Bonus Stage: The New Age of Pokemon

Bonus Stage: The New Age of Pokemon

This is an AI-generated transcript, so it may not be fully accurate. Please listen to the audio or video version if you can’t make sense of some phrases.

Jeff: Do you want to do a cool like YouTube intro of, ” Hey guys, what’s going on? It’s it’s it’s both.

Crev: I am very much so. Not that person. All right.

Jeff: Hello everyone. This is our first episode of Bonus Stage, which is a game podcast with our lovely lady here, Crev, and me, Jeff. We’re going to talk about video games and stuff. I guess this is an excellent intro, and it only bodes well for the future. It gets only up from

Crev: here. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Jeff: We have to start somewhere, I guess. And today’s topic as the topic, I don’t know a subject/ discussion. We’re talking Pokemon cause you know, everyone plays Pokemon. I’ve been playing. I’m sure Crev plays a lot of it too. Brand new news about the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are the two new ones. Yeah. So we’re gonna talk about Pokemon.

Crev: Yeah, I think it’s funny because Pokemon is one of those topics that I think has touched pretty much everyone in the gaming industry. Like, I don’t think you’re a gamer unless you’ve either heard or played Pokemon. Like it’s really hard to find somebody that hasn’t played.

Jeff: I think the newer generation of gamers will struggle a little more to relate because the craze of Pokemon in the late nineties and the first set came out was just so insane.

Everyone played Pokemon; everyone knew Pokemon. It was the Fortnite of 1999. I guess if you want to call it that? Cause like all the kids played it.

Crev: Yeah. I could see that. I was thinking of like fandoms and stuff. I was like, I feel like it’s almost the biggest thing since, like, super Mario brothers, like or just Mario brothers in general.

Like, I’m trying to think of anything else besides maybe legend of Zelda, like it was probably like that kind of fandom.

Jeff: Well, actually I think, I think that the Mario franchise is the most profitable franchise. It might’ve changed with Pokemon. The two were up; they are up there as the most profitable game franchises of all time, but like just it, it, it, it was such a different time for video games cause nothing had ever gotten that crazy.

For sure, we had Mario, that was popular. We had a bunch of trendy, classic games for that time, but nothing quite grasped the youth, the young generation, like Pokemon. And maybe it was because of not just the game, but you know, the trading cards, the TV show and the figure, and all the merchandise.

Crev: oh, they went full throttle with it. Like they made the, they made this series as profitable, I think, as they could have time. So it’s like, I remember just like, I was little when they were what, 94 or something like that when they came out. I can’t even remember now, but I remember being super young and playing on my game, boy, cause we, I want to say I was still living in New York at the time, and we used to travel to 96.

Okay. Yeah. So I was I just moved to New Hampshire. So we were in the process of like Living in this new house that my parents were like rebuilding. And I remember just kind of like sitting off into a corner and playing Pokemon. Like my older siblings, you know, would be playing games on their super Nintendos and stuff like that to you.

And I remember just retreating into the corner on my like game boy pocket or GameBoy color. I think it was and was still in that motto Chrome color. So it didn’t really do much for me anyway. But yeah, I remember just being so addicted to it, and I loved it. I mean, I probably didn’t fully understand it cause I was probably like what six, seven years old at the time.

So it was definitely something that was just kind of fun to play. And I didn’t really have to feel like I had to understand everything cause like my older siblings were playing games that like, I didn’t really understand at my age. So like this was kind of like my thing, cute creature things I can collect, and it was just, I loved it.

It just kind of skyrocketed.

Jeff: I don’t know why I got Pokemon. Cause I was so, so the original Red and Blue came out in America in 98. So I was six-ish, about the same age as you, I had an N64, and I don’t know if I ever showed any interest in Pokemon? I might have watched the TV show when I was a kid, but I remember for my birthday, I got a Game Boy Color, and I got Pokemon Blue, and I was just taken by that game.

