Indie Game Spotlight: Nuclear Throne

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is Nuclear ThroneI’ve mentioned it a couple of times on our Nerd Swole weeklies, and now I wanted to talk a little bit more in depth about the game.

Firstly I wanted to say that this game is about as unforgiving as any game I’ve played, and even more so than a game that I already thought was quite cruel and challenging in Ramapge KnightsThrone is a top down, 8-bit looking, third person shooter, dungeon crawler, that will make you want to punch holes in walls with how much you can get absolutely WRECKED when you thought you were having a pretty solid run. The dungeons are random, the weapon drops and power ups from leveling are all random as well, so you may have a good run where you get great weapons but terrible power ups and vice versa. So if you dislike games involving some luck this game may not be for you.

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One of the random power ups you can get called “Back Muscles”

Don’t get me wrong though, this game does take a fair amount of skill and isn’t a bunch of random generator luck. You skillfully navigate through dungeons, conserve, and use of special skills depending on your character. You make decisions like skipping chests and items now hoping for a big payoff later or you get completely screwed because you hoped for a shovel and got a screwdriver (this makes complete sense if you play the game I promise).

On top of that, characters are unique and different, and none of them seem particularly overpowered and ridiculous, each has a pretty useful special ability/mechanic. I really commend the developers on this part as each character really is different from the others and there is a very good variety of characters to find a really good fit for your style (you do have to unlock characters though).

Throne Characters

There is a lot to be said about synergy as well, because certain characters definitely work better together, so you and your teammate don’t have to be on the same page with character selection, but it helps if you are. Oh right, a teammate, the main reason that I even picked up this game is the co-op (usually a driving factor with a lot of indies I play).

I’ve mentioned many times how much I enjoy co-op because of the memories that are made in local co-op games when your friend/teammate makes a big play to save the day, and as much heartbreak as there is in Nuclear Throne, there will also be plenty of great memories forged by all of the possible clutch moments you come across. Whether it’s finding a med kit so you get above 1 hp to revive your teammate, or blocking for a teammate, or just skillfully dodging the bullet hell, there are a lot of opportunities for skilled plays.

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More likely than not you will die. A lot. However, it’s more often than not it’s because you positioned yourself poorly or didn’t prepare for an oncoming level properly, which with a game like this is quite important. It’s important not to feel like you’re fighting poor design, because that just causes frustration to a point where you likely won’t want to play the game anymore.

Nuclear Throne has enough depth and skill involved with it’s randomness that it makes players feel in control and that the reason they didn’t beat the game is because players made a wrong move. In my opinion, there is nothing more frustrating in gaming than feeling like you played perfectly and getting owned because you’re fighting the design of the game, and not the game.

In addition to navigating random dungeons, bullet hells, and random luck of the draw, you’ll also have to fight bosses. The bosses in the game aren’t just clones of the last boss with more projectiles, they’re each unique from each other and really challenge you to use a strategy to beat them. Whether it’s having a melee weapon to reflect their projectiles, or making sure you’re in a smaller corner to control their mobility, there is a fair amount of strategy and skill going into fighting these bosses, and don’t even get me started on the final boss. I’ll avoid spoilers, but let’s just say the final boss has a couple of tricks up their sleeve.

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I found Nuclear Throne a fun challenge, and would recommend it to people who enjoy a good co-op game. It currently retails on Steam at $11.99.

If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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Indie Game Spotlight: Rampage Knights

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is Rampage Knights. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a week or two now, but sometimes stuff happens. Anyway, I bought the game on a whim because I was looking for a co-op game to play, and this game happened to be on the front page of the Steam Market. And I’m so glad that it was.

Header Rampage Knights
Rampage Knights is a lot of things. It’s fun, creative, and even has a solid sense of humor. It’s also cruel, unforgiving, and can be slightly technically challenging. The best way I could describe the game is if you combined Diablo’s random dungeons, hack and slash, and looting, with the side scrolling unforgiving nature of Spelunky, you’d have Rampage Knights. 

Let’s talk gameplay. Before you do anything though, you get to customize your character a bit with a choice of head, hat, and job. All good and fun, and you unlock more as you progress through the game getting achievements.

There are even more options than the ones shown here.
There are even more options than the ones shown here.

