Nakawak – Kickstarter Spotlight

Who doesn’t want more adventure games inspired by the heydays of the GameBoy? Probably not many, but after stumbling upon the Kickstarter campaign for Nakawak, I can’t help but be impressed by the lone developers attempt at creating a GameBoy inspired Metroidvania title coming to Steam hopefully sooner than later.

NakawakTitleScreen

With only 7 days left in the campaign, Nakawak has well exceeded its goal of $250 and is only a few pledges away from hitting the third stretch goal. The game is actually fully developed, but the developer, Sean Filkins, is hoping to include an alternate, color version of the game. This version of the game is advertised to have exclusive levels and bosses. Its interesting to note that the goal behind this is to replicate Nintendo’s older practices of releasing different version of their titles.

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Gameplay looks solid and the graphics perfectly match the feel of the original GameBoy. Inspiration is heavily founded from the original two Metroid games and the environments and character sprites make this very apparent. Look into backing this game over the next week as just a few more pledges will afford the developer to add even more unique concepts and content to the color version. Two great games is always better then one.  Checkout the Kickstarter Campaign.

Nakawak Color

Necrocosmos – Kickstarter Spotlight

 August 1st marked the beginning of an exciting new Kickstarter campaign in the announcement of Necrocosmos. To be released on PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, Necrocosmos is bringing a new spin to the Metroid formula, introducing survival elements with a splash of randomized progression. Put simply, players will be challenged to explore multiple planets with unique environments and inhabitants, but the developers claim that progression will be randomly generated from player-to-player. An ambitious idea that I hope can be delivered upon. Thankfully the developers have made it very clear that planets will not be procedurally generated, but handcrafted with care.

 

NecrocosmosTreasure

The masterminds behind Necrocosmos, Andromeda Project3, have designed a very thorough and intriguing campaign full of images, gameplay snippets, lore, and detailed explainations of gameplay features and stretch goals. Little is left to backer imagination and the project looks to be quite polished already. Even better is the option of playing a pretty meaty demo without having to pledge a dime. I’ve spent several hours with the demo and still haven’t completed it, for better or for worse.

NecrocosmosGameplay2

Exploration of the planet on showcase in the demo is a treat and the narrative told through scavenged journal entries and the player character’s reactions to events is surprisingly entertaining. Not to spoil any of the events, but Metroid veterans will appreciate and feel right at home with the events that ultimately lead to exploring and meeting much more of the planet’s inhabitants than expected. Suffice it to say that gamers looking for a fair bit of lore to sink their teeth into will find a lot to love about Necrocosmos assuming the developers put as much effort and detail into the final product’s writing as they have crammed into the demo.

NecrocosmosGameplay3

Exploration and gameplay is pretty vanilla out of the gate. Starting off with nothing but a short ranged rifle and jet pack, our hero isn’t particularly well equipped which allows for the tension of well designed survival games to shine through. A currency known simply as resource is collected through defeating enemies and destroying certain parts of the environment. Resources must be rationed wisely as they have heavy implications throughout. Upgrades to your suit are the most obvious use and can make a huge difference in empowering the players survivability in this inhospitable environment. Consider these upgrades a bonus as they shouldn’t be your first priority. Only through the expending of resources can players repair damage, save their progress, and even continue after death. The extra reliance on resources for such simple factors of gameplay adds a layer of tension that some players will enjoy, while others will no doubt loathe.