Again, same thing. There was no color. It was either blue or gray or like the like the off-white green of the LCD screen. But like I played, I played that game so much. And then my mom got me Pokemon Yellow when that came out and I was balling,

Crev: I was obsessed. I was obsessed with Pikachu at that point; I wanted Pikachu everything.

JeffI was so amazed.

I could have a Pokemon follow me around even though it was only one Pokemon. I was like, that’s so cool. Yeah. My Pikachu can follow me everywhere. Hell yeah. And it’s just like Ash because you can’t evolve them. Yeah.

Crev: And I was just like, I was like, I’m so glad I was actually really happy that you couldn’t evolve them because I wanted it to stay a Pikachu regardless.

Like, even if I had the choice, it would’ve stayed as a Pikachu the whole time. Cause I was just, I was so excited about it and it was, and it was so silly because it was basically the same game just with like, you know, an additional, yeah, just a slight difference. And I was just like, I’m obsessive over this.

And you know, I think that’s also kind of tied into the fact that like why the games have kind of brought in a lot of profit because you can have Red and Blue and Yellow, they’re all basically the same game, but you have to have them all and that’s like this and it, you got to catch them all. It’s like the games

Jeff: as well.

Well, I think, I think it was also that and just the fact that you could have Blue and I could have Red and we had to trade to interact and be social to get the other Pokemon.

Crev: I was not social. I had two Games.

Jeff: Well, okay. I had to be social. I wasn’t that cool. But I think, I think that was a smart move on game Freaks part to make it a two separate game, because first off you’re doublin’ the profits.

Let’s be honest here. You’re making twice the money for one game, but those, those slight differences made it so that you could own that game. Like, I, for me, it was Pokemon Blue. That was my jam. I got friends who were like, fuck you Pokemon Red for life. Like, that’s just how it was as well. Yeah. Like that’s how it was back then.

And, and it continued as the games went on, but it was just a, I don’t know if it did as well as games got older as, as the games evolved, but like the, just the marketing idea of, Hey, let’s split into two things to, to give players a reason to communicate and a reason to play more. I think it was a really smart mechanic on their part.

Crev: Yeah. And I think like, just looking at it kind of going into the future though, do you feel that it got a bit old? Because I think as the generations came out, I remember like Silver and Gold and, and what was it? Pearl and Diamond and all the Emerald and Sapphire and all the, I think I almost got tired of it.

I got tired of like, it felt very money grabby after I grew up. And I was like, kind of in this like boat where like, I like Pokemon, I kind of want to play it, but I don’t want to like feed into this like corporate, like, you know, that sort of thing. So it was, it was kind of a battle as I like kind of experienced some of the later generations, because I think none of the other generations have held and captivated my attention, like.

And I, and I noticed that kind of over the grand scheme of things, I have like a lot of them, I think I have like Gold and Silver on my Gameboys and I’ve got, you know, X and Y and, and all of those, but I didn’t feel that same connection that I did from the original games. And I don’t know if it was just because it felt repetitive or if it was for that, I just didn’t feel connected with the Pokemon of that generation.

So w do you have any input on that? Just kind of like how you felt kind of going through the generations.

Jeff: I, this is going to be a hot take. I think Pokemon peaked with Crystal. Okay. Now let me explained to the list. All right. It looks like the listeners, because a lot of people were really, really enjoy.

Was it Em- Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald. A lot of people think that was the peak. Let me tell you about Crystal. Okay. Listeners people at home. First off you get a brand new Pokemon game. You get the whole world of Johto,, brand new region, all these new Pokemon. It’s a great time. This is the first Pope Pokemon game that has animations in the battle.

So Pokemon move around and stuff while they’re fighting. And that just like a little, little dash forward, but they do the little thing, the other little screen shake, like the Pokemon actually do a little move that like the sprites dance around it had the first day, night cycle of the Pokemon series, having Pokemon to be caught different ways.

Cause you have headbutting Pokemon rocks, smashing Pokemon, wild Pokemon, cave, Pokemon, fishing, all that kind of stuff. And not only that, you had an entirely second game afterwards because you go through, you’ll beat the gym leaders. You do the main storyline, you beat the elite four and almost every other Pokemon game.

