Thursday
Sep062018

QCF: Sonic Mania Plus

fter less than a year from its initial release, the folks over at Head Cannon, Pagoda West, and some other new faces at work have released a new expansion to the critically successful Sonic Mania, with Sonic Mania Plus. The extra content includes a new arranged campaign mode with remixed levels, a four-player split-screen competitive mode, and the inclusion of two more playable characters, (both of which haven’t been seen a commercial sonic title in over 20 years,) and more.

While Sonic Mania proved that it was more than just a simple throwback release for the fans, however, the added “Plus” to the title’s re-release ironically struggles to augment the core package with any upgrade significant enough to differentiate it from the same game that casual players have already played all those months ago.

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Friday
Aug312018

Examining the masculinity of the newest God of War

Note: The author originally wrote this feature for Pixel Jizz; a gaming culture publication for California’s Bay Area Queer community, and has been given permission to publish it on to Press Pause Radio as well. You can obtain the latest issue from Comikake this upcoming September.

nder the creative direction of Cory Balrog, Santa Monica Studio was able to deliver a radical reimagining for the God of War series that not only changed some of the most fundamental gameplay dynamics of the series, but it also managed to re-characterize its protagonist into something more than a bland cipher for juvenile aggression. While there’s no denying the quality of the franchise and what it did for the character-action genre of video games, the heart of the property was ultimately nothing more than a navel-gazing male power-fantasy that embellished upon all the token signs of toxic masculinity to an obnoxiously troubling degree. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the newest God of War title, but my favorite reason has to be the fact that it finally redeemed its hero with something far more meaningful than revenge porn, and I couldn’t be happier with the effect it’ll have on male culture as a whole.

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Thursday
Aug162018

QCF: Yoku's Island Express

ith so many open-world adventures on the indie game market today, a majority of newer titles are now throwing all of their weight behind the craziest gimmick they can offer with their experience in hopes of finding a large enough of an audience that will praise it. While the experimentation hasn’t paid off every title, there is one new idea that has crossed expansive level-design into a territory that it has never been in before—pinball dynamics.

Villa Gorilla’s premier title explores the juxtaposition between side-scrolling platforming and a pinball table turned on its side in Yoku’s Island Express, a tale about a dung beetle who employs his spherical excrement as a means to bounce around and about through the obscure tropical arrangement of flippers and bumpers just so he could deliver some mail. In all honesty, the game is a lot weirder than that made it sound, but fortunately, it’s a whole lot more enjoyable too.

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Thursday
Aug162018

QCF: Fox 'N Forests

hen people think about video game nostalgia, their minds immediately fix upon images of pixelated sprites, alongside beats of synthesized chiptune sounds, and other trademarks from the early years of the medium. With so many throwbacks, and love letters out on the market these days, developers are now more pressed to celebrate the past in a way that’s more innovative than a majority of the retro-inspired titles that are currently flooding storefronts; callbacks are now starting to pull from some of the more nuanced moments of gaming history.

Which brings us to Bonus Level Entertainment’s Fox ‘N Forests, a 2D action-platforming side-scroller that was Kickstarted back in 2016 in an effort to deliver a very specific kind of nostalgia—the kind that’s reserved for a majority of the early SNES titles that defined the system before fighting games swept the scene. While there’s plenty of fan service to indulge upon and enjoy in this self-aware romp, a majority of Fox ‘n Forest’s charm is fleeting at best, and largely obnoxious the rest of the time, or worse—all too forgettable.

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Thursday
Aug162018

QCF: Lumines Remastered 

s many can attest, falling-block type puzzle games are my jam. I love me some Tetris, Dr. Mario, Panel De Pon…you name it. If it has a block that falls and can be combinated with others for big score payouts, I'm there. One such game that I've spent a lot of time with over the course of its existence through many iterations of the franchise is Lumines, originally released on the PSP in 2005 with numerous sequels finding their way mainly to Sony consoles and handhelds with the odd installment appearing on XBLA.

Lumines ended up being one of the more addictive puzzle games I've played, going so far as instilling intense “Tetris-Effect” visions of the playfield on shower tile walls, square linoleum patterns on the floor, even just in my creeping subconscious with my eyes closed before drifting to sleep. At a certain point, I was also one of the best players in the world, holding high, top-10 rankings in the XBLA version and utterly crushing all of the local competition.

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Wednesday
Aug152018

PPR Presents Late to the Party: Kirby Star Allies

ver the years, Nintendo has been privileged with a large stable of iconic franchises, and enduring characters that have gone on to appeal to audiences across the world, both old and young alike. Among those properties is their adorable pink puff-ball hero, Kirby, a character who had a title on nearly every platform from the company since the days of the NES and GameBoy.

After a year on the market, the gluttonous do-gooder is finally making his debut on the Nintendo Switch with Kirby Star Allies, which, in a surprising twist, is an adventure that’s far more traditional with his earlier outings than some of his more recent affairs. Opting more for refinement than innovation, Star Allies may arguably play it a bit too safe to make a splash among the other stellar platformers currently offered on the new console, but the game is still amazing entry in its own right.

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Sunday
Aug122018

Interview with Electric Underground: Bullet Heaven

  had a chance to sit down and smart-bomb the breeze with the Electric Underground Shooting Game Podcast! If you've ever wanted the real nitty-grooty on Bullet Heaven, the processes behind it and more, this is the place to find it! Special thanks to @Mark_MSX for having me on! 

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Thursday
Aug092018

QCF: 20XX (Switch)

ega Man is a pretty formulaic game. Fight six to eight combat-enabled re-purposed robots by using other robots' weapons against them rock-paper-scissor style, then take on a few extra nefarious machinations before defeating a balding, mad scientist with illusions of grandeur and seriously questionable choices in home decor. There have been 10 of these so far with an 11th on the horizon, so the setup seems to work. So much so, actually, that a parallel, edgier series with an X tacked on that incorporates caped villains, mysterious allies including one with long, flowing blonde hair and a cyberzoo's-worth of crazy mechanical fauna also, itself, saw a solid 8 entries. And an RPG.

20XX, while very obviously inspired by the Rockingest Man of X himself, is not such a game, despite the many mechanics it borrows. If you've ever wondered what Mega Man X would be like if it were a completely differently structured roguelite, well, we might have the answer for you.

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