NecrocosmosBoss
I have mixed opinions on the matter. I quite like the idea of juggling the importance of gaining a permanent upgrade, healing and saving. Getting a chance to save after a lengthy session of exploration actually provided a rush of satisfaction that most other games in the genre don’t. Every mistake has bigger implications as a player can’t simply farm a room of enemies to replenish health. Actually on more then one occasion I found myself having to chose between healing or saving, without the resources to do both. Necrocosmos is punishing at times, but ultimately smart allocation of resources will reward a player just as much as skilled play. I can appreciate this, but I can not appreciate the way resources are tied into continuing gameplay after death. Upon death, a certain amount of resources are required to continue from the last save point. This system did not bother me in the least for my first few hours.
NecrocosmosSaving
But after several hours of exploration, gaining all of my suit’s upgrades and only a few objectives away from what I can imagine would be the demo’s conclusion, I died. No big deal. This had happened many times and it was my own fault for exploring while on low health. The game asked if I wanted to continue and of course my response was yes. I was having a blast and wanted to continue playing. It turns out that I didn’t have quite enough resources to continue. At this point I was placed at the beginning of the planet with all of my progress reset. No upgrades, zero map completion, nothing. To just lose that much progress, I had to turn the game off for a moment. Hoping to continue again, I booted up the game and found to my horror that the Continue option wasn’t selectable from the menu screen. All of my progress gone. Unfortunately I couldn’t gather the motivation to start again. I hope this isn’t a feature that will make it into the final build of the game.
NecrocosmosGameplay1
This left a permanent bad taste in my mouth after several hours of very enjoyable gameplay. I can’t imagine that having to restart the entire game will be an issue with the final product. Even expecting players to re-explore entire planets/levels is not going to sit well for most gamers. Sure, keeping enough resources stashed away can afford a guaranteed continue, but what about situations where a player finds themselves in a tough situation where they are facing death-after-death? Resources will eventually run dry and they’ll have to potentially replay a good portion of your game? Certain players will feel rewarded by replaying and overcoming the odds, but others will likely walk away in frustration. That’s exactly what I did, even if I tend to find myself in the first camp. Replaying 15-20 minutes worth of a game is acceptable, replaying several hours isn’t.
NecrocosmosSpaceBattle
Necrocosmos does so much else right that it’s hard to not recommend it to any fan of the older generation of exploration games. Fun touches like the vertical space shooter segments when traveling between planets and the collection of journal entries to solve some of the more insidious riddles are just great bonuses. One of the games most touted features hasn’t even been touched upon yet, the DNA gun. Destroying adversaries doesn’t simply reward resources, but also, on occasion, the enemy’s DNA. By collecting and combining different DNA types, the player can wield various forms of firepower. While only a handful were available to test, most create unique firing patterns and even the ability to bypass certain barriers found throughout the map. Alien vegetation blocking your passage? Create a flamethrower and clear the path. Players will only have a limited amount of shots per combination, but the ability to switch between two weapons on the fly will allow for saving precious ammo until the time is right. Yet another flaky layer of survival and problem solving.
As of the publishing of this article, Necrocosmos has 16 more days to hit its $53,000 goal and is almost halfway there. Necrocosmos has a wonderful premise and clearly a very passionate, talented team behind it. If you are at all a fan of the Metroid franchise and want to support more games like it, I highly advise you to look further into the Kickstarter campaign, spend some time with the demo, and take a chance by backing a worthy project.
Check out the Kickstarter and let us know what you think of Necrocosmos in the comments section below.

Metroidvania Digital Sales 08/14/2017

There is a nice selection of Metroidvania titles at discount prices on Steam this week. Check these sales out before the end of the week and make sure to check back every Monday for digital deals on the web straight from BreakableWalls.com.


Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $4.49
Do not pickup the Gold Edition which is also on sale this week. Both are the same price, but Super Turbo Championship Edition is the definitive experience. Guacamelee is a phenomenal game. A must play, but if frequently on sale on Steam.
Steam Page 


Dex

Regular Price: $19.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Steam Page


Trials of Azra

Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $0.99
Steam Page


Other Worlds India

Regular Price: $0.99
Sale Price: $0.49
Not highly rated by the Steam community, but for 49 cents it might be worth a look.
Steam Page


Dungeon of Zolthan

Regular Price: $0.99
Sale Price: $0.49
Steam Page


Leon’s Crusade

Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.59
Steam Page


Endica VII The Dream King

Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $0.49
Steam Page


Randall

Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $11.24
Steam Page


Blade & Bones

Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $3.74
Claims to be an 3D, combat driven metroidvania. Reviews are mixed, but if you are a Dark Souls fan it might be worth picking up at 75% off retail through tomorrow.
Steam Page

Metroidvania Digital Sales 08/07/2017

Steam has some pretty good deals on a handful of Metroidvania games this week. Check these sales out before August 14th and make sure to check back every Monday for digital deals on the web straight from BreakableWalls.com.

