Also available on OSX and Windows
RUSH is a game that stylistically is extremely similar to EDGE but with radically different gameplay. It's another game by Two Tribes who have several games on the Wii U eShop (including EDGE) ranging from pretty good to great. RUSH was originally developed as a PC game that relies heavily on mouse control, but given the use of the touchscreen on the Wii U gamepad, it made the transition to Nintendo's ill-fated console extremely well.
Whereas EDGE was a puzzle platformer that involved getting a cube through various and increasingly difficult obstacles to read a goal point, RUSH flips that formula on its head; you have to place a set number of directional tiles in the right places to make sure that each cube gets to the goal point of its corresponding color without colliding with any other cubes. The game's levels are broken into categories - "Easy," "Medium," "Hard," and some ultra hard levels that you unlock after finish the others that serve as a sort of "boss" set. As you might expect, the Easy levels are extremely easy, the Medium levels take some time, though, and trial-and-error but are totally doable, but the Hard levels can get REALLY convoluted (but in a good way). The super hard levels are just brutal.
Throughout the game, you'll have to learn to use ten different tiles; four change the cube's direction to the four cardinal directions, four slide the cube up/over/down one space while maintaining movement in its original direction afterwards, one makes the cube pause for a moment, and one is a sort of splitter that sends cubes alternating right and left. It's all very straightforward at first, but those last two - the pause and splitter - make things REALLY confusing in the latter levels.
RUSH is a perfect puzzle game for folks who want a casual game that really makes them think logically and that they can just pick up and play for a few minutes here or there without needing a major time commitment. Its visual design is very simplistic, but the use of bright colors against largely white backgrounds keeps things from looking dull, and the use of a 3D puzzle field gives it a depth that a lot of cheap indie puzzle games lack. It certainly gets frustrating in the latter levels, but the game does feature a hint function that shows you what spaces should have a tile of some kind and will show you if a placed tile is in the correct spot or not. I tried to use those as sparingly as I could, but I definitely had to resort to it a couple times in the last dozen or so levels. This is a great game for mental exercise, though.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, 3DS, iOS, Android, and Windows
Edge is a random little indie game by Two Tribes that I bought on a whim when it was on sale on the Wii U eShop a few years ago, but I never really put a whole lot of time into it before - just a couple levels here, a couple levels there, so on and so forth. As I'm packing up most of my consoles to move, however, my Wii U is one of the few consoles that I still have hooked up, so I figured I'd put some time into this game.
The visual style of the game is extremely simplistic; you play as a a little cube and have to make your way through the levels and avoid increasingly difficult obstacles. There are, thankfully, checkpoints at various points throughout the levels, and they're pretty frequent, but even with that, the latter levels get really tricky. Honestly I don't even remember if there's much audio or music, so if there is, that probably means that it's pretty unimpressive.
The early levels of the game are extremely easy as you learn the basic mechanics of the game, but towards the end, your timing and precision has to be exact with zero room for error. Fortunately, the levels are varied enough and few enough in number - about 50 in total - that it never gets boring or stale. Frustrating? Absolutely. Not boring, though.
Edge is an extremely simple indie game both in gameplay and in presentation. That simplicity does not undermine the addictive puzzle game hiding underneath, however. It's a pretty cheap download on the Wii U eShop, and I can't imagine that it's expensive on other platforms, so if physics based puzzle platformers are your thing, give this one a shot. It's not amazing, but it's definitely a good time.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Also available on Arduboy and OSX
Circuit Dude marked a first for me. This was the first time that I ever had someone reach out to me and ask me to review his game on my blog. Crait, the game's dev, even sent me a Steam code for the game to review it, so first and foremost, I'd like to extend a personal thank you to him as well as an apology for how long it's taken me to get this review written.
Circuit Dude is an extremely simplistic puzzle game that spans 100 levels. You play as Circuit Dude, and you have to navigate the game's puzzles to help him build his new invention. The game starts off ridiculously easy, but by level 40 or so, it gets challenging, and it's just plain hard from there on. Normally having seriously challenging levels in a puzzle game is a good thing, but unfortunately, Circuit Dude's gameplay isn't engaging enough to hold my interest through the increasingly tough puzzles. It's not that the game sucks by any means, but it gets repetitive and monotonous after a couple dozen levels, and I just wasn't enjoying it enough to justify the time commitment to keep progressing through the second half of the game.
