Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lunch A Palooza (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Review

It's been a while since SuperPhillip Central has been harsh (well, harsh in the site's way) with a game review, as that's not something I take pride in doing. Unfortunately, that time has come once again with the physics-based party brawler Lunch A Palooza. Here is the SPC review.

 Sloppy seconds

My mom used to scold me for playing with my food at the dinner table. But c'mon--I had to do everything I could to make green beans look more appealing, and who as a child could resist the desire to fire and launch some beans across the room? Getting my ear chewed out and having extra chores for doing so was never fun as a punishment, but in hindsight it made me a stronger person. All that welcomed nostalgia aside, in Seashell Studio's Lunch A Palooza, the game is all about playing with your food--well, it's more about fighting with your food, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, this food fight is quite a stale one from the word "go" and one that you definitely won't want leftovers from.

Starting off, Lunch A Palooza looks... presentable. There's a colorful menu set in a kitchen where you select between the four modes the game possesses. All the while your ears get some bouncy and dare I say catchy music to listen to. The four modes include a free-for-all battle, a team-based battle mode, a king of the hill-style mode, and a timed battle mode where each life lost results in you changing characters upon respawning. Okay, good enough so far.

Matches are mercifully short in Lunch A Palooza.

Then, you get to the actual game, and this is where things get rather rough. Lunch A Palooza plays like an arena brawler with the main goal is to knock your opponent or opponents off the playing field to make them lose lives. Be the last food stuff standing and you're the victor. Matches are quick--I'll give the game that, but when it comes down to actually fighting with your food characters, well, this is where the game falls apart like poorly made dough.

Each character in Lunch A Palooza is based off a food item of some sort. There's a burger, a cob of corn, a meatball, a slab of gelatin, etc. Each possesses its own attack, and these are hardly balanced. Now, I'm not saying this game needs to be tournament-ready, as it's meant to be a silly chaotic brawler, but there really is no point in choosing any other character than the gelatin due to its wide area cube-spewing ability.

Chaos is usually welcomed in games like this, but with poor collision detection,
 this isn't quite the case in Lunch A Palooza.

Perhaps if attacks consistently HIT, this wouldn't be so much of an issue, but they don't. Whether it's the corn on the cob's spin move, the pizza slice's leap, or the meatball's roll, these moves do not routinely connect with the impact they should. Sometimes you'll stand right next to your opponent, unleash an attack, and nothing happens. Do the same attack the next time and suddenly your opponent is flung across the screen and out of bounds. It's silly, and not in a good, fun, "This is what the developers were planning" kind of way. 

As for the arenas, there are some neat ideas here. Each arena is based in a restaurant-like setting, such as a classy Italian joint where a ladle, fork, and knife routinely enter into the checkered table arena to cause mischief. There's also a Chuck E. Cheese-like pizza arcade where you battle on an ice hockey table that can flip into a foosball table when a player inserts a coin item into a slot. 

One bright spot is the creative stage ideas on display in the game.

Unfortunately, there's very little meat on this game's bones for the price tag of just over $15. Sure, there are multiple unlockables in the form of new stages, characters, and skins for said characters, but these are timed-based unlocks. You'll have most of the stages and characters unlocked within two hours, and that--believe me--is two mind-numbing hours of utter boredom and mindless button mashing. It's just not worth it.

Lunch A Palooza fails as a party game with any kind of strategy or more importantly, any semblance of fun. It's just too random, from its inconsistent physics to its yawn-inducing, indecipherable gameplay. It has nice ideas with some clever arena design, but other than that, I cannot recommend this game at all. You might as well take a burger patty out of the freezer as well as take out a banana and start smashing them into one another like they were action figures. At least that would show attacks that actually hit consistently and be less random than suffering through this game.

[SPC Says: D-]

A code was provided for this review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (NSW) Launch Trailer

It's been an exciting month for gaming with two new next gen (now current gen) consoles releasing and several excellent games also launching as well on top of that. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will be the latest big title to launch this month, and the game finally arrives on the Nintendo Switch on Friday. Check out this cinematic launch trailer for the game, as published by Nintendo on its YouTube channel, and look forward to a full, in-depth review of the game here at SuperPhillip Central in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition (PS4, NSW, XB1, PC) Review

We move from one Xbox Game Studios title (published this past Friday) to another. It's the Minecraft series's take on the Diablo-style dungeon crawler with Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition. Here is the SPC review.

Dungeon Creeper-Crawling

It's no secret that Minecraft is a breakout hit. (Dare I say, it's a blockbuster?) Regardless, when a series breaks records left and right, it makes sense for the the developers to branch out. Interestingly enough, we haven't seen that as much with Minecraft. Instead, the series has further innovated on itself to fantastic results, but now, Minecraft takes on Diablo for a basic dungeon crawler that, while still a pleasure to play, might be too simple for its own good. This is Minecraft Dungeons.

