Nintendo Switch Review – YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Face the impending millennium in YIIK: A Postmodern RPG from ACKK Studios. Not just a new approach to RPGs but a whole other dimension!

Unlike any RPG I have played, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG (pronounced Y2K) is an interesting take on a well-trodden genre. You play as Alex, an entitled 20 something that stumbles on a mystery bigger than him or his bachelor’s degree. The game takes place in a small town called “Frankton” in the year 1999, a very unassuming place for a mystery of these proportions. You will team up with old school friends, arcade employees, pacifists and more on your journey.

The story in YIIK loves throwing curve balls at the player and will have you constantly questioning what is going on, drawing you further into the plot. Even though YIIK looks rather quirky it also delves fairly deep into themes such as the metaphysical, depression and anxiety. Don’t fret though as the game is full of humour, subtle pop culture jokes and references. YIIK pokes fun at cartoon characters, internet culture and a certain JRPG series on multiple occasions very effectively.

The soundtrack in YIIK has an amazing blend of music including chiptune, electronic, jazz and arty pieces. All of the tracks are extremely catchy, I found myself humming along to them while playing and even when I wasn’t. The art style is fantastic and suits the gameplay and story to a tee. Lush colours and striking visuals help bring YIIK to life and flesh out this seemingly ordinary world. YIIK captures a perfect sense of 90s nostalgia, from the birth of the internet subculture, POGs and payphones. The in game online message board “ONISM1999” plays a major role in advancing the story and giving hints on side quests and secrets.

The little details make the biggest impact even in battle as you will fight rodents, bats, rogue stop signs with Vinyl records, Keytars and Hula-hoops. The battle mechanics in YIIK are a fantastic combination of standard RPG elements and quirky quick time events that make you feel far more responsible for every action in battles. Long gone are random die rolls and mashing through standard RPG battle menus. In YIIK you contribute to every action from attacking to defending yourself in carefully timed action sequences.

Having clocked almost 30 hours, to tell too much of what makes YIIK so very charming and special would ruin the impact of seeing it first hand for yourself. If you love a good solid RPG, great story and long for the 90s then YIIK is the perfect game for you!

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: YIIK: A Postmodern RPG [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Stride PR for this review.

 

 

Review: Atari Flashback Classics – Nintendo Switch

Up until recently Nintendo Switch owners had to watch and endure their contemporary console friends get their Atari classic gaming fix. Well, this is no longer the case!

The Atari Flashback Classics compilation is a collection of 150 Atari favourites for the Nintendo Switch. Taking full advantage of the Switch features, like vertical / TATE orientation (for compatible games), Switch owners now have lots to gloat about to their other console brethren. Let’s just say this straight off the bat – this compilation is choc-full of the legendary publisher’s iconic library of games, with titles from the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 home consoles, along with former Atari coin-op/arcade exclusives.

Of course we were always going to play Atari’s seminal arcade titles first! Well, the scrollable 11 page games menu had the arcade titles first, so it made the choice easier. If there is one gripe here, we just wish that that you could customise the games menu. Anyway, it was game on with Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Pong and Tempest (to start with), and boy, they did not disappoint! These classic Atari arcade games are perfectly converted on the Nintendo Switch, with impeccable controls (each game has a pop control area showing which map buttons to the correspond Switch controls). We also love the bezel artwork, which gives that authentic arcade feeling.

Speaking of artwork, the home console games (Atari 2600 and 5200) get their full box art on the menu and also come with their respective full manual. Some (not all) game manual scans are tad blurry, but it’s still a great example of conservation that helps turn this release into an almost museum-like archive.


source: Atari

Atari Flashback Classics has a slew of features, including a local achievements system, leaderboards and a local (up to four players) and online (two players) multiplayer. These features were designed to bring players together, just like back in the day – a neat little touch.

This massive library of classic Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Atari arcade games is perfect for those Switch owners craving for a one-stop shop to play old school Atari games either at home or on the go. If you want a fix of classic Atari gaming on your Switch, then grab the Atari Flashback Classics now.

Disclosure: Atari Flashback Classics [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by UberStrategist for this review.

 

Review: Solar Flux – Nintendo Switch

Save some suns in Solar Flux, the latest Switch release from Firebrand games. A unique and challenging puzzler that feels a bit out of place on the Switch.

