It seems appropriate we'd segue from my review of Rayman Legends, discussing my criticisms in-regards to the present decline of local co-op gaming in-favor of online multiplayer, to a review of the action role-playing game Ashen. Developed by New Zealand studio A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive, I was excited for Ashen when it was first announced for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One (and even more thrilled when it was made available on Xbox's Game Pass subscription service on-launch), enticed by the suggestion of a video-game mixing multi-player with a low-fantasy environment. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to discover Ashen as more of a traditional dungeon-crawler heavily-inspired by Dark Souls, that incorporated online multi-player, which simply isn't what I'm interested in. I think it'd be fair to say that realization deflated by enthusiasm, but, in the end, is Ashen worth experiencing, are the positive-reviews representative of its actual merit, or does its sudden, unannounced release, coupled with its on-launch inclusion with Game Pass suggest it something worth sweeping under the rug? Here are my thoughts …
It can often feel like local co-op has been thrown to the wayside when compared to the presently more prevalent successor: online multiplayer. It never occurred to me how anemic the selection of local co-op outings available on plat-forms are until after I had someone in my life that I could play with on a regular-basis, that being my fiancee. Rayman Legends is the fifth main-title entry in the Rayman series, acting as a direct sequel to Rayman Origins, which was released a couple years prior. Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft, Legends marks the first installment in the Rayman series I've played from start-to-finish. I had some familiarity with the franchise, playing some of Rayman Origins, and owning a scratched-up copy of Rayman on the Original PlayStation. Although it has been too long to speak on my experience with the original Rayman for a review, I can say the reason I never played Origins from start-to-finish is because I think it's an experience that plays best when you have a buddy to tag-along with you. In the midst of waiting for Studio MDHR to release the Cuphead DLC, Beccah and I decided to sit-down and check out Rayman Legends, which I'd owned a copy of for years, but never actually played. Does Rayman Legends scratch the itch I needed scratching, and how is it as an overall gaming experience?
I didn't know a lot about Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Saying that might even be an understatement, in-retrospect. I can remember seeing a teaser trailer for Mutant Year Zero and immediately knowing it was something I was interested in, however. An apocalyptic setting with a twist, and I don't know who I'd be if I ever missed the chance to play as a talking duck. I was surprised when the title showed up on the Microsoft Store in early-December, because I didn't know it was that far along in-development and I didn't remember hearing a release date. I was even more surprised when I found out it was added to Microsoft's Game Pass subscription-service on-launch. I hadn't bothered with a Game Pass subscription in over a year, and so, it was a cool coincidence I decided to renew it right as Mutant Year Zero was added. I was a little skeptical when I finally beheld Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and the sum of its parts. I had only seen a teaser trailer, and so, I didn't know the slightest about its game-play mechanics or how it'd work. When I saw actual game-play footage, an immediate comparison I made was with XCOM, a series I'd never been able to get into like some have. Suffice to say, turn-based strategy role-playing video-games aren't usually my cup of tea. Regardless, I stuck with Mutant Year Zero. After a couple weeks, I have completely played through the campaign, and feel ready to share my thoughts over it.
Over the years, I’ve found my childhood is filled with foggy representations of the video-games I might have played or the movies I might have watched. My earliest memories of Crash Bandicoot were most certainly on the original PlayStation, particularly by Crash 2, Crash Team Racing, and Crash Bash. Later, the PlayStation 2 platform arguably wasn’t as kind to the orange bandicoot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the PlayStation 2 platform wasn’t fruitful for the franchise. Crash Twinsanity and Crash Tag Team Racing were what I remembered most. Back then, maybe it was because the popularity of the series itself had waned so considerably, I was lucky enough to find Crash Nitro Kart, Crash Tag Team Racing, and Crash Twinsanity all boxed together, priced at a very reasonable twenty-dollars, and it’s from that box-set I review the titles today. The reason I bring up my foggy nostalgic lenses is that even though I remembered Crash Twinsanity fondly, I don’t believe I ever got very far into it. This is because, in my opinion, Crash Twinsanity or Crash 5: The Ambition of Crash and Cortex is the most difficult of the series that I’ve played. When everyone was clamoring about how difficult the new N. Sane Trilogy was, I concurred that the first Crash video-game was a considerably challenging experience, but I thought that it was reasonable, and I think that Crash 2 and Crash 3 had more casual and accessible experiences. It was like night-and-day comparing the original game to its successors, like apples and oranges, or apples to wumpa fruit, I suppose. It has sharp fangs, but does Crash Twinsanity stand out as an experience worth highlighting?
