Sometimes a simple quick game is all you really want or need. Sometimes a call back to nostalgia is a perfect balm to soothe the soul. Sometimes you just want to kill things, take their stuff, and not bother with story or plot.
Knightin+ covers all of that with its cute 16bit pixel art, its simple but engaging gameplay, and its devious puzzles. While the game frustrated me (the optional puzzles are brutal) I can still recommend it to those who want something cheap and fun to play. So join Sir Lootsalot on his quest for cold hard cash!
Another metroidvania? Yes. Another one. But this time taking place in a world of books, of literary characters, or magical mayhem and silly writing! Bookbound Brigade follows the adventures of a team of heroes from classic stories searching for the all might B.O.B. No, really. But is this title worth the paper its printed on?
Clearly inspired by games like VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action, Coffee Talk puts you in the role of a Barista who owns their own coffee shop. However, while set in Seattle Washington in the year 2020, this is a very different place where fantasy creatures like Elves, Werewolves, Cat People, and more all exist alongside humans. Your goal? Get through each night serving the right hot drinks and listening to the stories of your patrons.
I love a good text based / ASCII romp, and when the developer of this game contacted me via email and kindly asked me to take a look, well I could hardly say no.
So here we are, playing the weirdly named game “Warsim” which really should be called “Kingsim” since its kingdom management not war management. But hey, its a fun odd game if you can handle the visuals (ie the TEXT)
A new book review? On two books at once?! What madness is this! But yes, dear readers, it’s time for me to bust out my reading cap this year and get back in the swing of things. I posted on my Goodreads Profile that I was going to be trying to read at least 26 books this year (one every two weeks) and after seeing a tweet posted by WriteLeeWrite on twitter that posted some book titles I knew I had to check one (Mecha Samurai Empire, specifically). Also can I just say I am proud of my 2019 Challenge Results?
Imagine my surprise when I found out it was part of a loose series and there was a book called United States of Japan set before that, and an upcoming book called Cyber Shogun Revolution. The author Peter Tieryas did confirm on twitter that while these three books are set in the same universe they are not really connected narratively. But I will get into that. Let’s talk about these two books!
United States of Japan
The basic premise of this book (And really the series) is that the Allies lost WW2. America has been effectively split in half between Japan and Nazi Germany. The East Coast belongs to the Nazi’s, the West, the Japanese Empire. The book opens with the final moments of the war coming to a close and a bunch of Japanese Internment camps being freed by the Imperial Army.
From there the book fast forwards to the 80s, and we meet our protagonist Beniko aka Ben. He is head of the Office of Gaming Censor and a Captain in the Imperial Army, where he basically has to monitor all the “poritcal” games (cell phones, basically) and make sure there are no thought crimes or dissent happening. He is quickly shown to be pretty blasé about most things, a sort of go with the flow character, but he does show some irritation about certain events like being passed over for promotion and the like in the military.
However, things change for him after he gets a mysterious phone call from an old general he knows asking him to give his (The generals) daughter a proper Christian burial rather than a standard Japanese / Shinto one. This call ends up getting Ben mixed up in a strange case headed by the Tokko, the empires Secret police, involving terrorists calling themselves the George Washingtons who are somehow distributing a portical game where the US won WW2 rather than the Japanese. From there, Ben and the Tokko Agent Akiko dive into the underworld of The USJ to determine who created the game, its purpose, and along the way uncover dark secrets about the Empire.
There is a lot going on here, and the themes of the book deal with honor, resistance, race, loyalty, and so much more. It’s very political, and has some disturbing bits involving graphic depictions of torture which I did not expect. Peter clearly knows what he is talking about however, and he doesn’t glorify ANY of the atrocities that occur in his world on any side. The idea of a police state, with heavy monitoring and thought crimes being dealt with (and with only one outcome generally) show a bleak possibility of our own future. This book is kinda like the Bourne movies in a lot of ways, now that I think about it. High stakes espionage and mysteries abound.
The twists and turns do not let up and I could not put the book down, with new revelations about the characters and their pasts coming at just the right moments to make you go “WHAT! OH THAT EXPLAINS IT!”. The ideas presented with futurized tech in the 80s are also fascinating to me. If you are a fan of alternate history and sci fi, well you should read this. It’s very much a “crime thriller” styled book, so keep that in mind. Frankly I don’t want to say too much more as a great deal of my enjoyment from the book was the mystery and world building. Akiko, as a character, took a little while to grow on me but she eventually did, and Ben was just a trip to learn about as the book progressed, especially as his personal history was slowly revealed. The ending was bittersweet and a bit abrupt, but overall a solid finale.
Within 24 hours of purchasing this book I finished it, and was instantly wanting to jump to the second book, Mecha Samurai Empire. So I did.
