Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. Every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives near Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.

new super mario bros

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Bounces Onto Switch

Posted by | News, Switch | No Comments

Nintendo’s premiere Mario 2D sidescroller on Wii U has been re-released with new content on the Switch. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is available now. And arriving on Nintendo 3DS is another Mario remaster: Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey.

“After a strong 2018, both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS add to their large and diverse libraries with two solid games starring Mario and friends,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. “Nintendo is giving fans on both platforms good options to kick off their entertainment in 2019.”

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes the original New Super Mario Bros. U and its more challenging sequel, New Super Luigi U, for a total of 164 levels.

Both games feature up to four player simultaneous local co-op. Players can choose between Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and newcomers Nabbit and Toadette. Both Nabbit and Toadette are geared for younger gamers, offering an assist mode. Nabbit is un-phased by enemies and earns extra lives, while Toadette can turn into Peachette, letting her double jump, float, and bounce up from pitfalls.

Note that you’ll need additional controllers to play with three or four players.

The recently arrived Nintendo 3DS version of 2009’s Bower’s Inside Story features revamped graphics and gameplay. The new mode, Bowser’s Jr.’s Journey, puts Bowser’s kid in the limelight as he gathers an army and wrecks havoc. Bowser’s Inside Story is fully compatible with the Nintendo 2DS and 2DS XL.

Both games are rated E for Everyone.

clank in space

Clank in Space + Apocalypse Review

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Publisher: Renegade Game Studios, Dire Wolf Digital
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 45-90 minutes
MSRP: $60.00 (Clank in Space), $25 (Apocalypse expansion)

In space no one can hear you scream, but Lord Eradikus will surely hear all that noise you’ve been making while snooping around his ship. All that clanking will summon his wrath, and your only hope is to run faster than your friends.

Clank in Space is a brilliantly fun board game that combines the strategy of a deckbuilding card game with a space-themed dungeon crawl. The recently released Apocalypse expansion adds new villainous schemes to thwart your heist plans even more, creating an always exciting and memorable race through the mother ship.

Space Heist

The original concept for Clank: A Deck-building Adventure in 2016 resulted in a traditional fantasy-themed dungeon crawler. Clank in Space launched as a sequel a year later, infusing a sci-fi theme filled with hilariously on-the-nose references to every science fiction movie and show you can think of. It also features a modular board of multiple double-sided sectors, adding a welcoming amount of variety to every game.

clank in spaceAs a deckbuilder each player starts with the same starter deck of 10 cards, which can generate either Skill, Swords, Boots, or Clank. Skill lets you acquire more and better cards. Swords allows you to defeat villain cards for rewards. Boots let you move around the map, while Clank forces you to add your colored tokens to the bag. When certain cards arrive at the marketplace, Lord Eradikus will attack, forcing players to draw cubes from the bag to see who gets attacked.

Players take turns playing cards, moving around the board, collecting secrets, and hacking modules to gain access to the final area. The goal is to steal an artifact, then high tail it back to the entrance to count their victory points. Lord Eradikus’ rage builds over the course of the game, represented by drawing additional clank cubes from his bag.

The beginning stages feel calm. But by the end you’ve drawn most of the black cubes (misses) from the bag, players are wounded, and you’re running out of options to heal and time to escape. If you die before returning to the starting module, you’re eliminated.

Player elimination can be harsh but they often get their revenge; on future turns they become additional boss attacks. I’ve played at least one hilarious game in which all three players died early thanks to a string of risky choices and bad luck, and we all ended up laughing about it.

Apocalypse Now

The new Apocalypse expansion adds 35 adventure cards, two new module map pieces, and eight schemes. The cards and modules help add even more variety and flavor to a game already rich with replayablity, while the schemes are an all-new gameplay addition.

clank in space apocalypse

Instead of adding new mechanics and complications, schemes smartly use a resource already in the base game, the black boss cubes. When these starter cubes are drawn from the bag they represent misses from Lord Eradikus. They’re important for making the early game sting less, while the late game gets excitingly challenging as the ratio between player cubes and black cubes has shifted.

