Saturday, November 7, 2020

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS5, PS4) "Be Yourself" TV Commercial

I generally don't care for gameplay-lacking commercials on TV as I feel they don't properly showcase why a game is worth buying and don't fully show what a game is all about. I sort of feel the same way with this gameplay-less commercial for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (a PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 cross-gen release), but this is a pretty cool ad regardless. Plus, from the pre-release reviews coming in, the game seems to be another solid Insomniac Games-developed title. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales swings onto store shelves and digital storefronts on November 12th. Less than a week until the new generation of PlayStation begins, all!

Friday, November 6, 2020

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda (NSW) Review

We just can't escape Zelda-like games this month, can we? Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda launched originally on the Nintendo Switch eShop last summer, but now it's available with all DLC included on one game card. Here's the SPC review.

And the beat goes on... and enjoyably on.

What a delight to see Nintendo branching out with one of its most prized and celebrated franchises and seeing it given to an indie developer to create one of the most interesting and enjoyable spinoffs in The Legend of Zelda franchise! That's exactly what happened last year when Nintendo and developer of Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, teamed up and announced Cadence of Hyrule, a rhythm-based action game set in the world of The Legend of Zelda. Now, a complete edition of the game with all of its DLC packs is available in one nice and neat retail package, and for someone like me who waited and hoped for such a physical release, I can happily say that this wait was most definitely worth it.

A mysterious musician named Octavo uses a Golden Lute to put several prominent denizens of the kingdom of Hyrule into a permanent slumber, including Hyrule's king, as well as Link and Zelda. Called forth into Hyrule by the power of the Triforce, Cadence--heroine from the Crypt of the NecroDancer--wakes up both of our heroes and enlists their help to not only thwart Octavo's grand plan by defeating his Four Champions, but also to find a way back home for Cadence. This, at least, is the plot of the main story of Cadence of Hyrule, but there are also side stories that were added as part of the three packs that were paid DLC that are included in this physical edition of the game.

One of these sees players taking on the role of Octavo, needing to enter into four dungeons across Hyrule to summon and defeat his Four Champions for them to join his cause for a much larger plan. Then, there's a story that takes place in Hyrule's future, which players as Cadence, Link, Zelda, or Octavo don't even see until late in their stories. This future-centric story showcases Skull Kid, and it's a much, much tougher adventure, but all-so-rewarding to see to the end.

Cadence of Hyrule's action takes place square-by-square. Every beat that syncs with the music is an opportunity for you to move, attack, defend, use items, and so forth. Beware, however, as enemies can perform their own actions on each and every beat as well. Different enemy types have different patterns to them. Every other beat, a Black Tektite leaps to a diagonal square, for instance, so you have to keep these patterns in mind to avoid taking damage while simultaneously setting yourself up to defeat foes. 

I think I make this joke more often than not in a caption like this, but here goes anyway...
This doesn't seem like it's going to be a day at the beach here for Link.

Additionally, if you find yourself off-beat for whatever reason (there's alternately also a visual indicator to help match up with the beat), that's essentially the same as missing your turn, thus putting you a disadvantage in battle. It definitely takes some getting used to in order to consistently move to the beat--at least it did for me--but eventually I got into a groove and started to move in sync with the music, stepping and battling in rhythm to the beat, while simultaneously beating down baddies with ease.

Still, if sticking to the beat is too taxing for you, or you simply want a change of pace, you can opt to play the "fixed beat" mode, which removes the rhythm-based gameplay of Cadence of Hyrule entirely. It moves more towards a Mystery Dungeon-style game, though one where when you perform an action, every enemy does as well. It's just done without having to play without any timing or precision of any sort. My preferred way of playing Cadence of Hyrule ended up being this fixed beat mode, as it allowed me to enjoy a more mellow adventure that I could take my time during without having to make otherwise stressful split-second decisions.

Along each character's journey, they'll stumble across weapons of all varieties of different attack ranges and usefulness.

When all enemies have been defeated on a screen, the need to move with the beat is removed, allowing for free exploration in order to solve simple puzzles. Unlike the Zelda series proper, puzzles in Cadence of Hyrule are by no means complex or convoluted whatsoever. They generally devolve into pushing blocks to serve as platforms to reach higher spaces on the screen.

