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Family Video Game Review – MagiCat

MagiCat by Toge Productions is, as described on the Nintendo eShop, a Platform, Puzzle, Action, Adventure game.  Originally released on Steam, it has now been released on the Switch.  I hope to see it find a good following among the retro indie game fans.  As a retro gamer who focuses on platform games from the NES and SNES era, this game caught my attention after I saw it in a Facebook ad, and with a $4.99 price tag, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  I’ve been very pleased.

MagiCat is insanely cute; almost irresistibly so.  This had my ten year old daughter fawning over the cat in the magic hat on the Switch dashboard. Even my 2 year old son quite earnestly pointed out “CAT DADDY CAT”!  The game does not fail to deliver on the cutesie promise it makes. Each of the 68 stages has been filled with colorful plushy enemies and rich environments to jump across.  The individual sprites make cute expressions and pretty much everything is reminiscent of Hello Kitty or other similar chibi anime.

Mechanically, the game plays like the baby child of a Mario or Yoshi game. It has just the hint of the flavors of a platform shooter, and has surprisingly tight controls. MagiCat plays very smoothly, and feels great to simply move the cat around the stage.  MagiCat only has a handful of abilities, though. However, there are shops further into the game, so it is possible to acquire more. In the beginning you can run, jump, pounce (dash), and shoot little fireballs that are the shape of paw prints.  The fireballs can be aimed, and holding the jump button lets you air hover while doing an adorable mid air dance reminiscent of the Yoshi’s World games.

Enemies range in difficulty, but defeating them (bosses included) comes down to either shooting them or bouncing on their heads.   Collecting blue bottles throughout each stage is critical. If you have collected them then the pounce does damage as well and consumes one bottle. The blue bottles can also be used to activate checkpoints at the cost of ten bottles.  This is also the only way to heal mid-level. MagiCat only has four health so it’s very important not to take damage, especially if you are aiming to collect the minor achievements earned at the end of each stage.

The only other main goal of each stage is to collect three rubies.  These can actually be rather challenging to acquire, and remind me of the three stars one collects in the recent Mario World games.

The game has an odd learning curve, so I will be curious to see how well my daughter does when she plays it.  It’s not difficult to make it through the stages, and acquiring lives is very easy. However, there is a boss at the end of every stage and they can be very tricky if you are not used to reacting quickly.  

That said these boss fights are really fun for an old gamer, reminding me of Mega Man and Super Mario Brothers all at the same time. Collecting the red rubies is where the game is the most challenging. The puzzles in the level to gain access to these range from very simple to ridiculously trick, so if you are a “100%-er” be prepared to retry stages quite a few times.

Overall this game is a solid buy, and very enjoyable for its genre.  There isn’t anything innovative here, but it’s just fun to play. If I had to make one criticism the only thing I might say is that the music could have been a lot better.  Given how nicely it follows the old 8 bit format, I wish it had a more classic 8-bit soundtrack, as nothing about the music really stands out. No way that’s a deal breaker, but it would have taken it from an A to an A+.

By: Jeremy Davis

FCC Disclosure – A code was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Family Video Game Review – Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

By: Rob Kalajian from A Pawn’s Perspective

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition for the Switch isn’t a new title really. Hyrule Warriors has previously been released on both the Wii U and 3DS consoles.  Similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it’s everything we’ve seen before with much more polish and a few new goodies tossed in to entice owners of the previous-gen systems to repurchase the game on their shiny new Switch.

Luckily for me, this is my first time playing the game, so I’m not rebuying anything!

Hyrule Warriors is a Musuo game, made popular by Koei Tecmo Games’ Dynasty Warriors series. The are games where players take control of a hero on a battlefield trying to turn the tide of a conflict and (usually) taking down the enemy commander. The player must wade through hordes of enemies trying to capture key points on the field, stop reinforcements from arriving, taking out enemy generals, and finally unlocking the path to their objective.

Between battles, players can upgrade their hero’s stats and weapons, pay to level up heroes, switch weapons, and create potions that will help them find better items and materials in their next battle.

As players progress through the game they’ll unlock more battles, characters, side-stories, and more, often playing the story from multiple vantage points as the hero, villains, or supporting characters. Just when the players think they’ve completed the game they’ll find out its just part of the story-arc with more and more levels being added. There’s tons of content to play through here, and that’s just the story mode.