When playing with one of the schemes, drawing these black cubes adds to an ongoing counter. Each scheme includes three different stages, with each stage activating a global effect. The Microbot Army Scheme, for example, deals 1 damage each to all players upon reaching stages one and two. But after the third stage, players take one damage every turn if they fail to generate any Swords.

To combat these threats, each scheme allows players to purchase the black cubes before they fill up a stage, with the purchase cost thematically tied to the scheme (Microbot Army requires Swords). Many of the new cards and both of the modules then add new abilities that can be activated using these black cubes.

It’s a clever way to use a resource that was already included in the base game, though the schemes were rarely as impactful as I was hoping. It’s not too difficult to stay on top of most of the schemes. The final stage usually activates so late in the game that it rarely creates much of a disruption to the already exciting end-game.

clank in spaceThe Rating

As a deckbuilder, Clank requires comprehension of card text, though synergy between cards is less important than other card games. The simple iconography of Boots, Skill, and Swords is easy to grasp.

With the emphasis on working toward the same goal with a few Take That mechanics, Clank makes for a great family game with older kids and teens.

The Takeaway

The best part of Clank in Space is how perfectly balanced it feels. Every game consistently ramps up into an exciting, nail-biting conclusion. No matter how many players I was playing with it always became a tense, tight race. The Apocalypse expansion integrates perfectly, adding more variety without making anything too complicated, though some schemes are far more interesting and enjoyable than others.

Find Clank! In! Space! and the Apocalypse! expansion at Amazon, the Renegade Games Store, and your local gaming retailers.

destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Getting a Divorce, Bungie Keeping Destiny

Posted by | News, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One | No Comments

Bungie, best known for creating the Halo series and more recently the Destiny games, has announced they are splitting from parent company Activision after eight years. As part of the deal, Activision will transfer ownership rights of Destiny to Bungie, who will become an independent publisher.

“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” states the official update post. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”

Bungie has a history of independent development as well as partnerships with large corporations. After developing PC games in the 90s, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 after showing its new first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo became an Xbox exclusive and was instrumental in catapulting the new console’s success throughout the early 2000s.

In 2007 Bungie split from Microsoft, but Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Bungie continued to develop Halo games for Microsoft, releasing Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.

Then in 2010 Bungie announced a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, which included letting Bungie keep the intellectual property rights of any new games. The Destiny series was born from that agreement. “We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner,” states the post.

Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, have enjoyed critical and commercial success, with numerous content updates and DLC over the years. Bungie promises to continue this trend as they resume life as an independent developer. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond,” states the post. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny.”

final fantasy

Final Fantasy X, X-2, XII Coming to Switch and Xbox in April

Posted by | News, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Square Enix has been a bit slower than other companies to jump on the Nintendo Switch wagon. But better late than never.

Last fall Nintendo announced that several Final Fantasy games were coming to Switch. Today Square Enix confirmed the release date for two of its remastered Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age will arrive on Switch, as well as Xbox One, in April. The remasters were formerly exclusive to PlayStation and PC.

To celebrate the announcement, Akihiko Yoshida created a new piece of artwork showcasing the characters from Final Fantasy XII.

final fantasy

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD will launch on April 16. The HD remaster originally released in 2013 on PlayStation 3 (and again on PlayStation 4 in 2015, and PC in 2016), and combines both Final Fantasy X and its direct sequel, X-2. Both games launched on the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s, and Final Fantasy X is regularly ranked as one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made. It represents the first truly modern Final Fantasy game, with voice acting and a fully three dimensional world.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD will also be launching on an Xbox console for the first time, as it also arrives on Xbox One on April 16.

But wait there’s more. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is also coming to Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, on April 30. The Zodaic Age version is an HD remaster of the 2006 RPG that launched at the tail end of the PS2’s lifespan. Like the FF X remaster, it uses the improved international version along with updated audio and visual improvements.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age originally launched on PS4 in 2017. FF 12 is often ranked as one of the more underrated Final Fantasy games that didn’t receive the love it deserved when it originally released.

Both Final Fantasy games are rated T for Teen.