With each save data you create in Cadence of Hyrule, the map and geography of Hyrule changes. Not only are locations of destinations like Kakariko Village, Gerudo Town, Death Mountain, the Lost Woods, among other notable Zelda areas randomized, but so, too, are the locations of dungeons and key items like the Boomerang, Bow and Arrows, Power Glove, Deku Leaf, and more. It makes for an entirely different Hyrule to explore with each and every play-through. Certain screens remain similar in geography, but they become swapped around the map with new play-throughs or exchanged entirely between save files. Places like dungeons are randomized with each visit, as opposed to each save file, so that adds even more chaos and freshness to each play-through.

Dungeons are understandably the most dangerous locations within Hyrule, so trek carefully!

Getting around Hyrule itself is quite dangerous, but there are things to ease the burden of your adventure. Sheikah Stones are readily available around the kingdom, allowing for quick and painless fast travel options. There is honestly a plethora of locations, making it so you'll seldom have to do too much backtracking through repeated rooms or areas. There also Zelda series mainstays like Pieces of Heart to collect to boost your health supply, in addition to bottles that can be filled with Faeries or better yet, potions to heal you upon knocking on death's door.

Speaking of knocking on death's door (and in this case, having that door be opened), it's seldom a good idea to play recklessly in the land of Hyrule. Death results in the loss of your hard-earned Rupees, used to purchase various helpful items and bonuses in Hyrule's myriad shops or to participate in some enjoyable mini-games. Various items like certain collected weapons and items that break after several hits, also disappear from your inventory upon death as well. Fortunately, Diamonds, another currency in Cadence of Hyrule--as well as all key items--stay with you no matter if you face the game over screen or not. 

Cadence of Hyrule offers a multitude of modes and features inside its complete edition. Such a feature is the ability to play the entire campaign with a second player in true co-op fashion. Meanwhile, there is also permadeath mode, which has you needing to boldly venture through the randomness of Hyrule on one life. Once you fall in battle, that's it. It's all over, and your save file is promptly deleted--so no takesy-backsies! Permadeath mode can be played with any character and with any story. In addition to that, there is also a more traditional dungeon-crawler mode a la Crypt of the NecroDancer that places a character of your choosing in a massive dungeon to explore, as well as an all-puzzle dungeon in the game as well to try out if your prefer to showcase your brain over your brawn. Furthermore, you can mix and match musical arrangements by individual song and arranger in the options menu, and lastly, there are numerous achievements to unlock for doing things like daily challenges, clearing permadeath mode, or beating bosses with only a specific item. 

No need to go it alone in Cadence of Hyrule; local co-op is available.

As for the music, an obviously important piece of this rhythm-based action game, the composers and arrangers of the music for Cadence of Hyrule have absolutely slayed it like Link's Master Sword to a Moblin. The arrangements are top-tier efforts that feature multiple versions depending on the situation. For example, when no enemies are nearby, the tune of Gerudo Desert is mellow with a hint of "The Good, Bad, and the Ugly", while the full combat version features awesome rock guitar and brass. It really gets you in the mood to battle Octavo's forces, and as a fan of the Zelda series and its music, it's positively delightful.

Familiar Zelda bosses get a musical makeover, each with a pun-tastic name like Gohmaracas here.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda's retail release offers a lot of bang for one's Rupees. The procedurally generated overworld and dungeons mean you'll get a lot of replayability from the game, and the many modes mean you'll not be short in content to enjoy. As with games of the rogue-lite design, it can be rather deflating to have a good run go bad due to one or two wrong moves--especially in permadeath mode--but other than that small-ish issue, I can't see too much wrong with Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games' effort. 

After all, this is a game that you don't just play through once, you play through it multiple times. Not out of any sense of duty or anything like that, but out of motivation--to beat the game as different characters and experience their stories, to earn new achievements, to beat the game faster, to do it in the least amount of steps as you can. Cadence of Hyrule successfully brings two wonderful things together--The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer--and creates a package that fans of one or the other (or both!) will truly love. This Zelda fan certainly did.

[SPC Says: A-]

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Beyond Oasis (GEN) Retro Review

We move on from one Zelda-like game to another, though this one is much, much older and far, far less recent. It's the Ancient-developed, Sega-published Beyond Oasis, and that means it's Retro Review time, everyone! Here is the SPC review of Beyond Oasis for the Sega Genesis.

