Tadpole Treble

image

What an utterly, utterly lovely game.

If you look through the reviews for Tadpole Treble, one word appears repeatedly- charming. It absolutely oozes charm- from the little background details to the music to the subtle way Baton’s facial expression changes, every asset will bring a smile to your face. It was spearheaded by Matthew Taranto of Brawl In The Family fame (which is every bit as charming as the game he made) and the love he puts into his work is stunningly apparent.

The game has you dodging the notes of the background music as they appear on a stave, with a dozen extra challenges thrown into the mix to afford replayability. The music is all catchy and enjoyable and there’s even a few actual songs to play through too. Thunder Creek is the standout stage, seen above, with all the graphics being rendered in silhouette as lightning rocks the stage.

Fin or Bin:

I’m having a great time here, and I’ll be Finishing as many of the extra challenges as I can to spend as much time with Baton as possible.

Steam link is here and I’m not even gonna put it in smalltext ‘cos I want everyone who sees this to go buy it.

Metal Gear Solid 4

image

Metal Gear!??!?!????!?!???!?!!??!?!??!???!?!??!?!?!?

I enjoyed MGS2 to death, never played the first one, and never managed to finish the third, so I’m not sure if I’m really an MGS fan or not.

The fourth game is immediately confusing to me as all the controls are different, even though you can do the same basic moves. I keep punching instead of shooting, and since the punch no longer leads into an easy 1-2-KO combo this is BAD. There seems to be a much stronger emphasis on combat this time rather than stealth, or maybe I just suck at stealth… speaking of which, the auto-camo is cool, but I have no idea how it works mechanically. The indicator says I’m 85% camouflaged- so there’s a 15% chance to be seen? How often is this rolled? In what circumstances does that 85% come into play? Can I play a perfect game and still get an unlucky 15% roll or doesn’t it work like that? It’s confusing and it doesn’t seem to be explained anywhere. It’s just 85%.

Fin or Bin:

I’m not entirely sure yet if I’m enjoying the game, but I want to give it more of a chance as many of the problems I’m having so far are more down to me than the game. That said, although I’ve played through MGS2 probably 20 times or more, I’ll probably Finish this one just the one time.

Shuuten (Retro Game Crunch)

A vertical shooter themed around feudal Japan? This is RIGHT up my alley.

Your samurai can swing his sword to reflect enemy attacks, and can also steal enemy weapons to use as his own (allowing the use of projectiles, essentially). The weapons have a neat variety and the enemy patterns are cool. Definitely going to FInish this one, and its easily the best of the set.

End Of Line (Retro Game Crunch)

image

(Retro Game Crunch disclaimer here.)

Destroy yourself! That’s the aim of this one.

A pretty cool little puzzle game, healer robots will try to repair you when you get destroyed, so you need to figure out how you can get them out of the way first before you ram yourself into that pit of spikes. The levels are pretty tricky and take some fore-thought, with ice and fire powerups added into the mix that have to be used in the right order to progress.

Fin or Bin:

I’ll finish this one! Not sure how long it is but so far I’d play this by itself, let alone as part of a collection.

Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

I was a big fan of the first game, along with it’s entirely impossible-to-predict twists and turns that led me into one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read. Holiday Star is, I guess, a side-quel to the first in as much as none of the events from HB1 are considered canon- the characters are all present in an AU of sorts, themed around Christmas.

This time, the story is kinetic and told in chapters that seem to be unrelated. I’ve finished the first and have started the second, and none of the events of chapter one have yet been referenced. I might be wrong about this and it’s certainly the Hatoful way to build up these smaller stories into something much larger and more insidious. As a result though I’d say I’m not as invested yet as I was in the first game.

Fin or Bin:

Absolutely going to Finish this one. The original game had me open-mouthed in suspense wondering just how dark it was going to get before it ended, and I’m sure Holiday Star has the same treatment waiting for me. However- if I’d started with Holiday Star, and wasn’t already acquainted with the characters and lore, I might have a different opinion. You shouldn’t start here.

My fave bird is Yuuya, by the way.

Klang

image

I never expected to be playing a rhythm-action brawler/platformer, but here we are. Klang’s ultra-stylish aesthetic and tunes mesh with the gameplay to provide something not quite like anything else I’ve ever played before.

It’s an absolute treat to look at, with contrasting neon blues and oranges accenting everything in Klang’s world as he fights a musical battle against… something. I’m not really sure what the plot is, being conveyed in wordless cutscenes dripping with style. The combat is the most satisfying part of Klang, but you definitely want a controller with analogue sticks for it.

All the tunes are electro dancey type stuff, the genre of which I’m not sure of (and is probably a nebulous thing to try and define regardless), by reknowned EDM artist bLiNd. In the screenshot above, Klang is being attacked by a dubstep cannon. It’s awesome.

Fin or Bin:

Fin, and highly recommended to others who are interested. I’m having a great time so far. Reports are that it’s kinda short (3-4 hours) but there’s score attack achievements for people who want to push for a perfect game.

(Steam link)

You Have To Win The Game

image

What choice do I have?

Falling somewhere between Meat Boy and VVVVVV, YHtWtG is an exploration platformer very obviously inspired by The Olden Days. You get thrown into it with no map and no instruction on what your aim is (other than- Win The Game) and off you go, into the labyrinth.

Well, an hour in and I’m still not really sure what I’m meant to be doing. It feels like I’m going in circles at this point, and although I’ve picked up some upgrades (double jump and wall jump among others) I’m at a loss as to where I haven’t explored yet. I’m sure it’s one exit on a screen I’ve long forgotten about, but it’s frustrating to have no idea where to go next.

Along the way I’ve been given hints to a “secret word” and a “secret symbol” via writing on the walls of the dungeon, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with either of these, either. I realise this obfuscation is a deliberate homage to retro games that would do the same thing, but there’s a reason we stopped doing it.

Fin or Bin:

Frustratingly, it’s a Fin, but only because the completion counter says I’m at 83% and I have to win the game.


UPDATE:

Found out that to get 100%, I have to deliberately “lose” the game and start the whole thing over. Found out by doing it about 15 minutes after posting this. I’m not here for artificial inflation of a game’s runtime like that, so I Binned it.

(Steam link (it’s free!))

A Kiss For The Petals

image

It’s cute.

Aside from some discordantly lewd dialogue at the start, this kinetic VN is 110% fluff, with not an H or an ecchi in sight. Rather, it focuses on the emotional side of the budding relationship between the two main girls, with what is actually a pretty good depiction of a teenager’s first real crush. Every line is voiced (JP) and the artwork is very pretty, with a surprising amount of CGs during important moments. It all ends rather abruptly though and I actually had to go back and check I hadn’t accidentally skipped a chapter. There’s also a few moments in the story where the perspective changes without any real indication, which can be pretty jarring- especially later on, when it happens twice in the same scene.

Fin or Bin:

Well, I actually did finish it, so… Fin, for sure. It’s short, cute, and fun, fluffy as heck, and brought up some laughs.

(Steam link)