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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...


ShadeTail ShadeTail's Blog
Game Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Posted on Monday, October 27 2014 @ 21:00:03 PST

[Originally posted on October 27 2014]

Everyone's favorite pirate fighting, belly dancing genie returns! Then again, she's probably the only pirate fighting, belly dancing genie, but whatever.

If you've been paying attention to me lately (and I can't imagine why you would, you stalker), you would know that I've been talking up the Shantae series for the last little while. The original Shantae, released on the Gameboy Color in 2002, is a cult-classic in the Metroid-style genre. It's a long game with some excellent challenge, amazing enemies, fun characters and story, and incredible graphics by the standards of the GBC platform. By contrast, it's first sequel, Shantae: Risky's Revenge, while an excellent game over-all, has gotten some fair criticism for being too short and cutting many elements that made the original such an excellent action/adventure.

Well, now we have the third game in the series: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. It's an incredible piece of work, thanks to being a combination of the best the first two games have to offer. It is at least as long as the original Shantae, with many of its elements restored. At the same time, it keeps the inclusion of a multi-layered world and the in-game map which were brought in by Risky's Revenge, albeit with some much needed tweeks.

The story of Pirate's Curse is a direct continuation of the previous two games, and contains the same quirky humor and ridiculous cultural references that made its two prequels such a hoot. It also has a lot of events that extend directly from the story of Risky's Revenge, so you might get a tiny bit lost with the who and the why of things if you haven't played that game.

Still, the over-all plot is easy enough to grasp. And the Metroid-style action certainly hasn't suffered a bit. The running and monster-fighting is quite challenging, but never unfair. And, of course, there is plenty of exploring and backtracking. In fact, it has a bit too much backtracking, and occasionally it's not very clear on where you need to backtrack to. On the plus side, unlike a pure Metroid-style game, the world has been broken into discrete locations in the form of individual islands you travel to on your ship. Normally, this wouldn't be a plus for this style of game, but Pirate's Curse makes it work. Each island is a unique ecosystem with beasts and enemies that are perfectly suited to that locale. It makes Sequin Land feel very real, what with how it was always supposed to have been a sea-side nation.

As for the end-game, it's as well done as the rest of the adventure. The final boss continues the game's challenging-but-fair level of difficulty, and is very entertaining. Also, there are a lot of unlockables, which you earn based on how long you take to complete the game and whether or not you find all of the special pick-ups. This encourages multiple play-throughs, which are definitely worth the time considering the game's over-all high quality.

Speaking of quality, the music and graphics are the usual Shantae-series high standard. There are lots of little graphical touches that give the game world a lot of flare. One of the really good ones, which was also found in Risky's Revenge, is how bottomless pit obstacles have smoky skull-and-crossbones floating out of them, to differentiate between pits you can drop into and pits you want to avoid. As to the top-notch music, there is a lot of it, and it always sets the tone properly. Every location has its own unique background song, which makes for a very big soundtrack. As an added bonus to long-time Shantae fans, many of the songs are remixes from the first game, and they're always used in appropriate locations that give them an added dose of nostalgia.

Also on the sound front, the developer took a stab at some Legend-of-Zelda-style voice acting. Like the Legend of Zelda series, there are no full lines of dialogue, but instead just single words and the occasional onomatopoeia. I'm a bit ambivalent about this move. Personally, I don't mind, but it really doesn't add anything either. And I would imagine that some people will find it a bit annoying.

Despite those niggling flaws, however, this is definitely a fantastic game. It is a must-have for any action/adventure fan, to say nothing of Shantae-series fans. While the $20 price tag would be pretty expensive for most of the 3DS's exclusively digital titles, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is definitely worth the cost.

Score: 4.0 / 5

+ Top-notch action
+ Wonderful plot and characters
+ Incredible music and graphics
+ Great length
+ Decent replayablity

- A bit too much backtracking
- "Meh" voice acting
- Some of the story might not make sense if you haven't played Risky's Revenge

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First World Problems: PC Games Don't Support USB Controllers Anymore
Posted on Sunday, May 4 2014 @ 17:34:06 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Has anyone else noticed that pretty much every single recent PC game, from the biggest triple-A titles to the smallest indie games, only has gamepad support for the Xbox 360 controller? Because I've noticed that, and it really annoys me.

