Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Review Round-Up - July / August 2021

After a lengthy 16-year wait, Psychonauts 2 finally saw the light of day, and the wait was most definitely worth it judging by the amazing quality of the game, which is SPC's Featured Game of the Month.

Combining two months into one, it's the Review Round-Up for the hot and heated summer months of July and August! A total of seven reviews were published on SuperPhillip Central during this time, so let's take a trip down memory lane to see which games got the SPC review treatment and their respective grades.

We started out in early July with a journey to the links with the Mushroom Kingdom cast in Mario Golf: Super Rush. A lack of meaty content was made up for by enjoyable golfing gameplay, giving the game a B grade. We rounded out the month of July with two more games: a cute and charming shmup Cotton Reboot!, which soared and shot its way to a B, and the less than satisfying Mega Man-like Fallen Knight, which got a C-.

Following July was of course August and the arrival of SuperPhillip Central's Death Door review. The game delighted in a multitude of ways, earning a stellar A- grade. We then took a trip to the skies with The Falconeer: Warrior Edition (C) and then clowned around with the adorable 2.5D platformer Ayo the Clown (B-).

Finally, Psychonauts 2 ended this rare two-month coverage period of reviews for the Review Round-Up. This 3D platformer was a mix of marvelous platforming design with an often humorous and sometimes tender tale. The game received an A- grade.

Last but not least, check out an excerpt from each game review shared on SPC these past two months, and be sure to take a look at every review ever published on SuperPhillip Central with the SPC Review Archive. See you next month, Review Round-Up!

Mario Golf: Super Rush (NSW) - B

Mario Golf: Super Rush seems like a bittersweet time on the links. The golfing gameplay is as stellar and solid as it's ever been, but everything surrounding the game doesn't quite seem par for the course, especially when compared to other entries in the Mario Golf series and even other contemporary golf games. There is a lack of Ring Shot, unlockables other than star and superstar club versions of characters (though, this is fun to use different characters to earn points to upgrade them), online tournaments and leaderboards, and even basic stuff like taunting, post-hole celebrations, and replays. Mario Golf: Super Rush could have been so much more, and perhaps like Mario Tennis Aces, in a year we will see the game we should have gotten at launch. As is, unless you're devoted to improving upon your scores and replaying courses and hopping online like I am, you should give this particular golf game a pass for the time being.

The type of player who wishes to play through one or both versions of Cotton--whether it be the X68000 or the Arrange version--die a bunch, plow through lives, and then consider the game "done" when the credits roll, probably won't find much value from Cotton Reboot. However, those who appreciate arcade games, especially in the shoot-em-up style of yesteryear, will find loads to enjoy about the game. While the X68000 original offers a calmer, more focused and simpler approach compared to the more complex and eye-popping approach of the Arrange version, I personally loved both versions, feeling there are pros and cons with each. Either way, you're in for a wild and exciting ride with both versions and all of the modes featured within Cotton Reboot.
At the end of the day, and after Lancelot's sword had been put back into its sheathe, I came away from Fallen Knight disappointed. Well, actually I was frustrated and disappointed. The timing of parrying needs just a little bit more adjusting to be reasonable. As is, it's just too darn narrow. I don't want to effortlessly parry and defeat foes, but I also want some consistency here. Lackluster level design, clumsy controls, and occasionally troublesome framerate problems, round out my issues with Fallen Knight. This Mega Man-like has plenty of potential, for sure, but it hasn't yet been met. Thus (and unfortunately), I must decree that I hereby dub thee, Fallen Knight, a disappointing game. 
What Acid Nerve crafted with Death's Door is nothing short of phenomenal. This Zelda-like game with an isometric perspective and bleaker, harsher world is one that I wholeheartedly recommend. Exploration is enjoyable, combat is challenging and rewarding, and the presentation is a sight (and sound) to behold. Prepare yourself for a fantastic adventure, as that's exactly what you'll receive with Death's Door.
While certainly not every aspect of the game is boring or tedious - far from it - there are aspects like the gameplay loop, the repetitive mission design, and the rather unappealing story (at least to me) that made me bored with the game. I can definitely admit that The Falconeer is a well-crafted game otherwise; it's just one that did not soar to amazing heights for me, personally.
Ayo the Clown has clever level design, creative ideas permeating throughout the adventure, and some well-conceived (but not always well-executed) ideas. If you are a platforming fan looking for an adorable and delightful new run and jump for your Nintendo Switch or PC, have an open mind, and want a game that can be as challenging as it is cute, then get ready to clown around with Ayo--Ayo the Clown, that is! 
Few games lately have made me want to put forth the effort to complete them 100%, but Psychonauts 2 was certainly one of those games. Outside of battles, occasional obnoxious invisible walls, and platforming pitfalls due to some depth perception issues, Psychonauts 2 offers a plentifully polished game. It's hilarious one moment, tender and poignant the next. It's the type of game that gave me a bittersweet feeling upon completing it. On one hand, I got to experience a (doubly) finely crafted game. On the other, I just hope it won't take another 16 years to see a sequel! 
Not to be overlooked, Death's Door from publisher Devolver Digital and developer Acid Nerve
ended up being another top title in this past round of reviews!

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