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Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Steam Page

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La-Mulana
Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $4.94
Steam Page

EvilGenomeCover
Evil Genome
Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $11.99
Steam Page

AztakaCover
Aztaka
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $1.49
Steam Page

DungeonOfZolthanCover
Dungeon of Zolthan
Regular Price: $0.99
Sale Price: $0.49
Steam Page

SlainCover
Slain (Not quite a metroidvania, but one of the better attempts at classic Castlevania gameplay)
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $4.41
Steam Page

KeroBlasterCover
Kero Blaster
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Steam Page

 

Inexistence Review

Inexistence is proof that even a mostly average and almost completely derivative game can still provide an enjoyable if not particularly memorable experience. I had a great time with this title, but for the life of me I can’t describe the vast majority of levels, bosses, or events that drive the gameplay along.

Gameplay1

Combat

Sword and sorcery is the name of the game here. Combat has a brisk pace and a good amount of weight to it, but never is the player required to show much finesse to overcome any foe. Most boss encounters boil down to jumping and attacking their upper body while dodging a few very simple attacks. Regular enemies are much better designed and prove quite deadly by the end of the game.

Magic seems like a huge missed opportunity. Unfortunately the developers have only provided players the bare minimum requirements to allow for ranged combat. A single “magic bullet” esque attack that the player receives early in the game is as exciting as it sounds and didn’t prove much use in combat or exploration. Magic is only useful if the player heavily invests in the magic stat upon level up and even then MP regenerates too slowly to allow for a mage-like playstyle. It’s much more efficient to simply dump points into strength, life and defense, but it’s still nice to have the option.

Gameplay3

Exploration

My biggest gripe with Inexistance is with it being labeled a Metroidvania. In it’s current form it really isn’t. The game is split among several stages and exploration doesn’t become important until the final act, which is a generically designed castle that requires a few items to fully explore. Outside of collecting a few hidden puzzle pieces or weapons, Inexistence gives little incentive to the player to return to any previously visited stage upon completion. It seems that the designer may not have meant for this title to include exploration until much later into development. This becomes even more apparent during gameplay when special traversal skills are required only a handful of times.

Map of Levels

Graphics

Visually Inexistence looks pretty decent. The visual diversity of the environments and enemies is one of the more compelling elements of the game, but excluding the final area, very little detail is put into the design of each level. Prepare to run through corridor after corridor  of enemies on a regular basis. Still, what is here on display is pretty high quality pixel art.

Gameplay2

Audio

Inexistence has an excellent, high tempo score that might trick the player into thinking the game is more exciting then it actually is. Surprisingly I found myself humming the castle stage’s theme long after I put the game down. From swinging a sword, to picking up coins, the sound effects do the job, but one very basic sound is inexcusable. Jumping sounds like the hero is taking off with exploding sneakers. The sound is obnoxious and much louder then it has any right to be.

Boss Fight

Verdict

If you are looking for a short Metroidvania romp to get you through an hour or two, Inexistence fits the bill, but at six dollars I’d suggest waiting for a sale. I managed to pick up mine on Steam for 75% off. Fast paced gameplay, well designed pixel art, and a catchy soundtrack make this title worth a play, but it’s understandable if the short length, repetitive level design, and lack of exploration until the final act would put off more then a few players. The one-man-team behind Inexistence should applauded for their hard work and as of May 24th of this year they announced on Steam that they would be recoding the game from scratch and adding a plethora of new features. I’ll be interested to see what ultimately comes of the update, but the changes being advertised will certainly fix many of the issues that I might have with the game and I will provide an updated review upon delivery.

