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Prizefighters – Review

Prizefighters is a watered down, albeit addicting retro style Punch Out! inspired mobile game. For a franchise that is beloved by so many, Punch Out! games are too few and far in-between, so titles like this can be quite exciting. Prizefighters looks and feels very similar to Punch Out!, which turns out to be it’s biggest flaw. With that being said , there is something really fun here that players may want to give a chance to, especially being it is a free to play game.

The premise is simple – create a fighter and fight up the ranks. The fighting is nearly identical to Punch Out! with the exception of command input. Button presses are replaced here with touch controls.  I was worried about the control scheme for obvious reasons but the input works surprisingly well. The screen is tapped in 4 sections to execute your punches. Top Right and Top Left do left and right jabs to the face. Bottom Right and left do the same for body shots. The more punches you land, the more power attacks you save up. Hold a punch to do a sweeping hook or cross to the body or face. Swipe up to block your face and down to block your body. Swipe left and right to dodge. It is quite simple and just as effective. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the game to work with a controller, but maybe I need to fiddle with it a little more.

What makes the fighting a little bit too simple is the fact that the opponents you fight have no personality. That means they do not have any special moves like in Punch Out! of yore. You may see some patterns emerge, but they are not distinct enough to really call them unique to those fighters. There are no Bald Bull style charging attacks, no crazy combos, no tells. It is just you blocking and dodging, saving stamina, and unleashing a barrage of attacks. While the fighting might be simple, and not very varied, it still has moments of excitement and challenge. With every fight you earn some currency. You use that currency to unlock some customization options or, and this is my favorite part, you can increase attributes. You also gain XP when fighting which can be used to level up some skills. Want to be a fighter that focuses on raw power? You can do that. The choice is yours. Don’t misunderstand by though, we are not talking Elder Scrolls leveling up, but it is a really nice touch to a relatively simple arcade boxing game.

Eventually as you progress in your career you will win championships. Every fight you have after winning the belt is a title defense, which adds a nice layer of meta to the mode. My fighter had a 4 fight series in which I won the title, then lost it to the next ranked fighter. I then lost my rematch and went down to fight the boxer I had one the title from in the first place. I leveled up in the process and then took on the champion and LOST AGAIN. I felt defeated. These were my only two losses, but I will NOT give up. I press forward and finally beat my nemesis. He had my number there for a bit, but I was able to overcome and gain the 17th rank. It is moments like this that make a fairly straight forward mode entertaining.

Aside from moving up the ranks in career mode, you can fight the NPCs in an arcade mode. Arcade mode is a welcome departure from career mode because the fights in career mode can get pretty tough as you are under powered a few fights in. Earning extra currency to level up is important here, especially if you don’t want to spend real life cash to get some more gold. I’ve put in a solid 5 or so hours so far and have had no desire to spend any money outside of just supporting the developers.

The look and feel of this game just feels right. The animations are nice and the pixel art is gorgeous. The only area it is lacking is in the music department. The grunts and the sound of glove hitting face is great, but there is no cool track to fight to. It is a shame because the menu music is so rad. Maybe in the future we can get some sweet new tracks. All in all, there is a charm here aesthetically that shouldn’t be ignored.

One of the really cool features here is that this game comes with an in-game video capture tool, which is uploaded to an in-game social media platform called Everyplay.  It is a really cool feature I wish more games had baked in. I’ve never heard of Everyplay, but it is a really neat idea I hope to see implemented into more titles soon.

Overall I think Prizefighters is a really great homage to Punch Out!, and a really nice foundation for what I hope is a new franchise in the genre. If you liked Punch Out!, or 8-16 bit boxing games of old, give this a try.

 

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The Walking Dead: Ties That Bind 1 & 2 Review

Reviewed on PS4

The Walking Dead represented a new direction in story telling for Telltale back in 2012. With an emotional and compelling story mixed with fantastic relatable characters, Telltale placed themselves in game of the year conversations across the globe and have become the standard of modern story telling in video games today. The Walking Dead Season three titled: A New Frontier, is now the forth installment in the Telltale Walking Dead series, and it does not disappoint in episodes one and two. To be fair, it is really hard to tell a story with the weight and gravity of the original season and after the third installment falling some what flat and not really progressing things in the Walking Dead universe, I went into this game with mild expectations. As a fan of the series and of Telltale’s work I was, and am still optimistic about the future of where they go with the Walking Dead.

