Wayforward  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Wayforward  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network WayForward Surprises Half-Genie Hero Fans With Jammies Mode Update https://www.gameskinny.com/ado5v/wayforward-surprises-half-genie-hero-fans-with-jammies-mode-update https://www.gameskinny.com/ado5v/wayforward-surprises-half-genie-hero-fans-with-jammies-mode-update Wed, 01 Aug 2018 09:21:15 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Coming out of nowhere and surprising everybody, WayForward has released one final, free DLC campaign for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, several months after the release of the game's Ultimate Edition. The added campaign is the new "Jammies Mode", which provides a new set of moves for Shantae and a re-written story.

"Jammies Mode" sees Shantae traversing Sequin Land in order to hand out invitations to her ultimate slumber party to everyone she knows, which she's hosting as a way of saying thank you to everyone for helping her on her journey. In this mode, Shantae has the ability to float on a dream cloud, bounce sleepy sheep across the screen, and pillow-fight enemies' pants off.

As yet another added surprise included with the update is a new Transformation Dance for Shantae, allowing her to transform into the tank Sophia III from Blaster Master Zero, in which Shantae made a cameo as DLC. The dance can be obtained from the game's snake merchant lady upon purchasing and trading in the Super Revive Dance

WayForward announced the free update for all versions of the game out of nowhere, and cited it as the team's way of saying "thank you" to everybody that supported the game throughout its long, extensive development process. The most recent update on the game's Kickstarter reads:

"Jammies Mode" is our way of saying [sic] THANK YOU to everyone who supported this campaign! We hope you’ll accept this gift, along with our warmest and most heartfelt appreciation for funding this project. We would never have made this game if it weren’t for you!

On behalf of our Backers, and with the cooperation of our partners at Xseed, Pqube, and Amuzio, we are launching this free content update today on all platforms, all versions, all over the world, to Backers and non-Backers. In this way we hope to spread your generosity to the next generation of Shantae fans!!

"Jammies Mode" and the optional Sophia III transformation dance are now available as free updates for all versions of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. You can view a trailer for the "Shantae Summer Surprise" Down Below:

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Dodge Club Pocket Review: A Throwdown in the Retro Underground https://www.gameskinny.com/ji98e/dodge-club-pocket-review-a-throwdown-in-the-retro-underground https://www.gameskinny.com/ji98e/dodge-club-pocket-review-a-throwdown-in-the-retro-underground Fri, 01 Jun 2018 13:22:33 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Dodge Club Pocket on the 3DS is a game with a surprising bit of history behind it. It's technically the third installment in a series of games developed by James Montagna, a lone indie game developer and director who has spent a fair bit of time at WayForward, and who has, among other things, worked in some way on every Shantae title, Cat Girl Without Salad, and all of WayForward's Adventure Time games.

The original Dodge Club game was a highly simplistic game that was shown off at night clubs and festivals as it was toured across North America, and it tasked players with controlling a single giant pixel as it dodged around a fireball in an arena.The general gaming public wouldn't get a taste of what Dodge Club had to offer until a multiplayer-focused sequel titled Dodge Club Party was released for the Wii U.

Montagna continued to experiment with the series' formula of dodging hazards in a square arena, and eventually made a mobile Dodge Club game called Dodge Club Pocket, which he later tweaked and gussied up a bit before re-releasing it in its enhanced state on the 3DS eShop. It has been over two months since the game was released, and barely anyone seemed to notice or acknowledge the game's existence much at all, if the two individual user ratings for it on the eShop (at time of writing) are any indication.

Even after releasing to no major fanfare, and in the face of everything else coming out on the Nintendo Switch recently, is it worth busting out your 3DS and putting down $5 on this scrappy little underground fighter?

Let me tell you the story of the most popular underground sport of 20XX.

It's Time to Square Off -- Literally

Dodge Club Pocket is an extremely simple game to understand and play. You control a big, bulky square that represents one of the many inspired young women trying to make it to the top of the Dodge Club Leagues, and you must beat each level by knowing when to duck, dodge, hold still, speed up, and so on. The game has 64 levels, all of which have different conditions you must satisfy in order to complete them. The levels get progressively harder as you go on, though any level but the last one can be selected at any time. You can also play the original Dodge Club mode, but it's really just a tacked-on little bonus.

Most levels' objective will just be a standard variation of dodging the fireball that spawns in the center of the arena and the spark that hugs the walls, but soon after you grasp the basics, the game starts to get more and more creative with its win conditions. Some levels require you to take a certain number of "steps" before the timer runs out (while still dodging obstacles), some levels pay homage to other classic games like Pac-Man, and some multiply the number of obstacles on screen as time passes.

The game always has you guessing and rethinking your strategy, and should you ever get really frustrated with a particular level, then you can just select another one and come back to it later. It also helps that you can control the game using either the touch screen, D-pad, or control stick, so there's minor variations on the controls available for any occasion and any player.  

 

This right here? This is gameplay. It might not look like much, but when it gets going, this game can be genuinely intense.

It's a game that I found myself oddly invested in, and I kept finding myself coming back to it when I wanted something simple and fun to play that wasn't on my phone. With the challenges rarely ever taking longer than three minutes, the one-hit deaths, and the easy-to-understand objectives and controls, Dodge Club Pocket kept me effectively hooked with its simple gameplay.

It definitely helps that the presentation is very chipper and cute, due largely to the character art and illustrations provided by artist linzbot, which gives the game a very upbeat, laid-back attitude. Playing through the main game will also unlock things like new songs for the catchy soundtrack, new characters to play as (palette swaps for your square), little bits of real-life Dodge Club history, and even comics and bios detailing the backstory and plot of the Dodge Club world and its characters. James and linz really didn't need to add this level of personality to the game to make it work, but they did anyway, and it is all the more charming for it.

 If this bio for Speck doesn't make you smile, then I don't think you're playing the right game. Or that we can be friends.

It's Not All Cute Girls and Atari Graphics

I do have some issues with the game, and while they are mainly just nitpicks, in a game this small, a nitpick is something that could sever a limb from its fragile little body. First off, while the number of challenges is perfectly sizable and they don't repeat themselves too often to be samey, there really isn't much incentive to play the game again once you've completed it. Once you've seen everything the game has to offer and unlocked all the little songs, comics, and concept art, then you've got no real surprises or secrets to uncover; the game has been thoroughly beaten.

On top of that, the graphics are fine, and the art is very cute and stylish, as I mentioned, but the visuals lack a bit of flare. Porting the game from mobile might have been a good opportunity to make the visuals look a little more flashy in the menu and level select screens in order to possibly attract a new audience, but for the most part, the game looks about the same as it did before. It is nice that the bottom screen reminds you what the objective is and how to pause and exit, but that bit of design is about the biggest visual difference between the two versions of the game.

The biggest issue I have with the game is its lack of a basic pause or quick-restart option. In order to pause the game, you have to hit the 3DS' home button, which works, but it's still a slower way to pause and un-pause than just pressing the start button like in most games. Instead, here the pause button allows you to exit to menu, and only if you hold it down for a second or two. I understand that holding down the button was likely a precaution made to stop people from quitting out of a level on accident, but it's basically faster to just fail on purpose and get kicked back to the menu that way.

Every time you die, you're forced to watch a little animation and hear a little failure jingle before you can start again. With no way to skip it, no way to restart a challenge quickly, and frequent deaths as the difficulty mounts up, it can be very annoying after a while. These minor nitpicks are really my only major issues with the game worth mentioning, and for a game this small and simple, it really nails the rest of the basics, which is all you can ask for, I guess.  

I'd Say It's Worth Skipping Lunch One Day to Buy This

The obvious question now is why should you buy Dodge Club Pocket on the 3DS for actual money when the mobile version is free. It's a pretty simple answer really: The 3DS version is mostly the same but has slight advantages that make it better. The presentation has been smoothed out and expanded just a bit, there's a bit more content, and the controls employing both the touch screen and buttons are much better than the mobile version, with the added bonus of your finger not blocking your view of the screen.

Not to mention, at an asking price of $5 for several hours of fun and challenging gameplay, it doesn't seem like too difficult a thing to skip your caramel latte for the day and spend that money on supporting an aspiring indie game developer instead. So maybe try out the mobile version first if you'd like to get the general idea of what the game is like, and then go all-in on the 3DS version if you don't mind paying a bit for a better version of more or less the same game.

