Friday, January 1, 2021

Review Round-Up - December 2020

"Age of Calamity" isn't just a way to describe the year that was 2020,
it's also the subtitle to the latest Hyrule Warriors, SPC's Featured Game of the Month.

Before we completely say "goodbye" to the year together, it's time for the final Review Round-Up of 2020, complete with the four games reviewed, as well as a link to and even an excerpt of each. Let's begin.

The month started strong with one of the better Musou-style games I've played yet with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Swords and shields shattered, and in the process a B+ was awarded to the game. Then, we changed genres from hack-and-slash to a Metroidvania platformer with Pokemon-style catching, raising and battling with Monster Sanctuary and its B grade. Continuing from there, we took a 3D blast to the past with Sonic 3D Blast and its retro review. This classic isometric Sonic game earned a respectable C+. Finally, the third and final platformer of the month, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, saw the Half-Genie hero dance and leap her way to a B+ grade. 

Finally, as promised, here is a link to every December 2020 review in addition to the concluding paragraph from each. As a reminder, check out the SPC Review Archive for every review ever published in SuperPhillip Central history.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (NSW) - B+

Between the reimagined story that certainly GOES places, the fun that comes from slaying a slew of enemies like they were nothing, rushing about the maps like a Cucco with its head cut off as you complete objectives, the robust roster of playable characters with unique play styles, and the massive amount of content available in the story missions, side missions, material requests and Korok hunting, Age of Calamity is up there as one of my favorite Musou games. Admittedly, it certainly helps that it's one based off of one of my favorite video game franchises of all time, but in general, it's just a great Musou. It definitely won't make fans out of haters of the genre, but for those who love games like Dynasty Warriors and want an evolution of the formula, you have one with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.

Monster Sanctuary (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - B

While the battles aren't balanced to the best of their abilities and the occasional performance problem, Monster Sanctuary is overall a successful mashup of two genre titans: the monster-capturing-and-battling genre and the Metroidvania. Fights can become long in the tooth and be repetitive, but I'd be lying if I didn't say they weren't ultimately engaging. The other parts of Monster Sanctuary are so excellently executed that I'm amazed this genre mashup wasn't realized and done a long time ago. That said, I'm glad it finally has, and with a highly capable developer--as evident by this game's quality--to boot. Monster Sanctuary gets a solid recommendation from me.

Sonic 3D Blast (GEN, SAT, PC) - C+

If you're looking for a lengthy game, you won't find it with Sonic 3D Blast. It's a rather breezy adventure, clocking in at around 3-4 hours, if you're skilled enough and don't encounter too many annoyances from spotty hit detection from boss battles or confusing camera angles due to the less than adequate perspective. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had, even if Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't reach as high of speeds as most, even the Blue Blur himself, are accustomed to. Released on plenty of platforms and in many collections, Sonic 3D Blast isn't too difficult to track down, and if you can play it, I encourage you to do so and experience this unique Sonic adventure.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC, iOS) - B+

Through its 8-10 hour runtime for first-timers (plus new game+ and speed-running options for subsequent play-throughs), Shantae and the Seven Sirens offers plenty of clever, precise platforming action in a world and map that's ultimately enjoyable to explore. While I wouldn't call Seven Sirens Shantae's greatest adventure, it comes pretty darn close. Between the colorful, vibrant and detailed areas of Arena Island to navigate with relative ease, the amusing transformations that are integrated well, and the story that features amazingly done, oftentimes humorous, if not hilarious scenarios and dialogue, Shantae and the Seven Sirens is undoubtedly a winner in this pirate's book.

Shantae's fifth platforming adventure offered lots of Metroidvania goodness
and fluid gameplay to end 2020 on a good note game review-wise.

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