Game Review – HarmoKnight


HarmoKnight (3DS)
Developer: Game Freak
Price: $15

Stripped of the singing and dancing, Glee’s high school dramatics are simple. Trite even. It revels in discussing social issues – like homophobia and, just recently, Chris Brown – to varying degrees of success. But that’s not the point. Other than the requisite Brittany quips and Sue Sylvester’s bullying, people are tuning in to hear their beloved characters sing “Call Me Maybe.”



Game Review – Gears of War: Judgment


Gears of War: Judgment (360)
Developer: People Can Fly, Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Price: $60

“15 seconds of amazing gameplay is all you need as long as you keep finding exciting ways to repeat it,” said Cliff Bleszinski, a former game designer of the Gears of War trilogy. At least I think he said it. I can’t find the quote anywhere, but I know he said it. I know.


Groovy Gymnastics


Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U, PS3, 360, Steam, Vita)
Developer: Gaijin Games
Publisher: Aksys Games
Price: $15

The Bit.Trip game series presented Commander Video’s entire existence from conception – sperm and all – to his nostalgically ethereal afterlife. Over the years, our 8-bit hero learned to balance his Freudian psyches in Void and became a liberal pacifist in Runner. Or do I have this all wrong? Bit.Trip’s unconventional storytelling techniques, such as ambiguous stage titles and cinematics, leave you with more questions than answers (is that Commander Video’s brain building like Lego pieces in the background?) – gaming’s equivalent to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. The series’ ponderousness is replaced with levity in Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, while retaining its charmingly challenging and rhythmically retro roots.


Yak ‘n Slash

revengeance header

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, 360)
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Konami
Price: $60

Nanomachines in Raiden’s brain — technology akin to Lost’s island that’s used for anything enigmatic in the Metal Gear series — repress his ability to hear the thoughts of adversaries. When he ignores the microchip’s effects, the cybernetic samurai suffers from depression when he mindreads soldiers worrying about overdue rentals and rising taxes. It’s a moment of existential crisis for Raiden as he sulks on the battlefield like a child who opened a janky Yu-Gi-Oh! booster pack. This junior high mentality ends when he chooses to stop listening. This is a grand metaphor for the player though, as you cease to care for what anyone has to say in Metal Gear Rising: Revegeance because you’d rather keep butchering.


These are my forefathers? – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time Review


Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, Vita)
Developer: Sanzaru Games
Publisher: SCEA
MSRP: $39.99

Bentley, Murray, and Sly Cooper’s exploits are reminiscent of those found within Saturday morning cartoons. Their cooperative thievery is like Yogi Bear schemes with the whimsical technology from Dexter’s Laboratory and a dash of the anthropomorphic sensibilities of classic Hannah Barbara toons. These vibes emanate from cel-shaded characters and chapter title sequences that mimic cartoon openings (you know, like this).


DmC: Devil May Cry Review

DmC Header

DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3, 360, PC)
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Capcom
MSRP: $59.99


DmC is too aware of what’s considered cool. Patched on Dante’s coat is the British flag, emblematic of the oversaturated “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme. Raptor News is a not-so-subtle satire of Fox News with a God-loving persona who’s really a demon (Get it? They’re evil!). Photos are tweeted that jarringly frame real people and the game’s demon’s together. The world is silently controlled by the consumption of energy drinks, hitting two birds – popular overly-caffeinated beverages and manipulative marketing – with one dull smack. And what cool game wouldn’t blare dubstep beats? Nothing screams ‘hip’ more than, “Look at how cool this game is! We have all those things you relate to!” Dat shit ain’t cool, yo.


New Super Mario Bros. U Review

New Super Mario Bros U

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
MSRP: $59.99

Think back to when you started your first sudoku. Solving the simplest puzzle was a reward, with each subsequent effort helping to build your repertoire of skills. This sort of pattern recognition is also integral to the Mario experience and one that has been ingrained in gamers for decades. Recklessly jumping through Iggy’s Castle with more than a few scratches may prove rewarding if it’s your first time playing, but finishing each level inevitably becomes the bare minimum. The real challenge of the stages becomes hunting for their secrets. Learning how to find these hidden goodies takes practice, much like figuring out where that 2 belongs in an expert level sudoku, but the dedication pays more than a few 1-ups worth of coins.


Kid Icarus: Uprising Review

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
Developer: Project Sora
Publisher: Nintendo
MSRP: $39.99

If my review process (i.e. playing more video games than I ought to) has taught me anything, it is that the worse a game is, the more willing I am to endure excruciatingly extensive play sessions. I derive little from playing poorly executed games, so having them loom over my head is enough to drive me crazy. Dedicating eight hours of my day to play games I normally would not is the only escape. After a short time with Kid Icarus: Uprising, the opposite was happening—I was savoring each and every of the game’s twenty-five chapters, and even repeatedly replaying old chapters to further prolong the process. That I was enjoying Uprising did not come as a surprise, but the reason why I did was completely unexpected, especially for a Nintendo property.


Yakuza: Dead Souls Review

Yakuza: Dead Souls (PS3)
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
MSRP: $59.99

In video games, the list of things that hate the undead seems to increase daily. Plants hate ‘em, soldiers hate ‘em, photojournalists hate ‘em, Little Red Riding Hood hates ‘em, black southerners hate ‘em, and now the Asian mafia hates ‘em too. While they all hate zombies, gamers cannot get enough of the ghoulish walking dead. Popular franchises, like Call of Duty and Red Dead: Redemption, have capitalized on this fad by adding optional modes that prominently feature them. Yakuza: Dead Souls is more committed to its conceit, as it repurposes established characters, settings, and mechanics into a non-canonical story that attempts to please the enormous demographic of Yakuza fans who are also partial to post-apocalyptic, zombie blasting thrills. A select few may enjoy this unexpected adventure, but most will see through its counterintuitive structure and extremely simplistic and repetitive gunplay for what it is—a poor excuse to hop on the undead bandwagon.


Rhythm Heaven Fever Review

Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)
Developer: Nintendo, TNX
Publisher: Nintendo

Using your Wii controller to conduct bizarre sequences with straightforward, cadenced button taps, Rhythm Heaven Fever requires players to “keep the beat” — a focus few other games of the genre emphasize. It utilizes two buttons the entire game, yet it manages to craft consistently quirky and addictive animated portraits — a wrestler being interviewed, a samurai fighting off demons, a factory that screws on robot heads, to name a few — that manipulate the simple mechanics ever-so-slightly to ensure no two games are identical. This minimalist approach to game design can prove repetitive, as you rhythmically tap the A button for hours, but the game’s endearing art direction and wacky tunes ensure a memorable ride through the latest Rhythm Heaven entry.

  • About the Author

    Calvin Holt never stops thinking about games. His mind is an unkempt destination, replete with twenty-sided dice, internalized button sequences for combos, and that infectious "Treasure Chase" tune from Rayman Origins. Squinshee aims to organize, rather than temper, these thoughts.

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