Tag Archives: switch

The Switch Just Can’t Handle Overwatch

With today’s launch of Overwatch on Nintendo Switch, there is officially a worst way to play one of the best games of all time.

There are a lot of sub-optimal things about this port. The timing is inopportune, for one. Overwatch is landing on Switch three and a half years after its original release, and on the tail end of a controversy surrounding its publisher, Blizzard. While the Switch has become a veritable port vacuum, it’s difficult to imagine the game’s target demographic—the sort of person who slept this long on the massively popular team shooter, but is excited enough to try it out on the one console least likely to showcase all the things that made it popular.

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Overwatch is about coordination, strategy, accuracy, and positioning. A lot of games are, but Overwatch is an addictive, mind-stretching cocktail of these things in perfect ratio. Unfortunately, the Switch isn’t a great console for online competitive gaming. Unless you’ve got a LAN adapter and a Pro controller and you’re playing in docked mode, it can be tricky to summon the accuracy and timing necessary to best enemies. Even for people who enjoy playing competitive games casually, these minor technical hiccups can make a relaxing gameplay session frustrating. Overwatch is not immune to this.

On the Switch, Overwatch runs at 30 frames per second. Playing for a couple of hours today on both my brand new Overwatch Switch controller and some brand new Joy-Cons, I noticed some minor to severe lag when shooting McCree’s pistol or Sigma’s rocks at opponents, which often led me to miss. (Note for Pharah mains: The skies are clear!)

Strangely enough, playing in handheld mode felt best, although that meant I couldn’t connect the console to a LAN adapter. Thankfully, handheld mode is where the game is at its most gorgeous, with all the colors and detail of maps like Busan and Paris popping out at you. On a big screen, some characters look a bit fuzzy.

The Switch edition of Overwatch adds something else that, when I first heard it advertised, really blew my mind: motion controls. One Overwatch producer compared it to playing with “a laser pointer,” adding that it can “give a little nudge to your aim and help line up shots.” It also moves the camera, although players can continue using the right joystick to do that, too.

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For Overwatch, motion controls are decidedly weird—and I say this as a dedicated Splatoon and Splatoon 2 player who has used motion controls for a shooter before. It was hellish to play McCree with motion controls. His satisfying combination of shoot, roll, stun, and fan the hammer loses all the tightness that makes it a combination at all. In one instance, I missed the first shot, accidentally rolled closer to my enemies instead of away, missed my stun, and unloaded my entire cylinder into the sky. This, of course, is all on me.

I can imagine a far-off world where I get very used to turning my controller a little downwards to pull off a headshot. I cannot imagine one where I get used to swinging the Switch around to check out my backline. Thankfully, the game allows you to map a button to recentering the gyro camera. I recommend this.

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I initially played Overwatch on Xbox One, and then purchased a gaming PC specifically to get more fidelity with this game. I’m not the person Blizzard was thinking of when they put it on the Switch. I’m excited for curious or casual players to try out a game that, three years later, I can’t stop playing—but I feel a little sorry that they won’t be able to experience the very best it can offer.

[Update—8:30 pm ET]: Kotaku has removed a line about how several Switch games require an app for in-game voice chat because it was not clear that Overwatch, unlike others, has integrated voice chat.

Source: Kotaku.com

Baldur’s Gate And Planescape: Torment Still Tell Stories Like No Other Games Can

With today’s releases of Baldur’s Gate games and Planescape: Torment for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, some of the most influential video games of the last 20 years complete a very long journey to the kind of wide audience they’ve long existed just outside. They’re also very old games that have spawned newer, flashier imitators, and they show their age.

This definitely makes them a little less appealing at first blush, but it’s worth stressing: If you’ve never played any of these before, it’s worth taking the time to experience them.

