Friday, September 06, 2013

A somewhat gay review of Witch and Hero (3DS)

Game: Witch and Hero
Genre: Tower Defense
Developer: Flyhigh Works and FK Digital
Publisher: Circle Entertainment
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 2013

Witch and Hero is one hell of a fun game.

True, it sports some charmingly rendered graphics that call to mind those of its counterparts from the 1980s, and its blippy soundtrack compares favorably to the ones featured in RPGs from the same era, but neither of those things will prompt you to return to the game over and over and over again as I have since I was given a complimentary copy a few months ago.

No, what will keep you coming back for more (and more and more, if you're anything like me) as far as Witch and Hero is concerned is that it's a total blast to play.

What's so fun about it? For me, it all stems from the title's main gameplay hook, which throws gamers into the shoes of an adorably pixelated knight (the titular hero) and then tasks them with protecting his similarly two-dimensional witch pal from swarm after swarm of oncoming baddies.

You see, each of this digital title's 20 stages begins with the hero's quite literally petrified friend standing at its center. As enemies approach her from the edges of the screen, the player (piloting the aforementioned adorable knight) races about using the 3DS' circle pad and bumps into them, a la Falcom's vaunted Ys series, until they've expired.

Don't worry, it's more strategic than it probably sounds. For instance, if you ram into a baddie from behind you'll cause the most damage while experiencing the least amount of pain yourself.

That's all you have to worry about for the first few levels: killing as many enemies as possible while protecting the witch from harm (since she can take damage, too--and if she dies, it's game over).

Thankfully, Witch and Hero adds an extra layer or two of gameplay to the proceedings just before things begin to feel stale by revealing that it's possible to resurrect your pointy hatted pal for a few, precious seconds----during which she blasts oncoming foes either with a fire or tornado attack--by gathering the drops of blood that are left behind by extinguished enemies and tossing them at her feet.

As much as that helps liven up the experience, things are made even more enjoyable after the last of Witch and Hero's surprises is exposed--with the surprise in question being the introduction of yet another ATB-esque bar that fills each time the knight engages an enemy. Max it out and hit a button and ol' helmet head becomes invincible for a hot second while his better half (OK, so I have no idea whether the witch and hero are married or not) pushes out some spells that are even more wicked and spectacular than the ones she unleashed earlier.

Once both of those "features" are made available to players, Witch and Hero fully blossoms as a portable pick-up-and-play game that's worth every penny (399, to be exact) you spend on it.

That's not to say it's a perfect portable pick-up-and-play game. For instance, there's the fact that it takes a while to show its true colors--and, as such, it's sure to lose a handful of gamers in the interim. Also, the final boss is a real pain in the ass.

Neither of those issues is enough to keep me from recommending Witch and Hero, though, so I'd say that if what I wrote above sounds at all appealing, and if you have $3.99 to spare, you should give it a try at your earliest convenience.

See also: previous 'somewhat gay' reviews

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Aino's (and Bryan's) Adventures in Animachi, Weeks 11 and 12

Let's get something monumental out of the way right of the bat in this installment of "Aino's (and Bryan's) Adventures in Animachi": Animachi finally has a proper town flag.

Here's a shot of Mayor Aino as she stands proudly beneath it:

Here's another look at it, in case you can't make out all of the details in the shot above.

The "A" is Animachi, of course--although a few of the town's snarkier citizens have suggested (in hushed tones, naturally) Aino may think it's supposed to represent and honor her on-going mayorship.

The figures that can be seen standing around the "A," by the way, are (from left to right) Ankha, Snake and Barold.

Hamlet, above, didn't make the cut, sadly. Is that what prompted him to pack up and leave town last week? No one knows, but at least a few Animachians suspect it may have been a factor.

Although both Aino and Bryan were sad to see the little jock go, the former was happy that the removal of his home meant an illuminated tower could be erected in its place.

The tower in question looks snazzy enough by day (above), but it looks nothing less than stunning at night (below).

Another reason Aino, especially, wasn't entirely gutted by Hamlet's departure: he sent her a framed photo of himself as a parting gift.

Speaking of villager photos: Aino also got Winnie's "pic" last week after completing an entirely mundane task for the long-faced lass.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

It's like Crypt of the NecroDancer was made with me in mind

I don't know about you, but a name like Crypt of the NecroDancer doesn't really pique my interest. Tell me said game is rhythm-based roguelike that sports a retro-tastic art style, though, and you've got my attention.

The question is: will the aforementioned title, which is being made by the folks at Brace Yourself Games for both Mac and Windows, wind up being as fun to play as it appears to be in the following trailer?

I'm a little skeptical, I have to admit, but I'm also intrigued enough that I'll likely take the Mac version for a spin shortly after it's released.

The only thing that could keep me from doing that is Crypt of the NecroDancer's $15 price tag--something I'd be far more willing to put up with if it were attached to a console or even handheld release.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Manual Stimulation: Splash Lake (PC Engine)

Although I prefer long, illustration-filled instruction manuals when I'm paging through them while sitting on a comfy couch, I prefer shorter, more straightforward ones when I'm working up one of these posts.

The focus of today's post--the manual produced for NEC Avenue's Splash Lake, an appealingly quirky, if a bit lacking in the long run, action-puzzler that was released for the PC Engine in 1991--falls into the latter category, as you'll quickly discover.

Although I'd hardly call Splash Lake an amazing effort, it's far better than its rather questionable box art suggests it is.

Don't get me wrong, Splash Lake's cover illustration is appreciably colorful, and it's hardly what I'd call boring, but it also looks a bit too much like it was made by someone just coming to terms with computer graphics. (Of course, the same can be said about the bulk of game-related box art from the early 1990s.)

The first few inside pages of Splash Lake's manual aren't much better, it has to be said--although that cartoonishly rendered PC Engine and CD-ROM2 system on the left nearly makes up for it.

Things improve a bit on the next pair of pages thanks to the cute (and kind of creepy) rendition of the game's bow-tied-but-limbless ostrich.

Mr. Ostrich (or, "Stumpy," as I like to call him) shows up on the last two pages of Splash Lake's instruction manual, too, only this time he's looking a little less chipper.

The same can't be said for the game's line-up of baddies, who take center stage just before the manual's curtain call. I especially like the sunglasses-sporting and cigarette-smoking tree stump, although his colorful cohorts are a pleasant enough bunch too.

See also: 'The return of the PC Engine'