Flipping Death Review (Switch)

Flipping Death is a very funny game developed by Zoink and published on Nintendo Switch. It looks like a platformer or side-scrolling adventure, but you should think of it more like a point-and-click puzzle game. It’s definitely story-driven; whether you’re watching cutscenes, hearing a recap during loading screens, or experiencing characters bantering back-and-forth during gameplay, the story is always advancing and the world is being built. It starts with the sudden demise of Penny Doewood, who enters the afterlife and is promptly put on substitute reaper duty for Death himself, who wants to take a vacation to the moon. You may have already gathered that Flipping Death is quite the quirky title, and it’s very charming and entertaining as a result.

The entire game is voice-acted, and skillfully so. This is a bonus that might come unexpected to the average fan of Nintendo games. The writing is top-notch, and Flipping Death’s greatest boast is its impeccable humor and timing. Simeon and I have never laughed out loud so much from a video game! You may be tempted to feel impatient as you can read the captions in half the time it takes the voice actors to deliver their lines, but the wait is worth it.

Another plus in the presentation department are the graphics. Zoink chose a really unique art style, which is memorable and looks beautiful on the Switch. One thing I didn’t like as much was the music—sure it fit the game, but there were so few compositions that the soundtrack grew repetitive. Something else to watch out for are the long loading screens in Flipping Death. A narrator will meander through a funny recap of the previous chapter, which makes it bearable, but you’ll want to try to finish one of the game’s eight chapters in a single sitting so you don’t have to endure the same loading screen a second time.

The gameplay is unique, in that you can gather souls as currency and spend them to possess bodies of the living, who inhabit a mirror version of the world. It’s always interesting to try out all the different characters, find out what their move is, and use them to solve puzzles or just fling them around. There’s a great variety of characters who become “playable” in this way, each with their own special twists and inner-dialogue.

Sadly, controls are sub-optimal. Sometimes, Flipping Death doesn’t feel like it was made with the Switch in mind; using Death’s scythe to teleport was a good mechanic idea, but never feels quite natural as you have to use the right stick at the same time as face-buttons and trigger buttons. Some things aren’t consistent between characters (like holding a button to jump). However, It’s nice that the developers included some touch-screen functionality, which makes using the wide map easier.

The Missions and challenges provide a great variety of things to do. There are also plenty of side-quests in each chapter to keep completionists busy. If you get stuck, there’s a hint system readily available which shows you what needs to happen, but not always how. It’s a good balance of negating frustration without making things too easy.

Flipping Death is an appropriate length, which throws a lot of different ideas at you, but doesn’t get redundant or overstay its welcome. For a second play-through, it may be fun to come back to after several years, but hearing the jokes for the first time is the main reason to play. You could also beat the main story, then go back just to clean up sidequests which can be pretty entertaining, especially when you’re tasked with possessing an undead lama and spitting on everyone.

Overall, this game really is funny. Not just during story segments either, but the way characters move, interact, and the things you can do with them. I did experience a bug that made me lose all progress while reviewing the game. Thankfully it was in chapter 1, and the devs were aware and already working on it. This game is one of a kind, and is enjoyable for the story and humor alone. Considering everything, Two Button Crew scores Flipping Death a 7.25 out of 10.

Thimbleweed Park Review

A few years ago, Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert wanted to make a spiritual successor to their hit adventure game Maniac Mansion. While many independent developers (and a few bigger studios as well) made their own homages to the point-and-click genre, the prodigal sons had returned to bequeath us with Thimbleweed Park, a love letter to LucasArts games of yore straight from the proverbial source. Initially released in 2017, this tongue-in-cheek hit now finds its way to the Nintendo Switch, perhaps one of the best platforms to play it on.

Set in the distant past (er, 1987), Thimbleweed Park begins with a murder. A body is found in the river of the small Podunk town and two FBI agents are sent to investigate. What follows is a multi-faceted story that takes our protagonists from one end of town to the other in search of clues in a plot that is both funny in a deadpan way and a genuflection of the likes of Twin Peaks or the X-Files. It’s told from multiple points of view, everywhere from a foul-mouthed disrespectful clown to the ghost of an owner of the local pillow factory. The story weaves its way through flashbacks and back in a satisfying manner, bringing plenty of context to what’s truly going on. A nice dash of fourth wall breaking humor and reverent in-jokes round out the package nicely.

Thimbleweed Park stays true to its roots not only in presentation, but in game mechanics as well. If you’ve ever played an adventure game you know the drill: investigate your surroundings, talk to people to infer some clues and use items you’ve picked up to solve puzzles. Rinse, wash, repeat. The game gives you a plethora of ways to maneuver Agents Reyes and Ray and crew that all feel well-suited to the way you want to handle it. Whether with a pro controller or using the touch screen, picking and choosing verbs, inventory or just moving to new locations feel natural. The game also offers both a casual and hard mode, with the differentiator being how many steps it may take to solve a puzzle. Considering there isn’t really a lose state in Thimbleweed Park, it’s worth noting you’ll miss out on a bit of content going with the former option.

For everything Thimbleweed Park has going for it, it does still fall into the trap of being a bit obtuse for its own good, as adventure games are wont to do. For the most part solutions to problems are sensible, it’s just a matter of finding the right item in the right place, which usually requires you to fumble your cursor around each screen until you come upon the magical McGuffin that’ll set the wheels of the game back in motion. Mileage may vary depending on the player and their skill at seeking and finding objects, but you will occasionally get hung up and your patience may wear thin.

