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      Game Culture

      This Week In Gaming History - November 29th - Dec 5th

      This Week In Gaming History - November 29th - Dec 5th

      Winter is coming and it’s time to dust off that old chest in the attic where your Mum keeps the old Christmas decorations, rummage through it and you just might find that video game memento you’ve been looking for all these years. Lets go ahead and open that secret wardrobe right there and let Catslan the Lion transport you to another nostalgia filled past in This Week in Gaming History.


      As gamers, we’ve all asked the age-old question as to what video game is considered to be the first of its kind and a lot of people seem to agree it’s Pong. They’re not wrong but they’re also not right. See it all depends on context. 

       

      The very first video game produced was in February 1962, made by a group of MIT engineers and was actually called Spacewar!, this was never released commercially despite its popularity in the university where it was developed. This however, inspired the creation of the very first commercialized video game called Computer Space developed by Bushnell who would later co-founded Atari. Sadly, the game never took flight as intended and Bushnell left Nutting Associates to put up Atari. 


      When he assigned Allan Alcorn to make a video game as a training exercise, Pong was born! Bushnell was so surprised at the quality of the game that he decided to have it manufactured. By November 29, 1972, the game was commercially released. In a span of 2 years they sold about 8000 Pong units and it took the fledgling gaming world by storm! In fact it was so popular before its official debut that the prototype cabinet used in a local bar broke down due to the huge amount of coins inside. 


      See popularity also brings with it copy-cats and Pong inspired a slew of bootlegs and ripoffs but this didn’t deter Atari and instead countered them by releasing Home Pong, a console version of Pong and in 1973 released a sequel called Pong Doubles that featured 4 players; another first in the gaming world. So again, was it the first actual video game? No. But was it the first video game that launched a whole new industry centered on entertainment and fun? Definitely!



      Here’s another video game inspired by real life sports, specifically ice hockey! NHL 99 was released on November 30, 1998 for the N64 and was met with high review scores by different gaming publications with an aggregate score of 84%. To make the game more immersive, the N64 version of NHL 99,  faithfully represented the official NHL and NHLPA licence showing all teams and players, including the Nashville Predators expansion team. Talk about bang for your puck, I mean buck. 


      Speaking of immersive, Daryl Reaugh returned from NHL 98 as the new series’ color commentator however, he left after NHL 99. The play-by-play commentary was done by ESPN's Bill Clement. The game also featured Eric Lindros on the cover. Lindros was with the Philadelphia Flyers when this game was released and was ultimately recognized in 2016 as an appointee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nice, ice baby.

      Here’s something to do in-game if you wanna skate on thin ice while playing hockey. If you type the word “zambo” anytime during the game, a random Zamboni will appear and start driving around on the skating rink even if a game is still ongoing! I hope that doesn’t happen in a real live game though, those things can be dangerous.

       

      We’re all dangerously in love with the Legend of Zelda franchise cause we can’t stop talking about how awesome the games have been over the years! Released on December 1, 1988 for the NES,  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was a direct sequel to the original Legend of Zelda however it deviated from its predecessor in terms of gameplay, introducing RPG elements and side-scrolling action. In addition to this, the game introduced elements such as Link's "magic meter" and the Dark Link character that would become commonplace in future Zelda games.It was also the first Zelda game to feature invisible enemies and also featured secrets such as being able to get past locked doors without keys by using the fairy spell and flying through the keyhole. Zelda II was slated to be released at an earlier date but due to the 1988 shortage of ROM chips, it prevented Nintendo from releasing most of its games according to their original schedules, including this one.


      Despite the differences it had with its predecessor, what Zelda II shared with it was its popularity,  as the game was met with mostly positive reviews from critics and became one of the most popular NES games of 1988, with many retailers reporting that the game was selling out that year. The game ultimately sold 4.38 million copies worldwide. Now, that’s flashy! 


      Speaking of flashy, the original NES/Famicom releases of this game showed a rapidly-flashing screen whenever Link dies. This was changed in the remakes to a blank screen, as the rapid flashing was known to cause epileptic seizures. Good thing they dialed down that kind of flashiness though. On a happier note, I’m glad they put Link’s name on the title, cause you know, to avoid confusing Zelda with Link. Admit it though before you got to play the game, you thought the main character’s name in the original Legend of Zelda was Zelda.

