Gamebox 2.0: Games of October 2019

It’s pretty much all treats and no tricks for the games we got to check out for October, including lots of retro-inspired games like the Metroidvania Outbuddies, the remastered beat-em-up classic The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, a quirky puzzler Day and Night, and a few other tiles.  Read about everything we got to check out below.

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors (Zach): A cult classic arcade and SNES release back in the late 80s and mid 90 known as The Ninja Warriors, Taito’s robotic ninjas are back in The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors from ININ Games and Tengo Project.  A remaster of the classic SNES game, The Ninja Saviors is a classic side-scrolling beat-em-up where you battle your way through 8 levels to take down the armies of the evil mutant Banglar. You can choose from the original three Ninja Warriors from the SNES game to start and two more characters can be unlocked as well.  Each character plays drastically different, so you need to try each one to find out which suits your playstyle. The hulking Ninja is a giant robot warrior who can dash with a built-in rocket and can take more damage than the other Saviors while the female android Kamaitach is fast but weak and Kunoichi, who has no semblance to the human-like form of some of the other Warriors, is the most balanced. The two new characters are another female based Warrior named Yaksha, who can extend her extremities in crazy ways, and Raiden, a massive hulking mech who takes up half the screen.

The game plays strictly left to right, there are no up or down planes to fight on like in other brawlers like Final Fight or TMNT. This emphasizes enemy management and making sure you are not getting surrounded. Each Savior has a block that can be used by holding down the attack button and it becomes vital in later stages and each character also has a fantastic variety of attacks and combos that you’ll figure out as you play.  Each character also has a “Battery” meter that is constantly building up and, when it’s maxed out, you can pull off a room clearing attack. On the flip side, you can also hold up and use the meter to immediately launch a combo of your character’s chosen weapon, like nunchucks for Ninja. The graphics and music are fantastic, with the graphics being enhanced from the SNES version and you can hear both the arcade and SNES versions of the game’s soundtrack.  Additional modes like a time attack and two-player co-op, which was missing from the original game, are here as well. If you are a fan of old-school beat-em-ups, The Ninja Saviors is a remaster of one of the best from back in the day and is definitely worth checking out on Switch or PS4 now.

Day and Night (Chris) – Ridiculous Games offers a new challenge for the puzzle fanatic. Taking inspiration from ColumnsPuyo Puyo and a few others, Day and Night is a new puzzle game with the elements of a match-4 puzzler with new rule changing mechanics. The basic objective is to clear the stacking block from the stage and avoid locking out a column. Day and Night introduces some fun mechanics to get the gameplay intense by switching the rules as the game progress. As blocks get stacked and eliminated, the block pieces and the stage cycle through a few styles that change up the gameplay.

Blocks are delivered in a 2×2 grouping, made up of random block types. Blocks can be rotated to align in a certain order and fast dropped into place. There are two types of bocks: Day and Night blocks and Power-Up blocks. Day and Night blocks each have two symbols that only appear when the stage is on a Day cycle or a Night cycle, and can only be eliminated during their respective daylight and nightlight. Only when the blocks associated with the corresponding light period can be eliminated by matching, the opposite blocks will be disabled from matching and are treated like dead fillers. However, when the light cycle switches over, those former dead blocks are activated and those playable blocks are rendered useless.

Power-up blocks can be defensive and offensive perks to the player. Blocks like the stone, bomb, and black hole can help clear up space on the playfield. When players collect seasonable planet blocks, it will send attacks to an opposing player’s own playfield. Like the Day and Night cycle, there is another mechanic that rotates through the four seasons and gives power-ups based on the current season. However, these planet blocks can become hazards if not eliminated carefully. If a seasonable block begins to root, it will start to overtake any blocks in its path.

In competitive modes, racking up big combinations or chaining eliminations will create interrupting effects on the other player. At the end of every cycle, a winner is determined by their performance and the loser gets a penalty. The person with the lowest performance gets a whole row shifted up by one, further increasing the odds to overstack a column. 

The game offers four main modes. Story, Survival, Dare (Challenge mode) and Verses. The story is set like a school play, with children putting on different fantasy tales. While the plot is paper-thin, it does train the player in taking on harder speeds and difficult opponents, while unlocking costumes for the player’s avatar to wear. Survival mode is a single-player marathon to rack up scores. Dare is a set of challenges that the player must eliminate blocks in a certain fashion. Versus mode offers a one on one puzzle fight, either against a CPU or local and online player.

Day and Night has a few interesting mechanics to separated it from most indie puzzle games. It’s a fun blend of critical thinking and quick reflexes. The initial concept might be a lot for newer puzzle fans to juggle. Its multiple blocks to remember, on top of multiple-stage cycles, with rotating power-up to manage. But it should take a few matches to understand the mechanics before learning the flow of the game. These dynamic changes in gameplay make for a fun experience to see how well the player can manage what’s going on screen. The cartoonish art style and the classical music score gives the game a relaxing tone that does not distract from the hectic gameplay. The game is incredibly well polished by a solid team of developers. Ridiculous Games consist of many veteran game industry members that show off their talents in the presentation.  Day and Night was released to the Nintendo Switch last October 22nd and be downloaded from the eShop today.

