- Final Fantasy VII
- Resident Evil
- Metal Gear Solid
It’s hard not to go into a title published by Ratalaika Games without a bit of scepticism. Don’t get me wrong, they’re rarely outright bad games. And hey, achievement or trophy hunters certainly get a buzz from the easy selection each title offers. Their games just rarely do much to engross the player and instead feature gameplay mechanics that have typically been done much better elsewhere.
Another day, another new release from the console porting experts over at Ratalaika Games (though eastasiasoft are publishing). This time around it’s for Mina & Michi, the top-down 2D puzzler that launched on PC late last year. The game does add a twist to its puzzling antics – players have to control both characters at the same time as they lead them on their little adventure. It’s kinda like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in a way… just nowhere near as good.
Ratchet and Clank are PlayStation icons, with their futuristic escapades giving 3D-adventuring masterclasses ever since the PlayStation 2 days. I remember playing and loving the original game, whilst every entry since has been top class too. They have been welcome faces on the platform since 2002, with their adventures certainly standing the test of time.
“You cannot change the past, but you can always change your perspective”. It’s a quote that feels fitting for Maquette, both with its gameplay and its narrative. The puzzler from developer Graceful Decay doesn’t just give players a myriad of challenging enigmas to solve that requires them to use different perspectives to alter the objects around them, but it also tells a love story that’s somewhat bittersweet. That’s not a spoiler, by the way, but something that’s addressed in the intro.
I’ve played plenty of point-and-click adventures of varying qualities over the years. Some will stick with me forever (I’m looking at you, Monkey Island) but others aren’t so memorable. Sumatra: Fate of Yandi falls into the latter category. Whilst it isn’t bad, it did nothing exciting to help it stand out in what is already a crowded genre.
The first Layers of Fear was a really, REALLY, horrifying game… in the best way possible, of course. With its ever-changing environments and haunting narrative, it really gave me the chills when I first played it. Naturally then, I was expecting to be spooked out by its sequel Layers of Fear 2. I mean, more of the same eerie thrills but on a boat? Count me in.
2018’s revival of the Leisure Suit Larry series was a little bit surprising. Whilst the original titles certainly weren’t bad (I’ll admit that I’m actually a fan), it was hardly a point-and-click series that was remembered as fondly as the likes of Monkey Island, King’s Quest, and so on. Plus, it features a perverted and misogynistic protagonist – it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t sit so well with modern audiences.
I’ve got very fond memories of the Micro Machines series, so Tinker Racers REALLY caught my eye. Table-top racing in tracks made up of household goods? Check. Survival-based mechanics where you’ve got to stay ahead of the pack to score? Check. Addictive gameplay that’ll keep you hooked in? Double-check. Tinker Racers really ticks all of the boxes that fans of the series would expect, even IF the production values and lack of content do fall a bit short.
Inter-dimensional puzzling isn’t new to video games, but there’s something about World Splitter’s take on it that just feels so satisfying. Having a screen split into two different worlds with the player able to constantly change up the split-ratio to traverse each challenge they offer? It just works.
Balan Wonderworld will be divisive, but I actually had a pretty fun time exploring its whimsical levels and using the creative costumes to overcome its platforming challenges. The level design itself is on point too, whilst the wonderful soundtrack and addictive nature of grabbing all of the collectibles kept me coming back for more. Of course, there’s no doubting that it’s VERY simple in design, whilst a lot of elements of the gameplay and its visuals are pretty dated too. There was nothing on show across the game that you wouldn’t have seen done before by plenty of other 3D platformers over the years, with Balan Wonderworld falling very short of the evolution of the genre some gamers might be hoping for in 2021. Still, there’s no doubting that there’s still a good time to be had in the game, especially for younger gamers or those who appreciate the genre. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but Balan Wonderworld still offers a wacky yet wonderful escapade that might pleasantly surprise those who give it a try.