Old School Musical

I like rhythm-based gameplay, chiptune music, and great pixel art. Old School Musical includes all of that and chickens. But does that mean I love Old School Musical? No. I like it a lot but I wouldn’t say I loooooove it.

I started my adventure where everyone has to start their adventure in Old School Musical, story mode. If you want instant access to every single track in the game, you won’t get that. To my pleasant surprise though, the story was… good. I’ve never chosen to play a rhythm game for the story before, so I can see why they force you to play it, but what’s here is surprisingly entertaining.

LIFE HAX!!

The heroes of our story are Tib (the short, sensible one) and Rob (the tall, rash one); we are introduced to their mother as well, who is inventively referred to as “Mother”. Mother has been aggressively training Tib and Rob for years, but you only get one two-minute tutorial and then the game is underway. The tutorial sadly neglects to mention that both the d-pad and the face buttons can be used for arrow inputs. This makes some of the faster patterns fairly painful to match. After you learn about that it gets much easier to match. I wish I’d realised this sooner cause my fingers would ache significantly less if I had.

Oh, an important point by the way; I highly recommend using a controller. God knows I would NOT be able to play this with a keyboard on difficult. And make it a PS4 controller at that; I cannot stand how tricky the Xbox d-pad is to use quickly.

Ouch…

So yes, back to the story. The world starts glitching, so Tib and Rob set off on their grand adventure to save the universe from these nasty errors. What I really, really like though is that every single world you pass through is a tribute to a retro game. Some personal favourites of mine were passing through the “Giga Men” world, clearly based off of Mega Man, and another was going up against what was basically Andross from Star Fox while a remix of Tetris Theme A played. There were other highlight moments in the story as well, such as one of the funniest fourth wall breaks I’ve ever read, which I won’t spoil, and a level where you ride an elevator with it’s classic funky elevator music, stepping out regularly to bat away headcrabs. And I should mention, I did genuinely find the dialogue funny; the level of parody on display here was perfect for me.

But you’re probably wondering, “Is the music any good?” I am a sucker for chiptune music and tracks that build up steadily, and there are tracks a-plenty to satisfy those tastes. Upbeat, funky, energetic; these are words I’d use to describe Old School Musical‘s soundtrack. The review copy came with the soundtrack DLC too, so I’ll be listening to that instead of playing occasionally since I suck at the game itself. I wish I was a rhythm-game prodigy, but I’m slightly above average at best. Which is where, the downsides come in.

Difficult in Old School Musical is difficult. That’s fine. However, some of the tracks are so difficult, I couldn’t even clear them on normal. This wasn’t so much a problem in the story (where I beat everything on difficult) but in the post-game campaign Chicken Republic, there are some absolute beasts lurking. This is made even worse by Chicken Republic’s unique feature. Each level adds some special visual effect or gimmick to the notes coming on screen that make it extremely hard to react to the patterns in time. And quite often, these effects are either funny or nausea-inducing. I don’t suffer from motion-sickness or epilepsy, but I would be wary playing this mode if you do cause it even made me uncomfortable at times. Never mind the fact these effects make the harder levels BULLSH- Sorry. Lost my cool for a second there. Chicken Republic was rage-inducing. I’m so grateful you can change the difficulty and restart at pretty much any time.

Here’s an example of Old School Musical throwing too much at the player

The main factor I measure a rhythm-game by though, is the “zone” factor. When I’m playing, can I enter that meditative state where I’m not even sure what buttons I’m pressing any more, but I somehow manage to keep the combo going regardless? And for the majority of my time with Old School Musical, yes, I can. The arrows slide on screen. I press the buttons. Everyone’s a winner. And the generous HP bar mechanic helps a lot with that. If you get a combo long enough you enter “hype” mode where every note you hit fills your HP bar, and every missed note does a small amount of damage. Depending on the situation it may do a bigger chunk of damage, but if you’re not missing everything you can usually make it through just fine.

So, would I recommend Old School Musical? If you like rhythm games, absolutely. If you like retro games and playing on easy, absolutely. If you have epilepsy or get travel-sick, maybe not. But that’s your risk to take. I got a solid 8 hours out of the main story mode and Chicken Republic alone, and I’m still trying for A ranks in the arcade. I feel like a lot of love was put into making this tribute to retro games, and it’s a great rhythm game to boot up when you just want to lay back, push some buttons, and throw your controller at the wall when the impossible combos roll in.

Old School Musical was developed by: La Moutarde

Point of Sale: Steam, Switch

$13: Worth it despite it’s strange chicken obsession

A Steam review copy was provided by the developer

Stevie Patamon has awarded Old School Musical The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval

 

 

 

 

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Heroes Trials

1.jpgHeroes Trials is a Zelda-lite game. It’s not really RPG as there’s no real level up mechanics or stats but that’s the closest thing I could call it besides a Zelda-lite. You play as 2 heroes in training, a knightly boy and a mage girl. Today is their last set of trials to become full-fledged heroes to their kingdom. There’s another group that is vying for this as apparently only one team can be a hero, I guess the other becomes just really really good janitors? Regardless the other team is made of cunts, first they cast a sleep spell on your characters, then they steal your money and knock you down to next to not health, then they steal your magic and try and kill you. All cause they wanna be the heroes of the land, cause you know their actions are totally heroic.