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Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, developed by BioWare, and Planescape: Torment, developed byBlack Isle Studios, are computer role-playing games created by what were, at the time, dream teams of RPG designers at the top of their game. 1998’s Baldur’s Gate in particular revived and perfected the style of RPG that sought to closely emulate the experience of Dungeons & Dragons—wherein you gather a party of colorful characters and venture out into the world, taking on monsters and confronting moral dilemmas. One year later, Planescape: Torment bent that format into something more narratively ambitious, where fighting was allowed but it was more interesting to talk, to read, to ponder over dialogue and wonder how characters were connected. Torment, to this day, is widely regarded as one of the best video game stories ever told.

An increased development focus on consoles killed much of the momentum built by these games at the tail end of the ‘90s, even as Baldur’s Gate II released to even greater acclaim in 2000. As publisher Interplay ceased operation, the games went out of print and became difficult to run on modern hardware without fan mods. For a while, you could get them, but it took a lot of work—until 2012, when Beamdog Interactive began releasing Enhanced Editions of these classic games for modern devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Twenty-one years later, it certainly helps that the newest ports are—at least on PlayStation 4—surprisingly excellent, taking games designed for a boxy CRT monitor and refitting them to play well on my flatscreen and work with a controller. There’s some clunkiness—a lot of how you play these games involves navigating menus full of items and abilities and indicating where you’d like them to take effect, and that will always be clumsy on anything that’s not a mouse and keyboard. That said, I did play Baldur’s Gate on an iPad a few years ago, and while it was less than ideal, I played nearly the whole damn game.

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Planescape: Torment
Screenshot: Beamdog

As officially licensed Dungeons & Dragons games, they take settings previously published for tabletop campaigns in the late ‘90s and use them as the backdrop for epic single-player adventures. I did not know this for years until I finally played them, and knowing that is important for understanding what makes them special.

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In a way, it’s about limitations. A hallmark of tabletop role-playing has always been liberation, the way players are free to dream up and take part in adventure in ways that more rigid media like, say, video games couldn’t really allow for. While Baldur’s Gate is far from the first video game take on D&D (it’s not even among the first dozen) it kicked off an era of video games that achieved the platonic ideal of D&D-style role-playing, no dungeon master needed.

By this I mean: They told stories, good ones, in which the player felt they were truly taking part. Your decisions didn’t just matter, they colored the tenor of your experience far beyond the good/evil/neutral trinary of modern big-budget RPGs. They let you get inventive the way you could in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, tackling encounters however you liked as long as the dice rolled in your favor.

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Baldur’s Gate cast players as Gorion’s Ward, an orphan raised in a monastic life under the care of the scribe Gorion, suddenly thrust into the wider world when they learn that their real heritage might be connected to something monstrous. Of these three games, it’s the most straightforward, about going on a grand adventure and learning something about yourself. In Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, you’re asked a more complicated question: Now that you know what you are, what are you going to do about it?

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In Planescape: Torment, you’re The Nameless One, an immortal man stripped of his memories on a quest to piece his long life back together. Like It’s A Wonderful Life in reverse, you slowly become aware of all the lives you have touched in your journeys, and must deal with the fact that your personal history might have been an awful one.

All three of these games deal with themes of legacy and memory, which is potent fodder for a video game narrative. Games are about interesting decisions, the stories told by the choices that we make in them. Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment make this a literal part of the stories they tell, with a level of nuance rarely seen in games before them and since. In their spiritual successors like Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect, the stories are about how much you mean to the world. In Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, it’s more about how you shape your character in response to these worlds. They resonate all the more for it.

Source: Kotaku.com

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Has Got Sonic In It

When the HD version of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz hits PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One on October 29, Sonic the Hedgehog is coming with, transforming bananas into golden rings on every stage he plays.

Sonic brings his signature speed and signature bling to the upcoming monkey business as an unlockable hidden character. Selecting Sonic turns the collectible bananas on every stage into rings, complete with classic ring-grabbing sound effects. He pretty much turns Super Monkey Ball into a glorified Sonic mini-game. The nerve of this guy.

