Guacamelee! Gold Edition (PC)

At first Guacamelee seemed a bit... what's the word I'm looking for? Flavorless? But the game really picks up after the fight with X'Tabay, when you're given the ability to shift between the dead and living worlds at will. Combat is appropriately brutal and cathartic, the world-switching blends perfectly with the platforming, some of the dialogue is funny, the visuals are colorful, and the soundtrack... er, actually works better in-game. I guess my main gripe is the controls do get a tad confusing after you've unlocked enough powers, especially when I'm trying to break an enemy's yellow shield with the headbutt only to keep using the dash attack.

And for the nerds, Guacamelee is up to its bare Luchador nipples in references to other games, including but not limited to Super Mario Bros, Metroid, Castlevania, Zelda 2, Wreck-It Ralph, Grim Fandango, Phoenix Wright, VVVVVV, and a whole fuckload more. I'm also inclined to believe the final boss was inspired by Deathwing from World of Warcraft, but it could very well be coincidence (but then again, the guy who opens the door to El Infierno makes a WoW reference). Although I didn't pick up on any Blaster Master references, and to that I say BOOOOO! I mean, you stuck in a picture of Booster from Super Mario RPG for crying out loud, guys! How hard would it have been to make a radioactive frog joke?

After I got the bad ending (which I actually didn't think was that bad. Sad yes, but acceptable) I went through and got the five orbs you need to get the good ending. The chicken maze and forest switch are far harder to find out about than actually obtain. The arena cave one was still pretty easy. The one with the Mega Man-esque disappearing platforms is tricky, but not that bad. But holy shit, the one in the tree area is a pain in the ass. Nice touch that they play the boss theme in that area.

Oh, and JoyToKey, I love you. Guacamalee and my PS2-controller/USB-adapter combo didn't want to talk to each other, and I appreciate you being the middle man.


How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell)

Um, wow, if you're expecting the movie to have been a straight adaptation of this, you're in for a surprise. The two main ways this differs from the movie are that the Vikings of Berk are already training dragons rather than having a war with them, and Toothless being a common garden dragon who just doesn't have teeth rather than a super-rare Night Fury that can retract its teeth. The main similarity is that both are about communication over domination, but the book applies that idea to leadership while the movie was about coexisting with others.

The book does have its moments, but other things just annoyed the hell out of me, like how Snotlout is essentially Draco Malfoy with a Viking helmet, Toothless was Nall from Lunar with scales, and the fake drawings in the margins of the book. I know they're supposed to look like they were done by a little kid, but they succeeded to the point it's distracting. I also found it just a wee bit convenient that when the kids are trying to figure out what to do with the giant sea dragon there just happens to be another one on the other side of the island. And really, the showdown with it in the movie was ten times more badass.

Also, while the dragons in the movie behaved like cats, in the book they behave like dogs. So, that's another point in the movie's favor.


Octodad: Dadliest Catch (PC, E10+)

How does one review something like Octodad? The visuals and narrative are adorable, but it's only a few hours long and the controls are less than intuitive. Yes, you're controlling an octopus with wobbly limbs, but I feel like I'm opening myself up to claims of hypocrisy after giving people shit for justifying the terrible horse controls in Shadow of the Colossus with "it's like you're really controlling a horse". But unlike the horse controls, the Octodad's controls aren't shit, just weird, and they work once you're there... well, mostly. There were two parts of the game, one where you go up a down escalator and another where you have to run away from the chef across some tables in a burning room, that a mouse interface are just NOT conducive to. Maybe a third if you count the globe quiz. And there was a puzzle with some power cables, where I got Octodad tangled up in the cables. So yeah, maybe use a controller with this game.

On the other hand, the whole concept of the game was just asking for the Rule 34 fanfic with Octodad's family I (obviously) haven't searched for, but damn well know is out there.


Ducktales Remastered (PC, E10+)

Let me start off by praising this game's pretty graphics and bitching soundtrack. It really wants you to think it's an episode of the show, but sadly Ducktales Remastered, you are a video game. Cutscenes bang on and on, and skipping them isn't as intuitive as they could be - you have to pause the game then select "Skip Cutscene", and at the beginning of each level you have to do that three times because the game considers Scrooge and Co. leaving, traveling in the plane, and reaching the actual level three different cutscenes. There is a "Quick Cutscene" option, but I think the automatically disables it when you quit the game. And Scrooge's constantly repeated quips like "I didn't get to be number one by backing down!", "More money for me Money Bin!", and "Is there no end to this madness!" during play are also kind of grating, but it is still more bearable than "La laaaa LA LA LAAAA!", "Check this out!", "By the power of Althena!" and "I saved this just for you!"

As for changes in actual gameplay from the original NES game, the biggest ones are that most levels now require you to collect several items to complete them (coins in the Amazon, pieces of the Gizmoduck suit on the Moon etc.), the boss battles have been given a major overhaul, and instead of a revisit to Transylvania the final level is Magica De Spell's volcano hideout. Sadly they found ways to botch those first two, as more cutscenes play every time you pick up one of those items, and by Jove do some of the bosses drag.

After you beat Dracula Duck, you have to do some actual work to beat Magica and Glomgold to Scrooge's dime instead of holding Up to climb a chain. When you beat them, you then have to flee a rising lava shaft, and the first time I got to this stage it pissed me off to no end - Scrooge kept missing the chains and after your first death the lava starts a lot higher. Then if you run out of lives, the game kicks you back to Duckburg to replay the whole fucking level again. I finally figured out to hold Up+Left/Right when I jumped off the chains.

I don't know how Easy differs from Normal, but in Hard you can only get two additional heart containers whereas you can get five in Normal, but the game showers you with 1-Ups. In Extreme the game's not as generous with 1-Ups, the easy pogo is locked out and you have to hold Down when you press the attack button to make Scrooge pogo jump, and it has to be completed in one sitting. Which I guess makes that the truest to the original NES game? That's... kind of sad.

Obscure In-Joke Time: I think WayForward made a Sigma Star Saga reference in the credits, where the company's founder is credited as the "Tyrannical Overlord".