Marcello is the founder, creator and editor-in-chief of GamersXtreme. His dedication and passion shows as he keeps gamers informed with daily news articles and provides truthful, honest opinions on all gaming related news. Having experience with video game design, as well as over 20 years of gaming under his belt, Marcello has always had a massive interest in the gaming society. Originally, he created GamersXtreme in the style of a magazine back in middle school. Today, he has taken what was created as a basic premise and has evolved it into the site it is today.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review (Switch): “A True Legend”

For over three decades, The Legend of Zelda series has given players a sense of exploration that many games have been inspired by. Nintendo has been in long development for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was first shown off at E3 2014. While initially shown as a Wii U exclusive, the game’s delays eventually pushed it back to launch simultaneously on Nintendo’s new console, the Nintendo Switch, as a launch day title. Is this new Zelda one that was worth the long wait?

Story: 5/5

Link awakens after a 100-year slumber, unaware of what has happened in the land of Hyrule. Leaving the Shrine of Resurrection, he eventually crosses paths with an elderly man who helps guide him on the right starting path. Calamity Ganon has taken control of the land of Hyrule and it is up to Link to stop him from destroying the world. While that may sound a bit cliché, it is how Breath of the Wild’s story unfolds that is remarkable.

Link suffers from memory loss, so he doesn’t recall anything of what’s happening in the land of Hyrule. Throughout his journey, he will have to venture through the massive land to acquire his strength back, as well as his memories. Unlike many other games (or even prior installments in this series) where heavy exposition is provided in the opening act of the game, the game throws you in control mere minutes upon starting up. There is not even a main menu upon startup. The story opens up to the grand sense of mystery, providing numerous questions to the player. While there is a natural story progression, recalling all of Link’s memories (which is optional) is how the story is further fleshed out. It’s through here that we find out exactly what happened 100 years ago.

The amount of detail that is put into the lore of this universe is astounding to say the least. All of the NPCs provide plenty of personality and help bring out life in this massive world. Even the historical Sheikah language actually has meaning to the world when translated. There is a ton of lore to be discovered and learned, and everything connects to make this world truly flourish.

Gameplay: 5/5

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a sense of scale and exploration in a way that no other game has achieved to date. For starters, this isn’t a Zelda game that follows the same conventions we’ve seen over the past 30 years. This is a new way to experience Zelda; a way which feels similar to what we first experienced on the NES, and the way we first experienced Ocarina of Time. In short, this is a Zelda that provides a truly unique experience that elevates the series to new heights.

Unlike earlier entries, we are thrown right into the gameplay with very little exposition. You will be granted a Sheikah Slate and some clothing to set off on your journey. After leaving the Shrine of Resurrection, it is here where the game opens up to how you want to set forth on your quest. This is a true open-world experience to witness. There are many games nowadays where open-world is a somewhat monotonous style, with a checklist of things the player can do. Breath of the Wild reinvigorates this tiresome style by not throwing filler into the world just for the sake of having something to do. Everything placed in this massive land of Hyrule is meant to be there and has purpose. You have the utmost freedom to tackle this game in any way you’d like. You can literally spend countless hours venturing the land, finding shrines to tackle, side quests to partake in, and hunting for resources.

For those wanting to focus on seeing the story unfold, there’s a quest log system in place to show you where to go. On your way to main missions, you will be easily distracted from your path, as seeing Shrines and Towers to unlock will certainly pull you off the beaten path. As mentioned, these are not filler content. Towers will unlock regions of the land to appear on your map, as well as fast travel points. Shrines are mini-dungeons with specific puzzles and challenges to complete that award you Spirit Orbs. Acquiring four of these Orbs will allow you to visit a Praying Statue that lets you either upgrade your health or stamina meter. Choosing between the two is actually quite difficult since both are so integral to your survival. Honestly, I haven’t been this conflicted making decisions upgrading since Resident Evil 4, where every upgrade is a necessity. There are 120 shrines across the entire map. Finding these Shrines across Hyrule is both exciting and addictive. The only minor gripe I have is that some shrines have the occasional motion controls implemented for certain puzzles that proved to be a bit imprecise. Luckily, there weren’t many of these and didn’t hurt the overall experience. Also, it’s worth noting that shrines act as fast travel points as well.

Combat handled differently than other Zelda installments. No longer are you attached to a single sword as your main weapon. Instead, you are capable of wielding practically anything as a weapon; tree branches, axes, swords, spears, boomerangs, and bows all behave as weapons. While boomerangs and bows are common in the series, all the weapons mentioned have a ton of various types. Weapons’ materials are also a factor;or example, during lightning storms, having metal weapons (or clothing) equipped will attract lightning to strike you. However, throwing a metal weapon towards enemies will attract lightning to them, providing a clever method to utilize the environment in combat. Weapons do break quite easily, so you’ll be scavenging weapons constantly. It’s not until you find better-made weapons where they are more durable.

Aside from weapons, acquiring specific clothing is absolutely essential to your survival. Not only do these affect your defense attributes, but they have specific perks as well. Breath of the Wild’s environments are not static. Climbing a snowy mountain will make Link freeze to death if he’s not wearing the proper clothing. Venturing into the desert in the daytime will make Link grow weary of the heat, but he’ll also freeze at night. Going into a volcano will even set Link on fire unless he has the proper equipment. It’s this level of care and authenticity that changes the way you explore in Zelda. Thankfully, you’re not restricted to having only specific clothing and gear to get through these extreme temperatures. You can also hunt animals and resources to cook food or brew elixirs that will provide you resistance to certain climates. Speaking of cooking, it’s your main means of recovering health. Gone are the days of cutting through grass or objects to find hearts to acquire. You will need to hunt and cook if you are going to survive.

