Goomba Stomp's Reviews
When it comes to atmosphere and story, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse will shock players with how much it has to offer in visuals and storytelling. While its gameplay and controls may falter in several areas that drag down the experience, Mask of the Lunar Eclipse still holds up fine enough after all these years. It is disappointing that this remaster fails to fix the game’s more striking problems, but you also have to acknowledge that this is not a remake. Many of the decisions this release suffers from are due to being a product of its time.
The power fantasy that comes inherent to playing video games takes many forms. Handling weapons or tools with skill and confidence is undeniably pleasurable. But there’s also a cottage industry of games where slowly overcoming incompetence is the point. Firepunchd Games‘ Tentacular is one such title. Players control a kaiju-sized tentacle monster, tasked with helping a small island town’s residents with various projects. Fun, funny, and full of heart, Tentacular is a PSVR2 launch title that should not be missed.
Tales of Symphonia is an all-time classic JRPG and arguably the best Tales Of game ever made. Ironically, Tales of Symphonia Remastered is easily one of the most disappointing remasters of all time. There are no significant improvements visually, audibly, or gameplay-wise that warrant buying this version. In fact, it’s worse than its original release in terms of framerate and stability. For a company that just put out one of the best remasters of the 2020s thus far with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R, it’s shocking that Bandai dropped the ball this hard. If this is what Tales Of fans have to look forward to in the future, it may be best to stop asking for remasters of other entries altogether.
Like 2003’s Battle for Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a game that will be considered a good time for many fans of the Nickelodeon series. Sure, the platforming is not perfect, and the game does have numerous bugs (especially on the Nintendo Switch), but the atmosphere and characterizations of the SpongeBob SquarePants cast in The Cosmic Shake are admirably faithful to the aquatic cartoon fans know and love. This is a licensed game suitably cut and shaped for modern SpongeBob SquarePants fans, and Battle for Bikini Bottom fans looking for the glory days of the franchise. The Cosmic Shake may not be a must-play game by today’s standards or something that will put SpongeBob SquarePants back on the map to critical fame, but it is at the very least an enjoyable adventure fans will find themselves submerged in for a few hours.
Games based on anime are notorious for two things: being arena fighter Musou games and retreading the source material. So when Bandai Namco announced that the new One Piece game would be a full-fledged JRPG with an original story written by Eiichiro Oda himself, it sparked interest throughout the entire fandom. Thankfully, developer ILCA has largely managed to deliver an engaging adventure for fans and JRPG enthusiasts alike. Despite some rough edges, One Piece Odyssey stands out as one of the best games based on an anime in recent memory.
Following hot on the stylish heels of last year’s excellent, long-awaited Persona 5 Royal Switch port, Atlus has done the unthinkable: they’ve given Nintendo fans more of what they want. Persona 4 Golden has come to Switch, and with it, the Switch’s already-extraordinary JRPG library gets even better. This is about as simple of a port as they come, with no major changes or additions to the original experience–but with a title as beloved as Persona 4, this port doesn’t need to do anything more than that. Whether you dock your Switch to explore the TV world or explore Inaba in handheld mode, this Switch port lets Persona 4 Golden shine without compromise.
Persona 3 Portable is a complicated experience. On one hand, its core gameplay loop is at times frustratingly tedious and the plot goes nowhere for several months of the in-game calendar. On the other though, Persona 3 Portable is an emotional stroke of genius by the time it reaches its final act, executing a beautifully poignant narrative using consistent atmospheric world-building and an overall solid cast of characters to hammer home difficult themes of loss, grief and the inevitability of death. As a story about making the most of the time we have on Earth while we still can, Persona 3 Portable is a staggering achievement, but its flaws remain significant and numerous as this re-release is almost completely unchanged from its prior versions.
Children of Silentown is a point-and-click adventure that, for both good and bad, wouldn’t feel out of place in the catalog of Amanita Design, developers of Machinarum and Botanicula. It strikes a similar mix of striking art, unique music, and classic adventure game mechanics with just a hint of innovation. Yet Children of Silentown appears a distinctively less inspired game than those mentioned above, with no strong theme or thesis to bring the whole experience together.
There is a delicate balance to strike in a roguelike game. The genre, featuring titles as diverse as the 2020 breakout hit Hades, the perfectly fine-tuned The Binding of Isaac, and lo-fi early access epic Caves of Qud, has plenty of appeal. Lone Ruin, from developer Cuddle Monster Games and Grapple Dog publisher Super Rare Originals, sets itself apart from its contemporaries with an inimitable sense of style. The neon-soaked environments and pulsing techno soundtrack are tremendous highlights of Lone Ruin, and even if the limited biomes and scant worldbuilding may ultimately leave players wanting more, the crunchy combat, included survival mode, and leaderboard score chasing are plenty satisfying.
