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Transformers: Battlegrounds

Transformers: Battlegrounds was released on October 23rd for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. It’s published by Outright Games, known for publishing family-friendly games across a range of titles from Ice Age to Adventure Time. Transformers: Battlegrounds is an XCOM-styled strategy game. The player controls a team of up to six autobots that include fan favorites like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. In each fight, the player will battle decepticons in turn-based combat using coordinated strategy. The game also features an overarching story about the hunt for the allspark and the fate of the universe.

Optimus Prime
The player can take control of a range of classic autobots.

Autobots, Roll Out

Transformers: Battlegrounds features an original story with a familiar plot. Megatron is invading the Earth in his hunt for the allspark and the autobots need to stop them. The battles will take you to maps across the Earth and the transformer planet of Cybertron. On Earth, fights will unfold in desserts, forests, cities, and even Cybertron itself. Plus, each controllable autobot has a unique Ultimate ability to be unleashed when their Energon meter is full. After you complete the story mode, the game also features local multiplayer. You can team up with a friend and play in co-op mode against the decepticons. Or, you could go head-to-head in battle against each other.

Screenshot of battle between transformers
Different autobots have different specialties in combat.

Fights against the Decepticons

Transformers: Battlegrounds features 3 difficulty modes to facilitate fun for players of all ages. The digital deluxe version include four skin packs and Cube mode. Cube mode is a capture-the-flag styled battle where the autobots and decepticons fight for the control over the allspark. All-in-all, Transformers: Battlegrounds is straight-forward in what it provides to the audience. If you enjoy the XCOM series or are a fan of turn-based combat, then you might enjoy this game. It’s definitely unlike any other Transformers game released in the past.

#Transformers #Battlegrounds #Outright

Stellaris: Console Edition

Stellaris: Console Edition is releasing the MegaCorp expansion DLC on January 26th 2021. This is the third expansion pass released for the console edition. This expansion adds giants corporations into the world that can help build giant megastructures and facilitate booming populations. Originally released for PC on May 9th 2016, Stellaris is a grand strategy game set in space. Your goal is to explore the universe and steadily grow your galactic empire/republic/nation. Stellaris: Console Edition was released for Playstation 4 and Xbox One on September 6th 2020. The game provides the player with a wide variety of personalization options for their galactic civilization. You choose what your alien race looks like, where they live, how they think, and how they survive. Whether you want to play as war-mongering bird people or trade-faring plant creatures, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who went down the same road as you. Like most of Paradox Interactive’s games, there is a steep learning curve. But once you figure out a successful strategy, there’s an endless amount of fun to be had with the game.

Screenshot of the game's map
The galaxy is filled with alien empires to be conquered or befriended.

An Infinite Universe

The player isn’t the only one with a unique civilization. Every time you play, you’ll experience varied and unique species. This will make every player’s galactic journey different. Stellaris features an expansive diplomacy system where you can communicate with the different species that you encounter. The types of diplomatic options that you have with each species can vary based on technological, cultural, and other factors.  Plus, the galaxies in the game are procedurally generated. This means that you’ll see different planets, stars, quests, races, and events every time you start a new game. No two playthroughs will ever be the same. Because of how different each playthrough can be, Stellaris has a high replayability value.

Screenshot of a space battle
When diplomacy fails, war will follow. Space battles might unfold between two galactic empires. There are also battles against giant space-traveling monsters as well.

Galactic Conflict

Stellaris features beautiful 3D models and artwork that keep the player excited to continue exploring distant galaxies. You might find a cute alien race that wants to be your friend or you might find a terrifying alien race that wants to devour your people. Or you could even find a cute-looking alien empire that wants to blow your home planet to bits. As you build up your own empire, you’ll see it all. Beyond the alien races, there are also beautifully crafted spaceships that are unique to different species classes. Humans, insectoid aliens, and plantoid aliens all fly in very different looking spaceships. Each species has its own personality beyond the statistical bonuses and drawbacks for each species. They don’t just play different, they look and feel different. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and strategy games, then consider giving Stellaris a try. But be prepared for a learning curve when figuring out how to manage your galactic empire.

