Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review: Picross S


As one of my favorite puzzle game series on Nintendo systems I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Picross titles. The mix of strategy, planning, deductive reasoning, and cute pixel art has never really worn thin for me. While I am hoping to see a 3D Picross title come to the Switch next Picross S is still a welcome reminder of what the series does very well and playing it is a little like sitting in your favorite chair to relax for a little while.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the series we’ll go over how it works. You’re given a grid that will represent some sort of pixel art picture at the end. Your job is to fill in the proper spots to help make the desired picture. In order to clue you in to which squares should be filled there are groups of numbers across the top and down the left side. These represent the different groups of squares that will be filled in within that column or row. For instance, if you see one large number you’d have a continuous group of that many squares selected in that row or column only while if you saw 1 1 2 it would mean you’d have two distinct stand-alone squares and a single group of 2 in that order from left to right or top to bottom in that row or column. Using these numbers you’ll then be able to fill in some rows or columns either completely or at least partially and then begin using a process of elimination and sometimes intuition to guide you on your way to completing the grid successfully.


In terms of the implementation on the Switch there’s both good and bad. On the good side the game plays well and works reasonably enough with the controls. However, in a move that seems to have shocked everyone, touchscreen controls are not supported in the game and this is a disappointment as it would have theoretically sped play up substantially if it had been supported. I’m hoping in the future they’ll patch the game to include this functionality as its exclusion is peculiar. Fitting in with the Switch’s themes of game sharing it is possible for you and a friend to try to complete puzzles together, though I found this to be a bit aggravating overall as my process for solving puzzles is often quite methodical and someone else interfering with what I’ve checked and marked off made things far more confusing. In addition there is an included assist functionality that does a reasonably good job of nudging you in the right direction if you begin to find yourself stuck, something that is sure to happen at some point with puzzles like these.

In order to bring a fresh sort of challenge to the table there is a new mode included as well called Mega Picross. In order to amp up the difficulty in this mode the rules have been changes a little bit. Along with the normal single column and row numbers this will also include Mega numbers that represent more than one column at a time. All you need to keep in mind with them is that the numbers represent the total number of connected spaces in a given group. These can amp up the level of challenge substantially as they leave what may be in a given row or column much more to chance, and will force you to begin creating new strategies to determine how to figure them out effectively, particularly where they intersect. This adds a welcome new twist to the mix, though you could certainly just opt to stick to the original mode to get your fill as well.


While there are 150 puzzles in the game available in both modes one of the gotchas, to some degree, is that the pictures for the puzzles are shared between the traditional and mega modes. While they’re not included in the same order, to help prevent you from knowing the pattern for any given mega puzzle in advance if you’ve already completed the normal puzzle for it, there is still then some degree of familiarity possible if you choose to tackle the Mega Puzzles after the Normal ones. I’d imagine that this effect would only be worse if you chose to do the Mega puzzles first and then the now-easier Normal ones second though.

For fans of the series the fact that there are no glaring issues with his new edition for the Switch will probably make it an easy game to pick up, unless your heart was set on being able to play the game in touchscreen mode. For people new to this series who are interested in a very cerebral type of puzzle experience it is an excellent entry in an already terrific series and should provide a substantial amount of content for most people at its reasonable price point. While not everything about this edition is what I’d hoped it is still one of the premier puzzle games on the market and it is well-represented in its first outing on the Switch!


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • As always, it is an excellent test of your powers of deduction
  • The new Mega Picross mode ups the ante and difficulty substantially
  • There is a helpful assist system available to you when you find yourself stuck to minimize frustrations


Cons:
  • The puzzles not being unique per mode is understandable but still a bummer
  • The lack of touchscreen support is a bit baffling, it should be patched in
  • There are certainly people who this sort of gameplay simply won’t connect with


Review: INVERSUS Deluxe


It’s unusual to come across games that break the mold and do something very differently than you’re used to and for me INVERSUS Deluxe fits that bill quite nicely. Conceptually mixing elements of the very classic Go with the pacing and style of a shooter it offers players something familiar but at the same time quite radically different. If you’re a big fan of arcade action, on-the-fly strategy, and perhaps have a friend who can play along with or against you as a bonus INVERSUS Deluxe is well worth your consideration.

To begin with you’ll want to understand that every space in the active play area is either black or white. The color of tiles will determine where you’re able to move and since your opponent(s) is/are the opposite color all spaces you’re able to move over they’re then blocked by. To change the colors of spaces you’ll want to shoot over them. You’re able to shoot in each direction, they're conveniently mapped to the 4 buttons on the controller. While this overall core is pretty simple there’s ample room for nuance and trickery as well. You only have 5 shots, though they will replenish slowly. If you want to send off a burst of up to 3 you can charge your shot but while you’re doing so you’ll slow down noticeably, making yourself vulnerable. Periodically there will also be colored dots on the screen, these will make your next shot move much faster and help you catch your opponent by surprise. For having such a basic foundation INVERSUS Deluxe actually has quite a lot of depth in what you’re capable of with additional strategic options as well.


Your high-level options for play are Versus and Arcade mode. In Versus mode you’ll face off in a sort of duel, trying to eliminate the other player through brute force, trapping them, or some combination of the two. You’ll play until someone wins 3 rounds and with the nature of the game this can be a see-saw battle if people are well-paired. In Arcade mode the levels are generally bigger and quite different. In this mode you’ll have to try to survive as long as you can against an endless sea of spawning enemies that are trying to get you. Here the game will alternate between opponents that don’t shoot but instead converge on you en masse and shooting opponents similar to those you’d face in Versus mode. The two attack you very differently but particularly when they're both on-screen at once it can ramp up the intensity quickly. One of the best things about the game is that it can be even better with a friend and there are loads of options for playing both against each other and cooperatively. With 2 players you can choose to play head-to-head in Versus mode or together in Arcade mode, working to try to hold off the spawning hordes. Bumping up to 4 players it can get a bit more interesting with the option of playing Versus in teams of 2. This versatility, with the game able to accommodate people playing solo as well as with friends, is a cornerstone of the value INVERSUS Deluxe brings to the table if you enjoy the core gameplay.

