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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! review: Catching ’em all once again
Isn’t Eevee absolutely adorable?
Countless times, my friends have jokingly asked, “Where’s Mario?” My name — Luigi — has unwittingly cursed me into a lifetime of jokes associated with Mario’s green-suited brother. Ironically, my favorite Nintendo franchise isn’t even remotely related to the Super Mario Brothers series. Since childhood, the prestige has always gone to the Pokémon franchise.
During my Game Boy days, I played through the classics of the Pokémon franchise. Sadly, that streak ended with Pokémon Emerald, immediately before the arrival of the first Nintendo DS. Since then, the franchise’s Generation 4 ushered in a period of silence.
Thankfully, Pokémon’s decline was halted by the arrival of the mobile game, Pokémon GO. The pioneering AR game brought back a wave of nostalgia. Despite the initial popularity, the game’s novelty was short-lived, failing to measure up with the classic games. Of course, the game wasn’t from Nintendo.
Now, Nintendo has finally taken over the franchise’s modern renaissance. Weeks ago, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! launched for the Nintendo Switch, promising a new world for the new generation. Besides ushering a generation, the nostalgic series revitalizes the old and creates a new ecosystem.
Right on the tin, both games advertise a return to Kanto, home of the first Pokémon. Pikachu and Eevee are remasters of the original Pokémon Yellow. In the original, Pikachu replaced the traditional trio of Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Likewise, Pikachu and Eevee replaces the starter Pokémon based on the version you purchase.
Likewise, both games share the same story elements with Pokémon Yellow: Team Rocket’s antics, Lavender Town’s eerie story, Mewtwo’s appearance. Of course, because of the times, Nintendo updated some minor elements for a modern audience. For example, in-game television sets come with Nintendo Switch units. Characters talk about Alolan Pokémon, smartphone technology, and most importantly, Pokémon GO.
Cuter, cuddlier, livelier
After Pokémon GO’s initial wave of novelty, the franchise’s fans chided the game for depersonalizing their favorite creatures. In GO, Pokémon became collectibles, valuing quantity over quality. Completely contrasted to this, Pikachu and Eevee added a thick layer of personality to all 151 original Pokémon.
Mostly, this dynamic personality applies to your chosen partner, Pikachu or Eevee. Like Yellow, your partner Pokémon follows you around. However, instead of just a few pixelated frames, both have their own new sets of animations and moves. For example, Pikachu hangs out on your shoulder as you walk. Eevee perches atop your head. In combat, both have exclusive move sets. Eevee, for example, uses Veevee Volley, an extremely strong Normal move that activates only occasionally. Cutely, you can interact with both partners outside of combat, petting them or playing patty-cake using the Switch’s touchscreen.
Additionally, you can take a Pokémon out of its Poké Ball, acting as a secondary companion. Also, their animation depends on their build. Mew floats ahead of you. Kangaskhan carries you in its pouch. Charizard flies and carries you on its back. It creates a much more dynamic world compared to the original games.
Speaking of, wild Pokémon encounters are no longer completely random. Instead, you can see the wild Pokémon wandering around, letting you choose which to catch. Catching them is also different. Instead of going into combat, the games adapt the same system as Pokémon GO, using catch rings and berries.
Creating a Pokémon ecosystem
Along with the games, Nintendo also launched a new controller, the Poké Ball Plus, specifically made for the new Pokémon games. Unfortunately, the optional controller, shaped like a Poké Ball, is pricey, costing US$ 49.99 on its own. The bundle — the game plus the ball — costs US$ 99.99, reducing the price by 10 bucks. That said, why should you buy a Poké Ball Plus?
Firstly, the ball comes with a free Mew. Traditionally, this mythical Pokémon was obtainable only through Nintendo-exclusive events or hacks. The Ball finally provides an easily accessible way to obtain one of the franchise’s most elusive Pokémon.
Secondly, it creates a new experience for the franchise. While it has only two buttons, you can use the ball in a throwing motion to catch Pokémon. Instead of just pressing A, the new mechanic simulates the feeling of actually throwing a Poké Ball. It’s unique and strangely gratifying. Additionally, you can take a Pokémon (housed inside the Poké Ball) with you on your daily commute. As you walk, it gets experience, similar to GO’s buddy system.
Thirdly, the ball acts as a Pokémon GO Plus, connecting the Switch games with GO’s world. To those who still play GO, the Poké Ball is a welcome arsenal, especially in crowded cityscapes. Similarly, you can transfer Pokémon from GO to Switch, making it easier to fill a Pokédex.
Finally, the Poké Ball Plus is a clear indication of the Pokémon franchise’s future. Next year, Nintendo will launch a fresher addition to the franchise, marking the console’s first full-fledged Pokémon game. By then, the future game will fully integrate the Ball into its mechanics, making the controller a worthy investment.