The game’s four main dungeons are also some of the best level designs I’ve seen in a Zelda game. Taking a page from Shadow of the Colossus, the Divine Beasts serve as the main dungeons in the game. Each Divine Beast will have to be approached differently, consisting of unique action experiences as Link tries to make his entrance. Once inside the beast, the puzzles truly flourish and require you to really think about how to advance. The development team have really shown their puzzle design mastery here. Additionally, boss battles are both engaging and challenging. You will have to really experiment with everything you have at your disposal to defeat these bosses.

The most remarkable achievement is how much detail the land of Hyrule has. The wildlife, the environment, the towns, the weather…they all have this sublime detail that sets an entire new standard for open-world games. Many open-world games feel like a drag to venture through, full of filler content just to get to the next point of the game’s story. Instead, Breath of the Wild achieves an open-world that has substance. It’s so easy to lose countless hours exploring before even tackling the game’s main story. This game is truly a revolution.

Graphics: 5/5

The Legend of Zelda series always had vibrant, lush visuals, with each installment using unique art styles. BotW approaches a more watercolor-like style and provides a truly breathtaking visual experience. In the opening moments where you view the land of Hyrule, you will be introduced to an immense draw distance. You can literally see everything in the distance: Shrines, Towers, towns, mountains, and more. It really is a sight to behold. Grass blades react to your movements and glisten based on the lighting from the sun’s position. Heat haze effects appear in desert and volcanic environments. Lightning strikes cause fields and trees to light on fire. These detailed visual effects are truly jaw-dropping. Texture work is quite sharp as well.

The game is also built heavily on a full-fledged, interactive physics system. Moving boulders will react precisely to the environment’s geometry, trees can be cut down, logs can be chopped, grass set ablaze will cause an updraft you can ride with your paraglider, and more. Every little thing in the game is interactive and has purpose. Character animations are fluid and react believably to the environment. Link has a plethora of animations that truly reacts to anything and everything in the world: how he climbs, mounts horses, surfs, glides, attacks, takes damage, and so on. While the framerate can occasionally drop here and there, it rarely posed an issue that hinders the grand scale of everything happening on-screen here during the 40+ hours played. It truly is a beautifully-stunning game.

Sound: 5/5

The sound design team over at Nintendo have certainly gone with a different approach with Breath of the Wild. Instead of constant overworld tunes, the game relies more on subtle music that capture the sense of mystery and exploration at the right moments. It is more low-key than previous installments, but its piano tunes really work perfectly in exploring the land. More constant music is played in towns, shrines, dungeons, and boss battles. Town music makes you feel calm, giving you a reprieve from the dangers that lurk out in the fields. Shrines have a mysterious theme, taking inspiration from the cave music from Link’s Awakening. Music played in dungeons is interesting, as it starts very low-key, but once you complete certain objectives, the music picks up in a more dramatic style. Boss battle tracks are much more intense as it captures the moment of a one-on-one battle. While the musical style is different, it’s done so in a masterful way.

Sound effect quality is also superb. There are a ton of ambient effects to be heard, whether it be the sound of Link’s gear swaying back and forth, the creatures roaming Hyrule, the powerful lightning strikes, the volcanic lava, or leaves and trees moving with the wind, there is an unbelievable amount of audio being played. Combat sounds powerful and visceral with weapons clashing, striking and breaking. Naturally, the iconic Zelda sound fanfares are in place when finding/collecting items.

Breath of the Wild features full voice acting, a series first. While not everyone speaks, there are times when cutscenes take place with actual voiceover work for various key characters. While Link is still mute, Zelda and the Divine Guardians all have voices and are admirably effective at bringing these characters to life in a way the series hasn’t done before. There’s no question that the sound design was given the same intricate attention as the rest of the game, because what’s here truly immerses you further.

Overall Score: 20/20 = 10 out of 10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not only an experience that matches the caliber of Ocarina of Time, it’s an experience that will forever remain in my thoughts. Nintendo has taken the Zelda franchise in a new direction, and that risk has more than succeeded. In an era where gaming has an oversaturation of open-world games, Breath of the Wild revolutionizes this genre and sets the bar to a whole new high. No other game provides a world as engaging and mystifying to explore. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is very well one of the finest achievements in gaming, and one of the most striking launch titles since Super Mario 64.

Pros:

+ Immersive, substance-filled world

+ Visual style and unparalleled draw distance

+ Challenging combat

+ Fantastic sound design

+ Open-ended nature of the entire game; Giving full freedom to the player

Cons:

– Occasional frame drops

– Motion-based shrines

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

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Has-Been Heroes Interview: Switch Development “a lot smoother” than Wii U

We had the opportunity to interview Kai over at Frozenbyte about their upcoming release, Has-Been Heroes. In this interview, Kai was able to share their experiences developing for the Switch, what kind of game Has-Been Heroes is, some tips about the game, if the Trine characters would appear, and much more.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about Has-Been Heroes! Let’s begin with the game’s origins. How did you guys first think of the idea for this game?

Kai: We went with a team-based approach for this, so we initially had a small group that we put together who just wanted to make something totally different from our other games. They had a challenging game in mind, and the roguelike elements started fitting into place very early on. At one point after a few prototypes we really had something click and the gameplay started feeling really addictive.