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Not to be undone, AiAi and his friends get new unlockable costumes in the HD remaster, with outfits for every monkey on staff. Good for them.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Play The Witcher 3 Anywhere You Want

The Witcher 3 comes to the Nintendo Switch this week, and Geralt is ready to go on dark RPG adventures with you on the subway, in an airplane, or even in a bathroom. What a world we live in.

I can’t imagine The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on Switch will be the best way to play the game, but I have to give credit to the developers. Being able to even get that thing running on a Switch is impressive. Sure it might look like a bit rough and blurry, but they did it. Congrats!

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Beyond The Witcher 3 hitting Switch this week, some other games are releasing, too. Not a busy week, for the most part. A small break before more games hit later this month. Overwatch also makes the jump to Switch this week and The Outer Wilds heads to PS4. There’s an Ice Age game coming out that looks like something you would play on PS2 back in the early 2000s. I’m…intrigued by that game.

Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, October 14

  • Golf98 | PC
  • >Connect | PC, Mac
  • Yorg.io 3 | PC
  • The Quarry | PC
  • Detective Solitaire Butler Story | PC, Mac
  • Tank Impact | PC
  • Blood Runner | PC

Tuesday, October 15

  • The Fisherman – Fishing Planet | PS4, Xbox One
  • Children Of Morta | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Earth Defense Force Iron Rain | PC
  • Zombieland: Double Tap – Road Trip | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Planescape: Torment/ Icewind Dale: Enhanced Editions | PS4, Xbox One, Switch 
  • Outbuddies | PC
  • Overwatch | Switch
  • Outer Wilds | PS4
  • The Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition Pack | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Grandia HD Remaster | PC
  • The Witcher 3 | Switch
  • Disco Elysium | PC
  • The Eyes Of Ara | Switch
  • The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors | Switch
  • Override: Mech City Brawl – Super Charged Mega Edition | Switch
  • Billy Bomber | Switch
  • Morels: The Hunt | PC
  • Supesu 2 | PC
  • Galaxium | PC, Mac
  • Rebel Inc: Escalation | PC
  • Smile To Fly | PC
  • Active Neurons – Puzzle Game | PC, Mac
  • Cryptofall: Investor Simulator | PC, Mac
  • Sole | PC, Mac

Wednesday, October 16

  • Chernobylite | PC
  • Little Town Hero | Switch
  • Musasabi | PC
  • Ping Redux | PC, Mac
  • Shockrods | PC
  • Planet Destroyer | PC
  • ZHED – Puzzle Game | PC, Mac

Thursday, October 17

  • Felix The Reaper | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac
  • Kine | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Monkey King: Hero Is Back | PS4, PC
  • Stranded Sails: Explorers Of The Cursed Islands | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Stela | Xbox One
  • Little Big Workshop | PC
  • The Beast Inside | PC
  • Sea Salt | Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Demon Pit | PC
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes | PS4, PC
  • Summer Sweetheart | Switch
  • Domiverse | Switch
  • Rabi-Rabi | Switch
  • Battle Planet – Judgement Day | Switch, PC
  • Sublevel Zero Redux | Switch
  • SEGA AGES Ichidant-R | Switch
  • SEGA AGES Columns II | Switch
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 6 | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac
  • Where The Bees Make Honey | Switch
  • Minature – The Story Puzzle | Switch
  • Dark Miasma | PC, Mac
  • Rising Hell | PC
  • Cat Lady | PC
  • Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind | PC, Mac
  • Little Big Workshop | PC, Mac

Friday, October 18

  • Pig Eat Ball | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition | Switch, PC
  • Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle For Neighborville | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Return Of The Obra Dinn | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • A Hat In Time | Switch
  • Driven Out | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • AeternoBlade II | Xbox One
  • Megaquarium | Xbox One, Switch
  • Infliction | PC
  • Ring Fit Adventure | Switch
  • ZikSquare | Switch
  • Safari Pinball | Switch
  • StarBlox Inc. | Switch
  • Worbital | Switch
  • Medieval – Embers Of War | PC
  • Moo Moo Move | PC
  • Find The Treasure | PC, Mac

Source: Kotaku.com

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Is A Lot More Fun Now That It’s Not On The Wii

Released for the Wii in 2006, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz got a lot of flack for its unwieldy motion controls. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, due out October 29 for the PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One, has no motion controls, and it’s much better for it.

