’s Creed to me making it sluggish and a tad unresponsive at times, and while I applaud them for limiting spell spam by linking magic to the stamina metre, I sincerely wish Geralt’s magic did more than blow them away a bit or singe the enemies’ shoulderpads. Dodge rolling often feels like a waste of time, since many monsters lunge further than you dodge and break through shielding anyway, which forced me to use the shield spell over and over again just so I survived long enough in battle to actually get a hit in. Makes me start to think that Jennifer Hepler was right about skipping combat…
Speaking of Hepler, while I suppose this comes with the territory of being based on a book, special mention should go to the exceptional writing in Wild Hunt, which is just as well given how bloody much of it there is. It’s such that even the most insignificant NPC is made to feel believable and distinct, if not needlessly obnoxious. Case in point: I couldn't walk anywhere for two minutes without a random passer-by with a foreign accent telling me I’m not welcome there and suggesting I should fuck my mother, which as a Dota 2 player, makes me feel right at home. In all honesty, I don’t fully blame everyone for having a bee in their bonnet given that Geralt is kind of a prick, as he saw all my attempts to get him to play nice with the branching dialogue trees as challenges against his authority, and proceeded to bark orders anyway or chop the heads off drunken pub brawlers. Find your fucking chill, mate. It’s symptomatic of a game that, while certainly beautifully written, is trying a bit too hard to relive the My Chemical Romance glory days, and after a while the sheer grimness of it all starts to take its toll and become a little bit ridiculous. But if you do keep cutting yourself on the game’s edge, then don’t fret, since it offers a wonderful remedy in the form of masks, which carry over into cutscenes to turn the otherwise epic dark fantasy into a wacky black comedy with just a click of a button.
It’s fairly safe to say that Wild Hunt is a story-driven game, but the primary issue I have with the story is it spends so much bloody time just pissing around. The first act of the game is the most arduously long, requiring you to thoroughly explore three massive areas of the game which would each make up a full Assassin's Creed game, doing fetch quests for assholes who otherwise refuse to divulge information to you, and then doing more fetch quests for other assholes just to please the first asshole. By the time I had reached the actual fights against the Wild Hunt in the latter half of the game, I looked back and felt extremely unaccomplished; the defense of the witcher’s headquarters was the highlight of the entire story campaign for me, but then the game just keeps dragging on long after I had since stopped giving a damn. Even the myriad of sex scenes available did little to liven things up, since you only get a few flash shots of ass and titties before it’s all over anyway; R18+ my ass, you see worse at the Melbourne Zoo.
But all in all, I do get the appeal in The Witcher 3, especially from a narrative perspective since any game in which a vampire bluntly tells you to “fuck off” is already worthy of a platinum bloody medal. If the game did more to justify the complexity of its upgrade mechanics with more fluid combat and greater fighting options, and stopped wasting time with even its plot-relevant quests, I’d write this one down as a triumph of the ages, but alas no such luck. To be honest, I’d be most fascinated to see the investigation mechanics evolved a bit further; hell, with the new Ace Attorney game pushing the series further back in time, why not have a Witcher/Ace Attorney crossover set in the Middle Ages? I’m sure the witchers’ bloodthirst would keep Mr. Edgeworth’s ancestors wearing satin robes and jewel-encrusted breakfasts for a good few generations.