Archive for June, 2013

360 review: Dodonpachi Saidaioujou

June 28, 2013

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In a rare move for developer Cave, Dodonpachi Saidaioujou1 moves not toward increased complexity but pared-back simplicity, a straightforward bravado borne of its status as the original innovator, the series that started this whole bullet hell business.

This is bullet hell in its purest form, a glowing neon blur of explosions and flak, skillchains climbing into the thousands, zen focus terminating in split-second panic bombs. Patterns are stripped down, basic, predictable even, but they move with unrelenting speed. If this isn’t Cave’s hardest game, then it’s damned close to it.

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PS2 review: Okami

June 18, 2013

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Though they’re the conversational touchstone, Okami’s brushwork visuals aren’t the game’s strong point. They’re uniquely realized, certainly, both distinct and daring, but they lack the attraction of a cleaner style. Everything looks flattened out, and nothing’s as vibrant as another style would allow. Objects are dark and muddied, the tones overly earthy. They blend into one another. The textured-paper look seems added at the last second, overlaid, pushing colors down under its weight.

But this world. It’s beautiful, expansive, yearning for the gift of life. The gods are scattered, trapped, absent. The serpent demon Orochi has cast it into darkness, shrouding the land in black mist, turning men to stone. A village waits in fear for Orochi’s arrow to steal away a sacrifice.

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Death 2: Deathmatch

June 8, 2013

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Tabletop review: Eclipse

June 2, 2013

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Each game of Eclipse has humble beginnings. First moves typically involve very little choice, as 2-6 players take turns revealing adjacent star systems, searching for planets rich in resources to fund their fledgling empire. Rarely will anybody build or research to start, lacking incentive and resources to do so. They explore and expand, building their small bubble of influence.

It’s placid almost, and there’s little direct contact, as most players seek to build their forces rather than launching themselves into a costly war and becoming easy prey for uninvolved players. They shift focus from expansion into research, outfitting their ships and civilization with new technology, in preparation. There’s a strain under the surface, the constant need to push each round to its fullest, that drives players into occasional silence. But the game moves along briskly, systems interlocking in a coherent way that guides players down their chosen course of action.

Eclipse spirals out, and choices beget choices. Whichever alien species you picked naturally affects your decision tree. The Hydran Progress are research intensive, starting the game with advanced labs and the ability to research two technologies in one turn. The Planta can expand to two hexes in one turn, and their ships gain extra power from photosynthesis. And so on. Smart players will exploit these advantages and those offered by the expanding universe, preparing.

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