Solar Flux is an interesting little puzzle game that follows the age old premise “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” You control a ship that collects plasma to shoot into dying suns, saving them in the process. Each level is ranked by either time taken, shields depleted or fuel used. You are then given a ranking out of 3 stars depending on how well you perform. The game itself can be quite tricky but once you get that “Ah ha” moment getting at least one star is quite manageable. The real challenge comes from trying to get a perfect 3 stars in each level.

Listening to the sparse soundtrack and simple audio cues give the game a nice relaxing atmosphere. This really helps to create a sense of isolation in each level. Visuals are nicely contrasted, making each object clearly visible and easily recognised. Overall the look of Solar Flux is very minimal which works in its favour as a puzzle game. Level design can range from twitch reflex or timing based puzzles to pure patience and precision puzzles. Solar Flux’s level and puzzle design certainly make it well suited for some quick pick up and play sessions.

When it comes to controls, Solar flux is a mixed bag. Playing in docked mode the game uses twin stick style controls for thrusting and firing plasma. These controls feel nice and tight, making the game responsive and rewarding. Playing in handheld mode the game defaults to touch only controls, which seems very strange. The touch screen controls do feel fine but a few controls simply don’t work or feel finicky. If you are anything like me, touch screen controls are not exactly first choice when it comes to the Switch.

Solar Flux is a well-designed puzzle game that will have you hunting perfect runs and challenging friends. Puzzle fans will get some real enjoyment out of it at home but may want to give it a miss as an “On the go” title.

Developer: Firebrand Games
Publisher: Firebrand Games
Release Date: December 11, 2018

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Solar Flux [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by HomeRun PR for this review.

 

Book Review: GameCube Anthology

Geeks Line Publishing’s Anthology book series have so far been nothing short of brilliant. Their new GameCube Anthology is no exception, with excellent content and overall quality that will draw you in.

The GameCube Anthology, just like its predecessors, comprehensively details everything that is to know about Nintendo console. Chronicling it’s early days, this tome pulls no punches when it comes to detailing the stiff competition from Sony and its foundation for its successor, the Nintendo Wii.

Accompanying the great written content is the equally impressive photography – the breadth of photos cover the full gamut, from detailed hardware shots to exhaustive photos of GameCube games.

As mentioned, the depth of information and facts covered does true justice to Nintendo’s excellent GameCube system. This book is truly hard to fault. One of our fave sections in the book is the coverage of unreleased titles – which rounds off what is a must have book for any GameCube fan or gaming historians.

This book is an easy recommendation – go and get it right now!

Title: GameCube Anthology
Publisher: Geeks Line Publishing
Available from: Amazon

Disclosure: GameCube Anthology (Classic Edition) was kindly provided by Geeks Line Publishing for this review.

 

GRIS – Nintendo Switch Review

GRIS is the first game from the relatively new Nomada Studio. To describe it as a puzzle platformer is to do it a disservice, GRIS is an experience. Mixing a stunning watercolour dreamscape with hauntingly beautiful and immersive audio, GRIS must be played to be truly appreciated.

Having seen GRIS being presented from afar at PAX Australia, I was looking forward to what looked like a solid puzzle platformer. What I saw was nothing, compared to actually getting my hands on the game! From the first few moments of play you can tell that GRIS is really something special. One of the hardest parts about describing a game like GRIS is to not spoil the experience for others. It is a game of self-exploration in struggling with loss in a very unique way. Not as heavy handed in its themes like some games, it addresses such issues with a very elegant and poignant approach. After finishing the game I can safely say that GRIS has shot to the top of my list of games that demonstrate gaming as an art form.

GRIS conveys emotion quite strongly through artwork and use of colour. The game starts with you progressing through a white wasteland that evokes a real sense of melancholy and separation. The colours are slowly restored to the world one by one, revealing more depth and emotion with every step. Each area in GRIS has its own unique feel, as colours range from bleeding water colours to stark contrasts representing various emotions. While looking stunning in both handheld and docked modes, I do highly recommend going in with a good set of headphones. I found it is best to fully immerse yourself in the world that is GRIS. Although the game looks beautiful overall, it is the little details that really set it apart. These details help to flesh out the world, adding to the atmosphere and often leading to clues about progression or hidden secrets. Never before had I been so thankful for the screenshot button on the switch than while playing GRIS.