Gilbert and Winnick have most definitely channeled their past selves to make Thimbleweed Park the proper descendant Maniac Mansion they’ve been wanting to make. If you’re a fan of SCUMM adventure games, wry humor, plumbers dressed as pigeons and plenty of irreverence we can’t recommend this game enough. If you’re new to the genre and can count on two hands how many times you’ve pointed and clicked in a game…well, we’d recommend Thimbleweed Park as well! It’s intuitive to play, it doesn’t intentionally obfuscate the player and did we mention there’s a couple of plumbers dressed like pigeons? Who doesn’t like pigeons!?


This review comes courtesy of Crew member Matt Mason, @ObtainPotion on Twitter.

Cat Quest Review (Nintendo Switch)

Cat Quest is a funny action RPG game all about cats. It was developed by Gentlebros, and came out on Nintendo Switch in late 2017.

It’s a top-down, open world game (think like the original Legend of Zelda) set in a place called Felingard. Yes, like feline. Just about everything in this entire game is a cat pun, so get used to that! The game’s writing is one of its highlights, providing a healthy dose of charm.

You play as a sword-fighting, magic-wielding cat, and your cat-sister has been kit-napped, so it’s your job to rescue her. (If you hated that pun, you will hate Cat Quest.)

Gameplay in Cat Quest consists of following an ever-present arrow telling you which way to go, accepting quests, entering dungeons, and fighting baddies.

Combat is unique, revolving around your proximity to enemies, attacks’ area of effect, and quick dodging reflexes. Every move has an outline that shows where it will hit, and you don’t want to be standing in the wrong spot when an enchanted fist crashes to the ground or a dragon shoots a ring of fire.

Oh yeah—this game has dragons, and they’re the main boss fights.

Like the game itself, this review will be short, simple, and to the point. Cat Quest is more at home on the mobile platforms it was ported from, but controls well with Joy-Con. It’s an enjoyable game to relax with, listen to music or podcasts, and level up your character and weapons as you mindlessly clear out bad guys.

It will keep you busy for a handful of hours and make you smile
along the way. If you’re looking for more complexity, you won’t find it here. Maybe in the sequel, confirmed to be in development for Switch.

Cat Quest gets a 7/10.

A Robot Named Fight Review (Switch)

A Robot Named Fight wins an award for the weirdest video game title. Beyond that, it’s also a really good game!

This is a pixel-art, roguelike, Metroidvania. A Metroguevania, if you will.
You would think that these genres are incompatible, with Metroid’s weapon-based progression and roguelike titles’ procedural generation and permadeath. Well, I’m pleased to say that developer Matt Bitner Games pulled it off!

You play as the titular robot, Fight, and are immediately thrown into a scary world where Tutorial Smith (or Tutorial Joe, or some other name depending on your run) gets to impart a small piece of wisdom before he dies. My favorite was “Press B to shoot, pres—Argh—I’m dying—press buttons!” From there, you’re on your own as you traverse through corridors swarming with violent, sentient meat monsters.

Yeah, the game gets a little bit gruesome as you blast baddies apart, with pixelated splatters and surprisingly rolly meat physics. You can turn these effects down in the settings, but it honestly doesn’t help too much… And everything is depicted in roughly 16 bit, so if you can handle the action, there’s plenty of exciting puzzles and hidden weapons to discover.

I love how A Robot Named Fight is smart about the levels it generates. There is a constant sense of purpose and direction, without much emphasis on backtracking, which is nice. Somehow, the game perfectly balances the placement of necessary items, while giving the player an opportunity to feel a little bit lost. The result is a sense of accomplishment as you successfully route yourself through the minimap.

If you’ve played a roguelike, you know what you’re getting into. Death sets you back to square one, although your disparate attempts will unlock hidden items for future runs. This game encourages a more cautious approach to Metroidvania exploration, and it makes every earned energy tank feel like a reward that brings a boost of confidence.

The weapon variety is huge. A Robot Named Fight’s developers were very clever about creating unique items that enhance progression and combat in different ways.

I played a lot of this game with Simeon. It’s primarily a solo affair, although “girlfriend mode” co-op is available. He was particularly fond of the flamethrower, which used a small amount of energy but could blast through terrain, set enemies on fire and burn down obstructions in front of doors.

We had a blast taking turns and seeing how far we could get. A successful run might last you 45 minutes to an hour, but the game is easy to pick up, play, save, and come back to later. A welcome feature was the ability to retry a run you particularly liked by saving the “seed.”

A Robot Named Fight is one of the few games that held our attention so much at Two Button Crew that we just had to keep talking about it and playing it over and over. It kept us from other games we needed to play and we’ve been really excited to recommend it!

A few shortcomings you need to be aware of: the user interface is sadly sub-par. Sometimes randomly generated enemies are concealed by HUD elements. Also, it’s clear that not much time was spent on quality-of-life improvements within menus. For example, you can pause the game with the Plus button but you’ll have to move your thumb over to “A” to continue. Start doesn’t unpause.

Then, there’s the common roguelike issue where things aren’t explained well, which can be frustrating. You’ll find shrines with NPCs that ask you for sacrifices, but it never seems to make them happy and you end up with a curse. This kind of gameplay mechanic discourages players from experimentation, and in a game where health is precious and every stat counts, you can’t afford to throw away resources and downgrade your character.

