Tuesday, April 30, 2013

XBLA Review: Sacred Citadel

Sacred Citadel is a fantasy brawler made in the same vein of classics like Golden Axe and Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara. It’s a throwback to the arcade days of old; a simple game designed to play with friends, either locally or online. And while it’s not all that impressive graphically or particularly revolutionary in terms of the gameplay, it’s still a solid choice for anyone who is dying for an arcade experience, minus the actual eating of quarters.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The brawler genre is dying. Brawlers come out of an era where it was a social experience to go to an arcade and play with fiends – that doesn’t hold up so well these days. Games in the genre typically involve combat made up of simple button presses, the goal being to defeat all enemies on screen in order to advance to the next area. Sacred Citadel doesn’t change up this formula too much; however, some light RPG elements add some freshness to gameplay that otherwise may have felt forgettable and stale.

There are four different character classes, and each has unique abilities and attacks. Your characters gain experience points as you complete stages and slay enemies – points which can then be spent to upgrade stats. Upgrades have varying benefits based on what character you’ve picked. Additionally, new weapons and items are dropped frequently by enemies, offering some variation from the monotony of combat.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Movie Review: The Evil Dead (2013)

When I heard 1981’s The Evil Dead was being remade, I was livid. I put on my Army of Darkness shirt, sought out Internet horror forums for a little bias confirmation -- and it worked. I was ready to oppose any remake of the Sam Raimi classic on the basis that the unique appeal of the low-budget original could never be captured again. The fact that the creators behind that first trip to a cabin in the woods were producing this new version didn’t seem to reduce my level of outrage. After all, so many horror classics have been butchered via modern Hollywood remakes that I had valid reason to doubt Evil Dead would be anything other than just another casualty.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

When I was a kid I could play with my action figures for hours, developing simple stories in my head, all in an attempt to make sense of the smashing and gun noises that would accompany the battleground on my bedroom floor. And you know what? It worked.

I didn’t need a great script as long as I was able to give the fun I was having a little bit of foundation. I think the filmmakers behind G.I. Joe: Retaliation could learn a thing or two from childhood me – you need to give all of the explosions some context, but the end product should exist solely to provide the viewer with some entertainment.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

XBLA Review - Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Fans of platformers have been treated to very few memorable games since Limbo launched digitally back in 2010. Sure, you’ll always have Rayman or Mario, but nothing has taken the genre to new heights or changed up the formula in a meaningful way. Thankfully, for those who love 2D games that focus on hurdling pitfalls and jumping on enemies, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams offers a fresh take on the classic formula, culminating in one of the most challenging and beautiful games in the genre to date.

Twisted Dreams is a sequel to Giana Sisters for the Nintendo DS, which itself is a remake of the Commodore 64 classic. The player takes control of Giana’s two personas, “Cute” and “Punk”, as she traverses worlds in order to save her sister, Maria, from a powerful dragon. It’s a generic approach to the genre that you’ve certainly seen before. The real appeal is found in the gameplay.

The typical platforming is switched up thanks to Giana’s ability to change between her alternate personalities. While switching between the cute and punk girl means different backgrounds and a change to the music, it also means different abilities – a dash for one, and a twisting leap for the other. This fits really well into the gameplay, forcing players to utilize different combinations of both on the fly in order to complete parts of a level.