Overall, I enjoyed the couple of hours I managed to squeeze out of Dodge Club Pocket. Sure, it isn't revolutionary or terribly big, but that's really not what it's meant to be. It's a fun little game that you whip out to play for maybe five minutes to try and complete a challenge, only to look up soon after to realize you've been playing for half an hour.

It's a humble game with no pretense behind it that just seeks to challenge and entertain its audience, and I would say it succeeds. It's fun, challenging, charming, and easy to pick up and play no matter who you are.

Dodge Club Pocket is available now for $5 on 3DS and for free on mobile devices, though the 3DS version is just that little bit better.

(Assorted press images provided by James Montagna)

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition Releases Today https://www.gameskinny.com/5ci63/shantae-half-genie-hero-ultimate-edition-releases-today https://www.gameskinny.com/5ci63/shantae-half-genie-hero-ultimate-edition-releases-today Tue, 08 May 2018 13:54:03 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

The Ultimate Edition of acclaimed Metroivania game Shantae: Half-Genie Hero has been released today on digital storefronts.

After a number of individual releases for DLC and free updates over the past few years, the final commercial edition of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is digitally available on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. The Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition includes all of the DLC and content updates previously released for the game, as well as several pieces of content previously available only to backers of Kickstarter, including various costumes and the ability to transform into a Tinkerbat.

There is also a limited physical retail version of the game on Nintendo Switch, published by XSeed Games, dubbed the "Ultimate Day One Edition," which can be purchased while it lasts from WayForward's official site. This physical edition comes with a special case which contains the game, a 25-page manual, a soundtrack CD, and an art book.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was first released in 2016 following its successful funding campaign on Kickstarter, where it managed to meet about half of its projected stretch goals. This is the fourth game in the series, but it's the first to be made from the ground up for consoles rather than handhelds. It stars the eponymous Shantae, who has retrieved her genie transformation powers since her last adventure, and must now defend Sequin Land from a swath of new threats in order to help her uncle build a machine to protect her home of Scuttle Town.

Shantae's tale is the main story, but the Ultimate Edition also includes the additional DLC campaigns that add to the story, "Friends to the End" and "Pirate Queen's Quest," as well as the Costume Pack DLC, which allows the player to run through Shantae's adventure again with entirely new mechanics and tweaked plotlines and dialogue.

"Friends to the End" has Shantae's friends Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops working together and utilizing their unique abilities to save Shantae from her evil doppelganger Nega-Shantae, who has trapped Shantae in her own twisted memories.

"Pirate Queen's Quest" takes place in tandem with the main story, and has Shantae's rival Risky Boots traversing Sequin Land and laying the foundation for her evil plan, playing around with tools similar to the pirate gear from Shantae and the Pirate's Curse.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Ultimate Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Be sure to stick with GameSkinny for all things Shantae, and let us know if you plan on picking it up!

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Costume Pack DLC Release Date Confirmed https://www.gameskinny.com/nr7ou/shantae-half-genie-hero-costume-pack-dlc-release-date-confirmed https://www.gameskinny.com/nr7ou/shantae-half-genie-hero-costume-pack-dlc-release-date-confirmed Fri, 06 Apr 2018 14:17:11 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

WayForward has released a new trailer for the final DLC add-on to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, which is set to be the final piece of DLC for the game, simply titled "Costume Pack." While the title of the DLC is simple, the DLC itself is much more than just new outfits for Shantae, as each costume comes with its own unique mechanics and alternative story modes to the main game. 

The pack contains three outfits/modes for Shantae. First, there's the ninja, which prioritizes swift movement and utilizing new techniques such as wall jumping, throwing stars, and short-range teleportation. There's the Beach Costume, which also comes with its own moves, that adds a new heat mechanic that necessitates that Shantae not stay in the sun too long without sunscreen or a quick duck in the shade, which adds a ticking clock element to the gameplay. Lastly, there's the Officer Costume, which pays direct homage to WayForward's Mighty Switch Force! series of puzzle games and allows Shantae to phase certain blocks in the environment in and out of existence as she hunts down escaped criminal hooligans.

These modes will also all have their own "what-if" storylines, with new dialogue and voice acting as well as different end-screens based on the player's item collection skills and speed in completing them. And similar to the previous "Friends to the End" DLC, players will be able to gradually level up the strength of Shantae's weapons in each mode as they progress. 

The "Costume Pack" DLC for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be available on all platforms on April 10. The DLC will be free to all the backers of the game, as all previous DLC was, and will be included in the full package of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero DLC "Friends to the End" Release Date Confirmed https://www.gameskinny.com/owjv5/shantae-half-genie-hero-dlc-friends-to-the-end-release-date-confirmed https://www.gameskinny.com/owjv5/shantae-half-genie-hero-dlc-friends-to-the-end-release-date-confirmed Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:26:47 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

The recently announced DLC for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, "Friends to the End," which will have the player taking control of Shantae's friends Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops, has been given an official trailer and a release date of December 12th. The expansion will have the player swapping between the three allies of Shantae on the fly, using their unique abilities to rescue their friend from her dark counterpart Nega-Shantae.

WayForward Technologies announced in the latest Kickstarter update for the game that the "Friends to the End" expansion will be released on December 12th to the public, and they are currently sending out codes of the DLC to backers of the game, though there has been a bit of confusion due to a temporary shortage of codes from WayForward's partners.

The trailer showed off a bit of gameplay for each of the three characters and demonstrated how the player can swap between the three on the fly in order to take on enemies and solve puzzles in a manner similar to games like TrineMystical Ninja Starring Goemon, and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. It was also revealed that the campaign will feature a few new levels not seen elsewhere in the main game or its other DLC, in which the team of tagalongs will navigate through nightmare worlds of Nega-Shantae's creation. 

If you'd like more details on the gameplay of "Friends to the End," then you can check out our article about the expansion or head to the expansion's Kickstarter page.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition Announced for Switch Retail https://www.gameskinny.com/m1p72/shantae-half-genie-hero-ultimate-edition-announced-for-switch-retail https://www.gameskinny.com/m1p72/shantae-half-genie-hero-ultimate-edition-announced-for-switch-retail Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:40:51 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Video game publisher XSEED Games announced yesterday that Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will not only be getting a physical release on the Nintendo Switch, but that it will also be the first release of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition.  

XSEED claimed that not only will the Ultimate Edition contain the recently released Pirate Queen's Quest campaign mode for Risky Boots, but it will also contain the upcoming character DLC for the Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops. The statement also contained the first bit of news in a long while regarding the alternate costume modes for Shantae that were promised during the original Kickstarter.

XSEED made the announcement on their Facebook, stating that:

"Not only that, the Ultimate Edition will come with 'Friends Mode' and 'Costume Mode'! In Friends Mode, Shantae’s pals Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops must survive Shantae’s Nightmare and save their friend from doom, while Costume Mode provides three new arcade-style adventures; Dash, slash, and teleport as Ninja Shantae, work on your tan as Beach Shantae, or alter the level around you ‘Mighty Switch Force’ style as Officer Shantae!"

There isn't any information yet about the game's release date, nor any specifics regarding the not-yet released character DLC -- but XSEED promised that more details will be revealed in the near future. You can stay up to date with announcements from XSEED by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – Pirate Queen’s Quest Releases Today https://www.gameskinny.com/wgjqu/shantae-half-genie-hero-pirate-queens-quest-releases-today https://www.gameskinny.com/wgjqu/shantae-half-genie-hero-pirate-queens-quest-releases-today Tue, 29 Aug 2017 16:48:47 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

The first DLC character campaign for Shantae: Half-Genie Herotitled Pirate Queen's Curse, is now available for purchase on all platforms. The DLC campaign is the first of four character campaigns, with the other three planned for the future revolving around the characters Bolo, Sky, and Rottytops.  

The campaign sees the player taking control of Shantae's arch-nemesis, Risky Boots, in a story-line that parallels the main Shantae campaign. The DLC campaign uses a completely different play-style that is more in line with the previous installment in the Shantae series, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. Instead of Shantae's magical belly-dancing animal transformations, Risky will harness the power her tools, such as using her hat to float, her cannon to jump higher, and her pistol to attack from a distance, just to name a few.

The DLC is free to all backers of the game's Kickstarter (as will all future DLC updates), and will cost $10 for everyone else. Whether or not the $10 will carry over to the future DLC campaigns is yet to be seen. 