A game whose quality is no mirage

If you were a child of the early 1990s who enjoyed video games, you most likely were either in the Sega camp or the Nintendo camp. While most are well aware of the nasty console wars of the era, ironically, the two consoles, the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, complemented each other well. Generally, each console marveled in genres and games that the other didn't, or at least didn't do as well. While the Super Nintendo arguably was more proficient with platformers and RPGs, the case could easily be made that the Sega Genesis did better with fighters and sports games. Either way, it was worth owning both consoles, but as any '90s kid can tell you (including me), owning both consoles wasn't usually in the cards.

So, while the Super Nintendo had myriad RPGs and action-adventure games under its crown, the Genesis did not really have as many to boast about. Yes, there was the occasional Phantasy Star, but other than that, not much else. With The Legend of Zelda and its then-recent mega hit A Link to the Past being the new hotness, Sega saw a need to come up with its own answer to Nintendo's action-adventure title. Sega's answer was none other than Beyond Oasis, a game not too unlike Zelda. Launching near the end of 1994, Beyond Oasis gave Genesis owners Sega's own take on the now all-too-familiar formula. 

The beginning plot of Beyond Oasis reveals itself in a gorgeous partially animated opening scene. In the distant past, two warriors, one wielding a gold armlet while the other wore a silver armlet, battled one another in a war for the ages. This war brought chaos and destruction across the land of Oasis until victory was achieved. The armlets mysteriously vanished after the fact. That is until one day, on an expedition on an island, Prince Ali (not to be confused with a more famous, Disney-oriented Prince Ali) uncovers a gold armlet buried in the sand. Now, Prince Ali must use the gold armlet to put a stop to a new evil that has entered the picture--one wielding the silver armlet once more to cause havoc and ultimately rule the land of Oasis and the world itself.

Immediately Beyond Oasis dazzles with its opening scene.

Beyond Oasis no doubt gives off heavy Zelda vibes (you'll have to pardon me if I constantly compare and contrast the two games/series), and that's for the simple reason that it pretty much is a Zelda game with some Secret of Mana stylings thrown into the mix for good measure. You play in a top-down perspective, travel across an overworld, venture inside dungeons, solve puzzles, battle bosses, rinse and repeat. It's all rather enjoyable.

Combat in Beyond Oasis sees Prince Ali initiate a series of thrusts and strikes with his starting weapon, a dagger. However, you routinely come across new weapons to add to your arsenal, but funnily enough, not unlike a certain recent Zelda game, these weapons have a finite number of uses before they deteriorate and break. Different weapons have different attack power and number of times they can be used before going bye-bye. There are close-range weapons like daggers and swords, but also weapons like crossbows and bombs that work well at having Prince Ali keeps his distance from more dangerous enemies while delivering a decent dose of damage.

When you have a prized artifact like the Gold Armlet on you,
bad guys are bound to notice and take an invested interest in you!

Prince Ali has plenty of oomph behind his attacks, even able to perform multiple hits one right after another in an almost beat-em-up-like combo. The impact of each attack is nice enough, but at the same time, combat feels a bit off in the sense that it can hard to line up attacks in general. Additionally, Prince Ali can crouch to attack low-lying enemies, which also suffers from an inability to routinely line up and attack your intended target. Make no mistake, though, when Beyond Oasis's combat works, it's fun, but when it doesn't, I just prefer to use a long-ranged weapon or else see myself lose precious health from stumbling around to hit a foe.

Here's a dagger in your eye!

The aforementioned gold armlet that Prince Ali wears isn't just a plot device; it's also used to acquire and use special magic that he can use to summon one of four elemental Spirits that he gains through his adventure. These Spirits are summoned by throwing a magical sphere at various elemental objects, such as chucking a sphere at a campfire to spawn Efreet, the Fire Spirit, or throwing a sphere at a body of water to summon Dytto, the Water Spirit. Summoned Spirits stay on screen as long as Prince Ali's magic meter has some juice in it. Each Spirit has three moves it can use, some depleting his magic more than others. Dytto is especially useful in the early game because that Spirit has a healing ability. This is great when Ali runs out of consumable food to otherwise heal himself.

Spirit Efreet is on fire, both in a literal sense and a butt-kicking sense.

Spirits are used not just for combat but as the main means to solve puzzles. There's of course your simple puzzle solutions, such as using the Water Spirit to douse a wall of fire that impedes your progress, but there eventually becomes more challenging brain busters to decipher and unravel. The dungeons hold the most puzzles in the game, but there are plenty of overworld puzzles to solve as well.