You quickly learn to avoid these minor issues, and overall, this is an awesome game to have with you on Nintendo Switch. It can be propped up and played with one Joy-Con, thanks to the game’s controls being mapped expertly to the limited amount of buttons. It’s also great to dock and experience on the big screen, with speakers pumping some extremely Samus-y tunes. You almost can’t go wrong with A Robot Named Fight. Two Button Crew gives the game a 9 out of 10.

Runner3 Impressions + Review In Progress

I’ve been so excited about Runner3 coming to Nintendo Switch. As a long-time fan of the Bit.Trip series (especially the Runner games), I welcome CommanderVideo to new console/portable hybrid with open arms.

As you have surely noticed, the Switch isn’t hurting for indie titles, so the Commander might be met with some stiff competition, but it’s always good for another developer with as rich a portfolio as Choice Provisions to throw their hat in the ring.

I’m really thankful to be given the opportunity of reviewing Runner3. I excitedly played through the main game and prepared my thoughts thus far, though I am still reserving final judgment. By the end of this write-up, I think you’ll agree with my reasoning.

Scope

Runner3 is ambitious. After essentially introducing the auto-running genre, then perfecting it, the team is now expanding the genre and has included branching paths, vehicles, multiple objectives, non-playable characters, and more. I never expected to have quests or interact with NPCs midlevel in a game like this.

Gameplay

Moment to moment, you know exactly what to expect from a game like this. The core “Runner” gameplay is here and as compelling as ever. You know what you are signing up for, and it’s good.

Music

It wouldn’t be a Choice Provisions game without the pounding soundtrack. I can confidently say that the music is good, though I won’t claim it surpasses the heights of the original Bit.Trip Runner.

Presentation

The creators behind Runner3 sure know how to dress up a game! From entertaining (and fake) advertisements, puppet shows, incredible narration from Charles Martinet, more puns than you can shake a stick at, and clever level names, Runner3 is dripping with personality.

Runner3 is dripping with personality.

Other Good Things

The game definitely sports some fun cameos, like playable Shovel Knight and Charles Martinet—that’s AWESOME!

Play Value

I don’t envy the developers’ task of making a follow-up to games like Runner and Runner2, which are each incredibly difficult and rewarding to master. So where should the threequel pick up as far as difficulty? How long should you spend onboarding newcomers to the series, versus serving experienced fans?

I found myself breezing through the first two worlds somewhat unremarkably. Upon reaching world 3, I felt a noticeable difference where the challenge seemed to hit a sweetspot and the level design felt more inspired. World 3 was really cool… but it was the last world.

Roughly half the levels in Runner3 are “Retro” stages, which you aren’t told how to unlock… but the loading screens start giving you hints about what to do IN them from the start of the game. I found this frustrating, and I’m still trying to locate the VHS which will get me into Retro world 1. I tried reaching out to other reviewers, but they were unable to help. Perhaps I could have pinged the developers, but I felt the need to form my own opinions about how this game does (or doesn’t) guide you through the discovery process.

Crunching a few numbers, you find that the game overall has fewer levels than Runner2, and only a couple more levels than the original Runner.

Replay Value

But just beating the game once from point A to point B doesn’t put a cap on your time with Runner3. Not even close. The replay value in this title is nothing if not dense. I saw credits roll but came nowhere close to conquering the game’s available challenges.

There are lots of attainable achievements for completionists (especially the “not-actually impossible” impossible levels).

Which are pretty much impossible.

… The game stops counting your deaths after 99, by the way.

#NoShame

User Experience

The degree to which you have completed a level isn’t always clear. I can think of many things that MIGHT increase your “grade,” but they would be guesses:

There is gold to collect as well as gems, checkpoints that could be skipped instead of used, collectible items, a score counter that can be boosted by setting off optional rockets along the way, and a bullseye target at the end. It’s not communicated which of these feats correspond to which color of ring on the level select, or color of + icon, or position of said colored + icon. You can go into Stats and it literally records your amount of Perfect, Perfect+, Special, Special+, Special Perfect, Special Perfect+ and “Special Perfect Double+” levels without telling you what the differences are or how to achieve them, so I’m a bit fuzzy on what it takes to 100% this game. I know it’s cute to have those ambiguous ranks, but I felt lost. 

Hiccups and Hang-Ups

I wanted to love every moment of this game, but I feel that it is my duty to report back honestly about some snags I experienced along the way.

– There are so many long loading screens in this game. If you want to back out from the level select to the menu, you’re going to sit through a lot of these back-to-back.

– Sometimes you can’t switch tracks, and other times they seem to switch for you. Sometimes you die because one track is lower than the other (but you’re supposed to be able to switch at any time).

– Accomplishments aren’t very celebrated. Levels end with some calm, anticlimactic elevator music (even if you had an outstanding run or defeated a boss). After an intense feat and narrowly winning, it feels like a crescendo is in order rather than things fading out with a wet fizzle.

– CommanderVideo is missing some of his moves from previous titles, like holding forward to reflect beats with a shield—that was an awesome mechanic! There is also no loop-de-loops or dancing. [Update: Dancing IS included in this game! Immediately after stumbling upon this action with a shoulder button, I was given a loading screen that informed me about the mechanic.]

– The art style is definitely unique, but can be disappointing in places—like looseness in certain animations, background elements being big and weird but not always nice to look at graphically, etc. I feel like a measure of precision was sacrificed when moving this series from sprite graphics to 3D. This is the kind of game where precision is paramount (yes, their proclivity for alliterations is rubbing off on me).