       

      You know who are masters at confusion, deceit and stealth, though? Ninjas! And who loves ninjas? We do! They have got to be one of gaming’s best tropes and that shows in Revenge of the Shinobi for Genesis. Released on December 2, 1989, it is the sequel to Shinobi for the arcade. Revenge of the Shinobi was a masterclass in design and gameplay and a lot of gamers and gaming critics agree that it is in more ways than one, superior to its predecessor. It has received 5 stars and 9s across the board and was even inducted in a lot of greatest games list, notable of which is Gamespot’s list of the greatest games of all time. 


      The game follows Joe Musashi as he finds his master bloodied and dying and his bride, Naoko, kidnapped by the notorious Neo Zeed. It is a traditional side-scrolling action platformer game that features 8 district levels, with its own set of enemies and unique bosses. Joe Musashi can also perform ninjutsu techniques and attack and jump simultaneously, hurling deadly shurikens at enemies. Now you think the game follows a serious plot line and story but wait till you hear about the bosses. 


      It’s funny to think that a game of this caliber would actually be a huge target for copyright lawsuits from different major companies owning certain popular characters. This is because in early versions of The Revenge of Shinobi, it had you fighting Batman as a boss, but because SEGA failed to get the licensing rights for the Caped Crusader, he was replaced by a winged demon in later versions of the game. I mean good thing they removed Batman from the game though, I’m sure he was prepared to beat Joe to a pulp. 


      Funnily enough too, district 7's boss was no other than the big G-man himself, Godzilla! Again it was eventually replaced by a skinless dinosaur whose name was Monster-G, which was obviously not a reference to a certain Kaiju. One of the other bosses is also very reminiscent of the Hulk. Spider-Man is also present as a boss. Like the actual Spiderman. This time though they were able to use Spiderman as a boss but was eventually deleted too as soon as the license for it expired. Serious question, who is this ninja guy? Is he like a dimension-hopping ninja Thanos-Darkseid-Ghidora hybrid? But, you know who the real boss is though? Joe Musashi is.

       

      The next game on this list is based on another game that is set in a hybrid world with aliens and dinosaurs and involves a dimension hopping, time-traveling warrior. Sounds confusing huh? Enter, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for the Game Boy Color. Not to be confused with the N64 game with the same title, Turok 2 for the GBC was released on December 3, 1998 with low to middling reviews. Even IGN reviewer Peer Schneider described the game as "an E-rated cookie-cutter sidescroller with decent controls and unimpressive visuals". It followed a completely different story from its N64 counterpart but was essentially  set in the same world. 


      You are Joshua Fireseed a Turok or a Son of Stone tasked with protecting the Earth from multiversal incursions stemming from the Lost Land, a barbaric world that is an amalgam of all existing timelines. You are tasked to slash and gun down the Dinosoid Army in eight levels and battle four bosses using your wits and weapons like a knife, bow & arrow, pistols, shotguns and more. Schneider may not have been impressed by the game but lemme give you a very interesting tidbit about the game.


      Interestingly enough, the major plot points of this game is based on a comic simply titled Turok published by Acclaim Valiant in 1997 and 1998. This follows Joshua Fireseed also known as Coyote Knight, who is essentially a new Turok after the mantle was passed to him by his deceased uncle, Carl Fireseed. Although Josh was a new Turok he had the ability to call upon the previous and future Turoks to act as his guide in a style similar to  Avatar the Last Airbender. As puzzling as the state of the GBC game was, I think this is  an awesome piece of info and it’s best to experience the game and the comics hands-on. 