The story and characters were pretty similar throughout the development, but naturally evolved a bit to the current humoristic setting as we refined the concept. So now we have the old, retired Has-Been Heroes that are sent to take the king’s daughters to school!

Marcello: How long has the game been in development for?

Kai: We started development around 2.5 years ago.

Marcello: Now this game is releasing on multiple platforms, but clearly the Switch version is the one most are intrigued about seeing since it’s in the console’s launch window. What has it been like developing for the Nintendo Switch? Any comparisons to the Wii U when you guys brought Trine to that platform?

Kai: Switch has been a real pleasure to work with, no complaints at all. Nintendo has really learned a lot from the Wii U times and developing for the Switch has been a lot smoother. They’ve changed around a lot of things, and really thought of the whole process from a developer standpoint. Our programmers have loved it.

Marcello: Does this game have any form of co-op multiplayer? It seems like it can get really intense!

Kai: No multiplayer, Has-Been Heroes is single-player only. But with a game like this where every move and decision with items/spells matters, there’s a lot of room for people to shout instructions from the back 🙂

Marcello: The game’s art-style is certainly a departure from that of the Trine series, but it certainly has a clean, smooth art-style nonetheless. How did you guys decide on the game’s art direction?

Kai: The drawn 2D style was something we had in mind from the beginning for Has-Been Heroes. It’s there to give you some comical relief to soften the blow from dying a lot in the game 😉

Marcello: Does the game run at 60 frames-per-second?

Kai: Yep!

Marcello: Can you use the Switch’s touch-screen for any gameplay when playing off-the-dock?

Kai: No, just for the menus.

Marcello: Will the Trine characters make a surprise cameo appearance in the game? Maybe we’ll be able to play as that team in-game?

Kai: No, they are busy fighting evil in another dimension!

Marcello: The Trine games had a very serine soundtrack from composer Ari Pulkkinen. Did he return to compose the soundtrack to Has-Been Heroes?

Kai: Ari will make some tracks for our other game Nine Parchments (which is set in the Trine universe by the way!), but the soundtrack for Has-Been Heroes was composed by our in-house audio team consisting of Sauli Lehtinen and Jori Kemppi.

Marcello: Any tips players should be aware of when starting this game?

Kai: You can pause the game (and you should) at any time with the left bumper on your controller. Use it to your advantage to plan your moves and cast spells when they’re off cooldown. Also try to match your heroes’ melee attacks with enemy stamina counts in order to stun them.

Marcello: Anything you would like to add to the readers of this interview?

Kai: We’re just a couple of weeks away from the launch of Has-Been Heroes, so if you’re into roguelikes and enjoy a challenge, look out for it!  It’s a rare game for Frozenbyte since it becomes so challenging that only a handful of people here have actually beaten the game, but that’s really what makes it so addictive and fresh for a long time 🙂

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time! We’re excited to get our hands on Has-Been Heroes!

Kai: Thanks!

Has-Been Heroes releases on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam on March 28th for $19.99. It will release both physically and digitally, with the physical copy being available exclusively at Gamestop for $19.99.

Are you looking forward to this title? Sound off in the comments below!

FAST RMX Review (Switch) – “The New F-Zero”

It has been 14 years since Nintendo released a new home console installment for their popular series, F-Zero. Thankfully, Shin’en Multimedia has been so fond of the series, they’ve taken up the task of creating their own high-speed,  futuristic racing game series, FAST. The series first started as a WiiWare title called FAST Racing League, then saw a sequel on the Wii U know as FAST Racing NEO. Shin’en has now brought FAST RMX to the Switch as a launch day title. Is this a title you should race to buy?

FAST RMX is a dramatically-enhanced version of FAST Racing NEO. It brings double the amount of tracks (30 tracks in total), double the vehicles, enhanced visuals, plenty more bumpin’ tunes, and some gameplay refinements. You will partake in the game’s Championship mode, which is broken down into 10 cups, with three tracks in each. You have three difficulty levels as well that also affect the game’s speed: Subsonic, Hypersonic, and Supersonic. Just to give you an idea of how “fast” FAST is: On the Subsonic difficulty (the game’s easy mode), you will be flying through levels at 700+ MPH; expect to be doing over 1000+ MPH on Supersonic difficulty. The team at Shin’en absolutely nailed the exhilarating sense of speed, all while being able to control your vehicle through that velocity.

If you’ve never played a FAST installment, imagine F-Zero and Wipeout combined, with a polarity twist (i.e. Ikaruga, Outland). As you’re zipping your way through tracks, you will need to switch your ship’s color polarity between blue and orange to hit specific colored boost and jump pads. Having the opposite polarity on will either slow you down dramatically or make you fall to your doom. It’s an extremely well-implemented system, and one which gives FAST its own identity.

As mentioned, cups will consist of three races, with every track providing variety to the backdrop and mechanics. Whether you’re racing through a windy desert, a perilous snowstorm, a stormy coast, or outside a space station, there’s plenty of variety in the tracks. If the speed’s not enough to keep you on your toes, the AI will; it will challenge you and have no qualms about taking advantage of you missing boost pads or boost orbs. Thankfully, FAST RMX’s refinements have adjusted difficulty curve from its Wii U predecessor, making it a feel much more fair. Also when you beat any cup, you unlock those levels from the completed cup for Hero mode (more on that below).

There are 15 vehicles to choose from in FAST RMX, most of which need to be unlocked. Each vehicle has its pros and cons with different attributes for acceleration, top speed, boost power, and weight. If you want more top speed, chances are the vehicle will be heavier to turn and have slower acceleration. If you want better control, you may sacrifice top speed for that.