In terms of the actual gameplay itself, survival is the name of the game. If you die, you start over. Completely fresh, you lose all of your items and buffs, and start back at camp. A lot of your survival will depend on your management of your items. There are items that have straight up heals, but there are other items that will heal you for more hp or cure an ailment at the sacrifice of cursing your or giving you a new ailment.

Aside from that though, it’s your regular hack-and-slash game, you have to hit without getting hit. So whether you brush up on your reactions and dodging, or you try and kill so efficiently the monsters can’t touch you, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy the game. There are different ways to play and dungeon crawl, and the game will reward you for making especially smart decisions, but also just as easily punish and crush your soul for making bad ones.

If it were just that simple though, this game would be pretty easy. Eventually you’ll get to a point where enemies get stronger, have a shield, among other things. On top of this getting through the dungeon may actually demand some technical skill, such as making a jump, walking on a tight path, avoiding spikes in the ground, and more things of that nature. However, there are items that you can pick up along the way that can make these obstacles easier, whether it be from the shops that you find, or the chests that you loot. Speaking of chest looting, it incorporates a simple but excellent mechanic of timing the drop of a pick that is scrolling side to side, onto a golden spike.

Lockpicking

If you get it right, great, have some loot. However, if you hit a silver spike, you take damage and restart, or you just restart if you hit a non spike section. Seems easy enough I’m sure, but when you’re low on health, it can get fairly nerve racking. Especially when you’re the last one alive and hoping for a potion to be in the chest.

Co-op is definitely the way to play this game. I haven’t touched single player to be completely honest, but the shenanigans and epic clutch moments in co-op is a huge part of why this game is so much fun. Whether it be knocking your teammate into a hole by accident or saving your ghost friend (you die and become a ghost until your teammate kills 10 enemies) right before you die, there is a lot of co-op fun to be had.

In terms of story, there isn’t anything to write home about, it’s a simple straightforward story that just really quickly explains why you’re doing what you’re doing (think the first 5 minutes of Pacific Rim). However, that’s just perfect for this game. The story is simple and gets to the point quickly, which helps you get down to the real business at hand, the hacking and slashing.

Unless you’re a master side scroller, you’re probably going to be playing Rampage Knights a few times. So replay value is there, just from the way the game works, however, when you finally beat the level, I’d wager you’re also going to challenge yourself to try the harder levels or different jobs, for pride, but also because the achievements and the different dungeons can be quite fun in this game.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rampage Knights, and would certainly recommend it to people who enjoy a nice challenge and some fun cooperative play. It currently retails on Steam at $11.99.

If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Please like us on Facebook! And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Contact me at twentytwo.le@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing for Nerd Swole.

Scott Pilgrim: 5 Years Later

When it comes to relatable characters for young adults, no other name rings true like Scott Pilgrim! Created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim series took the pop culture world by storm, with relatable dialogue, nods to gaming, movies, and other comics, a realistic group of people in humorous situations, and an emotional overtone that made even the most minuscule of accomplishments seem glorious. While O’Malley recently released the standalone Seconds, Scott Pilgrim has also been updated in full-color deluxe versions, with sketches, deleted pages, notes from the film and comic creation, and plenty more to fully round out the world that is fictional Toronto, Canada. So with the sixth book finally being released, how does Scott Pilgrim stand up so long after the initial run?

Grays vs Colors
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When the book was originally released, we only saw Scott Pilgrim with color in promotional material and in covers. Like The Walking Dead and other manga, the decision to stick with black and white is an artistic choice as much as it is a cost-effective one. And while the narrative is still intact, I have to say the overall addition of color is also a showcase for O’Malley’s evolution as an artist. Not only do we see colors, we see uses of shadow and shading where the was none, characters keeping a similar sense of style, and bold blacks being substituted for color accents. Just in this splash page alone, we see the sound’s bold black outlines being switched out for bright yellow-orange, which connects the sound more to the bordering panels.

“Why Don’t You Just Watch the Movie?”

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It may not have received a beautiful theatrical release, but the sales of Scott Pilgrim VS The World DVD/Blu-Ray went through the roof! So with many people loving the movie, there’s actually more reason to check out the source material. Many panels were used as direct storyboards and inspirations for scenes in the movie.