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - Pirate Queen's Quest is now available for download on Xbox One, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Coming to Nintendo Switch This Summer https://www.gameskinny.com/yt62p/shantae-half-genie-hero-coming-to-nintendo-switch-this-summer https://www.gameskinny.com/yt62p/shantae-half-genie-hero-coming-to-nintendo-switch-this-summer Fri, 12 May 2017 13:20:47 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

WayForward Technologies' 2D Metroidvania platformer Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, the most recent installment in the Shantae series, has been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch and set to release this Summer.

WayForward has given a few details about the game, such as the expected launch window of Summer and the promise of incorporating the Switch's HD rumble feature into the game. Based on the announcement poster for the Switch port, and it's tag-line, "Feel the beat this Summer", the HD rumble capability may be integrated into the rhythm of Shantae's dancing, among other places. 

Details on the actual release of the game were given on the company's Twitter, with the promise of more details somwhere down the line: 

Shantae: Half-Genier Hero is currently available for a number of platforms in conjunction with the Switch, including the Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. For an expanded look at the game itself, you can read our review here.

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review -- Another Strong Installment In A Great Series https://www.gameskinny.com/0ab8a/shantae-half-genie-hero-review-another-strong-installment-in-a-great-series https://www.gameskinny.com/0ab8a/shantae-half-genie-hero-review-another-strong-installment-in-a-great-series Sat, 17 Dec 2016 09:47:54 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the fourth installment in the long-running Shantae series, and comes to us from WayForward Technologies, the venerable independent developer responsible for games like Double Dragon Neon, DuckTales: Remastered and A Boy and His Blob. 

The physical versions of Half-Genie Hero were also published by XSEED Games (now known as Marvelous USA). 

The game was a product of a Kickstarter by WayForward launched back in 2013, and it surpassed it's goal of $400K with a total of nearly $950K while also reaching most of its stretch goals. It is the first entry in the series made for consoles, and likely set to be the largest in the series so far, with two main campaigns to play through and character DLC coming later down the pipeline.

The questions are: Has this jump to more advanced tech benefited the series, can it surpass the previous entries in the series and was the Kickstarter success warranted? 

Let's dance through the danger and find out.

The Superb Simplicity of Shantae's Structure

Shantae: Helf-Genie Hero is, like the three previous games in the Shantae series, a 2D Platformer with elements of Metroidvania. You jump around, collect items and whip enemies with your hair as has always been the case.

There are five main worlds to tackle, all linear platforming stages loaded with secrets and collectibles, and there is a hub-world in the form of Scuttle Town, where you go to buy items, talk to people and further the plot in between levels.

Like previous installments, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero involves a lot of exploration, item collecting and backtracking. The game's world as a whole is similar in size if slightly larger than that of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which means it's decently sized and packed with secrets. But thankfully, big changes have been made to traveling in Half-Genie Hero that make back-tracking much less of a hassle (see below). 

From Scuttle Town you travel to the world map where you then choose where you want to go among the levels you've unlocked, and you also get a tally of how many of the hidden collectibles you've found in each level, so you can easily track your progression. 

Shantae and Sky selecting a stage on the World Map.

You are also given a whistle near the start of the game that allows you to exit any level at any time and take you back to the World Map. This removes the need for backtracking to town that was handled less effectively in the previous titles.

Each level is divided into segments, each separated by a save screen that acts as a checkpoint if you get a game over. In addition to the whistle, you also get access early on to a dance that allows you to warp between the starts of the segments of levels you've already completed.

This makes traveling around Sequin Land easier than it ever has been, not to mention more enjoyable. 

In terms of mechanics, as is typical of the Shantae series, WayForward nails the basic and introduces great new elements while ditching the older, more negative ones. The controls are enjoyably tight and responsive, and the strategies and abilities required in the diverse array of situations that the game presents allow for constant variety in challenge and gameplay.

One moment you could be leaping between flying carpets in a brief auto-scrolling level that ends with a boss fight against two airships, and the next moment you could be going on a quest for a sword to give to some snooty guy in order to get a silly hat for an elderly Blobfish (no, seriously).

 Shantae using the fully upgraded fire spell - The flamethrower.

And while the levels are, somewhat disappointingly, the typical selection of Shantae locations with only a few surprises, they are still visually diverse as well as excellently designed around Shantae's basic abilities.

On that note, returning from the first two Shantae titles are her magical transformation dances, which allow her to transform into a wide assortment of animals.

Throughout the course of the story campaign, Shantae is rewarded with a new animal transformation at the end of each chapter, as well as a few optional ones available for purchase and some scattered around the world. These all provide her with new abilities to bypass specific obstacles and do things that the vanilla Shantae cannot.

These range from classic fan-favorites, like the high-jumping gap-shooting monkey, to new transformations such as the crab for underwater platforming and secret searching, and the mouse for navigating tiny maze-like passages.

Crab Shantae gently floating between exploding mine enemies.

Additionally, there are many different upgrades for these forms (both optional and required), and the act of finding and using them all when they're needed just adds another layer of enjoyment to exploring the world.

Admittedly, some of these abilities don't end being used very often and could have been fleshed out into more major mechanics, but even then nothing is useless and everything is utilized to its full potential at least once.

The Biggest New Addition to Gameplay

The largest change to Half-Genie Hero's gameplay from the previous titles in the series is in the form of the new customizable magic and relic system. Returning from Shantae: Risky's Revenge are the magic bar and staple magic attacks, such as the storm puff and bubble shield.

These optional in-game purchases allow Shantae to attack from a distance in a variety of ways or defend herself from different forms of attacks. They also all each have a number of upgrades that incrementally make them all progressively more powerful and diversified. 

On top of these magical attacks, there are a number of helpful relics that act as power-ups that can be both found and purchased throughout the game. Their uses range from speeding up the time of your transformation dances to reducing the damage you take by half.

But the truly interesting thing about them, that also works in tandem with the magical spells, is that they are completely optional, and can, in fact, have their effects switched on and off from the pause menu.

 Managing relics on the pause screen.

This offers both a great deal of customization in how the player wants to upgrade Shantae and approach combat and acts as the game's difficulty settings.

While Half-Genie Hero is not an easy game, it is rarely ever very hard, and so those looking for an additional challenge will be expected to impose it on themselves. By enabling some relics, or by going out of their way to avoid health upgrades, the player essentially chooses their own difficulty level.

If you so desire, you can collect all upgrades and steamroll the final boss like you've got cheat codes on, or you can ignore them all and struggle through an immensely challenging yet rewarding campaign. The choice is yours. 

The Song and Dance of Shantae's Presentation

Aesthetically speaking, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is clean, cute, colorful and charming in its craftsmanship.

The use of 2D hand-drawn characters in the foreground against 3D environments is effective at creating a distinct look, and it does a good job of bringing the classic pixel aesthetic of the series' past into a new cartoonish style.

Shantae fighting Tinkerslug, the first boss.

As is typical of WayForward, the animations are impressive and fluid, the characters are all emotive in their actions, and the whole world feels alive through the simple details of things like rising chests and rustling clothes.

The writing and dialogue are also as strong as ever. The conversations between characters can range from serious to confrontational to often outright hilarious, which makes all the characters feel unique from one another as well as add to the game's immersion factor.

Half-Genie Hero's soundtrack is done, once again, by series-veteran composer Jake Kaufman. Each track is perfectly fitting for each stage and important story moment (it might even be worth shelling out some extra cash for the "Risky Beats" edition of the game that comes with the soundtrack on CD).

The soundtrack is less midi than previous games' and actually utilizes a variety of real instruments, from saxophone to bass guitar, and occasionally mixes the two genres together to create a very unique sound.

The story of Half-Genie Hero is nothing amazing as far as platformers go, but it still has plenty of charming and comedic moments, with a few bits of characteristic tenderness sprinkled throughout.

While there is an overarching goal that moves the plot forward, involving Shantae collecting parts for her Uncle Mimic's new invention, each world and their respective required visit back has their own villain to defeat and conflict to conquer.

All of these elements, combined with the colorful hand-drawn visuals, makes each of the main chapters feel like an episode of some sort, like a Shantae cartoon show. 

This does mean that the story is a bit less rigidly structured and character focused than Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, which may be disappointing to some fans, but rest assured that the plot is still solid and gives a decent amount of attention to Shantae's friends, as well as peanut gallery of newcomers. 