Aside from the game’s Championship mode, you can grab a few buddies for 4-player split-screen action, or gather multiple Switch consoles and do 8-player local multiplayer. If that’s not enough, you can always take the action to the 8-player online mode. The online functionality ran smoothly during our tests. When jumping online, you choose your vehicle and are instantly thrown into the middle of race. If the race started, you will have to wait it to end (but you will still be able to watch what’s happening in the meantime). It’s very easy to jump into an online match. Unfortunately at the time of writing, there is no way to party up with friends. However, Shin’en has stated that the feature is in the works.

FAST RMX includes a Hero mode for you F-Zero fans out there. Your boost meters doubles as your shield in this mode, drastically ramping up the game’s difficulty. Like F-Zero, you will be focusing on balancing boost with shield, only boosting when absolutely necessary. In FAST Racing NEO, Hero mode was locked until you beat every cup on every difficulty (and due to the high level of difficulty, many never got to experience this mode). This time around, Hero mode is accessible once you beat any cup in Championship mode.

The controls in RMX feel a bit more refined than in its predecessor. This is also one of the few launch games that utilizes HD Rumble, and you certainly feel it. When playing with the Joy-Cons in separate hands, you will feel collisions coming from different directions. Hit a wall on the right and you’ll feel it in the right Joy-Con. Drive through a windstorm in the desert and you’ll feel the wind whirl through the controller. It’s a neat addition and showcases the potential of HD Rumble. The game supports every control type possible: Joy-Cons paired, Joy-Con sideways, and Pro controller. While the Pro controller did feel more comfortable for this game, the Joy-Cons still felt more than suitable. You even have the option of playing with motion controls.

Visually, FAST RMX is absolutely stunning. FAST RMX is up there with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as a visual showpiece that’ll impress anyone who sees the game in action. Its Wii U predecessor ran at 720p and 60 FPS, but RMX runs at a native 1080p and 60 FPS locked. This frame rate holds up even in intense 4-player split-screen action. This is brilliant, and something I hope other developers take note of. Levels and vehicles are superbly-detailed, with sharp texture work and terrific lighting. The sense of speed is also second-to-none, with awesome visual effects that truly make you feel how fast you’re going. The developers even implemented a feature to make the visuals even sharper in the options menu called Chromatic Aberration. This removes the softening tone of textures.

FAST RMX’s audio is also praiseworthy. From the moment you boot it up, the bumpin’ techno/electronica soundtrack will have you further immersed in the white-knuckle races. It really nails the insanely fast-paced tone and setting of the game. Sound effects are sublime as well. The menu effects, boosting, colliding, environment and announcer all truly make this audio stand out. And speaking of the announcer, F-Zero GX fans will notice that Jack Merluzzi provides his talent here as well. All-in-all this is one powerful audio package that deserves to be cranked up.

FAST RMX is a truly sublime racing experience. This is one game that’s very difficult to put down once you pick it up. Its addictive gameplay, insane sense of speed, breathtaking visuals, and superb audio really make this a phenomenal package. The amazing part is that everything here only costs $19.99 – a triple-A-quality package at a bargain price. While the online mode is missing a friends option at the time of this review, the game is an absolutely exhilarating adrenaline-rush overall. If you own a Switch, rush onto the eShop and buy this game. If you don’t own a Switch yet, this game is another reason to own one.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

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Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Review (Switch) – “Pure 8-Bit Solid Gold”

With indies being a scene where developers can truly create the games they envision, Yacht Club Games sought out to release a game that’s an homage to the golden NES era of gaming. Shovel Knight was a true Kickstarter success story, and since then, the developers have continued to keep adding to the game. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove has hit the Nintendo Switch as a launch day title, containing three campaigns: Shovel of Hope (the original Shovel Knight), Plague of Shadows, and the newly released Specter of Torment. How does this compilation fare on Nintendo’s new platform, and how does Specter of Torment fare as the newly released addition?

Let’s kick off by saying, if you haven’t played Shovel Knight on any platform yet, there is no better time to experience it. Yacht Club Games is extremely passionate of their project and have literally brought it to almost every platform possible. Now, here we are with a version for the Nintendo Switch, containing the entire package plus more. As mentioned, Shovel Knight contains three campaigns, and while the majority of the review will cover Specter of Torment, we will cover the basic ground work of what’s new with the previous campaigns.

Shovel Knight’s original campaign remains fully intact, with the added features such as co-op play and Custom Knight (both of which were on the Wii U with its latest update). Additionally, there is a new feature to summon a fairy knight to follow you around and highlight where helpful items are (both in plain sight and hidden). Plague of Shadows takes the original campaign’s framework and provides players with an entirely new (and challenging) way to play by controlling Plague Knight. This has players trying to master the alchemy that Plague Knight wields, and utilizing this fully during platforming sequences. It’s a fun twist to the original Shovel of Hope campaign that’s certainly a ramped up challenge. However, the real highlight of the show here is Specter of Torment. While the original Shovel Knight (Shovel of Hope) is a spectacular game, and Plague of Shadows is a blast (literally), Specter of Torment really takes the formula further ahead.

This campaign serves as a prequel to the events leading up to Shovel of Hope. It tells the tragic story of Donovan and how he became Specter Knight. Without spoiling anything, Specter of Torment’s story is the strongest one told yet, and kept me going to see how it all connected. You will face off against all the knights from Shovel of Hope, showing how they swore their allegiance to the Enchantress. However, the levels will not be the same layouts as that from Shovel of Hope. Make no mistake, Specter of Torment feels more like a sequel to Shovel Knight (even if it is a prequel) rather than a simple addition.