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There is also plenty of storylines that didn’t make it to film. Fans miss out on stories such as Lisa’s relationship with Scott, Lynette’s role in The Clash at Demonhead, and Joseph’s role as producer of the Sex Bob-omb album. Some fights were changed or not featured in the movie, such as Ramona fighting Envy, more of the band helping Scott, and Knives fighting Ramona very early on.SPV3PG131

Bonus Round!

Another huge bonus for fans of both the movie and the book are the backs on the books. After the story, we are treated to O’Malley’s notes on character creation, sketches, and scripts. There’s a good amount of photos used for sets in the story that were actually used in the filming as well, such as Scott and Wallace’s home, the library, and the rail that Lucas Lee is challenged to grind on. There are also deleted pages that give some minor characters bigger highlights and featured comics from previous promotional books.

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With Scott Pilgrim having an incredible movie and a fully fleshed out beat-em-up game to enjoy, it is incredibly rewarding to enjoy the source material that set the series off for greatness. It may have been a long time since the series debuted, but the stories, the heart, and the comical action never fail to put a smile to this reader’s face. The book is a pure delight to reread and the colors along with the additional content, are well worth the price.

To check out the series in beautiful color, please visit the indie section in our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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Iinterested in writing for Nerd Swole? Contact Brian at twentytwo.le@gmail.com for details!

INDIE GAME SPOTLIGHT: SHOVEL KNIGHT

I had the pleasure of getting to try out Shovel Knight at San Diego Comic Con 2014. Finally, it’s time to shine a spotlight on the best platformer of 2014, Shovel Knight!

Here’s a quick example of the gameplay to expect out of this retro-throwback title.

Shovel Night Gif

I was expecting great things from this title and was astounded by how the gameplay was already so familiar. Yacht Club Games created an engine that tailors on gamer expectations; fans of classic Mega Man, Castlevania, Duck Tales, and ever Super Mario Bros can find some comfort in the blue clad knight.

From the look it, Shovel Knight has a well-crafted look and feel that could fit into any NES library. The locales are themed and enemies take inspiration from classic titles and themed appearances. All the monsters in the arctic level are inspired from viking culture, antarctic animals, and snow themed folklore. Likewise, the enemies in the haunted laboratory are prone to throwing exploding vials, launching lab rats, and casting spells. Everything in this game has been given careful detail and implementation, keeping players both on their toes and in sheer awe at the feat.

But what does all of this mean if we’re following a man fighting with a shovel? Well, INTRO SPOILERS we find out that Shovel Knight used to fight alongside Shield Knight until was taken away into the Tower Of Fate. Shovel Knight went until solitude until The Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter took over the land. Shovel Knight seeks to defeat them, reach the tower, and save his realm. As he conquers the evil knights, he takes breaks to pause and reflect on his journey.Shovel Knight fire gifHowever, as he doses off, he dreams of his beloved partner in crime, Shield Knight. He is told to catch her and in these dreams, he finds enemies, obstacles, and more. It’s all too surreal.

Shovel Night gif

 

Afterwards, he wakes up and ventures on, with no further explanation other than it was a dream. It’s a nice little aside that gives more personality to the grieving Shovel Knight and forces the player to take a break and revel in what’s been accomplished so far.

That being said, this game is not a walk in the park. The levels are challenging, but not frustrating in the realm of past brutally difficult Nintendo classics such as Castlevania, Bionic Commando, and Megaman. You use the shovel to attack, dig out treasure, bounce of sand and enemies, and perform special attacks. You figure out intracies in the levels, from navigating fire pits and disappearing platforms, to use enemy attacks against them and digging out new pathways. Levels become progressively harder as your encouraged to explore, obtain all the relics, complete side-quests, level up your gear, and press forward. The game progresses smoothly and make the player pay attention to every little detail.

Plus, you can fish, as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time tells us, basically makes it best game ever.

Shovel Night fishing

You can pick up Shovel Knight on Nintendo 3DS or Wii U, or on PC via Steam or Mac via the Apple Store. It will also be ported to the Playstation Network and XBOX Arcade, featuring an exclusive battle with Kratos and Battletoads respectively. Don’t forget to check out other recommended indie titles here and visit the Nerdswole amazon store for more gaming, tv, movies and more!