Mecha Samurai Empire
Set this time in the 90s, and about 10 years after the events of United States of Japan, Mecha Samurai Empire is the story of Makoto, aka Mac, and his dream of becoming a world class Mecha Pilot. This is a VERY different book from the last one. First, its told in a first person rather than third person perspective. We see the world from Mac’s point of view, and we see his life from his high school days right up to him achieving his goals and the results of all his hard work paid off.
It opens with Mac seemingly giving the readers a tour of his life. He likes to go to the Arcade with his best friend and spend his time playing portical games. Mac is a War Orphan, his parents killed in the 2nd San Diego conflict (Which we see the beginnings of at the tail end of USJ), and the government had assigned him a foster family and has been paying for his schooling. His goal, his dream, is to become a Mecha Pilot and get into BEMA. However, we are also shown that he is a rather average student as far as his studies go, and while he is solid at the simulations and games he really isn’t suited, at least as far as his school is concerned, to be a Mecha Pilot.
After events take place during his High School his life gets much more complicated, and we follow him as he works his way through his life to eventually becoming a Mecha Pilot. We learn more about his history, secrets about his parents are revealed, and we get to see him interact with lots of interesting characters.
As a character, Mac is interesting. He has a goal and a singular focus on that goal, and his life does not make that an easy thing to achieve. You cheer for him as he struggles against all odds, against a system that seems dead set to prevent him from achieving his goals. We see how war orphans are treated in the USJ and the sorts of things that are still taking place even if the timeline has advanced. We also run into characters from the first book, who interact with Mac and take an interest in him.
Further, the background plot of the book deals with a new terrorist organization called NARA as well as rising tensions with the Nazi Germany half of the world. Eventually this plot is brought front and center and Mac has to deal with old friends and issues that occurred in his life earlier in the book. The climactic battle is a full on assault by the Nazi’s with their horrible Biomechs (Which are fully explained and let me tell you, its messed up!) against Mac and his friends, set in the city of Berkley.
A big part of this book, obviously, are Mecha. The depictions of their combat, the various types of Mecha that USJ uses, and the pomp and circumstance around the Pilots are excellent. A high point of the book for me is the BEMA Mecha Tournament that occurs about 60% of the way into the book. Watching Mac cut loose and show just how good of a natural pilot he is was awesome, as was seeing how he handled the various opponents. Also, later on there is a ton of video game references that had me laughing. Double Dragon, Chrono Trigger, and Mega Man 2 are all referenced as well as some other stuff like Godzilla and Anime. Also the nature of the ending sequence and the team make me think of Super Sentai shows. And the ending, this time, was on a more positive note, even given the nature of the final battle and all that takes place. Mac’s journey was, in the end, worth it.
Both books are very well written, but I preferred Mecha Samurai Empire overall. The style of the book, its focus more on a single character and that characters journey, and the plot and ending make it the better of the two. However, I strongly suggest if you are interested in this series to read the first book first. While in truth the two novels are not directly connected plot wise, the fact that characters from Book 1 show up and play a major role in Book 2, plus the fact that Book 1 really holds the worlds backstory, makes it almost needed reading in my opinion.
There is also a third book on the way titled “Cyber Shogun Revolution” that is due out 3/3/2020 and may already be out by the time you find this dear reader. Given how much fun and enjoyment I got out of these previous books I am most assuredly going to pick that up, and possibly update this review with it once I have read it.
You can pick up both these books on Amazon, and if you are a fan of Anime, Mecha, Sci Fi, and Thrilling adventure, I strongly urge you give these a shot.
Time for another Early Access game, and this time I look to tackle Supergiant Game’s latest entry into the world of Roguelikes: Hades. Steeped in Greek Mythology with some unique spins on classical characters, how does Hades hold up in the world of Early Access? Does it need to cook longer in the fires of the Phlegethon or is it worth paying the boatman to cross the river Styx and play? Lets find out together!
Lenna’s Inception wears its influence on its sleeve to the point where trying to use the word Hyrule as a world seed causes the game to go “Dont Sue Me” and its amazing. A procedurally generated Zelda Clone with a interesting story and a variety of game modes means there is plenty to keep you occupied. Is it worth your time though?
Today I wish to DANCE! As an agent of the Department of Death, its Felix’s job to make sure people die right on schedule. And he does it with flair, style, and panache! But me? Well, I am horrible at this game, as I am most hardcore puzzle games, and thus havent gotten a single gold star at all. Is Felix the Reaper worth letting int your heart though? Will you help him find love with Betty from the Department of Life? Only you know the answer to that.
Today 1/9/2020 Game Informer released a 10 minute Gameplay Trailer showing 2 of the 5 classes for Magic the Gathering Legends, along with 2 of the Planes we will be travelling in this upcoming Free to Play ARPG coming from Cryptic Studios. Game Informer in fact will doing a full month of coverage for January!