Specter Knight’s platforming and combat has much more versatility than Shovel Knight and Plague Knight. Thanks to Specter Knight’s ability to run up walls for short distances, grind rails on his scythe, and “Dash Slash”, this really adds an engaging new dynamic to the gameplay. It’s not even just these new mechanics, but rather the brilliance in each level’s design. Yacht Club Games clearly provided an immense level of care to each stage, testing players with these mechanics and making them feel rewarded. Even with those tense platforming moments, the game never hits that mark of being “hard” just to be “hard”, but rather hits that perfect mark of being “challenging but fair”. Even the Dash Slash makes a big difference in terms of combat. Imagine Ninja Gaiden’s Ryu Hayabusa homing in on ememies with his air slash attack and you have an idea of what’s in place here. Whether with enemies or bosses, it feels gratifying to keep pulling off. And speaking of bosses, all the bosses have new attacks and tricks up their sleeves. Oh and the final boss battle in particular is really badass.

Specter Knight’s overall structure is similar to Shovel of Hope. After the opening level, you will be presented to the Tower Hub where you can walk around and talk to NPCs, acquire upgrades, find hidden elements, and choose your level. Unlike Shovel of Hope, you will have access to all the levels right from the get-go (akin to Mega Man). Throughout the levels you will find red skulls. These can be used to acquire Darkness abilities in the Tower Hub. These abilities range from summoning a skeleton sniper, to recovering health, to throwing your scythe and have it slice along platforms to take out enemies. A really neat feature is that when you cash in the skulls for an ability, you are brought to an area where you must escape using that particular ability. As opposed to just having the ability and rarely trying it, or not knowing how it works at all, the developers found a perfect middle ground introducing new abilities. You can even upgrade those abilities and acquire new sets of armor to change your passive attributes. For example, there’s an armor that allows you to still live if you fall on spikes or fall in a perilous pit (which would normally be an instakill).

When you beat the 3-5 hour campaign, there’s a New Game Plus mode, as well as a Challenge mode. You can even go back and try to get 100% game completion before tackling New Game Plus. Investing in the Treasure Trove collection versus just Specter of Torment will net you the previous campaigns as mentioned. Also new in this version is Body Swap mode. Every character has a male and female altered appearance now. The Enchantress will now be The Enchanter, and all the Knights will have specified appearances and animations to coincide with their gender swap. It’s a neat little feature, and one that feels more thoughtout than thrown-in. Playing through Shovel Knight in co-op is also a great addition and something not often seen in 2D side-scrollers.

Visually, Specter of Torment (and its predecessors) is a flawless rendition of how an old-school, 8-bit game looks. The game runs at 60 fps (as many NES games did), has stunning sprite work, and excellent backdrop effects. It’s like literally popping in a high-quality NES cartridge. It’s just stunning to see how clean it all looks while maintaining the authentic old-school style. Audio wise, Jake Kaufman returns to provide a remixed soundtrack (and some new tunes of course) for Specter of Torment, and hits it out of the park. The soundtrack perfectly nails the energy this campaign has and stuck with me well after turning the game off. The entire audio package is superb and really nails the NES feel to a tee. 

It must be stated that I was a bit concerned playing this with the Joy-Con’s button pad. After going back and forth playing this with the Joy-Cons and Pro controller, I can positively say that the Joy-Con’s button pad was very natural to play with. So if you were on the fence about playing this side scroller with the Joy-Cons and can’t find a Pro controller at the moment, the button pad does a superb job.

No matter how you perceive it, the NES era was an absolutely essential moment in gaming history. Through the 8-bit era, we have come to see many iconic characters burst into the gaming world, becoming legends amongst the gaming society. From Mario, Link, Mega Man, Hayabusa, Bomberman, and countless others, there’s no denying the impact these characters made 30+ years ago, up to this very day. Shovel Knight and crew certainly ranks among these legendary characters. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is an absolutely essential game to own on the Switch. It’s perfectly crafted gameplay and level design truly showcase a labor of love for this genre that many others cannot imitate. For $25, you’re getting a combined 10-15 hours of three campaigns, plus an additional free campaign (King Knight) releasing in the near future, as well as a free 4-player Battle Arena mode (also in the near future). Steel thy shovel and get this collection now!

Overall Score: 9.5 out of 10 = BUY IT!

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove! Copy reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

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Super Bomberman R Review (Switch) – “Blast from the Past”

When it comes to iconic retro characters, Bomberman is certainly one with quite the history. Konami has decided to bring the iconic bombing hero as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch for its 33rd anniversary. Super Bomberman R takes the series back to its roots, but is that playing it too safe, or is it a proper way to bring the series back after a long hiatus?

Gameplay: 4/5

Super Bomberman R is a return to form. The series has focused more on adventure-like elements, and while those were well-executed, the team over at Konami wanted to celebrate the character’s return with a more traditional experience. If you’ve never played a Bomberman game before, let’s briefly touch base about the core mechanics. You control Bomberman via an isometric view, and have to navigate your way through maze-like levels, blowing up objects that block your path. Naturally, there are enemies that will be in your path that can be disposed of with your bombs. You have to strategically plant these bombs, hoping to trick the enemy into the blast, and being sure you’re away from the blast radius.