There’s not much of a story to speak of; it’s your trials, the above is the FULL story. Well minus the end since they kept killing me after stealing my magic. I couldn’t win any fight to save my life or rather theirs. So it’s very story light. You get a couple upgrades like some boots that you can buy to move faster, and you get an upgraded shield which is part of the story progression, same with a few spells for the mage girl. Beyond that you have no upgrades it seems unless there’s more items you acquire later, but chances are they’re all story progression items. Hence I call it Zelda-lite instead of RPG.

4.jpgWhen the combat is good it’s really good, but it’s not good very often. The mage, her magic is weaker than the sword, well most of it anyways. However it’s hard to angle her to actually HIT any goddamn thing, It’s ranged but that doesn’t help if you can’t get her to shoot in the direction you want. This is crap cause she shoots straight forward you can’t aim her without moving her and the problem is they don’t move quite right which throws off the aim just enough to miss fucking everything. The sword guy attacks in an arch which is decently strong. Problem is he’s medium strength and typically slower than enemies. They can hit you a bunch while you get A, as in fucking ONE, attack in. As such you’re very likely to die using him in comparison to using mage girl as you can keep your distance and occasionally hit enemies. When you hit though it feels good, there’s some knock back and stunning done to enemies, all enemies except for mini bosses and bosses take either 1 attack or 3 attacks to kill with the swordsman. So the combat needs tweaking to be really good, if you could have the mage stand still and aim or move and aim 360 degrees somehow that would be fantastic and make the game feel so much better since she would be more viable and you need her to be more viable.

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Don’t talk too long that timer in the right corner keeps going down.

The biggest drawback for me is a personal think that I think most people will agree with, everything, every fucking single thing, is timed. It’s a test, a trial; if you don’t do what you’re supposed to in time you fail the exam and it’s an immediate game over. If you die it’s a game over, which will happen a lot. The timer issue drives me nuts; it’s why I and most others hated Final Fantasy 13-3. No one likes being timed, we like enjoying our game and exploring and shit. They give you typically plenty of time if you’re just trying to get to point A to point B but fighting things or trying to make money in the game to buy items ends up taking time. You’re always in a task, which is what they call the trails, the moment you finish one it immediately hands another and you can’t decline them, so you’re always going against a clock. Each task has three stars you can make, it’s purely based on how much time it took you to finish the task. I’m not sure if this changes the ending or not since again I’m stuck on a fight with a thieving cunt. Otherwise there’s no achievement tied to it thankfully but we’re gamers we see stars we want the stars ALL THE STARS!!!! Ummm… anyways so yeah timed at all times, sucks ass and never hasn’t sucked ass. But a timer is strapped to your forehead, ticking down the entire time for the WHOLE game.

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One of the worst boss fights, constantly accidentally throwing bombs into the water instead of near the boss.

The game has a lot of potential but it was squandered between poor controls, easy deaths, and a fucking evil garbage timer of heinous EVIL. I’m conflicted, when the mage was hitting things it was good, there was a puzzle I really liked too, and the swordsman generally works just fine. The timer can be an annoyance but it’s not super bad, it’s not hard to do things in time at least most of the time. So I did have plenty of fun with the game, but the timer while not much of a big deal it annoyed the fuck out of me cause it was bad sometimes and it prevents me from just going about things at my own pace. And combat, which is the main part of the game, was finicky as hell. So much potential, but it needs a bunch more work to polish it then I think I’d be generally fairly happy with it. If they make it easier to aim the mage, give more time to get three stars, give us more time in general so we can explore more, or in place of the previous two allow us to have time between tasks where we can explore instead of going from one task immediately to the next. With these few changes I could really get into this.

header.jpgHeroes Trials was developed by: Shinyuden and ported by Ratalaika Games

Point of Sale: X1, PS4, Vita, Steam, Switch

$6

 

A review copy was provided by the porter/dev.

darkmikasonfire doesn’t award Hereos Trials anything.

 

 

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E.V.A.L

A short and sweet review for a short and sweet game. Honestly, when I was first approached to review this, I felt a bit hesitant. I am honored to be considered one of the mobile game specialists, but a title like this one seemed a bit off. I’m going to just skip to the end a bit: there is nothing mechanically wrong with E.V.A.L as a whole. Plus, the entire experience is FREE! (no In-App Purchases!). But you get what you pay for: a relatively light game that I really can’t see most players sinking more than a few hours into. That being said, I do think those couple of hours are pretty fun: there’s a mini campaign of sorts, and a rather humorous voiceover to boot. That being said, allow me to delve deeper into the mechanics of the game.