In previous installments the game focuses on a little girl named Clementine who went from a helpless little girl to a strong and courageous character that has survived everything this post apocalyptic world has had to offer and then some. In A New Frontier, you follow a new protagonist named Javier, a professional baseball player, instead of Clementine from the previous two main line seasons. The first episode opens up with Javier rushing back home only to find his father Rafa has died and his family in mourning. Very early in the game the choices you are faced with already carry emotional weight and establishes the tone of the relationship with your brother. This theme continues throughout the first two episodes as you flash forward and Javi assumes leadership of the small group consisting of Kate, your brother’s second wife, and his two kids. Not long into the game you cross paths with a hostel group called The New Frontier (similar to the saviors from the main line Walking Dead comic and TV show), and protagonist Clementine. I was glad to see her introduced early on in the game and to my surprise she has been hardened from life in this world overrun by zombies and awful people alike.

Graphically this Walking Dead game is a great improvement to Telltale’s previous titles. The character design is still the graphic novel cell shaded style we know and expect, but the models are also more three dimensional and a little bit more realistic. Telltale has touted that they are using a new engine, but I have to be honest when I say do not be fooled their games still don’t run well. With characters popping in and out between scenes and the slight stutters when the action picks up just shows through and through that this is a Telltale game. As for my experience, none of this affected the gameplay, but one can only imagine what the rest of the episodes will look like. Seriously, Telltale, fix your engine! Sound design and voice acting are great as to be expected, but I just wish that overall the game would run a little smoother. However, it is still an improvement from past games.

The moment to moment gameplay in TWD was really tight and between the two episodes never left me board and ready for a change. The dialogue and relationships introduced so far have been great and the QTE has not been overbearing or broken. It definitely seems that Telltale has learned a few things from previous episodes ad seasons. There wasn’t any real slow downs to this point which made for great pacing. Also, as you progress throughout the two episodes there are flashbacks into what Clementine was doing in between seasons two and three. These flashbacks have been short and sweet and have continued to build an already fantastic character in Clementine. Javier is also very likable from early on and the same goes for most, if not all, of the characters introduced thus far.

All in all, this is shaping up to be a great game. New engine, new graphics, same great story telling and dialogue mixed with some new great characters and a fan favorite from the previous installments. As per usual, the twist and inevitable cliff hanger at the end of episode two was fantastic and completely unexpected. I am really enjoying where this story is going and truly cannot wait to get back into the next upcoming episodes. If you are a fan of the previous games, you will definitely like this one. If you were lukewarm towards them, I would still suggest this game as it is an improvement to an already great formula with the caveat that there are still some of the same engine issues as before. Granted they are better but still not perfect. As for first timers into the Telltale Walking Dead universe, this is still a great starting point as you follow Javier and his family closely while learning more about Clementine without being held back by not playing the first two games.

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Pocket Mortys: Gotta chip them all!

Pocket Mortys, from Adult Swim, has released early on both IOS and Android systems for free. The game combines the play style of the beloved Pokemon series and the science fiction comedy of hit television show, Rick and Morty. You play as super genius Rick Sanchez with his trusty grandson Morty and together you must take on the high council of Ricks to get your portal gun back and return home. The choice of test? Morty Battles. All over different dimensions Morty battles and Morty collecting have come very popular. The council of Ricks task ,your Rick, to challenge the Leader Ricks, of designated battle dimensions, to gain their badges. Only then will you have the right to challenge the council. As you make your way through the different dimensions you will find and collect different types of Mortys and collect their data on you trusty new Mortypad.

pocket mortys

While most games on the phone tend to lose their wonder within the first few hours, for me. I can say that I ran my battery dry while playing this game for the first time today. If you are a fan of the Rick and Morty then there is a lot to enjoy about this game. The music that plays in the background are all songs featured from the show. Some that stood out to me were the Tiny Rick “Let me out, set me free” song and the theme song of the show all redone for the game. A subtle, but charming, layer added to the game is voice over work from Justin Roiland for both Rick and Morty, be it a random passing by comment or smack talk to your opponent trainer. The game combines the shows animation and Pokemon design quite well. The maps are vibrant and comical with original character designs from the show. There are 52 different types of Mortys to find and train through your adventure. Each with their own moves to learn with certain strengths and weaknesses.

rick-and-morty