Given the rarity of indie games including online play it would be a grave error to fail to mention INVERSUS Deluxe not only supports it but does so in a novel way. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a lobby waiting for someone to play with and the game has been set up in a way that is sympathetic to that pain. While you’re waiting for matchmaking to get rolling you can opt to go back to playing a normal game locally by yourself and it will pull you back to the lobby once you made a connection! In the online match-ups I’ve played in everything has been silky smooth and quick, once it found someone, and there’s a nice touch with the game allowing you to map emoticons to your shoulder buttons so you’re able to engage in at least some minimal exchanges with your opponent. In the online lobby you’ll be able to choose whether you’re looking for any type of game or specify which you prefer between 1-on-1, 2-on-2, or arcade modes. You’ll also have an option, if you know your friends are playing, to search for only people on your friends list. Given this being a smaller indie title the level of online support is a pleasant surprise!


Overall as long as you buy into the core gameplay being offered INVERSUS Deluxe delivers a great deal of value for the price of admission. With ample single-player content in the form of Arcade and Versus mode map unlocks as well as cosmetic things like special trails, emoticons, or color schemes if you enjoy playing the game overall you have plenty here to make your way through. If you have a friend available either locally or online there are also plenty of ways to enjoy playing together. Even if you don’t have anyone to play with locally as long as there are people actively playing online when you’re out looking for someone to match up with you’re covered on that level as well. If you like a challenging mix of strategy and action packaged up in an attractive package INVERSUS Deluxe is a full-featured option.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • While its visuals are somewhat simplistic that isn’t to say they aren’t attractive
  • A load of ways to play for one player or more, including superb online support
  • An ample number of maps you can unlock that all change how you’ll need to play to be effective


Cons:
  • If you don’t buy into or get hooked by the core gameplay the volume of content and options won’t help
  • Some maps are more engaging and fun than others


Review: Butcher


I’ll open saying I’m a bit on the fence on how to approach reviewing a game like Butcher. On the one hand it absolutely delivers a quality twin-stick shooting action experience, full of visceral thrills, close calls, hectic moments, and bloody fun. On the other the heavily reduced scale of all of the details, though a lot is done to ensure what is there has flavor, make it hard to place on a scale for rating against other games already on the platform. With that quandary in mind we’ll proceed through the details.

Butcher is said to be an original Doom-inspired action game and in many respects those roots are quite clear. A grim and heavily industrial setting for the most part with plentiful enemies who are determined to kill you, many trusty weapons that spit death, and secrets here and there for you to discover. For being at a small scale it does a good job of keeping the blood splattering, bodily bits flying, enemies consumed by nasty explosions screaming, and devices for killing you or your foes around every turn. I award extra points for spots where you’re able to trigger traps for your enemies or maneuver to get out of harm’s way while they’re killed by something in the environment… it’s satisfying.


As you progress through the game you’ll generally get introduced to a new weapon and then will promptly begin facing enemies who you’ll need that weapon to kill if you want to be efficient. Since everything in the game is at a pretty small scale differentiating the grunt enemy types can be difficult, but at least the ones that require something with a little extra kick are usually not hard to spot due to their size, the weapons they wield, or even the sounds associated with them. I found that in handheld mode details weren’t as difficult to pull out as I’d first feared but being honest everything does begin to get pretty small at that scale so I’d say the game is more ideally played in docked mode overall.

If there’s one area that Butcher does quite well in it is with its control, you’re very maneuverable and are able to quickly jump up or come down through platforms and in general you’ll absolutely need to do this to stay alive. The second stick providing your aim is set up well, as you don’t need to have pinpoint accuracy, you’ll generally auto-lock onto enemies in the general direction you’re pointing in. This keeps the action frantic and allows for more enemies on the screen without having to worry about being overwhelmed because you’re not quite lining up your shots. In particular firing on your opponents from a distance is recommended on any level above casual because your enemies have very good aim and will generally see you as soon as you see them. When things begin to get intense you’ll definitely want to use verticality to your advantage as much as possible, and this is where the lock-on aim is crucial to your success. Honestly there’s enough in play that could kill you at any time it’s good that you can roughly point and shoot.


This gets into one of the areas I found odd and that’s the level of challenge. Since there are many environmental traps and things that can kill you when you don’t know what to do I’d actually recommend going through the game in Casual mode first to get the lay of the land. Aside from the final boss for the most part this will feel pretty easy because it really is. Ammo is overly abundant, your health is usually very high, and you’re able to feel a bit invincible most of the time. Enjoy it while it lasts because once you go to the next skill level, the aptly-named Hard difficulty, you’ll likely feel like you’ve skipped a skill level or even two along the way. Enemies are much more alert, fire at you much more quickly and effectively, and you’ll also find you need to rotate which guns you use and even break out the chainsaw at times because of ammo scarcity here and there if you’re not careful. It would have been nice to have something splitting the middle between these two skill levels rather than having it feel like you’re going from one extreme to the other.

If you’re down for some great action filled with pixelated blood and gore Butcher should be right up your alley. What it lacks in sexy graphics it makes up for in grit and intensity, so you shouldn’t necessarily discount it based only on how it looks in screenshots. Once you get on a killing spree and you’ve got some mechanized monstrosity moving around at the same time you’ll want to avoid it clicks… and there’s no other experience on the Switch right now that’s anything like it. Butcher won’t be a game for everyone but I’d imagine it will attract a cult following of people who took a number and and ready to be served something fresh and a bit bloody.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Intensity and challenge are it’s middle and last names
  • For people who love a some blood splattered on the walls Butcher delivers gallons of it
  • Includes some very creative ways to dispatch foes and one helluva finale!

Cons:
  • There are currently some stability issues as I had the game crash numerous times, though I was able to get through them
  • The scale isn’t so friendly to handheld mode, though it is certainly playable
  • There will no doubt be people who won’t be able to get past the game’s looks

Review: Astro Bears Party


Do you enjoy the old game Snake that you used to play on your phone or have you spent a substantial amount of time playing slither.io? If you answered yes to either of those questions and are thirsting for a similar experience to play with up to 4 friends on the Nintendo Switch Astro Bears Deluxe may just be for you!

With a slight variation on that theme Deluxe pits from 2 to 4 bears on a small planetoid and your objective is to stay alive while hoping to foil your opponents. The trick to it is much like the classic game of Snake in many ways your bear leaves a solid trail behind it as it runs. Anyone running into one of the trails will lose the round and the winner is the last bear still alive. That’s not to say there isn’t some small room for skill and technique as you’ll have a limited amount of boost that you’ll be able to use for boosting to jump (hold it down and you’ll stay in the air longer) or for running in a pretty quick burst.