Who doesn’t love steering monkeys encased in transparent spheres through a series of increasingly complex roller-coaster style levels? People using Wii remotes, that’s who. As cool as it was to have 100 new game levels and a whopping 50 motion-controlled mini-games in the Wii release, the frustration of trying to control AiAi and friends by using the Wiimote to tilt the game world negated a lot of the game’s charm.

Mind the low voice volume, new mic.

Stripped of its clumsy motion controls (even in the Switch version), Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a much better way to enjoy one of the more unique entries in Sega’s primate sphere series. Features like jumping and boss battles were new to the series in Banana Blitz, and now a lot more fans will get a chance to check them out.

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From what I’ve played of the Switch version so far, the game is a joy. AiAi, MeMe, Baby, and crew look ridiculously happy to be rolling about and collecting bananas, and their enthusiasm is infectious. The music, which is mostly new due to licensing issues with the original, is bubblegum goodness, mixing island instruments with a little ska sensibility. And while the HD version only has 10 mini-games, most of the 50 in the original were geared towards Wii remote controls and not all that entertaining.

Taking a cue from the Persona school of making menus.

Sega hasn’t done much with Super Monkey Ball since the Wii. Some monkey cameos in other games, a couple of handheld titles, and a bunch of mobile stuff, but nothing substantial on a dedicated gaming console. Maybe if Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD goes over well, that will change. I can think of worse fates than having too many Monkey Ball games to play.

Source: Kotaku.com

The New Yooka-Laylee Feels Like A Remake Of A Classic Game

The original Yooka-Laylee attempted to capture the magic of 3D platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, but instead it felt more like a pale imitation of those great games. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, Playtonic’s 2.5D platformer follow-up, is much more successful at capturing the spirit of its old school inspirations, feeling like a redone classic in its own right while also introducing new concepts to the genre.

This piece was first published on October 3, 2019. We’re bumping it today for the game’s release.

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In other words, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a much better Donkey Kong Country than the first Yooka-Laylee was a Banjo-Kazooie. Rolling and jumping and swinging through the whimsical-yet-challenging levels of The Impossible Lair massages my nostalgia glands in such a way that they are fooled into feeling like I’m playing a beloved favorite, but also one that’s somehow brand new. It’s the same vibe I get from the recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon remasters. I remember playing this game, though I never have and never could have. Weird, right?

It helps that Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair has unique features that set it apart from most old school platforming games. For one, the game’s final level is accessible from the very start. The evil Capital B has set up shop at the end of an incredibly brutal platforming challenge filled with flames and spikes and enemies. One might say his lair is impossible, but there is hope. Yooka the chameleon and his bat sidekick must travel the Bee Kingdom, rescuing 48 members of the queen’s Beettalion. Each rescued bee is an extra hit the duo can take in Capital B’s lair. The lair can be challenged at any time.

Theoretically, a player with enough skill could win the game without ever stepping foot in another level to rescue a bee. I am not that player. I’m going to need all the help I get, so I’ve been scouring the overland to open up new levels and collect new bees.

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Only half the game is a 2.5D platformer. The overworld is positioned from an overhead perspective and is its own adventure. Rather than moving along a set path from level to level, Yooka and Laylee can scour this 3D world for secrets and items, uncovering new paths, solving puzzles, and occasionally paying off that wily snake, Trowzer, to open up new areas.

