Nigmabox Rundown (8/13-8/19) I’m A Weird Sonic Fan

Some might be wondering if I will be reviewing Sonic Mania soon, as its PC version will be coming out on August 29th, but I am not planning on reviewing it for quite a while, as I often wait for games to go on sale and such.  I will get to it eventually, and will hopefully enjoy it, despite it being pretty obvious by now that I am part of the generation who genuinely prefers the 3D games over the 2D games.  I mean, I like them so much that I have done some concept work for a story that “homages” Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, and I was more excited to hear this new track from the rapper behind the Knuckles stage themes for Sonic Adventure 2 than I was for anything pertaining to Sonic Mania.  I guess you could say a weird Sonic fan that way. Continue reading

Lily’s Day Off Review

Anybody who looks at the games I review can parse that I tend to gravitate towards shorter games as, quite simply, it is far easier to get through one game a week if it is 10 hours long or less, and I try to parse out games that take 20+ hours with games that take only a fraction as much time.  So without further ado, Lily’s Day Off, one of the briefest games I’ve covered on this site, and actually a pretty nifty visual novel. Continue reading

Nigmabox Rundown (8/06-8/12) Natalie Has A Weird Brain

I originally wanted to write a silly introduction about sexualized cannibalism, but I do put my name on this site, and I do not want to get in trouble for yammering about sexual cannibalism, or worse yet, child sexual cannibalism.  I don’t even know why I find the idea so amusing, I repeat, amusing, not sexual, but my mind often drifts to it.  And thoughts of microwavable burgers made of loli meat.  Which is totally different from vore by the way, as vore does not involve ripping away at flesh and chewing it up.  In vore, someone swallow up little peoples and they become part of them.  Also, here’s the image from the Wikipedia page for vorarephilia, as I cannot find an SFW image of sexual cannibalism.   Continue reading

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II Review

Following Sonic 4 Episode I, I was genuinely dreading what would be in store for Episode II.  From what I had heard, the game was notably worse than the original installment, and contained next to nothing worthwhile in its entirety.  However… I actually kind of like it.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
Developers: Dimps and Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega

As Sonic 4: Episode I was intended to channel the spirit can general vibe of the first Sonic game, Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II is a tribute to Sonic 2, as it centers around Sonic and Tails going on an adventure to stop the maniacal and absurdly resourceful Doctor Eggman from doing… I dunno what, but it can’t be good.  However, in a nod to more than just one game, Episode II also serves as a sequel to Sonic CD, as Metal Sonic returns to serve as Eggman’s lackey, and a recurring boss throughout the game.  

Mind you, Metal Sonic’s inclusion does not really amount to a whole lot other than some homages to Sonic CD, and the very structure of the game is kept quite in line with the Genesis games, right down to the final climactic battle on the Death Egg.  A battle that the game just sort of stops afterwards, presumably to function as a cliffhanger for an Episode III that was clearly intended, but never developed.

Continuing off of the prior game, Sonic still has his homing attack and access to the added mobility it brings, but also gains the ability to activate a team maneuver with Tails, which pretty much only amount to rolling around in a super fast ball of having Tails carry Sonic throughout the stage.  Now, from what I heard these new mechanics were points of contention for a lot of critics, as they felt these slow down the game with their drawn out starting animations, and do not really feel as if they belong in the relatively simple space of 2D Sonic games.  Most of which are meant to be played with just one button.

I actually think they are genuinely welcome additions.  The aerial ability that allows Sonic to call upon Tails and be allowed to fly for a generous amount of time does diminish the game’s average speed, but it allows for more precision in movement and by extension, makes the game more enjoyable for people without near precognitive reflexes.  Mind you, there are instances where this addition feels a bit forced, and other instances where it feels as if the designers did not intend on having the player soar through the sky.  As for the rolling ability, that turns Sonic and Tails into a giant ball of death and destruction that zooms faster than Sonic ever could on his own.  It is unruly, hard to control, but I had a good time using in in the appropriate context.  

With these mechanics, Sonic 4 Episode II feels like less of a dangerously fast platformer, and is instead a slightly more methodical and slower platforming affair that still utilizes speed to great effect when the time is right.  There are simply far fewer instances of being completely blind sighted by a thread and feeling as if there is nothing that can be done about them.  Though, they and some of the more irritating aspects of this series do rear up in the level design.

Sometimes a hazard is thrown into the player’s way far too quickly for them to be predicted.  Sometimes a section requires more precision than the controls are really meant for, due to Sonic’s slow movement and such.  Sometimes the game is just a prick and will throw a spring that tosses the player right into a pit of enemies they just narrowly avoided because they are not worth trying to defeat.  While on other, thankfully rarer, instances, the game will introduce a mechanic that made me not want to revisit the stage, but they are thankfully far more hit than miss in this installment.

The bosses however, all kind of suck.  They are far slower battle that focus primarily on utilizing Sonic and Tail’s team abilities to defeat a boss.  When fighting Eggman, use the aerial ability to gain height and bash his goofy face in.  When fighting Metal Sonic, use the rolling ability to dash forward and bash his metal face in.  There is an exception with a gimmick boss battle, but that one controls poorly since the player needs to control an airplane by controlling Sonic.  As was the case with Episode I, the final boss is a major pain, but now it is because they rely on rotating platforms of death and precision platforming, Sonic’s greatest weakness as a game series.