Unlike A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo, Beyond Oasis's overworld and map are not square-based. Instead, they're more like an Ys game with screens/areas/rooms of varying sizes and shapes. This can make it difficult to detect what parts of the screen can be exited from, particularly in outdoor areas. Multiple times I'd comb the edge of the screen, thinking I'd be able to pass through to the next screen, only to be denied. 

Furthermore, regarding traversal of the world in Beyond Oasis, I found this rather tedious at times. Backtracking, especially if you want to return to past areas to collect missed goodies like treasures such as special orbs and rare weapons, is quite hard to do. You don't really have any means to fast travel in Oasis, making it a pain in the butt to get around, unfortunately. A lot of my extra play time with Beyond Oasis came from extensive and rather dull doubling back to areas I had already been in just to reach where I wanted to finally be. 

You know the saying, "The bigger they are, the harder Prince Ali falls!"

Beyond Oasis looks exceptionally nice visually. The large sprites are detailed and have nice animations to them. The environments are colorful and even more detailed than the already impressive sprite-work. The music is less of a stellar note, and that might be blasphemy considering the great Yuzo Koshiro was the composer behind Beyond Oasis's soundtrack. However, it's more the soundfont used than anything else with some of the brass-heavy themes--which Beyond Oasis is full of--sounding like boisterous flatulence than anything heroic and enjoyable to listen to. (Sorry, not sorry.) 

Most weapons other than Prince Ali's initial dagger and late-game weapons
have a set durability to them and will break after a limited amount of uses.

As a Zelda-like mixed with some Secret of Mana goodness, Beyond Oasis does its job well enough to be worthy enough of being within earshot of the Zelda series. By no means is this Ancient-developed, Sega-published action-adventure one that surpasses something like A Link to the Past due to its unrefined, clumsy combat and extensive and unenjoyable backtracking, but Beyond Oasis does manage to bring enough to the table to make it a recommended game to play. From the gorgeous visuals to the clever use of Spirits for battles and puzzles, Beyond Oasis may not be timeless, but it is quite the epic adventure regardless.

[SPC Says: B-]

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm (NSW) Review

Let's begin SuperPhillip Central's month of reviews with the sequel to a Zelda-like that I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The original Oceanhorn delighted me in ways I did not expect (as you can see with my 2017 Switch review), so you can bet that I was eager to try out its sequel, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm (while being equally disappointed it was a timed Apple Arcade exclusive. That said, Oceanhorn 2 is now on the Nintendo Switch as of last week, and here is the SPC review.

A 3D Zelda without all of the polish

The original Oceanhorn, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas, did not do much to hide its clear influences from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series. That was okay, though, as the quality of the game was quite good. Now, the developer of the original Oceanhorn is back with a brand-new sequel, initially an Apple Arcade exclusive, now available on the Nintendo Switch. Whereas Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas played as an isometric Zelda-inspired adventure, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm has greatly expanded both in size and scope, offering an impressively ambitious, fully 3D adventure. Not just that, but one that is overall a pleasure to play in many regards.

Oceanhorn 2 deals with many familiar tropes of its genre and influence (that influence once again being the obvious Legend of Zelda series). Our hero is a silent protagonist, who after training to become a knight, embarks on a land, sea, and air adventure through the world of Gaia to stop an evil force from destroying the world. In order to overcome this challenge, our hero and his party (yep, this time around you're joined by a party of heroes who help out in both battle and game progression) must return three medallions back to their beacons. Of course, this task isn't as simple as it seems with plenty of twists and turns occurring. 

Unlike the original Oceanhorn, you're not alone in your adventure to save the world!

Knights of the Lost Realm finds itself straddling the line between 3D Zelda and RPG. The latter sees our hero gaining experience from fallen foes and for completing 80 in-game challenges, ranging from tasks like defeating a number of a specific enemy, to fully exploring areas of the game. Completionists will have plenty to do in a game that's already lengthy as is. As you gain experience, your character rank levels up, granting the ability to hold more ammo, have more stamina for things like dashing and swimming, among other bonuses. 

Most enemies can be given a sneak attack from behind to deal more damage. That's the plan here, at least!