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Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair also gives players the ability to manipulate levels in the overworld, transforming them into different versions of themselves. By hitting a switch, Yooka and Laylee can divert water into one of the storybook levels, creating a flooded version with a completely new layout, including new collectibles and a new bee to rescue.

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The video below shows the same level two ways. First I run through it in its original form. Then I grab an ice berry from a nearby bush and toss it onto the puddle of water the level’s storybook is sitting in, transforming it into an ice-filled wonderland.

The levels are challenging, but the game is also very forgiving. Should a player die five times in a section of any level (excluding the Impossible Lair), the game allows them to hold down a button and teleport to the next checkpoint, skipping the tough bits. Considering the amount of spikes and hazards scattered about the levels I’ve played through so far, I could see my kids making use of the skip feature so they can enjoy the cute visuals and charming music without the frustration of endless death. What more could a parent ask for?

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One of my sons got hooked on the original 3D Yooka-Laylee. Sometimes he’d hand me the controller and ask me to help, and I’d wander about the bright and happy world without a clue of where I was supposed to go or what I had to do. He’d get antsy, I’d get snappy. It wasn’t a good scene. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible door has all the appeal of the first game but it’s more straightforward, more compelling, and most importantly, feels less like a homage and more like its own game. I can’t wait for him to play.

Source: Kotaku.com

There’s A New BurgerTime Game On Switch Today, And It’s Not Bad

Launching today exclusively for the Nintendo Switch, BurgerTime Party gives the Data East arcade classic a cartoon makeover, with burger-building challenges for up to four players. I’ve played a bit of the game and can safely say that dropping insentient food on sentient food never gets old.

There’s a reason game makers keep coming back to BurgerTime. No matter how ridiculously the theme is twisted, dropping burger fixins by walking over them is super satisfying, especially when you drop the angry hot dog, pickle, or fried egg creature that’s chasing you along with it. BurgerTime Party captures that falling-food magic. Once I start playing, it’s hard to put down.

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This latest version, developed by Japanese game developer G-Mode, gives Chef Peter Pepper and his food foes a retro cartoon makeover reminiscent of the style seen in Cuphead. Peter is a sly rascal, thumbing his nose at his pursuers, peppering them into submission. The goal of every stage is to drop hamburger (and hot dog) ingredients to the bottom of the screen. BurgerTime Party mixes things up with frozen floors, crumbling ladders, power-ups, and various other hazards.

The game features multiple modes, including solo challenges on smaller stages, larger stages for one- to four-player local multiplayer, and a battle mode for two to four players.

With three stars to earn for performance on every level and its quick, cartoony vibe, BurgerTime Party feels like a mobile game port, which makes sense—G-Mode is a mobile game developer. But it’s a highly polished mobile-game-feeling joint that captures the magic of the arcade classic.

Source: Kotaku.com

Wrestler’s Special Move Is The Nintendo Switch

Leroy Green sure is busy. Not only does he wrestle, but he also plays his Nintendo Switch during the match. Sometimes it seems like the punches and dropkicks are getting in the way of his gaming.

Footage of a recent House of Glory match has gone viral, appearing on websites all over the world—something that surprised Green.

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“This is crazy,” he wrote on Twitter, posting coverage he has gotten in China. “Truly on a rollercoaster ride and we’ve got something special here no? I’m so grateful to do what I love and do it as me.”

This wasn’t a first for Green, and playing the Switch is quickly becoming part of his persona. “The #KingofGames ain’t nobody to mess with,” he wrote on Instagram. “I bring the games and the energy.”

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The aerial moves that Green pulls off while playing the Switch are incredible!

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In case you are wondering, Green tweeted that he was playing Cuphead while watching for the match to start and then switched to Smash Bros. during his entrance.

