Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

39742Publisher: Tecmo Koei5.0

Developer: Team Ninja/Spark Unlimited

Release Date: 2/28/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $39.99

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The Good: Fun enemy design, fast paced combat, Miss Monday is hot

The Bad: Mindless frustrating combat, ugly visuals, does the name poor justice, doesn’t feel like a Ninja Gaiden game, why zombies?

The Ninja Gaiden series is very beloved to long time fans. The reboot for Xbox was considered one of the hardest games ever made at the time and required extremely precise skill. Yaiba is a spin-off of the series and takes  a kind of comical take on it. This isn’t exactly good. Taking the helm is a studio notorious for terrible games like Legendary. That game was considered the worst game made that year. Spark Unlimited has a lot to live up to and I’ll cut this short: they don’t live up to it.


The Z stands for zombies. Yes, and you don’t even play as Ryu Hayabusa. In fact you play as someone he’s killed who gets a robotic arm and wants to seek revenge. He’s accompanied by a busty hot intelligence woman who relays your objectives to you. The story is pretty throw away, but Ninja Gaiden is known for fantastic combat. Yaiba has a good combat system, but the game relies on fighting way too much and doesn’t break up the monotony.


A weak, powerful, and flail attack are all available. The fighting is lightning fast, but some times way too fast. Zombies are represented with comedic puns and act just as stupid. Life is acquired by performing a finishing move on a stunned zombie. The gore and finishing moves are cool but only the first 5 times. The rest of the game is made up of overly easy parkour that is performed with quick time events. The boss fights are slightly more interesting but not by much.

The combat gets hard in a sense that it feels unbalanced. Some enemies can disable your flail arm, some times too many are thrown on you, and there’s a really irritating knock back animation that can’t be interrupted. Occasionally the environment can be interacted with, but I honestly saw the same patterns after the second level. This game could have been so much more, but it turns out to be a frustrating unbalanced joke.


The graphics also take on a comic book style which is way different from the traditional Japanese art style seen in the other games in the series. They also look technically unimpressive with ugly low res textures. Most fans will be highly disappointed in a game bearing the Ninja Gaiden name and not taking it seriously. Maybe a more talented developer could have done better, but what’s here is something that never should have been.


The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

typing-of-the-dead-overkill-pc-downloadPublisher: Sega8.0

Developer: Modern Dream

Release Date: 10/29/2013

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $14.99

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The Good: Two modes in one game, cheesy dialog and voice acting makes the game funnier, crazy monsters

The Bad: Ugly and dated visuals, playing through the game twice may seem boring, extras not worth unlocking

The House of the Dead was a hit zombie light gun game back in the 90’s in the arcades. This huge Sega hit spawned a game called Typing of the Dead that featured Agent G and heroes wielding keyboards instead of guns. The game was highly addictive as words and sentences popped up on enemies. If you typed everything correctly the zombie would die. A reimagining using the Wii hit House of the Dead: Overkill takes the main game and turns it into a keyboard typing fest and it’s a blast.


The story and voice acting is intentionally left to be cheesy to make fun of the absolutely abysmal voice acting from the original games. It adds a comedy factor. While it’s not nearly as bad as previous games it’s still enough to bring back memories. Agent G and Washington are after a man named Papa Caesar who has somehow killed Washington’s father and released a zombie virus among the world. Along the way you meet various characters, but non of them are really memorable. The wacky story and over the top adult content such as swearing and gore is a blast.


The game is on rails like any light gun shooter. As zombies pop up you just type away with what you see. Each level is unique with its own themed zombies and bosses. The zombies are well done and the game can be some times down right gross. The bosses are both funny and disgusting to look at, but overall the typing portion of the game is only as difficult as your typing skills permit. Thankfully you don’t have to include punctuation or anything like that. Just type what you see as fast as you can. Some times you have to save civilians for more points, but outside killing zombies there’s nothing else in the levels. If you spam the Tab key you can get all the hidden extras which makes it much easier to unlock everything.


Thankfully this is only half the game. The other half is the actual light gun game using the mouse to shoot. Basically it’s two games in one, but if you play through one it will be tough to get through another due to repetition. It’s not like you can choose another ending or go down multiple paths. The game is really only good for one play through unless you are extremely bored. The extras aren’t really anything worth unlocking either.

For what it is the game offers a lot of content for the small price, but playing through the game twice in different modes just doesn’t seem appealing for the amounts of cheese the game layers on.