 

 

Indie Game Spotlight: Bastion

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is Bastion. Someone actually read the very bottom segment (where I ask for suggestions) and suggested Bastion to me while it was on steam sale, and I have to say I’m super glad I bought it, and wish I had got it when it came out 3 years ago.

Bastion is a top down action-adventure RPG that follows a character named The Kid after a Calamity has happened. The past couple of games I discussed Astebreed and FORCED, were more heavily focused on gameplay than anything else. That was because I considered their stories lackluster by comparison. Bastion has really great gameplay, but an even better story. Bastion also has a hand painted and vibrantly colored setting and background throughout, which makes the game look beautiful, especially because the world forms around you as you progress on the stage. The best part of this game though? The dynamic narration. I’ll get to that later though, let’s start talking about why this game is so great.

bastion
Seriously, the art isn’t even the best part.

We’ll talk about the gameplay first though. The game is relatively straightforward you go to different stages from a larger map and kill monsters, pick up weapons, and get the core that you came for in the first place (the cores are used to power The Bastion). The gameplay rewards good reflexes and good planning on the part of your arsenal, but it doesn’t require it.

Stages are relatively straightforward you kill things as you progress on a linear map, and you occasionally come across challenges like hitting something further away, hiding in the ground, or while on the move. The more fun moments come from outside of the main story stages, where challenges occur when you get new weapons, and when you other items that create arena style battles to learn more about story.

The Kid comes upon quite the arsenal as you progress through the game. I don’t want to spoil all of the weapons, but just know that there are a lot of them, and upgrading them and learning secret skills for them is quite fun, and really allows you to fight however you like. Each time you find a weapon a stage will be unlocked to challenge your skills with said weapon. However, while it is challenging you, you’re also learning how to master the weapon, it acts as a tutorial and a challenge for materials and skills. The game also has a really simple and straightforward upgrade system, which I love, simply because I hate having to backtrack and farm.

bastion 3I mentioned earlier that Bastion’s best feature though is the dynamic narrator. The narrator helps drive the game from the start and narrates based on what you choose to do as a player, it makes the story significantly more enjoyable and interesting. I’d imagine we will see Logan Cunningham in more and more video games moving forward. Hearing your journey narrated by a very cool, old, and western style voice makes the game everything it is. It adds an authenticity and epicness to the story, the gameplay, and the aesthetics.

Speaking of aesthetics, the game is simply beautiful. In terms of graphics it isn’t anything that will blow you away, but the aesthetics, the hand drawn/painted nature of the game gives it a very indie feel (I’m not sure what that means, but if you play the game, you’ll know) and makes it easier to buy into the story without all of the information outright explained.

Bastion_screenshotBastion’s story isn’t incredibly original, it is more how it is told and how events unfold that make it so refreshing and enjoyable. The story has its twists and turns and is a solid story by itself, but along with other elements of the game (seriously, the narration) it weaves a very special narrative making you really feel the impact of choices and what is going on in this world, and how important it is that The Kid restores The Bastion.

Bastion retails at 14.99 on Steam, but is also available on Xbox Arcade, iOS, Google Chrome, PS4, PS Vita, etc.

If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Please like us on Facebook! And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Contact me at twentytwo.le@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing for Nerd Swole.

Indie Game Spotlight: Astebreed

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is Astebreed. Astebreed is a sidescrolling mecha shoot em up bullet hell game. Think Contra meets Gundam meets Star Fox 64 meets Raiden Fighters if you need a frame of reference. Sounds like a hell of a game doesn’t it? Because it is.

If you’re looking for a plot heavy, deep, and engrossing story this game is not for you. It isn’t that this game doesn’t have a story, it is more that the game leaves the how and why of things to the imagination of players. The game’s story strategically places some things here and there, but really leaves a lot to the imagination. I mean simply put, there are some humans, some alien race, and some fighting has to go down, and not everything is black and white. The game is also in Japanese with English text, so you’ll have to be okay with having to actually read dialogue boxes if you’re curious as to what is happening.

The meat of this game comes from the gameplay though. If you’re into bullet hell games, or if you’re just really into blowing shit up with your badass anime mecha this game is for you. The game features an angle changing system to keep the battle style fresh. Sometimes you’ll be flying left to right side-scroll style like Contra except you’re in a huge mecha. Other times you’ll have a top-down view like Raiden Fighters except you’re in a huge mecha. And then there are the times where you’ll have a third-person style view, similar to Star Fox 64, except you’re in a huge mecha. Did I mention the mecha?