Stamina was slightly annoying in a game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and in Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, it's borderline insufferable at times. The walking speed is a bit slow, especially with how expansive and open many of the areas of the game are, making it so running is all but a necessity to make quick progress. The problem here is that your stamina runs out far too quickly, even when fully leveled up. It results in running for maybe four seconds, being forced to walk as your stamina gauge refills, rinse and repeat. Swimming is also slow, and there's no way to speed that process up, unfortunately. It's particularly obnoxious when you don't have the item needed to swim without the fear of drowning due to the stamina gauge fully depleting.

Combat is by far the least impressive part of Oceanhorn 2, but it's still serviceable. The biggest issue is that unlike Oceanhorn 2's biggest inspiration, 3D Zelda games, there is no targeting system to lock onto and focus on a specific enemy in battle when on offense. The only lock-on that occurs is when you hold out your shield, and you're unable to perform any other action when playing defense. If you use the proper timing to draw out your shield just as an enemy attacks, you'll counter by pushing them back, making them temporarily vulnerable to your own offensive assault. 

Three on one? I gotta like these odds.

Other than your shield, you also have an evasive roll to use to dodge attacks for defense. Additionally, you do get a degree of options in combat to utilize and unleash on your foes in battle, such as a caster gun that can fire bullets of various elemental varieties (you just need to scrounge around and collect ammo) and a grappling hook to either bring yourself closer to enemies or bring them closer to you. 

The weakness of combat stretches into the boss battles, which are just uninspired at best. When bosses do have clever ideas to them, the execution is pretty sloppy, offering many encounters that go on for far too long and end up being tedious. One specific boss occurs during a lagoon area of the game is fought three times in a row, with some exploration and puzzle-solving between each encounter, offering little, if any, change between each battle. It was agonizing fighting it once, but three times? Check, please. Fortunately, while bosses are a low point to Oceanhorn 2's adventure, they happen so rarely and are limited that they don't bring down the entire experience too terribly much.

With rather lackluster combat comes even worse boss battles overall.

Otherwise, Oceanhorn 2 is an exceptionally entertaining game. My favorite part of it was exploring the vast world, discovering hidden, out-of-the-way places and genuinely having my curiosity rewarded with treasure like a Heart Container or item that gets instantly sold for gold. There is plenty of side content to be found with Oceanhorn 2 along the beaten path and away from the otherwise linear adventure. You can search for daggers on the world map that unlocks new goodies, you can find and destroy all 50+ Bloodstones scattered about the world, you can enter the Grand Core to search for a shield upgrade that deflects lasers, you can hunt down escaped monsters from White City's prison, and even acquire a Master Sword-like blade by exploring an optional, puzzle-filled dungeon, though I didn't really find much of a difference in attack power with my new weapon...

Puzzles of all types rest inside the dungeons and areas of Oceanhorn 2.

While my hero's new blade didn't astonish me too much, I can't say the same thing about the level of impressive ambition the developer took with Oceanhorn's sequel. As stated, the original game featured crude blocky environments with an isometric perspective. Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm is showcased by an absolutely jaw-dropping visual style in full 3D. I was especially bewildered by just how large some of the areas in the game are, particularly the main capital of Arcadia, the White City. Now, all this ambition, size and scope does come with a price. The game's frame-rate can stutter quite often, and this is certainly the case in larger, more complex areas, especially when the game auto-saves (a common occurrence). Thus, for those sensitive to occasional frame-rates, Oceanhorn 2's might be too much for you, despite the rest of the presentation being top-notch. 

A lot of areas in Oceanhorn 2 are as equally impressive as they are expansive.

Despite its frame-rate issues and problems with combat and bosses, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm delivers an enchanting adventure filled with clever puzzles, enjoyable exploration, and an astounding level of ambition when compared to its predecessor. This 15-20 hour Zelda-like was one that ultimately gave me more moments of joy and wonder than moments of anger and disappointment, making it a game that I would recommend with the caveat of knowing that it's a $30 game that isn't as polished as a $60 3D Zelda.

[SPC Says: B-]

A Nintendo Switch code was provided to SPC by the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Review Round-Up - October 2020

Despite the collection feeling phoned in by Nintendo, the trio of games featured in Super Mario 3D All-Stars was
 more than worth the price of admission for SPC's Featured Game (or in this case, Games) of the Month.

Hey, all. Here's hoping your Halloween was a spooky and ultimately safe one! October was a scary good month of video game reviews here at SuperPhillip Central. What else can you say when the lowest grade handed out this past month was a B-! Before we say "goodbye" to the month that was, it haunts SPC one last time with the Review Round-Up!

