Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

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Steam

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse picks up where Risky’s Revenge left off, with Shantae still effectively human. The town is getting bulldozed by its Mayor, Ammo Baron (yes, he’s still Mayor) and you decide to stop him. Unfortunately, this is effectively rebellion, so you get a court summons. While under house arrest, you uncover a lead into the revival of the Pirate King and decide to stop it. Who cares about court summons, amirite?

I’ll say outright that Pirate’s Curse is better than Risky’s Revenge. It maintains the quirky design and pleasing aesthetic of the first game.  It decided to go full 2D this time though, so that’s an improvement in my books. The movement feels so much more fluid and the movement options unlocked throughout the game feel better. You get a glide, a dash, and an extra triple jump… which you lose… in the final boss fight… because design decisions.

What I find most amusing is that this game sorta solves the problems of Risky’s Revenge while also adopting some problems that the old problem solved. The backtracking is less insufferable. Might be level design making it a bit more enjoyable to go through them. Luckily the backtracking is mitigated in Pirate mode (unlocked after beating the game once). Honestly, what might have fixed it for me in backtracking might be the addition of a new item called “Pirate’s Flare” which is effectively an escape rope. Tired of a map’s BS? Get out of the labyrinth and flare back to base. Speaking of items, they’ve rebalanced the items to be less broken and now none of them are required to unlock certain areas. Health drops regularly (if you’re killing enemies) and you can use these drops whenever you like instead of immediately.

There are few things more frustrating than entering a screen only to get knocked back because instant dash enemy. Yet here we are. Insufferable stealth section and the climb to the final boss is a series of spike traps that exist purely to try my patience. No enemies. Just spikes. And lord save you if you game ogre there because the save point is not between spike hells but rather at the beginning and at the end. Bring all of the potions.

Let’s talk about the final boss fight. Now in Risky’s Revenge, I didn’t really dock points for the game taking away all of your transformations because they weren’t really used for combat. The time required to dance for them took away from the pacing anyway. However, in this game, most of your upgrades are movement upgrades. Which means you don’t pause to use them and you’ve been using them the entire game. And they were instrumental in spike pit hell because each puzzle room was set up to utilize a specific upgrade. So by the time you’ve gotten to the boss, you’re pretty used to using them like, all the time. You get to use them for phase 1 of the boss. Then the boss takes them away. Then you have to deal with phase 2 with limited movement. Then phase 3 which is phase 2 with some extra patterns. And phase 4 which can be cancer because it’s not the same kind of combat you had been doing all game.

Look, the final boss is a test. A test on all of the skills we’ve obtained up until now. You don’t teach us all of the math required to do the exam and then give us a stinkin’ psychology exam instead of a math exam. That’s completely unfair to the player

But when the game works, it works. Pirate Mode (again, unlocked after playing through the game one) is a great replay option if you’re into that sorta thing. The game is legitimately enjoyable and the characters are as delightful as ever. I’m going to give this game a pass, but not by much. Be prepared. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Disgraced

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Steam Page

This game is total garbage.

Oops, did I spoil the review a little early? Should I have put in all of the negative points first? Well, probably, but people on the internet have short attention spans for long review posts. They probably only look for the yea/nay and call it a day. Anyway, Disgraced is a total disgrace (see what I did there?). Let me explain.

Disgraced is an RPG Maker game, and RPG Maker games are already a plague on the Earth because of their terrible graphics and awful copy/pasta scripts but this game goes way beyond that. First, let’s talk about the introduction. To introduce you to the game, Disgraced copies George Lucas. That is, they do the text scroll thing like in Star Wars. Which by itself… can be excused… maybe. Put some ambient music behind it, have scenes playing in the background, sure. I could live with that. I wouldn’t like it, I think it’s lazy, but I could live with it. This game just runs text up a black screen with way too much blank space between lines. You ever program? Imagine like 40 newlines between every line of code. Obnoxious and terrible execution.

The plot of the game is that you are a deserter that gets conned into leading a rebellion. Your qualification for this seems to be – you are a deserter. You didn’t kill the guy you were working for. You ran like a little girl. Your task is to ‘liberate’ (hostile takeover) three cities and gather enough support to take on Kyoto. You do this by walking all across Japan and going to every town. You need to gather the support of villages (usually via bribery) because you’re not allowed to attack the cities unless you have enough support.

Get enough support, fight samurai death squads, and beat the Shogun. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it’s not. The combat in this game has to some of the most poorly balanced combat I’ve ever seen. You will miss almost every single attack. You have two (2!) health bars to manage Vitality and Morale. If you run out of Vitality you die and if you run out of Morale you desert. Shit, it’s the same damn thing for the purpose of combat. May as well dump all your points in Vitality because my Morale never dropped below two-thirds.

And you best make all of the offerings to RNGsus because if you take a single crit you may as well reload your save because that person is likely dead. Like, dead dead. No revivals. Normally this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. After all, Fire Emblem does it too. But Fire Emblem’s RNG isn’t terrible. But combine that with the fact that your party does NOT level together, losing your level 7 dude with only level 1 goons to replace him means grinding or (in my case) reloading your save. And it wouldn’t be so bad but every attack (barring one skill, I think) is single-target. You have 3 people, they will almost always have 5. Which means you get 3 attacks a turn and they get 5. Combine that with the terrible RNG and you get a game in which combat is cancer. The SFX are too loud and the BGM is non-existent. Well, it’s there but even at max volume you can hardly hear it. Isn’t really any good either.