Each bear has its own attributes but with the general rate of the matches, given that the trails are all permanent until the end of the round, my family and I found we just settled into which one suited our tastes the best and didn’t worry about the small variations. There’s the normal bear, a polar bear, a panda bear, and a bear that plain looks a little crazy. Thankfully those 4 individually suited a member of our family’s tastes but even if you all pick the same one you’ll each have a different color and truthfully with the split screen in effect and how quickly the matches go you don’t get much time to take it all in anyway.

I actually loaded up the single-player mode first and was a bit taken aback that it was really just a more polished 3D version of Snake where you could jump over your own trail. Not understanding this was just a preview of the full multi-player mode I actually couldn’t fathom why something so simple had been included. Once I played the game with the rest of my family at least the purpose of single-player mode became clear as if you’re really into the game it would provide an opportunity to practice.


If you’re waiting for the point in the review where I describe the rest of the content in the game I’m afraid I have bad news, truly what I’ve described is the extent of what is in the game. You can play a 2 - 4 Player variant of Snake where you can jump and dash and that’s really about it. You have an option to change the number of points you’ll play to and the size of the planet to either make the rounds incrementally shorter or longer but that’s all there is. There aren’t options to alter the rules or any tweaks, only the base game “as is”.

If the main attraction Party mode in Astro Bears appeals to you, then you’re in luck as it at least does a reasonably good job of providing the means to play some matches with your friends. My kids were slightly more enthused with it than my wife or I were so there’s a chance that with a less hardcore gaming audience it could make a connection. Unfortunately the lack of any real options or alternative modes to change things up makes it an all or nothing proposition. If you really love Snake and games like it with every fiber of your being there may be a good match here for you. If not, I can’t recommend it.

Score: 6

Pros:
  • It is a reasonably well-implemented 3D mutliplayer variant of Snake
  • People may find the look of everything to be cute
  • Forces me to break out some pretty grizzly puns
Cons:
  • There’s no getting around how “bear” bones this all is
  • Anyone who isn’t hooked by the type of game will likely find it un-”bear”-able
  • Single-player is “bearly” worth playing aside from if you’re looking to practice

Friday, September 29, 2017

Review: Tower of Babel


If you’re a big fan of the likes of Temple Run you may be in some luck with the release of Tower of Babel on the Nintendo Switch as it marks the official appearance of the endless runner style on the platform. Your job is to get up a tower filled with a random assortment of death traps and obstacles, trying to collect gems on the way, so that you can get to the top and trigger the tower’s destruction before making a mad dash back down through more assorted traps. This is the relatively basic foundation to the game, but thankfully as you progress it continues, for a while, to find new and better ways to try to kill you.

The presentation is generally straight-forward and functional sporting a variety of perspectives depending on the type of tower you’re tackling. You start out and are generally playing in more of a side view perspective but on some more complicated towers you’ll be working from more of a behind view for the action. While the behind view can be a little trickier to judge in terms of depth perception overall the graphics in the game work functionally well, though they’re not groundbreaking by any means.

In terms of variety your moves are a bit restrictive but they’re still very functional. You have the ability to jump, slide, speed up, slow down, and (when appropriate) change lanes to the left and right. From tower to tower both the nature of the traps and the number of lanes you’ll need to manage will vary and this variety helps to keep it all from feeling quite so repetitive. Initially you’ll only need to worry about speeding up and slowing down to avoid the traps thrown in your way but then as you progress the challenge is amped up as up to 3 lanes get brought into play, forcing you to make some snap judgements about where you want or need to be to keep moving along. You’ll need to collect the majority of gems that you’ll come across on your way up so you’ll need to make quick decisions on which few may not be worth the trouble and some are pretty much going to force you into harm’s way. If you take 2 hits in pretty quick succession you’ll be dead but the good news is that if you’re able to avoid taking damage for a short period of time you’ll be back to normal and able to take more than one hit again. This mechanic is nice as it encourages you to consider slowing down to reduce your overall risk when you’ve been hit but at the same time you’re very aware that the clock is also ticking.


In general this has pretty well summarized the majority of what the game has to offer though, again, as you progress there will be some variations to the formula as you reach new towers to keep it from becoming too monotonous too quickly. I’d say the challenge, overall is pretty middle of the road but even once you’ve mastered all of the towers there is an opportunity to participate in leaderboards. One flaw with this is that only the top 8 times are displayed, there’s no filtering for global versus local versus friends, and navigating for times between towers doesn’t seem possible, you can only see the one for the tower you’re currently working on. Its problems like this that, compounding the game’s overall simplicity, prevent it from being more than middling for the most part unless you’re really a huge fan of this overall style of play.

In the end Tower of Babel isn’t that bad of a game for the price of entry. If you enjoy the endless runner style the game does do a fair job of iterating on the same overall formula with a variety of traps and looks to keep it fresh. With a patch hopefully the issue with the limited nature of the leaderboards could be addressed and people could feel a bit more compelled to compete on them with their friends and others, understanding where they currently rank and how much harder they’ll need to try to climb higher in the ranks would really help sell the replay angle a game like this needs. As implemented it is just hard to recommend for more than fans of the genre though.


Score: 6.5

Pros:
  • Does a fair job of trying to keep things engaging by switching up lanes and traps from tower to tower
  • Currently one of the only offerings in this style of play on the Switch


Cons:
  • Even with the attempts at variety it’s hard to get around the fact that fundamentally you’re still generally doing the same things overall
  • The online leaderboard is kind of a nice feature but since it isn’t well or fully implemented it isn’t of much benefit
  • While the different perspectives work in general the behind view used with some towers makes depth perception a little difficult and could have been improved upon


Review: Sine Mora EX


For anyone who has felt that overall the games on the Switch have been too easy (first, you’d be insane to begin with, but work with me) a game that revels in whooping your ass at every turn is officially here in the form of Sine Mora EX. While not fully a bullet-hell shooter, one that has near-constant and elaborate bullet patterns you need to memorize and be adept at evading to survive, this game deals up a challenge in its own form. Mixing elements of insane bullets to evade, close-quarters flying, time manipulation, massive and often challenging bosses, and if you don’t look out a kitchen sink may hit you too… just on the Normal level you’re likely to find yourself having to work to make it through!

To start let’s be crystal clear, the game is absolutely stunning to look at and plays very smoothly on the Switch. Lord knows you’ll need that silky control too as weaving in and out of enemy fire and evading massive wrecking balls, hordes of missile, or buzzsaws attached to bosses that often take up multiple screens takes some quick reflexes and you don’t need the game itself chugging on you. The focus on the visuals associated with the bosses and how they’re introduced with their name does a great job of elevating the spectacle of them nicely, making it all feel a bit more exciting in the process.

