Tag Archives: Shovel Knight

Feature: Top 5 Indie Characters for Smash Bros.

Who’s your favorite “Nindie?”

Recently, it was announced that Smash Bros. for Wii U and for 3DS would be getting some DLC in the form of characters Mewtwo and Lucas, as well as some costumes for the Mii Fighters. It was also announced that a new poll would go live where you could vote for a character- any character- to be dded to the Smash Bros. roster down the line.

With that new information in mind, it seems like a lot of indie developers want in on some of that sweet Smash action. I’ve decided to compile a list of five of those characters that you should vote for in the poll. You can feel free to vote for your favorite game character here, but I recommend waiting until AFTER you’ve read my article, in case it gives you a better idea.

5. Commander Video

The star of the Bit.Trip series got his start on the Wii Shop back in 2008. The series has been going strong, with Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien releasing as a Wii U launch title. To show that Nintendo has some love for the Commander, he even appears as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While he may not have a lot on the surface, if you factor in some of his other Bit.Trip games for themes, he could have some cool retro pixel powers and throw bars of gold at his opponents.

Maybe he could just replace Sonic since he’s a better runner anyway. SHOTS FIRED!

4. Shantae

Shantae has been around since the Game Boy Color. Her creators at WayForward have developed a ton of great games on the Nintendo platforms, and I considered a fair number of their characters from games like Mighty Switch Force, but it always came back to Shantae having the better move pool and being more recognizable. The half-genie would be a well-deserved addition to the Smash Bros. roster.

3. Max

Another indie developer that every Nintendo fan should know is Renegade Kid. Their games Dementium and Moon proved that the DS could do a lot with a little, and on the 3DS, some of their best work has come in the form of Xeodrifter and Mutant Mudds. From all of those, I chose Max from Mutant Mudds for his retro-goodness and variety of moves. From an Up+B rocket pack recovery to an arsenal of water canon-based moves, he’s got a lot to offer.

2. Shovel Knight

The Cyan Shoveler is almost -too- well suited for Smash Bros. He has an arsenal of abilities to borrow from his game’s unique boss line-up, a series of his own power ups, and a built in palette swap in the form of alternate armors. There’s no reason for him to not already be in the game, as far as I’m concerned.

1. Quote

It’s hard not to call Cave Story a Nintendo fan’s ideal indie game. At least it’s one of mine, so that’s why Quote got the number one spot. The adorable robot from the Cave Story series is a one-boy-army packing all sorts of weapons that could be converted into the Smash Bros. formula. My favorite idea is his recovery: make it a Down+B combination where he busts out his machine gun and fires it downwards to push up into the air! Plus, the floating island he hails from would make an excellent stage. Imagine fighting on platforms hanging over the game’s signature dark blue clouds with the full moon while the title music plays. Glorious.

But those are my five “Nindies.” What indie character would you/have you voted for to get into Smash Bros? Leave a comment to discuss!

Feature: Games in Review for 2014

My Top 10 Games of 2014

Game of the year awards are dumb, so here’s mine:

10. Persona Q

One part Etrian Odyssey, one part Persona, all parts amazing JRPG action on your 3DS. There’s nothing about Persona Q not to love. I don’t have a lot more to really say about it other than if you’re a fan of JRPG’s at all, you really need to check this game out.

9. Transistor

The creators of Bastion hit their second game out of the park with Transistor. The sci-fi noir setting is beautifully complimented by it’s synthetic soundtrack and gorgeous art style. Together, it’s easy to get lost in the world. One of the things that struck me about the gameplay was the way the damage penalty forced you to try different combinations with your abilities, which in turn opened me up to new ways to play. I never really had a one combo that I stuck with because I was always reinventing them. It was a truly unique experience.

8. Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight isn’t just relying on a nostalgia kick to lure you in and take your money. It’s using classic game design and melding it with modern gameplay conventions to make for a truly unique experience that will satisfy 8-bit game lovers and modern game lovers alike.

7. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

I didn’t think Blizzard could top Mists of Pandaria in terms of the quality of their content, but it turns out I was wrong. Warlords brings with it a killer storyline, better dungeons, and the biggest reason ever to log into the game every day: garrisons. There’s so much to do, so many improvements to older systems (like professions), and so much to see that I think this is, without a doubt, the best expansion for Warcraft yet.

6. Smash Bros. for Wii U

Anybody who knows me probably won’t be surprised to find this on my list. I’m a huge fan of the Smash Bros. series. Not only is it a fantastic game, it’s a wonderful reflection over the past decade and beyond of Nintendo that reminds me why I love that company. Yeah, maybe it’s just Nostalgia Simulator 2014, but god damn if it isn’t one of the best looking games this year.

Everybody wants 60 frames per second and 1080p visuals on their new PS4 and XBOX One, but it’s sitting right here on last-gen level technology running without a hitch. It’s thanks to a solid artistic vision and technical know-how that this game looks better than almost anything I’ve played this year.

5. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker

It may not have been the biggest game, but Captain Toad still filled a big hole in my gamer heart with color, laughter, and legitimately clever puzzles. I’ve spoken before about what this game means to me, so just suffice it to say that I have no qualms saying it’s one of the best games to have come out in 2014.

4. MarioKart 8

Until Smash Bros. came out, I hadn’t spent as much time with friends in any other games combined as I did with Mario Kart 8. And I still enjoy going back to it, especially thanks to the incredibly high-quality DLC they released in November. The absolutely gorgeous visuals, the gripping gameplay, and the amazing design of the tracks keeps you coming back. Battle-mode aside, which is the worst the series has ever seen, Mario Kart 8 stands well above it’s predecessors in a long line of pretty great games.

3. PT

I’m not sure whether putting this game on this list says something about me, the horror game wheelhouse at large, or the video game industry at general, but here it is. I’ve effectively nominated a movie trailer on YouTube for Best Picture at The Oscars in saying that PT, which literally stands for Playable Teaser, was one of the 10 best games last year.

PT was a great horror experience. You walk through the same hallway over and over again, slowly noticing subtle changes each time, and watching as things descend into madness. The atmosphere is top-notch compared to full-price horror games, relying more on mood and subtlety than jumps and loud noises. But most impressively, it got me excited for the first Silent Hill game in over 5 years, as it turns out this whole experiment was one big teaser for the upcoming Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro production, Silent Hills.

2. Bayonetta 2

Every bit as insane as the first game, and in most cases: more so. The smooth, yet chaotic combat returns with stunning visuals, a bonkers story, and even an interesting multi-player mode to check out. Character action game fans need to take note: this isn’t just one of the best games of the year, it is among the best in the entire genre.

1. Hearthstone

To clarify, this list isn’t me trying to rank the 10 best games, it’s just ten great games that came out this year that I played and that I want you to play. So while the previous nine weren’t ranked in any particular order, I did consciously put Hearthstone at number one for no other reason than because it’s the game that I really have loved the most and spent the most time with in 2014. Between the Naxxramus single-player content and the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion, I’ve had a stellar time with Blizzard’s free-to-play card game, and will continue to do so well into 2015.

There you have it, the ten best games that came out last year. If you have any you’d like to throw in, please feel free to do so in the comments. This is all in the spirit of getting people to play better games, and unfortunately I couldn’t play everything out there. But I’d love to see what other recommendations of games I should play that you have.

Review: Shovel Knight

Retro concepts with modern sensibilities make for a brilliant game.

Every now and again we get another game that promises retro-platforming action. Spelunky, 1001 Spikes, Mega Man 9. Few actually manage to find what made retro games so great, and most of them forsake modern game designs to try and reach that “classic” feel. Shovel Knight manages to hit a sweet spot on both accounts, and the results are astounding.