       

      Speaking of puzzling, here’s a puzzling challenge to boggle your mind on and I think you’d be interested to know it involves our favorite monsters we all aim to catch, Pokemon. This game was released on December 4, 2000 and has undergone more name changes than your favorite ninja game in Europe. It was initially announced by Nintendo employee Peter Main's "Industry Review" webcast under the title Pokémon Attack on January 13, 2000. Its name was eventually changed to Pokémon Puzzle League, but was released as Pokemon Puzzle Challenge. Puzzling ain’t it? Despite the name changes, what didn’t change was  the fact that it was a very-well made game as it holds an aggregate score of 90.20% at GameRankings, making it the 10th best Game Boy Color game and the 300th best video game on Game Rankings. 


      Of course, they wouldn’t put the word “Challenge” on the game title if the game wasn’t challenging right? You can unlock two extra modes for the hardcore gamers out there by doing these button prompts. When at the difficulty screen in Challenge Mode, pressing select & A while hovering over Hard More will unlock Super Hard Mode. Doing this again while hovering over Super Hard Mode will unlock Intense Mode, the highest difficulty level available in the game. Talk about punishing yourself in a Pokemon game. 


      Incidentally, there’s a secret involving the weird human-shaped Pokemon, Jynx. Her losing animation features nothing but her detached hair holding a white flag of defeat, similar to what happens when you defeat her in Pokemon Stadium.

       

      Like the Legend of Zelda franchise, Mario games have been a staple for Nintendo systems ever since it was first released way back in 1983 and the next game in this list is a striking testament to that. Super Mario Strikers was released on December 5, 2005 for the Game Cube. However, this was the last Mario game to be released on the GameCube in Japan and North America. It didn’t disappoint though as it was able to reach its goal and was ultimately considered to be outstanding in its field. It sold a total of 1.61 million copies at the end of its cycle owing to its fun gameplay and tight controls. Before the game was conceived however, game director Mike Inglehart and marketing director Grace Kim revealed that Strikers was originally intended to be a more realistic Mario sports game, but the development team opted for an "over-the-top" style after numerous consultations with Nintendo. Which is a wise decision in my opinion cause Mario games have always been over-the-top. 


      In a lot of firsts for the game franchise, this is the first game to feature Kenneth W. James, who temporarily replaces Scott Burns, as the voice of Bowser, a role that would become permanent starting with Super Mario Galaxy. This is also the only Mario Nintendo GameCube game to support 16:9 widescreen as well as 480p. Early concept art for the game shows Mario wearing number 10 as his team number but this was ultimately given to Princess Peach as her team number. In a first, breaking football tradition, Mario was given the number 1 as his team number which is supposed to be reserved for goalkeepers.


      That is all for this week’s gaming history lesson. Which one is your favorite pick on this list? Or do you remember a different game released on these dates? Join our Discord and subscribe to our YouTube for more!

      This Week In Gaming History: November 8 -14th

      This Week In Gaming History: November 8 -14th

      Every day is a new day for gaming and all the days that have gone have seen their share of iconic gaming moments and this week isn't any different. We're back with another week of video gaming nostalgia.

       

      Play fighting was always a silly thing we did as kids but the way we took these things seriously would make Master Roshi proud and even if we ended up with bruises and scratches when has that ever stopped us from believing that kai could magically come out of our small puny hands or our hair standing up and going blonde while screaming at the top of our lungs this shows us how much influence dragon ball has had on our childhood and our adulthood and as kids it's hard to contain our excitement whenever a Dragon Ball Z game comes out and there's a lot of them. Dragon Ball Z Legendary Super Warriors came out on November 8th, 2002 for the Game Boy Color. Seeing that Ginyu force, the main character's super saiyan forms, as well as the Fusion characters gotence and vegito, brings back all of that power fantasy. Progress the story and unlock battles through story mode, try out the wit draining battle mode or challenge your friends in versus mode to see who is the most powerful warrior of all time, and trust me it's always Mr. Satan who comes out on top.

