Nintendo Switch Platform RSS Feed | Nintendo Switch RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Indie Studio Brace Yourself Games Making Legend of Zelda Title, Cadence of Hyrule Wed, 20 Mar 2019 13:54:47 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo is well known for keeping its IPs close. For the most part, outside of a few games like The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, the Oracle of Ages, and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, it's rare to see the company's core franchises handled by anyone other than Nintendo.

That changed in a big way today.

In today's Nindies Direct livestream, Nintendo revealed a new Zelda game. But it's a Zelda game developed by an indie developer.

Brace Yourself Games, a Canadian studio known for the critically acclaimed Crypt of the Necrodancer, is releasing a mashup game called Cadence of Hyrule — Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda this spring. 

Necrodancer is a unique take on the roguelike dungeon crawler, where players must time their movements to the beat of the rhythm and learn how enemies move in relation to the music as well.

In a press release posted shortly after the livestream aired, Nintendo provided more information about Cadence of Hyrule:

As Link or Princess Zelda, players explore randomly generated overworld and dungeons on a quest to save Hyrule, and every beat of the 25 remixed Legend of Zelda tunes is a chance to move, attack, defend and more.

From modern-looking Lynels to the Hyrulean Soldiers of old, players must master the instinctive movements of each pixel-art enemy and strategically outstep them in rhythmic combat using an arsenal of iconic items from The Legend of Zelda, as well as the spells and weapons from Crypt of the NecroDancer

Of the many mold-breaking elements in this announcement, one, in particular, stands out: unlike the earlier games handled by different companies, this is the first time Nintendo, or any major developer, has entrusted its IP to an indie studio.

The other noteworthy info here is that players can choose Zelda as a playable character. It's something fans have clamored for increasingly in recent years.

Perhaps, then, Nintendo entrusting Mario to Ubisoft wasn't a one-off choice, and this sort of outsourcing will be the new normal — how Nintendo experiments with its franchises while the core games may or may not stay the same.

Roguelite Sparklite Gets Shiny New Teaser Trailer Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:46:47 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Last year, developer Red Blue Games announced a partnership with publisher Merge Games for a brand-new roguelite adventure called Sparklite. The game flew under the radar for many people at the time, but Red Blue recently released a new teaser trailer as well as a batch of details explaining what the nostalgia-heavy brawler is all about.

Sparklite's plot has a few throwbacks to Secret of Mana. Sparklite itself, apart from being the title of the game, is the substance that keeps the world alive. It's a powerful force that people can channel for good or bad, or one of which they can consume large quantities for immense power boosts and serious consequences.

A villain styling himself the "Baron" conceives of a plan to harness Sparklite to power his war machines and embarks on a venture to monopolize the material. However, his overproduction and overuse of Sparklite creates a wave of pollution that washes over the world and slowly begins corrupting it.

The world has hope, though, in the form of protagonist, Ada. If she can prevent the Baron from taking control of the Sparklite core, his plans can be overturned.

Ada has quite the adventure in store for her it seems.

Sparklite takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Rogue Legacy, among other classic titles. With the help of Ada's gadgets and tools, players will fight their way through dungeons and overworld maps full of monsters.

The world of Sparklite is vast and varied, and Ada will explore dark mines, luminous nightscapes, and dense forests full of secrets along her journey.

The game's roots in A Link to the Past are visible in the gameplay trailer. However, Red Blue Games has yet to discuss much about its roguelite elements, though the developers are keen to point out that the game will carve its own identity to separate it from its inspirations.

Sparklite is set to launch sometime in fall 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows.

Splatoon 2 Getting Special Demo, Free Trial, and Digital Discount Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:00:32 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Splatoon was one of Nintendo's surprise new IPs in the Wii U days, with its sequel being one of the most anticipated Switch titles after the system was first announced. Now, having sold approximately 8 million copies since its launch in 2011, Splatoon 2 is placed alongside the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as one of the Switch's evergreen titles.

8 million is a large number, but there are plenty of people who haven't picked the game up or are curious but don't want to commit without further details. Nintendo knows that and is offering a special demo with a Nintendo Switch Online trial. The demo started today, March 19 at 10:00a.m. EST and runs until March 25 at the same time.

The demo gives you access to 4-on-4 Turf Battles, the game's primary mode; Salmon Run, a two-to-four player co-op mode; and League and Ranked Online Battles, higher levels of Turf War open to teams with higher ranking levels. Players with the demo can play with others who have downloaded the demo or those who own the full game.

As such, the demo requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership. Those who already have a membership can jump right in. If you've yet to purchase one, after downloading the demo, you're given the option to start a free 7-day trial membership.

Note that unless you cancel the membership at the end of the 7days, it automatically converts to a monthly renewal subscription.

If you like what you see during the demo, you can take advantage of a special 20% discount on the digital version of Splatoon 2 purchased through the Nintendo eShop.

Splatoon 2 received many content updates during its first year, including an expansive DLC campaign. It also has online competitions on a regular basis, and is often considered one of the best co-op games available. If you feel a little overwhelmed getting started, though, check out our Splatoon 2 guide coverage to help you rise through the ranks

8 Games and Franchises with the Biggest Translation Gaffes Mon, 18 Mar 2019 17:30:01 -0400 Joshua Broadwell


Breath of Fire II


Fans love to hate Capcom. Sometimes, it seems unfair. Other times, like when you remember Breath of Fire II, then it's completely understandable, and you just step back and let things go. Oh, if only the above picture had been true.


The early BoF games had an interesting history. Squaresoft handled the first one's localization and publishing. It had some problems, sure. The dialogue and mechanics were rough around the edges but there's still enjoyment to be had with it.


You would think of the BoF games, the first would have all the terrible issues, that Square would have taken the opportunity to sabotage a potential rival creeping in on its RPG monopoly.



Or perhaps someone at Square could tell that left to its own devices, Capcom would do that quite nicely on its own.


Breath of Fire II's translation and localization are full of ludicrous descriptions and sound effects and unclear dialogue. It's a showing on par with gems from the '80s like "all your base are belong to us" and Castlevania II.



It's near Deborah Cliff...


There are some classic signs of bad, careless translation as well, where the untranslated text is left in alongside the translated script, or even worse, the writer just added a transliteration, which isn't, y'know... actually a translation.



Manju are Japanese buns, so this particular instance is one of those cases where you forget  where the writer forgets to delete what they chose not to use. Note the transliteration was highlighted as the key point, though.



Other errors are less in keeping with the context. I'm not sure about you, but I see what could possibly be a boar — no bears, though.





It's amazing how punctuation can be so significant. Some bizarre uses of periods in here, except where a period is actually needed.



At first glance, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with these two. It's just a nice, normal observation from a character who obviously hasn't seen Nina for a while. Except, she isn't seeing Nina now either.


This isn't a case where the party members all fold into the leader. The girl with the wings near the table? That's Nina. This woman just told Ryu he's not a little girl anymore, and I can only imagine how surprised he must have been to learn that.


If these things had remained a relic of the '90s BoF II, that would be a different story. But two different re-releases later — first on the Game Boy Advance and then on the Virtual Console — and Capcom still believed this translation was worth keeping.




Modern games aren't free from the plague of bad translation, sadly, but their shortcomings certainly do provide an amusing way to pass the time. Whether it's Capcom's carelessness in the '90s, Atlus's rushed schedule from a few years back, or the flood of cheap titles inundating digital platforms, it seems like bad translations are simply a universal factor of gaming life.


Got any examples of terrible game translations? Share yours in the comments!


Persona 5


Including Persona 5 on this list might be controversial. However, there's no denying that good though the game undoubtedly is, it falls far short of Atlus's standards in localization and what fans have come to expect from the company. That departure from the high-quality norm is a bigger gaffe than any translation awkwardness in the game.


Fortunately, for the most part, the game's dialogue quirks don't come anywhere near Kitty Love and Hollow Fragment levels of bad. You do have to pause for a moment and consider what's being said from time to time, though.



Morgana is pretty quirky to begin with, so at first glance, this seems like just another manifestation of that personality. But the sentence doesn't technically make sense. "seriously trying to kill us" maybe or "serious about killing us," but serious to kill us is what you'd expect from an inexperienced translator or an early ESL student.


Conner Kramer put together a site listing some notably egregious errors (and getting some flak for it from the fan community as well), and he added some alternatives for a few of them. Here's an example:




His revision is a lot more like what fans got in Persona 4 and much more in keeping with the character doing the speaking as well. One would expect a high school principle to say something like "misdemeanor is not tolerated..." as opposed to "you will behave yourself," which is better suited to an elementary school setting.


There are other signs of carelessness too.


Image via j-entranslations


Persona games rely heavily on good dialogue to push the story forward and keep players interested. These issues are hardly game breaking, but they do break the immersion, which makes it difficult to remain invested.


What lies behind the issue is a mystery. It's possible some elements of localization were a rushed job, since the game was delayed to begin with. But it's equally possible it was simply oversight.


Yu Namba, senior project manager at Atlus and responsible for a good deal of Persona games' localization processes, once said he couldn't account for everything that happened, but tried to make sure the core narrative was coherent and clear. Other things could slip through the cracks, as they apparently did for P5.


Kitty Love


The Switch has taken over the Vita's place as supreme host of otome games. The eShop is flooded with romance games, most of which are geared towards female audiences, and many of which have rather low production values.


Kitty Love takes the crown for one of the worst translations, though. It's the usual quirky premise for one of these games. The protagonist works at a flower shop by day and turns into a cat by night, because why not.


As is a growing trend with eShop games, the game's end result is less than stellar, with apparently very little in the way of quality control either by the developer or Nintendo's alleged curation process.



The quintessential tourist activity — buttering the day


Some of the errors here aren't quite Hollow Fragment bad, but they do range from the mild to the completely unintelligible, up to the "how could you think this was okay?"



The protagonist is in cat form in the above, so presumably, this is just a special way of saying he held the cat


Many of the scenarios just take a bit of figuring out to understand.



That isn't one of them, though.



Or that one.



Okay, so maybe it is on par with Hollow Fragment.



That's...not good.


Slapdash niche games riddled with errors aren't exactly new, but there are a couple of things that make Kitty Love stand out as particularly noteworthy.


The first is the fact that it exists at all on the Switch eShop. Nintendo claimed from the eShop's early days that it would be akin to a curated platform, and not every pitch, even from well-known developers, would be accepted. Fast forward two short years, and it seems that policy has quietly been abandoned.


