Gaming

The Adventure Pals review: A peculiar platformer to play and troll your friends with!

Quirky, cute, and buggy

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If you haven’t heard of The Adventure Pals, it’s totally fine. It’s a fun platformer where you travel around with a pet rock and a giraffe in your backpack. Of course, there’s more to the game than just traveling with your pet rock and giraffe, but that alone is pretty interesting in itself. You have my attention, developers. I quickly installed it, played it, and wrote this.

Breaking news: I rode a unicorn giraffe

Before we get into the review though, I played this game in cooperative mode because who doesn’t like playing along with someone else. Also, did I mention Player 2 rides a unicorn giraffe? I’m pretty sure I mentioned it being far superior somewhere.

So, to truly test out this platformer in cooperative mode, I brought reinforcements: Richard, my boyfriend. He’d been the pushy one who wanted to play the game with me after a week of both of us just hopping from Night in the Woods to Overcooked. To his everlasting credit, he’d quickly convinced me to play it after he’d shown the trailer.

Downright silly

The game was inspired by a lot of charmingly quirky works — from surreal cartoon series like Adventure Time to notable platformers like Castle Crashers. When you first encounter the trailer, you will undoubtedly notice the resemblance to those inspirations. The Adventure Pals pulls a lot of its appeal from it’s adorably designed characters. You’ll see, even without having played the game, how they’re quite intriguing on their own. They really reel you in with interesting character design and a bizarre premise — which is very reflective of what the game was inspired by.

Yes, that is your dad…

That’s prevalent with the beginning of the game. The whole setting takes place on your birthday, starting with your gift from your dad: a pet giraffe. This is Sparkles, your new loyal friend who is both rideable and able to fit inside your backpack, where he’ll be able to use his tongue to fly like a helicopter or assist with swimming. As soon as you’re introduced to your new pal, your father is kidnapped by a robotic bee riding Mr. B, an arch-nemesis with a goldfish bowl for a hat. His evil plan? Beginning with your father, he’s here to turn people into… human-sized hot dogs. Now it’s time for you, Sparkles the giraffe, and your best friend Mr. Rock to hunt him down and save the day.

Okay, here’s how this works

The gameplay for The Adventure Pals combines two portions, exploring the world on the back of your giraffe and completing stages to get hold of rubies to advance the plot. Beginning in your hometown of Treevale, each region has a town where the locals will hand out quests in return for a prize. This will reveal locations on the map to find, which is where the platforming begins.

You’ll find yourself battling against zombie pirate cats, post-apocalyptic dinosaurs, and hot dogs that poop explosive mines. Each quest has five stages to complete, each with monsters to defeat, puzzles to solve, and spikes to avoid. You’ll use your sword to cut through your enemies and use Sparkles to get around. Heavily influenced by Banjo-Kazooie, your pet giraffe will help you glide over dangers and maneuver you to safety. After completing five stages, you’ll leave with a ruby and whatever items required to complete the quest.

You’ll gain experience with each monster you defeat, allowing you to choose between a series of rewards, allowing Mr. Rock to be able to join you in combat and bring you supplies. You’ll also be able to enhance a lot of your abilities as you progress through the game.

Each area has a boss battle, usually oversized monsters your nemesis will put you against to try to halt you thwarting his plan. Imagine fighting giant tree monsters, escape approaching vegetable monsters, or battling against an aggressive breakfast combination. Yes, this game gets weird.

We helped a whale along the way!

They bring in the peculiar to little cute details in the game — from customizable costumes you obtain by feeding cupcakes to the Cupcake God, to collectible stickers hidden in some of the most horrendous hidden areas in the game. The Adventure Pals will smack you in the face with oddity and ambiguity with no clear grips to a particular plot. It’s fine and all but sometimes, you’ll feel a bit lost playing the game. You start questioning the relevance of each element and ask why things are so. It gets to a point where there aren’t many answers to those questions.

Leez, Richard, two giraffes, two rocks

Not what either of us expected could fly as a section of its own, but now that we’ve got our hands dirty explaining this quirky game, it’s time to bring out our personal experiences and takes on the game. This section is in no way a euphemism — don’t your minds dare go there. Don’t you guys dare!

