Gamebox 2.0: Roller Coaster to the Past Edition

For our first edition of Gamebox 2.0 in 2019, we’ve played a handful of old favorites making a return for a new generation, whether it’s massive compilation collections or full remakes. We got to explore some creative indie titles that we finally got around to trying between the holidays and an early preview of a title that made us appreciate nature a bit more. We started 2019 gaming away, so let’s recap what we played!

Atari Flashback Classics (Zach):There have been a ton of great retro collections released recently, like the superb SNK 40th Anniversary Collection or the Capcom Beat-Em Ups Collection, and Atari, not to be outdone, has released a new, massive, collection of a bunch of their classics with the Atari Flashback Classics collection.  The collection has 150 games spread across classic arcade games, Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 games and features classics like Centipede, Asteroids, Missile Command, Tempest, Yars Revenge, Warlords and Combat.

There’s also a bunch of hidden gems that you may have never seen before, like Secret Quest or Radar Lock and some prototype and unreleased games that you’ll only find here, including this post’s header image, the unreleased arcade game Maze Invaders.  Most of the games are first party Atari titles but there are also a handful of titles from Mattel’s M Network game division to check out but there’s definitely a big gap in classic titles with the absence of other third parties like Activision. There does seem to be a little bit of “quantity over quality” going on with this collection, as there’s a bunch of games that were terrible back in the 70s and 80s and they are even worse now.  Like, I don’t think anyone has been dying to play Atari 2600 titles like “Basic Math” or the huge bunch of sports titles that, while historically significant, are awkwardly primitive now.  Some of the games are also baffling in their obtuseness, even with the included manuals for all but the arcade titles.  There’s also not a lot of cool bonus material, like box art or concept art, that other collections have featured.  The Flashback Classics collection does have multiplayer, online play and leaderboards and most of the games are still a ton of fun to play, especially the arcade classics, and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with the sheer amount of games included here.  The game is out now on Switch.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures (Zach): The original RollerCoaster Tycoon games on PC are some of my most beloved childhood gaming memories, as I spent hours building parks and figuring out if I could charge people to use the bathrooms to get some extra money.  The series has seen some modern releases of varying quality but RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures brings the classic style gameplay to the Switch. The game lets you tackle a number of scenarios, where you’ll have various goals to accomplish in a certain amount of time, whether it’s getting a certain number of guests into your park, make a certain amount of money or get specific rides or you can dive into the classic Sandbox mode and build your own theme park from scratch or the titular Adventure Mode, that throws some unexpected twists in while you manage a pre-built park..

The game does a great job control-wise, letting you quickly navigate between menus with only a few button presses and you can easily place attractions and move around your park.  The only difficulty which seems like it’s really going to take some getting used to is when you are trying to build a custom roller coaster.  You move the joystick and the track gets formed in a continuous fashion but it feels too sensitive and the track is being built too fast, so you’ll probably have to wipe out the whole thing a few times before you get the coaster going where you want it to go.  There are pre-built coasters and you can customize those but the real meat of the game is getting your own custom coasters into your park or trying to recreate your favorite real-life coasters.

Other than the controls around building coasters, the rest of the game should give you that classic RollerCoaster Tycoon feel as you plop down rides but you also need to manage food stands, bathrooms and service stands that send employees like janitors and mechanics out into the park.  The game also has thought bubbles of your guests that lets you know what they are liking and not liking about your park and there are a slew of extremely useful charting overlays you can look at to see if your rides are making their most potential money or where the hotspots of your park are.  I think personally RCT will always be best on the PC but having a full version you can take on the go is very cool and if you’re a fan of the series and have a Switch, it’s definitely worth checking out.

(Chris): RollerCoaster Tycoon series makes its debut on the Switch that aims to recapture the countless hours of managing your dream amusement park. In RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, players can choose from three game modes, Scenario, Adventure, and Sandbox. Scenario mode focuses on different objective-based missions to manage a pre-built park. Adventure mode lets players start from the basics and adds in random chance cards that can boost or hinder the park’s development. And finally, Sandbox mode, where the player is free to start with no assistance to create their own amusement park.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures does a fine job of capturing the same classic experience from the PC version with cartoony visuals, the colorful theme park designs to choose from and the challenge of micromanaging resources. The controls take a few moments to adjust to. Placing and building rides, especially when setting up roller coast tracks cannot be rushed as its really easy to misalign tracks on the Switch. It can get mildly frustrating to build grand scale roller coasts with deep bangs and turns, and spend a few minutes longer than you would like to get all the angles right on the console. There are issues with some of the loading times for the game, especially when building large scale rides and flying past crowded areas.