The game’s Story mode will have you (and a partner) venturing through five worlds (with a sixth world being strictly the final boss) to take on the five Dastardly Bombers. You can pick from several different Bombermen, each with a different personality. Each world comprises of eight stages, followed by a boss battle stage. Throughout the stages, you will have a variety of objectives to complete in the world. For example, levels start off with just defeating all the enemies and heading to the exit. Later on, it may change up to: finding all the switches in a level to open the exit, surviving for “x” amount of time, or even escorting characters to a safety zone before the exit opens. This actually helps change up the pacing of levels quite nicely. Levels will only take a few minutes as well, making this a solid pickup-and-play style game. The game is also paced very well with new elements incorporated into levels as you progress, and new twists thrown into world (whether it be multi-tiered levels, icy platforms, magnets that pull your bombs in, etc).

Throughout the levels, you will find power-ups that either let you plant more bombs at once, increase your blast radius, let you move faster, or even carry special bomb-types. While getting power-ups like these may sound like a benefit, the strategic element to consider is that there’s more of a challenge to being fully powered-up. You will be more prone to blowing yourself up if you’re not careful. It’s almost a case of, “With great power comes great responsibility”. However, you’ll even come across power-downs, which decrease certain power-ups you may have acquired for the level. These may help you if you feel your bombs have too much blast radius or you’re running too fast and having a hard time controlling the character.

Story mode can be played in drop-in/drop-out local co-op. Just pop out those Joy-Cons and have a buddy join in on the fun. You and your partner will share lives, and can blow each other up, so extra caution is needed when playing co-op. And of course, no Bomberman game would be complete without Battle mode.

Battle mode allows for up to eight players to join in on the fun, whether local, with multiple Switches in the same room, or online. This is where a majority of the game’s longevity will come from, as this has been the series’ staple for decades. And even decades later, this multiplayer is still as chaotic and engaging as it was back in the day. You have a variety of stages to choose from, as well as more that can be unlocked with gem currency accrued from playing through the campaign. You can choose to play either four-player or eight-player battle, as well as incorporate bots to go up against. When playing Battle mode online, you can choose between League Battle and Free Battle. League Battle has you competing with others to earn BP to level up your rank in set conditions, while Free Battle lets you go up against friends and newcomers with customized parameters to your liking.

Now there are some issues to be found in Super Bomberman R. First off, the online mode. During our online sessions, every match has a half-second lag input for the controls. While you can get by and still play, it’s just not a smooth experience at all. Luckily, Konami is already aware of this and are looking into fixing it. Also, if lag input wasn’t enough, there are lag spikes during matches that we’ve come across a few times. Second, boss battles contain two phases each, with the first phase always being a cat-and-mouse bombing each other game. The problem with this is the AI is always a step ahead and you can never cleverly take them out. Instead, it just resorts to constantly planting bombs like crazy and hoping for the best. These made boss battles a bit frustrating. Thankfully, the second phase of a boss battle is significantly better and more entertaining, giving you more freedom of movement and interesting scenarios.

Graphics: 3/5

Super Bomberman R is a colorful, vibrant game, with a simplistic style that gets the point across. Bomberman and crew are animated precisely as they should be, and enemies move as they would in previous games. Bomberman was never a visual showcase, but rather relied on its cutesy, fun style. It’s got a charming look and is easy on the eyes. Backdrops look pretty solid for the levels and help flesh out the game’s aesthetic. Oddly though, the game’s main menus run at 60 fps, but the game itself is locked at 30 fps. While 30 fps is more than playable, there’s nothing happening on screen here that shouldn’t have it running at 60 fps. That being said, Super Bomberman R’s visuals are still quite good and certainly do a good job of bringing Bomberman and crew to the Nintendo Switch.

Sound: 3/5

Super Bomberman R has a catchy, chipper soundtrack that accompanies the action on-screen very well. You may even find yourself having a few tunes stick with you after taking a break from the game. Sound effects are done well too, between the icon pickups and explosions going on. The audio here is actually a well suited package…except for the voice acting. While not overly cringe-worthy, it’s certainly very campy and cheesy. The voice actors tried to do what they can to provide personality to each of the Bombermen, but it ultimately falls flat for the most part. Aside from White and Red Bomberman being the better of the bunch, everything else doesn’t fare as well. You can switch the game’s language to Japanese…but then the text is Japanese as well. Thankfully, you can shut off the voices altogether if it begins to grind your gears.

Replay Value: 4/5

Battle mode is clearly where the game’s longevity is going to be. Whether you have some friends over or jump online, there’s no question that you’ll have people gathering around. While the online does have lag input and spikes at the moment, there should be a patch in the near future to fix this issue. Aside from Battle mode, there are plenty of unlockables too. You can go to the Shop area and acquire new Battle mode stages, new characters and new outfits for the characters. There’s an ample amount to unlock and doing so will certainly take some time. Also, the campaign can be replayed at multiple difficulties and once beaten, you can replay any world again. There’s even a ranking system from one to three stars to see how well you did in each world.

Overall Score: 14/20 = 7.0 out of 10

Super Bomberman R is a return to series’ roots without question. Between the maze-like structure of maps and competitive Battle mode, it’s the Bomberman we’ve come to know and love. While the game has its fair share of issues, it’s still a game very much worth having in your Switch library. This is a solid return for the character and great to see the series can still pick up where it left off and play as well today. Here’s hoping though that Konami sees the potential of this classic IP and continues to further build on it (and other classic IPs they have). Maybe we can see a new Bomberman in the style of Bomberman 64 on the Switch?