In fact, if I had to pick two words to describe this game, they would be ‘Needlessly Complicated’. There are so many skills (which again, many are functionally useless because who needs morale?) that leveling up certain skills makes you wonder where the newb traps are. The stats you level up (probably) don’t matter. I only ever leveled up ‘Might’ and I swept the game just fine. The resource management is also needlessly complicated, and serves only as means to bribe the villages to assist in your cause. This support manifests itself only by resources you supposedly collect once a day but I’m not sure that collection ever happened. You can collect a ton of allied units but because of the problem I mentioned above, there’s no reason to. Just use your first three goons to sweep the game (that’s what I did anyway).

The choices you make have zero impact on the game. I could’ve sworn I saw ‘Choices matter’ somewhere associated with this game. They don’t. Don’t waste your time. Press space through every dialogue, there’s nothing of value there. One you get some money rolling and can afford decent equipment (highest damage/accuracy) you can win any battle by killing enemies in one or two hits. This drastically improves your 3v5 situation to 3v3 or 3v2.

Let’s take a quick look at the map design. The game uses stock sprites from RPG Maker (exclusively, I think). And you can really tell because the wolf sprite doesn’t have the same style as some of the box sprites (among other things). And while this is terrible by itself, it becomes much, much worse when you don’t make it clear what you can walk through and what you cannot. Combine this with narrow passages and an NPC that stands LITERALLY IN YOUR WAY then navigating towns becomes insufferable.

This game is not worth $10; this game is not worth $1. It’s a short game (takes, maybe 4 hours to clear?) and you will not enjoy it. I guarantee it. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Disgraced

Kingdom: New Lands

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Steam Page

Wow. Just wow. What an amazing game.

So Kingdom: New Lands is an RTS in which you play a Monarch that is trying to rebuild the kingdom of their ancestors. You recruit goons of questionable virtue and build a kingdom from a small fortune you found lying around. Lord knows how it got there but who cares. Use this gold to rebuild your kingdom. But it seems that someone knows of your attempt to rebuild your kingdom because every night you get assaulted by mobs and mobs of goons. But you couldn’t, nay, you’d never sully your hands by fighting the goons yourselves. So you have your archers fight the goons for you and you just have to sit back and pray that your walls are thick enough. If you’d like to stem the flow of goons, you can destroy portals using knight squads. Each knight can have three archers following them. The knights don’t attack the portal, they just hold the line so their archer squads can do the work.

Every few nights a Red Moon appears in the sky and during this night you get mobbed by even more enemies than usual. Normally this wouldn’t be that much of a problem but your archers have the accuracy of blind man firing a BB gun at a flea on your cat. The good part about Red Moons is that the enemies will only spawn from one side. I think there’s a possible exception if you destroy a portal right before it though.

There are various shrines you can offer gold to if you want to buff your units (and why wouldn’t you) but they can get pretty pricey if your income is stifled by… I dunno… the swarms of goons at your door. And then your knights are such pussies that if the wall gets low on health, instead of doing their jerb and holding the line they run back to an inner wall. And they bring their archer squads with them! The number of times I yelled at my computer because if the knights had stayed and let their archers keep firing, we wouldn’t have lost that wall! Christ.

And don’t get me started on the engineers. If you happen to accidentally mark a tree for removal out in the middle of nowhere, your engineers will continually suicide at it until they cut it down! And sometimes your archers will stay out hunting way past their bedtime and get gooned. And sometimes you need that extra gold coin and your archer will shoot like five arrows at a rabbit and miss every time. PUT. ON. YOUR. GLASSES. 

The only downside to this game (I would say) is that each level takes like two hours to complete. Oh, and if you want to clear the last island, it’s imperative that you set yourself up by beating a prior island (I chose the first island for ease) because the small fortune you find at the beginning of the game is a little tooooo small.

That said, it’s very absorbing. I accidentally played through the night until I had to get up for work several times. “Just one more attempt.” The game nicely works its way into itself for replays too. After your die, your new monarch will be the ghost that leads you to the new site. There’s a war horse you can ride that spawns in a battlefield. One of the background textures for that battlefield is the body of your old monarch. The little touches. 100% recommend. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Kingdom: New Lands

Epistory – Typing Chronicles

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Steam page

You gotta listen to this music while you read this. Yes that’s from a real Pokemon game. A typing game for the 3DS for some reason.

To be honest, I have no idea what I just played, but I remember enjoying it quite a bit. Epistory TC is a typing game as you may have guessed from the title. You play a fox and girl combination. The fox walks, the girl casts spells, by typing (as you may have guessed). Areas are blocked off until you collect the appropriate magic to clear them. The game concludes after collecting all of the magic and going to the Lost Desert (and winning the boss battle there). Since you need all four magics to get there, I assume that’s always the ending location. On top of that, the credits rolled after it, so… yeah.

The narrator’s voice is really well done. Shoutout to you, Rachael. I don’t remember your last name, but know that I read the credits just to know your name to give you props. It’s really compelling. The art is stylistically consistent, and good. Everything looks like it’s some origami nightmare. I’m not sure about what the story is about though. Or even if there is a consistent story. If anything, it might just be some kind of exploration narrative. You don’t need a linking story because the player is the linker. I would be a little more satisfied if things made more sense. Like the ending looks like it was designed to be touching, but the effect is lost on me because I didn’t know the prevailing story. The soundtrack to this game is quite nice, but not worth purchasing with the game if you ask me.

Looking at that title image, I think there may be a visual glitch with the fox’s tails. The fox in the game has three tails, that image looks like it has one.

I won’t complain about anything in the game, because it was a delight. However, I will say that the game is too easy. You’re not penalized for misspelling a word in any way except that it’ll take you more time to get to the next word. Some of the words they send your way I’m not even sure are words. Like there’s this one that HAS to come from chemistry or something because it ends in vitriolic but the rest of the letters are like… what? No way. It has like 50 letters and is a pain to attempt to type. I usually cheat my way around it on boss fights.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, I do recommend this game. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Epistory – Typing Chronicles