Category Archives: Mac Reviews

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review

Epic Mickey 2Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Blitz Games Studios
Release Date: November 18th, 2012

Parent Talk: Epic Mickey 2 is rated E for everyone. Imagine, if you will, the violence of a typical Disney animation motion picture and you know what to expect. The game was designed with children in mind, and that’s exactly who will enjoy this game.

Plays Like: Much like the original Epic Mickey, the game is all about creation and destruction using Mickey’s magical paintbrush. Players can wipe away obstacles with a simple stroke of the brush, or magically create objects that help them achieve their goals. At its core the it’s an action platformer, wrapped around these elements.

Review Basis: Finished the single player game, and tried the c-op mode.

I enjoyed the original concept of Epic Mickey. I loved the idea of bringing Disney’s lesser-known characters to the spotlight, and also giving players freedom to help shape the world with a magical brush. Sadly the original concept and the videogame we got were too far apart. While Epic Mickey 2 tries to fix some of the problems with the original, it ends up stumbling worse than its predecessor.

The Great:

Your goal in the Wasteland is to either help destroy it or restore it to its former glory. The story, characters, and the very universe itself push you to be good, but ultimately the choice is yours. The way in which various Disney characters and places are incorporated into the game shows the developers have a real love of the source material. It’s this choice, and how you can alter your game world and characters around you which really highlights the game’s potential.

Epic Mickey 2_1

The Good:

+ The new co-op mode is by far the best way to play the game. One player picks up Mickey, the other Oswald and away you go.

+ Nice audio visual presentation helps draw players into this mysterious world.

The So-So:

+/- Given the more open-world design of the game, it’s important to have objectives that keep things interesting. That only happens about thirty percent of the time. The rest of the objectives are mundane and tiresome.

The Bad:

– Jumping is extremely problematic. From poor camera angles to questionable platforms, players will find themselves falling to their death more often than not.

– Mismatched hit boxes make combat a chore. Enemies can hit Mickey while very far away, but players have to get up super close to do the same. It makes combat frustrating.

The Ugly:

Left to his own devices Oswald is the biggest hindrance in the entire game. He gets in the way of attacking enemies, he won’t help you solve puzzles, and at the end of the day you’ll wish you could take your magic paintbrush and simply erase him from the game.

Epic Mickey 2_2

The Lowdown:

Epic Mickey 2‘s world is more impressive than anything else. From the songs, to the way the various characters and movies are all incorporated make you believe this is going to be something special. The problem is the gameplay. There is real potential for this franchise, Disney just needs the right people to harness it.

Final Score: 5.5/10

Cubemen Review

Cubemen (Available exclusively on PC)
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: 1 to 6
Genre: Tower Defense
Publisher: Three Sprockets
Developer: Three Sprockets
Release Date: March 16th, 2012

Parent Talk: Cubemen has not been rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board because it is an independent release. The game is available on Steam and Desura, and would likely get an E10+ rating because of cartoon violence. Cubemen is a tower defense game where you position your troops in such a way as to prevent enemy troops from taking over your base. Troops take the form of tiny polygonal cube men.

Plays Like: Most tower defense games work like Planets vs. Zombies where you position your troops in a fixed location on a grid to prevent incoming enemies from getting to your base. Cubemen works exactly like that except it goes one step further and adds some basic real-time strategy into the mix by allowing you to move your troops while they’re on the battlefield.

Review Basis: I played through most of the 26 single-player levels, until it got to the point where I just couldn’t proceed because I don’t have the moves like Jagger. I also tried a few Mayhem matches and some Skirmish battles.

Cubemen is a very fresh tower defense game that adds some nice RTS elements into the mix. The graphical style fits what the developer was trying to achieve perfectly. If you’re looking for a surprising tower defense game that adds in all kinds of extra features, this one is for you. It doesn’t hurt that it’s only $5 too.

The Great:

Cubemen is a fantastic, and simple to learn tower defense/RTS hybrid that’s easy to recommend at only $5.

The Good:

+ Simple to learn and easy to play. Line up your troops and protect your base, and if you need to make alterations as each new enemy wave approaches, the option is open to do.

+ Skirmish allows for two players to battle one another using the same gameplay from the single player mode. Essentially both players try to protect their bases, while simultaneously trying to take over the opposing base.

+ Mayhem is an up to six-player variation of Skirmish. Each three-person team protects their bases while trying to take over the three enemy bases.

