Hardcore Gamer: Week In Review

This industry of ours is as hectic as it is exciting. There’s always a lot going on, be it surprise game announcements, fresh screenshots, hardware updates or, most importantly perhaps, reviews of the latest games. Since it can be tricky to keep up with all the hubbub, we’ve decided to assemble all the titles we’ve reviewed for the week, as well as some helpful links to get you started on our original features. Don’t fret, panic or tire the search bar, simply check back every Sunday morning and catch up on the latest from Hardcore Gamer.

Reviews Of The Week

Click the game’s title to launch our review. 

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

If you like little girls and enjoy watching them dance, sing and grow as starlets — all while you pull at the puppet strings of their career — you should probably be on some sort of watchlist. That said, you’ll also likely appreciate the latest trend in Japanese gaming: idol simulators. But probably not this one, because it’s not very good.

From our review: Bottom line: this is a game that only the absolute most diehard Hyperdimension enthusiasts may enjoy, and even that is up for debate. Those wanting a deep, rewarding idol simulator, however, will have to wait until the next one arrives stateside.

Where is my Heart?

Puzzles and platformers go together like pizza and coke. Of course, the latter also pairs up nicely with prostitutes, abandoned dens, extensive arrest records and, more often than not, an overdose. That said, if you’re in the market for a bite-sized, pixelated puzzler, you’ll appreciate the creative drive behind its various levels and simple mechanics.

From our review: Where is my Heart? is an enjoyable puzzle platformer romp. The way it shuffles up a stage into small, disorganized segments is incredibly cool and forces players to think in different ways. It’s just a shame that it only lasts a few hours.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

It’s not often that you get to investigate your own death. After all, ghosts don’t often stray from graveyards and houses built before the early 1900’s — at least according to my vast collection of R.L. Stine’s. That said, an interesting premise and some nifty mechanics couldn’t save the experience from the mundane.

From our review: Neither good, nor bad, Murdered: Soul Suspect is about as average of a video game experience as one could hope for. It likely would have been better served as an A&E miniseries, as its gameplay does a phenomenal job of souring the overall experience. 

Richard & Alice

The not-so-distant future is often the subject of video games, movies and books — probably because it offers an opportunity to suspend some of the disbelief we’ve grown accustomed to nestling. That, and the present can be is really, really boring. That said, there’s a short adventure chock-full of puzzles, exploration and an intriguing narrative in this sloppily animated title.

From our review: The strongest aspect of Richard & Alice is how it manages to tell an engaging story in a fairly compact amount of time. Although players start out as total strangers to the duo, they find themselves quickly interested by their plight.

Mario Kart 8

Mario and racing have been hand-in-hand since 1992, and fans have gushed over nearly every title in the long-running series. Now, it’s even better with Luigi’s evil stare of death and fewer blue shells to bitch about. That said, there’s no better kart-racing experience on the market. Yes, we’re talking to you Sonic Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Jeez, what a mouthful.

From our review: A combination of fun, fairness, beauty and joy, Mario Kart 8 is absolutely brilliant. A botched battle mode and some missing online features stop it short of perfection, but it’s hard to imagine any Mario Kart game looking, playing, or sounding better.

A Story About My Uncle

Most stories about uncle’s end with a series of basement-produced videos, tears, and never seeing said uncle again. This game, however, switches up the formula by not being about molestation. That said, there’s a lot of challenging first-person platforming fun to be had while you experience its heartwarming story (that has nothing to do with diddles).

From our review: A Story About My Uncle is an incredible game that is greater than the sum of its parts. The story is compelling despite some iffy English and similarly-problematic voice acting, while the graphics are impressive as a whole even with antiquated character models being used.

1001 Spikes

Oldschool side-scrolling platformers have been making a comeback, mostly in the form of ‘murder-your-family-out-of-frustration’ difficult games that’ll test your patience and understanding of the human psyche. That said, if you’re in the mood to die — and don’t want to visit one of LA’s beautiful parks after dark — look no further. This game is brutal.

From our review: Those willing to give 1001 Spikes a fair try will find that its mind-numbing challenge can lead to some incredibly satisfying moments. Its brilliantly crafted mechanics give players every opportunity to best the treacherous traps of Ukampa. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see countless players quitting after a couple of levels.

Yury

If being angry, frustrated and genuinely upset at your failings is something you enjoy, you no longer have to ask your dad if he loves you. Now, there’s a game for bringing up those feelings, and it’s one of the toughest platforming experiences the world over. That said, while it’s challenging, it’s mostly due to some piss-poor controls. However, it’s also quite cheap.

From our review: Although the gameplay and level design leaves something to be desired, it must also be recognized that the game is an incredibly cheap buy at $2. By tempering expectations somewhat, Yury provides what you expect from a difficult platformer.

Dark Raid

Classic first-person gameplay is classic for a reason. Anyone can jump in and spray some fools like a 90’s hip-hop rivalry, but mastering the seemingly simple controls and weapons is a different story altogether. That said, success in simplicity is as rare as success in over-complexity. And when the core experience fails to deliver, there’s no bullet nor blade that could rescue the gameplay.

From our review: On a purely academic level, Dark Raid is an unquestionable success at showcasing the long forgotten elements of classic shooters. Unfortunately, it’s essentially an amalgam of all the worst aspects of them.

Feature Highlights Of The Week

Click the article’s title to launch our feature. 

Review in Progress: WildStar – Part 1

Wildstar, the latest theme park MMO from Carbine Studios is sure to be at the center of some upcoming child neglect charges. It’s that addictive. Also, it’s massive, and with potentially unending gameplay opportunities, we’ve decided to split our review into multiple segments — each showcasing a large slice of what makes Wildstar tick. Read what the sexy Geoff Thew has to say about it.

How the Industry Is Ruining Backwards Compatibility

Backwards compatibility has been a subject of scrutiny since its exclusion from Sony’s later PS3 models, and there are enough opinions on the matter to fill a Game of Thrones length book series. Our own Alex Carlson takes a look at the freedom — or lack thereof — of current industry norms. Read and comment with your opinion on the subject.

Square Enix’s Falling Performance Standards Signal an Alarming Trend

When a company so many gamer’s once adored and respected begins dishing subpar products, it’s a cause for concern — even more so when that company has some of the greatest video game franchises in their slippery hands. Was it time constraints that trickled such dysfunction into the final products? Was it sorcery executed by competing game companies? Read what Matt Whittaker has to say on the matter.

Will Homefront: The Revolution Fail From Namesake Alone?

Homefront wasn’t a great game. It wasn’t a bad one, either — it just didn’t scream “sequel.” That, of course, is why it’s getting one, in the form of an open world, minute-to-minute decision-based shooter. Jesse Rogalski, our in-house expert on all things that go bang explores the potential downfall of the reemerging franchise. Read about his thoughts and ideas.

It’s About Time for Zynga to Turn in the Keys to the Barn

It’s hard to imagine why people would want to be knee deep in cow dung, bent over a field picking fruit, or scanning for blood spots in eggs. The farm life is, without a doubt, disgusting. Otherwise farmers wouldn’t be able to justify $2 for a tomato in some parts of the country. Zynga, the FarmVille company managed to make it a fun, social experience. Now, it’s dead. Read the beautiful Jacob Whritenour’s thoughts on the whole shebang.