These small issues shouldn’t distract newcomers to the game but might bother gamers that are more familiar with the PC versions. RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is a fun title on the Switch that makes it easy to pick up and create imaginative rides. The scenario mode is a fun way to learn the ins and outs of the game, and Adventure mode attempts to throw in some unexpected surprises, but careful gamers can easily overcome them. Gamers will most definitely spend hours developing their parks in the Sandbox mode, trying to utilize every square tile and generate big profits. RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures was released on December 13th for the Nintendo Switch.

She and the Light Bearer (Chris): Developed by Mojiken Studios and published by Toge Productions, She and the Light Bearer is an adventure title with takes players into a fantasy tale about nature, peace, and love. She and the Light Bearer puts the player into the role as a young Firefly that is on a journey to seek the Mother, the Earth’s divine caretaker that has been asleep deep within a forest. But surrounding the forest are guardians and protectors that will test the Firefly’s courage and will to see if she is worthy to awaken Mother.

She and the Light Bearer is a title that is incredibility well polished with amazing artwork, soothing music and a focus on delivering immersive storytelling. The game is presented as a fairy tale and the visuals and sounds give it a deep fantasy setting. While the gameplay follows a traditional point and click adventure, the target of the game isn’t to burden the player with mental roadblocks, but guide the player alongside Firefly’s discovery about the gifts of the forest and those that wish to ruin it. There are elements of a visual novel, as there can be multiple dialogue options to branch out conversations and cause some funny moments between characters. The average game playthrough isn’t very long and the puzzles aren’t very difficult. The puzzles and riddles are mainly fetch quests, and it mainly comes down to how well the player is paying attention to the surroundings.

Titles like She and the Light Bearer shows how games can be expansive media for games as an art form and entertainment. The game’s creator, Brigitta Rena, wanted to recreate the feelings of childhood wonderment and magic, which is something games can cleverly fulfill. The design and tone are charming with cute faces on every living creature that expresses tons of emotions. Overall, She and the Light Bearer is a fun short indie title that hooks in gamers with its charming story and interesting designs for a delightful game experience.

Resident Evil 2 “1-Shot” Demo (Zach): The remake of Resident Evil 2 is hitting PS4, Xbox One, and PC next week on the 25th but there’s currently a demo available called “1-Shot” that lets you experience 30 minutes of the game.  The demo puts you in control of Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop in Raccoon City at the time of RE2, who becomes caught up in the zombie outbreak started by Umbrella Corp and takes shelter at the massive Raccoon City Police Station.  The demo gives you a good idea of the creepy vibe and gameplay of the remake, which features some absolutely stunning graphics and a total revamp of the controls, doing away with the original’s tank controls in favor of the over the shoulder aiming of RE4.  The police station is incredibly creepy, with lots of dark hallways and rooms only lit by Leon’s flashlight and you’ll constantly hear the groans and moans of the zombie hordes.

You probably won’t have time to really solve any of the puzzles in the demo and it’s definitely more combat focused, which the original game really wasn’t, but it seems like there will be plenty of puzzles to solve and inventory management is going to be a major factor as well because, at least in the demo, Leon doesn’t seem to have a lot of room for carrying items and you’ll either have to use or drop things to make room for important items.  There’s also a new mechanic where you can use wood beams you find around the station to nail up windows, which can prevent zombies from getting in, at least for a little bit.  The demo definitely did its job for me, I’m way more excited for this now than I was before checking out the demo and if you’re a fan of the Resident Evil games and especially Resident Evil 2, definitely check out the demo and get ready for its release next week.

Desert Child (Chris): In the future, everybody will be speeding on hoverbikes, but bills and money management will remain the same! Game creator Oscar Brittain and publisher Akupara Games present Desert Child, an adventure racing title that wants to find out who the best racer on Mars is. Players control a young rider looking to make a name for himself. His goal is to travel to Mars and enter the biggest hoverbike race in the universe, the Grand Prix. But wishes and dreams cost money, and the Rider must hustle to make extra cash to pay for his expenses if he wants the chance to be the best. So before he can take part in the Grand Prix, the Rider will have to take odds jobs and gain popularity before he can enter the big race.

Desert Child offers multiple gameplay elements in a retro style, punk pixelated world. The game is focused on racing and shooting, but how well equipped and prepared for races beforehand really determines the outcome. The player is tasked with building up the Rider’s bike with the best equipment and keep a hunger level in check to make sure the Rider can focus on the racing. Everything in the game requires money, and the money is earned by winning small races and taking up odd jobs for extra cash. How well the player wins races and performs tasks effects how much money is earned and the range of expenses to maintain. Take too much damage will mean more repairs at the end and racing on an empty stomach means the Rider is in poor condition. Parts and money can be earned by illegal means, such as stealing and taking a bribe, but it can cause suspicion that can be a costly hit to the budget. But the tempting rewards can build the Rider’s hoverbike up faster and make a few races a bit easier.