With Pikachu and Eevee, the Pokémon franchise heralds a new generation for both old and beginning players. For old players, they create a refreshed wave of nostalgia. For beginning players, both games are a good start to the new generation.
GadgetMatch Awards: Best Video Games of 2018
The tough ten plus honorable mentions
2018 wasn’t a good year for anyone’s wallets, and here are thirteen reasons why! Yes, thirteen because we felt having only ten games wouldn’t be enough to encapsulate what a year 2018 has been.
Here they are in no particular order, starting with…
Fortnite: Battle Royale
Fortnite: Battle Royale made huge waves in 2018, both as a game and cultural phenomenon. The game’s popularity skyrocketed through its use of familiar dance crazes, character skins, and creative challenges and features. Apart from intense build battles and storm-chasing fun, Epic Games has done an incredible job of bringing the game into mainstream media. Who else remembers that one time you could play as Thanos and score a Victory Royale?
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
The latest PlayStation classic to receive a remaster took a while to arrive due to added fine tuning. Nonetheless, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy featured the lovable purple dragon and his adventures through the Dragon Worlds in HD perfection. From charging at enemies to completing speedway levels and collecting gems, it is a great introduction to the basics of video game platforming. You even have a chance to play Spyro’s friends in Spyro: Year of the Dragon for more head-bashing action. The game is slated for a Nintendo Switch release some time next year, so be sure to watch out for that.
Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
The Pokémon gaming franchise finally got a Switch game, and it’s taken the world by storm. Whichever game you pick gives you the same enhanced experience in the Kanto region, from catching your first Pokémon to beating Team Rocket. A lot of the game’s mechanics are totally different from the past games, like simpler catching and leveling up systems, plus two-versus-one Pokémon battles. Add its integration with Pokémon GO into the mix, and completing your Pokédex doesn’t get any easier.
The Tough Ten
Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human goes for the old-school third-person adventure aesthetic, but allows you to control the narrative. Quantum Dream’s most successful game features three robot characters, each with their own set of challenges and decisions that ultimately control the story. It puts you in the center of all the storytelling, heightening the level of emotional instability with each decision you make. While you can finish the whole game in about 10 hours, it will lengthen or shorten depending on how much you want to explore.
Although, the game doesn’t come without its own shortcomings. Some storylines get pretty boring or have less action than others, plus dialogues tend to break the whole “show, don’t tell” aspect. Despite some plot holes and bland dialogues, the game still achieves the heart-wrenching emotion it wants to evoke.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
To some degree, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey serves as a good historical look into ancient Greece. Set during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, it brings together the elements of warfare and fantastic Greek scenery that immediately descend into chaos. Gameplay is pegged as a decent mix of good and bad, although some things just made the game a little less enjoyable.
Combat is more of the same compared to previous titles, but the addition of naval battles is a welcomed change. Moreso, getting through the main story is an enjoyable task, even if there were times when things just felt painstakingly long. Overall, it’s a great open-world game hinging on rich graphical work.
Monster Hunter: World
Capcom made the interesting move of shifting its latest title, Monster Hunter: World to more powerful consoles, and it paid off well. The game feels so different visually, while retaining the structure of familiar gameplay that fans enjoyed over the years. Through these changes, it made itself more accessible to a wider audience — particularly, newcomers to the franchise.
The storyline in itself feels a bit lacking, but the game more than makes up for it through the series of endless challenges and upgrades along the way. Because mechanics are simplified, getting through it all doesn’t feel like a total drag. And with more side quests to finish, it simply keeps you coming back and playing them all.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
If you have a list of the top fighting games ever, this game would be there, if not the top one. An easy to learn control system matched with some intense graphics highlight key upsides for Dragon Ball FighterZ. Add 24 of the Dragon Ball series’ unique fighters, each with their own easy-to-learn move sets, and you have a recipe for success.
Of course, the game also received some fair criticism towards several game features — particularly online gameplay. Even queuing up for online gameplay seems to be a literal slug-fest at times. Not to mention, there are moments when players are mismatched with higher-level, more skilled players instead of their equal. For what it’s worth, it’s a great fighting experience from start to finish, and a good fighting game for beginners.
Marvel’s Spider-Man wasn’t intended to reflect any of the plots you knew as a kid, and that’s a good thing. A superhero game that provides new insights into the character of Peter Parker is always a delight to have. Yet, what most people rave about is the fact that you get to be Spider-Man; one that allows you to swing from building to building effortlessly. It’s that element of kiddie-nostalgia that makes the game great.
Despite the fluid gameplay the game possesses, it serves up a decent plot for both Parker and his Spider-Man persona. The stories in between shape up at the right pace, giving much more attention to how Parker relates with the different villains. Although, it really doesn’t help much that side quests stemming from them get repetitive. Nonetheless, it brings forth an original experience of Spider-Man, especially for the young-at-heart.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
2018 became the year battle royale games took things over the top. But outside PUBG and Fortnite, your options for consoles are very limited. Enter Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, or at least their version of battle royale in Blackout. It retains the core of the battle royale mechanic, using the franchise’s set of weaponry and Specialists at your disposal.