Shovel Knight might sound ridiculous, but it is straight forward. You play as a knight who wields a shovel for purposes of combat and exploration. He also gets an array of sub-weapons to use, many of which that hearken back to games like Castlevania and Mega Man.

Using these weapons, you travel the world of Shovel Knight, defeating members of an insidious order as you fight to win back your beloved Shield Knight, a dear friend that was thought lost to The Tower of Enchantment. Traveling the world is a combination of Super Mario Bros. 3‘s overworld map and The Adventures of Link‘s villages. It gives a great sense of exploration to a game that otherwise features fairly straight-forward levels in the vein of Mega Man and Castlevania 3.

Gameplay within these levels feels very much like a more fluid Adventures of Link with swordplay replaced with shovelplay, which is now a word. You swipe can swing your shovel in arcs in front of you, or you can come down upon your enemies with a vertical shovel-drop. When combined with the aforementioned sub-weapons, you’ll find an incredibly gratifying gameplay system built into the game. The same method of combat is used to traverse platforming puzzles to find more and more treasure, a key component for buying new weapons and upgrades.

The level design is varied and compelling: from interesting puzzles using your shoveling skills to their utmost potential to perplexing paths that require sub-weapons and quick reflexes to navigate. Equally varied and challenging are the boss fights, each reminiscent of a variety of fights throughout video game history.

I can’t say enough about the music of the game. While it isn’t exactly true to the capabilities of the 8-bit era, it is evoking that same feeling of games like Mega Man and Castlevania. Jake Kaufman has put together an incredibly array of songs here that are well worth purchasing on their own from the game.

In the end, Shovel Knight is more than a game that just wants to invoke that “classic feeling” for a bullet-point. It’s a love letter to the great game design that brought all of us where we are now, and it shows.

Note: For what it’s worth, I played the game on the 3DS and that appears to be the place to play. The layered dimensions among the backgrounds of the game really make it pop, visually. The game in general really works well in a portable format, but it’s also available on Steam and Wii U, and I would easily recommend it there as well.

 

Nintendo Direct 2/13/2014 in Review

A solid lineup through Spring.

Today, Nintendo released a poor-quality stream on their website that was fortunately being mirrored on YouTube featuring a full run of the games coming to their systems within the next few months, and then some. If you want to watch the full thing, go ahead and just go here, but if you wanna skip to the good parts, let’s start here:

Little Mac from Punch-Out!! made his Smash Bros. debut in Brawl as an Assist Trophy; an item that has various Nintendo characters show up to lend a hand. But this time he’s punching through to the full-fledged roster, and looks to add his unique brand of pugilism to the growing ranks of Smash

A few things to note from that trailer include his Final Smash, where he “Hulk’s out” into a giant brute, similar to Bowser’s Final Smash in the last game. Also, it would appear that he can deliver a (near) one-hit K.O. with a charged up power meter, which sounds to be an interesting mechanic. And finally, what I once called The Arena is actually now a fully-fledged Punch-Out!! stage, so that’s neat!

You catch more awesome screenshots of Little Mac in action over at the Smash Bros. website.

Next we has Mario Golf World Tour for the 3DS. It looks neat, overall. I haven’t had a good golf game since Pebble Beach for the SNES, but then I never tried the Mario Golf series. I liked last year’s Mario Tennis so much that I’ve thought about picking it up, but honestly I’m not sure what’s there to get me into it. We’ll have to see how that shapes up, but it’s still a ways down the road, releasing on May 2nd.

Kirby’s Triple Deluxe (I see what you did there, Nintendo) looks to be the exact kind of Kirby game that I love, so I know that will a day one purchase for me. But I’m a fan of the puff ball, and mad collectibles, so I was pretty much drawn to this game like a moth with pyrophilia to a very sexy flame.

Next is Yoshi’s New Island. It’s so adorable, I can’t even tell you. So I’ll just show you!