#Stellaris #Paradox #Strategy #Space #Sci-Fi

Jump Force

Ichigo Kurosaki

Jump Force has recently revealed Yoruichi Shihouin, from Bleach, as the newest DLC character to be added. Originally released by Bandai Namco in February of 2019, Jump Force is a crazy idea for a video game. It takes almost 60 characters (with the DLC) across all the most popular Shonen Jump mangas and has them battle it out in a fighting game. The game also features a unique story story mode. You create your own character that can blend elements from your favorite characters across different series. This game can answer the age old question amongst anime fans. “Who would win, Goku or Naruto?”

The Statue of Liberty sank into the ground on Namek
Jump Force also offers a range of fun maps.

Anime Overload

This game somehow feels like it has a ton to offer, yet not enough. The best part of the game would have to be the extensive roster of playable characters. The game features characters from Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, DragonBall Z, One Piece, My Hero Academia, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and multiple other franchises. Plus, Jump Force continues to add new characters to the roster through DLC to this day. This is possible because all these titles are published under the Shonen Jump name. Creating your own character can also be quite fun. When you consider that you can pull together apparel and abilities from different series at the same time, you can make some very entertaining and unique combinations. Jump Force does have a real issue though, and that’s what to do with this great roster.

Character customization screen
You can make a pretty wacky character when you combine elements from two really different franchises.

To Go Even Further Beyond

While it’s fun to see each character perform their moves and occasionally transform into a more powerful form, this will get old without riveting gameplay or an entertaining narrative. Unfortunately, the story mode is bizarre and the plot is very hard to follow. It’s unlikely that the game’s story will deeply connect you to your own character. Beyond that, the actual fighting in the game tends to get old after playing for a while. Considering the $90 retail price of the deluxe edition, the game isn’t usually worth the price. The deluxe edition doesn’t even include the second character pack. However, the game is currently 75% off on Steam and is often included in steep sales on all platforms. This price is far more reasonable. For anime fans and fighting game lovers, Jump Force might be a great addition to your collection… if it’s on sale.

Naruto To Boruto: Shinobi Strikers

Shinobi Strikers logo

Yesterday, Bandai Namco revealed the newest DLC character to be added to Shinobi Strikers. Naruto Uzumaki in the Sage of Six Paths mode from his fight against Kaguya will be available to players in 2021. Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers was originally released on August 31st 2018 and is still the most recent video game title from the Naruto universe. It is also the first in a long line of video games to allow you to create your own unique Naruto universe character. One of the primary draws of the DLC is that each new added character provides your unique character with new apparel to wear, weapons to wield , and moves to learn. This lets the player combine the abilities and attributes of all their favorite characters into one powerful ninja of their own. This new feature combined with the team-battle gameplay sets Shinobi Strikers apart from past Naruto titles.

Naruto Uzumaki in Sage of Six Paths mode fighting Sasuke Uchiha
Shinobi Strikers continues to pump out DLC characters over 2 years after its release.

Believe It

Shinobi Strikers is very unlike previous Naruto games. Not only are the game’s new features unique to this title, there are unfortunately some classic features that are stripped. For example, Shinobi Strikers has no narrative or story mode. There isn’t a scripted adventure for your character to go on. Rather than developing an elaborate single-player experience, Shinobi Strikers focuses on multiplayer. Players are expected to individualize themselves by fleshing out their playstyle. Whether you want to use a unique character or a character from the anime is up to you. Gameplay consists of 4 vs. 4 team matches where players go head to head against each other on a relatively large map. Each character in the game is given a special role. There are Attack, Ranged, Healing, and Defense characters. A well-balanced team would develop a strategy to make proper use of all these roles. Players can also enjoy different game modes. These include flag battles, base battles, and combat battles.

The character creation screen
A unique character in Shinobi Strikers can use almost any major weapon or ability that makes an appearance in the anime.