Don’t let a battle royale mode stop you from exploring every other multiplayer mode in the game, however. Multiplayer and Zombies offer the same hard-hitting, gunslinging action the series has been known for. The removal of key features such as automatic health regeneration made the game a little more challenging than before. Some people rip the game for the lack of a solo campaign, but it still incorporated its essence through tutorials. With limited selections for maps yet a wide range of characters and weapons, Black Ops 4 shows its versatility at the core.
God of War
I’m sorry, but the old Kratos can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because the people over at the Santa Monica Studios resurrected him anew in a reimagined God of War. It’s set in a whole new world even with Kratos as the main guy driving the plot. Of course, shades of red will always appear when he is around, but the focus of the game isn’t so much on Kratos as an almighty being.
This game brings forth a new dimension in Kratos’ character arc: that of a father figure. Not only that, throughout the journey he has to deal with a son that feels estranged to him. We all know just how bloodthirsty he can get, but this game reveals a deeper side to an otherwise violent figure. It’s the kind of tension that breeds emotion, along with incredible music and a camera that sticks to Kratos 24/7. It’s a whole new flavor for a legacy title in video games!
Independent game developer Matt Makes Games struck gold with Celeste. The quick-action platformer provides an inspiring plot, while orchestrating great audio and visual presentations. Playing as Madeline, a young woman battling depression and anxiety by climbing the Celeste Mountain, you are taken to worlds filled with challenges, secrets, obstacles, and supernatural events.
Beneath all of these elements lies the real challenge of timely jumps and insane platforming through each level. Every stage adds a fair spike of difficulty, and also comes with more elements to aid the player in accomplishing them. With enough patience and practice, these levels are doable at best.
Through simple controls and a rich yet emotional storyline, Celeste makes 8-bit-themed games feel like a sight to behold. Rightfully so, for the Best Independent Game by The Game Awards 2018.
Far Cry 5
The real secret to a great video game franchise is to keep things in an open world. Far Cry 5 was able to achieve that, while keeping itself entertaining and full of details to explore. There’s even several game features that make you carve out your own adventure, separate from the storyline. Add onto that an intense first-person shooter angle and cooperative play to complement the open world, and chaos ensues.
The strongest aspect of Far Cry 5 goes for the more political and religious route. Players often come across cultist leaders and personalities of a backwash Montana. Although the game doesn’t necessarily push any strong political ideologies, it still manages to show how backwash a society can get under a blind following. But, it doesn’t fully put the game over the top.
It deserves recognition for its use of the open-world setup, and a decent story with a powerful ending. But, it leaves you wondering if there’s a tad bit more that could have been done.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 simply takes us back into a fictional America with a real-life Westernized movement. Picture the time of policemen as outlaws, seeking criminal gangs in the Old West despite devastating losses on their end. A 60-hour narrative of on-the-run bandits turn the open world into a chaotic scene of Cops and Robbers. This time, however, you’re the cop in a world filled with desperate robbers.
Rockstar Games presented a beautiful visual masterpiece, all down to the very last detail. From the high mountains to the lowly swamps, the game allows you to explore the entire open world even while a story is going on — and with good reason, too (mostly for side quests here and there). The game doesn’t even require you to finish it in a quick manner, which is all you need to take in the gorgeous visuals.
For what it’s truly worth, RDR2 gives back the fun in going through a slow adventure within the storyline. Take the time to relax and enjoy the view, before heading back to the stressful realities ahead!
Crash Team Racing remaster announced for multiple consoles
Move over, Mario Kart. There’s a new racing game in town!
Yes, you read that right! PlayStation’s lovable bandicoot returns to the race track for another hard-hitting, kart-smashing racing game! Announced earlier during The Game Awards 2018, Sony Interactive and Activision will release a remaster of Crash Team Racing (CTR) for major consoles next year.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will feature the same elements and gameplay from the 1999 original, worked from the ground up. Beenox, the studio behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 spearheaded the HD remaster, retaining the core game modes the original CTR provided. The game will feature the main cast of Crash and Coco Bandicoot, Dr. Neo Cortex, Tiny Tiger, N. Gin, Dingodile, Polar, and Pura. Not only that, but the remastered CTR will also feature both offline and online play, something that deviates from the original.
The announcement came from a segment during The Game Awards 2018 in Los Angeles. A Crash Bandicoot mascot unveiled the trailer by presenting a crate that contained a trophy inside that you can find in the original CTR. This confirmed rumors from earlier this week.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will come out on June 21, 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Next year marks Crash Team Racing‘s 20th anniversary, and what a way to celebrate it through the remaster.
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Isn't Eevee absolutely adorable?
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