+Quick, responsive controls
+Customizable leveling system
+Well paced
+Interesting final story beat (No spoilers)
+Well designed enemies
+Engaging gameplay

-Equipment isn’t visible, nor is there very many pieces (only 12 pieces)
-Very short. ~2 hours
-Little pricey for 5.99
-Not particularly replayable. Hard and Time Attack modes are available.
-Very easy
-Only one spell
-Only 6 locations
-Collected abilities are underutilized

Game: Inexistence
Release Date: February 17, 2016
Platforms: Steam
Developer and Publisher: Jonathan Brassaud
Pick up Inexistence on Steam

 

Cave Story+ Special Edition for Nintendo Switch

Cave Story has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings in 2004. A great game indeed that has recently just seen a very limited run of physical copies put into circulation for the Nintendo Switch. Released on June 20th, I picked up my copy alongside a brand new Nintendo Switch. This isn’t going to be a review of the game itself, but more of a showcase of the items included in this special edition release. For returning fans and new players alike, there are some very cool inclusions with this $30 title.

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Cave Story+ and Nintendo Switch

I have to start off by giving credit to Nicalis, the independent publisher responsible for both the Binding of Isaac and now Cave Story+ physical releases for the Nintendo Switch. There was a lot of love put into not only the packaging, but also the included goodies. Also, their website is glorious and I highly suggest you check it out. One of the most original websites I’ve seen in years. Nicalis Website

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Game, Keychain, Full Color Manual, and Soundtrack

Old school gamers should be drooling by now due to the actual inclusion of a full-color manual. A full-color manual! 32 pages of beautiful artwork and full of inspiration from classic NES games. The character artwork on each page just screams nostalgia of cracking open manuals from the late 80s. The small unassuming soundtrack sports some cute vector art of Quote, the main protagonist, as well as 41 tracks from the game. A great piece for collectors of video game soundtracks and Cave Story’s does not disappoint.

Last of all is the inclusion of a random character keychain if bought from GameStop. While these are cool, I’m not a big fan of the fact that not everyone who buys the game gets the same items. I was fortunate enough to know my local GameStop manager and was able to request getting the Quote keychain.  Quote, Curly and Balrog are all available and I’m hoping to pickup the remaining two online over the coming weeks.

Cave-Story-Keychains

For only $30 this special edition of Cave Story+ is a steal for fans, collectors, or even Switch owners looking for a new game. Don’t wait to long to get a copy though, as I expect Cave Story+ to become uncommon before the end of the year and much like its 3DS counterpart, reselling for higher then retail further down the road.

Unformed – Kickstarter Spotlight

Unformed is a Dark Souls and H.P. Lovecraft inspired 2D adventure game who’s Kickstarter campaign is wrapping up on June 22nd, 2017. I’ve recently played through a good amount of the demo available from the campaign page and I’ve got more then a few thoughts that I’d like to share.

Unformed - Save Point

Unformed is a quite beautiful game and gave me flashbacks to my time playing Guacamelee, but with a much more somber tone. It possesses a beautifully colorful art style and if there is one thing I have to give the developers, Blackfire Games, credit for are the environments. The graphics are crisp, clean, and easily the high point.

Unformed - Dark Cave Gameplay

Unfortunately, the rest of the game isn’t quite as polished, or at least not in the demo provided. Inspirations from the Souls series are abundant within both combat and leveling. A stamina gauge is used to enforce careful decision making during combat. All action besides running take some mount of stamina and combat is, for the most part, fast paced and responsive. Jumping, rolling and blocking are all available in the players toolkit. Anyone who has played Salt and Sanctuary will feel right at home with how Unformed weaves these maneuvers into moment-to-moment gameplay. These tools are great, but not overly helpful when enemies have very little in the way startup animations before attacks. Enemies seem to dash forward and assault the player character without warning. This nearly almost always requires players to guess as apposed to respond. Guessing correctly, dodging through an enemy, and backstabbing them is an adrenaline rush, but not overly rewarding as the player isn’t getting better at the game, but simply getting lucky.