I don't know when this started. But at some point, Microsoft put some new code into the Windows OS which treats the Xbox 360 controller differently than a third-party USB controller. Rather than use the same function call for both, Windows has the same code for the 360 controller that the Xbox itself does.

I understand the reason for it. On the developer's side, it makes porting games from Xbox Live to the PC (or vice versa) a bit easier. Want to have gamepad support for your PC port? Don't change a thing, and the 360 pad will work just as well as on the actual 360. Meanwhile, from Microsoft's side, it encourages PC gamers to buy another Microsoft accessory, which pads their bottom-line profit margin.

Unfortunately, we gamers lose out, because suddenly we have fewer choices. What if you have a preferred USB device? Or what if you don't have a 360? Or what if you don't have a way to connect your 360 controller to your PC? Whatever the case, too bad. Your only option is to fork out extra money to get a 360 gamepad working on your PC.

Or, if you're like me, you find a work-around, but that's the subject of a different blog post (if I ever get around to writing it).

This *REALLY* annoys me.

It's a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but it's still a symptom of monopoly. The big business takes away the customers' options, because it's easier to make money when there's no free market competition. And this is far from the first time that Microsoft has pulled monopolistic stunts like this.

So, for those who aren't happy about having to use a 360 controller on your PC games, what are our options? Well, the work-around I linked above is one possibility. I'm also hopeful that SteamOS will allow users a bit more freedom to choose our hardware than Windows currently does, though we'll have to wait and see on this one.

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What does Journey mean?
Posted on Tuesday, October 29 2013 @ 15:15:35 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

[Originally posted on Saturday October 26 2013]

Do not read this if you haven't played Journey.

Seriously, just don't.

As Daniel Bischoff wrote about a year-and-a-half ago, this is a game that gamers must experience on their own terms. It is the video game embodiment of how the journey is more important than the destination, a philosophy shown off directly in the title.

So once again: do not read this if you haven't played Journey.

All right, then. Now that the only people reading this are folks who have played Journey (you have, right?)...

What does it mean?

I played Journey this morning for the first time in a while, and this question still haunts me. Not because I don't have an answer, but because there are far too many answers and it's tough to pick one. You have a desolate world, a distant goal, and little else. Occasional dreams or magical friezes tell stories about the world, but with little context. Sometimes you travel with others. Often, you're all alone.

So what does it mean?

Is it a quest for salvation?

Is it a search for mere answers?

Is it an attempt to restore paradise?

Is it torture for a damned soul?

Is it even real?

Is it just a dream?

Do the other journeyers have the same experience? The same reasons?

What happened to the desolate world? An invasion? A civil war?

Maybe nothing at all? Was it all dreams? Or fiction invented as an explanation for what we see?

And in the end, as you climb the final slope...

You die and go to heaven?

You're rescued by the storytellers and brought to your goal?

But whatever the case, you arrive at the final doorway, and everything fades to white...

Only for you to be returned to the beginning again.

It's like Sisyphus rolling the boulder. No matter how close you come, the end remains out of your grasp.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps you aren't the journeyer. Perhaps you're an intangible guide showing lost souls the way home.

Each arrival at the end is a success, another journeyer returned to paradise.


So many possibilities. So many different answers. Which one is the truth?

What does it mean?

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on October 26, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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One of the Greatest Games You've Never Heard Of
Posted on Tuesday, September 24 2013 @ 23:14:07 PST

*Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
  [Originally posted on Tuesday September 17 2013]

Meet Shantae.

Shantae was the heroine of the appropriately named Shantae, the Gameboy Color's swan song. The game came out i...   read more...

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A brand new MegaMan game! That *DOESN'T* star MegaMan!
Posted on Friday, September 13 2013 @ 12:41:49 PST

[Originally posted Mon. Sept. 2]

Meet Beck. No, I don't mean the singer, I mean the robot.

Beck, a.k.a. Mighty No. 9, is the star of a new game under development called, oh so creatively, Mighty No. 9.

...  

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