Saturday, February 1, 2020

Review Round-Up - January 2020

The world of Pokemon expanded into the Galar region with
SPC's Games of the Month, Pokemon Sword and Shield.
SuperPhillip Central rolled into a new year of new reviews with seven unique games covered. We kicked things off with the charming 3D platformer A Hat in Time, which I tipped my proverbial hat to and gave a B grade for its quality. Concrete Genie then followed, a darling, creative game that I gave a B to as well. What followed was the return (and return to form) of the Trine series with Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, conjuring up a B+ grade. We then moved on to the macabre world of MediEvil, a PlayStation classic reborn with a graphical remake, but not much else changed unfortunately. That's why I gave it a C-.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield serve as SuperPhillip Central's Games of the Month, earning B+ accolades for still managing to make the Pokemon series entertaining despite not being much of an evolution to the formula. Finally, we battled it out with the Power Rangers' ensemble of heroes and villains with Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid and ventured into our first retro review of 2020 with Final Fantasy Adventure, both earning a B-.

Now, let's take a look at some excerpts from each of SPC's reviews this month, and remember to check out every review ever posted on SuperPhillip Central with the SPC Review Archive!

A Hat in Time (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - B
A Hat in Time is generally a good time from beginning to end. It's just that the camera can be a real nuisance when it concerns tight and narrow areas, and technical performance problems in the form of glitches and frame-rate issues result in the game having a less than polished feel to it. That notwithstanding, A Hat in Time is otherwise a resounding success in my book. It offers satisfying worlds to explore, pleasing platforming, amusing characters, and I can't help but tip my own hat to the game.
Concrete Genie (PS4) - B
Despite its budget price and retail presence, Concrete Genie is a game that flew under the radar of many PlayStation 4 owners. As you can see from my review, that's a darn shame--for those who missed out on the game. As is, Concrete Genie is another jewel in Sony's first-party crown and only further enhances the quality of the roster of exclusives the PS4 possesses. That said, Pixelopus' showing isn't a total success with some forced combat that doesn't engage as much as I would have liked, and its brevity may turn off a lot of potential players. Nevertheless, for those looking for an abundantly creative, bold, and special title for their PlayStation 4, you don't need to rub a lamp to encounter this genie. You just need to pick up Concrete Genie instead.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) - B+
While Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince does not really revolutionize the series in any measurable way, it does succeed in bringing the series back to a comfortable place--back to 2.5D and back to its normal, high quality. The QOL improvements brought over from Trine 3 make for a more enjoyable, less stressful and tedious experience, and overall makes for a puzzle-platforming adventure that is in many ways the best that the Trine series has ever been.
MediEvil (PS4) - C-
Overall, MediEvil is an enjoyable enough romp, but one that I wish the developers had given an equal amount of time to improving the game's design and gameplay rather than obviously merely focusing on upgrading the visuals--as impressive and delightful as they are. As is, MediEvil has the appearance of current-gen game, but underneath its HD flesh is a skeleton filled with occasionally cheap design, frustrating deaths, and lackluster combat and platforming.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield (NSW) - B+
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield may not have the most engaging story nor may be the most impressive running game on the Nintendo Switch, but they still meet the same prerequisite I require to enjoy a Pokemon a game--they're darn good fun. While absent features and Pokemon from past games will disappoint, as will the series not evolving as much as say, a Charmander to a Charmeleon to a Charizard, what is here in these two games was enough to satisfy me and make me eagerly await the upcoming Expansion Pass. I look forward to continuing my journey in the Galar region and quest to catch 'em all.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - B-
As a budget fighter, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a product of its cost. While animations and the presentation do less than impress, it's somewhat acceptable to me due to how much the game sells for. It's also acceptable because the gameplay here is so fundamentally solid. There's plenty of depth for those who want it, while also being accessible enough so that those who aren't overly competitive with their fighters and just want a casual time of it can enjoy the game as well. nWay has done well with its initial effort in the fighting game genre, and with more continued work, I can see Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid become an even greater game. As is, the foundation is strong, but the content just isn't quite there yet for anyone beyond the most ardent Power Rangers and fighting game fan.
Final Fantasy Adventure (GB) - B-
For those who wish to seek out the humble yet impressive-for-the-time origins of the Mana series, Final Fantasy Adventure is that game, warts and all. It's obviously a product of its time in more ways than one in its design, but there's something to be said about how fun the game is to this day that shows, in some ways, how timeless it is. Then, you start running into townspeople, being forced to read through their slowly scrolling dialogue each time you do so, get caught in a dungeon without any keys or mattocks remaining, and then realize that perhaps Final Fantasy Adventure isn't completely timeless. Still, there's a good amount of enjoyment to be found with the Mana series' premiere title, and I think anyone fond of the series should seek the game out to play it, either through an original Game Boy cartridge, through Collection of Mana for the Nintendo Switch, or other [hopefully legal] means.

Meanwhile, creatures of a different kind popped up in the dazzling and heartfelt Concrete Genie.

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