That’s it? You might have like, what is it called? The battle tower or things like that. But yeah, it’s just grinding. You’re just grinding at that point. But, but Crystal, you have the entirety of Kanto, the first Pokemon region to go through again with the same gym leaders, but updated a little more storyline to it and tougher fights.

So the game continues all the way on to, I think again, caps out in like at level 75 or so for what, wild Pokemon like yes, you can hear, but when like, until like 99, but like it capped out at like 75 for NPCs so, which was, which was good. So you get so much more value out of it. And then I dunno for me, like every other Pokemon game since then just has never captured me in quite the same way.

And I’ve played a pretty good portion. I, I think I played all the Pokemon games all the way up until Diamond Platinum, Pearl. which were the first DS ones and I skipped Black and White one and two and then I played X, Y, and then. I think there was one between that there was sun and moon wasn’t there or on a moon. And there were two of those, there was sun and moon one and two.

I’m pretty sure.

Crev: Okay. Yeah. I have Sun and I never played it. You know what, to be fair after you explained that I realized I’ve never actually finished Crystal or Pearl I actually really enjoyed. I came, so I left after I did get Gold and Silver, like when they first came out, because I was just like, so hopeful for like the same kind of energy that we got from that.

And I, and I don’t remember finishing those either because I just, it didn’t feel that. Authentic, I guess, as the original games. And then I had put it down for years and I want to say, I picked it back up. I was with an ex of mine and we were just like, we get, we got like 3DS’ from like GameStop or something cheap and we ended up buying it and we caught up with all the games and I actually really enjoyed Black and White and X, X, and Y I think I played a little bit, but I definitely enjoyed the Black and White and Black and White 2.

I actually really enjoyed those because it offered a very different graphic style, I think. And that kind of drew me back in for a little while. And then I think after that, I fell off again until Sword and Shield, I think was the next one, or let’s go, let’s go Pikachu, I think was the next one that I had gotten.

Jeff: And, and so now that we’ve mentioned the dark times, that’s let’s, let’s cover the, the modern Pokemon games. We’re just kind of, kind of why we’re here. So it, it is in my opinion, and this is why I wanted to do this for the show. Pokemon hasn’t changed a whole lot since, since we were kids and it’s kind of not great.

Crev: I agree. And I think we’re seeing, I think that’s what has caused me to like, not finish any of the recent games. Like I, I bought Shields. I think when it first came out, I want to say, I think I paid full price for it. Like right when it came out, I was excited about it. And I just like, after the first gym leader, I just like lost my all like attention span for it.

It just, it wasn’t engaging in the way that I had hoped for a new age Pokemon

Jeff: game. Yeah. So for me, I hadn’t played a Pokemon game in a while. And I picked up Pokemon. Let’s Go Eevee when that came out, because I knew ahead of time, it was not going to be the. Strategic in-depth RPG Pokemon experience. I knew it was going to be dumbed down and I was fine with that.

And you know what, getting to relive the nostalgia of playing, you know, Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow on my Switch was pretty fun. And then Sword and Shield came out and I was like, all right, let’s see if they can take that formula and make it for a more mature audience. Because again, I’m in my late twenties at this point, you know, I liked Pokemon since it came out, I’m hoping to franchise mechanics kind of evolve to something new and it didn’t, but Sword and Shield super basic.

And it wasn’t a matter of like the gameplay’s based, because I know that Pokemon gameplay is going to be, you’re just trying to, you’re just trying to match types. I got that same with like Fire Emblem or any other RPG you’re trying to match different, different stab bonuses, whatever it is. But there’s just so much more design space that comes along with what you can do in this sort of like turn-based RPG.

And it just felt like Game Freak just phoned it in for a Sword and Shield. And I play the entirety of Sword and Shield. I didn’t, I didn’t do the DLC, but I went through the entire, the main game in the, in the biggest game and nothing, nothing was there where I was like, wow, that was an iconic moment that I remember going through and been like, that was amazing.