Oscar Brittain started Desert Child as two different projects that came together to create a Cowboy Bebop-inspired hybrid game. The aesthetics come from the futurist style of punk fashion, alongside the unpolished look of advanced technology. The side-scrolling racing mechanics of the game takes some time to adjust to the frantic pace of shooting, dodging and racing in the 2D perspective, as it’s a visual overload. But once you understand the flow and how the racing works, the game is enjoyable and charming with great graphics and chill music to pump up the racing. The courses are fun, with some diverse landscapes that take the player to the desert, the ocean and the highways of a city. The street life is busy with people moving about the place and a weather change between rain and sunny weather. There are shops and restaurants to visit, and a handful of characters to interact with to lead the Rider to his big race.

I played Desert Child for the Nintendo Switch, which makes it easy to pick up and play the game in short bursts. Gamers will be easily attracted to the visuals and soundtrack of the game, but some could get frustrated by the trial and error with the balance of resources and figuring out the flow of the game. Desert Child is highly stylized to have smooth retro animation and detail, but some of the game mechanics needed to be a bit more polished. Some of the odd jobs in the games gave no indications of how to perform the jobs correctly and some of the pacing of the game slowed way down to a mindless grind for money. The racing selections are exciting once the hoverbike has a bigger arsenal of power behind it. Later races when the screen is crammed full of objects, reacting and dodging all the random things can be like playing a mix of Spy Hunter and Battletoads’ Turbo Tunnel. Desert Child opens up for any gamer that appreciates indie projects full of heart and has the patience to explore and overcome some of the weaker mechanics. Desert Child was released December 11th, 2018, for Steam, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mac.

2084 (Zach): Created by Feardemic Games for a 72-hour Game Jam, 2084 is a cyberpunk shooter that is currently in Early Access on Steam.  Even though it’s a Game Jam/Early Access game, it feels extremely polished in a lot of areas.  The environments and graphics reminded me a lot of The Observer, except with much more frenetic action and it has an interesting hacking mechanic where your gun can launch an orb that lets you hack into various tech around the world.  If you complete a mini-game of pushing the correct arrows in a sequence, you’ll get health, ammo or open up the next part of the world.

The hacking gets more intense as the game goes on, as there are enemies that require you to hack them before you can kill them and bosses that require multiple stages of hacking to take down.  There are a few downsides of this being an Early Access title, like the fact that you are mostly facing the same kind of enemies and going through mostly the same environments and you only have 1 weapon type but the developers have said they are going to flesh things out by adding more to the game as they build on this very solid base.  It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on because if they can really flesh this out, add more enemies and weapons and build the world and the story, it could be awesome.  If you do want to check it out in its current state, head over to Steam.

Russian Subway Dogs (Chris): Nobody likes to feel hungry in the freezing weather, especially not animals looking for food and a ride home. Inspired by the actual dogs that travel the Moscow Metro, Russian Subway Dogs is an action-puzzle game that lets players control a member of a mixed animal pack gathering food from the metro system of Russia. Selecting either a dog or a cat, players will have to distract humans and force them to drop various food or explosive vodka bottles to earn points and fulfill side task as they make their way through the metro stations.

Russian Subway Dogs has an arcade style of pick up and play mechanics, as the control can dart around the screen to either jump or bark. At each stage, the character’s health is dwindling from the cold weather and must eat food to stay alive. Various Russian citizens will be moving around the stage that will toss up food or vodka if the bark catches them off guard. Food can be caught mid-air for points, but the total is reduced to half if the food item hits the floor. However, if the food is cooked by the explosive vodka bottles, points are multiple. Vodka bottles are able to be juggled in the air by barking, increasing the multiple values and boosting food values once the bottle explodes near any food. Barking consumes a bit of health, so the player has to conversely use the bark for quick point grabs or long juggling acts in order to score higher points or complete side tasks. Rival animals and the citizens of Russian won’t give up the food so easily however, as every creature will be looking to protect their food and will try to snatch or hurt the player if they get the chance. It’s a dog eat dog world, and only the most cunning animal gets to ride the subway back home.

Spooky Squid Games delivers a clever and addictive game that has great artwork and music to keep gamers glued to the screen. The game has a campaign mode where players can take on the stages one by one, with increasing difficulty. This unlocks fun characters to play as such as Question Hound from KC Green’s Gunshow, Ratcoon from Ruin of the Reckless or Nacho & Rad Shiba from VA-11 HALL-A! There is an endless mode that lets players see how long they can survive waves of food dropping humans and hurt rivals. It’s hilarious to see jumping poodles get rammed by charging elk, then tossing vodka at a subway bear. Russian Subway Dogs is for anyone with a great sense of humor and enjoys challenging puzzles that eat up large amounts of time to perfect. Russian Subway Dogs was released for PC and MAC August 18th, 2018, and will be coming to PS4 this year.

 

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