The Ninja Way

Much like the DragonBall Xenoverse series and Jump Force (both produced by Bandai Namco) Shinobi Strikers wants to generate excitement for its players by letting them create their own character that utilizes elements from characters in an existing universe. This lets the player live out the fantasy of what their own original character would be like. However, unlike Xenoverse and Jump Force, there’s no story arc that comes with the character creator. So if you don’t really enjoy the gameplay, you probably won’t feel like you got your money’s worth after purchasing this game. The DLC does add great content. There are plenty of new characters and loads of new customization options for your character. But these can get pricey at $30, $30, and $15 for each season pass on top of the $50 base game. If you’re a fan of Naruto and you enjoy co-op fighting games, you might really like Shinobi Strikers. But if you’re looking for a fighting game that has a narrative, look elsewhere.

#Naruto #Boruto #anime #ShinobiStriker #BandaiNamco

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Despite its original release being all the way back on March 20th, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still one of the best-selling games this holiday season. This is Nintendo’s fifth Animal Crossing release in the main series. New Horizons is the best selling Animal Crossing game by far and the second-best selling game on the Nintendo Switch console as a whole. In this iteration of Animal Crossing, the player purchases a deserted island from Tom Nook and slowly makes it their own. Over the course of 2020, Nintendo has also provided multiple free updates that have expanded the game’s content.

Screenshot of the menu open for crafting
As the player collects more items, they can personalize their island through crafting recipes.

Your Own Island

What’s the goal of Animal Crossing? Well… to have fun. You can collect various items throughout the island and use them to customize your space. You can also build structures and furniture. The core gameplay revolves around doing tasks, interacting with the characters, and customizing your island and yourself. The game doesn’t explicitly spell out  how to play in a linear fashion. The player is expected to make the island unique to themself. As the game progresses, them will meet more animals and find more opportunities to grow the community that they’re building on the island. There are plenty of ways to interact with the island, too. Players collect items in different ways, from fishing off the island’s coast to gathering fruit from the island’s trees. The game is meant to be low-stress and relaxing.

Screenshot displaying the Halloween update
The game motivates players to check in during special times of the year, like Halloween.

Dedicated Community

Considering how long Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been towards the top of the charts for the Nintendo Switch, it’s no surprise that the developers are still working on free updates for the game. There were numerous additions to the game based on calendar events. These events added new places to visit, new events to participate in, and new items to acquire. There were events centered around Nature Day,  May Day, International Museum Day, Wedding Season, Halloween, and more. These updates keep the game fresh and encourage players to keep checking in on Animal Crossing after they’ve put it down for a few days. Free updates are a great way for developers to show that they care about the game’s community. We’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo does with Animal Crossing in 2021.

#Nintendo #Switch #AnimalCrossing

STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II

Darth Nihilus

Star: Knights of the Old Republic II was released yesterday for IOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play. Originally released for PC in 2004, this game is the sequel to the original Knights of the Old Republic game that also inspired the widely enjoyed Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. KOTOR II is an RPG that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. You can control if your character goes to the dark side or the light side. You also control which This game takes place about 4,000 years prior to the events of the original Star Wars film. This means that, despite the vast changes that have occured in the Star Wars universe’s canon since the game’s release, it can still fit into the greater Star Wars story.

Companion selection screen
There are several companions to pick from on your adventure.

Fulfill your Destiny

The original KOTOR games are filled with choices that help to shape the game’s story. As a former Jedi who’s been exiled from the Jedi order, your ship is attacked by Sith assassins. Your journey starts there and takes you all across the galaxy. You can choose your gender, what you look like, what you wear, what weapons you utilize, what force abilities you focus on, and even which companions you want to develop the closest bonds with. This game is loaded with the potential for the player to choose how they want to experience the story. Plus, that story is excellent. It’s especially excellent for a Star Wars fan. Even though none of the characters from any film make an appearance, the allure of a lightsaber, the force, and the battle against good and evil is as thrilling as ever. The writing is terrific and the voice actors are passionate about the story that they’re a part of. Like its predecessor, KOTOR II does an excellent job at sucking you into the game’s world.

The player using the Force to electrocute enemies
The force can be a powerful weapon.