While the game certainly looks amazing the gameplay also feels top notch. Your character wears a dress that, as you progress and restore more colours to the world, allows you to use various skills. You combine these skills and develop techniques to overcome the hurdles presented to you as you make your way through the world. Controls are tight and snappy but forgiving enough to not get frustrating. This keeps the game flowing nicely and allows you to not only appreciate the visuals but also the wonderful level design. Gameplay and story blend seamlessly together feeling very organic, making every bit of progression more rewarding than the last. Optional challenges are present for those looking to prove their skill but are in no way necessary to enjoying or finishing the game. These can range from collectables to little tasks that leave you with a nice sense of satisfaction.

Story, visuals and mechanics all intertwine together making this a game you will not want to put down. GRIS is a game full of heart and powerful emotion, a wondrous journey in growth and healing. Delve into the world that is GRIS today!

Game: GRIS
Developer: Nomada Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available: Nintendo Switch eShop
Price: AU$23.95

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: GRIS [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by POWERUP PR for this review.

 

Nintendo Switch Review: SEGA Mega Drive Classics

Woohoo, the iconic retro collection Sega Mega Drive Classics has landed on the Nintendo Switch™ and boy, it is a ripper! We thought the PS4 version was awesome (which it is!), but you can’t take your PS4 on the train with you to play these classic Mega Drive games.

Sega Mega Drive Classics on the Nintendo Switch is the largest collection of retro classic games in one pack. There are 50+ classic Sega 16-bit games to satisfy almost every genre under the sun, from arcade action, adventure, pinball (sort of), shooters, beat ‘em ups, fighters, puzzlers, hack’n slashers, tactical RPGs to everyone’s favourite, platformers – and there are lots of platformers (which isn’t a bad thing)!

These old favourites aren’t just dumped from their cartridges and thrown in this package, no sirree, they have had a raft of cool modern features injected into them including mirror mode, rewind (for when you slip up), controller customisation, online multiplayer and achievements, optional emulation enhancement filters like pixel scaling and save states to save your game at any time, meaning players – both old and new, should find revisiting these retro games an absolute blast.


source: Five Star Games

Once we loaded Sega Mega Drive Classics we were totally impressed by the opening title sequence, which we will leave as a surprise (Ed: Unless you have already experienced it on the PS4/XBone), but we can tell you this much, it’s pretty darn awesome – either that or we are too easy to please. Anyway, once you stop drooling from the title sequence you are greeted by the menu system where you can access the 50+ Sega Mega Drive games and various other options. The menu resembles the bedroom of an early nineties Sega fan, which is a great throwback, with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of the aforementioned 50+ Mega Drive games, and of course, a CRT TV with the sexy Mega Drive console underneath it.

When selecting a game to play, its corresponding cart is removed from its case and then inserted into the Mega Drive console – pure nostalgia overload. On top of the already mentioned modern conveniences and features jammed into this package, the most important thing we can tell you is that the emulation of the games is spot-on. The word ’emulation’ may trigger negative connotations, but we are here to tell ya that this is as close as you will get to playing Mega Drive games without forking out for the console on eBay and then fishing around for the game cartridges.

A lot of you may already know this, but for the peeps that don’t know, we aren’t much of adventure or RPG fans, so we stuck to Sega’s arcade conversions, platformers, beat’me ups and puzzle games in this collection. After playing a lot of Sonic, Ristar, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Comix Zone and the Shinobi games, we can say that we definitely felt like we were back in the early 90s – good times!

Before we go on, here is the full list of games included in this package:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns III: Revenge of Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Decap Attack
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Galaxy Force II
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Landstalker
  • Light Crusader
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining Force
  • Shining Force II
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Space Harrier II
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Vectorman
  • Vectorman 2
  • Virtua Fighter 2

The problem with a pack like this is that players will concentrate on all the games there were left out. Granted, they probably could put the entire Mega Drive catalogue on the cute little Switch cards and flog it for $90.00+, but then we would find something else to complain about. The games that are included are solid, bar a few questionable titles, however, just because we don’t like adventure and RPG titles, it doesn’t mean they should be excluded. Same goes the other way, if you loathe platformers, beat’em ups and puzzlers, it doesn’t mean these genres should be thrown out for more RPGs. Actually, if there was a driving game like Super Monaco GP or a motorcycle-racing-bashing one like Road Rash, then we could say that most, if not all, genres are well represented. Come to think of it, a few more shoot’em ups, like Truxton and Thunder Force would have rounded out this already pretty awesome package. Ah, we can speculate all we want, but we have to give it to Sega, they have tried to cater for the majority and we reckon they have done an admirable job.