What's more, unlike some games, including Hollow Fragment, Kitty Love continues to exist in this form — no patches, no changes, no discounts. Whether the amusing dialogue is worth the price of admission is for you to decide.


Pokemon Crystal: Vietnamese Version


Pokemon Vietnamese Crystal has been a thing on the internet for many years, and it's practically a meme generator. The game has a strange history. It started as a Chinese translation of the Japanese script, but despite being considered a Vietnamese version, the game is pretty much entirely in English.


Players are greeted with this.




They do? I' sorry


For some reason, the translator was a bit free with referring to Pokemon as Elf and as Monster, depending on the context, though there didn't seem to be much of a guiding reason behind which scenario got which reference. Either way, there's not much of a link between professor or scholar and monster.


Some of the text is comprehensible, and you can get an idea of how it went from the original meaning to the slightly garbled one.



Friend makes sense, since Pokemon are often referred to as friend in the script. Store... eh. Center and shop are close, but that's starting to stretch it (especially when everything in there is free).


And then you get ones like this, from the next script point.



It's easy to pick up on the fact that "grasp" is used for catch, but basin?


















This early conversation shortly after the rival makes an appearance is unique, but not actually instructive.



This one doesn't seem to be very clear either, until you realize he's talking about Mr. Pokemon.



Apart from the phrasing, it makes sense. I don't know what the original script says, but I imagine it's something referring to Mr. Pokemon as an older man, hence "Grandfather."


But then you get this again.



And this.



The battle system is its own set of special. The theory goes that perhaps there was an indexing error that threw descriptions and translations off, since some are correct, just out of place. Other issues involved transliterating Japanese grammatical particles that weren't intended to be spoken or read.



But it doesn't explain everything about it or the naming conventions.


It certainly doesn't explain the unique way of obtaining items, where the game throws the F-bomb your way every time you place an item in the bag.


Most of the game is almost impossible to understand. If you're interested, you can check out the original Let's Play that sparked the phenomenon. 


Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment


Sword Art Online is a popular transmedia franchise, spanning manga, anime, and video games. In most cases, SOA in all of its forms tells a compelling story with likeable characters, and it's garnered a decent-sized following in the West. We even ranked Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization as one of 2017's best anime franchise games.


Its sequel, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment had a very, very rough start in the West, though. Like a handful of other Japanese games released in Asia before the West, it initially had an Asian release with an English language option.


But that translation was bad. In fact, bad doesn't even begin to cover it.



Japan has its share of race problems, but this wasn't an instance of blatant insensitivity. This is just referring to Kirito, the man wearing black. Though, I don't think he was sexually harassing anyone.



This isn't exactly what you'd expect to find as a subject line in a hero's inbox.  Fear not, though — it's just monster extermination, SAO Asian translation-style.



The translation was also just plain lazy. SAO games stray into racy territory now and again, but , this isn't a reference to one of those adult visual novel scenes. This is just bad translation of a symbol with a wide variety of meanings, most of which relate to war, exploration, and things like that.


Fans who played the version that existed prior to the improved translation patch saw lots of references to penetration throughout the game, in some unusual contexts as well.




Some of the (many) instances do make me wonder whether the translator had a slight idea of what they were saying and tried to just make a joke out of it.


This wasn't the only instance of single-minded determination to stick to one translation regardless of context either.



A standard Japanese greeting is yoroshiku, or the full version, yoroshiku onegaishimasu. It can mean a variety of things, from "nice to meet you," to "let's get along" or "let's work together," among other potential definitions.


It's useful when you first meet someone, of course. But Asuna and other characters  would say this every time Kirito chose them to accompany him on a penetration — er, that is, an exploration trip.



Same to you!


There are countless other instances of unclear or ridiculous phrasing as well.



This being one good example.


As a matter of fact, there is.


Bandai Namco isn't known for always making the best decisions, but it's odd how an established company ended up using a very evidently poorly trained translator for the original English version.


One of my favorite things about being underground is seeing the sky.


The Tales of... Games


Bandai Namco's Tales of... series is known for its endearing characters, interesting plots, and snappy dialogue. However, not all entries are created equally.


The most recent new Tales of game, Tales of Berseria, was lauded for its darker take on the usually chipper stories and characters, but it suffered from some very uneven dialogue and writing towards the end of the game



Not all the errors are quite as confusing as this one, though.



But the biggest issue with the numerous gaffes towards the end of the game is that most of them end up completely unintelligible, like these next two.




Bandit shrooms don't even exist in the game.


It's worth noting the voiced lines don't always match with the written dialogue, though. This fact leads some to suspect that perhaps what happened with Berseria was a sudden change in script or direction near the end of production that didn't make it to the localization department and was just crammed in at the last minute.

Errors in Earlier Games

Either way, these kinds of issues aren't restricted to modern titles. Clyde Mandellin with Legends of Localization noticed this interesting mistake in Tales of the Abyss that's rather easy to overlook.



In between all the talk of fonons and fomicry in the early part of the game, it's easy to forget that the seventh fonon was known about for a long, long time. After all, how could Tear be a practicing Seventh Fonist if it was only just discovered?


The error here comes from a loose translation of the original Japanese, which only said it was the most recently discovered, which doesn't give any kind of time reference.


Then there was the official English translation of Tales of Phantasia, with this interesting little nugget.



The original line was Ragnarok, but Mandelin says older versions of Microsoft Word didn't include Ragnarok in the dictionary and only offered Kangaroo with a capital K as the first recommended choice. This one was a careless spell check error that somehow managed to make it through to publication.


Why the editors of a fantasy game script thought spell check could be relied on anyway is another matter.


Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana


The Ys series is one of gaming's longest-running series, with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana being the most recent entry. While its action oriented gameplay and immersive worlds haven't changed dramatically over the decades, its publication status in the West certainly has.


Most of the early titles after the original two ended up as fan translations, before XSeed began bringing them over as part of its partnership with developer Nihon Falcom (we won't talk about that Konami incident with Ys VI).


And then came Nippon Ichi Software America. As part of Falcom's attempts to expand its international audience, it gave the publishing license for Ys VIII to NISA, with some disastrous results.




This character's bowel habits became a running gag in the original translation, which shouldn't be too surprising from a company that thinks Esty Dee as a name (as they did in Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland) is a funny localization joke.




It's okay Reja; most of us don't either.


The game was riddled with untranslated text, randomly scattered here and there — a common error in badly handled games from the '90s, but not something one would expect from modern games. It's certainly not in keeping with XSeed's usual translation work, which makes it stand out all the more for longtime fans.



Lines like this are common as well, making certain narrative segments and even dialogue a sort of guessing game. But that's not the worst thing.




The game originally had a passable English translation, especially for most main segments and place names. Why NISA felt the need to re-translate is beyond me, particularly when the re-translation was so shoddy.


Fortunately, NISA publicly recognized its errors and re-re-translated the script, providing a much better experience all 'round and apparently earning Falcom's trust enough to warrant being given its next big overseas project, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III


Final Fantasy Games


Most Final Fantasy games are high quality, well-produced works. That doesn't mean they are error-free, but for the most part, the base games are well-written with good localization.


Unfortunately, Square Enix has gained a reputation for not really caring about how those high quality works transfer to other platforms based on their lazy ports and similarly low-effort localizations.



No, the above isn't a screenshot from an alternate Final Fantasy IV universe where the Red Wings were Baron's premiere delivery service with Cecil as their leader. It's the first line of script in the mobile FFIV port.


The port was supposed to use the DS version's script, but obviously, something happened along the way. It made its own mistakes, while keeping those of its predecessor.



And then there's the mobile port of Final Fantasy VI.



Given how many times "esper" appears in the script, it's baffling how this mistake wasn't caught before the game launched, to say nothing of the awkward phrasing that was left untouched.


Still, the script is entirely readable, unlike some other inclusions in this list. The biggest issue is that errors like this are expected with most SE ports, causing one to wonder about the overall attitude of the port teams and the company towards its franchises.

Errors in Original Versions

However, the original versions are certainly not free from errors.



Final Fantasy VII fans will already know this screenshot contains two errors The potentially less obvious one is Aeris's name. It's actually meant to be Aerith, and that's how it appears in all later mentions in the Final Fantasy universe.


This was a common translation error in the 1990s, when localization teams were apparently not experienced in differentiating between easily misunderstood Japanese characters. Most people know about the "L" and "R" confusion, but "S" and "TH" is another one.


There are, of course, other linguistic challenges to overcome as well.



That above is a wyvern in Final Fantasy V.


There's not really any reason other than just "whoops" for this one from Final Fantasy X, though to be fair, it was fixed in the HD remasters.



Video game fans have been dealing with the highs and lows of translation and localization since the 1980s. It's a risk built into a hobby that often relies on media translated from one context-sensitive language to a very different one.


Some of the early examples of translation gaffes have made their way into meme-dom and are among the best-known examples of games gone wrong, games such as Top Wing and Ghosts N' Goblins.


As time progressed, one would think these issues would gradually fade away, with more experienced translators and bigger budgets.


That, however, didn't happen. Through the 1990s and up to recent years, video games still dealt shoddy translations, rushed schedules, and bad management — even some of the bigger games and studios.


Some of the more egregious errors in these games and franchises are what this list focuses on, examples of games that should have been better from companies that ought to know better. Along the way, we'll touch on the reasons behind the gaffes and explore what, if anything, was done to remedy the problems.

New Nindies Showcase Announced for March 20 Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:27:41 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Since the Nintendo Switch launched two years ago, it has received massive support from independent game developers. Indies comprise some of the system's best offerings and most anticipated ports, such as the hardcore platformer Celeste and the quirky story adventure Night in the Woods, along with universal smash hits Stardew Valley and Undertale.

Every year, at least once, Nintendo hosts special presentations known as Nindies Showcases, focused specifically on its upcoming indie offerings. This year's first Nindies Showcase is set for just a couple of days from the time of writing, March 20.

What stands out about this Nindies presentation is the length. In previous years, the showcases have clocked in between 10 and 20 minutes long. The March 20, 2019 Nindies Showcase is set to be approximately 30 minutes, nearly three times the length of last spring's showcase.

The broadcast begins at 12 p.m. EDT, and you can watch the livestream directly on Nintendo's website here.

It's easy to overlook indie games on the Switch just because there are so many. However, the Nindies Showcases usually focus on particularly high-quality games or games from well-known developers. These are the sort of games Nintendo used as a third pillar of sorts to keep the Switch alive in between major releases.