Like, I can tell you how cool it was when I was playing Pokemon silver and getting to see Lugia for the first time, like going to investigate like the caves and find a hidden Pokemon there. And you’re like, oh my God. That was so cool. There’s no. Yeah, there was nothing, there was

Crev: no wow factor to it. And that’s like, and I went back to it afterwards.

I want to say I picked it back up maybe about six months ago and I actually finished the base game. I didn’t play the DLC either because there wasn’t enough in the base game for me to want to buy the DLC and I think that that’s really important too is like the DLC should not finish the game. It should enhance the game.

And for all we know there could be that, you know, magic egg in the DLC, but they’ve already lost me for that, that particular game, because the original game was just not as engaging as I think we all hoped. I mean, that was, that was a major release in a long time, because Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu

it was a very different style of game too. And it was. Yeah, it was also on the heels of Pokemon Go and all of that as well, too. So that’s a whole nother, we’ll get into that in a minute, but I, yeah, I think it just, it, it had this opportunity to just like pull in not only us as like millennials and, and stuff like that, but also pull in the Gen Z -ers and all these new, you know, all these new players that could love this game.

And I’m not saying it flopped, it’s not a bad game by any means, but I think they definitely missed their mark of what I think they could have

Jeff: done. Absolutely. There was just such an opportunity to bring it to a more mature audience, because this is also the first Pokemon, the first mainline Pokemon game to not be on a handheld system, which, you know, the switch is kind of handheld kind of like happening, but is this, this, this is the flagship console of Nintendo, right?

This is all they have right now. And this is the first time we’re getting like a full AAA non-mobile only title for Pokemon and a mainline series. And it was just the same as the last. And I was just so frustrated with it. I just felt bored the entire time. Sure. Some of the Pokemon designs were cool.

Some of them are kind of phoned in. Don’t get me wrong.

Crev: I just to interrupt for a second. I think every generation has had a phoned in Pokemon or two. I was about to say, if you haven’t checked out some of the new Pokemons that had released with the, with the updates or the news about Scarlet and Violet, some of them look a little special.

Jeff: I haven’t seen a whole lot. I’ve seen the starters and I’ve seen the pig Lechonk whichever one you want on

Crev: small live.

Jeff: Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. I did see that. I didn’t see the olive too, but like there there’s a, there’s a keys. It’s it’s it’s it’s someone’s house keys. That’s a Pokemon. I’m not kidding you.

Crev: That’s when you know, you run out of creative. When you start looking around you to see what you can find and turn it into

Jeff: a Pokemon, it was just someone’s keys. There’s like, oh, we got, we gotta get an idea hold on a second. Hold a second. Hey, did anyone lose their keys. We’re here. We got it. , that’s the idea that’s it like, come on.

You can do so much more.

Crev: I mean, to be fair, let’s, let’s think about this in the grand scheme of it, because this game has been around since the nineties, the late nineties, there are so many, like there’s so many generations and so many Pokemon in each generation. I don’t blame them for phoning in a couple of them to be totally, there’s only so much balance to the human imagination.

I think

Jeff: how many current Pokemon are there?

Crev: Oh, probably like four, four or five.

Jeff: Oh, look at that. Google auto-completed for me. If I was trying to type in how many current of Pokemon are there across all G 913, they got some space, and that’s, I’m assuming that’s not including Scarlet and Violet yet this is 8 98, whatever. Okay. There’s around 900 Pokemon 900. So like they, they, they got, they got an excuse, right?

You can’t, you can’t always have a winner, but man, They they phone in a couple of them. So, so that brings into what today’s real topic is about. How can we take the idea and the formula of Pokemon, this monster capturing a monster battling genre of RPGs and make it something more mature, more engaging, and something that, that fits today’s game design world, where we have much better technology and ideas and aspirations and make it something better than what we’ve been doing since 1996.

Do you know what I mean? So one of them, one of the first ones I want to bring up is. Monster sanctuary. This is a super cute indie RPG game. It is a Metroidvania where you capture monsters and battle them in a turn-based scenario, similar to Pokemon. It’s not a hundred percent the same.

