pokemon let's go

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! Review

Posted by | Reviews, Switch | No Comments

Available On: Switch

Pokémon GO’s incredible popularity on mobile phones introduced a whole new audience to the already stalwart Pokémon franchise. The Pokémon Company has leveraged that popularity for Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!.

On the surface the Let’s Go games are glossy, 3D remakes of the first generation of Pokémon (Red/Blue/Yellow) with the much simpler Pokéball throwing mechanics borrowed from Pokémon GO. Despite its relative simplicity compared to recent mainline games like Sun and Moon, Let’s Go includes several brilliant new features that make journeying through Kanto again rewarding and memorable.

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megaland

Megaland Review

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Publisher: Red Raven Games
Age: 8+
Players: 2-5
Game Length: 20 minutes
MSRP: $24.99

In Megaland players explore video game levels fraught with enemies but filled with treasure. If they survive they can use that treasure to purchase buildings and earn victory points.

Megaland plays quickly and easily and features beautiful artwork by Red Raven Games designer and illustrator Ryan Laukat. The gameplay provides a solid, family-friendly introduction into more advanced board game concepts such as set collection, resource management, and risk assessment.

Ready Player One

In Megaland each player starts with four hearts. Each round everyone jumps into a level, which is represented by a deck of 10 oversized cards. Players earn one treasure card from the treasure deck as each of the level cards are flipped over.

Level cards can contain enemies with 1-3 skulls, a blank, or a treasure chest. Encountering an enemy causes everyone who’s in the level to take damage equal to the number of skulls. If anyone would lose all their hearts, they’re knocked out and lose all their accumulated treasure. However, any time before the next level card is revealed, a player can choose to leave the level to keep all of their earned treasures.

megaland

The goal is to risk staying in the level long enough to earn as many treasure cards as possible. Treasure cards are more like resources or materials, such as carrots, gears, and eggs. These cards are then traded in to purchase buildings as each player builds up their own city.

Building cards are randomly selected from the box, so each marketplace layout plays a bit differently. Sets of unique treasure cards purchase buildings, while sets of the same treasure cards can be used to purchase additional hearts, allowing for longer (and more lucrative) runs.

We Built this City

Since everyone journeys on a level together, taking damage and earning treasure cards simultaneously, the game runs very quickly.

Purchasing buildings works similarly to a lot of deckbuilders, especially Dominion. But you’re not building a deck in Megaland; building cards are placed in front of the player, making it easy for kids to keep track of any possible ongoing effects.

These buildings often earn coins (victory points), either directly or through various triggers. The Hospital, for example, earns that player two coins for every player to their left or right who falls in a level, while the Fishing Pond simply awards two coins at the end of each round. The first player to reach 20 coins wins.

megaland

The risk of staying in a level to earn more treasure is a lot of fun, though it’s a shame the level deck is so thin. At only 10 cards it’s much more about calculating the odds each round rather than being surprised and shocked at the deck’s reveal.

The video game theme is also a bit thin. Other than a single jump ability provided by certain building cards, nothing inherently screams ‘video game.’ And most video games require you to finish the level, not quit early to get ahead. In Megaland the levels also never get more difficult; the level deck simply changes the order of which enemies (or blanks) you encounter with each shuffle.

On the plus side, the game moves very quickly and scales nicely as players earn more hearts, thus more treasure, more buildings, and finally more coins.

The Rating

Megaland is a great pick for kids who have graduated beyond the low age (4+) starter games but aren’t quite ready to tackle the big stuff (13+). Weighing the odds of when to jump out is a great teaching tool with stats and percentages, as is choosing which building cards to purchase. Although it’s competitive, players aren’t attacking each other, making Megaland a good game if you’re looking to avoid direct confrontation.

The Takeaway

Megaland is the perfect example of a board game publisher successfully applying advanced tabletop systems and mechanics to a wider, younger audience. Despite the small level deck the large number of possible building cards in any given game creates a solid amount of replayability, and risking it all for just one more treasure creates a lot of anguished yet enjoyable laughter.

Find Megaland at Target.

dragon quest xi

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews | No Comments

Available On: PC, PlayStation 4

It’s easy to get jaded about the RPG genre, specifically Japanese RPGs. Every trope has been well-worn, every character archetype has been fully exploited. Dating back to the 1980s the Dragon Quest series is one of the most egregious examples of many tiresome gameplay elements and story beats.

Yet each new Dragon Quest game proves why the series remains beloved and resilient. With an irresistible charm, modern design conveniences, and excellent writing, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a wonderful RPG for newcomers and a delightful return for series veterans.

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bridge constructor portal

Bridge Constructor Portal Review

Posted by | Mobile, PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Available On: PC, Mobile, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch

The original Bridge Constructor was a novel puzzle game that tasked players with, well, constructing bridges in order to ferry cars and trucks across chasms. Budding engineers had to overcome real physics issues involving supports, anchors, and the distribution of weight.

Bridge Constructor Portal is a vastly superior sequel that expertly injects beloved themes and characters from the Portal series while making the entire gameplay experience far smoother and more enjoyable for console players.

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dead cells

Dead Cells Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

The metroidvania and roguelike genres have become overused buzzwords among indie games (see also the newly coined ‘roguevania’). Action-platformers have been refined and molded over and over again just in the last few years. It’s easy to roll one’s eyes every time a new one is released.

But forget all that genre cynicism, because Dead Cells is fantastic. With an evocative art style, buttery smooth combat, and perfect level of progression, Dead Cells is easily the most satisfying action-platformer since Rogue Legacy. Read More

uncaged

Uncaged: World Fighters Review

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Publisher: ZeMind Games Studio
Age: 14+
Players: 2
Game Length: 30 minutes
MSRP: $23.99

Most fighting games boil down to one theme: mind games with your opponent. Uncaged: World Fighters is a two player duel card game designed to replicate the bouts and rounds of a Mixed Martial Arts tournament as players take turns attacking and defending using different fighting moves and styles.

Uncaged is even more about the mind games as you must prepare your cards into a single combo ahead of time, while anticipating your opponent’s cards in return. It’s far easier to jump in and play than other fighting games and uses its MMA theme well, though the actual gameplay often comes down to the luck of the draw more than intricate strategy.

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