For example, the first Showcase in 2017 previewed games that would eventually find great success, like Golf Story and SteamWorld Dig 2. Other games previewed might not go on to do quite so well — Dragon Marked for Death and Mulaka come to mind — but highlight the creative talent and visionaries in the gaming industry.

Another reason these presentations are important is that indie developers need to be spotlighted to get noticed. Despite Nintendo wanting to bring 20-30 indie games to the Switch per week, the Switch eShop has yet to receive a worthwhile update that makes finding specific games or following developers easy. The "Featured" tab often just highlights first party games as well.

TurtleBlaze Announces Adorable New Medroidvania Game Kunai Thu, 14 Mar 2019 09:50:20 -0400 QuintLyn

You may have played Metroidvania games before, but have you ever played one as a ninja tablet capable of pulling off insane parkour moves while wielding an armory of deadly weapons? Chances are pretty good you haven't. But that's OK because you'll now have the chance.

Yesterday, publisher The Arcade Crew and developer TurtleBlaze revealed Kunai, a new indie action game coming to Nintendo Switch and PC. Although the game doesn't yet have a release date, it does have a pretty sweet trailer, which you can see above.

Swing on ropes across chasms, dash up walls, drop in on enemy targets, and cause insane amounts of glorious mayhem, all as a little electronic tablet "with an ancient warrior's soul."  

Of course, the game's protag isn't just a tablet, it's the main character, Tabby, who awakens after an apocalyptic event nearly wipes out humanity. 

The nearly destroyed world full of secrets, hidden passages, and strange characters, robots roam free. Players will need to make use of all their ninja skills to find all these hidden places and discover everything there is to know about the world.

On their way, players will use an arsenal of deadly weapons to fight their way through machines, androids, and mechs. They'll also be able to make friends with others in the apocalyptic world to have them join in their fight against the evil armies taking over. 

While there's no word on betas or anything of the sort, players interested in checking out the game are (kind of) in luck. The developers will be showing off Kunai at GDC on March 20-22 and PAX East on March 28-31. Those attending GDC can find Kunai in booth N3007 while PAX East attendees will be able to find it at booth #21097 in the Indie Megabooth area.

While The Arcade Crew has previously worked on games such as Dark Devotion, Chrome Blazing, and Young Souls, Kunai is only the second game from TurtleBlaze — and the small studio's first game for Switch and PC. Previously, Turtleblaze developed Road Warriors, an "intergalactic racing game" for iOS and Android. 

To learn more about Kunai, be sure to head over to the game's official site.

Fortnite Update Changes Console Cross-Play Pool Wed, 13 Mar 2019 14:36:05 -0400 William R. Parks

Another update recently went live on Fortnite, and it brought some new toys for battle royale fans to play with, including the Baller, a single seat vehicle with both grappler and boost functionality. However, new content is not the only focus of the patch, as it also looks to change the game's console cross-play pools.

Prior to the update, fans playing Fortnite on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One were all part of the same console pool when opting-in for cross-play. Now, this pool has been divided, and cross-play is no longer optional for battle royale. 

That is, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players are now in their own starting pool, and opting out of cross-play will restrict them to Creative Mode and Playgrounds. Switch players, on the other hand, will now enter a starting pool with those playing on mobile, which Epic believes will lead to "an on-average better per-game experience for both mobile and Switch players."

To be clear, this does not mean that Switch players are no longer able to play with friends that own a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. When joining a squad with one of these players, Switch owners will simply be back competing in the console cross-play pool rather than battling against mobile players.

That said, the change does suggest that Epic is, in general, finding that Switch players are having trouble competing against those with Sony and Microsoft's consoles. The patch notes do not elaborate on exactly how this discrepancy is manifesting, but it is easy to imagine the factors that might lead to it.

For example, Fortnite has been known to have decreased performance on Nintendo's console, which may be impacting the overall success of Switch players. Additionally, some of these fans are likely to be playing primarily in handheld mode, which may make it even more challenging to compete.

Whatever the case may be, fans are certain to have mixed opinions on the change. Fortunately, it does not mean that Switch players will be unable to continue playing with friends on other platforms — they will just be competing in a different pool when they do so.

The patch notes outlining the change to cross-play pools can be found on Fortnite's website.

New Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid Trailer Focuses On Gameplay Tue, 12 Mar 2019 13:03:38 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The Power Rangers franchise has been around for a long time, and it has certainly seen a number of rises and falls in popularity over its lifespan — something that one would no doubt expect from a media entity spanning several decades. That said, the franchise is currently at a point of being back in the public eye, and a new trailer for Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid looks to keep excitement around the Rangers high.

In the trailer, fans get a peak at some of the upcoming fighter's action, character models, and environments. As seen in the video, Battle for the Grid is in the vein of the Marvel Vs. Capcom series, pitting teams of three against one another.

The title has been described as a full-fledged fighting game that skillfully balances accessibility with depth. This suggests that anyone that is interested will be able to pickup Battle for the Grid without feeling intimidated by the skill and difficulty curves that often accompany fighting games.

Along with this attempt at gameplay accessibility, nWay is also looking to offers longtime fans and newcomers alike an entry point to the title. That is, players will be able to choose their fighters from both new and old Rangers, and the game will feature classic and brand new villains as well.

Battle for the Grid will feature online multiplayer, letting fans team up to face off against challengers from around the globe. This co-operative play will be possible regardless of the platform players are on, due to the game's support of cross-play. That said, it remains to be seen if Sony will play nice, allowing cross-play with PlayStation 4, or if the company will continue being a loner.

nWay's reputation with the Power Rangers franchise means that fans should rest easy knowing that their beloved Rangers are in good hands. Legacy Wars, the mobile predecessor to Battle for the Grid, received very good reviews, and we even considered it one of the best mobile games of 2017.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid will release simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One this spring, and it will come to PC later in 2019. The standard edition will be $19.99, and there is also a special Digital Collector's Edition available.

This special edition includes the full game download, the Season One pass, which includes new characters and a skin, and exclusive Lord Drakkon Evo II and Kimberly Hart character skins. Undoubtedly, players that are excited about the upcoming fighter will want to consider this as an option.

Truberbrook Review: A Vacation to Remember Mon, 11 Mar 2019 15:15:01 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

HeadUp Games is probably best known for its work on recent hits like Dead Cells and Double Cross, along with sleeper hits such as Slime San.

Truberbrook, the studio’s most recent title, continues the developer’s tradition of variety in output. It’s a point-and-click style adventure game set in 1960s Cold War Germany, in the eponymous village of Truberbrook.

The premise is this: Hans Tannhauser, a quantum physicist from Washington state, wins a trip to the village of Truberbrook in a lottery he didn’t even know about. After arriving in the village and setting his room up for the night, he’s startled to find someone rummaging through his suitcase and discovers the thief pilfered some physics papers.

Since it’s a point-and-click game, you guide Hans around the village and some surprising surroundings to uncover the truth behind the theft, some odd disappearances, and Hans himself.

Truberbrook suffers from a few setbacks in the tech department and one or two slightly "off" design choices, but it’s an engaging and charming adventure on the whole, one that’s easy to recommend.

It's Got the Looks

The first thing that stands out about the game is its visuals. Truberbrook absolutely oozes atmosphere. The village itself is a quaint, scenic hamlet nestled between scenic mountains that don’t look ominous at all and a lake that’s probably never seen anything terrible happen in it.

From the moment Hans steps off the bus, the game world immediately immerses the player in its gorgeous, handcrafted aesthetic, realistic lighting, and use of natural background sounds.

It’s difficult to imagine how much work HeadUp put into building every scene by hand, but their efforts most definitely pay off.

Hans visits a number of locations in the immediate area, all of which have their own atmosphere and leave a lasting impression on players.

By following the story, players eventually venture around the region in the late evening for one particular event, and the change in both Truberbrook itself and the surrounding area adds a tangible element of tension and creepiness at just the right moment, aided in no small part by the use of natural evening light.

Plenty of Personality

Truberbrook and the surrounding locales are populated by the sort of eccentric personalities you’d expect from a game in this genre, but they stand out immediately.

Part of their charm comes from their design, which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton film, especially Trude, the Guesthouse owner, along with another important character Hans encounters after the first main puzzle.

The characters were added into the built scenes via CGI, which gives the entire game a look and feel very much like something between an old Claymation film and those sci-fi TV shows from the ‘60s where the action played out with puppets in front of hand-built sets.

The other part comes from the writing and voice acting.

Each character has a unique personality that shines through within the first couple of lines you hear, and it goes a long way in making Truberbrook both feel like a real village with a history and like a place that’s completely foreign to Hans (which is good, because, well, it is completely foreign to him).

A Tale to Tell

Naturally, story is another thing a point-and-click has to nail. Truberbrook does that too, though not much can be said in detail without venturing into spoiler territory. It hits the right notes for sci-fi and mystery without tipping the balance too much in either way.

The mysteries are enigmatic enough to keep you wanting to find out what happens next. There is some more obvious foreshadowing and some obscure things here and there you know are significant, but can’t put your finger on why.

All in all, though, the player is rather like Hans — completing tasks and trying to move forward, all without a clue about where the various threads will meet and what will happen when they do.

The sci-fi elements are what you’d expect from a sci-fi narrative, all without venturing into hammy territory, and the story’s period setting is one aspect that helps keep it balanced.

As with any well-told story, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you engaged along the way as well. The story's overall length is similar to other games in the genre and should take between five and eight hours total, depending on how quickly you move through things.

Kickstarter backers get an extra prologue scene to play through as well, starring a character Hans meets later on. Although the scene doesn't add too much to the narrative, it serves as a fun introduction to the game’s broader tone, mechanics, and world.

Truberbrook’s pacing is brisk, and the story’s natural peaks and troughs do an excellent job segmenting everything. Still, the developers decided to break things up into chapters, with some chapters having random sub-headings pop up for major events.

It’s a bit jarring, especially since the story does a good job of that on its own, and it actually makes the game seem shorter than it is. That, and the fact that the fourth chapter is the longest of the bunch, harms the game’s organic pacing and seems completely unnecessary because of it.

Getting from A to B

You likely already know what to expect from Truberbrook's basic gameplay if you're a fan of the genre. Being a point-and-click, you find areas of interest, click or select them, figure out what to do next from the context given, and determine which items from your inventory are most likely to solve whatever puzzle you’re dealing with.

Truberbrook doesn’t do anything astoundingly new to shake up the formula.