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Huge.

 

The game allows you a pretty large arsenal (lasers, homing things, melee blade, etc.) that you’ll have to get used to, but once you get it, you’ll be shooting everything out of the sky while weaving in and out of danger like a pro. Be careful relying too much one one tool though, because this game also forces you to adjust and adapt as well, one stage you’ll feel like a hot shot and the next you’ll get blown out of the sky right out of the gate.

I often talk about the feel of a game in regards to how good it is, and I can’t say for sure this is what it feels like to be caught in an intergalactic war with my trusty mech. But I imagine this is pretty close if any of the Gundam anime have been an indication. Just look at this screen cap and tell me it doesn’t feel like it is straight out of an anime.

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It’s about to go down.

Play it on a big enough screen with headphones or good speakers and you’ll find yourself in a fully immersive experience. The vibrant colors combined with the flying through space while blowing enemies out of the air just feels right.

If you can’t already tell from the pictures I’ve posted, the graphics for this game are incredible. The mechs and the enemies you interact with/destroy are all beautifully renderered. The stages you go through are fully fleshed out with things to see in the background, but don’t look there too long or you’ll inevitably be hit by a meteor or wrecked by an oncoming enemy.

This game also has competitive value, which is really its replay value, because there are leaderboards and things of that nature and a scoring system that will bring out any perfectionist’s/completionist’s best efforts. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with perfectly cleaning up a wave or perfectly dodging a boss’ array of crap, and Astebreed challenges you and rewards you perfectly to demand the best from players.

So with a serviceable story, great gameplay, and beautiful graphics I’m definitely recommending Astebreed to anyone who is a fan of the genre or never got the anime mecha game they wanted. Astebreed currently retails at 14.99 on Steam.

If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Please like us on Facebook! And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Contact me at twentytwo.le@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing for Nerd Swole.

Indie Game Spotlight: FORCED

From time to time I pick up an indie game, usually from a friend’s recommendation or gift on Steam, and if I really like it a lot I think I’ll be writing an Indie Spotlight on it. Today’s game is FORCED. If you’re looking for a plot heavy, deep, and engrossing story this game is not for you.

This plot and story is flimsy at best and pretty predictable. The graphics are okay, and aren’t anything to write home about. This game is for people looking for a challenge and love co-op play and puzzles. The game is a top down hack-and-slash with heavy puzzle elements. It’d probably actually be better described as a puzzle game with some hack-and-slash elements.

This is a game for people looking for challenges, love doing achievements, and are motivated by completion. While I’m not too big into completion and achievements I do just enjoy puzzle games in general. The fact that it allowed me to do so with friends and unique classes was a bonus.

Forced-Weapon-Classes

The amount of levels you get from a given dungeon are based on different things. One is completion, the other is speed, and the final is doing a particular challenge for that dungeon. It is a good bit of fun trying to understand how to beat a dungeon, then figuring out how to do it fast, and then doing it fast with the challenge in mind. It almost makes it a new dungeon if you didn’t use the correct tactics the first time around. It also helps that you can have unique classes and skills for customization to try and answer the games challenges by picking the right skills and jobs for you and your team.

The biggest drawback of this game for most people (once you get passed the superficial story) are that the controls can be a little bit tricky depending on what you’re using, the game gets a bit glitchy here and there, and finally that it is just unnecessarily difficult at times. Most of that is subjective.

Essentially what I’m saying is that if you enjoy puzzle games and you like playing with bros (which includes local co-op!) then you’ll probably enjoy FORCED. However, like I said, this game is not for the faint of heart, it gets pretty difficult and sometimes you’ll get screwed by a small glitch or the difficult controls. I’d still recommend it for fun time with friends and a good challenge though.

I’d call it a mix between Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Diablo. It currently retails at $14.99 on Steam.

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If you’ve got a suggestion for a game you’d like me to play, let me know! I’d love to hear it and will definitely consider it. Share this or any of my other articles, and we can play some FORCED.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Please like us on Facebook! And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! Contact me at twentytwo.le@gmail.com if you’re interested in writing for Nerd Swole.