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Bean playing - Runner 3

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Unkle Dill in all his magnificent horrifying glory, wearing his special unlockable attire. Special request of the developer as the caricature to accompany this review.


When it came to sit down and write a review for Choice Provisions new title in the Bit.Trip Runner series, I was wondering just how I would start. It's best started with just an experience, I had a genuine moment where my hands were shaking after I overcame a magnificently challenging section in Runner 3, it was at this moment that I saw Runner 3 for what it truly is, a delightfully weird, wonderful and chaotic (just one more go) game. I found myself about 30 attempts deep into a level, (after a long days work) and I could not give it up until I got the win. Runner 3 is not for the faint of heart, at times it produces crushing difficulty spikes. But I always picked myself up and tried again, when I got into my groove I found myself accomplishing feats and saying 'I cannot believe I actually just did that'. The game is wonderful, allow me to explain.

The story is, well you are commander video and you are fighting for love and happiness and really every time you hear the narrator (Charles Martinet - oh yes, he's back, and playable as a character no less) you just want more. You really came for the platforming and you will not be disappointed, it certainly builds upon previous entries in the Runner series. There are normal runs and Gem runs, the latter of which rewards you with fuel to unlock more content and provides a harder but equally rewarding challenge. There are vehicle sections which are so satisfying, changing the pace in the level and often provide different camera angles, shaking things up somewhat. The boss battles are interesting and once understanding the mechanic in play, provide a unique and welcome return to the series.

A slight letdown for me was load times in menus. This has no baring on anything in the levels themselves or navigating in worlds. While they are not massive times they add up and I often wanted to swap around worlds, attempting old challenges with my new platforming prowess. Going hunting for secrets or just attempting something easier after feeling disheartened on a nail-biting challenge.

You are thrown new mechanics at a fairly frequent pace, with new challenges met often, but very rarely did this ever feel unfair. I felt challenged but I relished it, often memorising whole sections of jumps with pinpoint accuracy and upon completion thinking someone might kick down the door and hand me a medal for my achievement. There is just so much to do in this game, collectables galore and if you are enticed into playing levels again for completionists, you may be here for a while. There is a wonderful non-running platformer mini-game hidden until finding all VHS tapes and it beefs the game up significantly, worth the hunting.

My wife can easily attest to the fact that there were levels where I would die over and over just experimenting and getting timing down or just lost in the world Choice Provisions has built. The music, the art flows together so well and makes playing a level again and again never a chore but a joy. Each world is layered with it's own charm and characters, making them stand as hard work, carefully and meticulously planned out with your enjoyment in mind, you know people had fun making this - it's clear from every facet on display.

I played on the Switch and in both portable and docked, it runs buttery smooth either way but I preferred playing docked, so as to enjoy the beautiful visuals and to better identify simply everything happening on screen. They really upped their game with Runner 3 and it's got me hooked, I cannot wait to keep playing and keep my rhythm skills sharp.

Runner 3 releases digitally on Nintendo eshop May 22nd for £23.79 or preorder for 15% off.

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Bean playing - SteamWorld Dig 2

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I have no shame in admitting that yes I am over 30 and still play computer games, now some people may think this is a younger persons game (no pun intended but I’ll take it) and they may well be right. I mean, after all, I have a child under 2, with another baby due within the next month, however, the Nintendo Switch has completely opened up my playstyle, being able to pick up a console and take on the go and having short chopped up play sessions is exactly what I needed. What does this have to do with SteamWorld Dig 2 I hear you frantically mashing on your keyboard somehow? For me? Just about everything.

The first thing that strikes me about this game is how quickly you are jumping right into the crux of what the game is. There is little to no hand-holding too if you wish it and this is very welcome. You don’t need to have knowledge of the first game to get stuck into this one and the things I enjoyed about the first SteamWorld Dig, getting lost in the underground world, battling enemies and collecting gems and trying desperately to find my exit, I am glad to see have not disappeared in this experience.

The art style is crisp and beautiful, it’s lovely to look at both in handheld and docked mode and the lighting effects really make the game shine. I must admit I preferred playing with the system docked to better read any text on the screen and to get the full majesty of the graphics seeping into my tired eyes. For a title where you are spending your time digging underground it wastes little time pulling its punches in this department, the environments are always lovely to look at and begging to be explored.