       

      As for the best warrior in gaming history, nothing comes close to Master Chief. Fight me on that. This is the one game you certainly don't want to finish the fight anytime soon and you'll always want to come back for more you know just to bring the covenant back their bomb. Halo 2 released on November 9th, 2004 was the most anticipated sequel to one of the XBOX Console's most definitive first-person shooters of the generation Halo Combat Evolved. The return of Master Chief and her trusted AI waifu Cortana, sees our protagonists flying like a brick as they race to stop the covenant from wreaking havoc on earth in their bid to fulfill the great journey. This also introduced us to some of the best supporting characters in a game like Sergeant Johnson, Miranda Keyes, 343 Guilty Spark, and the biggest surprise of them all, a new playable character The Elite Alien Arbiter. This also marked the return of the dreaded flood and their introduction of new boss types and enemies like the Prophet, the Heretic Tartarus, and the Brutes. The multiplayer also saw some new changes as they featured more competitive maps and playlists as well as social playlists and also got new weapons like the Brute Plasma, Brute Shot, SMG, as well as Dual Wielding. A first in the franchise. If it ever felt like the game ended on a cliffhanger though you might be right. The game had to undergo a lot of cuts due to budget and time constraints. If the leaks at the time were anything to go by we could have seen Miranda Keyes betrayal as well as a final level on the high charity finally finishing the fight.

       

      But not all games end up with a good sequel and it's honestly hard to break the sequel curse so a good way to circumvent this is to go and give a fresh perspective on a game via a reboot. One example is Prince of Persia the Sands of Time. This was a reboot of Prince of Persia 3D originally released on the pc and the Dreamcast. The action-adventure by Ubisoft was released on November 10th, 2003 for the Playstation 2. Swinging through bars, running on walls, climbing pillars, and rewinding time all made for a unique parkour experience. This allowed the game to reach critical acclaim a bit slowly at first but gained traction as more gamers saw its unique mechanics in play some are even claiming this to be one of the greatest games of all time. A remake of the game was announced to be released in 2022 and consider us all ready to experience the game once again in a fresh light.

       

      If you're up for a little confrontation with your friends via online multiplayer then we're sure ChuChu Rocket! made your jaw drop even if you weren't allowed to visit little Timmy because of chickenpox. Yes, you heard it right the Dreamcast game was released on November 11th, 1999 with the first-ever online support for a console. Beat your friends at the comfort of your own home while you sit on your gaming chair and breathe loudly on the mic remember that oh wait wrong timeline. Nonetheless, this gaming first gave us a glimpse at the future and showed us how a little innovation could become the biggest staple in the necessity for years to come. As for the game, players must put arrows on a board to lead cute little mice or Juju's into escape rockets while avoiding the Koopa Koopas. Who knew puzzle games could have so much bombastic action and did this variant warrant online support yes definitely.

       

      Speaking of bombs, another accessory that made a blast during its release in 1986 was the Power Pad for the NES on November 12th the accessory made its way to Japan and was a floor mat game controller with 12 pressure sensors, made with flexible plastic kind of akin to the dance pad later used for the Playstation 2. All you had to do was lay the accessory out in front of the video display for various games and you're ready to step on the buttons. If you're ready to work up a sweat while practicing your coordination and timing then the power pad games back in the day were worth a shot.

       

      If you love putting your gaming skills to the test then this familiar side-scrolling beat 'em up for the game boy advance will bring back good memories or bad ones if you don't like the difficulty ceiling you know what I'm talking about right. It's Double Dragon Advance the Remake was published on November 13th, 2003 where you play as Billy Lee and his brother Jimmy on a quest to rescue Marion. As with most beat 'em ups nothing is ever easy as you have to fight your way through hordes and hordes of shadow warriors defeating the shadow warriors can be a pain thankfully we've had some helpful cheats back in the day that gave us double dragon power or 10 credits because you know extra lives are hard to come by. Pressing and holding down a specific set of buttons would grant you these extra credits if you didn't want to put in the skill but if you want to make things extra harder you can unlock expert mode by pressing another set of buttons but seriously who does that I'm looking at you dark souls players.

       

      Speaking of challenging games let's take it down a notch and allow us to introduce you to a far more relaxing game with that said it's a great time to remind you about a certain casual Disney game we all know and love released on November 14th, 2000 the Jungle Book Mowgli's Wild Adventure for the Game Boy Color is certainly a bear necessary and those are always welcome. Playing as Mowgli while traveling different jungle levels was always a treat while learning new tricks such as rolling into a bowl and performing a hand over hand climb made for a fun and engaging experience let's not forget to use coconuts and bananas when there are predators nearby I can't forget that I mean that would only make sense because predators aren't really into fruits I assume. We meet familiar faces along the way from the animated film translated into the game such as Mangira, Baloo, King Louie, Ka, and the deadly Sheer Khan.