However, it doesn’t have to, because the gameplay uses it so well. There are many, many different items to interact with scattered all over the region. Not all of them are necessary to the story, but if you want to take part in the full experience, you’ll take the time to explore and read/hear Hans’ always interesting or amusing commentary on whatever he sees.

Inventory management is simple, too — so simple, in fact, that you don’t actually manage it. Hans automatically acquires a new item by interacting with it. If there’s an object or person that that item can be used with, it shows up under the gear option when you select the item to interact with.

However, some items can’t be used; only showing up as an option; thanks to some snappy dialog, though, it’s worth selecting them anyway, just to hear what Hans has to say.

Items that need to be combined in order to work show up as highlighted together, so you really never have to bother with figuring out the connections between seemingly random and useless items Hans picks up along his journey.

In other cases, you'll interact with everything you can in order to progress the story or find just the right item to solve a puzzle. If you get stuck and can’t figure out what to do next, you have the option to automatically highlight everything Hans can interact with.

It’s a highly useful mechanic because some items are easy to overlook, especially in areas where there’s a lot to interact with anyway.


Most of the puzzles in Truberbrook aren’t horribly difficult and involve observation and paying attention more than logic. There are a few moments where the design is slightly more obtuse than necessary, though.

For example, one puzzle in Chapter 2 uses a sequence based on context, but one thing in that sequence needs just a bit more description to give you an idea of where it fits.

Another point in the story requires you to venture to a new area outside the village. You can’t access it prior to that point, and there’s nothing indicating things have changed between beginning the game and that particular point.

Overall, though, puzzles and progression have a natural, seamless feel to them and flow at a good pace. Despite not being very difficult, there’s still a noticeable measure of satisfaction as everything falls neatly into place — when that can of tuna comes in handy or when the can opener has an unexpected (and hilarious) use.

Dialogue in Abundance

Humor is something you’ll encounter a lot in Truberbrook, and it works far more often than it doesn’t. A good bit of it is visual in nature, like when you first enter the guesthouse and try to get service at the front desk.

Hans always has a dry or witty comment to make, and some of the dialogue options are laugh-out-loud funny, particularly if you’re a fan of quirky or dry humor. The juxtaposition of the incredibly odd with the seemingly mundane, as if it’s just another part of daily life, works in that same way.

There is a wide range of dialogue options to choose from as well. As you’d expect, most of them relate to getting more information out of the people you’re talking with to help move things forward. Not all of the information is necessary, but, just like with the game's items, it provides a good amount of backstory to help flesh out the game world nicely.

Sometimes in a chapter or scene, new dialogue options become available after finding an item or speaking to someone new, so it’s worth checking back now and again or if you get stuck.

Most dialogue options have branching paths as well. HeadUp advertises the game as having multiple scenarios where persuasive dialog reigns, but during my playthrough, there was only a handful of such moments.

Some of these “there-is-a-right-answer” moments have fairly obvious answers — or, at least, answers that are clearly wrong — though some might take some guesswork. It’s fun to pick the ludicrous ones sometimes, just to see other characters' reactions, even if it does mean replaying a short segment to get back to where you need to be.

For the options that are definitely wrong, Hans doesn’t even speak the option when it’s chosen. It’s as if there’s an invisible filter silently rebuking you for your bad decision. Whether that’s intentional or a bug, it’s endearing nonetheless.

Falling Short

As enjoyable as it is, Truberbrook does have some shortcomings.

It’s a polished experience overall, but there are some glitches that need ironing out, such as the non-game-breaking but annoying lag in misty areas. 

Outside of that, the mouse cursor on PC also disappears randomly from time to time, or the game won’t register that you’re moving the mouse for a second or two. When it does register, it shows up on the other side of the screen from where it was. 

A few more noticeable problems popped up less often but stood out due to their seriousness. Hans will clip through objects from time to time, including people. One instance involved him putting his hand through a door to open it, rather than pushing on the door itself.

There is also a scene where Hans climbs up to and down from a treehouse. Going up is fine, but coming down is another matter. Rather than descending the ladder, Hans just walks off-screen, with the game transitioning to Hans back on the ground. He then proceeds to walk in a circle for a minute before the game realizes he should be coming down the tree. Hans' “climbing down a ladder” motions begin, which, since he is on the ground, means he disappears through the earth, and it repeats for the rope ladder portion.

The other egregious "walking in a circle" problem occurs near the end of the game when Hans must interact with an object. If he's not positioned carefully, Hans books it back toward the area's entrance. 

And while the writing in Truberbrook is excellent for the most part, there are some typos and grammar issues. Strangely, these become much more prominent in the last third of the game, so it’s unclear whether it was just an accident or if perhaps the end was a bit rushed. The same applies to times when the written and voiced scripts don’t match each other.

Lastly, HeadUp included a Kids Mode, which censors parts of Truberbrook, particularly where Hans smokes and encounters a sex toy. These funny moments aren't integral to the plot, although they are referenced in the game's joke dialog options. 

The main issue is "why include these instances at all, though?" We can all probably count on one hand the number of kids who would willingly choose Kids Mode. What's more, the goal was to create a family-friendly game, and the game is up for a Best Youth Game in the German Game Developers’ Awards.

Maybe the goal should have been not including those instances to begin with, if a younger audience was intended all along.

  • Fantastic handcrafted world
  • Dripping with atmosphere
  • Engaging story and characters with fun puzzles
  • Slightly uneven pacing
  • Some technical and writing issues
  • A few obtuse design choices

Overall, Truberbrook is a delightful experience. Bugs and glitches aside, it’s an engrossing game bound to capture your imagination with its fantastic visuals and atmosphere, loveably bizarre characters, and engaging plot.

It’s the first game of its kind from HeadUp, and I can honestly say I hope we see more like it in the future.

[Note: A copy of Truberbrook was provided by HeadUp Games for the purpose of this review.]

Dungeon Defenders Awakened Now On KickStarter Mon, 11 Mar 2019 10:13:58 -0400 PapaSisler

Chromatic Games, formerly Trendy Entertainment, is looking for help in raising money for the development of the new Dungeon Defenders title, Dungeon Defenders Awakened, on Kickstarter. Under new leadership, the team plans to take the series back to its roots. 

Taking place after the events in Dungeon Defenders 2players will be sent back in time with the four champions from the original game: the Monk, the Archer, the Swordsman, and the Ranger.

Players will be dropped off at "their parents'" castle, which is a normal first map; however, "there will be a time-altering menace who will attempt to reshape the past, present, and future of the game."

Alongside new maps, Dungeon Defenders Awakened will allow players to experience map locations from the first and second games with updated mechanics and visuals. 

Like many current titles, Dungeon Defenders Awakened will be designed using Unreal Engine 4, which, in the long-run, will help with "cross-platform support and faster game development." Players can also expect "four-player split-screen local multiplayer" as well as "four-player online/offline multiplayer."

Dungeon Defenders Awakened is currently slated to release on the PC and Nintendo Switch; on the game's Kickstarter page, Chromatic Games confirms that Switch players will be able to take full advantage of the system's motion controls. The game will be released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 if the title's Kickstarter campaign reaches $350,000. 

Chromatic Games' original goal for Dungeon Defenders Awakened was to "recreate what made the original such an epic adventure while giving it that modern polish and cranking it up to 11."

Currently, the Kickstarter's goal is set at $250,000; as of this writing, backers have raised $166,779. Stretch goals include: localization support ($275,000), new challenge maps ($300,000), PS4 and Xbox One support ($350,000), massacre difficulty ($450,000), a new enemy and map ($550,000), and a customizable tavern ($650,000). 

For more information on the campaign or to support Chromatic Games, head over to the game's Kickstarter campaign.

Nintendo Celebrates Mario Day with Switch Promotion and Mario Game Discounts Fri, 08 Mar 2019 16:35:02 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

For several years now, Nintendo fans have celebrated all things Mario on March 10, dubbing it Mar10 Day, or the more formal Mario Day.

This year, the Big N itself is getting in on the celebration with several promotional deals and discounts. Among other things, My Nintendo members can spend their points to redeem some unique Mario Day themed items to hold their own celebrations.

The flagship deal in the promotion is a Nintendo Switch system plus one of five Mario Switch games for $329.99. That amounts to 50% off the selected title, which is noteworthy for being the steepest discount Nintendo has offered on its own Switch titles since the system launched.

The games to choose from are:

Most major retailers are taking part in this promotion, including:

  • GameStop
  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy

Those who already own a Switch can still join in the fun, though. The digital versions of the five games listed above will be available for $39.99 from the same retailers, except GameStop.

These promotions begin March 10 and run until March 16.

There are other ways to celebrate Mar10 Day as well. Nintendo has added new My Nintendo rewards in honor of the day, and fans can redeem points for Mario-themed wallpapers and a Mario March calendar.

Also on offer are Mario-themed invitation cards and bingo sheets for those planning their own Mario Day gathering. Special Mario envelopes are available as well.

The Switch recently celebrated its second birthday and has succeeded beyond what many thought possible. Mario Day is a good way for Nintendo to celebrate that milestone and spread the message about its latest system to an even wider audience.

Doug Bowser, currently the Senior VP of Sales and Marketing (and future NoA president) said:

What better way to celebrate Mario Day than by playing some of the most popular Mario games on Nintendo Switch. This promotion is a great option for consumers who want to pick up Nintendo Switch and some hit games at a value price.

Looking at the list of games above, Bowser is right. Super Mario Odyssey redefines the platformerMario Kart 8 does the same for the kart racing genre, and while Mario Tennis Aces has a few drawbacks, it's the best Mario Tennis offering in years.

How To Play Silent In Slay the Spire Fri, 08 Mar 2019 10:00:02 -0500 Jordan Baranowski

Unlike the brute force of the Ironclad or the inevitability of the Defect, Slay the Spire's Silent is a tricky class that will need precise planning to master. There are a bevy of strategies available with the class, but things can fall apart quickly if they don't come together.

This is due to the fact that the Silent requires card synergies to work, meaning careful deck management is of the utmost importance. Keeping your deck free of bloat is priority number one, as this approach will minimize the randomness of the game and reduce the frequency at which your combos simply fail to materialize. 

The fact that it is possible for things to just fall apart means that the Silent can be a frustrating class to play, but, when everything clicks, it can be extraordinarily powerful and fun. You can devastate your enemies with poison, draw your deck perfectly and play Grand Finale, or whittle a foe's health down in a single turn with zero cost cards. It's all a blast, which means that the risk-reward for the Silent is totally worth it.