+ The fun is figuring out which troops to place against incoming enemies. Do you use the troops with machine-guns, rockets, lasers, etc. As you collect resources (done by destroying incoming enemies) you unlock more powerful troops, but often it’s not worth waiting for the upgrade.

+ The audio visual presentation may not be for everyone, but the rocking soundtrack and crisp clear graphics go a long way in giving the game a retro feel without making it feel dated. Three Sprockets did a really bang up job with this one.

The So-So:

+/- Might be a little too simple for some. There’s really not much to Cubemen once you learn which troops to use under different situations. The additional multiplayer modes go a long way in helping break up the monotonous feeling, but some players may think it’s just a tad too simple.

+/- I think there was a bit of a missed opportunity by not allowing players to have access to a map editor. I can imagine the community going nuts being able to built their own unique levels.

The Bad:

– The tutorial isn’t quite as robust as I would have liked, in terms of explaining all the different troops and how they should be used.

The Ugly:

Pixel guts everywhere! Ok, they’re just dots but still one can imagine ;)

The Lowdown:

For $5, Cubemen is an excellent tower defense real-time strategy hybrid that offers hours of fun. It’s also a robust and feature-rich release, which is extremely surprising considering the low asking price. It’s currently available on Steam and Desura for those interested, and after reading this review you should be very interested!

Final Score: 8.5/10

Dustforce Review

Dustforce (Available only on PC and Mac)
ESRB Rating: This game has not been rated by the ESRB
Number of Players: 1 to 4 (Local only)
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Hitbox Team
Developer: Hitbox Team
Release Date: January 17th, 2012
Note: Available on Steam for $9.99

Parent Talk: Given Dustforce wasn’t rated by the ESRB, what should you do? Panic, run for the hills, or allow your kids to be subjected to one of the goriest and vulgar games ever created??? Kidding, I’m just kidding. The truth is this was an indie release, and while it may not have been rated by the ESRB, it’s perfectly harmless for children of all ages. You play as one of four ninja janitors who’s sole job is to clean up the world. By using your acrobatic skills you zip through each of the game’s many levels increasing your score for bragging rights on the global leaderboards. This is the perfect time-killer for your children, or if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll find yourself playing “just one more level” before heading off to bed.

Plays Like: At its heart Dustforce is a platformer, so in that sense it plays similar to something like Super Mario Bros. albeit instead of jumping on Goombas, you’re taking out evil dust tumbleweeds. There are no coins to collect, but a multiplier that continues to climb as you venture forth cleaning, and dodging pits, spikes, and other hazards you stumble upon. For one reason or another Dustforce also reminds me of ‘Splosion Man, and I think that’s because both are ultra colorful and unique.

Review Basis: Played through all the different areas, although found out I really suck at the game so couldn’t finish all the stages with an S ranking.

Dustforce is a really unique platformer where you simply progress through levels trying to clean up as much dirt and grime as possible, all while moving as fast as you can and avoiding anything that could cause you bodily harm. Sounds simple, and in the beginning it is, but very quickly becomes extremely difficult. Therein lies the fun.

The Great:

This is one of those games that’s super easy to play, but virtually impossible to master. If you love indie games or arcade-style games in general, this is one you most certainly should check out. For $10 you can’t go wrong.

The Good:

+ It’s so hard, it’s punishing…in a good way. I love seeing that I suck at a game, because it inspires me to get better. Constantly coming in at rank 12,000 means I’ll be coming back to Dustforce for a very long time to come.

+ Variety is the spice of life. Each stage feels completely different than the last. The key to success is learning the stages inside and out, where shortcuts are and how to clear out the dust as quickly as possible.

+ Replays rule, and show you that you suck…big time. You’re allowed to watch the top ten players of any given stage, which not only shows you just how bad you are, but also gives you ideas on how to improve your game.

+ Fantastic audio visual presentation. The graphics are super stylized and look clean and fresh. The audio is upbeat and features really catchy tunes. Another plus is the system requirements. You only need a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, and a gigabyte of RAM. That’s not asking for much in today’s world of super high-end graphics.

The So-So:

+/- I’m going to be ultra honest with all of you, while this was designed as a computer game, it begs to be played with a controller. The default keyboard layout is nowhere near as responsive or comfortable as a console-controller is. I would love to see Dustforce released on Xbox Live Arcade, or the PlayStation Network as I’m sure it would be a huge hit. If you’re planning on downloading this one on Steam, do yourself a favor and pick up an Xbox 360 PC controller. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

The Bad:

– One of the only negative comments I can make about the game is the lack of information provided in how to setup a local multiplayer game, how to unlock new stages, or even how the four playable characters differ from one another. While I hate being hand-walked through each and every detail, sometimes it’s nice to be told basic information.