You don’t have to catch Pokemon when you fight random, random monsters. Do you, they drop an egg and you can hatch that egg and just use that monster in your team. But it has, you know, the different types of attacks and defense and whatnot has turn-based gameplay, but it’s three on three and not one-on-one or the occasional two on two, it’s always a three versus three match.

And it gives us this super interesting Metroidvania world where you can use these monsters abilities in the overworld to unlock new areas and do things, which I just found fascinating. I haven’t beat it yet. I don’t know how far I am in this game, but I’ve got like 20 or so hours in it and I’m still having a lot of fun.

Crev: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s definitely when I was digging through. Cause I, I mean, I do love, I love creature collector games and I I’m very drawn to them just in general, but this one had a very different spin. Like we have not seen a Metroid Metroidvania Pokemon style game ever. Like this is, this is a first of its kind.

And I think they, they took on a very ambitious program or ambitious idea for an indie studio, let alone any studio. And really, I think it made it into something that was not only captivating, but it gave that kind of nostalgia feel of the creature collectors, but presented it in a new and exciting way that.

That I think a lot of, I want to say a lot of the people that I know that we’re into Pokemon at the time when this came out, they were very excited about it and they were all jumping in on it. So it pulls that audience, but it does, it gives us something new and exciting. And I think that they’ve really done a great job.

I’ve played through, I’m thinking I’m like five or six hours into the game right now. But it’s just like, just from the graphics to just the movement, to the overworld skills, to just how to the battle system and the skills are laid out. I think it’s, oh, it’s, it’s fun. And it’s super well executed.

And that’s, that’s really hard to find when it comes to brand new ideas, because I mean, you can’t expect something to be perfect right out the gate, but damn this game is getting pretty close.. Yeah. So it was really good so far and I’m excited to finish it. It it’s definitely held my attention and, and that’s, that’s hard to do now with a lot of different types of games.

It keeps it exciting and keeps it fresh.

Jeff: Which starter did you pick for Monster Sanctuary which which come on, you gotta

Crev: tell me. Hmm, no, I’m going to keep it a secret. Oh, maybe I’ll release it at the end of the show.

Jeff: Come on. Well, I’m going to take other, now I pick the fire lion because it looks super cool.

Crev: He did look cool.

So he was my original, like first choice, but I I, I went another direction and that’s

Jeff: all. So did you pick the ice Wolf? Ah,

Crev: he was so cool. Okay. Come on. You don’t want to have like a Fenrir or like an Arctic buys. I’m a Final Fantasy fan. So it looked like Fenrir

Jeff: I’m not knocking it.

Crev: I was looking for somebody. I knew the people who like know me know that I love Final Fantasy.

So as soon as they see something that resembles something Final Fantasy that they’re like, oh, it looks like Fenrir, it’s okay. But I nicknamed him Fenrir and that was basically like my

Jeff: go-to. I think the only so-so this game offers for starters. I don’t know why. So there’s a fire lion, which has like fire and earth skills.

There’s the ice wolf, which I think has water and I don’t know the other element.

Crev: Oh, why am I drawing a blank by blank? It’s hang on. I’ll pull it up because I have no idea. I can’t remember. Now. It’s been a while since I’ve picked it back up again. Now I can’t even remember. I was

Jeff: playing this a few days ago.

It’s a lot of fun. I think I’m halfway through. I just said I’m somewhere in the early twenties with my monster level. So I want to say it’s halfway cause the monster ability, cap at like 40. So I think I’m like halfway through

Crev: he’s the I, yeah, the spectral Wolf. Yeah. So he does the ice and the the air sickle ‘ he does ice and like the, the spectrum of like ice and air.

And he also has that spectral aspect, like, yeah.