Think you're ready to tackle Slay the Spire as this tricky class? Here're some of the best ways to do it.

Silent Basics

Starting Relic

The Silent's starting relic is called the Ring of the Snake, and it allows you to draw two extra cards in the first round of every combat. This can help you set up combos, build a defense, or take out a weak foe early by giving you better options from the beginning.

Poison, Discards, and Shivs

There are a lot of offensive options you can take with the Silent, and there are three central themes within these options:

  • Poison: Many of the Silent's cards will add poison to an enemy. Poison is a status effect that will cause the enemy to lose an amount of life, equal to its poison count, each turn.

    After dealing poison damage, the count will be reduced by one, and the enemy will be hit for this new amount the following turn. Poison can add up in a hurry, and can cause massive damage, with a small investment, if you can find multiple copies of cards like Catalyst.

  • Discard Only Cards: Another tactic available to the Silent is using cards that are unplayable but offer benefits when they are discarded. Gaining extra energy or drawing new cards, all while filtering through your deck, means that you will have a huge toolbox to play with in each fight. However, without proper discard outlets, these are dead cards in your hand.

  • Shivs: Finally, many cards in the Silent's deck create or effect Shivs. Shivs are zero cost attacks, and the general goal is to buff them and play as many per turn as possible, making use of the Silent's massive amount of card draw in the process.

The Ironclad has strength as a core stat, the Defect has Focus, and the Silent has Dexterity. Dexterity increases the effectiveness of all of your block cards, just as Strength affects your attacks. One Dexterity corresponds to one extra Block per card, so extra Dexterity can add up in a hurry.

Silent Builds


Most mechanics that are unique to a specific class make for obvious builds, and the same is true with the Silent's Shivs. There are plenty of cards, like Accuracy, and relics, like Wrist Blades, that will amplify your Shivs. There are also a number of not so obvious cards, like After Image, Envenom, or A Thousand Cuts, that will take advantage of being able to play a ton of zero cost cards every turn.

Finisher is also a great choice in this deck. It can deal a ton of damage if you've played several Shivs in a turn.


It isn't entirely intuitive, but playing more than one copy of Blur in a single turn will allow your Block to stay on for consecutive turns. If you can increase your Dexterity, packing multiple Bursts and Blurs in your deck will give you insane durability. This will allow you to setup any manner of finisher you choose — be it strong powers, slow poison, or rapid attacks.


There are really two types of poison builds, but we'll group them together for simplicity's sake. The first relies on slow build cards and lots of defense. Things like Noxious Fumes take a few turns to really put out much damage, but nothing is going to stop them once they are rolling — just turtle up and wait for your enemies to die.

The other popular poison build relies on multiple copies of Catalyst. Upgrading Catalyst causes it to triple the current poison on an enemy, thus increasing poison to extremely high levels very quickly. This approach can defeat even end-of-run bosses in only a turn or two, and, if you can get your hands on a Snecko Skull, poison should be the natural route to take.


The Silent has a massive amount of card draw at their disposal, though it often has a discard drawback tacked on. However, you can make that drawback work for you by picking up cards that generate advantage by being discarded. With these cards, you can cycle through your deck, discarding your way to more energy, more card draw, and, if you can swing it, relics that add even more effects when you discard.

This build tends to be really swingy, but it can be extremely powerful with the right cards. It also doesn't take too many discard effects to make it go infinite.

Cards To Look Out For

The cards you need are very build-dependent with the Silent, as certain cards are amazing in one build but are complete garbage in another. Here are a few cards that are almost always good, but, again, keep an eye out on your ultimate goal for a deck.


Despite what I've just said, I can't imagine a deck where you wouldn't want to play this card. Without healing options, the Silent needs to play defense, and even one copy of Footwork in play gives you much better durability. A few at a time can make you simply unstoppable.

A Thousand Cuts

Another terrific card, no matter what you are building, A Thousand Cuts will punish your enemies. The fact that it hits all your foes is amazing, and the damage numbers can add up extremely quickly, especially if you can get multiple copies in play.

Noxious Fumes

Even in non-poison decks, Noxious Fumes is a heavy hitter. Again, per turn damage adds up in a hurry, and the Silent loves to sit back and play defense while powers do the dirty work. Just like most of the Silent's power cards, it's even better with multiple copies.

Well-Laid Plans

There's nothing worse than ditching one of your "essential" cards because you have too many of them. A zero-cost power that allows you to carry something over is extremely useful.


Backstab is super useful for taking out early enemies — its damage is high, it partners well with many powers and strategies, and it will help you save damage to make combat math easier as you move forward. Yes, please.

Blur + Backflip

These are the two Block cards that you want to look out for. There are situations where one will be better than the other, but neither of them are ever bad. In a vacuum, Blur is almost always my pick, but both are excellent.


This is another card that is almost never unwelcome, and it makes every single build better. It is an absolute monster once upgraded, and multiple copies will make any wacky combo you dream up that much more likely to materialize.


The Silent has a ton of options that can work, which also means there are a lot of ways it can go wrong. Since it relies on playing so many cards per turn with most of its builds, certain bosses (Time Eater!) can be a complete nightmare. That said, there's nothing you can't overcome once you start backflipping and poisoning your foes.

Nintendo Introduces Labo VR Kits and Starter Packs to Bring Make, Play, Discover to Life Thu, 07 Mar 2019 14:44:06 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo surprised the gaming world last April when it unveiled the Nintendo Labo line for the Switch, a DIY-themed gaming experience centered around using cardboard to build Toy-Con, the materials used in the actual augmented reality (AR) games that come with the kits.

It was an unexpected move, given the decline in toys-to-life products and sales. Despite high hopes for the line, Labo didn't do as well as many had hoped, even in Japan, where it was more successful overall.

However, almost exactly a year after Labo's original reveal, Nintendo held to its promise of continued Labo support and announced a brand-new line of Labo sets, this time based on virtual reality games, set to launch on April 12.

The company recently filed a VR patent, but regularly dodged the VR question, voicing concerns about health effects and its suitability for Nintendo's commitment to sharing gaming experiences.

However, the Labo VR kits are designed to negate those concerns and ease players into VR gaming, while still adhering to the Labo core promise of "make, play, discover."

The VR Goggle set itself is a Toy-Con, meaning players have to build the object into which the Switch tablet will slide for the VR game. Nintendo emphasizes the fact that unlike most VR sets, the Toy-Con VR set has no strap.

This makes it easier to remove from one's face and, more importantly, easier to share with others. In other words, it's still a social experience, and the shareability reduces the risk of health problems through overexposure.

Doug Bowser, Nintendo's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing (and future Nintendo of America president) commented on this feature, saying, "We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players through passing around Toy-Con creations."

There's no word as yet what the included games will be, though Nintendo did tease an alien invasion experience relying on a Toy-Con blaster, along with a Toy-Con camera for photographing exotic and colorful waterscapes

The Labo VR kits will launch in stores in two forms:

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — $79.99

  • Labo software for Switch
  • Toy-Con VR Goggles
  • Toy-Con Blaster
  • Toy-Con Bird
  • Toy-Con Wind Petal
  • Toy-Con Elephant
  • Screen holder and safety cap

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit, Starter Set + Blaster — $39.99

  • Labo software for Switch
  • Toy-Con Goggles
  • Toy-Con Blaster
  • Screen holder and safety cap

Those who purchase the Starter Set and wish to explore Labo VR further can purchase two expansion sets exclusively from Nintendo's online store.

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — Expansion Set 1 —$19.99

  • Toy-Con Elephant
  • Toy-Con Camera

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — Expansion Set 2 —$19.99

  • Toy-Con Wind Petal
  • Toy-Con Bird

Each Labo VR kit will also include the Toy-Con garage standard with all Labo kits, a feature that lets users learn and experiment with basic coding. Nintendo will release further information regarding the included games before Labo VR launches.

Mortal Kombat 11's Story Trailer Is Kind Of Nuts Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:45:07 -0500 QuintLyn

While we might still be almost two months away from the April 23 release of the next entry in the Mortal Kombat franchise on April 23, players don't have to wait any longer to get a peek at the game's story.

Today, Warner Bros. Interactive and NetherRealm Studios dropped the official story trailer for Mortal Kombat 11, highlighting the game's time travel-based narrative.

The narrative kicks off following the defeat of Raiden at the hands of the Elder God, Shinnok. This defeat has had some less than desirable effects on the universe, upsetting the balance between good and evil. At least one individual has a problem with that, and she's out to fix it.

Kronia, a newcomer to the franchise, intends to use her powers to rewind time and effectively reset the universe.

Like some previous games in the series, Mortal Kombat 11's story mode allows players to experience the narrative through the eyes of various characters, both past and present. All of these characters will join forces to defeat Shao Kahn's army before things get even more out of hand.

As we draw nearer to the release date for MK11, the game's developers are still revealing the roster of characters fans can expect to play as. Today, three more playable characters were revealed in addition to the new gameplay trailer: Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and Erron Black.

Unfortunately for fans who may have been hoping that he'd still appear despite the devs already saying "no", Shaggy was not announced as a playable character in this batch.

Of the three characters, Cage, the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, was highlighted today in Kombat Kast on the NetherRealm Twitch channel. Briggs and Black didn't get quite as much love, but may appear on the stream at a later date.

Mortal Kombat 11 releases April 23 on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Pre-orders are available and will grant players access to the beta and Shao Kahn.

3 Free-To-Play Games That Get Loot Boxes Right Wed, 06 Mar 2019 12:58:43 -0500 Adamo Umbra

Ever since the disaster surrounding EA's Star Wars: Battlefront 2, loot boxes have been a much talked about topic in the general media. Discussions about their legality, and morality, have begun to occur outside of the gaming community, and government officials have even started to regulate the use of loot boxes.

For the uninitiated, loot boxes are virtual containers that provide randomized rewards. They are often sold, for real world money, as a means to further monetize video games, and they have come under fire as a form of gambling that preys on those with addiction and minors. That is, their random nature can entice players to purchase many in order to increase their chances at getting a desired item.

Despite the negative response to loot boxes, publishers, like EA and Activison, have been pushing them into video games for years now. That said, I do not think loot boxes are inherently evil. Instead, it's the way they're commonly used in paid video games that is the problem.

