July's Mini Reviews

Toree 3D

Toree 3D (Slactro, 2021)

A very short 3D platformer with a PS1/N64 look to it. There are nine levels divided between four introductory maps that each have their own mechanic, four more that are more difficult versions of the first set, and one surprisingly trivial final level with a unique environment. You can get through the whole thing in about a half hour if you're like me and don't care about collecting all the stars or your overall time grade, but I imagine there's maybe two hours here if you're playing as more of a completionist. I'm okay with that for a $1 game. Check it out if you want a quick platforming diversion.

MSRP: $0.99

Platforms: Steam, Itch, Switch

Along the Edge

Along the Edge (Nova-box, 2016)

Nova-box's first game will be very familiar to anyone who has played either Seer's Isle or Across the Grooves, their two more recent titles. Like those games, it's a visual novel in with supernatural goings-on where your choices can change the appearance of your character at a few points in the story and you have a handful of different ways to resolve the core plot. They hadn't full fleshed out the system here, though, so while the story and art are still quite good, it doesn't always feel like the events are reasonable consequences of your choices. It also desperately needed another editing pass from a native English speaker to clean up unnatural expressions and fix a few strange uses of quotation marks that presumably made more sense in the original French. If you've played and enjoyed their other games, this is also worth checking out. If you haven't, I'd start with one of those. They're much more polished experiences.

MSRP: $12.99

Platforms: Steam and Itch

Say No! More

Say No! More (Studio Fizbin/Thunderful Publishing, 2021)

A game about saving the world by learning to say "no!" to unreasonable requests. The level of absurdity starts out with sending people flying through walls with the power of your "no!" and escalates dramatically from there. I won't spoil where it goes, but the whole thing reminds me of Katamari both because of the obvious visual influence and the way it builds up its silliness in each chapter. It's basically a rail shooter where you shoot "no!" instead of bullets, but it's clear that gameplay was not the priority here. Your four different "no!" options are completely interchangeable and there's almost no variation in what you're doing besides sometimes not needing to say "no!" at all. It's funny enough to still be worth the entry fee, and I do think it benefits a little from being a game instead of something non-interactive, but you'll definitely need to set your expectations appropriately in order to enjoy it. This is a game that could just about be beaten by one of those desktop bird toys that press space occasionally.

MSRP: $14.99

Platforms: Steam, Switch, iOS

Pokemon Crystal Clear

Pokemon Crystal Clear (Shockslayer, last updated 2021)

CC is a romhack of Pokemon Crystal that removes the story and all event-based blockers from the game, allowing you to take on all 16 gyms in whatever order you want. It also adds in features from later games like an approximation of secret bases from Gen III, followers from Gen IV, trainer customization from Gen VI, and more. For completionists and competitive players, every Pokemon is now obtainable from one save file and there are ways to see IVs of wild mons before catching them and to chain shiny/perfect Pokemon to greatly increase your odds of finding one. It'd be impossible to list all the amazing changes in this game in this review, but suffice to say there's something for everyone and GameFreak could learn a lot from playing this.

Unfortunately, as much as I love what's new to CC, it's still held back by flaws in the original design. Rebalancing Pokemon movepools can't fix the fact that the lack of a physical/special split in Gen II greatly hampers the usability of all sorts of mons with mismatched types and stats. The game is still extremely grindy in the late game and while scaling trainers to your level and allowing gym rematches speeds this process up, it's still dull. The rest of the game is good enough that I still highly recommend it even with those flaws, but I think they keep it from topping BW2 as my favorite Pokemon game. Still, the fact a modification of Crystal is in that discussion at all is damn impressive.

MSRP: Free

Platforms: Emulator or GBC/A with a cart to burn it to.

Out of Space

Out of Space (Behold Studios, 2020)

A co-op game that looks a lot like Overcooked, but plays very differently. You're trying to clean up each room of a space ship that's been covered in alien egg-goop, but you also have to manage your energy and hunger levels while doing so. If you leave goop alone for too long, it'll start spawning eggs and eventually aliens that will spread more goop until you kill them. Winning is a matter of carefully managing the number of aliens outside of closed rooms at any one time and keeping goop away from areas you've already cleaned. And also of fighting the frequently finnicky controls for interacting with objects.

I don't think this one has the same replayability as Overcooked because there's not a lot to distinguish one run from another, but it does a good job of giving you alien and ship unlocks for the first maybe 8 games in order to make those feel different. The achievements suggest a few worthwhile challenge runs that'll feel a little bit new. All in all, it's not going to be my new favorite co-op game, but it was well worth the price of admission on sale.

MSRP: $14.99 ($3.75 on sale)

Platforms: Everything

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