When this game was announced I was super interested. We havent had a game set in the MTG universe since Shandalar, which was released back in April 1997 for Windows 95. That game by the way was an open world RPG where you built a deck of cards and beat up wizards who represented the 5 colors of magic.
Since then the only digital games for MTG have been card games (MTGO, MTG Arena, the Planeswalker Duel games, ect) but an ARPG set in the plane of Dominara? That had my interest from the moment I found out about it. Since then I have learned its being described as a “Deck Builder Action RPG” which is…odd to say the least. But I am willing to try it.
So, lets have some fun and using both the official MTG Legends Website and the Game Informer Gameplay Trailer generate some wild speculation about whats coming and how things are going to play out. First, lets link the Trailer Article and the Game Informer Hub for Legends. I am going to do this bullet point style for what I notice.
Early on you can see two mana types on the bottom, white and blue, filling up under the healthbar. The LB and RB hold some sort of abilities. Controller based control scheme.
UI is super clean right now, easy to read and understand. I like it.
The lower right has 4 action buttons, some of which are summons, some are abilities, seems like the spells change. Deck based.
There is a small icon below the 4 buttons that seem to be your next “card” from your deck. Not sure how “random” drawing is gonna feel
Deck is 12 cards, you “draw” from your deck and use the card mapped to your buttons
Decks are separate from your class, and you can mix and match spells (so you can do Red / Green / White maybe? All 5 colors? Will there be Artifact / Colorless I wonder)
Looks like there is some sort of auto attack as the base pulse the mind mage is using is NOT draining his mana NOR rotating a card
Class might dictate your auto attack and your escape ability. Unless everyone has that magic pulse….
Every class has an escape ability. The mind mage makes a doppleganger (Classic blue trick). That seems to be LB, not sure what RB is. Self Buff based on class?
There is an AI Director that will make things harder / challenging on the fly?!
There is some sort of “mana” pickup. Is that for the character
Now that we have discussed the trailer and what is shown there, lets discuss the website itself which has some choice tidbits! Also, they are doing alpha/beta signups on there so you might want to consider jumping in. I did the second day it was available.
Now there is not too much on the website that bears discussion….except we have 5 symbols representing the 5 Mage Classes and a number of slides that show potential areas we will be exploring!
Two of the symbols have already been revealed: That of the Mind Mage, and the Geomancer. Now MTG has 5 colors (Blue, Red, Green, Black, and White) each one representing a style of magic. Blue, for example, is all about control and manipulation. Red is all about direct damage and speed. Green is about growth, big creatures, and buffs. Black is about life manipulation, undeath, and risk/reward. White is about life, protection, and defense.
The Mind Mage, based on both the color scheme and the themes listed on the website is very clearly the Blue Mage of the team. The Geomancer is clearly the Red Mage (again, colors and themes). But what about the other three symbols?
Well the first symbol is a Skull. That screams Black, and most likely is a Necromancer typed mage. I am going to suggest they deal with draining life, and maybe even raising an army of expendable minions. Most ARPGs have a minion master archtype anyway, and Black fits that bill.
The next symbol is a beastial one, with horns and a muzzle. That screams Green to me, and given what I am seeing with the others is prolly going to be our Druid type. Nature spells, some buffs, and most likely shape shifting into wild creatures.
Finally, we have a pair of angelic wings. Thats a white mage, no bones about it. My guess is this will be the class comps healer, with some buffs, defensive spells, and probebly holy magic.
Obviously I could be way off here but we got 5 classes, 5 colors. It makes sense especially given what I personally know of MTG (I played from about 1993 and 4th Ed up through about 2007ish). It could be that the spells each class gets access to base wise represent those “archetypes” but with both a class AND deck going on I wonder just how much one will affect the other.
Now the potential areas are interesting as well. SO far, we have Shiv and Benalia. Shiv is traditional associated with Red magic, so my guess is that will be a red magic themed area. Benalia however has always had a close association with White mages (Benalish hero is a very old white creature card, for example). And wouldnt ya know it, but there are 3 more areas….and 3 colors that are not represented!
My guess is Phyrexia or Urbog will cover the Black one. Most likely Phyrexia as that I believe is part of the Dominaria sphere. I cannot however recall what areas would be associated with Blue or Green off hand, but clearly we are going to have Black, Green, and Blue regions in addition to Red and White.
Overall I am very excited about this game, and while Cryptic themselves has a bit of a reputation among MMO players, I am pretty sure that being involved with a license as large as Magic the Gathering and Wizards of the Coast will help keep things on an even keel.
There are no confirmed alpha, beta, or release dates at this time for Magic the Gathering Legends. I for one an eagerly awaiting it!
Ever wanted to be a savager of horrible shipwrecks in deep space? Wanted to fight space zombies, pirates, mutants, and other vile creatures while trying to become space nobility? Then boy do I have the game for you! Published by 1C Entertainment and developed by Snowhound Games, its time to explore some Deep Sky Derelicts.