Unformed - Boss Battle 1

Offensively, the player feels strangely limited. Having a basic sword and the temporary use of both a two-handed greatsword and daggers seems interesting in theory, but I had a few issues with this system. To gain access to temporary weapons the player must allow a gauge to fill up and then upon use of these weapons it will deplete. That’s reasonable. Actually using these weapons is where everything goes downhill. Activation requires pressing up or down on the d-pad. That’s already bad design as I have to remove my hand from the left joystick and lose the ability to move my character for a moment. I don’t even like it that much in the Souls series, but the pace and feel of combat doesn’t translate here. Why not map this to the left bumper and left trigger? They aren’t used for anything except bringing up the control scheme, which can be accessed just as easily through the menu. These weapons also don’t feel powerful enough to prove useful in most cases. The daggers might be quicker then the basic sword, but don’t afford the player any more substantial damage over the course of a combo or quicker reflexes to avoid enemy assaults. Add either one of these benefits and the daggers could see some solid use during boss battles. The greatsword is slow and actually quite a bit more powerful then the other two weapons, but cleaving an enemy doesn’t even phase the weakest of them. Knocking back opponents or even stunning them would add a bit more weight and usability to this weapon. These are just suggestions though and this system may very well be refined later on in development.

Unformed - Greatsword

Unformed has a plethora of potential and Soulsborne and Salt and Sanctuary fans should take note of it’s inspirations not just in combat, but also in the similarly inspired bonfire, health flasks, and experience systems. Not to even mention the “You Died” game over screen.  There is also plans for implementing a Final Fantasy X inspired sphere grid system for customization. I know I sound down on Unformed. I’m critical because I see potential, not because I want to see the game fail. With a few tweaks to enemy and special weapon mechanics Unformed could be something special that I’m sure Blackfire Games wants to deliver. Unfortunately without the help of the Metroidvania community it doesn’t look promising that Unformed will see the light of day. With a little more then 2 days left in the campaign, only 20% of the $20,000 goal has been raised. I behoove anyone interested to take a trip over to the Kickstarter page and pledge whatever you feel comfortable with over the next 48 hours.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1737913494/unformed/description

I sincerely hope that Blackfire Games, if this first attempt at a campaign fails, doesn’t give up on this project as they have created a solid foundation for what could be something special.

Unformed - You Died

Unformed - Boss Battle 2

Planned platforms for release: PC and eventually consoles

 

 

Xeodrifter Review

Quality Metroid clones don’t come around everyday and Xeodrifter, even for it’s flaws, is one of the most fun I’ve experienced. For some the 10 dollar price tag and relatively short 3-4 hours worth of gameplay might be off putting, but Xeodrifter provides an unoriginal, but enjoyable few hours of exploring various alien worlds while it lasts.

Xeodrifter is light on story and that’s okay. Our hero’s ship gets damaged during flight and it’s up to the player to help them recover their ships lost hyper drive. Simple enough, but the challenge comes from exploring the nearby planets, fending off each one’s fauna, and collecting many power-ups and abilities along the way. It doesn’t get more Metroid esque then that, but that’s where the majority of the similarities stop and Xeodrifter offers up a few of it’s own original ideas.

Gameplay5

Xeodrifter’s ace in the hole is it’s customizable weapon loadouts. While checking each nook and cranny along your adventure, players are sure to stumble upon a few weapon power-up nodes. These can be used on the inventory/map screen to customize the fire pattern, speed, and power of your main weapon. This system really isn’t that deep as you only have one weapon to actually upgrade throughout the entire game and most players will quickly come to find out that simply upgrading power and rate of fire is easily the best choice for any situation. Still, it’s fun to mess around with and the ability to save up to three different loadouts is a nice touch. I do want to give the designers credit for designing the weapon power-ups in such a way as the player does feel truly empowered throughout the game if they search high and low for most or all of the upgrades.