May the Force Be With You

The combat system in KOTOR II is the same as it was in the original game. It’s a third-person RPG with a Dungeons &  Dragons styled dice roll system. Every attack that the player, a companion, or enemy makes has a dice roll behind it. This roll might determine critical hits or misses. You can shoot enemies with blasters, slice them with a lightsaber, or even use one of the game’s many force abilities. You use strategy to come up with the best way to take down your enemies as you level up. There are many different types of enemies that you could expect to find in Star Wars. KOTOR II will pit you up against killer droids, alien monsters, dangerous thugs, and even Sith lords. There is so much content in the game that it usually takes about 50 hours to play through the game. All in all, the App Store’s $14.99 price tag is well worth it. If you liked the original KOTOR, make sure you play the sequel. If you haven’t played the original, pick that game up too! It’s only $9.99 on the App Store. Both games are classic RPGs that go down as some of the best in the genre.




Elliot logo

Elliot is a 2D platformer developed by the Spanish studio, Plain and Game. It is currently out for PC and will be released on Xbox and Playstation on December 24th. The game features a relaxing original soundtrack and vibrant colors in the levels. But the gameplay itself is actually quite difficult. Sometimes presenting extremely challenging levels, this precision platformer can be very frustrating to gamers with minimal platforming experience. With over 60 levels, the amount of time that it will take to get through the game can vary greatly between players. It’s really dependant on how often you’ll die.

Screenshot from a snowy level
Elliot’s artwork and sound design doesn’t indicate how unforgiving the gameplay can be.

World of the Mombas

Elliot’s story revolves around uncovering the mysteries in his world. You play as the game’s namesake. He’s a bright little blue ball who lives in the woods. He has a bigger green friend, Manuel, and they both live in a forest with the other Mombas. But the rest of the game’s story will have to be uncovered by the player when they go on their adventure. There are in-game collectible that will provide insight into the story. There’s not much to this $7.99 game’s story though, the real draw for Elliot is the challenging gameplay and interesting design.

Screenshot of Elliot
When playing Elliot, you can expect to die very often.

Colorful Hell

Elliot is presented as an exceedingly difficult platformer with relaxing art and music to accompany the gameplay. There is a movement to nominate the game for the “Best Game You Suck At” at the 2020 Steam Awards. Many of the game’s mechanics are what can be found in a traditional platformer. You run, jump, and dash through the levels. But the game is somewhat unique in the fact that the original soundtrack and art have a cute and whimsical implication while the gameplay itself is unforgiving and brutally difficult. If you have a knack for difficult platformers, you might get some real fun out of this love letter to the genre from an Indie developer.

#Elliot #Indie #Platformer #Challenge

Cyber Shadow

The Cyber Shadow logo

Cyber Shadow is a platformer that will be published by Yacht Club Games  for Switch, PC, and last-gen consoles. Yacht Club is the studio that produced the Shovel Knight series, a critically acclaimed platformer that received immense praise across the industry. Like Shovel Knight, Cyber Shadow will have an 8-bit art-style and feature similar side-scrolling gameplay. The soundtrack for the game will be deeply appreciated by fans of retro games. The game’s developer, Aarne Hunziker, considers Yacht Club to be the perfect partner for his style of game development. With cut-scenes, boss fights, and even an unlockable set of abilities, Cyber Shadow is earning the hype that it’s getting from the gaming community.

Shadow battling a dragon boss
Cyber Shadow’s boss fights will likely make up some of its most memorable gameplay.

Ruins of Mekacity

You play as Shadow, a ninja who lives in a world that’s been taken over by synthetic lifeforms. You need to discover the secrets of your ninja clan and find out what sent Mekacity into ruin. There are over a dozen boss fights that include synthetic clan rivals and giant war machines alike. The game’s story is told through the action-packed gameplay and the retro-styled cut-scenes. As you progress through the game’s story, you will unlock new skills, abilities, and upgrades. These unlockables pair with how Shadow learns more about himself, his clan, and the secrets of Mekacity’s ruins.

Shadow battling enemies
Cyber Shadow’s artstyle is reminiscent to video games from the late 80’s.

8-bit Adventure

Cyber Shadow takes the player back to when games didn’t even take up 1 MB of storage space. (although Shovel Knight took up almost 300 MB) It looks and feels like an NES game but it won’t have the tedious problems that video games had 35 years ago. What will be carried over is the authentic art style, nostalgic gameplay, and memorable soundtracks that many games had from that era. The game intends to seamlessly blend hand-crafted sprites and simplicity with the modern game design that gamers have become accustomed to. If you’re a fan of retro-styled games, keep up with Cyber Shadow in 2021.