There’s also Arcade Mode and Free Play mode that gives players a bit more flexibility with what battles they want to play through and which characters they’d like to focus on. In My Fairy mode, players can even care for fairies who can help them out in their battles!

Is it a kids’ game?

Hyrule Warriors is rated T for Teen for Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. The game revolves around mowing down thousands upon thousands of baddies (and good guys if you’re playing as the baddies) using swords, staves, spells, clubs, crossbows, and yes, even a pistol.

The real issue here is the Suggestive Themes, which pretty revolve around one character. Cia, one of the main villains of the game. She’s a highly sexualized sorceress with a giant bust, plunging (like all the way down) neckline, one completely exposed leg complete with garter, and high heels. Almost every shot of her in any cutscene accents these features, often lingering on them in close-ups before panning away to where the action really should be taking place.

There’s also Lana, another new hero character. While not as overtly sexual she’s still a bit different from the overall Zelda designs we’ve seen in the past with a large chest, exposed skin, and a stance that, while more innocent that Cia’s, is still more suggestive than it should be.

Can kids play it?

Yeah, kids can play it. The game is mostly button mashing, though some basic reading skills are needed so players know where to go, what allies are in trouble, and if win/defeat conditions have changed. The story isn’t very in depth, so players don’t miss out much if they can’t follow along.

Conclusion

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is an excellent game providing hours of hack and slash entertainment with a huge and diverse cast of characters for the Zelda franchise. Unfortunately, a bit of that is spoiled by Team Ninja’s “contributions” the game with the additions of Cia and Lana.

Still, if you’re a fan of Musuo games or Zelda, you’re going to have a great time with this title. Just know what you’re getting into before you subject younger eyes to the amount of flesh on display by the evil, crazy-lady.


Rob runs A Pawn’s Perspective and he has been writing about board games for over a decade. His website, A Pawn’s Perspective, is a great place to find news about board games! Check it out!
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Wizard of Legend

Release Date: 05/15/2018

Available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Price: $15.99

Developer: Contingent99

Publisher: Humble Bundle


If I took all of the best parts of Gauntlet and mashed them up perfectly with Avatar: The Last Air Bender I still don’t think I would have a game that is as good as Wizard of Legend.

I spent a lot of time playing cooperative games with my brother when we were kids. One of our favorites was Gauntlet. Neither of us were particularly good at games (he has since gotten much better than me) so we needed to work very hard to even clear a few maps. It was a challenge for us, and it was frustrating, but we would talk and plan for hours about how we would try to work together. The local cooperative play in Wizard of Legend evoked so many of those same feelings. I was terrible, and so was my oldest son. But, we both desperately wanted to be better, and, eventually, we did just that. It was a wonderful experience that we’ll both remember for a long time.

It may have been hard to succeed, but it wasn’t hard to play. We were both able to weave our basic spells into powerful routines that crushed our enemies as we whirled around the screen. Over time it became more like a dance than anything else. This dance became more complex as we earned more chaos gems during our runs through the game and used them to buy newer, more interesting, and more powerful spells.

There is no real story per se. You play as a wizard, or pair of wizards, who is completing a set of trials. These trials consist of a set of procedurally generated levels that follow a pattern of two basic stages attuned to an element (fire, ice, or earth) followed by a grand wizard boss. This pattern repeats three times. The key is that you don’t get a chance to recover health or save your progress in between stages. If you die, then your run is over and you have to start over. The only things you can keep are the chaos gems that you earn for defeating enemies.  The spells you buy each fit into an element which helps determine their behavior and the type of damage they deal. Balancing the spells in your load out to make sure that they match both your play style and the types of enemies you expect to be facing is critical. This is especially true because many of the spells in the game affect your movement.

Each of these procedurally generated levels is populated by monsters that appear in patterns depending on the shape of the room. Some of the enemy groups can be brutally unfair, but skillful play and the appropriate spell selection will usually help bail you out. The enemy variety is lacking though. Many of them look like the same monster with a very small variation in powers.

