Friday, November 16, 2012

The Friday Review: Skullgirls (XBLA, PSN)

review by Cyndi

The characters are what first drew me to this 2D fighting game. I was tired of the typical sword and staff-wielders that come from most fighting games, and this one came with a zombie cat that used her head to fight, and another girl who used her parasitic hair to attack. I was immediately intrigued.

The artwork of this game is beautiful. The characters are incredibly fun to play with, and you have never seen these kinds of fighting characters before. The premise of this game is to try and obtain a magic skull that is supposed to grant wishes. Players fight through a variety of characters in order to reach their goal including girls wielding parasols, or, my favorite, a girl who attacks with her hair. Every character in this game is a scantily clad female, so if you're looking for a nice clean game with little blood and minor skin showage, this is not that game.

My only disappointment with this game is the balance. I started on the lowest difficulty and jumped immediately into a story mode. Unfortunately this was quite a mistake as the "Easy" mode on this game is the "Hell" mode on any other fighting game. I'm not the most intense gamer out there, but I consider myself a pretty decent video game player. I was stuck on the first battle for hours on "Easy" mode.

Eventually I just had to give up and go spend some quality time in the tutorial room, which, unfortunately, wasn't really very helpful and was in no way interesting. Maybe it's just me, but I don't find a lot of joy in getting check-marks on a never-ending list of menial tasks such as jumping or blocking over and over and over again. Despite how dull the tutorials, it was still necessary to spend a lot of time in here just to get through one single fight in story mode. And that's just the first battle; it gets progressively harder as the story continues.

So, if you are interested in purchasing this game be prepared to put in many, many hours at the tutorial room, and also be prepared to get really frustrated in "Easy" mode.


  • The characters are incredibly unique and fun to play with. The attacks are in no way typical and it’s fun to see what each character can do.
  • The artwork. The artwork of this game is simple, yet stunning with a playful comic feel about it.


  • The difficulty level. The difficulty level seriously needed to be dropped a notch. If you are a hard-core fight-style gamer, don’t be shocked if you get your butt kicked in easy mode. If you are a newcomer to the fighting genre, you may want to start with a different game.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Friday Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (XBLA, PC)

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
review by Tesh

In a nutshell? "Twin Stick Metroidvania".

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet places you in control of a plucky little UFO with a variety of tools and weapons, and tasks you with saving your home planet from star-eating shadow play monsters. You drive with one analog stick, and aim your weapon/tool with the other, pitting your toolset against a massive alien invasion.

The Good:
  • Classic "Metroidvania" game design involving exploring a large map that opens up as you take tools and weapons from boss monsters and use them to interact with the world. You grow in power and utility as you learn to interact with and explore the world. This is really the heart of the game, and there are enough different tools, ways to use them and things to use them on to carry the gameplay through several hours of fun experimentation and exploration.
  • Instruction comes via icons and demonstration, which cuts down on mistranslations and keeps the learning curve fairly simple.
  • The visuals are a curious mix of flat shapes and color gradients, simple and clean. The art design and animation are excellent, and help to sell the alien nature of the game. This ethos is vaguely reminiscent of World of Goo, another game standing as a testament to the strength of good 2D art presentation.
The Middling:
  • Boss Monster hunting strategies tend to be more about execution than deciphering the gimmick. This is usually good, but sometimes it would be nice if it were the other way around.
The Not So Good:
  • Steering missiles can be tricky and frustrating...but that can also mean that it's satisfying if you get the hang of it.
  • The simplified instructions aren't always clear, and it will take some tinkering to figure some things out. This isn't always bad, but it can be frustrating if you get stuck.
  • The underwater area requires a bit too much retracing of your path as currents push you around and block off channels. Choosing a different fork in the road means looping back to the start of the path instead of just backing up to the fork.
  • Some boss fights are a bit demanding or unclear, but some players like this as a skill test.
  • No difficulty settings.

All in all, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a fun game, well worth spending some time with.