There was a new Steel Diver game announced for the eShop on 3DS. It’s a first-person sub-shooter, but it honestly looks about as fun as playing Battleship with the comatose. I wasn’t a fan of the previous Steel Diver, and this one just doesn’t look to be doing anything for me as either. At least the price point is right; there’s a free version that’s basically a glorified single player demo with the full-on multi-player.

The original feed for the Nintendo Direct kept cutting out around “Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball” so I had to go back and re-watch it. I’m still not sure I understand the business model here. Apparently you can play a variety of mini-games based around baseball, including just rapidly being pitched by a monstrous half-man, half-pitching-machine demon. Once you beat the main “Bait and PItch” game, you then can buy other games with real world money, but you can haggle him down to cheaper prices through in-game mechanics? I don’t know how I feel about this whole thing. It’s weird.

Pokemon Battle Trozei is coming out. It’s a game with Pokemon in the title so I’m sure it’ll do fine. It’s actually a puzzle game, but it’s not the Pokemon Pinball sequel I’ve been waiting for. Here’s a trailer:

There was a showcase of the character Emmy from the Professor Layton series leading up to the next game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, which is coming out at the end of this month on February 28th. Time to catch up on the acclaimed series if you’re like me and you keep forgetting you own it!

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will be coming out sometime in 2015 so let’s just leave that there for now. It’s Monster Hunter.

Weapon Shop is another game from the Level 5 series where you manage a weapon shop inside the world of a typical JRPG. It sounds neat, but I already played Recettear, so I don’t know how this holds up against it

Inazuma 11 is a JRPG tactical soccer game. I got nothing. This sounds positively insane. It’s an eShop exclusive so keep an eye out there.

Then there’s the Indie Developer blow-out. Treasurenauts is the spiritual sequel to Mutant Mudds, one of my favorite eShop games. Moon Chronicles is a remake to the underappreciated gem Moon. I’m glad that’s getting a 3DS buff. Shovel Knight and Thousand and One Spikes are both hardcore old-school style games that appear to want to rely on nostalgia and modern gameplay to hit solid games out of the park. Retro City Rampage is already out so go check that out if you like the original GTA games.

Ubisoft has a new game coming out for Wii U’s eShop called Child of Light. It looks like an RPG with some gorgeous art and interesting gamepad mechanics. The trailer shows off a pretty slow-paced game, though, so I’d hold out for proper reviews to take a look at that. It’s available in April.

There’s also going to be a sequel to the neat treat that was NES Remix. Volume 2 will feature more notable games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Kirby’s Adventure, and Metroid, all remixed and revved up for new gameplay bites. There’s also going to be Super Luigi Bros. built in; a mirrored version of the original Super Mario Bros. starring Luigi. The trailer hurt my brain.

Starting in April we’ll be seeing GBA titles on the Wii U eShop, which is a little strange. You would think we’d see them on 3DS? But anyway, they’re looking at releasing Metroid Fusion(!), Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga(!), and the inferior GBA port of Yoshi’s Island.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze got a new trailer. Here ya go:

Those owls are jerks and I love them.

Then there’s some new Mario Kart 8 footage. I’m incredibly excited for this, and even more so now that we have some new Karters:

And finally a new trailer for the sequel to one of my favorites, Bayonetta 2.

There was some great footage of the new Monolith Software game coming to Wii U. Still no name, but it looks to be the spiritual sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii. It’s a damn fine looking action JRPG that puts Final Fantasy to shame with it’s style and substance. Xenoblade was one of the Wii’s best games and last generation’s best RPG’s, and the new one seems to be shaping up down a similar path.

So as you can see, Nintendo has a pretty solid line-up this spring. The Wii U could use some more as Bayonetta, the Monoloth Soft game, and Smash are slated for later this year. But we still get some hard hitters in Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart, not to mention all the Indie goodness coming down the pipeline.

But what are you most excited for, besides Smash, of course? Feel free to pop a comment below.