Running with the boss battles I’d say those are where the game shines the brightest. While in all cases you’ll need to defeat them by shooting them (obviously) in some specific places the scale of them, how they each have a sort of personality, and the fact that many of them have to be taken down over multiple phases make them notable and special. That isn’t to say that the diverse designs of the cannon fodder you’ll face aren’t appreciated. Since you’ll be moving through a variety of environments over the course of the game the enemies you’ll face in each have their own look and feel, and it’s an effort that is appreciated in making the game feel less like more of the same with more bullets that some games of this type can devolve into.


While it is easy to really dig the game on the surface level that isn’t to say people won’t have any issues or frustrations, though I’ll admit that overall I’m impressed that the EX version of the game has attempted to sand down some of the rougher edges of the original. The most important change is that the default challenge level of the game has been reduced in the story mode, and it is appreciated. There are always higher skill levels you can get to if you’re a veteran and like your shooters to be insane, but for someone less experienced the original game was pretty brutal. That isn’t to say it’s all now perfect as I still ran into periodic issues with surprises in terms of things I would collide with versus things in the background. In some stages it can be difficult to tell where you can fly and where you can’t. You can learn this, and it can be dealt with, but it can still be aggravating overall for people coming through their first time as a bit unfair. All that said, even though the main mode is more newbie-friendly included extras like the Challenge mode hit the ground running as pretty unforgiving. There are also some included Versus modes as well as a co-op option for play, and they’re appreciated for effort, but at the same time they’re not terribly substantial for more than kicking around here and there with a buddy a few times. Finally, I just don’t know quite what to say about the “story” in the game other than it being enormously weird and almost an excuse just to pepper in some bad language once in awhile or attempt to lend gravity to things with its tone. For the most part it’s as if you’ve been dropped into a movie two-thirds of the way in, past the point where the characters and motivations were introduced and explained, and are riding things out through the finale. Just a head scratcher and I’m not sure it was necessary.

As a full package Sine Mora EX fills in a gap in the Switch line-up unless you’ve been indulging in the NeoGeo shooter ports, which are hit and miss overall. As a showcase of the visuals the Switch is very capable of producing, particularly in handheld mode, the game looks incredibly good. For people who aren’t big shooter fans it could be hard to call, especially given the asking price. Though the difficulty level has been tweaked to make it more friendly I’m not positive what the longevity on the game will be unless you’re looking to spend time becoming better at shooters as a whole. For more experienced genre fans it’s an easier sell as not only will you be able to get rolling and enjoy getting to know the game initially but you’ll then have a meaty amount of content to revisit, refine, and work to max out your scores with. While it may have some issues Sine Mora EX is still an impressive shooter and a welcome addition to the Switch line-up.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • Among the most impressive visuals for a game on the Switch
  • The default skill level is challenging without being over-the-top
  • A fair amount of diverse content and great boss fights to battle and work to perfect your high scores with


Cons:
  • While the challenge level is more newbie-friendly the overall content in the game is still more geared towards veterans
  • The Versus and co-op elements in the game have value but they’re not game-changers to drive people to go out and get it
  • The situation with the story is really weird, given its incomprehensibility I think it does more harm with its presence than good
  • How reasonable the price is scales depending on how hardcore you are since that will influence the amount of the game’s content you’ll likely be able to fully enjoy


Review: Sparkle 2


To this point the Switch has had some “casual games” but they’ve pretty well been puzzle games of some sort. While I think most people think of it as more of a hardcore gaming platform, that doesn’t mean that some room can’t be made for more casual fare, especially when it is well-executed. Enter Sparkle 2, a marble shooter from the folks at 10 Tons. Though their bread and butter is almost entirely action-heavy twin-stick shooters this deviation from their norm, the anomaly in their line-up, still shows a great deal of care. If you’re looking for something to pull out and play for a few satisfying minutes, it is an excellent choice.

If you’re unfamiliar with marble shooters the likes of the classic PopCap game Zuma Deluxe there isn’t too much to know. Your goal is to prevent a line of different-colored balls from making their way to one or more holes that are somewhere near your ball thrower. You do this primarily by shooting a ball that will get inserted into the line and making matches of 3 or more balls of the same color in a row. If you’re able to do this balls of that color will disappear and the line will continue forward without them. Where the skill in this genre comes into play is when you’re able to get a chain reaction going. As each group is removed if the balls on either side of the group are the same color they’ll be attracted together. If the resultant group has 3 or more of the same color they’ll disappear as well and so on. This is the base that all games in the genre are built on.

What Sparkle 2 brings to the table is diversity in the stages, with some having 3 tracks even, a solid set of power-ups you can get from matches during the game, and in the form of standing enhancements you’ll unlock and can choose to enhance your ball thrower. The stage diversity can seem like a small thing but a well-planned level can be very challenging even if you’re an experienced player. Multiple tracks that block one another require an element of planning and strategy to either prevent yourself from being blocked or to create an opening for yourself from a match that you can then shoot a ball through to get a match on the line you normally can’t get to. Sparkle 2 does a great job of not only having many stages but of providing a lot of varying looks to prevent you from getting comfortable as you get further along. The power-ups you can get are quite abundant overall if you’re good at getting chained matches and I’ve found that sometimes you really need them to dig yourself out of a tight situation. There’s a degree of randomness to what you get so from game to game it can vary quite a bit but that also can make it more exciting, certainly. Finally, over the course of the main campaign you’ll slowly unlock enhancements for your thrower that you’ll be able to choose among as permanent powers. These range from making your balls fly faster to making the game a little easier to having specific power-ups show up in place of a ball periodically. This is a nice addition and helps you find a combination that may better suit your style or even compensate for a weakness you may have.

Presentation in the game, for it being overall a pretty simple genre visually, is polished and generally attractive. While people could quibble over the style and theme the visuals are colorful and attractive on the whole. In particular I actually love the game’s whimsical music that is very reminiscent of Danny Elfman tracks without directly copying any of them specifically. The playful themes and the use of voice as an instrument really work well with the levels and the fanfare to open each level may be a bit overdramatic but I still appreciate its effort to get you into the game.