On top of this, the game runs flawlessly even on low-end PCs, allowing the smooth graphics and animations (with a buttery frame-rate) to be enjoyed by nearly anyone.

How Much There Is Here (And What's to Come)

An average player could likely beat Half-Genie Hero in around 5-6 hours -- if they weren't going out of their way to collect everything -- while players going for 100% might take upwards of 7 hours. 

The overall length of the game isn't bad, as the story is fully told and the mechanics all fully explored within that time, but as a sequel, it's a bit pokey.

The previous installment Shantae and the Pirate's Curse was only slightly shorter in an average playthrough, but as a sequel made from the ground-up for consoles, it only seems right that it would be noticeably larger.

Then again, seeing as how this is almost certainly due to how much funding the main campaign got through the Kickstarter, it can't really be helped, and it would be unfair to call it an oversight.

Shantae creator Matt Bozon has stated that unmet stretch goals from the Kickstarter could be added later if the game does well enough, but it's just a possibility and only time will tell.

This criticism may also end up becoming moot in the near future, as WayForward does have a free campaign planned for Shantae's arch nemesis in the works.

Her campaign will supposedly utilize entirely new mechanics in the form of "tinker tools" that function similarly to the upgrades in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, will be about as long as Shantae's campaign, and will be a free update.

On top of that, due to hitting their $900K stretch goal, WayForward will also later be releasing shorter campaigns for the characters Sky, Bolo and Rottytops, all of which will have their own storyline and unique gameplay mechanics.

However, unlike the Risky Boots campaign, these will be released as payed DLC. As of this writing, no price or release date for them has been announced. 

 

In conclusion...

Half-Genie Hero is a prime example of a Kickstarter-funded game that actually lived up to the excitement it generated, rather than disappointing fans and the general public with an unimpressive product that we could have simply gone on living without. It's a game that's clearly a labor of love, as evidence has shown each Shantae game has been, and WayForward's passion for their work is something they wear on their sleeves.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a splendid 2D Platformer packed with enough charm and new ideas to make the 6-7 hours it will take to beat it worth every second of gameplay and every dollar spent.

Judging it solely on what content is present at the moment, and ignoring, for now, the promises of what's to come, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is worth your time and money if you're looking for a great 2D platformer -- or just a fun game in general. 

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero will be available for digital download on December 20th for Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, and PC. Physical copies of Half-Genie Hero will be available for PS4 and PS Vita on December 20th and for Wii U on December 27th. 

You can also check out the game's official website for more information. 

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The Best Indie Devs to Work for in 2016, According to Employees https://www.gameskinny.com/y4p8z/the-best-indie-devs-to-work-for-in-2016-according-to-employees https://www.gameskinny.com/y4p8z/the-best-indie-devs-to-work-for-in-2016-according-to-employees Sat, 05 Nov 2016 14:26:35 -0400 Janette Ceballos

In a world where indie game companies can range from hundreds of employees to a small handful, it’s a hassle figuring out which developers are worth applying to.

Using websites like Glassdoor.com, employees can leave reviews describing the ways different companies work and how they fall short in certain areas -- answering questions lots of questions about the company's work conditions and treatment of employees. It's a great resource for anyone looking for work with one of those developers -- or for anyone (like us) who just want to see which indie developers are the best to work for.

Considering the workplace management, workload, and company perks, we've rounded up a list of a few top-rated independent game developers who, according to their own employees, are great companies to be part of.

DAEDALIC Entertainment

This Hamburg-based company is one of Germany’s most profound developers, with a strong focus on narrative and characters in its games. They are currently in developing The Long Journey Home, a space exploration RPG to be released later this year. (And their demo for another upcoming game, State of Mind, got included in our round-up of the best demos from PAX West 2016.)

Pros:

  • Good working atmosphere
  • Small dedicated teams
  • Flexible hours
  • Wide range of projects

Cons:

  • No overtime payment
  • Many last-minute management decisions that could lead to huge redesigns of a game near completion

“Great team, great games, chaotic production.

Advice to Management: Use a proper development planning method (in our team, there was none at all).”

-- Former Employee (Intern in Hamburg, Germany)

 

Psyonix

Responsible for Rocket League, the game that straps rockets to cars and lets you go nuts, this small company located in San Diego, California also publishes work for other developers in the industry.

Pros:

  • Nice people, friendly environment
  • Fun and wide range of projects
  • Very little crunch
  • Beer Friday

Cons:

  • Many responsibilities at times due to few employees
  • The environment can be too laid-back
  • Very little HR
  • Poor management at times

"Potentially a good studio, but lots of growing to do.

Probably a good place for someone just getting into game development. Staff is young, and seems to enjoy mentoring junior developers.”

--Former Employee (San Diego, CA)

Insomniac Studios

This developer has been around since 1994, creating the Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet and Clank series. Their current games includes Edge of Nowhere for the Oculus Rift and the Metroidvania-style game Song of the Deep.

Pros:

  • Collaborative workplace culture
  • Great work/life balance
  • Paid two-week vacation at the end of the year
  • Company cares about its employees
  • Health benefits

Cons:

  • Scattered focus due to the large number of projects
  • Fast pace and long crunch times

“Everyone contributes ideas, good variety of work, big games without huge teams, everyone is incredibly driven.”

-- Current Employee

From the sound of it, these indie developers are the place to be if you want the best of the best when it comes to work environment and benefits. Are they the companies you expected to see? What others did you think would end up on this list? Let me know in the comments!

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The Interesting and Rocky History of the Shantae Series https://www.gameskinny.com/mtbui/the-interesting-and-rocky-history-of-the-shantae-series https://www.gameskinny.com/mtbui/the-interesting-and-rocky-history-of-the-shantae-series Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:10:19 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Some game series have success right out of the gate. Some series have a slow start as they emerge from humble beginnings. Then there are series like Shantae, where almost every game is funded out of the pocket of the developers, and nearly three console generations and 10 years of time separate the first and second installments.

Today we talk about the Shantae series; A series of platformer video games with a truly admirable tale of dedication attached to its creation and its duration in the tossing tides of the video game industry.

Let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start.

Shantae was the first original IP by developer WayForward Technologies, and it was co-created by now-married couple Erin Bell and Matt Bozon. The story goes that Bozon was conversing with Bell about what sort of character she'd like to make if she were to design a video game character. Some time soon after, Matt discovered Erin drawing up concept sketches of the heroine.

Matt began asking about what Shantae's abilities would be, as well as her personality and the world she lived in -- After some discussion between the couple over character and world details the purple-haired warrior maiden was born.

The design of both Shantae and her world were influenced by inspirations of both Bozon and Bell.

Shantae's name and long hair came from Erin's personal experience. She had been working as a camp counselor up until that point, and one of the campers she had worked with had been named Shantae, a name Bell grew fond of. It has also been stated by Matt that Erin had very long hair at the time, which would often whack him in the face whenever she turned around, which is where Shantae got her signature look and signature attack of whipping her hair. Erin was also inspired by the television show I Dream of Jeannie.

Matt's influences came in the shape of outside sources that inspired the gameplay style and feel of Shantae's world. The gameplay was heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, and Mega Man, as can be seen in the Metroidvania structure as well as her range of abilities.

Matt's ideas for the art style and aesthetic was inspired by cartoons like Ducktales and Transformers (properties WayForward would actually go on to make games for later on). Further inspiration came from anime like Ranma 1/2 and the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  

Matt Bozon is quick to clarify that he did not create Shantae, but rather his wife did. While he created the world around her and fleshed out characters. Both the Bozons were integral in the creation of the series and Erin Bell (now Erin Bozon) is Shantae's creator.

The development of the first Shantae began in 1997, and was originally conceived as a 2D platformer with animated characters moving along 3D backgrounds, made for release on PC, and perhaps the original PlayStation -- This version was scrapped early on, and development focus shifted to the Game Boy Color from then on, based on a decision by WayForward founder and "tyrannical overlord" Voldi Way.   

An early and unpolished screenshot of the abandoned attempt of Shantae on the PlayStation/PC.  

Although Shantae began development in 1997, it would not see a proper release until 2002, nearly an entire year after the new Game Boy Advance had been on the market.

This is where it gets messy.

The development and publishing process of the original Shantae is a ludicrous, though thankfully well-documented disaster. Through a number of different interviews with Matt Bozon, it has been made clear how many difficulties both he and WayForward faced in getting the game made.