Outbuddies (Zach): Created by solo developer Julian Laufer and published by Headup Games, Outbuddies is a classic Metroid style exploration action game where you plumb the depths of a mysterious sunken city called Bahlem that has ties to the Old Gods.  The gameplay is classic Metroidvania where you move section by section around the map, collecting items and weapons that will help you open previously inaccessible areas of the world. Your character has lots of Samus Aranesque moves, including a wall jump and the ability to turn into a ball and roll through tight spaces and you’ll gain various weapons and items like bombs as you progress.

One big difference from typical Metroidvania games is the addition of the Buddy Unity. Your Buddy Unit is an invincible robotic companion that can scout out areas of the map for you and can move objects via telekinesis. You can even invite a friend in for co-op and they can control your Buddy Unit for you. The game has a great eerie soundtrack and the graphics are dark but vibrant, with a bioluminescent/neon color scheme over all the environments and the pixel art is great as well, especially the gigantic bosses that will put your reflexes and skills to the test.  If you’re a fan of the genre and are looking for a new adventure, Outbuddies is definitely one to check out.

Driven Out (Chris) – When her homeland is under attack and a mysterious device falls into the right hands, one farmer will fight to drive out evil and save her lands. No Pest Productions presents Driven Out, a 2D action side-scroller that condenses complex sword combat into simple mechanics. There are no complicated button combinations to memorize, no equipment to collect and improve, and no allies to help. It’s just a heroine armed with a sword and a cloning device, and a destiny to kick butt.

Players will take control of a nameless farmer, and lead her on a journey to become a hero. Blocking her path are armored knights, giant animals, and otherworldly creatures. The gameplay only offers three attacks and three blocking movements. The sword can be swung for high, middle and low strikes, and be held to block high, middle and low attacks. Enemies cannot be easily attacked with spammed attacks. Almost all the enemy types have higher health points, move faster and hit harder than the player. Studying the movement of the opponents will greatly aid in combat. The use of attacking and blocking will open up different attack patterns.

The game does give the player a saving grace with a device that lets the player create their own custom checkpoints. The farmer stumbles upon a machine that lets the player return to a destinate spot if the farmer is killed. However, the machine runs on limited battery life and can be destroyed by enemies. Dropping the checkpoint and leaving it undefended will result in permanent death.

Driven Out toned-down combat and crisply pixelated visuals are a treat for gamers that crave a good challenge. Encounters with enemies hold weight and cannot be mindless played out. The different types of enemies and level designs keep the pace fresh. One thing to note is the game isn’t long and the replayable is quite short. This is No Pest Productions second title and the development team is on the right track for creative game design and dazzling sprite work. Driven Out is a short, but sweet experience, and was released October 18th for  PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Big Drunk Satanic Massacre (Zach): Big Drunk Satanic Massacre is a new top-down twin-stick shooter/dungeon crawler from Big Way Games.  A wacky satire, BDSM is set in a Hell that has been conquered by humanity and invaded by corporations.  Satan’s drunken son Lou has had enough and sets out on a rampage to rid Hell of humans and take his rightful place on the throne.  The game should be familiar to anyone who has played twin-stick shooters before, you move Lou with the left stick and aim his weapon with the right and the right triggers (if you are using a controller) are fire and alternate fire, with each weapon featuring both, like grenades launched from the machine gun.  You battle your way through each stage and there are massive (and usually disgusting) bosses to battle at the end or, if not, usually a massive gauntlet of enemies to take down. Along with guns, Lou can build up demonic rage that he can unleash as a fiery beam and there are power-ups like shields or the ability to summon minions as well.

There are mysterious vendors scattered around Hell that will sell Lou ability and weapon upgrades and also let him play a mini-game to earn money. Lou’s health is controlled by Milk, the intoxicating drink of choice in Hell, and Lou can carry bottles of it to restore his health if needed and there are vending machines that dispense it as well.  The game is full of crude and wacky humor and parodies (you’ll be fighting Peter Griffins and Eric Cartmans in a fake McDonalds for example) but some of it is trying a little too hard and Lou’s voice is also very hit or miss, with some readings being really funny but others being painfully bad. They are clearing going for a Duke Nukem vibe but this definitely is not Jon St Jon level.  The gameplay is fast and brutal and there’s a wide variety of enemies to take on and they get sent out at you in different configurations that require you to change up your tactics on the fly. You’ll also end up in arenas where there are hazards like flame jets or buzz saws to deal with as well. BDSM is a solid and fun shooter but just know going in that the sense of humor is very crude and might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you are not into stuff like the aforementioned Duke Nukem.  The game is out now on Steam, PS4, and Switch.

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