When it comes to control there’s good news and bad news. Playing in docked mode and using the JoyCon to control things is workable but aiming at a distance in particular can be tricky and this is a game in real need of precision. This isn’t a fault of the game in its control implementation so much as the nature of the genre and people usually playing it with either a mouse or on a touchscreen. The way the game is obviously meant to be played is in handheld mode with the touchscreen as this is extremely effective, almost to the point I felt like I was cheating versus playing it with a mouse on PC. Only needing to use a button to switch which ball you have loaded shooting your ball is as easy as touching where you want it to go. You’ll still need to consider whether anything is in the way or whether the ball will travel to that spot fast enough but it is a lightning-fast way to make your matches most definitely.

All in all while there’s nothing changing the fact that this is “just a casual game” there’s quite a lot of content to be played if you are a fan of the genre. Over the course of the main story campaign you’ll unlock new power-ups but you’ll also unlock 3 additional modes that provide more replay opportunities. They all will be variations on the same ideas, with only minor tweaks to the formula but they will throw challenges at you in slightly different ways and the unlocking of new levels at least provides you with continued challenges even after the pretty lengthy main campaign is completed. As a big fan of many classic PopCap casual games, and Zuma Deluxe in particular, I’d say that among its descendents Sparkle 2 is the most impressive and enjoyable by a fair degree. If you’re in search of something a little lighter than can be enjoyed in quick sessions between tasks it in an excellent choice!


Score: 8

Pros:
  • Touchscreen play is phenomenally accurate and quick
  • Perfect for quick sessions of pick up and put down play
  • An abundance of modes extend your excuses to keep playing if you enjoy the gameplay style


Cons:
  • Nothing is changing what this is, a casual game meant mostly for light play
  • Some may not appreciate the fantasy art direction or music
  • If you were planning on playing it primarily in docked mode there may be some challenges with aiming, though you can get used to it


Interview with Florian Emmerich of THQ Nordic on Sine Mora EX


If you’re a big fan of challenging old school side-scrolling shooters you’re in luck, Sine Mora EX has officially entered the building! An upgrade of the classic Sine Mora it has been refined visually to look absolutely stunning while some tweaks have been made to its infamous difficulty level to help make it more accessible to people who aren’t quite as hardcore. I was able to get some time to interview Reinhard Pollice, one of the leads behind this updated version of the game, to discuss the game, the changes that have been made, and the nature of how things work with an entity like THQ Nordic.

Starting with the standard opening question, you're given the mic at a gamer conference of some kind and are asked to pitch Sine Mora EX to the fans in attendance. Go!

RP: Sine Mora EX is a horizontal shoot em up game with a unique time mechanic that serves as your hit points. Time is also further woven into the gameplay by being able to manipulate it to use it for your advantage. We balanced the game in a way that it works for both newcomers as well as hardcore shoot em up players to provide the right challenge for everyone.


Taking a look at any screens or video of the game it has obviously gotten quite a graphical overhaul from the original Sine Mora, can you elaborate on the most meaningful updates have been aside from the visuals? 

RP: As you noticed we updated the visuals considerably to provide an up to date eye candy experience. Besides that the main areas of design work went into proper re-balancing the game and implementing local multiplayer modes. There is a story coop mode and 3 distinct versus modes for added fun and being able to enjoy the game together with a friend.

I remember when playing the original on my nVidia Shield tablet it was downright hard in places, and that's for an old school shmup fan. Has anything been done to retain the tough as nails stuff while making it more accessible to people who aren't quite ready for the full challenge without some warm up?

RP: Yes, we added a difficulty level for entry level shoot em up players to offer the right challenge curve for both experienced and new players.


The most memorable things from the game, for me, were the formidable bosses. Was anything done to juice them up further or were they great enough as they were?

RP: We did minor tweaks gameplay to the boss fighting experience.

I've seen mention of the added ability to play the game cooperatively. How does that work and is the game's difficulty adjusted when you add someone? Is it drop-in / drop-out or something you set out with and then need to stick with throughout?

RP: You have to start a coop mode game. The second player gets a special vessel that has the ability to shoot in all directions making it a very useful support tool to aid you in combat. Balancing wise its the same but the second player receives just 1/4 of the damage the main player gets.


I've also seen that there are some Versus modes included now as well. Can you elaborate on them?

RP: Sure, so the general idea is to offer some easy to learn minigames to spice up the overall package. There is a race mode where the screen scrolls horizontally and you have to dodge obstacles – the players who survives the longest wins. Then there is a deathmatch mode where the aim is to shoot the other player until he has no „health“ left. The last one is a dodge ball mode where there are generators behind each player that need to be shot by the other.

I normally deal in independent developers but I've been curious about the structure and approach of THQ Nordic and, from the outside, it seems a bit non-traditional. Would you say your team has the central support from them but are able to act somewhat independently?



RP: We had a very small team working on Sine Mora EX that all worked on the original and had the passion to make a great game even better. Our approach was very hands on and only had one goal in mind: to deliver the best possible Sine Mora experience and to achieve that goal we pulled every string.

Looking over the summary of offices THQ Nordic has they're spread all over the world. Where is your specific team based or was this a collaborative effort with people in multiple locations?

RP: The project team for Sine Mora EX was distributed. The majority of the actual developers was based in Budapest, Hungary but actually not working out of the same offices.

Did anyone on the team have a direct connection to the original title or was this an acquired license that your team was then charged with revitalizing?

RP: Most of the team members worked also on the original Sine Mora. If possible and if there is interest we try to work with people that already have some hands-on experience on a franchise as this gives everybody a head start when diving into a project based off an established franchise or game.


Did working on this give you and your team some ideas you'd love to implement in a future game that you weren't able to put into the conversion since, for the most part, it is already established?

RP: We have a lot of further ideas for Sine Mora and we hope that one day we can work on a completely new game in the series. Working with something established always gives you some constraints and being able to work completely free would open up some new possibilities.

On the heels of this conversion are you likely going to pick up another acquisition to work on? Any hints at what that next project may involve? 

RP: We have so many projects that we could start and unfortunately its pretty difficult to give hints without teasing too much. However we believe that at least one game that we acquired together with Sine Mora would be a perfect Switch game.

I wanted to thank Reinhard for taking his time to answer these questions as well as Florian and Bryden for helping to coordinate it all for us. Sine Mora EX is available NOW on the Nintendo Switch eShop!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interview with Matt Hammill of Asteroid Base on Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime


Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime has an unusual name but, then again, it is a bit of an unusual game. I was asked by someone on one of my boards whether it was a shooter or how to classify it and that was a challenge. It can be a wild and crazy cooperative game where you and some number of your friends or family will need to work together to rescue bunnies and stay alive, but in single-player mode it can be a challenging game of strategy and coordination as you tackle one half of the ship’s needs directly and tell your AI pet where to go to help! In order to get some answers on the game and how it came to be I got some time with Asteroid Base’s co-founder, Matt Hammill, to discuss this very different and charming cooperative title with a long name.