Source: Kotaku.com

Trine 4 Is A Triumphant Return To Form

Trine and Trine 2 are a pair of gorgeous 2.5D physics-based puzzle platformers. For the third installment, Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power, developer Frozenbyte tried to work full 3D gameplay into the mix, resulting in a shorter, less satisfying game. Trine 4: The Nightmare Price, out October 9 for the PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One, ditches the third dimension, taking the series back to its lush, vibrant roots.

The Trine series is the story of three characters, Zoya the thief, Pontius the warrior, and Amadeus the wizard, bound together by a sacred artifact. Players control one character at a time but may swap between the three at will. Each character has their own set of skills. Zoya can fire arrows and grapple objects with ropes. Pontius can reflect projectiles with his shield, dispatch enemies with his sword, and is quite good at bashing and breaking things. Amadeus’ skill set involves summoning boxes and manipulating objects with his magic. Players harness each character’s skills to explore gorgeous hand-drawn levels filled with puzzles, most of which involve creative applications of physics. Summoning boxes and dropping them on teeter-totters to propel characters into the air, affixing moving platforms to stationary objects using ropes, using a shield to reflect sunlight onto a light-sensitive switch, that sort of thing.

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Amadeus’ boxes are now blue, one of the most significant changes from previous games.

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is more of that. In this installment, the trio are dispatched to retrieve the wayward Prince Selius, whose untrained talent for magic is causing his nightmares to manifest in the real world. Using their signature skills and a host of new powers, Zoya, Pontius, and Amadeus pursue the prince, battling the young lad’s personal demons while figuring out how to use bows, ropes, magic, and brute force to make their way through the game’s beautiful landscapes.

Trine 4 is one of the most breathtaking 2.5D games I’ve played. I found myself pausing to admire the backgrounds in each new area. Look at this bird and its baby. I hate birds, but I love these two.

Birbs.

The game even looks pretty in the middle of battle, the weakest feature of Trine 4. Rather than naturally wandering the landscape, Trine 4’s nightmare creatures spawn on arena-style stages. Purple smoke platforms spawn and players must hop about like a Smash Bros. reject, swinging Pontius’ sword and shield, shooting Zoya’s arrows, or awkwardly dropping Amadeus’ summoned boxes on their heads. The fights are not fun. They feel out of place in such an otherwise thoughtful game.

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Fortunately, the battles are easy and rarely last longer than a minute or so. Boss battles against giant creatures last longer but also require creative thinking to figure out how to use each character’s skills to fell formidable foes.

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There are three ways to play a Trine game, Trine 4 included. The first way is to painstakingly comb every level for collectibles and secrets while trying to solve puzzles the way one imagines the developers intended. The second way, my preferred method, is breaking the game, using Amadeus’ boxes and Zoya’s arrows in conjunction to bypass traps and obstacles, ignoring collectibles and just blazing on through. The third method is online multiplayer, which is glorious chaos with multiple characters spawning boxes and stacking things and shooting ropes everywhere. I’ve not played multiplayer in Trine 4 yet, but after my experience with the previous games in the series, I expect great and horrible things.

Trine 4 is more Trine, and more Trine is good, as long as it doesn’t stray too drastically from the original formula. Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power tried new and failed. What I wanted as a fan of the series was proof that Trine could still be as magical as the first two. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is exactly that.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Diversity In 80 Days Shocked Me, In A Good Way

80 Days, a game based on Jules Verne’s novel Around The World In 80 Days, is now available on Switch. Revisiting the game has allowed me to see myself and my culture in ways that aren’t always visible to me in video games. I am mixed race, with an Indian mother and a black father. As a kid, I mostly made jokes about how the English colonized both halves of my family. As an adult, I wonder how much of my own identity I have missed out on. I grew up in a white majority state, in a white majority town, going to schools where I was frequently one of the few black people in my classes. I accepted whiteness as the norm, despite knowing that I existed outside of it. This is all to say: I was bringing 30 years of baggage with me when I started on my journey in 80 Days. That made playing it again that much better.