The visuals are reminiscent of a later MS-DOS or early Windows 95 game, and while that's not a bad thing, it's probably not going to hold most folks' attention for 100 levels in 2018. The audio is similarly simplistic. They get the job done, and they're not bad, but they are - and I know I'm repeating myself, but I don't know how better to describe it - simple. For a game made by one guy, however, I really can't criticize it too harshly; it's not like I could make anything even remotely decent.
Circuit Dude is a cute albeit extremely simplistic puzzle game. The character it really likable, and the puzzles really are quite clever, but the gameplay is just too repetitive for me to want to power through the increasingly difficult levels. If you really love puzzle games or have a lot of patience, then this one might be up your alley, but while I feel bad saying this since the Steam code was freely given and this review was requested by the dev, it just didn't hold my interest.
My Rating - 2 Neps
Also available on PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Linux, OSX, and Windows
Guacamelee is an indie side scrolling beat 'em up in the Metroidvania style themed around the Mexican celebration of el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). I got it, if I remember correctly, from a Humble Bundle a couple years ago with a bunch of Wii U and 3DS games.
You play as Juan, an agave farmer, preparing for the Dia de los Muertos festival when an undead charro named Carlos Calaca attacks the president's mansion in an attempt to kidnap his daughter for use in an evil ritual. While trying to save the president's daughter, Juan is killed by Calaca until a magical luchador mask resurrects Juan with the legendary power of a Mexican wrestler. You then dedicate yourself to following Calaca, taking out his minions, and hopefully stopping his evil plans and saving the president's daughter. Whether or not you're successful in that last part depends on your play throughout the game as there are multiple endings to the game.
There are a fair variety of different dungeons and environments in Guacamelee, and there are abilities that are unlocked throughout the game that will allow you to access previously restricted areas. This not only gives the game some more variety but also gives some reason to go back to previously cleared areas to try to access new secrets with powerups and money that can be used to unlock improvements and new costumes. Each costume has its own abilities and detriments, so it's totally worth it to try to farm silver and experiment with the different costumes.
Guacamelee isn't a stunningly revolutionary game, and its theme revolving around a Mexican festival is probably its most unique feature. Despite that, however, the game is a TON of fun with some interesting dungeons and some engaging boss battles. If you find it on sale and are a fan of beat 'em ups, definitely give it a download. It should be getting a release on Switch soon, as well, so if that's your platform of choice, you'll soon be in luck.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Also available on Switch, Linux, OSX, and Windows
I saw Detention on sale for like $1 or so on a recent PSN flash sale, so I decided I'd give it a shot. For that little, I figured it was worth the risk especially given my love for horror games. Rather than being developed by a Japanese or American development studio like most games I play, Detention was developed by a team from Taiwan (or, as it's officially called, the Republic of China. There's your history-teacher trivia for the day).
Detention is set in the 1960s, a little over a decade after Mao Zedong's communist forces overthrew China's ruling Kumintang Party and established the People's Republic of China and exiled the deposed nationalist government to the island of Taiwan. Having recently lost a civil war and facing constant threats of a communist invasion, the island of Taiwan is under martial law and executing what is tantamount to a witch hunt against communist sympathizers. You play as a high school student trapped in a mysteriously deserted school during a typhoon. While this in itself is unsettling enough for a high school student, things get creepier when unexplained and seemingly impossible things begin happening as you try to contact the outside world.
The story, while a bit confusing at times since I'm not as well versed in Taoist mythology as I perhaps should be, is really fantastic, and when coupled with the legitimately creepy atmosphere makes for a fantastic horror experience. With that said, I won't say much about the story so as not to spoil anything, but it's a fantastic little mystery with some puzzles to solve that are quite clever but not particularly challenging for the most part.
Detention is a truly fantastic example of indie game design. The mood is eerie, and the journey through the game is filled with mystery as the truth of your situation slowly unravels. The visuals have a very simplistic style, but it gets the job done and fits the mood of the game. Even at full price, it's not terribly expensive and absolutely worth the asking price, but if you see it on sale on Steam, PS4, or Switch, go ahead and let it be an impulse buy. It's a truly fantastic experience.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.