We'll open with the standard: What is the condensed version of the description for Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime like you'd pitch to people who are walking by your booth at a show?

MH: It's a game about working together to pilot a big ridiculous spaceship through a galaxy of robots, supernovas, and space bunnies. It's like you're Han Solo and Luke Skywalker on those cool guns, shooting TIE Fighters together, while your friends are freaking out in the cockpit. And you're all wearing neon.


How did the concept for the game begin? Was it an idea that focused from the start on being a multiplayer experience or did you all have a great idea in general that then lent itself well to being done as multiplayer?

MH: The desire to make a co-op game came first -- we'd been playing some friends' co-op games at local game jams, and we wanted to make something like that too. At first we thought we'd only ever show it at a local event or two, so we wanted to make something that would be fun to stop by and play in that context.

What would you say is the contrast in how the game plays between having 4 players, 2 players, and playing solo with your AI pet as a helper?

MH: LOVERS was designed from the very beginning as a 1 and 2 player game and we added the 3-4 player mode as an update after our launch.

With 2 players, communication is easier, because there's just the two of you, but each player needs to take on multiple roles more often. You can't just be chilling out in the left turret for the whole level. It's neat to see what dynamics arise -- one time we saw a little kid playing with his dad, and the kid was totally the Picard in that relationship.

With 1 player, there's no risk of miscommunication, but all the multitasking needs to happen in your own head. You control not just your player character, but also give orders to your loyal space-dog (or cat, or pig, or raccoon) as well. Time slows down while you’re giving orders to your pet, so it becomes a more cerebral game -- but still stressful!

With 3 or 4 players, the main challenge is organizing everyone. If you see a missile heading towards your ship, there's a temptation to assume someone else can take care of it -- so you really need to figure out how to spread out the responsibilities while everyone's shouting on top of each other.


What games do you consider influences for Spacetime in terms of overall theme and style of gameplay? Any cooperative mutliplayer games that you drew inspirations from specifically?

MH: In terms of visual style, we were inspired by a lot of classic 2D games, especially old Nintendo titles -- those games have really great visual clarity, where even though you're in these strange worlds you can quickly learn what all the characters and enemies do. Their form follows their function. Because our game has an extra layer of complexity -- it's an environment inside another environment -- we wanted to at least try to keep things as visually clear as possible!

In terms of theme, the only other idea that was briefly in the running was doing the game as a top-down pirate ship... but we were all 80s kids, so I guess we just like sci-fi.

The local Toronto co-op games that inspired us in the first place were A Friendship in Four Colours, and Cephalopds Co-op Cottage Defense. But we also grew up playing local co-op games, and I've got a lot of fond memories playing Sonic 2 and Gunstar Heroes with my brother (and actually we totally stole Gunstar Heroes' powerup combo system)!

Over its lifetime it has obviously gotten numerous accolades from both the press and your peers, how gratifying is it when your work is shown that sort of appreciation?

MH: It always makes us really happy to hear that people are enjoying it. However, we really love it when people tell us specifically WHO they play the game with. Sometimes we get mail with from parents showing the drawings their children have made. Once I met a teenaged brother and sister at a show, they played through the game with their father. I don’t know what it is, but finding out that you’ve played some kind of role in people’s relationships, there’s something there.


Would you say that your success on the platforms it has been released on already has seemed to match its critical success?

MH: No complaints here :) We were nervous in the early weeks, because we had a slow launch, but over time it seems like the game has found its audience. On that note we're super excited to bring it to Switch, because this seems like the platform the game was meant for all along, even though it didn't exist when we started!

Toronto just seems to have a massive indie developer community. What would you say is in the water there that has made it such an epicenter for independent games?

MH: The people in the community here are amazing and incredibly helpful -- we never would have made it through the project if not for the help we received along the way.

There are also a lot of schools in Toronto -- game design, programming, animation -- and until Ubisoft showed up a little while back there were never any big studios to absorb everyone. So maybe that led people to form their own studios.

Also, the various government funding programs don't hurt either. :P

Your company bio information says that you originally got together at a game jam. Can you add any flavor to that basic story for how you got started and on the path to where you find yourselves now?

MH: We’ve been friends for well over a decade now, since high school and college. I come from an animation background, Adam was a particle physicist turned mobile developer, and Jamie was doing some illustration / web design stuff, but we all had an interest in games. Our first jam game together at TOJam 2011 was a silly 4-player ninja skydiving deathmatch game, and for our second jam at Toronto Global Game Jam 2012 we wanted to try something where players worked together instead of trying to kill each other.

At the end of that first jam we had a janky broken prototype in Game Maker (see below), but players at the jam still seemed to like it, so over time we kept working on it part-time, eventually switching to Unity, continually showing it at events, and eventually getting support from The Behemoth's Gold Egg Project, which led to us going full-time, which eventually led to release!


Having been on other platforms what would you say is something Nintendo is doing right with the Switch that you have been impressed by?

MH: As always they are willing to take risks and try new things in their hardware design. When we first watched the announcement presentation we kind of freaked out. The fact that they packaged the system with two controllers was HUGE. Not only do the detachable Joy-Cons make the Switch a perfect platform for LOVERS, but it’s just a really neat feature.

What are your hopes with getting into the still much more minimal Switch marketplace compared to the likes of Steam? Do you have concerns about the rate Nintendo is announcing new indie titles, that within the next year it will be comparably overrun by titles? What thoughts do you have about how the owners of these digital storefronts could  make more effective strides to keep indie games from being buried in the weekly churn, let alone struggling for attention 2 weeks or a month in?

MH: The increasing flood of games is just a side effect of game dev becoming increasingly accessible, and to argue against game dev being more accessible, or against walled gardens opening up, would just be self-serving. I mean, we are 100% beneficiaries of game dev becoming more accessible! There's no way we could have made LOVERS a decade ago.

The downside is good games getting lost in the flood, but my hope is that smarter storefronts will help overcome that. This is something that Steam is obviously really focused on, and I gotta say that whenever I'm on Steam, I almost always see something new that I'm curious about. I hope that approach keeps spreading among the other platforms.

There's no point in wishing the platforms acted like a charity to bring attention to your undiscovered game -- that almost never happens any more; that's the developer's job. But the other thing I have faith in is the passion of the community -- people still *like* finding neat new games and telling their friends about them, and people still *like* learning what new stuff is coming down the pipe. As long as that's true, there is hope!