At some point I have to talk about the name though right? I’ve been avoiding it, but I can’t just ignore it.”Wizard of Legend” is, as a title, about as inspired as soggy toast. It does a terrible job of cluing players in to the game that they will be playing. Here’s hoping that enough players can look past the name to get to the great game that lies behind it.

Family Gaming Assessment

Wizard of Legend is rated E 10+ by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.

It was rated PEGI 7 “because it contains violence that lacks any apparent harm or injury to fantasy or mythical beings and creatures and non-realistic looking violence towards characters which although human are not very detailed.”

I think these ratings are accurate. There is no doubt that it is a violent game, but all of the action is directed at inhuman monsters.

Playability

Wizard of Legend is accessible. It doesn’t require complicated button combinations to move around the map and attack enemies. It is, however, very hard and will likely be frustrating to younger gamers (or older ones for that matter) who are easily frustrated.

There is a fair amount of text to read. You need it to help understand what your spells do. But, it isn’t essential. Younger gamers could get by with help from a more experienced reader.

Conclusion

I would recommend Wizard of Legend to a family that is looking for a challenge to take on together. Its ideal for siblings or a parent-child combo that enjoy playing games together and coordinating strategies. I truly enjoyed my time with my son while playing this game.

Buy it on the Humble Bundle website here.

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Swords of Ditto

Onebitbeyond has got a hit on their hands folks. I got my hands on their upcoming action adventure game, The Swords of Ditto, while I was at PAX East 2018 and I immediately fell in love. I was hungry for more as soon as my demo ended. Thankfully I knew I didn’t need to wait very long because I knew it would be launching on April 24th on PC and PS4.

The Swords of Ditto is an action RPG that is heavily inspired by games like The Legend of Zelda. Players control a child who has been anointed as a “Sword” as they go on a quest to grow in power over the course of four days and, ultimately, do battle with an evil wizard named Mormo. The battle repeats itself every 100 years because of a curse. This is the perfect justification for the rogue like elements in the game. Each time you die (or defeat Mormo) the island resets. The map is scrambled when this happens and it will either descend further into darkness if you failed your last mission or be restored if you won.

One thing is for sure, The Swords of Ditto is not a game that takes itself too seriously. It is animated in a beautifully drawn cartoon art style and is full of gags and references. You see, Swords takes place in the fare future after our civilization has fallen. This newly developed culture has found our lost toys and reveres them as mighty, magical weapons. The weapons that you can purchase at the Toy Shop (No. I’m not kidding.) are different every time, but include things like yo-yo’s, NERF style dart guns, and even a Power Ranger suit. The weapon variety helps to mix things up on each play through and goes a long way for making sure that the game play doesn’t get stale.

The goal is to kill the evil wizard at the end, but that isn’t very easy to do without powering up. Players can do this by leveling up by fighting enemies throughout the world, exploring dungeons for treasures to help power themselves up, finding and money to buy better gear. Time is limited though. There is a day/night cycle that passes while you play and you only have 4 days to prepare for the final battle. This means that you cant spend all of your time chopping down grass looking for coins when there is experience to  be earned. I found that the passage of time created a tension that propelled me forward and forced me into fights that I might have pushed aside for a while if I weren’t in a crunch.

Another feature that I would be remiss if I ignored is the multiplayer. This is a fun game to play with friends. The game doesn’t change much. Two kids appear to become Swords instead of just one and the adventure proceeds as normal. Players are tethered on the same screen with each other which does limit the amount of multitasking that you can do, but it does make the combat very satisfying. My favorite part of the multiplayer mode is the revive mechanic; it is just too cute. When one player falls in combat the other player can move over to their fallen comrade and give them a hug. This divides the survivor’s life total between the two players so they can work together. I particularly enjoyed watching my sons play together They knew that they could revive each other if things went south, but they knew that it wasn’t free so neither of them was reckless. It forced them to learn how to play better faster.

Family Gaming Assessment

The Swords of Ditto is rated E 10+ by the ESRB for “Fantasy Violence.”

PEGI (the rating system used in Europe)  has rated the game PEGI 7 for minor “non-realistic violence against human like and fantastical characters.”

I agree with both of those rating assessments. The combat in this game is more cartoon-ish and comical than it is brutal. Most parents should feel comfortable letting their children play this game or watch it played with little issue.

