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Dust: An Elysian Tail Review

Dust is still as great now as it was six years ago on XBLA.

Somehow it’s been six whole years since Dust originally released as a Summer of Arcade title on the Xbox 360. It’s incredible to me that it’s been that long, but though six years have passed, Dust still holds up as a great title today. Since its original XBLA release, the action-adventure spectacle has made its way to PC, PlayStation 4, iOS, and now most recently the Switch, where it feels right at home.

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Squad E, retreat!

One of my favorite things about playing strategy/role playing games is the sense of satisfaction that comes from executing on a well-laid plan. The thrill of deftly maneuvering units into place for a swift and deadly strike after multiple turns of meticulous consideration is something that few games deliver. I love strategy/RPGs, and I was excited to tear into Valkyria Chronicles 4; a return to form of sorts for a series held in high regard by a rabid fanbase, and a franchise I have little experience with. Sadly, instead of tearing into this game because I couldn’t get enough, I will now need to tear into this bizarre title that not only doesn’t reward sound strategy but does everything in its power to undermine player agency.

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Mega Man 11 Hands On Preview

The Blue Bomber is back!

It’s exciting to finally be playing a new mainline Mega Man game, especially after the whole debacle with Mighty No. 9. While I actually enjoyed what MN9 had to offer and thought it was a capable Mega Man clone, nothing is quite like the real thing. When Capcom surprise sprung on us last week that the demo was available on the eShop (as well as the PlayStation and Xbox store fronts) I couldn’t dive in quickly enough. Featuring just one robot master, Block Man, we were given a small glimpse into what the game will have to offer and I walked away impressed and even more excited for the full release.

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Danmaku Rush!

At a point, Bullet Hell games felt like they were generally exclusive to Japan and rarely made an appearance in western markets. These days, both consoles and the PC are flush with them, which I can appreciate. I’m by no means great at them, but I find them engaging and they hit that same nerve that other intensely challenging games in other genres do that makes me want to get better at them. Azure Reflections is of the Touhou variety (though an unofficial entry in the Project) and puts its own unique spin on the genre. Though incredibly challenging, it offers players a helping hand with its accessory system, as well as a variety of difficulty settings to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

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The Spectrum Retreat Review

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Since Portal hit the scene around a decade ago, it’s inspired a variety of other games that have chosen to use the first person perspective for puzzle solving and storytelling, rather than the typical shooting. The Spectrum Retreat is one such game and it does well in both telling an interesting story and providing some great puzzles. However, these two elements rarely coalesce and more often feel like oil and water, separated naturally by the construct of the experience. Though it’s too bad the two don’t come together, what’s presented is still compelling thanks to ever evolving puzzle constructs and the gradual realization of what's going on in The Spectrum Retreat.

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Nerds Without Pants Special: The Dragons of Dojima

Oh, we've got your Heat Actions right here!

Wait, what's this? Two special episodes of Nerds Without Pants in a row? Yes, friends, it's true! Our...modified recording schedule led to some, er, confusion. Luckily, we had special guest and long time NWP commenter SuperStep on hand to pick up the slack. So buckle up for a non-spoiler, deep dive discussion about Yakuza Kiwami 2 and the Yakuza series as a whole.

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Nefarious Review

I wish it was good to be bad.

On paper, Nefarious is such a great idea. For once, you get to assume control of a villain, and instead of saving the princess, it’s your job to capture her. The boss battles that end a level? That's your time to shine and stop the would-be hero in his tracks. In execution, Nefarious is rife with issues. Unresponsive controls, mediocre gameplay, and progress halting bugs make for a game that’s just not at all what I had hoped it’d be.

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Being a delivery boy has never been so much fun.

It’s not often that a game does something that completely surprises me, but The Messenger managed to catch me totally off guard. What appears to be a modern 8-bit take on Ninja Gaiden suddenly morphs into something more at the halfway point of the game. Its once linear levels branch out and become a Metroid-like maze, with hidden secrets abound. Not only that, but the graphics and sound boost into 16-bit and the world takes on an extra level of detail. While this gimmick was incredibly cool, the tight gameplay and intricate level design is what makes The Messenger a truly special experience.

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Nerds Without Pants Special: Julian's Digital Mystery Tour

A little NWP is better than no NWP, amirite?

Welcome to a slapdash special edition of Nerds Without Pants! Scheduling and tech woes have kept us from recording a proper episode, but instead of leaving our wonderful audience high and dry, Julian has cobbled together this impromptu resurrection  of Digital Mystery Tour, our failed video game music podcast from...4 years ago? Sheesh. Anyway, we hope you enjoy!

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O masocore games, how I love thee.

There’s an itch that super challenging platformers scratch for me that other games just can't. While it’s always nice to dig into a classic platformer like 3077074745 or something a bit more unique like (610) 398-7147, getting my fix of games like Super Meat Boy and N++ is a necessity. Shio fits very nicely into that niche and offers a decent chunk of gameplay, a unique hook that differentiates it from the crowd, and healthy offering of secrets to extend the experience.

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