#Indie #Platformer #CyberShadow

Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a turn-based RPG in early access, available on Steam for 20% off until December 22nd. The team behind the game, Tactical Adventures, are longtime fans of traditional tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. It’s their goal to bring that traditional RPG feel to a PC in the smoothest way possible. Dice rolls and character creation are a huge part of the game, just like old pen-and-paper games. Despite the game being single player, you create an entire team of heroes.  Even though you play by yourself and the game is still being fleshed out, its community is already growing.

Bird's eye view of combat
Solasta features turn-based combat where damage and hit chance are based on dice rolls

Saving Solasta

Playing as a team of four, the player must embark on a journey to save the would of Solasta. The player will traverse through varied areas, from ruins and forts to deserts and forests. The game features a dynamic environment where much of the game can be interacted with. For example, bridges or walls can collapse and crush both your team and your enemies. Solasta: Crown of the Magister features a few other special mechanics that are callbacks to certain tabletop games. The management of light sources is an important mechanic. If you emanate a lot of light, you’ll become a target for enemies. But if there’s not enough light, you won’t be able to see your enemies. And just like D&D, every attack in the game has a dice roll behind it.

A ruin, crumbling
With dynamic environments, enemies can get wiped out if they’re standing in the wrong place. But the same can be said for your team.

A Perilous Journey

The player will find enemies in many forms. There will be an assortment of monsters in their way, including giant spiders, orcs, and the undead. Without being tied to a board on a table, the game is also in three dimensions. This gives players the ability to climb, crawl, fall, or fly around the game. Like any good mythical RPG, there are many options when it comes to creating your characters. You can customize their race, class, background, looks, and stats. Whether you want to be a sneaky archer, a loud warrior, or a behind-the-lines healer, Solasta gives you the chance to pursue whatever you like. If you’re a fan of traditional RPGs like D&D, keep following this game as development continues.

#Solasta #RPG #TurnBased #PCGaming #Fantasy

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Released on November 12th for PS4 and PS5, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the second installment from Insomniac Games in the Marvel’s Spider-Man series. A release title for the Playstation 5, the game takes full advantage of the new DualSense controller’s haptic feedback features. The core gameplay and setting of the new title remains the same as the first game, but there a few legitimate improvements. It’s a beat-em-up with all the classic Spider-Man abilities at the player’s disposal. The plot is vastly different from the previous game, there are excellent graphic improvements, and Miles has a few new tricks up his sleeve in the form of cloaking and venom abilities.

Spider-Man swinging from a web
Miles has his own flair and personality as Spider-Man.

With Great Power

While the controls are still the same, Miles has his own distinct feel compared to Peter Parker when swinging around New York City. Because he’s younger and inexperienced, he’s flashier and looks like he’s having more fun than Peter did in the original game. There are also plenty of new suits for Miles to try on. The plot of the story is also very different. Miles has his own unique issues and journey as Spider-Man. He has the power to fight his enemies with a bio-electric ability called “venom”. He uses it often and there are multiple ways that he builds up this power. Miles can also camouflage himself, although this ability doesn’t come into play as often. Of course, he still has all the web-slinging, web-shooting, wall crawling, super-strength, and spidey-senses that Peter does too. But Miles does give the role of Spider-Man his own personal flair.

A purple figure in armor
The game features a new gang for Spider-Man to clean up off the streets of New York.

Comes Great Responsibility

Despite the various improvements that are made with this new installment, most of the game remains the same as the original. Although the original Spider-Man game’s map of New York City is excellent, this game features the same map. It will also take you about half of the time to complete the main story in this game. There are new villains and a new gang to fight against, but the combat is identical except for a few additions. The original Spider-Man was an excellent game, but don’t expect Miles Morales to deviate much from what was already presented. This game serves as a stand-alone continuation of the last game. If you enjoyed the original, you can expect to enjoy this game.

#Marvel #SpiderMan #MilesMorales #PS5