What are your thoughts on how Humble Bundles may both help and hurt independent developers given their popularity overall?

MH: They're a fact of life in the market now. It's a good way to give a boost to your long tail sales, as long as you don't undercut your early window by bundling too early.

The monthly bundle thing, and that kind of Netflix model -- I'm waiting to see how that plays out. I've got this idea that people's game tastes are too eclectic and specific to be covered by a subscription... but maybe that's just me. :P Also, my own game-playing bottleneck these days is definitely time rather than money, so I don't mind shelling out for a specific game that piques my interest. But that's certainly not true for everybody. (I'm just old!)

In short, who knows? Things change. It will be interesting to watch it play out.

Are there any new titles you all have in the works that you have anything, even vague, to say about?

MH: Sorry, nothing to announce at this point!

I wanted to thank Matt for taking the time to answer my questions and Alex for coordinating this interview! Love in a Dangerous Spacetime will be flying into the eShop (and your heart) on October 3!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Interview with Michael Heald of Fully Illustrated on Wulverblade


Wulverblade is coming! Inspired by equal parts classic arcade hack-and-slashers, beat-em-ups, and a fair amount of British history it is looking to revitalize the genre. Sporting multiple playable characters, cooperative play, high-quality artwork, historically-inspired characters and settings, an M rating, and its fair share of secrets and unlockables there should be ample opportunity for epic bloodshed! I was able to get some of the time of Michael Heald, creator of Fully Illustrated and mastermind behind Wulverblade, to discuss this upcoming brawler that’s coming to the Nintendo Switch first!

Starting with the boilerplate, you're at a big gamer conference and they're passing you the mic asking you to give the quick version of what Wulverblade is all about... go!

MH: Wulverblade is a hardcore, bloodthirsty side scrolling beat-em-up set in ancient tribal Britain during the Roman occupation. In short think Golden Axe meets Roman Britain!



In the videos I've been impressed by what looks like a fair diversity in moves you can pull off, with some of them reminding me a bit of Aliens Versus Predator. As a huge fan of classic beat-em-ups what specific genre games would you say inspired you for Wulverblade when it comes to "feel", moveset, etc?

MH: Side-scrolling beat-em-ups are without doubt my all-time favourite genre and since the dawn of 3D graphics when the PS1 and Saturn came around, that beloved genre just vanished, almost entirely. Ever since I’ve yearned to see this genre get revitalised but it never did, not in a big way at least. So instead of moaning, I got to creating!

I’m a BIG arcade and retro collector and have just about every old side scroller there is. When my arcade cabs are on there is always at least one side scroller running. Games like Golden Axe, Knights of the Round, Sengoku and AVP were the biggest inspirations for this as they’re all mainly weapon based. But hand-to-hand beat-em-ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage have been massive influences too. I actually spent months stripping the classic games down to analyse the frame timing of each character's moves so that I could better understand what made them work so well. I also did the same with games that did it badly too, to see where they went wrong. With all that in hand I then basically started to cherry pick the elements that worked from all the big hitters and made a list of what Wulverblade needed for its core foundations. As the game developed we expanded on that massively and created a moveset that feels classic at its core, but also has a tonne of modern flourishes. 
 

What would you say has been your goal in terms of trying to take close classic elements to the next level?

MH: From the very start we didn't want to ‘just’ remake the past, that has, obviously, already been done many times over. We wanted to take what worked and give it a modern veneer in both the visual and gameplay departments. This is my favourite genre so for me it was a chance to take all the elements I loved, mash them together and then add in all the things I always dreamt of. The way our team works has been a godsend too. Partnering with my friends at Darkwind Media really helped to sculpt Wulverblade as they introduced so many amazing features to the gameplay that I would likely never have thought of. We’ve not detracted from the retro core but I believe we’ve added to it in a big yet sympathetic way.

Visually speaking, my goal from day 1 was to create a new beat-em-up that looked (how I imaged) games could do if 2D was still king and 3D hadn't ruined it all ha haa.  With the dawn of HD 2D games like Shank, Mark of the Ninja and Rayman it showed that there is still a love for 2D and those games showed just how wonderfully it could be done. 
 
One thing I'll say excites me a bit is the visible combo meter. Aside from just making you feel like you're kicking some serious ass is there a greater role that it plays in things?

MH: From the very start I said to the guys that if we can’t get the game ‘feeling’ right we don’t continue. So the first year was dedicated solely to mastering the core combat engine. I mentioned earlier about the frame timing research I did and that fed into this in a BIG way. Once we had the core attacks and moves locked in, we started to experiment further. Something else we did that HUGELY benefitted the game was taking it to smaller games expo’s around the UK throughout the game’s development. Getting hundreds, possibly thousands, of people to playtest your game in front of you is priceless. You can stand to one side and watch their reactions. A good number of features that are in the game came from player feedback at shows.

Regarding the combos specifically, they were a bone of contention in the early days of the game. I was a stickler from the outset about keeping it retro, but the rest of the team really wanted combos. What we decided on after months and months of experimentation was a balance. Combos that the user can create via experimentation but not set in a way that makes the game just about building combos. I love what we have in this balance as each person discovers their own favourite combo and it's going to be very exciting to see what players around the world do with them. 
 

With room for up to 4 total players how does the game compensate for additional people? 

MH: The game is 2 player only and that was purely a creative choice. When I was a kid I’d look at the arcade games with their massive sprites and then be wholeheartedly let down by the tiny sprites in the home console conversions. So from day 1 I said ‘I want MASSIVE sprites’. I just love the look of big meaty characters with loads of details. The drawback of this is that the screen is just too full with 4 players once you populate it with enough enemies for them all to fight. So wanting to see my creative vision through, I stuck to my guns. I’m really glad I did as I love the end outcome. 
 
Are there any bragging rights opportunities among friends as you progress through the game?

MH: We have a lot of unlockable content in the game and some of this is found in secret locations. We have an armoury where you can see all the weapons you’ve found around the game and one of those weapons is very special indeed. So I’m looking forward to seeing folks showing off that they’ve completed their weapon set!

There is also one pretty amazing feature in the game which I cannot wait for people to find. That’s all I’m saying on that!
 

Even in just some of your promo materials the game absolutely doesn't shy away from some pretty grisly carnage in the cut-scenes. So I take it you know your audience and are just gearing to make the best game you can without holding anything back?