Jeff: Okay. And then there’s also a bird, a Phoenix that I don’t know what I would assume that as fire and air I

Crev: can pull it up. Let’s see. I, as soon as I saw the Arctic box, I pretty much just blanked out at everything because that’s just how my,

The spectral


Yeah. So he he, his fire and lightning

Jeff: okay. And then I assume that toad is earth and God knows what The toad is the bad option the worst option. Sorry, sorry, listeners. The

Crev: Toad is always the worst option. We need to get a cute, like a cute toad Pokemon. Yeah. He’s mud and water.

Jeff: I love me a Bulbasaur, don’t get me wrong.

He’s not the best starter, but he is cute. I’ll give him that.

Crev: We’ll call him a toad though. Like, he’s kind of like, I don’t even know. It’s almost like a tunnel cause he’s got the bulb on the back. Kind of like the shell. I don’t know. It’s hard putting animals. That’s a whole nother whole

nother discussion.

Jeff: Yeah. But yeah, Monster Sanctuary, fantastic game. And and I’m still impressed by it. I just unlocked how to evolve the monsters in the game, which is, which is also telling you to think it’s not level-based. It’s like level based plus finding certain items. Which makes a little more engaging because like, oh, how many, is there a finite amount of this item?

And does it work for all our monsters or what? I don’t know to figure that out first time I had really cool too. But going off again that too, there’s like I said, there’s plenty of other games in this genre. I know you and I talked before about TemTem, I believe. Do you want more about that? Yeah.

Crev: Oh yeah. So I have a mixed history with TemTem. So I was so excited. I remember just being over the moon because I love indie games. Like that’s, that’s my, like go-to besides Final Fantasy indie games are kind of my little other, you know, niche hobby that I loved. And it was so exciting for me to see that because like, not only did the art style look super cute, but it was an MMO.

And that was one of the things that I was like, okay, we’re bending rules now. Yeah. And it’s like, if they’re like, and that’s what I love about these games, they’re pushing the envelope on things that have not been done before. So like there’s no other creature collector there may be now, now that you know, this episode is out.

But at the time that was the only one of its kind. And it was really exciting. And I think a lot of people were so kind of pumped up for it. And I remember like the, just kind of the early access period. And it was, it was so buggy and you have to understand like when you’re playing an early access or an alpha game, and even sometimes the beta game, the game is going to break like that is a given.

And I think, I remember just trying to like contact the devs. And there were so many people spamming that discord that were just like children, not understanding, like this is not the full game. Like this is just for them to figure out stuff. And I think that they had gotten so overwhelmed with. And then they just went dark and then they recently came back out, but it doesn’t have the same hype it did when it first launched in early access because of that.

And I don’t blame them. They probably got super overwhelmed because they had so many more people play testing and alpha testing than they ever even planned for. And that puts so much stress onto their systems. And I think it freaked them out a little bit, but it still allowed them to continue working on the game.

And it just recently had, had launched, I think, I want to say, just got out of early access or it went from early access to like beta or something. Something just released recently in the last month or so April, May, June, something like that. And it just no one’s talking about it. I saw a couple of people playing it.

I saw a couple of little news articles here and there, but the not nearly as much excitement as it was when it first, like this is coming, here’s an alpha test. And.

Jeff: When you and I were planning this episode. I remember I was talking about this briefly and I could’ve sworn this game to already come out and like done its whole life cycle.

I didn’t know until recently it just kind of, kind of out of beta.

Crev: Yeah. So I mean, it, I mean, it wasn’t a long time. It was last year, I think. I don’t know. Gosh, time just blends now. Pandemic time.

Yeah. The pandemic, the pandemic.

Yeah. But yeah, no, like it was, it was so exciting and it was so new and it was just, it was something that people were talking about and that like, that’s hard to find when you get an entire community talking about it.

So not only was the indie community talking about it, people who play like the mainstream games, war, you know, like people who don’t even like, look at creature, creators were looking at this game. And it was just, it was kind of just a natural phenomenon with the game and it just kind of dropped the ball.

So like it has launched, and I think they’re still working on additional content and such for it, but it, it lost a lot of its charm. Unfortunately

Jeff: yeah, I dunno. I, I, don’t where the game came out and I thought it was neat. And I was, I was keeping an eye on it because I want to see how it evolved and I forgot the game came out entirely.