Minecraft Dungeons tells a simple story about an outcast villager who stumbles upon a sacred orb that turns his heart and ambitions into pure evil. Now, the Arch-illager, this baddie is doing everything in his power to get revenge on those that made his own life miserable. As a custom-created hero (the creator creator is really nothing special whatsoever with very little actual customization), your goal is to venture forth into various dungeons under the Arch-illager's control and ultimately defeat the dastardly foe, undoing his damage to the kingdom. 

As is traditional with a dungeon crawler, Minecraft Dungeons isn't just about exploring procedurally generated themed areas, but it's also about getting outfitted with the best gear and loot your possibly can find. The better loot you acquire from defeated foes and from treasure chests, the greater the chances of success you will have for beating later levels on harder difficulties. Unfortunately, also as is traditional with a dungeon crawler, you're at the mercy of the RNG gods for as to how great of gear you get. You'll have better odds for better gear by playing on a level where your gear is below the recommended difficulty. Obviously, the challenge will be much higher, but the rewards will be much greater.

Minecraft Dungeons' "best" way of challenging its players is to overwhelm them with enemies.

Your hero in Minecraft Dungeons has a host of abilities available to them to assist them in overcoming the hordes of overwhelming forces that they will face. To begin, they have a roll maneuver for evading enemy attacks, as well as a potion that can be used to replenish their depleted health. This potion has a cool down period before it can be used again, so it's important to not go too hot and heavy into battle without an exit strategy.

Your hero also has a primary weapon, such as a sword, a spear, a pickaxe, ordinary axe, sickles, or whatnot, for melee damage, and they also have a secondary weapon for ranged attacks, generally given a position to a bow of some sort. Alongside the primary weapons, your hero can equip a piece of armor as well, in addition to three artifacts that bestow various effects. Some give off an aura of healing where anyone inside the temporary field will slowly regenerate health, while others provide an AI sidekick companion with its own health bar to help in the fight. 

Team up in a group of up to four online or off to delightfully dungeon crawl.

Unlike how games like this usually pan out, Minecraft Dungeons doesn't really reward extra strength from gaining experience levels. Instead, you gain strength and power from gear itself. Even the act of earning a level through experience doesn't wield traditional rewards. Instead, you earn Enchantment points that can be spent on earned gear to bestow them with better results and bonuses. For instance, a crossbow can have its arrows pierce through enemies if a certain number of Enchantment points are spent. Of course, the bonuses available through Enchantments are also based on RNG as well. As a plus, if you sell a weapon or piece of armor with Enchantments equipped to them, they will return your pool of points available, allowing you to spend them all over again instead of having to worry about "wasting" them.

Venturing through the harsh lands of Minecraft Dungeons is enjoyable enough. Levels can be a bit long in the tooth, but if you wish to just take the beaten path--a waypoint routinely keeps you on the right path if you wish to follow it to your intended destination--they aren't too terribly lengthy. That said, some of the DLC missions within the Hero Edition of Minecraft Dungeons, taking place in jungle and fjord environments, do make for occasionally time-consuming and tedious adventures that outwear their welcomes. That's even by just eschewing any exploration tendencies for treasure you might want to have.

This player is just show-"boating" now. Get it? 
(These jokes come free with the review, alright!?)

Minecraft Dungeons' gameplay isn't especially deep either. There isn't any sophisticated combat to speak of. It's merely run up to an enemy and smack them into submission while occasionally retreating to catch your breath and potentially heal up. The challenge from the game comes less from the combat and more from the game's penchant for overwhelming you with an endless barrage of enemies usually within narrow confines without much room or hope for escape. Fortunately, you do get several lives to work with, so one death won't result in a completely botched run.

Although there are less than a dozen levels in the story of Minecraft Dungeons, once the initial difficulty has been beaten, a new difficulty level opens up. It presents better gear to obtain, increased aggression from enemies, and even new enemy types popping up in new locations. After THAT difficulty has been cleared, then the Apocalypse difficulty opens up, which requires even better gear to survive the harder foes, but also rewards better gear and loot for the trouble.

One of my favorite locales in the limited selection of Minecraft Dungeons, the Desert Temple.

The argument about whether or not the gameplay loop of Minecraft Dungeons is satisfying enough to be worth that trouble is another story, however. By the end of my Adventure run--the second difficulty mode of the game--I was already having trouble wanting to continue playing the game. Seeing as how much grinding it would take to get good enough gear to even have a chance of getting anywhere close to surviving later levels particularly on the Apocalyptic difficulty didn't seem too enticing to me, personally. This notwithstanding, there is joy to be found in the simple gameplay and basic, blocky boundaries within Minecraft Dungeons' worlds, especially if you're able to play it with a group of friends, family members, or companions locally or online. There's certainly some fun here, but not enough for me to wholeheartedly recommend this otherwise inoffensively adorable dungeon crawler.

[SPC Says: C]