Value Proposition

This game is more expensive (at $30 digital, $40 physical) than any of the others in the series. Runner 2 is available right now on Wii U for $3. Buy that.

But don’t write off Runner3 for charging more, either. You know it costs a lot of benjamins to get such an acclaimed voice actor to lend his talent. And if you’re willing to grit your teeth, crack your knuckles and rise to the “post-game” challenges, you’re going to have a nice, long stay in this wonderfully wacky world.

And after knocking out those impossible levels and completing your collection of Super Duper Triple Plus Perfects (or whatever), you’ll have plenty of in-game currency to spend on capes, clothes, and other goodies. There are no in-app purchases to be found, which is reassuring in this day and age.

There are no in-app purchases to be found!

In Summary

I had a great time with Runner3. My wife even enjoyed watching me play, and loved the music. (How many games can you say that about in your house?)

But there were undeniably several niggling aspects of the game’s design that kept me out of the flow, whether they were apparent glitches, omissions from past games, or a general sense of not knowing how to do more than advance through the basic levels.

I would have loved to publish a full review on embargo day, but I have yet to access any of the Retro levels.

I think it would be negligent to offer a score on this game after playing only half the content.

You might struggle a lot less than me once Runner3 is available for purchase, with help from a printed manual or online guide. I think those would have come in handy during my play-through (and still will as I continue to explore).

One more note:

Gaming’s landscape has changed a lot since CommanderVideo first graced consoles. On Nintendo Switch, Runner3 is faced with competitors like the incredibly tight and exciting musical levels in Rayman Legends, or the superbly atmospheric rhythym-horror title Thumper. $30 is a tough sell when Runner3 struggles to stack up to the impressive accomplishments of its earlier installments. But if you’re a fan of the series, and/or someone who 100%s their games no matter how difficult, you could hardly go wrong here.


I will definitely report back once I have a better understanding of the game’s full offering. I’d also like to extend a huge thanks to Choice Provisions, and Dant over there, for giving us the hook-ups. I hope this early look at Runner3 helps inform your buying decisions ahead of launch day, May 22nd! And set a reminder for our live steam!

Adventures of Bertram Fiddle #1 Review (Switch)

I used to believe that graphic adventure games were bimodal when it came to quality. Either they were good or they were bad, with the line between the two so fine that there wasn’t room for any middle ground. Now that I’ve played The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1, I may need to rethink my hypothesis.

The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle is a point-and-click styled adventure game starring the eponymous Mr. Fiddle and his one-eyed man-servant, Gavin. Mechanically, the game is quite sound, sticking to the tried and true formula of exploring environments, grabbing everything that isn’t nailed-down, and then using said items to advance further. That said, it doesn’t add much of its own to the mix. Normally, this would be a problem, but this style of adventure game has always banked more on plot and puzzles than unique mechanics, so I’m willing to give it a pass.

Speaking of which, the game thankfully avoids the typical pitfall of “moon logic” puzzles that is all too common in the genre: every puzzle has a creative but entirely logical solution. Moreover, the game is quite good at dropping hints without ever feeling like it’s spoon-feeding you the answer.

Visually, the game is a mixed bag. The art style has a nice mid-90’s Nickelodeon vibe to it and does a good job of setting the tone. Unfortunately, between the muted palette for backgrounds and every other environment being the dull and lifeless streets of Victorian London, the environments quickly start to feel repetitive.

Of course, the main draw of these sorts of games is the story. Our adventure begins with a suspicious letter asking our protagonist to assist with a personal matter for a shady, but wealthy, individual. Mrs. Fiddle, however, doesn’t approve and instead tasks our heroes with taking her dog to the groomer, but then they get their bag mixed up with that of a stranger on the street, and somehow the whole thing spirals into a hunt for a serial killer…

If that attempt at a summary didn’t tip you off, the story is a tad unfocused. Several plot threads are introduced very early on and then immediately shunted off to the side to make room for the next one. Now, this can actually work quite well with a mystery plot, as what originally seemed like completely unrelated occurrences are slowly woven together into a tapestry of intrigue. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens here. Instead, Bertram and Gavin wander the streets of London, happen across an item on their to-do list (entirely by accident), decide they really have nothing better to do, and then move on to the next scene to repeat the process with little rhyme or reason.

Unfortunately, pacing isn’t even the writing’s biggest weakness. The concept of an English gentleman and his stalwart man-servant going on an adventure in London immediately evoked the image of one of my all-time favorite literary works, P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster series. The thought of a similar duo starring in a point-and-click adventure game sounded like a smashing idea.

Unfortunately, Jeeves and Wooster they are not. Simply put, neither the protagonist or his sidekick are particularly interesting. There’s little in terms of discernible characterization for either of them and what little is there is just plain uninspired. Bertram is a globe-trotting explorer, and an amateur sleuth, and an inventor. In short, he’s not just a gentleman adventurer, he’s every gentleman adventurer…and that’s it. He’s not particularly smart or stupid, he’s not a lovable loser a la Guybrush Threepwood, he’s not a likable jerk, he’s just a gentleman adventurer. His sidekick, Gavin, is even less interesting, only offering advice in the form of proverbs from his homeland.

That’s not to say that there aren’t interesting characters in this game; there are several. The problem is they’re in and out of the story so quickly, they never really get much time to shine.

