Unfortunately Bounty Battle is a series of missed opportunities almost destined to be a candidate for our site's yearly awards – but not one of the good ones. Horribly unresponsive controls, shallow move sets and game modes and a clunky presentation all squander the goodwill that comes from bringing together so many awesome indie characters from across numerous other video games.
The boss battles help to alleviate the repetition and there are some secret ones that can be unlocked if you meet particular criteria that serve as the primary reason to replay levels. Admittedly, some of these were pretty cool and gave me a nice sense of satisfaction when they occurred, but at the end of the day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is little more than a visually stylized button masher with little of the heart that has made the Turtles so enduring over the years. I love most of the titles that PlatinumGames produces, but TMNT is a rare miss for the developer.
VR Ping Pong Pro has a solid enough presentation and gets more right than wrong in just about every area but the one that matters the most - the actual gameplay, which misses the mark worse than one of my real life volley attempts. That unfortunately holds back what could have been a good game from reaching its full potential.
I have long been a fan of the brawling action genre, and Samurai Riot does a nice job of channeling some of the old school nostalgia with some pleasant enough art. However, this throwback to the buddy beat-'em-up genre really never does anything to distinguish itself from other games in the genre, making it a relatively fun if pretty average title in the end.
Double Dragon IV clings to its retro inspirations just a little too tightly. Fans of the old 8-bit titles will likely enjoy their romp here for what it is, but Arc System Works could have taken some more chances and delivered a brawler that had more to offer. Instead we get a fighting game that is simply average, despite my deep nostalgia for the series.
Through the Woods nails creepy atmosphere and has an interesting story that draws on Norse mythology - something that gives it a unique feeling. However, sometimes finicky mechanics and some other rough edges dampen the experience and hold the game back from ever reaching its potential. That is a shame because Through the Woods presents several missed opportunities where the development team executed on some things very well, while other less effective aspects of the presentation hurt the experience as a whole.
Neither good nor inherently bad, Worlds of Magic: Planar Conquest occupies a comfortable place as an average game among the 4x strategy genre. There are some things to like about the title, but there is a noticeable lack of polish that holds the game back in the end.
The Huntsman: Winter's Curse has some interesting ideas, and I can appreciate that it blends RPG elements with a unique card battling system that compliment the visual novel-like story. None of these elements are particularly deep, but they are enjoyable enough to want to see the game through, even when a handful of smaller bugs do make it harder to complete the game properly.
When first firing up Super Dungeon Bros, I was immediately reminded of Gauntlet, one of my favorite old arcade games of all time. This looks like a more cartoonish, playful and possibly even more entertaining version of that formula. The problem is, once you strip away the charmingly cute exterior, Super Dungeon Bros is a decidedly average experience that does a few things right but has a few things wrong with it as well.
Bomberman has seen its up and downs over the years, but the overall formula is still a popular one with a lot of players. Brawl seeks to capitalize on a lot of the same gameplay elements while adding a horror aesthetic. All in all, it is a competently made game, but not one that does enough to make it a more compelling play than the games that clearly inspired it.
For me, Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four is a mixed bag with a ton of potential, but too many small issues that are impossible to completely overlook. I really liked the card evolution and deck building systems, I appreciated the quests, equipment and randomized nature of the stages, and the turn-based combat is generally satisfying. I just don’t like the difficulty spikes that are largely due to the uneven resource requirements and the rough control optimization. I have a feeling this would play better on PC with a mouse and a keyboard, but appreciate seeing games like this make their way to consoles, where I tend to play more. A bit of UI / control cleanup and better balance of resources would make Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four a much better overall title that is still worth a look – but be ready for a bit of frustration.
Swords of Gargantua is one of those games that feels like a missed opportunity. There is some solid potential to have an interesting story, but the narrative bits never really develop. I am a pretty easy sell on the idea of a VR melee combat game, and to its credit Swords of Gargantua handles pretty well the majority of the time, but there just is not much reason to continue playing after awhile. Progression is shallow and the gameplay really never develops in a meaningful way. Swords of Gargantua is a perfectly adequate game without a lot of incentive to keep coming back for more. It's a perfectly average VR experience, but I had hoped for a bit more.
There is a fun game here in NBA Playgrounds, but this is by no means the best version of the game. The other issue is that the game is a little on the shallow side. It is a shame really, because there is a fun title to be had here, but issues hold it back and the end result is a merely average sports outing.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. feels like one of those games that would have felt right at home in an arcade years ago. The action’s borderline unrelenting, and some of the cheaper, more annoying hordes of characters almost feel like they were made for eating someone’s quarters. Characters look interesting and creative early on, but like the gameplay become repetitive fairly early into things, which is a shame since there are a lot of beautifully realized if linear environments that feel more like they are meant to be ‘gotten through’ instead of enjoyed and explored. Gungrave G.O.R.E. has some rewarding moments here and there, but it’s a relatively average game that is likely only to appeal to hardcore fans of action games of the source material.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is not a bad game, but by more modern standards it is not really a good one either. Fans just looking for a trip down memory lane will probably get what they need out of this, but Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is a barebones remaster that touches up the in-game visuals and little more. On those merits, it is hard to argue that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is good bang for the buck at roughly thirty dollars, unless you are a diehard fan of all Dungeons & Dragons games. Despite some technical quibbles and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II’s evident age, there is fun to be had here for those who enjoy an action RPG.
Empire of Angels IV is a nice enough strategy game that does just enough for me to enjoy it, even if I did find myself sometimes wishing for a bit more meat on the bones. A cleaner translation, items / equipment, and a more interesting combination of characters and narrative would have helped elevate the entire package. What we still have is a fundamentally sound, relatively easy SRPG that can be enjoyed over a couple of dozen hours or so.
Black Legend’s combat is solid if unspectacular, and the setting is unique and atmospheric. The character progression is more interesting than the characters themselves, and the story fails to match the intrigue created by the overall visual style due to average writing. Across the board, Black Legend is a decent game with some good ideas but technical issues hold it back.
There is a lot of potential in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, I just wish more of it had been fully realized. There are moments of excitement to be had, especially in the game’s earlier hours as you take on your werewolf form and lay waste to your opponents. However, the combat and many of the environments become repetitive relatively quick. Given the game’s tie-in to the well-established RPG property of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, I do wish there had been more depth in both character development and the story itself. There is a ton of potential lore to draw from here, but it misses some of those opportunities. The end result? A decent enough weekend action-RPG binge, but not much else.
Having enjoying the racing game Redout, I was looking forward to seeing the developer’s take on the space shooting genre. They got some things right, especially the on-rails sections and creating a nice sense of speed, but there’s enough rough edges coupled with a lack of depth that relegates Redout: Space Assault to simply being an average, budget entry into the genre.