Gameplay3

This is important due to Xenodrifter being difficult in the beginning stages. Probably too difficult actually. Enemies don’t do a ton of damage, but with such a low life pool starting out and very few opportunities to refill during stages, most players will die a few times starting out. I appreciate the concept of making the player feel somewhat helpless. Enemies and platforming are not particularly challenging, but I wasted a lot of time within the first hour of playing simply losing all of my progress and restarting the level due to either a couple of mistakes or not knowing what to expect around the next corner. This will turn some players away and I can’t blame them.

Gameplay1

Xeodrifter’s four different planets are a cool idea on paper. Each is vibrant accompanied with unique assets and color schemes, but it turns out that exploring isn’t quite as exciting as it should be. Creative level and enemy design is severally lacking. Most rooms aren’t even rooms, but linear horizontal or vertical hallways. Poorly designed map layouts force players to retread old ground for new power-up, but unlike well designed exploration based games, shortcuts aren’t sprinkled throughout each area. Backtracking is part of the genre, but never make the player navigate back through a level multiple times the exact same way. In theory the developers probably thought dividing the world up into four different, smaller areas would alleviate the need, but it isn’t fun or interesting to navigate a level and then immediately have to retrace the exact same steps in reverse just to go to another level. You’ll be doing this a lot in Xenodrifter and that’s a shame, especially for a game this short.

Status Screen

That all aside, Xeodrifter does have it’s merits. Gameplay is quick and frenetic throughout, more akin to Mega Man then Metroid. This helps exploration feel more engaging as it’s fun to zip around levels as fast as possible and many of the new abilities earned, such as a rocket jump and speed dash, help somewhat alleviate the poor level design and unlock new areas and power boosts. One of the more interesting abilities allows for players to jump in and out of certain background layers. Some of the more dastardly areas of the game will have the player taxed to speed across treacherous terrain while simultaneously hopping from background to foreground at a moments notice. It’s a novel idea that the developers of Xeodrifter first implemented in an earlier title, Mutant Mudds.

Gameplay4

Early game difficulty and poor map design hold Xeodrifter back from being a top-tier 2D adventure game. These issues aside, I still had a fun first playthrough. I even found myself oddly drawn toward going for 100% completion afterwards. So why is that? It comes down to the polished, fast paced run-and-gun gameplay combined with great empowerment of the player character as you explore each planet discovering that previously dangerous foes now kneel to your power. I’ll even defend the games recycled bosses as I found it interesting to see what new attacks I’d have to deal with in the next encounter. Xeodrifter may not be a must play at the full retail price of $10, but if you are looking to fill the void until Metroid: Samus Returns for an afternoon or a good sale comes around, you could do a lot worse.

+Polished, fast paced run-and-gun gameplay
+Great player empowerment
+Short gameplay time might appeal to some players
-Uninspired level design, too much forced backtracking
-Difficulty not well balanced toward the beginning
-Only 3-4 hours of gameplay

Game: Xeodrifter
Release Date: Decemeber 11th, 2014
Platforms: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Steam
Developer and Publisher: Renegade Kid

Blasphemous – Kickstarter Spotlight

This week I wanted to highlight an interesting non-linear action platformer called Blasphemous that is nearing the end of it’s Kickstarter campaign and is worthy of the attention of any Metroidvania fan. One look at the pixel art and smooth animation is enough to get any fan of the genre on board with what this dark and grisly title has to offer.

Blasphemous Gameplay

Fast-paced, skilled combat and a deep and evocative narrative are the central focus of the player experience. While we don’t have a ton of narrative to go off of, its more then apparent from environmental aesthetics to character designs that players are in for dark, creepy, and truly unsettling adventure. The pixel art design and animation of enemies is phenomenal and the creative team, The Game Kitchen, deserves a lot of credit for putting such imagination, passion and talent toward creating some of the most unique enemy designs in gaming.

