Month: January 2019

Chameleon Twist 2

Chameleon Twist 2

If anyone was upset that Yoshi’s Story wasn’t a full 3D platformer, the Chameleon Twist games will demonstrate why it wasn’t. Controlling a long, prehensile tongue in three dimensions requires a much slower pace than your typical platformer, and Chameleon Twist 2 is as typical as they come, so navigating its world feels disastrously clumsy. Given that this was true of the original, you’d think this sequel would have reinvented itself a bit to realize the mechanic’s full potential, but instead it doubles down with additional maneuvers that are even more unwieldy.

Japan System Supply apparently alternates hiring the lazy and passionate though, so while the tongue controls are awful, most scenarios can be overcome without them. Furthermore, while the premise and visuals are painfully generic, the levels are filled with creative obstacles that make the most of their theme, and the audio composition is unusually competent. There’s no antidote for the completely contextless story and setting, however.

868-HACK

868-HACK

If you’re looking to kill a few hours, 868-HACK is a fine choice. Prolific developer Michael Brough has tapped the well-worn territories of both roguelikes and hacking gameplay and still managed to extract something original. Through a handful of enemy types, a couple dozen unlockable abilities, and a few hidden mutations available to especially skilled players, the game offers a surprisingly deep challenge that rarely feels unfair. The fun starts to peter out as you fall into patterns, but until that time, it’s an engrossing little puzzle box. It’s also a case study in economic design, even if it goes a little too far in that regard; there’s not a speck of unnecessary or drawn-out content here, but there’s also no context to the gameplay, and the audio is bizarrely tuneless.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Pokémon continues its gradual advance into the 21st century with its seventh generation, to mixed but eventually positive resultsThe first ten hours are marked by comically contrived railroading, interminable dialogue, and an obsession with unwanted communication features and minigames. After the initial slog, though, this is easily the smoothest Pokémon experience to date. The new setting is the most unique and interesting one in the series, and the new battle types use a variety of tricks to make single-player combat satisfyingly difficult for the first time ever. As usual, Game Freak continues to add unorthodox new creatures, moves, abilities, and battle mechanics to spice up the competitive scene, although the systems pileup has gotten so gargantuan that some features are inevitably neglected.

I could take or leave the changes made to these two Ultra versions. They improve the gameplay with some quality of life tweaks and an expanded Pokédex, but their remixed story is a huge missed opportunity. Sun and Moon’s unusually in-depth narrative was well-meaning but flawed, and rather than fix its bewildering habit of sidelining nearly every important Pokémonthis version just does it again in different ways. The heavily marketed Ultra Space, while larger, is still a series of glorified hallways, and the postgame mission Episode RR is, just like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s Delta Episode, an incredibly cool idea with an incredibly watered-down execution.