      Join our Discord and subscribe to our YouTube for more!

      Old School Gamer Magazine : Retro Mania Wrestling

      Old School Gamer Magazine : Retro Mania Wrestling

      Hey we are here with the healthy dose of old-school gaming from Mega Cat Studios. It’s truly exciting to see the huge surge in content when it comes to anything and everything about professional wrestling. From TV shows to the actual product of sports entertainment it's no secret that 2021 has been a very stacked year despite things being far from the norm. And while 2021 has been great for wrestling, we can't help but think about yesteryear, the good old days of the classics.

      If you enjoyed the WWF Wrestlefest arcade game then you’ll love the sequel RetroMania Wrestling. The main selling point is the huge cast of superstars to choose from. You have a fair selection of legends but at the same time some young blood as well. It doesn't matter if you are a casual fan or hardcore, if you are into wrestling you’ll find a whole lot of fun right here. Let's be honest though the number of wrestling games you can pick up right now can be a bit intimidating. 2K releases a new one every year and Japan’s wrestling games in different genres. More importantly, a lot of the recent games can be a bit challenging to newer players. This is where RetroMania Wrestling shines, with ease and simplicity. Pick it up, feel your way through a few matches, and next thing you know you have been playing all day. If the classic nostalgia look isn't your cup of tea you might find the game mechanics at the very least charming. Definitely worth the try. 

       

      So are you into wrestling? Do you like to wrestle in real life? Let us know! 

      For more gaming news and discussions check out our Discord channel.

      Kickstarter Pixel Art Round Up: Beyond Creations & Synder

      Kickstarter Pixel Art Round Up: Beyond Creations & Synder

      Hey, we are bringin’ you a couple of must-play games from Kickstarter!


      We’re right smack at the beginning of Halloween season, so a few spooky games are ripe for the picking. It’s time we took a dive into Kickstarter for two games worth playing with the lights out…if you’re brave enough. 

      Beyond Creations aims to go above and beyond when it comes to bringing your deepest, darkest fears to life. With a unique and captivating adventure game which they say is tailor-made for, and created by puzzle lovers, we’re kind of anxious, but nevertheless looking forward to Dead End: Escape Your Fears.

      What’s looking to be an ever-evolving type of video game that pushes the limits already existing adventure and puzzle video games, Dead End is shaping up to be quite the surprise. The trailer gives us a dark and dreadful atmosphere, and gives us a game reminiscent of Amnesia: Dark Decent; and we all know how horrifying THAT was. Drawing influence from their countless experiences in Escape Rooms, Beyond Creation is looking to bring that feeling to your own home. They already have six games planned out for the future, and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out. That is, if we manage to escape our fears.

      Canadian game studio Super Type is wasting no time in bringing a full-blown demonic invasion right to your doorstep. Synder is fully voiced, action=packed, FPS-horde survival game for the PC; and with inspiration drawn from Doom and Left 4 Dead, it’s shaping up to be a gory, good time!

      “Mega corporations” run the show in the futuristic universe, and in typical fashion where humans tamper with time and space, the world finds itself open to a demonic wormhole where all the evil, creepy crawlies try to take over. Of course, it’s up to you to save the planet. We love a simple, ultraviolent story. Synder is Super Type’s first project, and if all goes well, it COULD give Doom a run for its money. We’ll have to wait and see.

      Got any scary games planned for Halloween? Let us know! This is Alex Sy with Mega Cat Studios. Check back here for more awesome finds on Kickstarter and Join our Discord and subscribe to our YouTube for more!

      Retro Games You NEED To Buy Before Steam Summer Sale 2021 Ends

      Retro Games You NEED To Buy Before Steam Summer Sale 2021 Ends

      Ah, summer. The birds are singing - bees are buzzing… and you’ve forgotten to buy anything from the Steam Summer Sale?! Head-spinning amounts of discounts and endless titles seem daunting, but grab a paper bag and breathe because we’ve got you covered with Dustin R’s breakdown of his top picks for retro lovers, and a shameless plug of Log Jammer’s in honor of its upcoming update! 