During development, the team's computers had to have buckets of ice put inside them at times to stop them from overheating in the California heat. Matt Bozon has even reported that the Game Boy Color Development Kit he had to work with was Japanese -- Meaning he had to make his own personal cheat sheet to remember what button did what function.

But despite all these hardships Shantae was eventually finished and ready for the world to see... but not quite yet. This was when WayForward ran into their next big hurdle; finding Shantae a publisher.

In order to run properly as well as save progress, Shantae required each cartridge to be built with a 32 megabit battery, which was expensive to produce and turned a lot of publishers off. On top of this, most publishers saw launching a game with a new intellectual property as an additional risk. Luckily, this response didn't stop the team from trying to get the game published, and their perseverance paid off when they finally acquired a publisher in the form of Capcom.

Unfortunately, the game's final step in publication also came with problems. For reasons that have never been fully explained, even though Capcom was the only publisher who would pick up Shantae -- the company held the completed version of the game in storage for 8 months before releasing it.

The game would have still released late for the Game Boy Color if it had been released right away, but due to the 8 month delay, Shantae released nearly an entire year after the then-new Game Boy Advance had been out, which ultimately lead to it under-performing in sales.

So on June 2nd, 2002 Shantae on the Game Boy Color finally saw the light of day... exclusively in North America where it sold only around 25,000 copies with no second print produced (...ouch). 

Front and back cover of the original Shantae on the Game Boy Color.       

The quest for sequels!

While the first Shantae sold pretty poorly, it was received very positively by critics, and Matt Bozon and the rest of WayForward weren't discouraged enough to stop trying. Shantae would resurface years later with the announcement of a sequel to the original game dubbed Shantae Advance (also known as Shantae 2: Risky Revolution) meant for release on the Game Boy Advance.

The game was supposedly meant to feature a number of features. There was six new towns to visit, four new labyrinths to explore based on the four seasons, various minigames, new transformations, swimming, flying, the ability to jump between the background and foreground.

The plot also revolved around Risky Boots sticking a giant pillar in the middle of Sequin Land in order to completely rotate it at will. Unfortunately, WayForward once again had difficulties finding a publisher, and Capcom wasn't there to bail them out this time -- so the game was ultimately cancelled.

Early screenshot of what would have been Shantae Advance. Image credit to IGN.com.

(For those interested in seeing what exists of the game, click here to see an archive of a live stream WayForward had of the game's most finished build.)

Some time after that there was also supposedly a short-lived plan for a DS Shantae game titled Shantae: Risky Waters. The game had a basic design document laid out, but after once again failing to find a publisher, the game was cancelled just like Shantae Advance

Just when it seemed like Shantae as a series might just disappear, in 2010, WayForward pulled it out of their hat by finally releasing a sequel to the first game titled Shantae: Risky's Revenge, release for DSiWare.

 Title screen for the Director's Cut improved version of Risky's Revenge that released on PC a few years later.

Risky's Revenge, much like the first Shantae, had a few hiccups during development, but not nearly as much. Several ideas from the cancelled Shantae Advance made it into the final game, including swimming and jumping between background and foreground feature and some plot points, although it is hard to say how much.

The biggest change that occurred in development was that the game was originally meant to be a three part episodic series available for download. The final game was a single stand alone release, possibly due to budget or time constraints. Despite all this, Risky's Revenge did very well critically just like the first game, and is often cited as the best DSiWare game available. 

By this time, due to the growing power of the internet and it now being a series, the brand awareness of Shantae began to grow much larger than it had been. While DSiWare titles weren't know to sell well, Risky's Revenge did better than most, and gained an added boost by being available on the 3DS eShop early in it's life.

As a result of their newfound success, WayForward didn't need to gather their resources for nearly 9 years to make a sequel, and managed to make another in only half the time.

Pirate's Curse brings the series some well-deserved booty.

By this time, WayForward had finally become a recognizable name in the industry, after gaining praise and attention for their far-above average licensed games like DuckTales: Remastered, their Adventure Time games, and Aliens: Infestation. Not to mention their growing catalog of acclaimed original title like Mighty Switch Force 1 & 2, Double Dragon Neon, and their remake of A Boy and His Blob. 

WayForward had a resume, they had a reputation, and they had money. They had all the things needed to make a brand new Shantae game that wasn't nearly restricted as the ones prior and that's exactly what they did.

In 2014, WayForward released the third, and newest installment in the series Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. The game was initially announced in November of 2012, in one of the most stylish ways possible, by taking up the cover of the penultimate issue of famed gaming magazine Nintendo Power.

Now THAT is prime advertising space.

 

The game was first released for download on the 3DS in North America, where it enjoyed an even better commercial and critical response than Risky's Revenge. Over time it went on to be a best seller on the system.

Fast forward two years and Pirate's Curse is available nearly everywhere and not just in places other than Northern America, but on nearly every system available. WayForward has ported the game to Wii U, XBox One, Playstation 4, Steam, GOG.com, and even the Amazon Fire TV at this point -- Shantae and the Pirate's Curse slowly became the best kind of success WayForward could have hoped for: A widespread success. 

 

Shantae's story still continues on...

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013 during Pirate's Curse's development, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is currently in development, and is planned for release on September 27 of this year.

The game is the first in the series to be built from the ground up for consoles, and will feature fully hand-drawn animations.  The game will have new transformations for the heroine and thanks to it's campaign reaching it's $900,000 stretch goal, it'll include four additional characters with their own playable campaigns as well.

(on a side note: of all the things that show how far Shantae as a series has come, the original trailer for half-Genie Hero's Kickstarter does it the best.)

Shantae is officially a series now, and it seems to be growing bigger and more beloved faster than it ever has before. Technology has only improved these games, as has better funding for WayForward, but what really kept this series alive and improving was heart. From the imaginative developers and dedicated fans, Shantae has been kept alive by love for a character and her world -- It's truly inspiring to see such a success story come from a battle of attrition fought by people who used to be nobodies in the industry. 

Whatever plans that Matt Bozon and the rest of WayForward Technologies have for Shantae following Half-Genie Hero are unclear as of now, but as long as the fans are there, they'll all be Ret-2-Go!

 She's come a long way.

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Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche Review: The Myth, The Legend, The Living Joke https://www.gameskinny.com/6uoo3/cat-girl-without-salad-amuse-bouche-review-the-myth-the-legend-the-living-joke https://www.gameskinny.com/6uoo3/cat-girl-without-salad-amuse-bouche-review-the-myth-the-legend-the-living-joke Sun, 21 Aug 2016 15:10:34 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Some games get very little coverage before release. Some games get announced very close to their actual release in order to minimize the conscious waiting that the public has to do.

Then there are games like Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche, which started life as an April Fools joke. It was first announced through a single picture posted by Humble Bundle on Twitter, and this was done one week before it's release.

Yep, you read that right.

On April Fool's Day of 2013 developer WayForward Technologies released a fake sprite sheet of a game titled Cat Girl Without Salad and claimed that it would be available for literally every platform possible at the time at a later date.

 This was of course, a lie... mostly. 

The impossibly complicated screenshot was nothing more than a joke, but nonetheless, people began clambering for a real version of Cat Girl Without Salad. For the longest time this seemed like nothing more than a pipe-dream, until that previously mentioned announcement happened in May of this year, revealing the game's Humble Bundle Monthly exclusive release.

Seeing how only a few people got the chance to play it -- as well as the fact that nobody can play it now if they don't already have it -- we have to ask, is Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche really worth talking about?

Definitely. Because WayForward did their absolute best to turn an exaggerated joke on game design into a reality, and they actually pulled it off pretty well.

Simple controls, simple plot, and tight design.   

Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche follows the exploits of Kebako, an Intergalactic bounty hunting Cat Girl with a big smile, a bigger appetite, and a short attention-span and her partner Squiddie as they attempt to capture several high-price bounties while slowly piecing together Kebako's past. Although, Kebako doesn't really care all that much about that last part; she's too busy eating junk food and shooting through waves of space baddies. While the story and dialogue are written mostly for comedy's sake, and the world in which the game takes place is ridiculous, the writing actually manages to create an interesting and cohesive universe through small tidbits of absurd exposition. 

Almost all of the game's dialogue is delivered during gameplay. Character portraits are put up on either end of the screen for added visual expression, and each character has their own color of subtitles to make the conversations easy to follow during intense shooter battles. Neither aspect of the game ever overshadows the other.