So clearly they didn’t hit their marketing marks or whatnot, however you want to define success for a video game. I’m sure they’re profitable at least, but I think the impact of that game probably didn’t come anywhere close to what they were hoping it would be. And maybe now that’s out and completed. Maybe they’ll have some expansion to bring more life into it, but.

I think at this point, it’s probably going to just be another one of those like niche fan games. It’s fun.

Crev: Like it’s popular for like a day or two, and then it’s gone. And, and that’s heartbreaking for me because like I was, I remember just the pure excitement I had for this game. And, and I, I’m not saying don’t play it because it is a fantastic game and it’s worth getting through the content and just the fact that you can play with other people is a selling point for me, because I love being able to play, you know, with my friends and with community members and that sort of thing too.

And it is definitely still worth a play. I think, I just think that they learned a very valuable lesson about communication from game devs to players or potential players. And I think that that opened up a door for them to kind of use that as a learning experience, hopefully, and allow them to kind of take that advice and move it into something more, whether it’s additional content coming to it or a full rerelease or, you know, additional game or whatever the case is.

I think it was a very, very strong learning moment for them, but it is still a good game. It’s just not going to have that same massive cult following that something like Pokemon with. And

Jeff: also one of the things that will come to blend those two is it’s incredibly hard to make a successful MMO.

Crev: Yes. It’s hard to make a successful game.

Like not even factoring in that, like they’re already doing the impossible by creating a game, let alone something that’s going to be living 24 7.

Jeff: Yeah. Like one of them, one of the biggest things is that when, when, when, when I talked to developers for the previous iteration of the show, trying to see how they want to build a multiplayer online community is so difficult nowadays with how popular, like Fortnite and wow.

And all these other online games are, it’s such a competitive space and trying to keep servers and engaging content and end game content and whatnot for such a long period of time is incredibly hard not to mention just the, the steep, the steep costs of trying to make a profitable MMO. It’s just, it’s just, it’s insane for indie studio.

Yeah. So I’m not surprised.

Crev: It’s crazy. Like I’m trying to think of just like games that have survived for so long that we’re like indie studios and there’s, there’s not that many in comparison. Cause they get easily stamped out by the people who have lots of money. And that’s heartbreaking cause I love, I love indie studios, and honestly, I want them to be able to achieve the impossible.

So yeah, it’s such a huge undertaking. And there’s going to be stumbling points, and I think it’s, I think it’s at that point where the, the communities of the games and th the publishers or developers or marketing people, they need to build that kind of connection of understanding to begin with. Because a lot of time people are like hype this game, hype this game, hype this game, and then there’s a ton of problems.

And then they’re like, we’re sorry, but instead they’re like, Hey, this is like this type of game. We’re welcoming your feedback. This is probably going to happen. Or, you know, having kind of that set expectation ahead of time probably could have saved them a lot.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. But again also just like it’s such a competitive space to be in MMOs.

It’s so tough for any company, any company to keep a game going on. So let’s go into the, to the next game on our list. I don’t know anything about those games. I just want you to explain the tagline to this world of final fantasy fan service creature collector. So

Crev: that was the way I was trying to explain it to you

Jeff: because when I think of fan service, I think of other things, cause I’m a dude, you know what?

No, no, no.

Crev: Okay. I’m hoping. So you related your fan service would be like I’m making a plushy for a favorite game to serve the fans because they want it. So world of final fantasy is I have a love, hate relationship with this game too. I have a lot of love, hate relationships but world of final fantasy was a fan service.

It was to serve that final fantasy community that always want something new, whether it’s a spinoff game or a remake or remaster or whatever it is. Final Fantasy fans are like usually full in. You know, if there’s a final fantasy, they’re going to it. So world of final fantasy came out. I want to say it was, it was past 2015.

It was like 2015, 2016. It was around the same time of final fantasy fifteens release. So unfortunately this game got overshadowed, but basically you teleport. So, and that’s exactly why is because it literally came out within like a month or two or like weeks or two, I’m going to have to look up the exact date.