      Darkwood:

      After playing Darkwood, you learn a lot about yourself. It used to be that I could easily say: “I love horror games, but nothing scares me in the genre,” and it would be true. Now? I have to amend that statement to say, “except for Darkwood. Darkwood scares the absolute **** out of me.”

       

      Do not let the graphics fool you -this game possesses a ton of scares that AAA games and others with high-budget graphics wish they could create. It also does this with little to no jump scares. The scares are more organic and are a bit more visceral because of it. To get a better understanding, we must talk about the gameplay first.

      Darkwood is a top-down survival game where your character must navigate the darkened woods to escape. The gameplay changes depending on what time of day it is. If it is daytime, you are out in the woods, exploring, collecting lore, scavenging for precious resources, and trying to eke out enough for freedom to be just a tiny bit closer. If it is nighttime, however…

       

       

      …Well, that’s when things get spicy. While creatures are out and about during the daytime, it is at night when they are most active, and most hostile. Your character cannot survive in the woods at nighttime without shelter. There is an ever-encroaching presence of evil that resides in the dark. It will just as quickly overtake you the moment you feel brave enough to try to brave it out in the dark.  So, find yourself a shelter, fire up a generator, barricade your doors and windows, and hunker in a corner and wait.

       

       

      Wait for what you ask? Well, daytime of course! Oh yes, you heard me right. You will be cowering in a corner with (hopefully for your sake) some sort of weapon or means of defense in the off chance the creatures outside decide to pay you a visit. Which they will. They always will. How many? Who can say? If you are lucky, you will hear them. If you are unlucky…well…, did you check your blind spot recently? Might want to do that.

       

       

      This is how Darkwood stands out above the rest and is so effective at scaring you. This concept of blind spots. In other games, you have a bit more agency in how you take in the visual information and auditory information. Here though, with the perspective being so far out, and you only having things visible immediately in the proximity of your character’s body? That means the entire world where you are not looking that is obscured by darkness has actual monsters that are active all around you.

      In short, unless you are actively looking in a particular direction and casting your vision cone in a certain area, you can not see everything else. Combine that with no waypoints, rogue-like elements, and only a hand-drawn map of landmarks with no cursor indicating where you are creates a very anxiety-inducing situation that you never feel comfortable in. Couple that with the rogue-like elements of how the area will be different on subsequent playthroughs, and locations of materials being also randomly generated causes the perfect storm of unease that is unique to Darkwood.

      If you are feeling brave, you can pick Darkwood up on sale for $5.09 on steam.

      Darkwood

      Risk of Rain:

      Risk of Rain is a game I constantly come back to time and time again. It’s a personal favorite of mine and shows just how strong gameplay can carry a game. Visually, Risk of Rain is a very simplistic-looking game that carries with it a depth that far exceeds its appearance. This game belongs very firmly to the rogue-like genre of games. You have your randomly generated seeds for runs that affect everything from enemy spawns, map locations, and item drops. You can have a good run or a bad run, but overall, the farther you get, the more likely your next run will be a success because of your skills being honed over time and the unlocking of items and/or characters from your previous attempts.

       

       

      This is different than a game like Rogue Legacy, where each run has a more direct, tangible improvement over the last thanks to leveling up certain traits of your character. Your skill plays more of an important part in your successes in Risk of Rain if you intend on beating the final boss to successfully clear a run. This inherently makes the game “harder” than games with consistent progression, but it also makes the game very rewarding and “earned” when you successfully beat a run.

       

       

      Combined with that difficulty I just mentioned is the concept of difficulty scaling in Risk of Rain. In this game, there is a mechanic where the longer you survive, the harder the game gets. Put another way, the game is absolutely trying to kill you and wants you dead, badly. So, there is this constant pressure to progress and not loiter too long in a zone lest you summon the ire of the planet’s inhabitants. This also adds a very interesting sense of balance as well, because decisions must be made on whether you have time to explore the entire map for more powerups or risk going into another zone to avoid the harder waves but going into another level underpowered.