Most of the humor consists of [insert clip of Bertram saying “terrible puns”] and poorly-executed, pop-culture references, but the few times it does stray away out of its comfort zone, it’s actually pretty decent. Like I said before, many of the odd folk the protagonists encounter during their adventure are entertaining and I’m always a sucker for the “the solution to one problem comes back to bite you later” gag.

Oh, and this happened. [Show picture of two Bertrams] This isn’t the only graphical glitch I encountered either.

So in summary, The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 is a mechanically solid point-and-click adventure game that features good puzzles, so-so writing, and distracting glitches. All of these factors balance out to lead to a completely average, perhaps even mediocre, game, which for a game of this genre is an odd sort of accomplishment. That said, I would say that the asking price of $5.00 is completely fair.

I give The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 a shrug.

Bombslinger Review (Switch) – 8.25/10

Bombslinger is a western-styled roguelike game, all about blowing up baddies.

If this game instantly looks like Bomberman to you, that’s because—well—this game instantly looks like Bomberman. It might be fair to call Bombslinger a clone, but it does introduce plenty of its own unique elements.

First of all, this game has an interesting setting, and fun characters. You play as a cowboy who’s looking to avenge his wife’s death. Like I said—fun. The main character used to be mixed up with the wrong crowd, and when he turns over a new leaf, the old posse wasn’t too happy about that. Now you’ve got to blast your way through 4 levels and take down 7 big bosses.

Bomblinger sports a really interesting graphic style. At first glance it looks like your run-of-the-mill 8-bit art, but from certain angles and cutscenes it looks a bit more “Minecraftian.” You also get some O.G. LoZ vibes as you leave one top-down area of the map to enter another.

There’s a healthy variety of enemies waiting to be blown to smithereens. From old men hobbling around in… underwear? Diapers? Loincloths? Anyway—there’s a handful of vicious animals, bad dudes armed with rifles or machine guns—you name it. The difficulty curve is appropriate and you gradually face more of these challenges as you progress.

Clearing rooms and levels is fun, and you’re rewarded with gold and XP that can be spent on upgrades. The typical Bomberman fare is here, like extra bombs, bigger explosions, and what I lovingly refer to as “kicky-bombs.” But there are some new tools and powers that are more unique and I won’t spoil in this review. I will say it’s not always clear what things do, so trial and error is your friend along the dirt-road to success.

The developers even include a multiplayer mode, so you can take a break from the campaign, slide off your Joy-Con, and basically pretend you’re playing classic Bomberman in ponchos.

My experience wasn’t without bugs, sadly. I found that going into the menu and hitting “restart” would work about half the time, otherwise booting me out of the game and onto my Switch home screen. Fortunately, I never lost progress since I was actively looking to restart my run, so it was only a minor inconvenience.

Speaking of progress, as you get further and accomplish different feats, you’ll unlock new items to customize your loadout with, and more slots in your inventory. The game rewards you well, and helps equip the main character with better tools to make it to the last boss. There’s even two different endings that you can pick from, not unlike Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, which I reference without hesitation because of course you played that one… right? Anyone?

Overall: Bombslinger is a great time. Whoever had the idea of combining Bomberman mechanics with roguelike systems and western settings deserves a raise… or at least your $12 on the eShop. Bombslinger gets an 8.25 out of 10.

Flinthook Review Indie Switch Rougelite

Flinthook is an indie roguelike game for Nintendo Switch. You play as the titular character, a space pirate, as you grapple-hook and blast your way through enemy ships, stealing treasure and taking down bosses along the way.

It’s a great premise, and the execution is pulled off nicely. The first thing you’ll notice about the game is its presentation; upon booting up Flinthook, you’re greeted with an epic chiptune soundtrack cranked up to maximum volume. This game has STYLE, and that persists through its bold, 32-bit (ish) graphics, funny characters, and fast-paced action. The main character is endearing to watch and exciting to play as.

To give you an idea of the gameplay, imagine a Super Mario Bros. game where you have to get from World 1-1 to 1-4 and beat the boss—all on a single life—before you can advance to the next world. But instead of playing as Mario, you’re steamrolling through levels as Samus, and your arsenal includes a plasma blaster, grappling hook, bombs, and more.

There are a couple more systems layered over the basic gameplay, and those are found between bounty runs. In the Black Market, you can spend the treasure you’ve collected on Perks, which are customizable upgrades for your character. You can boost your life, speed, critical hit chances, and much more.

There are also some other side modes included where you can learn more about the story inside the Lore section, play daily challenges, etc. The core game is really solid, so you’ll be compelled to quickly apply some perks and try the game again. Every run, even when you die, is beneficial and will better equip you for your next attempt.

I had a great time advancing through the many challenges of this game. Sadly, I have to point out that I’ve experienced two game-breaking bugs that crashed my Flinthook run and made me lose all progress. One happened after I had just barely managed to defeat a boss and escape with 10HP. The game shut down and I had to do the entire thing over again. I reached out to the developers and wasn’t told a patch was in the works, but hopefully they’ve tracked down the error by now and have it fixed.

The thing I appreciate most about Flinthook is that they took the roguelike genre and tweaked its formula, making it completely fair. This is a skill-based title where the character powers up at the same rate at which the player grows in knowledge and strategy.