Anyways, Richard was Player 1 and I was Player 2. As much as platformers enjoy integrating cooperative mode, The Adventure Pals slaps it on without dabbling into altering the game in any way. Despite playing with a fabulous unicorn giraffe, playing Player 2 was a pain because not only could I not converse with anyone in the game, but also, my character had zero relevance to the story. Player 2 doesn’t get to level up and the stages don’t show any need for any sort of cooperation.

Here, Richard is laughing as I am about to fall into spikes

The mode really feels like an afterthought, especially with how clunky it feels sharing a screen with the other player. If either of us got left behind or decided to go the other way, the game would decide who would be teleported to the other player. More often than not, it would choose the wrong person. This was a nightmare for finding secrets. And if you’ve jumped through a challenging section full of spikes and spinning axes, there’s a chance you’ll be teleported back to the other person after completing it.

Some pitfalls along the way

While there are interesting personalities and creative characters in the towns to talk to, the enemies you fight through while on a quest tend to be repetitive. The further you progress through the game, the more familiar enemies you’ll find. With the setting and color scheme of each region blending together, completing each stage started feeling like a chore for us. The game would throw new things at you as you progress, but the experience lingered into the monotonous.

You can collect stickers!

On release, this game has proven to be pretty buggy. We often found ourselves forced to restart a stage after locks wouldn’t open pathways as intended and sometimes I would find myself surviving a fall into a pit of spikes far too often by landing on the edge. If Richard fell to his death, we would both be trapped in the pit without a way to progress.

What was fun for a short period of time…

We were trapped here for a while…

What was fun was seeing me die — a lot. Richard swears at the hilarious ridiculousness of how often I’d die. And strangely, that’s not all. Yes, boys and girls, I am a certified idiot because there have been many cases where I’d mistake my character for Richard’s. Exhibit A: We had been exploring one of the maps and had been strolling around looking for cupcakes. I then see Richard come across one without picking it up and instantly complain. He pauses the game and tells me that I’d been the one who did so. Unpause. Identity crisis, everyone. I am stupid. Hand me a cookie.

Is this your game match?

If you’re into challenging platformers, this one might bore you. The stages aren’t incredibly difficult but the game does grade you with the number of monsters you manage to kill, how many times you die in a stage, and how long you get from point A to point B. If you’re looking for a perfectly casual platformer that has adorable elements, you should give this one a try. Much of the charm of The Adventure Pals comes from its quirks. The entire design of the game is visually appealing and that’s essentially what caught both our attention when it was released.

The Adventure Pals is a good platformer to pass the time, collect the achievements in your own time, and play with your friends just to troll them with the glitches (we both did that too). The title has its loose ends, but you can have fun when playing in cooperative mode.

The Adventure Pals is available on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. It’s also available now on Steam for US$ 14.

SEE ALSO: Night in the Woods: Brilliant indie game you should try

SEE ALSO: 14 independent games are coming to the Nintendo Switch

Features

What does the GPU Turbo do to your phone?

Is it more than just a marketing gimmick?

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It’s been two months since Huawei rolled out the GPU Turbo update to its smartphones. Promised with a 60 percent increase in performance and reducing 30 percent on power consumption, a lot of fans and users were excited after the announcement.

Back then, everyone (including me) was hyped about lag-free games and longer battery life while playing. However, upon receiving the update, I began to wonder: Has GPU Turbo delivered what it promised?

What’s inside the update?

GPU Turbo was originally marketed as an improved gameplay experience, available only to PUBG and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

The Game Suite app, which comes with the update, offers an uninterrupted gaming feature, hiding all notifications when enabled (except for calls, alarms, and low-battery alerts).

Mistouch prevention is another feature to avert users from clicking the back and home button while playing — perfect for when you want to focus on your game.

Screenshots by Miguel Pineda, Huawei Mate 10 user

To some older smartphones like the Huawei Mate 10, the Game Suite App offers three performance modes: Gaming mode, which improves game performance but increases power consumption; Smart mode, which balances performance and power consumption; and Power saving mode, which saves power but reduces game performance.