E.V.A.L is a quick reaction-based puzzle arcade game that tasks you to quickly recognize one of three shapes and colors moving across a conveyor belt at varying speeds depending on the difficulty. You are helping change an adorable amorphous blob to properly fit the molds that are speeding across the screen. There are two control layouts to master: the drawing one, and the button press. The button press method has you quickly press the two buttons corresponding to the next color and shape for the corresponding mold. The drawing method partitions the screen into three different quadrants for each color. You then draw the shape into the appropriate quadrant. Simple enough.

Image result for E.V.A.L ios game

The game will begin to throw out different modifiers to the gameplay, such as slow-mo/fast forward, scrambling the button layouts, and a few others that I won’t spoil; they help spice up the gameplay.

I’m not sure who this game would necessarily appeal to in the long run. I think you could potentially use this as your moment of zen in little quick bursts. But to me, it feels like a rhythm game without the music to jam out to. Perhaps using the game as a hand-warmer of sorts to help sharpen your reflexes could be another possibility?

Lore-wise, you are working at a cynical factory, and the gameplay can indeed feel exactly like that: a job. Fortunately, your manager is deliciously evil, which can help break up the monotony of the few story levels. There are even little bite-sized cutscenes that are fully voiced by a couple of charming and witty British blokes. And I think that dry-wit comedy really helped motivate me to put that extra 110% in every job just to shove it to those posh bastards. USA! USA! Ahem, I think my nationalism was showing. Anyways… yeah that’s about all I can mention. After the story, you do unlock challenge levels and endless modes like most arcade inspired games, but it’s mostly the same core gameplay. It’ll be up to you to decide if  E.V.A.L has its hooked grabbing you.

At the end of the day, I don’t see how I can shy away from giving this game the Seal. It’s always refreshing seeing a game on the App Store not be a blatantly shilling clone or money sponge for poor saps to whale on. The game can be addicting in that flappy bird sense, and I think it’s quite a ways deeper than that as a whole. Just realize when you enter the gate that the game is mostly filler: something to play as an appetizer to your meatier affairs.

Platform: Mobile

Price: Free to play

Dev: stoptoplay

 

the seal

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#DiscoverIndies Maize

1.jpgMaize is a first person point and click puzzle game. You play as ummmm… well if you base it off the one character that says your name, it’s Stupid. You are Stupid. Enjoy that I guess. Your character doesn’t speak but everyone else does, a lot.

The game can be completed in under two hours without much drama since there’s an achievement for doing exactly that. Your first playthrough will probably take a bit more than that though. The game starts you off alone on a corn farm, eventually you get into a secret US bio-weapons research facility and you even find yourself a companion who tells you your name of Stupid. I love that I get to call all you readers Stupid without getting in trouble; this is making me laugh a lot.

2.jpgI can’t really tell you anything about the plot as you are just doing stuff until you’re told WHY you’re actually doing it but once you’re told why the entire plot is explained by that tiny bit of info. There are a bunch of characters in the game: a handful of talking cornstalks who you meet near the start; your robotic bear companion Vladdy who hates the US and is incredibly rude to everyone, you included; a smart-ish red corn cornstalk; a psychopathic cornstalk; some scarecrows; some drones; and 4 humans… sorta anyways. The only ones not voices are you and the 4 humans you kinda meet. I guess the drones are more people but you know whatever fuck it, they’re just drones, no people behind them that’s my new rule.

Nothing in the game really makes sense at all. And it’s designed to do that. The puzzles however are all fairly straight forwards things that react like they would if it was in real life instead of a game. As such if something metal is broken you can find the two parts and weld it back together with a propane tank and an arc welder. Pretty simple no? Granted some bits don’t make sense like CD’s unlocking doors, but we can’t live in a sensical world, fuck that.

3.jpgThere’s a story about what you’re trying to do, but inside the bio-weapons facility there’s another story, it’s effectively a prologue to the events of the game which is written via post-it notes found throughout the facility between the, you guessed it, 4 humans that you kinda meet and never speak. Shocking post-it notes can’t talk but fucking corn can. Someone was really REALLY fucking high when they created this game and you know what? I’m okay with that. Much love pot-head game creators, you do you; just bring us more good games.

4.jpgI… uhh… don’t really have much else to say other than I think the game is hilarious. It is a bit boring in places because the game just isn’t really exciting, it’s funny that’s it. Like you’ll be just moving around like meh, then there will be a character interaction and it’ll be hilarious or at least amusing to listen to. This game is very point and clicky, for me those kinds of games are boring in general so maybe it won’t bore anyone but me, I don’t know. So once more it’s not an exciting game but it’s damn funny. I think if they condensed the game or had more character actions it would have been better for me because that’s what I liked, and more post-it notes those always gave me a chuckle; I fucking loved that shit.

 

header.jpgMaize was developed by: Finish Line Games

Point of Sale: Steam, X1, PS4

$20: Vladdy doesn’t care if you buy it or not, cука, stupid American, with stupid American machines.

 

The Seal.pngA review copy was bought by the reviewer.

 

darkmikasonfire has awarded Maize The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval purely due to Vladdy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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