That's right. Cat Girl Without Salad is real life.

The game provides a tutorial that explains all the controls the first time you start a new game and then never again. Thankfully you won't ever need to see it again, because the game's mechanics are straightforward enough that anything you might forget can easily be learned again through play. While the game is decently challenging, and players may find themselves trying boss fights and even whole levels over again. The degree of challenge is still far lower than that of a typical 2D shooter.

The controls are tight and simple, and work in conjunction with very distinct visual design. Hit-boxes are clearly-defined to allow for a frantic and colorfully explosive shmup that's hard, but still fair. The screen can become dense with enemies and obstacles, but visual complication is rarely ever an issue, keeping gameplay far from being frustrating.

You must always go without salad, but not without garnish. 

What truly makes Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche stand out from other 2D Shooters -- and other games in general -- is it's in-your-face presentation. Everything from the game's weapons, to it's characters, to it's enemy and level names wants to grab you by the collar and scream in your face, "GET EXCITED!"   

Starting off with what is probably the most unique aspect of the game, we have the weapon power-ups. The basic weapon that you start with at the beginning of every level isn't the strongest, but it is more or less possible for you to manage the enemy threat well enough to stave off death with nothing more. But you would be missing out on a lot if you were to ignore the power-ups, as they are some of the most creative ever seen in a 2D shmup.

Fan-made weapon cartridges. Image credit of "Nightmare Bruce" on ribbonblack.com. 

All weapon upgrades in Amuse-Bouche take the form of game cartridges similar to those used for the Nintendo Famicom, and all of them grant Kebako a gun representative of a completely different genre of video game. The Dance Gun makes it so every shot is made more powerful if the player's input matches the DDR-esque arrows on screen, while the RPG gun gives a variety of options from a Final Fantasy styled menu, and so on. These guns are simultaneously an amusing novelty upon first discovering their mechanics, while also all being varied editions of a clear improvement on your basic weapon. This allows the gameplay and the overall spontaneous tone of the game to exist hand-in-hand. 

 Kebako using the "Sports Gun", which fires bouncing golf balls around the screen.

The hand-drawn sprites are both vibrantly colored and stylistic, despite their simple animation cycles. If the backgrounds ever repeat themselves, it's hard to tell. The visual style both takes inspiration from as well as riffs 80's culture, anime, and video games of all sorts. It then takes all of these different visual elements and blends them together into a colorful and expressive celebration.

In keeping with the game's tasty title, all of Amuse-Bouche's healing items are food. You must "go without salad" as the game puts it. All food will heal one heart worth of damage, with the exception of salad, which deals one heart worth of damage. It is also the only non-junk food of the bunch, as well as the only food that isn't smiling.  

In terms of audio design, the sound effects are all distinct, and sound appropriate for their corresponding actions. The soundtrack is a short but nonetheless catchy selection of tracks of varying musical genres, typical of the usual style of composer Jake Kaufman (Shovel Knight, Shantae series, Double Dragon Neon, etc). Click here to hear for yourself.

The biggest negative of Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse~Bouche is it's extremely brief length. The game only has three levels to speak of, and if the player is good enough it can be be beaten in little more than an hour. Despite this, there is a decent amount of replay value present for a game so short. There's a high score system for those looking to track and improve their performance. There are variables that make each playthrough slightly different in terms of item drops. And, there is an option at the end of each level that results in two different bits of dialogue. So there are reasons to replay what little there is.   

Unfortunately, Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse~Bouche is a game that is, at this time, impossible to recommend, as the game is not currently available for purchase anywhere.  As previously mentioned, it was sold as a Humble Bundle Original as part of the June 2016 Monthly Bundle, and there is currently no way to obtain the game outside of having been subscribed to the service at that time. It's possible that the game may be released elsewhere in the future, but for now, it's a game that most people will have to watch somebody else play instead.

However, this might not be the end for the series. 

It also appears that this may just be the first installment in a planned series by WayForward. According to the game's official site, Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is described as "the first taste of an exciting new game franchise". So it's possible that there could be future entries in the Cat Girl Without Salad series. Perhaps those will be available for regular purchase. It would be nice to see it return, as it brought some new and creative ideas to the table, and could hopefully bring even more.

As it stands, Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is a fun, unique, and irreverent way to spend an afternoon, and it would easily receive a recommendation if one were possible.

 

 

  

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Shantae and the Pirate's Curse Will Be Getting A 3DS Physical Release https://www.gameskinny.com/m4cvn/shantae-and-the-pirates-curse-will-be-getting-a-3ds-physical-release https://www.gameskinny.com/m4cvn/shantae-and-the-pirates-curse-will-be-getting-a-3ds-physical-release Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:28:43 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, the fantastic 2D Platformer from developer WayForward that originally released in 2014, will be receiving a physical release for the Nintendo 3DS thanks to Publisher Rising Star Games.

For those unfortunate enough to miss it, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse was an excellent 2D Platformer with tight Metroidvania-style design, a great and diverse soundtrack, wonderful pixel art, charming characters, and memorable comedic dialogue just to name a few of it's many selling points.

It's a must own for any fan of 2D Platformers, especially if you own a 3DS, and it will soon be available for any of your shelving desires.

While a physical 3DS version has been available in Japan for some time, the rest of the world will be granted the same privilege soon, with the added benefit of new content exclusive to the new version, as well a discounted price ($29.99/€29.99/£29.99).

While Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is now available for almost every current-generation platform in addition to the 3DS (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Steam, GOG.com, Kindle Fire TV), anybody interested in owning a physical copy of the game on 3DS will be able to come September 27th in the USA, and September 30th in Europe.

  

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Shantae: Half-Genie Hero to be Released September 27th in North America https://www.gameskinny.com/ndc49/shantae-half-genie-hero-to-be-released-september-27th-in-north-america https://www.gameskinny.com/ndc49/shantae-half-genie-hero-to-be-released-september-27th-in-north-america Tue, 07 Jun 2016 07:38:53 -0400 ericafeldfeber

On June 4, WayForward tweeted an image of pre-order listings for their platformer, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, on GameStop. The image shows that the game will be released in North America on the Nintendo Wii U on September 27th for $29.99. WayForward later tweeted, in response to this image, that both digital and retail will be released at the same time. The game is now available for pre-order.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is a celebration of 2D, adventure-style platformers by game developer WayForward, makers of Ducktales Remastered, Contra 4, and Mighty Switch Force. The game features lush, hand-drawn animation, colorful characters, classic gameplay, rockin' tunes, and plenty of the outlandish humor the series is known for. 

Follow WayForward on Twitter to stay updated on the latest Shantae: Half-Genie Hero news. 

Image courtesy of WayForward

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ICYM 2015 - Goosebumps: The Game https://www.gameskinny.com/rs22i/icym-2015-goosebumps-the-game https://www.gameskinny.com/rs22i/icym-2015-goosebumps-the-game Wed, 20 Jan 2016 06:36:05 -0500 Mackenzie Lambert_5420

Goosebumps: The Game is a point-and-click interactive novel. You play as yourself venturing through your recently haunted house and trying to figure out what the heck is going on. You encounter creepy, unfamiliar relatives, solve puzzles, help ghosts find peace, and contend with developing photos in a dark room. But, this is just two-thirds of the game.

The last third has you in the local shopping mall.  It’s not enough you have to deal with the Slender-esque scenario of a robotic security guard chasing you, but there are killer mannequins, evil lawn gnomes, and Cronby the troll.  This all builds up to a climatic showdown with the infamous Slappy the Dummy.

The game plays like an old-school point-and-click adventure.  You move the cursor to an object/door and you interact with it.  You have infinite item inventory space, but the trick with these games is to know when to use items you’ve picked up.

I have to warn you, this game can be difficult at times.  You will die a lot if you’re not careful or don’t know what to do during enemy encounters.  It'll be too soon if I never see a dark room puzzle in a video game again. ...Or the mannequin scenario -- those were just awful. 

Base of the Bumps

When one hears “point-and-click” adventure, they’re likely to think of Telltale Games or the recent Life is Strange.  That particular style goes back to the days of LucasArts in the 1990s with Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion.  Before that, there was ICOM Simulations with their brand of point-and-click.  Déjà Vu: A Nightmare Comes True, Uninvited, and Shadowgate were revered titles for both the Macintosh Computer and the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

These games were notorious for their difficulty.  You could easily die at anytime, anywhere.  And these were some of the most violent games of their period.  Don’t worry about Goosebumps being similarly violent.  Goosebumps leaves much of that to your imagination.