For the newer Huawei P20 Pro (which I’ve been using) and Honor Play, it only has a gaming acceleration mode to toggle on or off.

Thoughts on the reduced power consumption

Because I used the Mate 10 before and recently transitioned to the P20 Pro, I’ve experienced the GPU Turbo update in both phones and I can guarantee that they’ve delivered on lowered power consumption.

With Game Suite, I can put my phone on power saving mode to further save battery. For instance, I was only able to drain the Mate 10 down to 15 percent during a 12-hour road trip despite switching between the games I play and other apps, such as Messenger, Netflix, Spotify, and taking photos and videos every once in a while. The same goes for the P20 Pro.

As a power user, I already get a lot of things done with these highly efficient smartphones and GPU Turbo; these allowed me to do more on a single charge. However, it’s a different case for gaming.

Improved gaming experience, but there’s a catch…

When I started playing games on gaming mode (or game acceleration mode on the P20 Pro), I could run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on a high frame rate with the highest graphics setting available. Compared to how the game stuttered and lagged during 5v5 clashes, with GPU Turbo, it now runs smoothly, as if I have a smartphone made for gaming.

System notice when enabling the high frame rate on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and the effects it may have on your gameplay

As shown above, most mobile games will notify their users about the possible repercussions of higher frame rates and using the best settings available. To prove that a smartphone with GPU Turbo can handle this, I sought out to confirm my suspicions.

After asking fellow Huawei users, I found out that after installing GPU Turbo, energy consumption is a lot faster than before. Their smartphones also heat up more easily, especially when playing games with the game acceleration mode on. This isn’t part of what was promised, and it’s pretty disappointing.

It’s not yet perfect

In my experience, GPU Turbo tries to boost performance above a smartphone’s limit hoping that users can experience better gameplay.

GPU Turbo can’t choose when to perform its best. It’s an update that is constantly running in our smartphones without any way to switch it off. We can only hope that Huawei will address these issues for the next batch of updates.

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Phone receives US pricing

Last piece of the puzzle

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ASUS is certainly taking its time with the release of its one and only gaming phone. First announced at Computex 2018, the ROG Phone finally has an official price to go with its US release.

For the model with 128GB of storage, you’d have to shell out US$ 899. For the larger 512GB storage variant, the cost goes up to US$ 1,099. Both come with a high-end Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of memory.

Of course, there are accessories to go with it. First is the ROG Mobile Desktop Dock, which costs US$ 229; the ROG Phone Case retails for US$ 59; the ROG Professional Dock is valued at US$ 119; you can buy the ROG TwinView Dock for US$ 399; the ROG Gamevice Controller is at US$ 89; and lastly, the ROG WiGig Dock goes for US$ 329.

Those are a lot of accessories for one phone, but that’s what makes the ROG Phone a truly gamer-centric device.

As stated last week, the ROG Phone will hit US shores starting October 18, with other regions to follow soon after.

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Gaming

PlayStation’s PSN Online ID change coming soon

Full rollout coming early 2019!

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You’ll soon be able to retire your DarkWarrior1214 PlayStation ID. In a blog post, Sony PlayStation said they will soon begin testing the PSN Online ID change feature as part of their preview program.

Beta testers part of the preview program will be able to change their PSN ID as much as they want. However, once the feature rolls out to everyone, only the first name change will be free. Succeeding name changes will cost US$ 9.99 for regular users.

PS Plus users will be charged a smaller fee of US$ 4.99. The online ID can be changed through the profile page on your PS4 or at the Settings menu. There’s also an option to display your old PSN ID alongside your new one so your friends can recognize you right away.

Not for all games

The feature isn’t available for all games, though. Only PS4 games published after April 1, 2018 along with other most-played titles that were published before that date will have the feature. PlayStation also warns that changing the ID might cause some issues with some games that can be fixed by reverting to the old ID. Here’s to hoping PlayStation finds a way to address those issues some time down the line.

The planned full rollout of the feature is in early 2019. What will be your new PSN Online ID?

SEE ALSO: Sony unveils PlayStation Classic, comes pre-loaded with 20 games

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