Are you a fan of platformers? How do you feel about a Metroid like setup? Do you like collecting shiny things? How do you feel about upgrades? If you answered in the positive to just one of those things, or maybe all then you shall be all too happy and at home here. My immediate takeaway, the controls are a joy to use, my jumping felt tight intentional and made navigating my underground mazes that I had constructed through digging and engaging in combat genuinely very intuitive. You are rewarded for exploring and that truly is the name of the game here, you’ll be kept busy for quite some time and that is never a problem in a game such as this.
It's not a perfect game and if you are not the kind of person that relishes seeing all secrets that a game has to offer you may lament that this perhaps has less replay value, but in my opinion, there is more than enough here to warrant the entry fee.

Ultimately with the price you are paying for the game and with the pick up and play in short bursts style of the Switch (my recommended platform – though perhaps I am biased) I can see myself (and anyone else for that matter) on the collecting path of SteamWorld Dig 2 for some time to come. I wouldn’t hesitate in picking it up, a thoroughly enjoyable title that left me wanting more.
 

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SteamWorld Dig 2 is a direct sequel to the award-winning SteamWorld Dig and developed by Image & Form Games. A code for the Nintendo Switch version was kindly provided by Image & Form Games for review. This game was reviewed by Brendan Hill, who also is the main illustrator for EvilHairDay. When he isn't playing games or drowning in artwork, he's busy being a parent and when everyone has gone to bed, catching up on TV.

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Bean playing - Cave Story+

I'll start by saying that this was my first experience with Cave Story or Cave Story+. I hadn't heard of it before it was announced for the Switch and was subsequently told that it is a game with a bit of history, having been released initially on PC in 2004. So my experience of Cave Story+ has been an entirely fresh one. How this caveat affects my review, well, I'll let you be the judge on that one.

In terms of the titular "Story" of the game, rather than setting the scene and establishing things from the start, you are drip-fed information particularly about the main character's identity throughout the game in reactions from NPCs and odd little comments from hooded figures hidden on high platforms. This certainly adds a good level of intrigue to the game and at least part of my desire to keep playing this game was formed by that intrigue.

The world in which this game is set is a quirky and charming one, as is to be expected from an indie platformer like this one. An underground cave world inhabited by rabbit people and robots, terrorised by a giant television demon (called Balrog?!) and a cyber witch working for a mysterious doctor conducting some sort of hyper-vivisection experiments? Yep, that'll do it, that gets the quirky stamp of approval right out of the gate.

When it comes to the structure of the game and how much you can explore this kooky cave network, the game is linear at its core. You broadly follow each 'level' to a 'boss' after which you grab some sort of power-up/add-on and continue on to the next section. However the game does reward you for doing a little bit of exploration in the form of Metroid-style health or ammo buffs and some sections of the game even require you to do so to progress.

As far as the gameplay goes, Cave Story is most certainly a platformer. In fact, I'd go further and call it a "precision platformer". The amount of times I was stuck trying to make a precise jump to a single block and failing only to fall back to the start of a section, I lost count! Now whether or not I found this frustrating because of how the game is designed or because of my ham-fisted approach to difficult platformers like this, I don't know (though I suspect the latter). And I'll be honest this game is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult to the point that I'm presently stuck in the game to the point where I can see what I need to do to progress but I haven't 'tried and died' enough to get through it (and by the way, I'm not even talking about the hard mode, I can't even imagine what horrors lie there). On the other hand, games that are this difficult present an appropriate level of challenge, a challenge that calls you to raise your game and be a better gamer. Now I like to think I'm a patient person but I know some people are certainly not and I do wonder how this game would be received by those people.

But in conclusion, if you're actually good at video games, then I can't see any barriers to you enjoying this game. Once I stopped sucking and made some progress, it was exciting to see how the rest of this Cave Story unfolded


Nicalis kindly provided us with a digital code for Cave Story+ on the Nintendo Switch. This game was reviewed by Laurence Turpin, a man with incredible musical talent, a love of games and incredibly proficient at growing facial hair. Follow him on twitter @YourFriendLauro

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