MH: As the game is so heavily based on history, I was keen to keep things as accurate as possible. So the landscape, the clothing, the weapons, the people, you name it. It's all tied into real history. I’ve spent as much time researching and visiting the game's locations as I have making the game, it's crazy how far I went with all this. So when the combat started to roll out, I knew it had to be bloody as let's be honest, you can’t take thousands of men with swords, set them on each other and expect it to stay blood free! 

The ancient Britons used to remove the heads of their greatest fallen foes after battle, take them home, embalm them and show them off as trophies, so it was a pretty gruesome time. So the game is no holds barred. We’ve been given an M rating (18 in Europe) and that may hold us back in some regards, but I don’t mind, it was all part of the original direction.
 
I love the language you all use to note your efforts to capture real spaces in the landscape where these sorts of battles happened, it's all very lush and descriptive. What made this effort so important to the team, to not just have some wooded areas and the like in the background, but to shoot for capturing the real spaces?

MH: Well, the historical detail with the game as a whole, and also the environments, is really just down to my over-the-top geeky obsession with ancient Britain. Making the game and going into such historical detail gave me the perfect excuse to spend almost every weekend over the past 5 years visiting locations, walking, exploring and getting my head deep into the world of that period. I adore this period of history and literally can’t get enough of it. I just hope that this passion, love and obsession comes through in the feel of the finished product. 


To go with capturing those spaces the artwork in the game, even in the backdrops, is plain incredible. Just the level of love put into every detail is right there in front of you and while many games are hard to appreciate without seeing them in motion Wulverblade looks gorgeous in every shot I've seen. To get to that level of quality I'd assume the art direction for the game has been very clear since the beginning?

MH: Thanks! Yeah the vision for the world was pretty clear from the start. I wanted a gritty, cloudy British landscape that fellow Brits could connect with. Very few games feel British (or European for that matter), they’re usually either totally fantastical or set in far off lands. I’m hoping folks can see and feel this visual difference as they play. If nothing else, they’ll get a good idea for how often it rains here ha haaa.
 
Over the course of your promo video I can see multiple playable characters. How many are available to start and are there any additional you unlock? Do specific characters have special abilities to differentiate themselves?

MH: There are 3 main protagonists in the game, Caradoc, Guinevere and Brennus. They’re all siblings and come from a family known as the Wulvers. They take form as the classic archetypes of this genre. Caradoc is the good solid all-rounder, the one most folks will pick. He has average speed, average power, average grappling and average abilities in the air. Guinevere is faster, more aggressive and better in the air with a stronger focus on air combos. She’s great at dashing around the battlefield and dodging up the Z plane. To balance her speed and agility she’s the weaker of the trio. Then we have Brennus, the powerhouse. He’s a born grappler. He’s much stronger than the other two and has specific ground abilities that the others don't. His weakness is his lumbering speed. He’s slow and thus more likely to get hit. 

As far as unlockable characters… I couldn't possibly say ;)
 

Perhaps more exciting is the fact that I can see characters wielding a variety of weapons. Are these pick-ups over the course of a game, options you start out with or gain with experience, or are they unlocked?

MH: As we wanted to keep the retro focus you start out with your main arsenal and you carry that throughout the game. We didn't want to add in huge levels of upgrading, crafting etc and just wanted you to be badass from the get go.  A break from your normal moveset is your rage. As you kill enemies your rage increases. Once your meter is full you can unleash your rage! You are invincible for a short period and during this time you change to your rage weapons, go into a berserker-like frenzy and your energy partially re-charges.

Whilst you can’t change your core weapons, what you can do though is utilise extra weapons. 

Heavy weapons are one of the key additions we’ve made to the overall combat. Along your journey you’ll find these heavy weapons which you can carry with you until they wear out. They create an entire set of new moves which are operated via a different button. They inflict more damage and can be strung into your normal combos to extend your combo count. They can also do handy things like strike downed enemies whilst they lie on the floor.

There are also standard weapon pick-ups too like spears and hammers. These have a very short lifespan but have varied abilities like longer reach and inflicting heavier damage.

Lastly are the projectile weapons and we’ve put a fair focus on these. The action is frantic and you’ll always find enemies creeping up behind you. To deal with this threat the ground is littered with projectiles. Almost every enemy drops their weapon upon their death and most of these can be thrown. Swords, knives, you name it. But the best bit is when you lop off a limb or a head, once they hit the floor they can also be used as weapons too. You’re never short of projectiles.

So yes, there are a lot of varied weapons in there but your core loadout always stays the same, the key is to master that and learn how to best add to it as you go along.
 

How did the process of becoming a featured game in the latest Nindie Showcase and launching first on the Switch work out? You were in with some pretty impressive company, it must be gratifying to be recognized and to get that sort of added exposure!

MH: It was AMAZING. We felt very honoured indeed. Nintendo have made us feel like part of the Nintendo family in a big way. All the platform holders have been great to date but Nintendo are on a different level. They’ve really made us feel like they care about Wulverblade and that means the world to us. 

Initially we’d tried every avenue to get in touch with Nintendo and to give them a really strong pitch to sell Wulverblade to them. We have a lean towards local multiplayer (as all the old side scrolling beat-em-ups play best with a buddy by your side) and Nintendo could see that and how well it fit in with the core values of the Switch. Then to our HUGE surprise we were showing the game at PAX East in the Megabooth this year only to discover that the two chaps we were talking to were actually from Nintendo! They were out scouting for games whilst undercover. They could see first-hand how much people loved the game and it was from there that I ‘think’ we’d proven our worth.
 
With as cool as the game looks and all of the effort that has obviously been put into it any chances of seeing DLC of some sort to further extend the experience?

MH: We already have a BIG update for the game in the works that will be free for all players. It will add something amazing to the game. You’ll have to wait and see what that is though :)
 

Any word on what your team may be looking to cook up next?

MH: In a totally perfect world we want to carry on working on Wulverblade. The story is so rich and there are so many avenues that we can take the story down for DLC. The world of Wulverblade has been my world for 5 years now and there are lots of things I want to do with it. There is a story spin off that I want to explore and turn into a comic book but that will be super expensive so we’ll have to see how things go. So many ideas! Needless to say though Wulverblade 2 already exists in my imagination and the story is already taking shape. If the world loves Wulverblade, there will be more! 

I'd like to thank Michael for taking the time to answer my questions and provide so many great insights into what will hopefully make this game special on several levels. If you're feeling bloodthirsty you shouldn't have too long to wait, Wulverblade will be hitting the Nintendo Switch eShop in the upcoming few weeks!