The 'Shroom:Issue XCVI/Critic Corner
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Section of the Month
To the victor goes the spoils of… nothing, to my knowledge. I think? I don’t know. You get a pat on the back from me, I suppose. Congratulations, Yoshi876 (talk), for winning February’s Section of the Month for his Character Review of the Angry Sun, which got a full 5 votes.
Three-way tie for second place this time around! All got 1 vote, and they were Pyro (talk) for Hottest Reviews Around, which reviewed Shovel Knight; Gabumon (talk) for his Starbound Review; and Glowsquid (talk) for his Lethal Skies Review. Congrats to y’all!
Don’t forget to vote for your favourite issue of this month, too! Your vote counts!
Non-Mario Game Reviews
MC Ballyhoo and Big Top
MC Ballyhoo is a loud, boisterous thing that doesn’t know how to shut up, so basically he's a four-year old. And somehow he came to be in charge of the Star Carnival, something that only happens once a year. What he does when it's not running, no-one knows, though presumably it's to do with annoying people in a typical loud, shouty way. Because that's all that MC Ballyhoo does, whenever you select a game mode he comes in with an annoying haughty laugh and shouts at you what you're meant to do. Meanwhile his cohort just sits there, silently suffering. This would be bearable if the MC had any redeeming qualities, and apart from a having a name that could potentially work as a rapper, he has absolutely none. All he does is yell, laugh for no reason and annoy the hell out of anyone who played Mario Party 8.
In contrast, Big Top is a quiet, reserved top hat with eyes of differing colour, classic psychopath stuff. And have you seen his eyes? If those don't scream murdering psychopath I don't know what does. The hat is probably the better of the two, mainly because he wouldn't drown out a fire engine, three ambulances and a squadron of police cars. The hat seems to be the brains of the operation as well, giving him an academic quality which is something to be respected in a game that revolves around beating your opponents, and yes I mean psychically, to win some candy. He also reminds me of Inspector Gadget seeing as he too had a helicopter come out of his head, and if something reminds me of Inspector Gadget then that's a very good thing.
All in all, MC Ballyhoo is one of the most annoying characters ever created for the series. Shout, shout, laugh, laugh, annoy, annoy. In contrast his hat seems to go down a darker route, even if it's not completely obvious to someone not overanalysing something for entertainment purposes, and as a result he is an intriguing character I'd like to see more of. Just a shame he’d have to bring the good MC down with him.
Hottest Reviews Around
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Hottest Reviews Around. Now, I'm a firm believer that not playing a Kirby game is a SIN and if you haven't played one of the many masterfully crafted games in the series you should stop reading this right now and buy Triple Deluxe or something. But that's not the subject of today's review. In case you didn't look at the template (for some reason), I'll be tackling the latest entry in the franchise, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
I'll say right off the bat that this game feels like a high-speed collision between Kirby: Canvas Curse (its predecessor) and Kirby's Epic Yarn. First of all, the graphics. A similarity with Epic Yarn is that the game decides to use a pretty unique art style. While it doesn't use the art style to such an extent as Epic Yarn did, it looks absolutely fantastic, vibrant and colorful, which is what I really like in graphics. The game also has a giant load of collectibles to get, just like Epic Yarn - each stage has ~3-5 treasure chests, a secret diary page, and a medal ranking that depends on how many stars you got in that level. The treasure chests can contain either arranged music, music from the game or a Smash Bros.-style figurine with descriptions of the characters in the figurine. It certainly adds a ton of replayablility.
As for the actual gameplay, it's pretty smooth. You tap Kirby to make him dash and draw lines for him to roll on, just like in Canvas Curse. They added a new "Star Dash" ability, or whatever it's called. If you collect 100 stars, Kirby will be able to charge up a super dash that plows through enemies and makes him bounce around all over the place. You can store the charges and stack them as well, which helps quite a lot and allows you to perform multiple charges in quick succession. The only real complaints I have about the gameplay are that the whole "paint limit" gimmick is pretty arbitrary and actively harms you in certain levels where there's a ton of dirt you need to dig through with the brush, and that I really wish there was a button on screen to automatically destroy all paint lines on screen, which would make the dirt digging a lot less tedious.
While there are only 3 levels per world plus the boss, the levels are actually pretty long and pretty fun too. Most levels have something unique about them - 1-3 (Great Cave Escape) has the waterfalls that can be blocked by the paint lines, 2-3 has the lasers that can be...blocked by the paint lines, 2-2 has the tank, etc. The levels also have widespread objects in them, such as the pinball bumpers, the green goo that Kirby can get stuck in, and the black areas that you can't draw paint in. They definitely make for some more interesting level design than Canvas Curse.
The best thing about this game, though, is the soundtrack. It's amazing, to be blunt. It's upbeat, it sounds great, and it's a soundtrack that I'd listen to separate from the game. Give it a listen. I particularly like the boss themes and the junk factory theme.
Overall, this game is a pretty fun experience, especially if you enjoyed Canvas Curse, or any other Kirby game, for that matter. Everything about the game is polished and fun and it's a unique, standout game as well. See you next time.
Crocodile Style Reviews
Have you ever heard of the website Does the Dog Die? It’s quite a comprehensive database for every instance a pet is injured or slaughtered in a cinematic release, for those who have no problems driving a spike through their fellow man but tear up whenever poor Lassie has to get the bullet. Naturally, I am that sort of person and will likely grow up to become a crazy cat lady or the bogan Pied Piper, so a game like Monster Hunter may seem a bit of an out of sorts title for me to play. “But wait,” Capcom sputters out, “It’s ok, you don’t murder real animals! They’re all fictional beasts, and they’re all totally evil!” “Oh,” I reply, “but don’t you think it’s a bit strange that plenty of them still very closely resemble our own fauna?” To which they reply “Well fuck you, most of them are dragons anyway, so stop whinging.”