I recommend Flinthook to anyone that’s on the fence about it. It blends some of the best elements of roguelikes, platformers, and side-scrolling shooters. It’s got an awesome sense of identity, from the menus to the color palette to the level design. Flinthook gets an 8 out of 10.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review (Switch)

Back when it first came out in 2014, Octodad: Dadliest Catch quickly became one of my favorite indie games of all time.  The goofy premise, inventive gameplay hook, and charming presentation were not only endearing, but felt reminiscent of the creative and experimental cult classics of the GameCube and its contemporaries.  Since its initial release on PC, the game has been ported to just about every system that can run it, including the Nintendo Switch.  So, does the game still measure up on the Switch?

The game follows the story of a clumsy, but well-meaning, father living suburbia.  Despite his best efforts, mayhem and mischief seem to follow him wherever he goes.  Between the strange circumstances and his unwillingness to open up about his mysterious past, his wife, Scarlet, can’t help but suspect something’s amiss.  His past catches up with him, however, as an old enemy attempts to expose his dark secret to his family and the world.

Wait, did I forget to mention the guy’s secretly an octopus in disguise?  Silly me!

Octodad: Dadliest Catch follows the eponymous Octodad as he tries to complete everyday chores without blowing his cover, which is hard for a man with no bones.  As to be expected with a game with such a ludicrous premise, the story is humorous, and sometimes even heartwarming.  The real appeal of the game’s humor, however, is the physics; watching Octodad stumble through the game’s levels, knocking down everything in his path, is sure to bring a smile to anyone fond of slapstick.

The game’s core mechanic is its deliberately awkward controls.  This may sound unappealing at first, but the controls are awkward in a way that feels comfortable, if that makes any sense.  Players control Octodad by manipulating his limbs individually.  This extra layer of abstraction can make even simple tasks like walking not only challenging but amusing as well.  The odd controls do mean this game can get frustrating at points, but not nearly as often as you’d think.

The game’s main campaign is on the short side, with even a leisurely play-through only lasting a few hours.  Fortunately, the game comes with two bonus chapters, which, despite being referred to as “shorts”, are some of the longest levels in the game.  Factor in the three hidden neckties in each level—which are often deviously hard to find—and this game has plenty of replay value.

Unfortunately, the Switch version of this game doesn’t come with any extra bells and whistles.  There’s no support for motion control, which feels like a missed opportunity given the nature of the game.  Instead, the game is played using the analog sticks to position Octodad’s arms and legs.  This is entirely a matter of opinion, but I prefer Octodad with a keyboard and mouse.  The different control schemes both offer a very different feel to the game, with the controller favoring large sweeping movements and the mouse being better at executing small, precise motions.

My biggest issue with this game, however, is the graphics.  While it’s understandable that a few sacrifices would have to be made given the limitations of the Switch’s hardware, the way they cut corners can be downright distracting.  Shadows appear ludicrously pixelated, especially when viewed up close.  It’s so bad at times it looks like the game is censoring parts of the screen.  Other issues are a lack of certain visual effects, such as reflections on mirrors or the absence of rain in one level.  Furthermore, the number of objects and N.P.C.s per level has been reduced, leaving levels overall feeling a bit barren.

Lastly, I should note that this version of the game has crashed on me, but it seems to have been an isolated occurrence.

In the end, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a great game brimming with charm, and I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to play through it again.  That said, the Switch port isn’t the best version out there due to a lack of control options and scaled-down graphics.  If the Switch is the only system you have that can play it, or if portability is a priority, then it’s definitely still worth getting.  Otherwise, I’d recommend you get it on Steam.

Xeodrifter Review (Nintendo Switch)


Xeodrifter is a retro-styled, Metroid-like game from indie developer Atooi. It’s a bite-sized love-letter to the Metroidvania genre, originally released on the 3DS and newly ported to Nintendo Switch.

You play as a little red guy (or girl? You never know with these games…), equipped with a gun, exploring 4 neighboring planets. You’ll need to unlock equipment and abilities as you go to advance through new areas.

Beating bosses earns you power-ups, and you can configure your blaster on the fly by allocating points to its speed, bullet size, spread, and more. Most other unlockables increase your mobility in fun and useful ways; think along the lines of the Metroid series’ shine-spark or rocket jump, but with its own Xeodrifter-flavored twist. The game prompts some “aha” moments as you’re forced to use these mobility upgrades in tandem for some truly memorable segments.

This game presents a real challenge. Once in a great while you will stumble on an enemy nest where you can farm for life replenishment, but by and large you have to traverse through these alien structures with care and caution, where every hit matters. It regularly took me multiple attempts to get what I needed and make it back to the safety of my gunship before embarking on the next mission.

The graphical presentation of Xeodrifter can only be described as simple. When first booting up the game, it didn’t strike me as beautiful when compared to some other modern takes on pixel graphics, but the art style actually did grow on me. For this version, graphics AND rumble were given the “HD” treatment. I also didn’t find myself missing the stereoscopic visuals from the 3D original. However, in the absence of a second screen, a little mini-map in the corner would have saved me a lot of pausing.

One more thing I have filed under the “would have been nice” category is variable jump-height. Whether you quickly tap or hold the jump button down, the character executes the same move and sometimes stays in the air longer than I would have liked. Variable jump height is something the developer has implemented in other games, and that lacking aspect of control did limit my precision.

Overall, I had a fun time with Xeodrifter. The game doesn’t hold your hand, leaving the player to his or her own devices to figure out where to go. In such a compact world, I never felt truly lost. You are encouraged to explore and see where your new weapons can take you.