Blasphemous Enemy Design Example

Environmental design is also top notch. From dark dungeons, to deserts, to apocalyptic wastelands no area looks the same, but most importantly interesting and detailed. The developers even claim that environmental hazards can be used against your enemies. A pretty cool addition that could help  keep combat fresh throughout the course of a playthrough. While combat basically boils down to fast paced dodging, hack-n-slash action, players will be able to acquire various beads that can be used to customize playstyle. Not much is known about these, but creating unique beads that impart new special moves or sub-weapons would  be engrossing.

Overall there isn’t much to not like here. There are only 5 days left in the campaign and The Game Kitchen has already more then quadrupled their $50,000 dollar goal. Quite a few stretch goals have been met and if you are interested in supporting this game, team, or simply further development of metroidvania style games, then I highly advise you to check out the Kickstarter page and pledge if you are so inclined. I for one am going to back this project as I can’t help but stare in amazement at the masterfully done pixel art and quick, visceral gameplay.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/828401966/blasphemous-dark-and-brutal-2d-non-linear-platform/description

Planned platforms for release: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Linux

 

 

Metroid: Samus Returns Amiibos and Special Edition Announced

It’s been a fantastic week to be a Metroid fan and the hits just keep coming since the announcement of both Metroid Prime 4 and Metroid: Samus Returns yesterday at E3. For further information about the announcements click here. Information has been pouring out about the collector and standard editions of the upcoming 3DS title. The standard edition will be retailing for the typical $39.99, but more interestingly is the special edition, seen below, that is shown on Gamestop for $49.99.

Metroid Samus Returns Special Edition

The special edition is to include a CD-ROM archival soundtrack, assumedly  a greatest hits of the series or a mix of tracks from both versions of Metroid II. This is a nice bonus for fans and the series-staple screw attack logo on both the cover and CD is a nice touch.

New Metroid: Samus Returns Amiibos

What’s a big Nintendo announcement without some new Amiibos? Samus Returns is getting two dedicated Amiibos upon release with a model of Samus herself and the infamous Metroid. Both contain a lot of detail and will provide some nice desk candy for anyone picking them up upon release. No word on what functionality they will provide within game or other games that will support them, but Nintendo was sure to advertise that the Metroid Amiibo in particular is “squishy.” We wouldn’t have it any other way. No release date have been mentioned as of this time, but you can start the hunt for the original Samus and Zero Suit Samus Amiibos if they aren’t in your collection already. Nintendo stated that they would be compatible with Samus Returns upon release.

Original Samus and Zero Suit Samus Amiibos

The last bit of news released by Nintendo is a developer diary video discussing new abilities and game mechanics in more detail. Explanations of the free aim, melee counter, and Aeion powers are discussed and shown via gameplay. An informative interview and a must watch for any Metroid fan itching for more information about the upcoming 3DS release.

 

Two Metroid Games Announced at E3 2017

Since the begging of the Nintendo Spotlight at E3 2017, Nintendo has blown the doors off the whole event. From the relatively short, but dense with announcements conference spotlight to their post conference Treehouse event, Nintendo has proven that they have a lot of games in the pipeline for fans to look forward to. While I’m always hopeful that a new Metroid game will be announced, the series has been basically dormant for the last 7-10 years depending upon your outlook on the series as a whole.

Well no more! During the conference a short teaser trailer for Metroid Prime 4 was on display that showed off a logo and a message stating it is currently in development for the Nintendo Switch. Seems a fitting time as any to announce a new game in the wildly popular series no less then 10 years after the release of Metroid Prime Corruption. No release date was mentioned, but its just good to know that Nintendo is finally giving this wonderful IP some attention that it sorely deserves.

An announcement for a new installment of the Prime series was enough to get people talking, but Nintendo doesn’t seem to be resting on their laurels this year and also announced Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of the GameBoy game of the same moniker, for the 3DS during their post-conference Treehouse event. Samus Returns looks to be a 2.5D take on classic Metroid gameplay and will find Samus hunting down Metroids with familiar and new moves alike. The best part is that this game is going to be playable on September 15th of this year. Thats only 3 months away and it’s clear that Nintendo has put a lot of love into the project as the combat, enemies, and environments look amazing on the 3DS.