After waffling on about this Sega Mega Drive Classics package on the Switch, the ultimate decision to buy or not buy is yours, but we’ll leave you with this little nugget – if you want to get your Sega 16-Bit gaming fix on your modern console and also play it on the go, then you can’t go too wrong with Sega Mega Drive Classics.

Review System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date:
December 6 2018
Format: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One & PS4
Price: $48.99 on Nintendo Switch (via OzGameShop)

Disclosure: Sega Mega Drive Classics [Nintendo Switch] download code was kindly provided by Five Star Games for this review.

 

Review: Atari Retro Handheld

Let’s get one thing straight, this Atari Retro Handheld is not a Flashback portable console by ATGames! There, hopefully we have clarified this point for you all.

This cool Atari Retro Handheld is by powered by Blaze. With its iconic Atari faux wood veneer and Vader lines along its front, this portable system design screams late 70s kitsch. It is like having an Atari VCS woody in your pocket – almost! We say almost, cause you can’t really grab your old Atari 2600 carts and slam them in this handheld, but you can play one of 50 classic titles, including Asteroids, Adventure, Breakout, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Millipede, Sword Quest, Yar’s Revenge  and our absolute fave Atari 2600 game of all time, Missile Command – check out the full list of games below.

  1. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe (31 in 1)
  2. Adventure
  3. Air-Sea Battle
  4. Asteroids ®
  5. Black Jack
  6. Bowling
  7. Breakout ®
  8. Canyon Bomber ®
  9. Casino
  10. Centipede ®
  11. Circus Atari ®
  12. Crystal Castles ®
  13. Demons to Diamonds ™
  14. Desert Falcon ®
  15. Dodge ’em
  16. Double Dunk
  17. Fun With Numbers
  18. Golf
  19. Gravitar ®
  20. Haunted House ®
  21. Home Run
  22. Human Cannonball ™
  23. Maze Craze
  24. Millipede ®
  25. Miniature Golf ®
  26. Missile Command ®
  27. Night Driver ™
  28. Off the Wall
  29. Pong – Video Olympics
  30. Quadrun ™
  31. Radar Lock ™
  32. Realsports Football ®
  33. Realsports Tennis ®
  34. Realsports Volleyball ®
  35. Sprintmaster
  36. Steeplechase
  37. Stellar Track ™
  38. Street Racer
  39. Submarine Commander
  40. Super Baseball
  41. Super Breakout ®
  42. Super Football
  43. Swordquest: Earthworld ™
  44. Swordquest: Fireworld ™
  45. Swordquest: Waterworld ™
  46. Tempest ®
  47. Video Checkers
  48. Video Chess
  49. Video Pinball
  50. Yar’s Revenge ®

The Retro Handheld sports a 2.4″ screen, which surprisingly suits most of the games, however, there were a few that felt cramped on the tiny screen. The unit does come with a composite A/V out interface, so you can plug it into a TV (preferably a CRT) for some big screen action. Emulation was pretty much spot on, with the games playing like their cart counterparts. To round out its retro-ness, batteries, yes, batteries the AAA kind, are required to power this little Atari – relax, this isn’t like the original Atari Lynx, you’ll definitely get a considerable amount of playing hours out of 3 x AAA Duracell batteries.

We were a bit iffy when we first saw the controls, especially the funny looking d-pad nub. Once we started playing, the d-pad and the buttons felt good under the thumbs and were responsive. However, there was one game that was totally unplayable using the nub – not looking at you Pong! Apart from that little niggle, gamers will feel right at home with the controls. Oh yeah, one nifty feature is when changing games, you simply hit the Start and Select buttons at the same time and viola, you exit the current game and go back to the menu to select a new one – this was cool, as we didn’t want to turn off the unit every time we wanted to play a new game.

There will be some that will scoff at this little handheld and others that will absolutely love it for what it is – a portable little Atari that looks like your old Atari 2600 woody and plays your favourite games. We definitely love playing on it (bar the unplayable Pong!), even though we are not big fans of the current Atari SA company. If you can get past this, then this is a little winner.

If you are keen on one of these Atari Retro Handhelds, grab one from FunstockRetro right now! They will even throw in a limited edition Atari Centipede Gold Coin for free – but you better hurry, as this sale ends soon!

Disclosure: The Atari Retro Handheld was kindly supplied by FunstockRetro for this review.