Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four (PC/360) – Through Hell and Back (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four | Tree

Oh the things you never expect. When I finished playing Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three, I stated that I hoped that this game improved upon Episode Three the same way Episode Two improved on Episode One. While it is definitely fair to say that Episode Four was an improvement, I simply did not expect one of this magnitude. There are several things regarding this game that I did not expect.

It certainly does not do anything revolutionary nor does it look particularly innovative, but when you actually play it, you realize just how meticulously crafted this game is. Yes it may appear to be another parody of 16-bit era JRPGs, but it is so much more in terms of execution. Not only does it have the signature humor of Zeboyd’s games, but it also has a story that is actually compelling on its own merits. When you add an outstanding soundtrack by Hyperduck Soundworks, the same people behind the soundtrack of Dust: An Elysian Tale, and some of the most addicting and precise battle mechanics in any turn based RPG; you end up with a game that might as well have been made to silence anyone who said these types of games are only made to pander to nostalgia. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three (PC/360/Ios): Something Completely Different (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode Three | Logo

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three may be a jarring experience to those that have played the first two. This is the case with Episode Three because the development of these games shifted developers, from Hothead Games to Zeboyd. While Zeyboyd is a smaller development team and clearly does not have as high a budget as Hothead, they are still well known for their work on Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu saves the world. Being a huge fan of those games, I naturally had some high expectations for this game and I was hoping that this game would exceed the quality of both the previous Penny Arcade Adventures installments and Zeyboyd’s previous titles.

Instead, Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three is a game that it is good in its own right and is definitely superior to the first Penny Arcade Adventures and Breath of Death, but does not hold a candle to Episode Two or Cthulhu Saves the World. It is hard to really say the game is a step back from Episode Two given that the games are quite a bit different, but in general, it does feel like a step down from the incredible experience that Cthulhu Saves the World offered. In addition, it feels like the game also suffers from simply not having the same budget as the first two Penny Arcade titles. When you add that Episode Three still retains some of the flaws of the earlier entries, you end up with a good game in its own right, but one that felt rather underwhelming. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two (PC/360/PS3): A Penny Saved… (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventires: Episode Two | Header

When I reviewed Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One, I did not have much good to say about it. The game had a solid battle system and some amusing dialogue, but it was sorely lacking in just about every other area. The plot was incredibly tedious and the game itself was a major slog. At the end of that review, I stated that I had no interest in playing Episode Two as a result of the first game’s failure to provide a quality experience. However, I ended up changing my mind seeing as how I felt as if I should at least play this one if I was going to play Episodes Three and Four simply for the sake of having the full experience. I did not have high expectations going into Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only did I find Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Two to be a much more enjoyable experience than Episode One, but I would also say that it is among one of the better indie RPGs I have played. The funny thing about this, however, is that there really is not that much of a difference between Penny Arcade Adventures Episodes Two and One. At points, I have considered that I simply might have not been in a good mood when I played and reviewed the first game, but it turned out that Episode Two simply executed its various aspects better than the first game. In my review of the first game, I have criticized it for using a gameplay setup that I thought was inherently flawed. While technically my complaints do still apply, Episode Two did prove to me that it was indeed possible to make a good game out of that apparent “flawed system.” I am ultimately glad I decided to give this game a chance, and I encourage you to consider this one if the first game did not quite catch your interest. Read more

Standard Review: Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode One (PC/360/PS3)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode One | Logo

To start things off, I will disclose that I am not too familiar with the Penny Arcade web comics or even the website itself. I have seen a small amount of the web comics but they did not seem to have any effect on the game itself for me. I would assume that big fans of the web comics may get a bit more out of this game. Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One, or simply Penny Arcade Adventures as I will refer to it from now on, is really not good enough to appeal to anyone who is not a big Penny Arcade fan. The game unsuccessfully tries to combine elements of point and click adventure games with turn based RPGs, and ends up as a game that fails as either of them. It is not necessarily a bad game, but I would not recommend it unless you are a hardcore Penny Arcade fan. Read more

Amazing VGM: Spiral Mountain (Banjo-Kazooie)

Banjo-Kazooie | Spiral Mountain

Surprise surprise, an Amazing VGM from a game I just reviewed. Really keeping you on your toes aren’t I? Well what can I say, I don’t plan most of these out in advance and instead just go with what I’m most feeling, and I’m feeling Banjo-Kazooie right now. It also helps that Banjo-Kazooie has an amazing soundtrack, and there will likely be plenty of themes from this game for future entries, but I may as well start with the one that sets everything else up. Read more

Banjo-Kazooie (N64/360): Rareware’s Masterpiece (Detailed Review)

Banjo-Kazooie | Mumbo Mountain

I posted my review of Yooka-Laylee almost two years ago. I had some very strong praises for it despite the fact that I had not even grown up with Banjo-Kazooie and was only familiar with the game through a lets play.That lets play was very appealing though and I loved the style of the game and everything, the only reason I didn’t play the game until now was because I didn’t own the systems it was for and didn’t know how to use emulators. What recently got me in the mood to finally check this game out was seeing a certain leftist video maker stream another Nintendo 64 Collectathon by Rare for close to three days straight to raise money for a UK charity for trans kids, and if that doesn’t inspire you to play some vidya then I don’t know what will.