       

       

      With the wealth of characters you can use, each having their unique playstyles and trying to obtain all the items can easily absorb endless hours of your time if you allow it to. It is up there as one of the best rogue-likes ever made in my humble opinion. If this sounds up your alley, it’s on sale right now for $2.49 on steam.

      Risk of Rain

       

      Return of the Obra Dinn:

      Return of the Obra Dinn is less a game and more of a one-of-a-kind experience. If you were ever the type to watch murder mysteries and are constantly trying to figure out who the killer is, that same level of energy is present in this game. What is more, this is a single-player game that encourages co-operative play in the form of a friend or family member helping you out with trying to solve the mystery.

       

       

      I must talk around this one a little bit because the very nature of the game and the mystery it contains is paramount to the enjoyment and the actual gameplay. No spoilers from me. Here is what I can say. You work for an insurance agency. You are tasked to go see what became what was a lost ship at sea that has turned up, but none of the crew members are present. Truly bizarre, as the ship’s manifest listed 51 people on board the ship. Your job is to figure out the fates of each of the 51 passengers and crew members. At your disposal is a special watch that allows you to manipulate time, a map of the route the boat was headed on, a picture of the crew, among a couple of other documents. That is all I can say.

       

       

      As far as other gameplay is concerned, aside from investigating the ship and using your deductive reasoning and investigative tools, there is no combat to speak of or other things to get in the way. In its purest form, it is a logic puzzle that contains other puzzles within that puzzle.

      If you think you could give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money and you’re looking to give your brain a workout, go on Steam and pick it up. It is currently sitting at a respectable price of $14.99.

      Return of the Obra Dinn

       

      Children of Morta:

      Children of Morta belongs to the roguelike genre as well. Naturally, with each game that joins this genre, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out as innovation on the concepts and fundamentals of roguelike gameplay become standardized over time. However, Children of Morta has no problem standing out as a roguelike to take notice of. With this game, the narrative is far more emphasized, and the idea of family and unity that comes from that is constantly reinforced in not just the story, but the gameplay.

       

       

      The innovation that Children of Morta brings to the table is the idea of shared abilities among each of the seven family members. As you progress through the game, your character is not just leveling themselves, but leveling their family members as well. This is done by every couple of levels that are invested in skills for your family member, unlocks a passive ability that is shared among all the characters. Simply put, just how in Rogue Legacy you are making permanent progress despite losing a run, that too is the case here

      With this game emphasizing narrative more so than a lot of other roguelikes, it must nail this aspect, and I am happy to report that holds true. The story follows the Bergsons who notice that their peaceful forest is being overtaken by a darkness that is corrupting everything that it touches. In instances of such evil, the family is tasked to repel the darkness, and to do this requires the assistance of three guardian spirits. Each three-guardian spirit however has been ensnared by the darkness, so the family must band together and enter each of their domains to free them from the clutches of evil.

       

       

      I know what you might be thinking. That sounds standard, and admittedly it is a very familiar storyline. However, the characterization of each character and the interactions with them is what gives this story a bit more of a personal flair. Each time you come back from a dungeon bits of the story are given to you by a narrator who reads to you as if it were a storybook. As this goes on, you can see the characters grow as individuals, and you become more invested in them as the story progresses. Additionally, when you are not in the middle of a dungeon, you can watch their day-to-day life and it is just this extra layer of personality that helps make the story shine.

       

       

      All of this to say that while the narrative is a strong identifiable selling point, the gameplay is no afterthought.  Children of Morta provides a very strong roguelike experience with plenty of variety in pickups that are both active and passive, and the inclusion of runes that alter character skills in various ways. Each run will be different. Layouts will be different. So on and so forth. Combat is also noticeably different than other rogue-likes, where it feels very much like a hack and slash game when you are battling the floods of enemies.

       

      Children of Morta has no problems developing its own identity and easily stands as something worth checking out if you want a nice solid roguelike experience with an emphasis on story and persistent character progression. You can grab it on steam right now half off for $10.99.