We began entering into the hell that was unpaid internships with the abundantly clever and creative take on the rogue-like, Going Under. It received a B- with notes in its personnel file for needing some slight improvement. (See what I did there?) Moving on from there, we went old school with a retro review of the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive cult classic Decap Attack, digging up a B- grade as well.

We continued our frightful look at some scary, Halloween-themed games with the incredible force that was Resident Evil 3, which had its own unstoppable force inside with the hulking menace known as Nemesis. The game strong-armed its way to an A-.

Following up Resident Evil 3's remake was another game--well, trio of games in one collection--that tied the highest grade given this month, Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It, too, ran, jumped, and slid into its deserved A- score. 

Wrapping up the month were two more games fitting of the Halloween spirit and festivities. The first was Hollow Knight, a long awaited review that saw me rewarding the game with an A- as well. Last and certainly not least, Crown Trick was another rogue-like game that brought something new to the table, and it earned a satisfying B- grade due to how much fun I had navigating its nightmarish dungeons.

As is customary for the conclusion of each Review Round-Up (well, at least since last December or so), here are some excerpts of each review along with a link to the full reviews themselves. Finally, this is your reminder to check out the SPC Review Archive for all of the reviews ever published on this site.

Going Under (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - B-

Unlike actual internships, I enjoyed my time at Fizzle. Combat is a bit loose and clunky, lacking a lot of variety that will keep most players from coming to back to the game, but Going Under otherwise keeps an elevated level of quality throughout its relatively short campaign. The optional added accessibility and assist options makes for a game that while still challenging, offers a game that can be custom tailored to a given player's skill level. Thus, anyone with a love for Roguelikes but not necessarily a love for their general difficulty can enjoy this game. Overall, Aggro Crab has done a good job with their first game.

Decap Attack (GEN) - B-

It was a thrill (in more ways than one) returning to the macabre world of Decap Attack and once more taking control of Chuck D. Head in his adventure to save the world, defeat Max D. Cap and yes, get the surprise ending of him becoming human as reward for his good deeds. While there isn't too much here that pushes the platforming genre forward--and it would otherwise be lost in a sea of similar platformers without its unique atmosphere and vibe--Decap Attack remains a solid 2D platformer right down to its bones. 

Resident Evil 3 (PS4, XB1, PC) - A-

Resident Evil 3 brings a welcome return to Raccoon City, delivering a more action-oriented romp than the previous Resident Evil remake from last year, yet remaining a tense (and intense) game all the same. Though there isn't as much longevity in the base campaign, that made for me a campaign that could be enjoyed multiple times in various ways without a sign of burnout on my end, quite unlike my experience with the otherwise excellent Resident Evil 2. All in all, revisiting the horrors of both Raccoon City and Resident Evil 3 made for a gloriously gruesome and great gaming experience.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars (NSW) - A-

All of this notwithstanding, it says a lot about how excellent the games included in this otherwise ho-hum package are in that I still recommend Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The games are just as good as, or in some cases, better than they've always been. The lack of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is certainly a bummer and very much missed, but ultimately, Super Mario 3D All-Stars' trio of games is some of the best games in this industry. That alone puts it as an easy recommendation for me, not because of Nintendo's decidedly lazy approach to packaging these games--but despite it.

Hollow Knight is the definition of a modern classic, and it takes its inspirations from games like Metroid--with its world structure--and Dark Souls--with its penalty for dying--and expands upon them in brilliantly clever ways. The ability to not be bound to a set path and instead be able to explore the vast world freely, offers a fresh, welcomed take to the genre, and the added Focus ability is one of the smartest additions to a Metroidvania that would otherwise be impossible to complete. At the same time, it's no "win" button either with how it makes you vulnerable upon using it. Hollow Knight is a fantastic Metroidvania, and if there's one true gripe I have, it's that I waited all this time to finally play it.
When it's all said and done, Crown Trick is a mostly well made and well executed rogue-lite that allows for plenty of opportunities for planning and strategy with its turn-based movement and combat. Our heroine Elle's ability to Break enemies' defenses and Blink around rooms to evade attacks and better position herself in battle are smart, worthwhile mechanics. Add in pleasant and stylish visuals (though not without performance problems on the Switch version), and you have a rogue-like that's easy to recommend but absolutely hard in both how difficult the game is, and how hard it can be to put it down.
Games of Halloween past and present rounded out the rest of SPC's reviews for this themed month.