Pros:

+ Easy to pickup-and-play

+ Battle mode is still as engaging as ever

+ Catchy soundtrack

+ Campaign mode progresses well

+ Plenty of unlockables

Cons:

– Dull voice acting

– Online lag input and spikes

– First phase of boss battles are an exercise of luck

– Visuals seem capable of 60 fps but runs at 30 fps

– $50 price tag is a little steep

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Super Bomberman R! Copy reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

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Interview with Yacht Club Games – Shovel Knight’s Origins, Nintendo Switch Release, and Much More


Yesterday, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Flood, one of the founders and gameplay programmers from Yacht Club Games. In this hour long interview, we were able to touch base on insightful background in regards to how the idea of Shovel Knight was conceived, why he has a Shovel for a weapon, previous projects the team worked on that helped with their work on Shovel Knight, their experience with Nintendo Switch, the new Specter of Torment campaign, and so much more! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, maybe your lunch, and give a listen to this insightful, fun interview.

Nintendo Switch is Releasing with Something for Everyone

The Nintendo Switch is exactly one week from launch, and initially, many were complaining of the lack of day one release titles. Naturally as we narrow down the time until launch, more titles have been revealed to be releasing alongside the console. Here is the full list of games releasing day one for the Nintendo Switch, both retail and digitally (as well as their price):

Retail and Digital:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ($59.99)
  • 1-2 Switch ($49.99)
  • Super Bomberman R ($49.99)
  • Skylanders Imaginators ($59.99)
  • Just Dance 2017 ($59.99)

eShop Exclusives:

  • FAST RMX ($19.99)
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove ($24.99)
  • Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! ($19.99)
  • I Am Setsuna ($39.99)

Now nine titles may still seem like a small amount for day one releases, but think of this from a different perspective: Nintendo is launching the system with a variety of game types. Those looking for a massive open-world adventure experience have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those looking for a game that not only captures the casual crowd, but also takes advantage of the tech the Joy-cons contain have 1-2 Switch. Then you have Super Bomberman R, a classic revisited series for solo and multiplayer. Activision’s Skylanders Imaginators is coming to provide family-friendly, co-op action, which while the least sold installment, is still a big franchise for the publisher. And if you’re looking for a game to get you active and burn a sweat, there’s Just Dance 2017. These alone are the retail available games with each offering a different game genre.

Now from the eShop perspective, there’s Fast RMX, an insanely fast-paced racing experience and visual showcase. Old-school platforming fans have the awesomeness of Shovel Knight to enjoy. Looking to test that noggin’ of yours? Then Snipperclips will test you and your partner’s thinking skills (and also provides for communication skills). Lastly, JRPG fans have I Am Setsuna, a spiritual successor to Crono Trigger (which many considered to be one of the best RPGs of all-time). Thinking of it now, the main three genres missing are sports, fighters, and shooters for day one…but that’s about it.

The main thing to consider is that there is something available for virtually anyone getting a Switch day one. If sports, fighters and shooters are your thing…well, those games are coming to fill in the gap. FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 are releasing later this year (September/October), Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers will be “shor-yu-ken” play that this Spring (that was an absolutely terrible pun…), and Splatoon 2 will fill the shooter void (and will be a flagship online title for the console).

There’s no question that there’s virtually something for everyone here investing in a Switch on launch day. If we look back at the Nintendo 64, that console released with a mere two games launch day: Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. Granted, Super Mario 64 reimagined 3D gaming as we know it, but Zelda BotW is shaping up to provide launch day buyers with the most refreshing direction the series has seen since Ocarina of Time.

That being said, what are your most anticipated games for the Switch’s launch window? Sound off in the comments below!

FAST RMX and Shovel Knight Join the Switch Launch Day

Yesterday, more information was confirmed by two indie developers, Yacht Club Games and Shin’en. Yacht Club Game had confirmed that Shovel Knight Specter of Torment, as well as Shovel Knight Treasure Trove, will be available on March 3rd, 2017. Shovel Knight Treasure Trove will cost $24.99 and include the Shovel of Hope (original campaign), Plague of Shadows, and Specter of Torment campaigns. Shovel Knight has been released on virtually every platform this generation and for good reason. This game is a sublime 2D platforming experience that nails the feels of 8-bit games like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2, and Ducktales. If for some reason you’ve still missed this game, the Switch sounds like another great way to experience it.

Shin’en has also been able to grace their upcoming title, FAST RMX, to the Nintendo Switch for March 3rd, 2017 as well. While the price is still unknown, their previous version released on the Wii U was $14.99. However, FAST RMX has almost double the tracks, more vehicles and visual upgrades, it’s not too hard to guess that this may go for about $19.99 possibly. That being said, this writer here absolutely loved FAST Racing Neo for the Wii U and with enhancements and additions coming to FAST RMX, this is no doubt one launch title everyone needs to give a look. Nintendo still hasn’t put out a new F-Zero game since F-Zero GX (which was the best installment in the series), so this game will certainly fill that insane speed racing void. Maybe Shin’en will be approached by Nintendo to handle a new F-Zero seeing the talent this studio has…

 

Snipperclips Releasing Day 1 with Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch hype is real, and with only 7 days to go until launch, information is finally set and stone with more game launches. Nintendo’s co-op eShop title called “Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!” has been confirmed to launch on March 3rd, 2017 for $19.99. This title has players working together to solve puzzles by clipping each other into specific shapes and objects. While the game is being touted as a co-op game, you will be able to play the game solo as well.

There are three game modes in the full version: World mode, Party mode, and Blitz mode. World mode will be the core campaign mode for the game, that’s for both single and co-op play. Party mode and Blitz mode are for two to four players, with Party mode being more the puzzle-solving focus, and Blitz mode being a more frenetic approach.