And whinge, I shall stop! Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – wow that’s a mouthful – is the latest in a long line of animal euthanising simulators released exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS… well that’s not entirely true, as it’s actually a remake of a game released in 2013 because hey, let’s keep that cash rollin’ in, boys! It was only released in Japan back then, tho, so this is the West’s chance to sink their teeth in. The game, I mean, not the animal’s flesh. You play as a customisable character on a ship to a new land, a clearly costly life decision as evidenced by them making the trip in their underwear (which is also customisable, I shit you not), with their sights set on beginning a career as a professional monster hunter alongside a rich assortment of misfits of varying professions and practical usefulness. Although given the protagonist is mute and it’s just everyone else insisting that hunting is what they want to do, they could be going here to start a new bakery business for all we know and just happened to get roped into all this.
Having never played a Monster Hunter game before, I took the easy mode option because I'm a scrublord. I named my character Scarlet, in honour of all the monster blood I was set to shed, and partnered up with a little cat companion whom I appropriately named Fluffleton. As per usual for these kinds of RPGs, you have to choose which character class you want to assign yourself to, but you’re not restricted in that decision since it does the Dark Souls thing of letting you change your loadout and playstyle at your own leisure, and hot damn are there are a lot of weapons to choose from. Swords and axes are the most straightforward option; bows, guns, and hammers are for people who’ve watched too much Avengers; the hunting horns are for complete wimps; and the baffling gunblades and insect glaives are for morons. Your armour, on the other hand, gets split between the categories of Blademaster and Gunner, depending on whether you’re running directly into combat or hiding in the bushes.
Stepping back a bit, there’s actually a lot about Monster Hunter 4 that reminds me of Dark Souls. You have a health and stamina metre which you’ll rarely see at maximum levels, an item wheel to allow quick selections in the heat of a velociraptor’s jaws, blade weapons have sharpness levels that need to be tended to, and drinking martinis on the job never goes unpunished. Like in Dark Souls, quick, calculated movements are the name of the game here, since many monsters have a habit of ganging up on you with often hefty amounts of damage. Most of them can be chain-stunned with MLG level skills, and your little cat friends do a surprising amount of work in the background to keep them distracted or contained, if you can deal with their ridiculous amounts of meowing.
Unlike Dark Souls, however, the game is not open-world, it is mission based. You choose which quest you want to go on from a list sorted by difficulty (with harder missions being unlocked as you complete certain Urgent Quests, as they’re called), with the specific goal of each quest ranging from slaying certain numbers of monsters, collecting certain numbers of the native resources, or slaying the required boss monster, and then you head to the gate to go on your merry way. I guess a big open world would’ve felt really rich and vibrant, but hey, your max stamina drains as you actually do shit, so whatever, it works. You’re given 50 minutes to complete each mission, which seems like a generous offering but becomes absolutely necessary in the boss fights since these fuckers just won’t bloody go down.
Herein lies the meat of the game for me, as fighting the large monsters is a bloody ripper. They hit like bloody trucks, which really forces you to take advantage of the lock-on feature on the touch screen if you don’t want to get blindsighted by an incredibly pissed off gorilla flinging its poo at you. Attacking them normally does work, but the game encourages you to leap attack them from ledges since this deals extra damage and has a chance of toppling the beasts over, allowing you to mount them Shadow of the Colossus style to stab at their weak points while desperately trying to cling on for dear life. Believe you me; I cannot believe how much it brought out my inner cowgirl, and given how fast and hard-hitting these things are, it gets you going into a rhythm of skilful dodging and timed attacks that's – and shoot me for mentioning it again – pleasantly reminiscent of Dark Souls. I am still a bit on the fence about no health bars for the bosses, but they do have visual cues of when they’re starting to get exhausted, so I guess that’s something.
Aside from moving the game along, the primary spoils of boss fights are rare resources only obtained from them, which are the primary ingredients used when crafting new weapons and armour. Interestingly enough, most of the craftable equipment doesn’t seem to be inherently superior to most others, instead offering different strengths/resistances (and inversely, weaknesses) to be more properly tailored to your hunt for whichever poor monster had a bad horoscope that day. I actually don’t mind this, since it encourages experimentation and more focus on the stats new equipment has to offer beyond just which one gives you the biggest numbers.
It’s not all fun and games, however. The difficulty spikes tend to get a bit ridiculous at times, forcing you to grind harder than Miley Cyrus, and given that your stats are levelled through upgrading armour instead of levels, there’s never any guarantee that your expeditions will yield the resources you need. Even on a smaller scale, harvesting resources itself can be a chore since you have to investigate the same patch of dirt over and over again to get every individual resource in them; couldn’t we just have a semi-transparent heads-up display to easily grab everything in one go like in Skyrim? It’s not like it’d interfere with gameplay, since the game doesn’t pause when you open up any other menu.
At the end of the day, however, what you want to hear out of me is if the game is good or not, but I’ll instead put it to you this way; I reached 40 hours of playtime, mostly dicking around, and would very well have kept going if I didn’t have the sudden realisation of “shit, I need to get some writing done,” which is generally not bad going for a game. I like the combat mechanics, I like the crafting, I especially adore the boss fights, and I can see myself continuing to play this through the year instead of just putting it away to get to the next review, and you can play it with friends, which I know is all the rave with you kiddies these days. Hell, I may even give the previous games a try, although on second thought that may not be a good idea less my parents walk into the garden one morning to see me leering over a trove of dissected bird corpses.
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