– Local multiplayer only?! Yeah you read that right, you have to gather up to four real-life friends and play on your PC. When’s the last time you did that? Oh right, never. Sadly I wasn’t able to test multiplayer because I honestly don’t have four friends that would care to play a local multiplayer game at my house.

The Ugly:

Dust, dust everywhere! If you’re asthmatic, this game will be your worst nightmare (that was intended to be a joke. Yeah, sorry, I know it was pretty lame).

The Lowdown:

For $9.99 on Steam, available for both PC and Mac, Dustforce is a fantastic arcade game that I hope more people get into. I adore the art-style, love the music and think the gameplay is super addictive. If you’re looking for something different to play on your PC, and you have a controller, this one’s a clear winner.

Final Score: 8.5/10

The Walking Dead Episode 1 Review

The Walking Dead Episode 1 (Available on PC, Mac, iPad, PS3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Price: $5/400 MS Points

Parent Talk: The Walking Dead is rated M, and for good reason. It contains gory scenes and plenty of F-bombs.

Plays Like: An adventure game set in The Walking Dead universe.

Review Basis: Completed Episode 1.

I’m not ashamed to be a huge fan of The Walking Dead comic series. It’s my favorite in fact. Think it’s just another zombie apocalypse story? Wrong. Instead of banking on every cliché known of the genre, TWD actually deals with the issues at stake if such a tragedy would ever occur. Zombies are second to character development. The writers aren’t afraid to kill characters either, even major ones left and right. It’d be foolish to think that everyone should survive during such an adventure. Further shocking; I had no clue a game was coming out for my beloved series. As soon as I saw the reviews, I knew I had to play. Here’s what I think.

The Great:

Perfectly represents The Walking Dead. The game takes place in the same universe as the comics, but the cast is brand-new. You bump into familiar faces, but this is a fresh experience that retains the series’ charm. It’s classic adventure: you find items, talk to people, and solve puzzles. Like the comics, the character interactions steal the show. Nobody deals with the disaster the same. Some characters clash. In horror movies, it never makes sense why they don’t cooperate, and instead spend as much time fighting each other as they do the monsters. Here (just like in the books… again repeating myself but it’s an honest take on the series) you come to understand why people behave that way.

The Good:

+ Simple, but quality controls. You walk around exploring, interacting with different items or people. The combat functions basically the same, but feels tense thanks to the clever targeting system.

+ Decisions count. Your choices impact every character. This is the first of five episodes, but Telltale promises that everything you do will carry over. A simple lie might seem harmless, but destroy a relationship in a future episode. Plus, two instances force you to save a character, but not another. This guarantees tons of replay. With three save files to boot, you’ll want to finish the game over and over just to witness the different outcomes.

+ New details. We finally understand better how the epidemic started, but don’t know the cause. (I hope we never do; it shouldn’t matter). TWD starts at a time when the events are just unfolding. It’s always entertaining to see someone’s first reaction to a zombie.

+ The episodic setting. I think the pacing will be perfect with these episodes. Plus, the price is right. Buying each individually will cost $25 in the end, which isn’t shabby for a 12-hour console experience.

+ Sweet visuals. It’s just what I imagined TWD would look like in game form.

+ As fun as the comics. The story has the potential to be even better because of the branching paths. There will probably be dozens of endings and thousands of possibilities. You can stick to your original choice for an authentic adventure, or try to experience it in many different ways.

+ Time limits. To emphasize the survival-horror feel, you don’t have forever to think about your decisions. This fits the game like a glove. Just like in real life, the wrong words might come out in a tense, “under pressure” situation.

The Bad:

– No inverting? Why can’t I invert the controls? My mind learned the controls after an hour or so, but there’s no reason not to allow such a simple option. For some, TWD could prove unplayable. Fix this soon please…. or include it in future episodes.

The Lowdown:

Here’s a few reasons why TWD should be your next purchase:

* You’re a fan of [classic] adventure games.

* You adore zombie movies/books/stories etc.

* You like The Walking Dead series in either the comic or TV show format.

* You like video games.

* You have $5 lying around.

Only gamers who insist on constant action or can’t stand adventures wouldn’t like The Walking Dead. It’s worth playing, and for such a cheap price, The Walking Dead deserves your attention. While you’re at it, check out the comic books too. They’re awesome. A must-buy!

Final Score: 9.5/10