73312119-587a-40b7-a148-63767f4a9de5Publisher: Sirvo9.5

Developer: Sirvo

Release Date: 3/12/2014

Rating: Everyone

MSRP: $3.99

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The Good: Fantasticaly simple and addictive gameplay, charming visuals and audio

The Bad: May require too much thinking for some people

Mobile gaming hits are usually casual friendly like Angry Birds, Farmville, Flappy Bird, and many others. Most of those games are fairly mindless and don’t require much thought. Along comes Threes, a game that requires strategy and thinking and that is beyond just a simple tile sliding game.


Threes is simple, minimalistic, and quite charming. The board is made up of 16 tiles. You get 6 random tiles made up of numbers 1, 2, or 3. You must slide these tiles into each other to add them up. If you slide to left everything on the board will slide to the left. This single gameplay element is what departs it from regular slider puzzles. With this in mind you have to be careful to slide all the tiles in the right direction. Once you get 3 you can slide 3 and 3 together to make 6. Two of those makes 12 and so on. However, the higher number you have the harder it is to get another number like it together to join those two. It’s a brilliant gameplay design that gets extremely addictive.


It takes a lot of practice and sliding randomly won’t get you anywhere. You can easily gridlock yourself without even realizing it if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, Threes is pleasant to look at and listen to. Each number tile has its own voice and caricature and the simple washed out white design is easy on the eyes. Even the music is charming and great to listen to. This is the kind of zen game that Angry Birds or Clash of Clans can’t get to.


Even if you aren’t a fan of numbers or math you are missing out on one of the best mobile games ever made that doesn’t require micro transactions. Even that alone is worth the purchase.


Murdered: Soul Suspect

murderedsoulsuspectpcjpg-0a5b5dPublisher: Square Enix6.0

Developer: Airtight Games

Release Date: 6/3/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $39.99-$59.99

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The Good: Great story with twists and turns, interesting ghost mechanics

The Bad: Dated visuals and gameplay, combat with demons feels shoehorned and unnecessary, can’t really connect with characters, open world is lifeless and boring, investigations feel like aimless pixel hunts

I haven’t been so misled by a game than Murdered. A murder mystery game about a cult in Salem, Massachusetts (my favorite type of murder mysteries) all wrapped around a serial killer known as the Bell Killer. You play as a ghost detective named Ronan who gets murdered by this killer during an investigation. You have a bratty teen named Joy who helps you in the real world and the story all comes to a nice close at the very end.


It’s everything in between that really disappoints. This game not only feels about 10 years old but is some times down right boring. In each area you have items that need to be “examined” this turns into pixel hunting like the adventure games of yore. Some times I found myself to frustrated because the examine button wouldn’t come up unless you were facing it just the right way, that’s glitchy and annoying. Once you find all clues in an area you conclude the investigation by picking three of the clues that relate to the scene. This is where some of the nonsense gameplay comes in to play. Most of the time you don’t even need all the clues to conclude and most clues are pointless for the scene. I feel like I’m hunting for all these clues as just filler for gameplay.


Is there any combat? Not really. A shoehorned combat scenario was put in by sneaking around demons and executing them with weird button combos. Sneaking around them is pretty tense, as is running from them. But was this merely an excuse to be able to die in the game to call it a full on game? The only other way I died in the game was getting hit by a ghost train in one area. There’s also an open world which is boring and lifeless. The game is also full of items to find which is archaic and just plain boring. Why would I run around in an empty boring world finding items I could care less about?

There are actually rules to this game though. Just because you’re a ghost you can’t walk through everything otherwise you’d be clipping into gaming abyss. Most items can’t be walked through and ones that can’t have a blue aura around them. You can teleport yourself which only comes in handy for a few parts of the game. You can possess people to read their minds or influence them during an investigation. This isn’t nearly as cool as it should be.


The only thing that kept me going was the story. The twists and turns were just interesting enough to make you think you figured it out and then it turns out to be something else. The game actually has a satisfying ending with no cliffhanger. When I played through this whole game I just couldn’t help but feel how dated it looked and played. The graphics, while not ugly, are simple and boring. This game would have looked amazing about 5 years ago. I also didn’t feel an attachment to any characters because of how boring and cookie cutter they felt. Ronan is just your typical New England cop, Joy is a snotty goth brat, and the other characters don’t really show up enough for you to care about them. Soul Suspect had a lot of potential but in the end it felt like there wasn’t really a goal of what to do outside of the story.

If you’re a fan of adventure games I would give this a shot. Murdered isn’t going to revolutionized the nearly forgotten point and click adventure style gameplay, but it is worth slogging through the gameplay for the interesting story.