On the flip side, there are a number of free-to-play games that handle loot boxes correctly — I am going to outline three of them here. To note, this is not meant to encourage players to accumulate massive microtransactions in these games. Instead, these are games that employ loot box strategies worth considering before investing your time and money into other games.

World of Tanks Blitz 

You might have heard of Wargaming's World of Tanks — it's a popular free-to-play game. However, you might not know World of Tanks Blitz, the mobile version of the game that is available on Android, iOS, the Windows 10 store, and Steam.

While we're not here to discuss the game's quality, a quick summary of Blitz, as compared to its PC counterpart, is that it's more beginner friendly and focused less on pay-to-win. It is also obviously smaller and features shorter matches.

With World of Tanks Blitz being a free-to-play game, Wargaming did have to find a way to monetize it with in-app purchases. Specifically, you can buy gold, which can be used to buy premium tanks and a premium account, or you can convert it into credits and free experience. While some of the premium tanks can be better than their tech tree counterpart, the difference isn't too great as of now, and these vehicles are not guarantees of victory.

Wargaming also decided to join in on the loot box bandwagon, but I can truly say that real money transactions are completely optional in World of Tank Blitz. This is because the developers made the smart decision to keep them separate from progression, as loot boxes offer no in-game advantages here. Additionally, you receive free containers on a timer, which can provide you with experience and credit boosters along with gold or premium tanks.

Just to let that sink in, Wargaming not only introduced loot boxes to generate extra revenue but also took the opportunity to provide fans with free timed containers that give them access to items they would have paid for in the past. This helps cut down the grind, through boosters, and it actively improves the experience.

This is the first time that I can say that loot boxes actually helped a game, rather than destroyed it. The fact that they are 100% optional is a big part of that.

 Goddess Kiss

Before going into the loot boxes in Goddess Kiss, it is important to establish the gacha genre. In Japan, there are vending machines, called gacha, that dispense random toy capsules for a certain amount of money. For some, the goal is to collect a full set of toys.

As these machines are very popular, Japanese developers have made video games, known as gacha games, which are about collecting as many characters as you can, with the hope of obtaining the full roster. These games are often just money pits, but I beg to differ when it comes to Goddess Kiss.

This free-to-play mobile game, developed by Flero Games, features a premium currency called diamonds. While you can pay real money for diamonds, you also earn them, at a good pace, every day. Ultimately, you can use them to purchase premium treasure, the game's take on loot boxes. 

Yes, like a typical gacha game, you are being encouraged to spend money, but you aren't strong armed into doing so. Goddess Kiss also offers an alternative, which allows you to buy some characters, through events or shops, directly without the randomness of loot boxes.

Additionally, if you do decide you do want to spend money on diamonds, there are deals available. For example, you can buy a subscription that gives you €100 worth of diamonds, over 30 days, for only €5. 

Also, PvP isn't a big part of the game. This means that it is less important to compete with whales that have purchased a lot of loot boxes, and you only need patience to participate in PvE, which is balanced for free players.

Loot boxes are successful in Goddess Kiss because you are freely supplied with everything you need to get through the game. They can offer extra pilots, medals, and costumes that aren't available otherwise, but it is all very honest and generous for a gacha game. 


Moving away from mobile games, we have a AAA quality, free-to-play game from Digital Extremes: Warframe. This is an MMO-lite looter shooter that is super addictive. It has become quite popular due to the large amount of content that it offers and its fair microtransactions.

What you might not have considered is that the relics in Warframe function a lot like loot boxes in that they provide a random reward. However, you obtain them purely through farming, and the items they contain aren't exactly required to win — you can certainly go through the game's content without collecting them.

They can provide better versions of weapons and warframes, but, while the prime weapons are generally better, prime warframes are only slightly better than what is available without relics.

Nothing in Warframe is behind a paywall, and relics are in no way predatory. The only real way to get them is through hard work, which is something that many players will appreciate. Additionally, the microtransactions are mainly for cosmetics, which is understandable in a free-to-play game.

Thankfully, Warframe is getting the praise it deserves, but, unfortunately, some developers and publishers haven't been taking notes on its approach to loot boxes and microtransactions. Hopefully, more players focusing on free-to-play titles like this one will eventually force the hands of the larger companies.


These are three completely different games that all have unique approaches to using loot boxes well. As I said before, I don't think loot boxes are inherently bad, but when they're used in paid video games for uncapped profit, they often become problematic. If we want to solve that issue plaguing games, we just have to stop buying predatory loot boxes — it's that simple.

Out Of Space Is Behold Studios' Annoying Housemates Simulator Tue, 05 Mar 2019 14:06:17 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

Brazilian developer Behold Studios, the minds behind Chroma Squad and The Knights of Pen and Paper, announced its newest project today, Out of Space. A multiplayer simulator, this upcoming title focuses on the small details of life, like keeping the house clean, that can so easily get under the skin, but there's a twist: it happens to be set in space.

The goal in Out of Space is twofold: stay alive while keeping your space home running smoothly. The latter task involves ordinary daily tasks, such as taking out the trash, keeping things free from dirt, and doing the dishes, but, according to Behold's Sauolo Camarotti, that's where things get interesting:

Almost everyone has experienced the frustration of figuring out who’s responsible for all those mundane household tasks. But imagine if you lived in space how much more challenging it would be to even take the dog for a walk.

Along with maintaining your space home, you'll also be decorating it and making it exactly the way you and your housemates want it to be. Judging from the images Behold provided, there will be a wide range of furnishings to use when doing so, and houses appear fairly large, featuring what looks like an outdoor deck area.

Whether you'll be able to add rooms during the game remains to be seen, but it seems, just like in real life, you'll have a budget to work with. Presumably, in future updates and demonstrations, Behold will reveal how players can earn money too.

The other aspect of gameplay involves survival, though Behold wasn't as detailed on that facet. Alien goo and dirt apparently make their way into your home from time to time and must be dealt with before disaster strikes. There's also the threat of people turning into alien cocoons.

Out of Space is expected to launch this fall on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch with support for multiple languages. While it is focused on co-op play, it will feature a single player mode.

Why You Should Be Excited For Pokemon Sword And Shield Tue, 05 Mar 2019 13:43:27 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the upcoming Pokemon games for the Switch, were finally revealed last week during a special Nintendo Direct. While the presentation did not confirm many details about the games, a roughly two and a half minute long trailer was shared, and it is already giving fans a lot to ponder and praise.

With this article, we take a look at some of the elements that have players excited, ranging from new visuals to new Pokemon. This examination, coupled with some community-fueled speculation, should give you a good idea why we think you need to be looking forward to the release of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.

A Different Perspective

Pokemon games have always felt fairly limited in the exploration that they offer, opting to provide players with a succession of tasks that they must complete until they reach the end. Earlier games were kept from seeming too claustrophobic by mixing up the way players travelled through the map, but Sword and Shield seems to be taking a new approach.

The trailer from the Direct shows off multiple different camera angles, which appear to vary depending on location. This change in perspective is the key that these new games will use to create a more dynamic seeming world, even if it’s just as empty and linear as previous games.

In the more open areas, for example, the camera pulls back some and is at a lower angle than we saw in Sun and Moon. This means that it is roughly level with the character's shoulders, and while the routes themselves look about as narrow as Alola’s and Kalos’s, this change in perspective means players see everything around them.

We look off into the distance, over grassy plains and rolling hills with a bridge nearby. It’s an area that looks big and feels open, even if you can’t explore every inch of it.

In narrow places, like the snowy path, the camera goes up and zooms in a bit. This creates something similar to the perspectives in the first three generations of Pokemon where you can’t see much on either side of path. In doing so, a route’s short length, and potential lack of things to do and see on it, are overshadowed by a player's wondering of what’s next and where it all will lead.

It’s the cities where this new perspective really shines though. Finally, a Pokemon world gets the bustling metropolises and charming rural hamlets we’ve always had to just imagine in previous games.

The cities and towns seem bigger, and it seems that the close-up angles will make it really feel like these areas can be explored. The industrial city appears to be the best example from the trailer, as it offers plenty of areas to see and, potentially, even different levels to navigate. The snow-themed city also looks appealing, with the almost-over-the-shoulder perspective making it seem bigger than it probably is.

It also helps that every town and city isn't planned out on a grid. There can now be variations in the heights of structures and there are things like peaceful lake vistas, as the trailer shows, and a better general mix of environments. It’s basically what places like Castelia City and Aquacorde Town wanted to be but never could.

All of this combined create a sense of freedom and expansion. One that we have not seen in some of the previous games in the series.

A Non-Linear Map To Explore

A Pokemon game needs an interesting region to make players actually want to explore it, and it seems like Sword and Shield are going to deliver on that front. While the Galar region map, which seems to be inspired by the United Kingdom, may look tiny at first, closer examination suggests that the locale is going to offer quite a number of places to see and many things to do throughout the adventure.

Assuming that the journey in these games begins at the bottom of the map, as it does in most Pokemon games, it appears that players will start in an agricultural area. This fits with the idea of the south of England being the “breadbasket” of the nation (and a punny reference to the “Home Counties” surrounding London, since your home is in roughly the same region as those counties).

From there, it’s not too clear where your journey might take you, aside from north until you finally get to the Pokemon League. There’s a random house to the east, and then it looks like there is a train track going through the nearby mountain range. If, ultimately, you do have to take the train to leave the starter town, then it seems likely that the games' second destination is a Lancashire-inspired red-brick industrial city.

There are several possibilities for where the journey may go from there, as it looks like the city has two potential exits — one to the east and one to the south. The eastern exit seems to take you over a ravine and to an area that appears inaccessible otherwise. From there, a player may be on their way to an eastern coastal town where one of the European football pitch gyms is.

The southern exit appears to take you to a mostly empty field, punctuated by a tower in the northwest area and a large stone in the southeast. Presumably, there’s something worthwhile in that area, but exactly what remains unknown.

It also looks like there’s a bridge in the field, which will take players over a small river and along a road that winds up further north. This appears to arrive at the large city that dominates the map’s center, and, from there, you can seemingly go west to a rocky area and, by extension, the mushroom forest or east to the previously mentioned coastal town and a snowbound city.

This is all quite exciting because, barring something like requiring an HM-type move or Pokemon to progress, it looks like Sword and Shield may finally bring branching paths to Pokemon. It might mean you could choose where to go next, and in what order to tackle at least a few gyms, in this new adventure. While it may not seem like a huge deal on the surface, as player choice is quite common in modern games, it would be a huge breath of fresh air for Pokemon.

