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Bit.Trip Runner

Full Review

bit Trip Runner CoverVVVVVV and NightSky both featured great musical soundtracks to back their platforming efforts, but Bit.Trip Runner is essentially a rhythm game with the platforms serving the soundtrack. Developed by Gaijin Games and released on WiiWare in 2010 and Windows in 2011, Bit.Trip Runner attempts to marry the sounds of Guitar Hero and the auto-running of Canabalt.

Nate originally reviewed Bit.Trip Runner last year and deemed it the “anti-rhythm game”, he awarded it an average score and went on to call it stressful. Steve chimed in in the comments section a few months ago and agreed with Nate’s assessment, but for whatever reason, I decided to play it myself.

I didn’t actually beat Bit.Trip Runner, but I made it to the third to last level before finally giving up, so I feel like writing a “full” review is still legitimate, either way, full disclosure.

Epic Astro Story

Full Review

Epic Astro Story CoverAll good things must come to an end: I just finished the first Kairosoft game I would call bad. I’ve played a few Kairosoft sims that were unbalanced or boring, but never both. Epic Astro Story is the official low bar among a great series of games that range from training a soccer team to running a game design studio.

Epic Astro Story is a space colony sim where you build up an industrial/tourism complex on an empty planet while sending out away-parties to explore the darkness around you. While traveling through caves, mountains, and deserts, your team will fight against local bad guys for the right to the land.

I’ve had great success with Kairosoft games so far, most of them have clicked really well with me and my tastes, but from the start I had issues with Epic Astro Story. Here’s my review.

Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming

Full Review

Harvest Moon Frantic Farming CoverOnce a series becomes too large for its own good, spin-offs and genre breaking games are inevitable. The success of these tangents rests on many factors, including the potential new genre and charisma of side characters now carrying their own game (Wario did this particularly well). When someone thinks Harvest Moon, their mind is probably drawn to the obvious farming or dating aspects. The pace of the games are slow and require hours upon hours of playing for the player to feel immersed in their new agriculture world. When the series is focused on this, the games can be very good. They even managed to spin off the Rune Factory series successfully after injecting some action RPG elements into the somewhat stale formula.

What you can't imagine them spinning off though is a fast-paced puzzle game set in the Harvest Moon world, but they've tried twice already. Natsume's first attempt was Puzzle de Harvest Moon in 2007, a game I played for about 20 minutes before getting bored. The game was received poorly, I guess there just aren't a lot of gamers begging for a mediocre puzzle game based on crops.

Well, they tried again in 2009, this time with Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming. From what I can tell, it seems to be almost the exact same puzzle game as we played a few years prior, but this time wrapped in a text heavy story featuring the brain dead characters of Sunshine Islands. Yay... Here's my full review of Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming on the Nintendo DS.

Drawn to Life

Full Review

Drawn to Life CoverDrawn to Life is a Nintendo DS game that takes platformers a step forward by allowing you to draw your own character among many other objects throughout the game. It also takes platformers two steps back with its awful gameplay. Before I rip into the game though, let's take a look at the product as a whole. Drawn to Life was released in September of last year and really advertised itself as a game that would allow for so much more creativity in a genre rather lacking lately. The game is targeted for children, but I'll brave anything if it interests me, and Drawn to Life definitely did.

Anyways, awful is a rather strong word but while I'm playing a game, I'm constantly thinking about its current overall score and how it's doing in the individual categories. Drawn to Life started at around a seven (a nice number, giving the game the benefit of the doubt that it is above average), drawing your own character was kind of cool, and I put a lot of work into it because I knew I'd be staring at "me" for the next few hours. Then the real game starts, and we're faced with an empty village and a whole bunch of villagers to rescue. This got me really excited because last year I played Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, a truly stellar title that also focused on expanding a town and opening up new things as the game progresses. So I might have bumped up Drawn to Life to an eight at that point for its potential. However, the first platforming stage begins, and I was instantly able to recognize that this game is going to be painful, I'll get more into this during the gameplay portion. Between platforming levels, you wander around town doing other painfully boring stuff, more on this below during my story review. Overall, it's a constant back and forth between crap gameplay and crap story, ending in my biggest "WTF?" moment of the year.

Enough of this, straight to the scores out of 10.

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