      Children of Morta

       

      Blasphemous:

      Blasphemous is a game that stuck with me long after completing it. It just does everything right. From graphics, game design, gameplay, sound direction… nothing about Blasphemous is lacking. It is also the only game on this list that is a Metroidvania, so if you are looking for a new Metroidvania, you really need to give this a shot. Allow me to explain.

       

       

      This game might be one of the most consistent games I have ever played. From the gorgeous pixel art and macabre motifs to the solid controls, to just how combat feels. Nothing feels out of place. That cannot be understated as to how important that is in a Metroidvania. You want every button press to matter and make sense, as platforming and being able to properly defend yourself are foundational in making a solid game in this genre. Blasphemous is more on the heavier side of games in the genre, with a more grounded approach compared to games where it is much more about faster mobility and being aerial. Blasphemous feels meatier in this regard, with very brutal hits having the right oomph to them, and mobility being more focused on spacing out the enemies and reacting, as necessary. It is much more methodical and honestly feels more on the earlier Castlevania side of things. Exploration, map familiarity, and enemy knowledge all remain important facets of the game, but with much more emphasis on the combat side of things even more so than the others. It helps Blasphemous put some distance between itself and it is peers in that fashion.

       

       

      This game also foregoes a robust weapon list and inventory to focus more on one weapon but with skills to bolster it and spells to compliment it. It just goes in line with what I was saying earlier about how Blasphemous is just rock solid with its consistency. It really keeps you where it wants you and does not let go. It’s honestly incredibly impressive.

       

       

      I will not go into visuals so much, seriously all you need to do is look at it. This game is a contender to me as being one of the best-looking pixel art games ever created. Period. Sound design is expertly crafted to match the aesthetic it is going for without taking away or distracting. Absolutely phenomenal. Blasphemous is available right now on steam for $8.49.

      Blasphemous


      Log Jammers:

      Log Jammers provides a very compelling blend of fighting game methodology alongside very accessible gameplay to create an immensely addictive retro arcade experience. The concept is simple: While running on your log, you must prevent your opponent from slinging an ax past you into your goal.  The first to score 11 or more points wins a round. First to two rounds wins. However, as simple as the concept is, the execution is where the game truly shines. Each of the eight characters has their specific strengths and weaknesses, alongside a unique character ability, but outside of those specifics, the core gameplay is identical among everyone.

      Touching on my previous statement of fighting game methodology, oddly enough Log Jammers feels very much like a fighting game without being one. Concepts such as spacing, mind-games, and counters are the bread and butter of this game. The close quarters of the arenas alongside just how fast and frantic the gameplay is also furthering this into the fighting game side of things. It is unique in this regard as having the appeal of both a fighting game and a sports game.

       

       

      The game has no frills to it, opting for a more streamlined approach. You can play online against others, or with a friend locally. For solo players, you can play against a computer, or the tournament mode which is pretty much the game’s story mode where you compete against the other characters. Alongside these offerings, you can also choose to play the original mode, which is first to two rounds wins the match, or the cheerleader mode.

       

       

      Cheerleader mode in my opinion is the better of the two modes. In this mode, you no longer must win two rounds to claim the match. Now, it is just one round, but with one catch: your goal is guarded by four cheerleaders on rafts. To score, you must take out the opponents’ cheerleaders so you can have an opening to score. It adds an extra layer to the gameplay that makes it even more exciting and intense in each match. Do you take out one cheerleader and just focus your shots on that one opening? Do you take them all out, leaving the entire goal open for scoring, while sacrificing over four attempts at scoring points?

       

       

      Log Jammers’ addictive gameplay loop is helped by how quick the matches can be. You can very much have matched that last as long as 40 seconds, to as high as five minutes. Then after the match, all you are going to want to do is get back into the next match and do it all over again. I cannot even begin to quantify just how addictive this game is.

      Log Jammers is currently on sale for half off on steam for $2.49. If you enjoyed games such as Lethal League, Nidhogg, and other fast gameplay, fast match structured games, this game more than deserves to be part of your library.

      Log Jammers