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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! Review

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Few games thrive to be like the original.  Sure, plenty thrive to be as influential or popular as the original, but in the case of the ToeJam & Earl franchise the goal is to literally be just like the original.  This is a fact that franchise designer Greg Johnson knows all too well as he’s seen any delineation from the formula of the first game fall short.  As you can read in my recent retrospective, Johnson along with various teams has been trying to give the fans what they have consistently asked for: a new version of that unique Genesis roguelike from 1991.  I’m happy to say that if you are one of these fans, or even if you’ve never touched a ToeJam & Earl game before, you’re in for a treat.  Back in the Groove takes the magic of the original title and enhances it in various ways while also knowing when to keep things consistent.

ToeJam and Earl are two funky rapping aliens that “borrowed” the Rapmaster Rocket from their planet of Funkotron to go joyriding.  Along the way the duo, along with friends Latisha and Lewanda, accidentally travel through a black hole and crash land on the mysterious planet of Earth.  In ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! you are tasked with selecting one of the four friends along with the original version of both ToeJam and Earl from the Genesis iterations as you collect all 10 pieces of the Rapmaster Rocket and get home to Funkotron.  In a hybrid exploration and survival isometric action game, you utilize presents with unique abilities to navigate the enemies and traps in multiple levels that are either fixed or randomly generated.  Yes, as I said, ToeJam & Earl is back.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 28, 2019 at 9:00 am

Iron Crypticle Review

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Tikipod continues its quest to release all of it’s games to the Switch and I’m sure my whinging at the developer on the internet for a full year had everything to do with it. Iron Crypticle is next up for players and once  again Tikipod has knocked it out of the park, or maybe the crypt in this case.

Set in the land of Cryptonia, the royal treasure consisting of giant golden fruits, vegetables, and the princess have been taken, leaving a large gaping hole in the floor. It’s up to the lazy kings guard (who sort of let this happen in the first place) to jump down the hole and save the day. Iron Crypticle doesn’t take itself too seriously and you will undoubtedly chuckle at various moments including the merchant cat and the games final ending, which of course I won’t spoil here. I highly recommend you check out the “ledger” which is a sort of codex of all the items you collect in the game where the developer has taken the time to give a humorous description for practically everything you see (there may also be an achievement in it for you if you make the effort).

Iron Crypticle is a top down twin stick arcade shooter with roguelike elements that takes influences from a few old arcade favourites including Ghouls’N Ghosts, Smash TV, and even Bubble Bobble.

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Written by jamalais

February 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

Rock Boshers DX: Switch Review

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Developed and Published by Tikipod

With the Switch becoming ever more popular day by day its no surprise indie developers are starting to re-release a lot of their work onto the system. Developer Tikipod released Aqua Kitty UDX to Switch earlier this year, a game well suited to Nintendo’s hybrid handheld. Now it’s time for Rock Boshers DX to gets turn in the Switch spotlight.  Both myself and Fred reviewed Rock Boshers for PS4 and PS vita and after reading the reviews again I feel everything is still relevant to how I feel about the game today. That review can be found here.

Aqua Kitty minigame

Rock Boshers DX is a love letter to the micro computer days of video games. A time where several video games were developed – some in bedrooms apparently – it was a time where you would see all sorts of crazy game ideas but as the years progressed and consoles became more popular video games became more focused and everyone decided Zelda was the best game ever, the end. Okay, that’s not exactly what happened, but Rock Boshers DX also likes to play with history. You play as Young Victoria in a steam punk future set in 1880. Victoria finds a nice hat that disguises her then decides to head to Mars. After being forced to work in the mines and “bosh” some rocks, your goal is to escape and find a way home and possibly bump into Charles Darwin a few times as you do. The story is just brilliant and your curiosity to what will happen next will carry you through the games 24 stages. Once you’ve finished with the story you also have four arcade style games to enjoy which are unlocked by collecting tea, scone and cheese collectibles in the main game. Not sure I know any other game that uses this as a collectible.

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Written by jamalais

December 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Reviews, Switch

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Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom Review

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Developer: Game Atelier                             Publisher: FDG Entertainment 

Monster Boy is the spiritual sequel to the Wonder Boy franchise, a series Sega has left dormant since 1994. These games were hugely important to me growing up and hold a very special place in my heart. I probably love the Wonder Boy series how people love the Zelda series except without dressing up as one of the characters (real chain mail is expensive). For me it has been a very long wait for a sequel spiritual or otherwise. We have since seen a few re-releases of the previous games on multiple digital platforms. In 2017 developer Lizardcube gave us a beautiful remake of Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap. Originally we were going to see Monster Boy release that same year but developer Game Atelier decided to halt for a final year to polish up the gameplay and completely redo the graphics. Its been almost five years of development for the team, was the wait worth it?

On booting up the game you’re greeted with an impressive anime style cutscene which gives you a preview of the enemies you will be fighting and the animals you will be playing as. The song playing is also awfully addictive and it hasn’t left my brain since I heard it at E3 this year.  You play as Jin, a young chap with blue hair whose uncle appears to be up to no good changing the people of Monster World into animals as well as having a potential drinking problem. It’s not long into the story when your Uncle turns you into pig dressed in pirate gear (a nod to my favourite NPC in The Dragons Trap). You soon learn that to lift the curse you need to collect five magical orbs scattered across various dark corners of Monster World. The story comes with a few twists and turns and inevitably ends up as a typical save the world type tale. What makes this story stand out however, is its sense of humour. All the characters speak with text boxes including Jin himself and won’t shy away from making a witty joke about the current situation. Right up to the games darkest turns it was hard not to laugh at some of the games witty attempts at humour. The story is straight forward to follow and doesn’t really get in the way of your adventuring. Should you need to repeat sections of the story the game does allow you to skip them.

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Written by jamalais

December 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Jam’s Take on the Nintendo Switch

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Reflecting on the Switch’s First Year

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Fred is joined by Learned From Gaming‘s Chase to discuss Nintendo’s Switch on its one year anniversary.  For the second time in history, Nintendo managed to highly innovate and turn the company’s success around in a very small period of time.  The two discuss announcement, release, success, library, and various other notable topics.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap Review

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I’ve been waiting for a Wonder Boy revival ever since I saw that dammed “to be continued…” message at the end of Wonder Boy in Monster World on the Mega Drive. I did get some relief when the Wonder Boy Collection was released in 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3, however. This game featured the localized version of Monster World 4 which was the sequel to the beloved game from my childhood. Of course this was just an English translation of a Japanese game that had been around for years. Some would be happy with this but, I wanted more Wonder Boy darn it! Which was why, last year I came over as giddy as a school kid when I heard Wonder Boy would be making a return in not one, not two but three games. One of these three games, Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap developed by Lizardcube, is a remaster of the 1989 Sega Master System game. While not exactly a new entry into the Wonder Boy series, Lizardcube have put a lot of care and attention into this title, reviving a classic forgotten game to showcase to old fans and a potential new audience.

The Dragons Trap is a beautiful remaster with hand drawn graphics, which brought Monster World to life by filling the 2D game with lots of detail in the backgrounds as well as the character sprites. The game allows you to instantly switch between the old and new graphics at the touch of a button. This simple effect doesn’t interrupt the gameplay and allows you to see just how much effort has been put into the remaster when held against the original. The soundtrack has also been updated this time with a full orchestra. The music is still reminiscent of the old 8 bit titles but has really been brought to life with the updated score. Just like the graphics you can also switch between the old and new soundtracks at the touch of a button.

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Written by jamalais

June 7, 2017 at 11:00 am