Predictably as fuck, I immensely enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie but it wouldn’t be an AnnieGal review without at least one hot take; Yooka-Laylee is a better game. This really SHOULDN’T be a hot take because Yooka-Laylee was made close to two decades later with much more advanced technology, but we live in a world where Donald Trump is president and Yooka-Laylee is a “failure in every way.” As an aside, I will eventually make a full response to Derek Alexander’s review but I’d like to play Banjo-Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 for myself before that. Read more

Duke Nukem Forever (PC/PS3/360): A Product of Before Its Time (Detailed Review)

Duke Nukem Forever | logo

TW: Misogyny, rape.

I’m no stranger to holding unique or contrarian views in regards to games. You kind of need to have either unique opinions or insight in order for people to want to hear what you have to say after all. There unfortunately comes the risk of having people accuse you of being purposefully contrarian in an attempt to garner attention rather than giving your own honest opinion.

The truth is that these are all my genuine opinions, I just don’t put that much stock in what everyone else thinks. I’ve always disliked how cliquish and conformist most mainstream gaming sites are in regards to games (among other things) and it always comes across as cringe worthy how people will take their word as law despite the fact that gaming media has become widely distrusted as of late.

I did not go into Duke Nukem Forever expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Aside from the game’s poor reception there is also the fact that I never got into first person shooters even when they ARE well received. My only experience with the Call of Duty series for instance is playing about two hours of the first Modern Warfare and quitting because the game just didn’t click with me. Granted that was a few years ago and I did not play enough to get a full impression but I have other games I’m far more interested in. Read more

Dear Esther (PC/PS4/XONE): Vague Incomprehensible Nonsense (Standard Review)

Dear Esther | Logo

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Dear Esther. I did enjoy it to an extent, far more so than I have enjoyed games influenced by its design. Specifically, I really enjoyed the graphical design and the music of the game, and the story actually had some layer of depth to it. Despite this though, I still did not find myself satisfied with it at the end of the day. It may be pretty, it may sound nice, and it may show some level of competence that was not shown in games like Gone Home, but it still does not change the fact that it is still a gameplay-less walking simulator that is over in less than two hours.

While the story does have some amount of depth to it, it is not a story that is particularly entertaining to see play out. The reason for this is due to the abstract nature of the plot. Dear Esther is not like any traditional form of storytelling that puts you in the perspective of a character and tells a story from his or her view. In Dear Esther, you do not even know who you are playing as or who the narrator is. In fact, you never see any characters in this game. There are no cutscenes or anything; it all just consists of walking forward and narration. Read more

Riddled Corpses EX (PS4/XONE/Vita): Grindy yet Kickass Twin Stick Action (Detailed Review)

Riddled Corpses EX | Title Screen

The last two twins stick shooters I reviewed were… kinda shit. Those two games were Hatred and Venusian Vengeance. The former was a soulless cash in whose only claim to fame was shallow shock value that can only effect the most sheltered of individuals, and the latter was an ugly looking and tedious “retro throwback” with plodding level design. Riddled Corpses EX thankfully bucks this trend by being a good game.

I should clarify that I have not touched the original Riddled Corpses and that this version (the PS4 version in particular) was my first introduction to this title. The changes to the original game from what I looked up include an additional story mode, an engine that runs at 60 FPS, character stats, a new soundtrack (or possibly two depending on whether or not the unlockable metal arrangement were in the original game), online leader boards, a revamped combo system, two player co-op (online, but not local), and less grinding. Read more

Amazing VGM: The Dark Colossus Destroys All (NieR)

Ah yes, three of my most shilled games in a row for Amazing VGM. I’d normally do something from Saya no Uta since I just reviewed it but I kinda hinted at this one last week so I better follow through. Anyway I’ve been meaning to touch on this one for a while since it really is an amazing track from an amazing game.

NieR is known for its outstanding music after all, so it’s time to cover a track that was good enough they made it twice! Starting with the original. Read more