Mysteries To Solve

The map revealed of the Galar region does offer some clues about the journey players can expect to follow in Sword and Shield, but there are still some mysteries as well. The snowy city, for example, appears to only be accessible through a muddy, obstacle-course looking area, but there’s also a southeastern exit that leads through a sea route and to a large building. Perhaps this will be the Galar region’s criminal gang hideout or the estate of some eccentric recluse like Bill.

Additionally, the Pokemon Company loves hiding important areas behind cloud cover on early map reveals, as was done with Aether Paradise in Alola and frozen Unova from Black 2 and White 2. The Galar map shown during the Direct also has a few small areas covered by clouds, and the map's southern edge is certainly of interested. There’s so much cloud cover there that it obscures almost everything except the river’s course.

Some enterprising Pokemon fans have actually matched the land layout and river course in southern Galar to the northern edge of Kalos. This has sparked the rumor that, perhaps, we’ll be revisiting Kalos in Sword and Shield. If that is not the case, there may still be a lot of Kalos references, like the Fletchling weather vanes seen in the trailer, and Pokemon in these new games. 

Image via NintendoSoup

New Pokemon

Of course, what most people are anxious for is to learn more about Galar’s Pokemon. Unfortunately, the reveal trailer didn’t show any new Pokemon outside the three starters, but these three are certainly promising in their designs (and, I’m just sayin’, Grookey wins for best Sword and Shield starter).

One noticeable way the starters have changed from previous Pokemon games is their color scheme. Gen 6, and Gen 7 even more so, utilized a bright color palette for the starters, and Galar’s three are somewhat muted by comparison.

This contrasts well with the design of the surrounding region, and the chosen colors and shading strongly resemble the starter designs from Gens 2 through 6. It might have been a calculated design meant to evoke nostalgia, but even if it was not, it’s a pleasant change that goes far in separating the new Pokemon games from their immediate predecessors.

The choice of animals and overall design is a boon as well. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Alola starters, especially Litten, but there’s something about these new Pokemon that makes them seem like they’re just ready to play about and have a good time.

It's a marked contrast from earlier generations, where friendship and an anime-inspired look took a backseat to more of a wildlife-influenced approach. The Galar starters do both: they combine cuddliness with more of the wild animal look that was the guiding force behind the design in the original games.

That juxtaposition of the familiar with the exotic is what takes a generation’s starters and makes them really stand out. For example, Scorbunny is a rabbit that sets things on fire with its feet. It’s more in keeping with Torchic, the fire-breathing chicken, or the samurai otter Oshawatt — a combination of ideas that stands out as more inspired overall.

Of course, there’s bound to be some duds in the mix. The way Pokemon designs go, for every Kommo-o, you get a Vanillite thrown in somewhere. At the very least though, Sword and Shield are off to a strong start.

Returning Pokemon

Elsewhere, it looks like the lessons learned in Unova are still being applied to the pool of wild Pokemon you will encounter in the new games. Opinions change, and despite the fact that introducing all-new Pokemon in Gen 3 went over well, it bombed in Gen 5. This means that Sword and Shield may offer a wide variety of Pokemon, old and new, from the get-go.

While, of course, players will be excited to see the new Pokemon that Galar has to offer, this mix is not a bad thing. It was very successful in the first few areas of Sun and Moon, and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, as they had the best combination of Pokemon in the series to date, ranging from Munchlax and Grubbin to rarer ‘mon like Zorua.

The trailer doesn’t show a whole lot of what looks like the new games' opening areas, but it does looks like trainers can plan on fan-favorites, like Pikachu and Minccino, making an appearance early on. There is probably also Hoothoot and, if the player’s home is anything to go on, Munchlax again as well.

Beyond that, there looks to be a ton of other returning ‘mon, from favorites like Lucario to less popular choices such as Wailmer. Alola gets some representation too, with Wishiwashi making an appearance. It’s a bit odd seeing a tropical fish apparently thriving in the frigid north, but, it’s a Pokemon world, so it doesn’t have to make sense.

More Important Pokemon

There’s potentially more though, as a post on 4chan, made before the Direct aired, accurately named the games, predicted the region’s inspiration, and made mention of a new feature replacing Mega Evolutions: Armored Pokemon. The thread was taken down, but its contents made the rounds again after the Direct because its information was so close to everything that was revealed.

There wasn’t much detail about these Armored Pokemon, but the post named Charizard and Flygon, among others. It also stated that Meltan would be involved in the games’ plot and the mystery surrounding armored evolutions.

Whether any of this ends up being true is anyone’s guess, but the idea of locating Pokemon more centrally in the games' plot and additional mechanics is another new step forward for the series. Instead of just hearing NPCs talk about how central Pokemon are to daily life, we would now see them actually take part in it.

This approach could even provide the foundation for the villains’ activities, with some sort of genetic engineering (like with Mewtwo) or general, nefarious scientific plots taking center stage. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the games’ baddies be some sort of ethically challenged group of rogue academics, as opposed to another variation on the criminal gang theme. Who knows? We might even see Colress again if that ends up being the case.


Indeed it seems that there is a lot to be excited about it when it comes to Pokemon Sword and Shield. While we have only gotten a glimpse of what the games will bring, the first trailer definitely put a strong foot forward, and hopefully more details are on the way shortly.

Modus Releases Trailer For Trine 4, Announces Ultimate Collection Mon, 04 Mar 2019 17:54:56 -0500 QuintLyn

Today's a good day for fans of Frozenbyte's and Modus Games' Trine series: a new trailer has been released for the next game in the series, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince.

The game is set to release on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, both in physical and digital formats. It will boast all of the features fans of the 2.5D puzzle-filled game love, plus some new ones.

Not only will players experience the storytelling, art style, music, and puzzle-solving that the Trine series is known for, they'll also be able to play with three other friends in the series' first-ever four-player co-op experience.

In Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya reunite to search for Prince Selius, who has run away. It seems like a simple enough job, but there's one problem: the prince suffers from dark nightmares that have seeped into reality. 

Now that the trio has to fight his dreams, bringing the prince back may be harder than they thought.

Interestingly, Trine 4 isn't the only announcement the game's developers had for fans today. The Trine: Ultimate Collection was also revealed.

This physical collection will include all four entries in the series as well as the download codes for the full series soundtrack and the Trine 4 digital art book.

Fans will also receive a reversible cover sheet for their game's case and a physical map of the Trine 4 world. The entire package will cost $49.99 and is available for pre-order now.

Don't worry, though: if you'd rather not pay that much, those who purchase Trine 4 by itself will still receive the physical Trine 4 world map.

We've looked at the game's site and it appears this may be the case even if the game purchase is digital as the map is included in the list of items when Steam is selected as the retailer.

As with the Ultimate Collection, the standalone edition of Trine 4 is available for pre-order now for $29.99. Fans who preorder the Ultimate Edition or Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince by itself will receive a Trine 4 cloth poster as well as in-game goodies.

If this is your first time hearing about Trine 4, you might want to know it's on our list of most anticipated games for 2019.





ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Tips to Funk the Funk Off Mon, 04 Mar 2019 17:47:07 -0500 Ashley Shankle

The ToeJam & Earl games are weird, no one will argue that. Naturally, the pieces of advice I have to share in this guide are similarly as strange.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is so much like the original game on the Sega Genesis that players of the 1991 classic won't have much trouble learning the ropes, but there are some intricacies exclusive to Back in the Groove worth going over. 

The game tosses a ton of tips your way during its load screens and in its built-in manual, so the tips I'm laying out here are purely from my time playing the game solo before release and online after release. If you don't agree with my strats, that's cool. Part of the fun of the game is that everyone plays differently, otherwise, it'd just be boring.

"Pause" for Safety

Maybe you've noticed already, but the world around you keeps moving when you press the pause button or open your inventory.

When you pause the game, the Earthlings around you will often keep moving. Sometimes they move more slowly or halt and then scoot around, but when you're not in immediate danger, they will continue to wander around as if you're not there at all.

Opening your inventory is one of the best ways to save yourself from being hit by Earthlings. If you're just trying to get somewhere without much trouble, open your inventory or pause and let nearby Earthlings spread out a bit.

If you're about to get hit, open your inventory and use a present or two to hopefully help you out.

If you ever see an online player standing in a dangerous area with its bag open, it's probably just biding its time or trying to figure out which present to use.

Check the Crazed Dentist behind the Hitops. I used the Hitops to get out of there safely.

"Doing" the HyperFunk Zone

The HyperFunk Zone usually nets you a lot of XP, but you may not like doing it or just can't deal with lag when in an online multiplayer game. In those cases, just let the game play itself.

You get a 300 XP bonus when you get a new high score in the HyperFunk Zone, which pairs great if your Luck stat gets some bumps because Luck can make you automatically pass exits.

My general strategy is to make sure I get past the first exit the first time I do the HyperFunk Zone, and then to just let it play out in subsequent entries. Particularly in online multiplayer.

It's worth noting that using presents will net you overall more XP gains than the HyperFunk Zone, so you can skip it completely if you don't feel like playing through it.


Considering the random nature of the game, it's easy to get stuck or lost in Back in the Groove. This is especially the case when you're on higher levels and struggling to stay alive.

It's true that the presents you get are random, but there are some that you should keep once you've identified them for emergency situations like getting stuck or cornered by a bunch of Earthlings.

  • Hold onto presents that teleport you to the elevator or ship piece, or even a present that spawns an elevator, you never know when you're going to need them

  • Hold onto a Timed Teleport, Tomato Rain, Teleport to Elevator, Teleport to Ship Piece, Hitops, Spring Shoes, Gassy Tummy, or Icarus Wings so you have a way to get out of a sticky situation

  • If you don't have any of the above, hold onto a Show Hidden Paths present so you can find your way around on confusing later levels

  • If all else fails, walk around the edges of the areas you have available to try to find hidden paths yourself

About Amped Presents & Presents Between Levels

Amped beneficial presents are like the game's gift to a patient player, provided they are patient.

Some levels amp up certain presents but presents that allow you to manually amp other presents are a boon like no other. Getting increased effects or a longer duration on some presents can completely turn the tide for you.

One very important thing to bear in mind is that persistent present effects, such as Hitops or Gassy Tummy, will continue when you go up or down a level with the effect in place. So if you fall while running around with Hitops, you'll still have them on at the lower level and can quickly get back to the elevator.

