Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie Hero Spit Shine

With my recent completion of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, I am proud to say I’ve finally gotten all caught up on WayForward’s Shantae series. From the first game via the 3DS Virtual Console, to ½ Genie Hero on the Switch, I’ve played every game in the series all the way through (not counting bonus modes for the half genie’s latest title that is). Those of you who’ve seen my review of ½ Genie Hero know I greatly enjoyed that game, as I do the rest of the series, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take issue with some elements of the games’ design. Read more Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie Hero Spit Shine

Hollow Knight – Don’t Miss this Platformer


Hollow Knight is a beautifully atmospheric, yet incredibly challenging platformer. It debuted on Switch a few months ago, but it’s still charming any player brave enough to pick it up. Simeon and Scott take the game for a spin and give their impressions!

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

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.

Unboxing & Playing Axiom Verge (Switch)


Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania indie game, and the Multiverse Edition is a physical Switch cartridge with a bunch of goodies packed in. We go hands-on with the game as well as unbox the package to show you all the goodness they contain! This is a good one to add to your collection.

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

Xeodrifter: Launching into Space


The talented creators at Atooi have brought one of their finest titles to Switch: Xeodrifter, a bite-sized love letter to the Metroidvania genre. This little indie gem is ready to blow your socks off as you traverse the alien landscape, blast baddies, and power up to take on big bosses. We hope to give you a taste of what this title is like, and we definitely recommend you give it a look in the eShop!

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

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.

Can You SteamWorld Dig It? (Switch)


SteamWorld Dig is a revolutionary indie game that took the 3DS eShop by storm. Now it’s back in high definition on Nintendo Switch, ready to be taken anyway or taken in on the big screen. This game features Rusty, perhaps the most beloved SteamWorld hero. This is Simeon’s first time taking to the dirty, dank underground caverns. How will he fare?

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

Steam-Rolling Through Dig 2!


It’s the first installment of Let’s Play Switch! Simeon and Scott sit down to take SteamWorld Dig 2 for a spin, the newly released digging Metroidvania Nindie title. Is it worth your $20? Yes! Is it worth you watching this entire video? Yes again!

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