Nintendo really stepped up at this year’s E3 and honestly blew everyone else out of the water. The conference was all about games and Nintendo had some seriously great ones to announce. I’ll continue to keep you informed of future updates from Nintendo on these titles and check back for my analysis of the Metroid: Samus Returns trailer at some point this week.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Demo Gameplay Analysis

 

Thanks to Gematsu’s Youtube channel the community has access to 12 minutes of gameplay from this year’s playable demo at E3. There’s a lot to take in, but it looks like the development team has brought back many more staple weapons and abilities that should make fans feel right at home.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - New Environment

As mentioned in my previous post on the E3 Trailer, the level on showcase for the demo is a combination of a church and clock tower. Much of the platforming is far more vertically focused than last year’s demo and is the perfect environment to empower players with a double jump.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Church Gameplay

A handful of new skills were seen in action, including a familiar  and some old favorites. Miriam can be seen leveraging returning staples such as bones and spears from range, as well as summoning speedy canine and hopping ape companions. These abilities are by no means game-changers, but they certainly provide interesting additions to a player’s toolkit.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Clock Tower and Familiar

The most interesting was the unveiling of the first summon-able familiar, the Dullahammer Head. A common enemy found throughout the church, the Dullahammer Head doesn’t operate too differently then your average Medusa Head, but if the player is lucky they can bring one along on their journey. Familiars have existed in the Castlevania series since Symphony of the Night, but haven’t seen much use since as they are rarely powerful enough to consider. From the gameplay we can see that this might still be the case, as Miriam’s new friend rarely attacks and dishes out fairly poor numbers.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Underground Cave Environment

This bothered me at first, but there are a couple of things to consider. Outside of Symphony of the Night, familiars always took up the slot of a potentially more useful skill, but in Bloodstained they have their own dedicated slot. One could simply just consider them a bit of free extra damage and cosmetic flair. The developers also haven’t stated whether skills will be able to be powered up via farming or experience gain. If so, familiars may have the opportunity to evolve and become more aggressive and provide unique boons to the player. Time will tell, but they are certainly one of the features of Bloodstained that has me most curious.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Leather Whip

All of the new weapons showcased in the E3 trailer had me excited enough, but there are several others that didn’t make the cut. Obviously the leather whip stole the show and appeared to have some of the best range, speed, and attack area of all the weapons. The remaining weapons seem to act much like you would expect. The claymore is slow, but powerful  and can attack enemies directly above Miriam. Spears provide superior range and the rapier provides quick, close range bursts of damage. The demo does a great job at balancing the weapons so that players are encouraged to try them all out as apposed to replacing previously attained armaments quickly.

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Harpy  and Summoned Dog Skill

(Confirmed weapons thus far)

  • Shortsword
  • Kung Fu Shoes
  • Leather Whip
  • Katana
  • Rapier
  • Claymore
  • Spear
  • Knife

Bloodstained E3 2017 Trailer - Bloodless Boss

The final boss, Bloodless, challenges Miriam as she rudely interrupts bath time. Bloodless has a plethora of blood based magical attack at her disposal along with the telekinetic control of two umbrellas that dance around the room.The combination of the two give the player plenty to consider while trying to get in a few hits after each casting. Of most interest is her ability to evoke a blood rain that covers half the room and deals heavy damage to the player if they are unwise enough to stick around and enjoy the drizzle. Vacating the area is one option, but the more noteworthy strategy is to take cover under an umbrella and get in a few free strikes in the process. This battle is more technically challenging on the player then the sea monster from last year’s demo and is a fitting testing ground for all that the player has learned.

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It’s safe to say that I can’t wait to get my hands on this demo and more fully explore all it has to offer, assuming the studio provides this to backers of the project after E3 has finished. A release date can’t come soon enough, but I’m willing to wait for a game that hopefully surpasses even the best that Castlevania had to offer in its prime. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter get to get updates on the status of development throughout E3 and up till release.

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