With Goosebumps, Wayforward continues their nostalgia magic.  With Contra 4, A Boy and his Blob, and DuckTales Re-Mastered in their catalog, they just add more and more titles that tap into that love for genres of yesteryear.  Goosebumps: the Game adds to that momentum.

The Controls

The game is not for those looking for a deep gaming experience.  The player only uses the left analog stick or directional pad to move the cursor, and the X button is used to interact with the environment.  This is how you go from room to room.  This is how you pick up items and use items.  It is a very simple process that any person can pick up a controller and play.

The Graphics

Visually, the game is a treasure trove of hand drawn characters rich in detail.  Seeing character design that resembles an illustration as opposed to a polygon character is a welcomed change of pace.  This aspect reinforces the literary roots of the game.

All the classic creatures that came from the covers of R.L. Stine's beloved series are faithfully re-created.  If you a fan of the series, you appreciate the references throughout the game.

The Sound

The music is minimalistic, which is fitting of the genre this game is inspired by. The droning incidental music is drawn from ICOM Simulations as well as game music composer Gerald Woodroffe.  Woodroffe was a session musician for Robert Plant and Phil Collins, in addition to composing music for Horrorsoft's Elvira games and the infamous Waxworks.

Image courtesy of the Escapist

Worth the Price Tag?

The game is priced at $14.99.  For the time I put into the game, it’s not worthy of that amount.  Wait for a reduced price.  It’s a fun title, but it has limited replay value.  Once you beat it, there is little reason to go back other than to collect trophies/achievements.  If you’re award compulsive, then this game is worth the $14.99 because of the time you’ll spend.  If you’re someone who wants to play it just for the sake of having played it, then wait for a sale.

Overall, if you expect a point-and-click experience akin to Telltale, this game is not for you.  If you're looking for a chance to experience ICOM Simulation caliber point-and-click, this is worth a look.

The game is also available on Steam, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and 3DS.

Did you have a chance to play Goosebumps?  Did you ever play any of the ICOM Simulation titles? Share in the comments!

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Goosebumps: The Game in the Works https://www.gameskinny.com/kwccm/goosebumps-the-game-in-the-works https://www.gameskinny.com/kwccm/goosebumps-the-game-in-the-works Thu, 20 Aug 2015 20:17:26 -0400 Dalton White I

People who spent their childhood reading classic R.L. Stine novels like “Say Cheese And Die” and “The Haunted Mask” are likely excited about the upcoming Goosebumps film starring Jack Black, but for you gamers that also cherished Stine’s horror children novels there seems to be a new point and click adventure game coming soon!

Goosebumps Screenshot

Goosebumps: The Game has been spotted as an upcoming title in the Xbox 360 marketplace, will be released in October, and seems to focus on the evil dummy Slappy from “The Night of the Living Dummy.” The description promises thrills and chills when it says:

The walk home from school today is going to be a lot spookier than usual… Your sleepy neighborhood’s been overrun by monsters! Werewolves prowl the woods, Gnomes roam underfoot, and scarecrows walk at midnight.

It seems that this game will cover multiple Goosebumps books besides “Night of the Living Dummy.” The description mentions "The Dead House" but maybe there will be other areas for your character to explore like Horrorland. Hopefully more information will be revealed in the next couple months. It seems you will solve puzzles, investigate your surroundings and have to avoid and outsmart a variety of supernatural monsters. For those afraid of their favorite childhood series will not work as a video game the developers for this game is none other than WayForward, the minds behind the fantastic Shantae Series.  

Goosebumps Screenshot #2

Although it is only listed for the Xbox 360 I would expect more platforms to be included soon as its release date is quickly approaching. With the developers of Shantae behind these classic thrillers, I have high hopes for this game. Is anyone else excited or skeptical about this? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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Adventure Time Goes 3D in New Game https://www.gameskinny.com/9jd4t/adventure-time-goes-3d-in-new-game https://www.gameskinny.com/9jd4t/adventure-time-goes-3d-in-new-game Sun, 26 Apr 2015 13:12:58 -0400 amaadify

Mathematical! Adventure Time is hopping into the third dimension in a brand new quest called Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations

The point-and-click 3D puzzle game has our favorite dog-human duo solving the mysteries plaguing the Land of Ooo. Unlike other games in the series, this new installment puts action in the backseat, opting to focus on exploration and puzzle-solving instead. And there's a reason for the change!

Joshua and Margaret — Jake’s mother and father, who also raised Finn — were seasoned detectives back in the days before becoming parents. They received their assignments from a machine called the “tickertype,” which printed out information on various cases. Now, Finn and Jake have unearthed the tickertype and decide to go into the investigation business themselves.

These investigations feed well into the game's unique episodic structure. Finn and Jake will venture to places like the Candy and Fire Kingdoms, Wizard City, and Castle Lemongrab, where they will be tasked with solving seemingly isolated mysteries (episodes) that connect at some point down the long, long road. 

This new direction is a result of games developer Little Orbit taking over the helm, whereas previous Adventure Time games were created by WayForward. We'll be seeing just how different Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations is from it's 2D counterparts when it is released this fall for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, 3DS, and Wii U. Oh my glob, that's a lot of platforms!

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Thirsty Developers Pushing Their Characters for Super Smash Bros. https://www.gameskinny.com/f0d1u/thirsty-developers-pushing-their-characters-for-super-smash-bros https://www.gameskinny.com/f0d1u/thirsty-developers-pushing-their-characters-for-super-smash-bros Fri, 10 Apr 2015 07:14:30 -0400 amaadify

[{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/72830f88a9b259594b60fec087194925.gif","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_72830f88a9b259594b60fec087194925.gif","type":"slide","id":"62852","description":"
But, who do you want?
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Everyone gets a vote (or two), and mine are going towards Banjo-Kazooie and a Splatoon Inkling, but Bomberman, Spyro, Crash, Dig-Dug, and Geno were close 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th choices.

Let us know your vote in the comments below, even if you voted for more than one. Don't worry, we're pretty good at keeping secrets. Unless you voted for Goku, then we're telling!
"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/b9302ba74430f726cfce526e8bcb6f46.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_b9302ba74430f726cfce526e8bcb6f46.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62729","description":"

Last, and certainly least likely, AdventureQuest developer, Artix Entertainment, wants to pit Artix up against Nintendo's finest. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/fdf2ae39e0b5e3b759ed7ca18333ea98.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_fdf2ae39e0b5e3b759ed7ca18333ea98.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62727","description":"

Yacht Club games has dug its way into our hearts with Shovel Knight. Now they want to see the iron-clad, dirt-scooping hero in Smash. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/b811a1b06cfde27375526571110fafe6.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_b811a1b06cfde27375526571110fafe6.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62725","description":"

Developers of SteamWorld Dig and its sequel SteamWorld Heist want to oil up Rusty and throw him into the fray.  

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/3410fd5d215afaf6dc1183ef771d0532.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_3410fd5d215afaf6dc1183ef771d0532.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62724","description":"

Team Meat, the creators of the popular indie title Super Meat Boy, want to see their bloody baby making messes in the battlefield. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/1e1113ec5ca62af3167ae6dce39ad866.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_1e1113ec5ca62af3167ae6dce39ad866.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62722","description":"

Choice Provisions wants Commander Video from the BIT.TRIP series to run his way into battle. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/2a081eca5cd740a13d1086b61225601d.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_2a081eca5cd740a13d1086b61225601d.png","type":"slide","id":"62726","description":"

WayForward wants you to rub the lamp extra hard and send Shantae the half-genie out of her self-titled series (Shantae and the Pirates Curse, Shantae: Risky's Revenge) and into the tussle. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/47ca7ac99c7e172528ced6e56ee6ec8e.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_47ca7ac99c7e172528ced6e56ee6ec8e.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62723","description":"

Playtonic Games, like their next choice, isn't playing by the rules. They are putting in a second vote for Donkey Kong villain King K. Rool.  