Some gamers might have a complaint about the boss levels; roughly a half-dozen encounters that use the same giant enemy and attack patterns with increasing difficulty. I actually thought this was a cool analog to my character, as if I was growing more powerful in parallel with my archenemy over multiple showdowns, like you might find with Dark Samus in the Metroid Prime games. The boss fights were another area where this game doesn’t hold back in difficulty, and beating each one felt like an accomplishment.

Xeodrifter is short. It’s an excellent palate-cleanser between bigger titles, a great option for people who miss the Metroid gameplay loop, and a good effort from a passionate indie developer. For the $10 asking price, I can easily recommend it to fans of the genre. Xeodrifter gets a 7.75/10.

SteamWorld Dig Review (Switch)

SteamWorld Dig is indie developer Image & Form’s first claim to fame. Originally released on 3DS in 2013, Dig was universally “dug” around the industry. On February 1st, 2018, Nintendo fans get another chance to play this instant classic on Switch.

SteamWorld Dig joins its sequel and SteamWorld Heist, on the eShop. The main differences between the original Dig and Dig 2 are that, 1: this game is shorter, and 2: the underground labyrinths are randomly generated. It’s kind of like having your own village in Animal Crossing, where all the same features are present, but their placements are determined by an algorithm. This is helpful for people like me who have beaten the game before, to have a fresh experience upon revisiting the steampunk world.

You play as Rusty as you navigate the Earth’s underbelly, mining deeper and deeper under the surface. As you traverse, you’ll gather gems and ore along the way. Once your pouch is full, or your lantern runs out, you will return to the town above, sell your goods, and use the money you earned to upgrade equipment. (By the way, the non-playable robot who you sell to is Dorothy, who goes on to star in SteamWorld Dig 2.) Stronger tools allow you to dig deeper, unlocking more sections of the world in a creative spin on the Metroidvania gameplay loop. Continuing to advance, you will discover caves featuring puzzles that have a predetermined design.

This pattern of digging, mining, spending, upgrading, and repeating is the core of SteamWorld Dig. And it’s a strong core. Few games rival it in instantly hooking the player. The soundtrack is solid (even eliciting memories of Metroid Prime at times), controls and interface are extremely user friendly, and everything periphery melts away as you focus on your goal. However, one aspect of the game sticks out like a sore thumb—and that is combat, which is neither compelling nor rewarding. Rudimentary enemy patterns and limited offensive options leave you feeling lucky when you succeed, but more often, just wishing you could avoid enemies altogether. On that note, with the right tools you can hurry and strike some baddies before they hatch, preventing a cumbersome encounter.

Combat is a mere distraction and not an essential part of the experience, which continues to be a weakness in the series. That’s just about the lone complaint there is to find in this game. Although, I have to wonder if Image & Form could have spent longer to make this a more enticing package. The developers have come a long way and learned many lessons since this game was released. Originally, SteamWorld Dig was finalized at the point just before their team went bankrupt. They’ve gone on record saying that it wasn’t wholly completed to their liking. This port was an opportunity to enhance or add value, but the devs instead opted to do a quick and dirty port.

Okay—the port isn’t dirty at all, but how could I resist that pun with a game about digging? To be clear, the game runs and looks great on Switch. And with no additional bells or whistles, they’ve created an affordable entryway into the wonderful SteamWorld lineup of games. This is worth picking up if you’ve somehow skipped the series, or if you’ve been missing Rusty, his original adventure, and the grassroots origin of one of the best developers on Nintendo eShop. You’d be hard-pressed to play this game without a grin on your face.

SteamWorld Dig gets an 8/10.

Review // SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition (Nintendo Switch)


SteamWorld Heist is an indie game developed by Image & Form, who brought us the immensely popular SteamWorld Dig game and its sequel.

Heist takes place after the events of Dig 2, as our robotic characters struggle to cling to existence after Planet Earth has been shattered.

Resources are scarce, and that’s why our trusty Steambot pirate leader Piper and her scrappy crew are exploring space and raiding enemy ships for loot.

The objective of the game is to enter a series of procedurally generated ships, accomplish certain missions like obtaining epic swag, rescuing robots in distress, or destroying big baddies.

Combat consists of moving your characters behind cover, lining up shots, and firing weapons that you’ve collected from across space. Many times, destroying all enemies is not a requirement for success, so it pays to play smart and keep the mission in mind.

Along your journey, you will collect a plethora of weapons in many categories and a ragtag bunch of crew members with different abilities. It’s up to you to determine your loadout for each mission, and any characters that survive the ensuing encounters will gain more experience points and level up.

Controls are flawless. Whether you’re playing with Joy-Con, Pro Controller, or even touching the screen without the need for any buttons, the game adapts to the way you want to play. You can gain a bit more accuracy by aiming with the touch screen if you prefer, even if you play the rest of the game with analog sticks and buttons.

Gameplay in SteamWorld Heist is turn-based, but fast-paced and exciting during the player’s turn. Aiming is a nonstop challenge that gets easier with experience, and as you learn how your character’s “breathe” and move naturally as you line up a shot. Sometimes, I wished that I could speed up the enemies’ turn, especially when multiple Scrappers and turrets were on screen. A “zoom-out” button also would have been helpful for scouting a ship, but panning around works fine.