This is something to keep at the back of your mind when you see a Backer Island on a level and have to leave it behind, but pick up Spring Shoes or another present on the next level that can help you reach the Backer Island. The Icarus Wings they give you are indispensable.

Use Your Presents Like It's 1999

Aside from some key presents that you know you'll need in emergency situations, it's generally to your benefit to use your presents even if they are unidentified just to make way for more presents.

Though there are a number of presents with harmful or negligible effects, most will help you on your adventure.

Once your inventory starts to get full, don't wait to get a promotion and hope for an increase to your inventory stat. Just use 'em up! Back in the Groove throws so many presents your way, there's no reason not to use them often.

It seems to be an integral part of the experience, even. Another layer of random on top of other layers of random.

Make Good Use of Friendly Earthlings

The Opera Singer and Pharaoh aren't there for their own entertainment; both are the cornerstone to an easy run.

The Opera Singer Earthling, in particular, is a huge help on most levels, as she follows you and her shrill voice will pop any Earthlings in her vicinity for a decent amount of time.

The only downsides to her are that her services cost $3, and she can and will pop the Wiseman and any other helpful Earthlings.

The Pharoah is slightly less useful, but that's reflected in his $2 service charge. He will also follow you around, but his specialty is zapping everything in range to force whatever's hiding out into view.

Money, presents, bowling balls, Earthlings you'd be surprised how much can pop out all at once when he zaps an area covered in trees.

Don't Bother Exploring Everything

Do you really need to check every house, bush, tree, and miscellaneous environmental widget you come across? Even those that your search skill tells you definitely have items? The answer to that is a hard, "No."

As you progress through the levels, you're going to spend an increasing amount of time just running away from harmful Earthlings. If you've already lost some lives and are sitting at one remaining, just getting near the wrong Earthling can mean a quick game over.

You're going to have less time to investigate every nook and cranny of the game's randomly generated areas as you progress, which is something you as a player have to accept. If you find the elevator and there is no ship piece on a level, just move on.

There is little need to stay in levels where there is no ship piece, especially if you don't need to visit the Wiseman. Sometimes it's best to just zoom straight to the elevator just to save your run, and I know I expect other players to rush to elevators when playing online. You can expect other players to as well.

Toss Out Undesirables

There are simply some presents you don't want to have in your inventory. If the wrong Earthling touches you, like a Drone, your whole run could be ruined with one bad present open.

These are presents you should probably drop as soon as you identify them:

  • Here I Am: Draws enemy attention to you
  • Bummer: Instantly kills you
  • Instant Demotion: Instantly demotes you
  • Major Randomizer: There are uses for Randomizer presents, but it seems like Major gets randomly selected more than others; I tend to just drop all but one Baby Randomizer

If I'm having an easy time, I'll also drop Rootbeers. The healing does not make up for the hiccups.

Any time you are getting low on inventory space, either toss or use some presents. "Use it or lose it," as they say.

Online Hosts Can Kick Problem Players

If you're hosting online and have one player who refuses to move up levels or is purposefully griefing, you can pause the game and kick them if you need to.

I've been playing almost exclusively on Random Hard online as host, and have had plenty of players join my games near the end of the run and die on purpose to net themselves a free completion.

After the first few times this happened, I caught on and started to kick players looking for a free ride.

This is also something to keep in mind if you're hosting and another player just falls three or four times from one stage. I know the game can be tough, but no one's got unlimited time to wait on others.

The Art of (Not) Sneaking

You can sneak in Back to the Groove, but your best defense and detection avoidance option isn't sneaking at all. It's interacting with the environment.

I mentioned way at the top that opening your inventory does not make Earthlings stop in their tracks, and you can use that to your advantage. There's a little more you can do, though.

When you have dialogue with a friendly Earthling, it immediately causes harmful Earthlings to lose track of you. This also happens when you feed coins into meters and push buttons to open secret doors  just interacting with those items for a split second will cause enemies to lose aggro for just a moment, and perhaps give up on you completely.

Situation: De-escalated.

This does not work when shaking trees or bushes or what have you. You will still be paid attention to and hit when investigating. And of course, you can always dodge Earthlings by jumping into water if you have to.

Special Shout Out to Sunflowers

Speaking of (not) sneaking: Sunflowers.

The game tells you that you can use sunflower patches to hide, but have you really tried?

Stepping into a sunflower patch immediately cuts enemy aggro and even lets you avoid damage if you're about to get hit, provided you step into the patch fast enough.

With this in mind, if you're in a playthrough where you're having a lot of trouble, try to find some sunflowers and do a search while standing among them.

You can use the sunflower patch as a safe haven for wandering around the area and looting. If you draw the ire of an Earthling that's going to mess your day up, just run back to the sunflower patch and wait for your moment to leave again, then get back to it.

This has saved at least one of my runs.


There are certainly many more intricacies to learn and work with in ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove, but these here are the ones that have helped me most on my Random Hard runs and have pushed me to complete one after the other. Funk be with you!

How To Play Ironclad In Slay the Spire Sat, 02 Mar 2019 10:00:02 -0500 Jordan Baranowski

Slay the Spire moved out of Early Access just over a month ago, which means most of its central mechanics and strategies are now in place. As new players come to check out this hybrid deckbuilder/roguelike, they will undoubtedly want to know some effective strategies to conquering the tower.

In this guide, we'll be looking at the Ironclad, the first class offered to players in Slay the Spire. This class may seem simple, but there are actually a variety of paths you can take when building them up. There are also many viable strategies and cards that work in multiple builds, so being adaptive is important.

We'll start by going over the basics of the Ironclad, and then we'll move into some of the most effective builds. With this guide, you'll be racking up Ascensions and win streaks in no time.

Ironclad Basics

Starting Relic

The Ironclad's starting relic is called Burning Blood, and it will heal you for six points at the end of every combat. This makes it easier to upgrade your deck, as you won't have to use rest areas as often in order to heal yourself. It also gives you a bit of wiggle room with combat math, allowing you to play a slightly more risky style.


Every class can upgrade strength, but the Ironclad is the most focused on the stat. Several cards for the Ironclad see a huge boost in effectiveness as your strength increases, allowing you, if you so choose, to focus mainly on defense while waiting for your heavy hitting attacks to come online.

Ironclad Builds

As mentioned, there are many paths you can take with the Ironclad, but defense should be a central focus, especially on higher Ascensions. Most, but not all, of the effective Ironclad builds are designed to weather the storm before bursting down your enemies with extremely powerful attacks.

Barricade + Body Slam

This is, arguably, the most consistent build for the Ironclad. If you can obtain an early Barricade, this is generally the build to drive for. Calipers is also a suitable alternative, though it isn't as effective

From there, simply build up your block as high as you can, grabbing Entrenches to double it up. Then, you can you use one of two types of finishers for the build.

Typically, this finisher will be Body Slams. However, through upgrading your strength (Demon Form is beautiful in this deck), powerful attacks like Heavy Blade and Whirlwind are also viable if Body Slams were not pulled.

Dropkick Infinite

This is exactly what it sounds like: going infinite with Dropkick.

If you can reduce the size of your deck (either by removing cards or using exhaust abilities), you can go infinite with multiple copies of Dropkick and any card that inflicts vulnerability, like the Bash that you start the game with. This will allow you to draw through your whole deck until any enemy is defeated. 

It's a simple and effective build, but there are some drawbacks. For one, it can stumble against enemies that use thorns or build up defense in response to you attacking them.

Also, without a backup plan, you're in trouble if it doesn't work out. If you can't put it together perfectly, or you just run into a troublesome fight, you won't have any strategic options to get yourself back in the game.

Perfected Strike

This one is particularly satisfying when it all comes together. By picking up copies of any card with "Strike" in the name (Strike, Pommel Strike, Twin Strike, Wild Strike, or, best of all, another copy of Perfected Strike), you make a card that can deal massive amounts of damage with no real muss.

Dual Wield is powerful in this deck, making all your Perfected Strike cards more effective. This is a highly offense-based deck, and you should look for energy boosting cards, card draw, and powerful defensive options that can help you to survive for one more turn.

Searing Blow

This is similar to the Perfected Strike build, but it focuses on a small deck with one massively upgraded Searing Blow card. You can upgrade this card as many times as you want, and it will single shot a lot of enemies, and kill bosses in just a few hits, when you start getting to the 10+ upgrade range.

Basically, all this deck wants is one copy of Searing Blow, upgrade cards (like Apotheosis and Armaments), card draw, and a few other randoms if you can find them. Double Tap is phenomenal in this deck, and Dual Wield is excellent once you've got your Searing Blow upgraded a few times.

Card Draw + Fiend Fire

With this build you want to get your hand as big as you can, and then use Fiend Fire to burst down dangerous enemies and mop up the rest. Strength is amazing in a deck like this, and a full hand, plus a few strength, will kill almost anything in a single hit. Burn it all down.

Cards To Look Out For

Because of the versatility of the Ironclad, there are not a lot of "must have" cards that work in every build. Moving forward with the ability to adapt is the best way to succeed with the class, and sometimes a "good stuff" deck will work if you stumble into the right encounters.

Powers are very useful with the Ironclad, since most builds focus on prolonging a fight while you set up a big burst turn. However, you want to make sure to look for powerful cards early that can push you towards a certain build.  


If this is a choice early on, it is one you should almost always grab. Level two and three bosses can do insane damage, especially in higher Ascension levels, so being able to stack up your defense, and use up your hand to do so, is always welcome.

Demon Form

This is another card that is useful in almost any deck. Demon Form allows you to sit back, and block any damage that comes your way, before unleashing absolute destruction on your enemies. After a few turns of sitting on Demon From, even lowly Strike cards become death machines.

Battle Trance

More options are almost always better, and Battle Trance is one of the best ways to give yourself those options. Grab a few copies early if you can — it will make your decisions much easier throughout the rest of your run.

Shrug It Off

Unless you are building a deck that doesn't want you to have a big deck, there is almost no deck that won't benefit from a few copies of this card. It will stop most early enemies in their tracks, help you set up combos, and get you to your heavy hitters as quickly as possible. If you don't have a bomb choice when adding a card to your deck, just Shrug It Off.


Just because the Ironclad is the "Default" class in Slay the Spire does not mean that it is dummy mode. There are a lot of choices to make, and the class's adaptability makes some of those decisions agonizing on higher Ascensions.

Don't be afraid to skip adding cards to your deck if you don't see one that will help your strategy. Also, don't be scared to exhaust cards in fights; the Ironclad will give you a lot of options to help decimate your enemies.