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/cee2de525e8eb268ff01458f2eaceba5.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_cee2de525e8eb268ff01458f2eaceba5.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62721","description":"

Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, is with Playtonic (and about half of the Internet in wanting Banjo and Kazooie up against Mario and Sonic in Smash. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/b0c6d4732786da9e5cda8d8940682027.JPG","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_b0c6d4732786da9e5cda8d8940682027.JPG","type":"slide","id":"62720","description":"

Playtonic Games is currently working on Project Ukulele, the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. Still, the ex-Rare development team is actively rooting for the bear and the bird as DLC. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/44638b5fba1a14c3a1e41ca74678a9ea.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_44638b5fba1a14c3a1e41ca74678a9ea.jpg","type":"slide","id":"62730","description":"

The Super Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot was announced during Nintendo's last Direct presentation and ever since then, we've heard a lot of internet-shouting as to who deserves a spot. Be it best friends, worst enemies, or gaming grandmas, everybody has been giving their opinions, and game developers are no exception. 

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Here is a collection of video game developers, both big and small, who are actively promoting their characters for inclusion in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U.

"}]]]>
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse Review https://www.gameskinny.com/xb37n/shantae-and-the-pirates-curse-review https://www.gameskinny.com/xb37n/shantae-and-the-pirates-curse-review Mon, 05 Jan 2015 16:55:37 -0500 Matt_Paprocki

Sequin Land plays host to developer WayForward's own homegrown, self-published 2D world of genies, magic, piracy, and plentiful curves. The small shoreline town of Sequin has a vivacious personality to match their star Shantae, now without her half-genie powers.

To a certain extent, Shantae's realm of boxy dungeons and generous purple hair isn't special. It's the masterpiece touches from WayForward which makes it splendidly function. Citizens of Sequin have personalities which have grown and swelled since the alluring Game Boy Color original. And, Shantae has become internally traditional – the music's rhythms are now customary and two girls leaning against the pasty walls have never left their post. They even note their stagnant positioning in a bit of fourth wall giggling.

Heroine in a half-genie shell

Most of the appeal is in the sprites, with their expressive, illustrated charisma and lull in artistic restraint. Shantae ducks like any other platform star, but wiggles in anticipation until space clears. She bounces and smiles while standing, with an expected double (quadruple, actually) jump propelled by an inexplicably launched cannon ball. All of this forms a jubilant, somewhat shy character whose thirst for right and chocolates has never diminished.

Shantae is a perfect character, more so than Dracula hunting whip snappers or the space faring bounty hunter which whom she shares a genre. Shantae's adventures carry a feminine (yet inclusive) playfulness, undoubtedly brought over to Pirate's Curse which splashes with literal and figurative color. While a touch disinterested, Pirate's Curse layers safe Western mysticism and jittery pacts for its lean narrative. Series heel Risky Boots is brought into the mold of anti-hero for a bit of scintillating role reversal even if this tosses a central villain away into the final moments of the last act.

Awkwardly executed in conventional context or not, casting a devilish zombie pirate aside until needed allows for a rapport to take shape, providing substance to Boots' usually aimless lashing out between stretches of bouncy, precise platforming.

Up until ferocious closing moments, Pirates Curse is softer than many other retro throwback delicacies. Bosses are quick to drop, leaps only appear tense, and stage design often offers the luxury of escape room. Pair this all with a bounty of found skills and careful retreading on past islands, and much of this second sequel slips into an unremarkable ease of play – were it not for the richness of the surrounding content anyway.

That's not an issue: So much of this design (the world, the postures, the dialog) bears a laid back methodology. An overlaid simplicity to combat and growing health meter creates a sense that Shantae – even without her semi-Genie powers – is still a force. Smartly, that change and thus the message, in tandem with mild difficulty, turns her from super heroine to human heroine, amongst the most valuable this industry offers.

Risque' Shantae

Somewhere therein sits an argument against Shantae's unnecessarily and overly revealing titillating wardrobe, but an entire chapter of Pirate's Curse actively addresses such self-consciousness with a bit of satirical bile toward a specific sci-fi series. In doing so, WayForward decorates bratty character temperaments, creates separation, and establishes further tense for their work. It's smart (maybe too much so) for a genre usually only fixated on locations and finding ways to access other locations.

Thus, Pirate's Curse works by doing more. As much as it borrows a template from womanly fore-bearer Metroid, Shantae's exuberant flair is markedly more digestible and brightly pleasing. Pirate's Curse is doing a ton (and saying a ton) in a diminutive, downloadable packet. It's beautifully luminous.

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Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom Review https://www.gameskinny.com/bxvgi/adventure-time-secret-of-the-nameless-kingdom-review https://www.gameskinny.com/bxvgi/adventure-time-secret-of-the-nameless-kingdom-review Wed, 19 Nov 2014 12:25:02 -0500 TumsST

“Adventure Time! Come on grab your friends! We’ll go to very distant lands.”

Now that we got that out-of-the-way, Wayforward and Little Orbit bring you the next installment of the Adventure Time video games, Secret of the Nameless Kingdom. Join Jake the Dog and Finn the Human as they embark on a new journey in the mysterious Nameless Kingdom. All your favorites from the show are there, like Finn, Jake, and Ice King. Finn and Jake will have their work cut out for them, trying to rescue the princesses of the Nameless Kingdom. They can handle it; it’s their destiny.

Along the way, Finn and Jake will have to take on some pretty tough customers. Not to worry, our heroes have lots of gear in their arsenal to fight with. Jake can use his magic to change shape and become helpful items like a shield or big-hand to grab things.  Finn has some helpful attacks as well, like his grass sword and bananarang. He can also use Jake’s grabber-hand attack to grab enemies and store them in zip-lock baggies, for tidy storage.

The Game Behind The Game

The game plays so much like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past it’s scary. When I played the game at E3 this year, the developers said that ALttP was used a lot for inspiration, and it shows. A prime example of Secret of the Nameless Kingdom using SNES Zelda as “muse” is the world map. The castle is in the middle and each of the 3 Princesses are in a separate location of the world, like the Southern Palace, Desert, and Death Mountain. The Bananarang does the same thing the boomerang did in ALttP, stunning enemies for a short time.

The overworld map has that Zelda feel to it, as do the graphics. If you didn’t know any better, you would think you were playing a Zelda game. The writing is an example of how the game differentiates itself from Zelda. At the start of the game, Finn can’t find Jake, but he can hear him. Logically, Finn thinks Jake is speaking to him through telepathy but he is actually in his shirt pocket. The voice acting for the main characters is the same as the show so Jeremy Shada and John DiMaggio bring Finn and Jake to life,like only they could. The writing makes you feel like your watching another episode of the cartoon and that’s what good writing does.

A Link to the Past is my favorite Zelda game and other fans like me will get the in-game references like the first dungeon boss’s fighting style/movements being very similar to the Southern Palace dungeon boss. You defeat them by smacking their “hams” with Jake’s Grabber-hand that you got in the dungeon, just like the Zelda dungeon formula.

Lowlights

Now, with every game there are high points and then there are low points. Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is no different. I was playing the PS3 version and the control scheme kept giving me problems. What I mean by problems is when you hit the wrong button to attack time and time again. I wanted Finn to attack with his grass sword and I kept pressing the wrong button, that didn’t have any action assigned to it. You would think that you would be able to change the control layout in the menu but that wasn’t the case. The game isn’t forgiving at times and puts the player in a lot of “have to take damage to get up the stairs/into the area” type movements. Blind jumps were an annoyance in the past and it seems they rear their ugly head in Adventure Time.

The game sends you on quests to deliver items to certain characters all over the Nameless Kingdom. This is a hassle over time since most of these characters are located in caves that you’ll have to backtrack to. This type of game-play adds to the replay value but hurts the immediate gameplay because it feels like you're getting the runaround from the game.

The Mr. Pig/Treetrunks quest is a prime example of the runaround. You find Mr. Pig, wondering where Treetrunks is. Then later on, you find Treetrunks and she gives you a love letter for Mr. Pig. Then you have to remember where Mr. Pig was, which isn’t an easy task, and bring him the love note. You then get the chance to buy an item that can heal. You get the run around for health. If it was a special item, I could understand the quest but it just feels like running around for the sake of running. 

Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom should be perceived as a very good game for the Adventure Time franchise. It parlays the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past into a modern feel with an Adventure Time twist. However there are moments that hurt the game, like control issues and pointless quests. In the end, Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is worth a look from any fan of Adventure Time or A Link to the Past. It just has a few “scratch your head” moments that make you think it could have been done better.

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