The special stages from Sonic 2 make an unsurprising return in this installment, and if you recall my Sonic 2 review, I went on a tirade that lasted for a full third of the total word count about how awful the special stages were.  In Sonic 4 Episode II, they are better, and far easier, but seeing as how I lack the ability to either replay these stages or use save states, I gave up after getting 5 chaos emeralds.  Otherwise, I would need to repay through certain stages over and over again in order to simply attempt these stages.  Oh, and while I did carefully plan it so I only had to do stages 1-3 and 2-1 in order to get emeralds 6 and 7, seeing as how the player can do that in this game, it was still too much of a bother.

Anyways, after getting the 50 rings and jumping into a giant ring at the end of the stage, Sonic and Tails are sent into an abstract tube filled with rings and hazards, where they are taken to collect several hundred rings in order to be given a chaos emerald.  Except the physics and character control is far different from the rest of the game and not nearly as responsive.  To compound the problem, it s very difficult to observe what is coming up due to the awkward behind the back placement of the camera and the fact that it takes place in a giant tube.  It is quite simply too difficult to accurately perceive what is coming before Sonic and Tails, and react quickly enough unless the player has memorized the layout through successive replays, which the game actively makes harder than they should be.

I should also mention that the glaring colors of the special stages make it harder to see the rings, which brings me to the visuals of Sonic 4 Episode II, which are far, far, far better than anything featured in Episode I in a way that honestly shocked me.  Everything is in full 3D, characters are far more lively and expressive, the visual design is vastly more creative than its predecessor with stages that are either more striking and new or nice spins on already established environments from prior games that are varied enough to feel distinct.  

The game also features bright contrasting colors in its environments, unlike the more washed out Episode I, and certainly looks good from a graphic standpoint, considering it was a Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 downloadable game.  Also, they have the foresight to zoom the camera out during certain sections to make it easier to see what is going on.  I cannot begin to explain how helpful that is.

The music falls a bit flat, as the only really memorable songs for me were ones that channeled other Sonic games, such as stage 2-2, which remixes the Twinkle Park theme from Sonic Adventure.  This also goes for the sound effects, which still make use of the menu chime from Sonic Adventure 2 far, far more than it really should.  I am all for Sonic Adventure 2 references, but the electronic sound of this chime is distracting from the softer and colorful aesthetics of Sonic 4 Episode II, and still made me tilt an eyebrow whenever I heard it.

As a whole, I enjoyed Sonic 4 Episode II more than the Genesis games, even if 2, 3, and CD are more impressive on an audiovisual level, and certainly more than Episode I.  Episode II’s core gameplay deviates from the traditional Sonic mold by the newly introduced mechanics go against what I’m sure a lot of people would call intrinsically related elements of the Sonic series, and the game is a lot less aggressive with its fast pace, but I think it’ll all the better for it.  It is still scuffled by the usual issues that tend to plague most every Sonic game, with a level of jankiness present in both the controls and physics, but they are felt less in this installment due to a different and more methodical design philosophy.  While not the most remarkable thing, it was a pleasant surprise after the trash fire that was Episode I, and is a pretty alright game on its own.  

Oh, and there is some sort of DLC for Metal Sonic that remixes the stages from Sonic 4 Episode I.  I did not play through them as the game is basically Sonic 4 Episode I, again, and that game stinks.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode I Review

After going through the classic Genesis-era Sonic games last year with reviews of Sonic The Hedgehog 1, 2, CD, and 3, I thought I was done revisiting the classic titles.  I am, but there was one mainline Sonic game that tried to recapture the feeling of these games, one that the upcoming Sonic Mania will basically overwrite.  That is Sonic The Hedgehog 4, an episodic game series that must have done so poorly for Sega that they actually never finished it, instead stopping after two episodes.  Seeing as how both games are surprisingly different for episodic titles, I will be reviewing the games separately, starting with Episode I naturally.   Continue reading

Nigmabox Rundown (7/30-8/05) Gamindustri Is A Bizarre Adventure

I’m looking over what I have to say this week, I think I can safely say that the game industry is a pretty weird place if you ignore most of the AAA fluff that goes about and dig a bit deeper.  Just this week we have a Chinese imitation of a popular AAA game series published by a small scale American indie publisher.  A studio collapsing due to a poorly received game that was locked in a  vicious dec cycle.  A completely failed attempt at crowdfunding that was picked up by a publisher of games based on children’s cartoons.  A dancing rhythm game spin-off starting a character whose death is a crucial point in the story.  And even a sexual harassment charge involving a boy who used to be a big deal on the G4 message boards. Continue reading

Gemini: Heroes Reborn Review

Back in 2013, a little known Chicago based game developer by the name of Phosphor Games announced Project Awakened, an incredibly ambitious superhero game that promised to offer an, in retrospect, downright absurd level of customization and variability compared to other games on the market, all powered by the then new Unreal Engine 4.  It stuck with me for quite a while, even after the independently developed game failed to accrue the needed funds via Kickstarter, and the project was supposedly cancelled.  But the developers apparently were able to salvage enough of their work and concepts to create a brief game that also served as a tie-in to some TV show I have never heard of… Which I guess is still something. Continue reading