It’s hard to complain about the graphics in this game, which are high definition with a stylized art approach. Presentation is equally good, with quick load times, a driving atmospheric soundtrack, simple user interface, and genuinely funny and clever writing that endears you to the characters and their world.

SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition boasts a healthy amount of content, including DLC previously sold on other platforms. A large range of difficulty settings promises replayability, as well as New Game+ mode unlocked after beating the game (which took me over 10 hours). The downloadable content adds a playable character, interesting side-missions, and a load of hats with pop-culture references.

Simeon and I both played through this title simultaneously, and it was really fun to compare our loadouts, including all the optional characters Simeon unlocked while I was impatiently pressing through the main storyline. Exploration and strategizing is rewarded in this title!

SteamWorld Heist is easily recommendable to everyone that enjoyed Mario + Rabbids, the Worms series, or previous SteamWorld games. Heist has more limited movement options than Kingdom Battle, but is also available for the lower launch price of $20 on the Switch eShop, launching December 28th. To sum it up, it’s a challenging, rewarding, interesting, smooth, expansive game for a great value. Two Button Crew awards SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition an 8.25 out of 10. Buy it!

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch) Review

Look what gem we dug up.


Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is available on Nintendo Switch, including the timed-exclusive Specter of Torment campaign! Ryan has been playing the title for review, and has completed the game and assembled all of his thoughts. Watch to see what he thought of this villainous twist on Shovel Knight!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Metroid Prime: Federation Force Review

Sometimes, Nintendo gives us something good disguised as something we don’t want.


The newest entry in the Metroid Prime series has just been released, and the Nintendo fanbase has been in an outcry over it. Is this game worth a shot? Is it worth your time? Watch for all the details on Scott’s experience with the game.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mighty No. 9 Apology

Seriously, though, Countershade’s stage is absolute genius.


A while back Simeon reviewed Mighty No. 9 and gave it a 6. Now he’s had a change of heart!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Boy and the Knight (A Poem)

The fighter breathed in slowly in the darkened locker room.
His eyes drew to the hallway down which the arena loomed.
He’d trained for this very moment for innumerable days.
He let his breath out slowly as he also dropped his gaze.
His past had come to haunt him; or rather, his father’s did.
It was in the old man’s shadow that up ‘til now he hid.
He rose from the wooden bench as he slammed the locker door.
His mind was clear and focused as he slowly crossed the floor.

His father was a great man; one of the best there’d ever been.
He’d proudly held the people’s flag for years and years on end.
The women and children’s love he kept, the men’s respect he’d earned.
But even a champion’s fire burns out; a lesson he finally learned.
And now his boy had come of age, his turn had come at last
To earn the title for himself, to honor his father’s past.
Any time he’d walk the street the people called his name.
They smiled as they recalled his dad and said “You’ll do the same!”

He heard them calling for him as he traveled down the hall.
His pace was slow and steady as cheers echoed off the walls.
But as he plodded down the corridor that led down to the ring,
The distance to his destination got further, so it seemed.
He started to jog faster ‘til he ran as if he fled.
The image of his father was burned into his head.
As he neared the final door that led to the battleground,
He’d realized he could no longer hear the cheering of the crowd.

He swung the door wide open and he stepped into the light.
Instead of the cheering fans expected he saw a very different sight.
The crowd was filled with anger, spitefulness, and scorn.
The faces that used to smile at him now a scowl wore.
The booing increased with every step as he approached the field.
He looked across at his opponent who rose up from his kneel.
The enemy wore full armor and a horned helmet on his head.
He lifted his oddly-shaped sword. “I’ve looked forward to this”, he said.

The warrior that stood before him was the one who’d succeeded his Pa.
The boy took his battle stance, he set his eyes and jaw.
“I’ll prove them wrong,” he determined, “Today’s my day to shine!”
The crowed fell deadly silent ‘til they heard the air horn whine.
The boy immediately charged the knight, his weapon flashed to life.
The knight was ready for the attack and deflected with his knife.
“Is that all you have?” The knight laughed. “I expected more from you.”
The knight lunged with his weapon aloft, the boy’s head which to hew.

The boy quickly dodged the strike with blindingly quick speed.
“One thing you didn’t count on: my Pa wasn’t quick like me!”
He continued to rush around the ring, too fast to keep track,
Until the knight took a well-aimed swing that knocked him on his back.
Light was all that he could see as he lay there on the floor.
The knight drew near and placed his blade upon the boy’s core.
He kneeled down next to him, and with a look of sadness in his eyes,
He said, “I’m… disappointed.” And then began to rise.

The air was still in the Colosseum and the knight just turned and walked.
The seats were slowly emptied. No one dared to talk.
The boy just lay there on the mat. He knew everybody’d left.
One word stuck in his heart, and like a foil it cleft.

“Disappointed”.

BOXBOY! 3DS Review

Sounds like those graphing calculators that play Portal.


With the release of BoxBoxBoy, it’s time to revisit the original! Let’s review BoxBoy for 3DS!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mighty No. 9 Review

Poor Simeon. I don’t think Kickstarter issues refunds in instances like these…


It’s finally here… Inafune’s pet project, Mega Man’s spiritual successor: Mighty No. 9. How is the game? Take it from a Mega Man expert!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Virtual Boy: Console Review

So now you’ve worn one too!


Ryan rounds out the Two D-Pad Review series with a look at the classic console itself! Why didn’t this thing take off?!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/