We’ve had an abundance of memorable ninja games over the years, but recently, there’s been a distinct lack of robot ninja games. Thankfully, now we have Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider. After giving fans what Konami couldn’t with the excellent Contra-inspired action title Blazing Chrome, developer JoyMasher has now set their sights on new retro horizons: reviving the 2D action platformer as exemplified by classics like Shinobi and Strider. The result, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, is just about as loyal to the classics as one could ask for: equally demanding and satisfying, Moonrider overcomes a handful of rough edges to deliver a worthwhile, modern reinvention of old-school action.
In an era of unwieldy UI and endless icons to manage, minimalist design sensibilities shine through in titles like Melatonin. Its dream-like aesthetic is pulled off perfectly from start to finish, and though the runtime is on the shorter side, the level of polish Half Asleep has managed to implement here is astounding.
Bayonetta 3 from wildcard creator Hideki Kamiya and developer Platinum Games is a complete mess. After more than half a decade of development, the third entry in the Bayonetta series is not just a major downgrade from its well-received successors–it is also a far cry from everything that made the prior games beloved and absurd extravaganzas. It may not be an unplayable disaster, but between its interrupting cutscenes, stale gimmicks, embarrassing level design, kaiju-styled set-pieces that fail to be fun, and dreadful narrative, the game is bouncing all over the place in terms of quality and consistency.
Every home, no matter how tidy, has that one drawer that ends up being a catch-all space for batteries, paper clips, pens, and the like. Garages always have a corner with a few half-empty paint cans, and kitchen cupboards inevitably have a stack of cracked bowls that should probably be thrown away. A Little to the Left is an indie puzzle game that celebrates little messes like these, and the tidying-up that (sometimes) accompanies them. While its puzzles can occasionally seem opaque, A Little to the Left‘s charming art style and multiple solution options help it to stand out.
The nature of Ragnarök is what sets it apart not only from its first few titles but from the 2018 version as well. God of War Ragnarök is perhaps the purest sequel ever produced in recent times, a stunning refinement of everything that made God of War memorable. The form may feel familiar, but Ragnarök‘s self-assured storytelling and breathtaking worldbuilding combined with its pitch-perfect gameplay make for an essential PlayStation exclusive.
Back in 2017, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle surprised Nintendo and turn-based tactics fans with a ludicrous and charming concept. The world-famous plumber teaming up with Ubisoft’s gang of goofballs, while wielding blaster cannons and bazookas? Mario and the Rabbids had each already ventured into many different genres, but Kingdom Battle had a distinct identity; it was seemingly as crazy as the two could get. When a sequel was announced last year, there was no doubt that the wholesome and emotional creative director Davide Soliani and his team at Ubisoft would deliver on continuing to expand their wildcard vision–and for the most part, they have succeeded.
Originally released in 2020 as the definitive and expanded edition of the critically acclaimed Atlus JRPG, Persona 5 Royal has finally made its way to a handheld device just like its predecessors–and it feels right at home. The Nintendo Switch port of the Phantom Thieves’ stylish journey to steal the hearts of criminals and reform society manages to combine smooth performance and minimal graphical downgrades to deliver the same triple-digit hour long story while making very few sacrifices along the way.
LEGO Bricktales, the new physics-based puzzle-adventure game from the makers of the Bridge Constructor series, is simultaneously a triumph and a disappointment. It shines brightest in its variety of puzzle designs, ranging from simple decoration exercises to surprisingly complex engineering dilemmas, with each puzzle being built brick-by-brick using an intuitive and precise control scheme. Additionally, LEGO Bricktales’ detailed dioramas are consistently beautiful to look at, featuring catchy music and delightful sound effects that make for a joyous brick-building atmosphere. The experience is, however, marred by issues of varying severity.
Apparently, it’s a great year to be the third entry in a Nintendo series. After five years since the mega-successful sequel to Splatoon began taking turf on the Nintendo Switch’s modest catalog of shooters and online multiplayer games, the funky fresh post-apocalyptic marine life is back to cover more ground across the world. Splatoon 3 adds more than just another coat of graphical paint to its beloved formula as Inklings and Octolings come together for yet another wonderfully competitive and creative outing of fast-footed ink wars.
One of the most satisfying reveals during a recent Nintendo Direct was confirmation that Nintendo remembered one of their more innovative franchises, Pikmin, still exists. But as excited as Shigeru Miyamoto was to discuss the prospects of Pikmin Bloom, Pikmin 4 was certainly the more substantial announcement. However, with a vague 2023 release date, fans of the miniature multicolor plant people will have to find something else with which to occupy their time. Tinykin, the recent release from the ex-Ubisoft developers of Splashteam, shares some of Pikmin’s DNA while offering enough new and different mechanics to emerge as its own game. For players who love being a tiny little guy who bosses other, tinier little guys around, Tinykin will scratch a very specific itch.