Back when I was a kid, I used to think Crash Bandicoot was the bee’s knees, his arms and his legs, and, I think the series was the pinnacle of my early years playing video-games, outmatching Spyro and other PlayStation Classics. Although I think the consensus from the gaming public now sees the series as a worthwhile, solid plat-forming series, back during its release, prior to when the N. Sane Trilogy remastered collection brought it back in the limelight, I could remember a lot of criticisms thrown at the series. A lot of comparisons were made to Donkey Kong Country, with some critics saying the series lacked innovation and uniqueness, regardless of the innovation it brought as far as polygonal graphic design. I can understand the sentiment on some level and I retain a lot of criticisms about the first installment in the Crash Bandicoot series, even if the remastered version fixed a lot of lingering issues I had with it. Even if I might be in the minority, I still stand as one of the proud defenders of the series as bringing in a fun, vibrant few of mascot plat-forming experiences, allowed to succeed through their outlandish characters and colorful levels. A video-game in the Crash Bandicoot series that’s unlikely to buck off that stigma or resentment is Crash Team Racing, a kart-racing experience that most certainly takes a lot of inspiration from Konami Krazy Racers, a Game Boy Advance video-game that revolutionized the kart-racing genre. Joking aside, Crash Team Racing simply borrows too much to avoid comparisons and criticism for its similarities and heavy inspiration taken from Mario Kart.
#68-70 - Batman on the Sega Genesis, Batman Forever on the PlayStation, Batman Begins on the GBA (Written Reviews by McConnaughay)
Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game was an instant classic when it arrived in the mid-90s, arriving on home-consoles amid, arguably, the most fun and light-heart time in professional wrestling, where everyone seemed to have a silly, over-the-top gimmick, and it felt like comic-book superheroes and villains come to life.
The Arcade Game, which made it on a plethora of consoles (ones I’ve taken into account include the PlayStation, Super NES, and Sega Genesis), embraced the charming absurdity of its subject-matter with its own cartoonish, light-heart approach, receiving a positive reception from critics and audiences alike.
PaRappa the Rapper is a video-game I feel has been coveted by many gamers of my age as a gem, looked at in the same way I looked at Twisted Metal, the Crash Bandicoot series, or Spyro, which makes sense, considering the way all the titles were released in the same time on the original PlayStation. I never really had that nostalgic perspective for PaRappa the Rapper in the way many others seemed to. Although I recognized it as familiar, and while playing, the memories I had of the first level reeled back in, assuring me that I had, in-fact, played it. Turns out though, I hadn’t ever played beyond the first level, because the foggy childhood memories I had about PaRappa the Rapper were of a demo I’d played.
PaRappa the Rapper is a rhythm game developed by NanaOn-Sha and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation, having a Japanese release in 1996 with other countries having to wait til a year later. In celebration of its twentieth anniversary, a remastered version was released in 2017 on the PlayStation 4, although, I will be specifically talking about the original PlayStation port in this review. An anime series also eventually came to fruition in the turn of the millennium that lasted for thirty episodes, along with a direct sequel and a spin-off.
If you know anything about me and video-games and how we mix, you know I have a sweet-spot for the horror genre, and, then, for some reason, light-heart and silly mascot video-games. Titles like Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet & Clank were always my bread and butter as a kid, and since entries in their respective series’ have become scarcer, as is the case with Sly Cooper or Spyro, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and find other mascot video-games I might have missed over the years. The Gex series is one I am modestly familiar with. Although I don’t know for certain, I want to say I owned the third installment Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko for the Original PlayStation as a kid, but it was so badly scratched up I don’t think I ever played through a significant amount. Going into it, I expected a light-heart, simple plat-former. I didn’t expect a groundbreaking experience, but I expected something that would satiate and scratch a similar itch as other video-games like it had.
As Rocksteady’s Arkham series came to an end, Batman fanatics and casual gamers in-general were wondering what would be next for The Caped Crusader. Would Warner Bros. Montreal try their hand again with a follow-up to Batman: Arkham Origins or would the Batman character be given a chance to cool-off, left to the Injustice series, while we awaited the next project. Turns out, we didn’t have to wait very long as in August 2016, Telltale Games unveiled their interpretation of the Batman character with their episodic point-and-click graphic adventure approach that has, at times, led to acclaim, like with The Walking Dead series, and, at other times, been the recipient of scrutiny, with some regarding it as less of a game and more of an interactive graphic novel, which is only an insult if you regard an interactive novel as a derogatory phrase, which, personally, I do not.
I like Telltale Games a fair bit when they’re at their best, like, for instance, with The Wolf Among Us or Tales from the Borderlands, and I thought them given a chance to share their interpretation of the character would allow a nice change of pace, and, in a perfect world, allow Warner Bros. to give other superheroes a chance to take the small-screen with video-game adaptations.
What is Mishmashers (dot) com?
Started in late-2017, Mishmashers.com is a website by brothers Scott Moore and McConnaughay as a way to share their opinion on an array of different topics, as well as shine a light on their written works. Both brothers are passionate about their work and have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to their respected works.
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