In 80 Days, you control not Phileas Fogg, the eccentric rich protagonist of Verne’s novel who has accepted a bet to travel around the world in 80 days in exchange for a substantial payout. Instead, you play as his personal valet, Passepartout, who does the real legwork. In the vaguely steampunk world of 80 Days, Passepartout is responsible for the more banal tasks: finding transportation, making travel arrangements, and buying and selling trinkets to make sure you’re flush with cash. On top of that, you have to manage Fogg’s ambiguous moods.

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Sometimes, when you speak to characters, the responses and actions you choose will affect Passpartout’s relationship with Fogg. The outcomes are inscrutable. One day, he’ll love it when you speak to commoners as equals. On others, he hates it. Fogg also has a health bar in the corner of the screen, and as his valet, you are responsible for keeping your master in tip-top shape. Sometimes that means nursing him back to health after a rough journey across the sea. Other times it’s as frivolous as a quick shave.

I’ve played 80 Days before on PC, but on the Switch, making these arrangements feel more tactile, since I got a bit of haptic feedback on my Joy-Con each time I selected a new dialogue choice or bought a new train ticket. I felt invested in the narrative in a way I hadn’t when I had been playing on a computer. Something about making the act physical became a guidepost for me.

The Switch port of 80 Days is so seamless that other than my vibrating Joy-Cons, I didn’t think about it too much. If you’ve never played the game before, picking it up on Switch is a great place to start. Since I had played before, it was nice to not have to learn the trappings of the game as I played—though it can seem like a lot on a first playthrough, there’s not much to do beyond picking dialogue choices and making sure you catch your transportation on time. For maybe the first time while playing 80 Days, I allowed myself to soak up its rich narrative and opened up to it in more personal ways.

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Playing as a valet rather than Fogg allows the player to see sides of society that remain invisible to other travelers. Once you leave Europe, that means speaking to and interacting with people of color.

As you make your way out of Europe, you begin to meet travelers and working people from outside of Europe. As I was investigating airships to help me leave the continent, I was surprised to run into a pilot from Nigeria, showcasing airships that he said the country had been making for years. This surprised Passepartout, and somehow also surprised me. Depictions of steampunk and Jules Verne are often associated with Victorian England, and it’s thus easy to expect any non-white characters to fall under a general colonial pastiche: a lot of hostility, not a lot of nuance. Since people from Africa not only have a rich history not taught in Eurocentric schools and have always travelled and left the continent, it was nice to actually see that represented.

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As I settled into the meat of my journey, now more than halfway around the world, I went to India, arriving in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, and traveling through the continent at a rapid pace. I found a nun from a church dedicated to finding an automaton with a soul, and I wandered through markets just to see the sights. I bought spices to later sell in China, smiled at children as they played. I couldn’t spend long in India, though I wanted to. I have never seen a game portray my heritage as anything other than, well, the other.

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In 80 Days, India and nations in Africa have a history before you arrive there (they’re also made distinct from one another, another positive point). Sometimes, people were outwardly hostile—though Passepartout is a valet, he’s still French and a member of a nation that is a colonial power. During a long-haul flight from China to Hawaii, Passepartout and Fogg almost died when the workers on the airship attempted a mutiny, pulling a gun on the captain and missing, instead piercing the hull. It was at the bottom of the ocean that I realized how incidental Passepartout and Fogg’s presence were on that ship. To those workers, we were just some rich idiots that had the misfortune of being there when their long-simmering plan came to fruition.

More than anything, 80 Days emphasizes how the people we have often been taught to see as lead characters are blind to the rich stories going on around them. On an Indian train, I met a young woman whose father eventually became convinced that Passepartout was trying to steal her away. She had broken her engagement, but not because she was in love with the valet—she wanted to become a novelist. After forging a friendship with Passepartout, she gifted him one of her novels, which she had been writing under a pseudonym. You can even read parts of it. I wish that I could play her game, but I am glad that I have had the chance to read her story.

Source: Kotaku.com