1124286-choker_1Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Ben McCool

Artists: Ben Templesmith

Release Date: 2/2010-3/2012


The Good: Fantastic art, great atmosphere and setting

The Bad: Story is a bit predictable, characters are not all that memorable

If you see Ben Templesmith on the cover you know the series you are about to read is going to be full of horror, death, gore, and insanity. Choker is chalk full of that. The story revolves around an ex-cop, Johnny Jackson, who gets called back by his old boss to bring a prisoner who escaped back. It doesn’t turn out well as the department is using a steroid type drug on their cops called Man Plus and is somehow connected to the prisoner’s drug ring. The story takes a long time to catch you up on the story. It starts out with you completely lost and characters talking like you already know what’s going on. Later issues backtrack to catch you up until you hit the final wall.

Choker isn’t the best series I’ve read but I read it mainly for Templesmith’s art. His sick and twisted water-color drawings are fantastic and one of a kind. He’s one of my favorite comic artists. Sure it looks messy and sloppy compared to most artists, but it’s unique in a way that it matches the story it’s telling. Choker doesn’t have the most memorable characters, it’s too short to keep you hooked for long being only six issues, and the story is kind of predictable. The whole 20-minutes-into-the-future setting is nice with a scummy city like Gotham City or even Neo Tokyo. I wanted to know more about Shotgun City and its inhabitants, maybe some side stories.

If you like crime dramas you will like Choker. It has vampires, gore, cops, mutants, and crazy characters. Just don’t expect to be in it for long because it ends before you even realized it started.


BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode Two

bioshock_infinite__burial_at_sea_episode_2_poster_by_nccreations-d6z2g6yPublisher: 2K Games8.0

Developers: Irrational Games

Release Date: 3/25/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $9.99

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The Good: Great pacing, new stealth sections are intense and fun, great new weapons

The Bad: Story means nothing if you haven’t played past games, lockpicking mini game is lame, still too short

Episode Two takes place right after Episode One, but this time we play strictly as Elizabeth. I love this move in perspective because Liz can’t fight like Booker can and its noticeable right off the bat. Liz has to sneak her way around using crossbows, Vigors that turn her invisible, and ones that add extra armor. She only carries a shotgun and pistol but very little ammo. The new weapon is one that microwaves enemies but I was only able to use it a couple of times in the whole episode.


The story still doesn’t make much sense unless you played both BioShock games. This DLC is really for the fans of those games. Elizabeth is on a mission to save Sally, the little sister you were trying to find in Episode One. With Booker dead, it’s up to you to run from everything bad in Rapture to find her. This includes Atlas, Andrew Ryan, and even Suchong. These characters won’t mean anything to anyone who hasn’t played the first games. I loved the setting and the brief trip back to Columbia, but the atmosphere is really great in this episode along with less backtracking. Sure Liz can’t fight off Big Daddies in this episode, but it makes everything more intense. The game is about twice as long as the first episode but can still finished in a few hours.


I really appreciated how the stealth sections were interspersed with just exploring and cinematic events, it felt balanced. Sneaking isn’t just as simple as ducking and hiding from enemies. They now have an alert meter above their head while a new lockpicking mini game has been added but is mostly lackluster and just filler. You can even use this mini game to hack turrets to fight against you but there were maybe only two opportunities to do this in the whole game. The new crossbow weapon with gas, alarm, and sleeping darts comes in handy and the shotgun does a lot of damage. I felt the revolver was nearly useless though.


With all that said Episode Two really feels like an extension and slight evolution of Infinite in a good way, but anyone who hasn’t played previous games will be completely lost.


30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow

605093-returntobarrowPublisher: IDW

Writer: Steve Niles

Artist: Ben Templesmith

Release Date: 5-2004/8-2004




The Good: Same great visuals and writing, great new characters

The Bad: Feels like a re-tread of the first chapter, not as meaningful or scary

After the horrific events of the previous chapter, Return to Barrow gives us all new characters and a whole new terrifying event in Barrow. If you thought what happened wasn’t bad enough, there are crazy people still living there even though it’s a main target for vampires. A new sheriff moves into town with this son. Due to the events of the past volume (where the original survivor writes a book exposing vampires) the vampires are now leaderless and want everyone in Barrow exterminated.

I honestly have to say I feel this chapter is a cop out. Why do we have to return? Sure I can understand the vampires want to wipe everyone out, but why fully concentrate on this event again? It feels like a re-hash and even though these people are better prepared, it was the frightening concept of everyone not knowing what was going on that made the first chapter so memorable. I like the new characters and the tension is there along with the dialog among the vampires (these guys are vicious bastards).

If you’ve read previous chapters go ahead and read this. There’s actually decent fight scenes, a lot of tension, and a surprising amount of atmosphere oozing out of this series. I also have to appreciate the continuity flow that a lot of comics tend to forget to do.