On release day, there will also be a demo available to download from the Nintendo eShop. This exclusive Switch title certainly looks creative and we certainly can’t wait to get our hands on it. Check out the video from the Nintendo Treehouse NYC event last month below to see this creative game in action.

[Source – Nintendo Press Release]

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia Review (PS4/PC) – “Refreshing Ride”

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Extreme sports racing games are a dime a dozen nowadays, but there are some developers trying to rekindle relatable experiences, while also aiming for a new market. Swedish developer Zordix has been establishing themselves with a series that started on the iOS/Android called Aqua Moto Racing. In years to come, they brought their series to the 3DS, and now, they’re bringing the series to home consoles for the first time ever. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is the latest installment in the series, available on Steam and PS4 (with a Wii U release in the near future). Is this worth braving the waves of the ocean, or is it stuck in open-waters?

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is essentially a racing game that most closely resembles Nintendo’s “Wave Race” series. You will race through a series of championship events, each with different CC engine speeds, as well as jet-ski types (sit-down and stand-up models). The sit-down jet-skis are much more speed-focused, whereas the stand-up ones excel in stunt flexibility. Before hitting the waters though, you will start off by creating your own character. This is a nice way to kick things off by giving the player a bit of customization. There are a decent amount of options to tinker with to ensure not everyone looks similar out on the waters.

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Races rely on racing alongside the buoys in place on each track. You’ll be bobbing-and-weaving your way on the water to ensure you’re on the right side of the buoy you need to pass. If you miss three of these in a race, you’re disqualified. As you progress, you will earn cash based on your placement (as well as some to earn out on the track). This can be used to purchase newer and better jet-skis, with multiple attributes that are affected. Each jet-ski can be customized with a variety of colors, whether it’s the body or decals.

Each environment has a distinct feel, with multiple variation tracks to tackle throughout the game’s championship mode. Whether it’s the lush jungles, a water filled town in China, the open-ocean around tanker ships and oil rigs, or tropical paradises (to name a few), all of these locales are as fun to ride as they are unique. Another cool aspect is the option to race in first-person mode. The way the camera handles in this really adds to the immersion, whether you’re whipping around turns or doing flips in the air.

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Any game revolving around water is reliant on its physics, and honestly, the physics in place are quite good. The jet-skis handle more or less like they should on both calm and intense waves, with an arcade-style feel to it. It may be a little less interactive than Wave Race’s water physics, but what’s in place here works great. When going off of jumps and high waves, you’ll be able to pull off tricks as well. Doing so will allow you to gain boost. You can also pull off specific tricks while on water. The tricks are fairly simple to pull off, with some more advanced ones that take some time to master. There were some instances though (more evident during trick events) when the trick inputs didn’t respond, or the trick name was displayed but the animation kicked in after releasing the buttons. It worked well enough for the most part, but this particular instance is something that could be patched.

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There are plenty of modes to explore as well. Aside from the game’s core championship mode, there are time trial and free roam modes. Time trial is standard fare, except you’re provided times to beat to go for a gold medal in each track (aside from beating your own times). Free roam has you go around any of the game’s environments, but with a twist. There are “Z Balls” to collect in each environment, as well as a hidden collectible to find. Also, there are interactive events that can be triggered in each area, which is a great little feature to incorporate here. Then there’s the multiplayer modes. The game supports both local and online multiplayer. Local multiplayer has 4-player split-screen action, whether you’re racing against each other or tackling the party games together. The party games are a blast, whether it be Aqua Moto Hockey, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, or our personal favorite here, Duckling Mama (think Super Rub-a-Dub from the PS3 launch days…if you ever played that). The online multiplayer strangely only consists of racing against others, with no party games to be found. While the party games are tailored more for the couch multiplayer, it would be nice to get friends together online to do this as well. That being said though, we were able to test out the online amongst staff members here and can say it ran quite smooth. Oh, and there’s a fairly attainable Platinum trophy to be found in this game as well.

I think we're going to need a bigger jet-ski...

I think we’re going to need a bigger jet-ski…

Visually, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is an incredibly clean and vibrant looking game. Environments look great, with some nice texture work and immensely inviting water. The objects and jet-skis are also well-detailed and appropriately scaled. Characters on the other hand are a bit lacking detail-wise, and have some stilted animations. There’s one odd animation too when landing from a trick. If you’re not fully complete with the trick, the animation doesn’t finish and goes right to the rider and his jet-ski being perfectly leveled with the water. Is it immersion-breaking? Not entirely, but it’s noticeable. On the flip-side, the game runs at a smooth 60 frames-per-second, which is a huge feat. The audio in AMRU is also right-on. Each environment has music that matches the locale very well, and the audio effects do a good job capturing the arcade-style feel to the game. The announcer on the other hand sounds mundane and unnecessary. Honestly, just going to the options and shutting him off makes it better.

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All-in-all, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a great game that can easily be recommended to fans of arcade-style racers, and more so, fans of Nintendo’s Wave Race series (since Nintendo still has yet to return to the series within the past 15 years). Zordix has really evolved this series since its conception on iOS, and continues to get better each time. While the $30 price tag may be a bit steep for those on the fence, it’s certainly a worthy game to add to your collection. Between its vibrant visuals, addictive gameplay, and strong local party games, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is one wave you’ll want to ride.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia! Copy reviewed on PS4.

Enjoy our review? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @GamersXTREME for the latest in gaming news and reviews.

Curious to how our review system works? Check out the About section.