If you are someone who does take exception to even minor violence in a game, then this may be one to avoid. take a look at the game play trailer below for an idea of how the game plays.

Playability Assessment

The Swords of Ditto is a challenging game. There is no hiding behind that. You will die and you will die often. Kids (or anyone for that matter) who are easily frustrated should give this game a second thought before trying it. I feel like this game is good enough to overcome some of those frustrations, but it is hard to know without taking your child into consideration.

Most of the story in the game is delivered through text so this isn’t a very accessible game for poor readers. There isn’t so much text that an older sibling or parent couldn’t read it out loud to earlier readers though.

Conclusion

This is a wonderful game that would make an excellent choice for anyone looking for a challenging game to play. This is especially true for anyone looking for a game to play side by side on the couch with.

It is currently available for PS4 and PC. They haven’t announced any other consoles yet, but that could change at any time.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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The Adventure Pals logo

The Adventure Pals from Armor Games is an absurd jaunt through a bizarre world where almost nothing makes sense. Turtles can do back flips. Whales complain about “hashtag body shaming.” The hero’s best friend, Sparkles the giraffe, can use his tongue like a propeller to slow their collective fall. The villain wants to turn everyone into hot dog monsters. Every single one of those sentences is true. And here’s one more: This game is just as fun as it is ridiculous.

The premise is simple. Your dad has been kidnapped by the maniacal villain Mr. B, and is at risk of being turned into a hot dog. You, Sparkles the giraffe, and Mr. Rock are his only hope. You need to travel through several diverse and colorful levels full of pirates, cowboys, and other (even weirder) oddities in order to save him. Each new zone has a series of quests that will have you exploring complex platforming levels in search of rubies, cupcakes, and other treasures.

No. Seriously. This pirate is made out of bacon and eggs.

The Adventure Pals may be absurd, but that doesn’t mean it is simple. Eventually you will find yourself wall jumping up a passageway, then hovering with Sparkle’s tongue as you attempt to float closer to an element that you can grapple from, only to ride a zipline afterwards. It can be difficult to chain all of these different moves together, and there are no checkpoints to speak of. I would have quit in frustration if the game didn’t go out of its way to help me. The platforming in The Adventure Pals is forgiving thanks to snappy controls, easily timed wall jumping, and a mechanic that lets you mantle up onto a platform if you mistime a jump. This compensates for some devilishly challenging platforming sections as you progress through the games 105 levels. The mantling mechanic alone saved me dozens of times.

This isn’t just a simple platformer either. The Adventure Pals features a leveling system that lets you choose from up to three different perks each time you gain a level. This added a sense of progression and drove me to defeat every enemy I could find in search of blue experience orbs. The perks were varied and all of them felt useful. I loved the ability to improve my inventory size early. But, I was able to unlock pretty exotic perks later on in the game.

No one needs to play The Adventure Pals alone either. The game features drop-in/drop-out cooperative play. This is a great feature for families that have kids who just can’t make up their minds what they want to play.

Is this a kid friendly game?

The Adventure Pals is rated E 10+ by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence and Crude Humor. It is also rated PEGI 7 by the Pan European Game Information organization.

The Fantasy Violence is negligible in this game. You run around fighting hot dog monsters and oddly shaped blobs with a wooden sword. This will not be an issue for the vast majority of parents.

The Crude Humor is where some folks might have concerns. I played through the game and found it to be on par with the humor found in most cartoons on Cartoon Network, or with older Nickelodeon cartoons like Ren and Stimpy. This isn’t intellectual humor here folks. We’re talking fart jokes and bosses made up of literal bacon and eggs.

Can Kids play it?

The Adventure Pals is a challenging game. Inexperienced gamers won’t be sprinting through this one. As I said above, though, the game’s mechanics are forgiving enough to keep it from getting frustrating. Youngsters looking for a challenging platformer after finishing Super Mario Odyssey will be very happy with this one.

Most of the story is delivered through text so I don’t recommend this game for early readers unless they have a helper nearby. The iconography is ok, but it is still pretty hard to follow what’s going on without being able to reason what is going on.

Conclusion

I loved this game and I think that it is worthy purchase for families looking for a smaller game to play. It will launch on Xbox One, PS4, PC/Mac, and Switch on April 3rd.

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