But I remember getting both in the mail and I played 15 because it was the more exciting one. But yeah, so basically world of final fantasy is a, you get teleported into this tiny world and you become this cute little chubby like version. And then like the collect, they, they go through and battle and fight these monsters.

And when you battle and fight them, you get them as like. Additional monsters that you get to create. And the fun, like it was just silly stuff. There was like cameos from all the different final fantasies, like, you know, cloud or squall or Tara and that sort of thing. And like, they’d all play this story and you just go through this magical final fantasy world with all of your favorite characters, collecting little minions that you can then stack on top of yourself.

So I will, I will say if you ever look at images of the game, just look at a battle and you can tell how adorable this game is. It appealed to kind of just the general audience of, of this rather than kind of the mature players, but it was so like you had these little Chibi characters and then they had like a bomb on top of them.

And like you were riding on top of a Bahamas or something like, and it was just like silly, just stackable madness. But it was,

Jeff: it

Crev: looks very cute. Yeah. I see. It’s it’s it was absolutely one of those games that it, I don’t think it ever intended to be the next big, final fantasy. It was there to serve the fans that want stuff like that.

But I loved it. It was so cute. And I remember buying it again once it came because I bought it on PS4. And then I remember, I think it came to switch. It was either switch or PS five and I bought it to whichever console I can’t even remember now. But it, it was absolutely just one of those games that I don’t think it would have ever been able to stand alone without the final fantasy names.

Like characters, but it’s the same, the same thing. You battle a battle, these monsters, which are, you know, classic final fantasy things, you’re dealing with like a behemoth or a bomb or a saboteur or something like that. And then you get to collect them as like these little minions and pets and stuff. And it’s the same deal.

It’s the same kind of creature collector, but it was fun and new and it it’s like kingdom hearts. It’s exactly what it is. It’s like kingdom hearts riding on the tails of final fantasy. That’s kind of how the world of final fantasy series kind of have gone. So, so yeah, that’s my, that’s my soap box. So it’s an adorable game.

It’s super worth the play, but it’s, it’s just a fan service game for sure.

Jeff: On the, on the other hand not really fan service, but a. Sort of dark, a dark world of video games. Let’s talk about ACCE infinity for those, all of you. So, so here’s the thing I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna tell our listeners at home right now.

I’m not a crypto bro. I don’t like crypto that much. I like the idea of crypto. I don’t like the applications of crypto right now. Axion affinity is a cryptocurrency based Pokemon ish battling something or other game. I wish I could explain it more to you, but that’s all I got.

Crev: Basically what I got out of it.

Jeff: It’s a game you spend your fake cryptocurrency money to buy axes, and you can use your axes to make money for yourself, to generate in game currency, to make real life current. Somehow that’s how that works. And, and, and I, I understand this game performed pretty well when it came out as far as crypto games go, but I want to tell you a fun story.

Apparently, a huge portion of Filipino people played this game to the point where it was a job people had had full-time jobs, maintaining other players, ACCE farms, or whatever, making passive income for that owner. And they were making income from this as a full-time job, because the cost of living in the Philippines is so low,

Crev: Comparison for

Jeff: sure in comparison to like us in the states.

And then I guess a change happened or either either the price of the currency fell or there was a hack in the the whatever blockchain technology that this runs off of. And it tanked the price of the coin so hard that people there, there were like thousands of unemployed people because of this game.

And yeah, I read an article on this. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll try it from the article and put on the show notes for listeners at home, but it was such a fascinating insight into the dark side of what Pokemon could be, I guess, tying Pokemon to money and trying to generate income from your Pokemon and your video game.

And from what I understand right now, I read an article that was, I think maybe two or three months old. It costs about a thousand dollars. To get into playing actually infinity.

Crev: See, I was going to ask you that whether or not you could make money without having a need to start with, and you just answered my question there so that see, I was thinking of it, like when you were starting that way, I was like, you know, this game kind of looks like a fun way to get into a crypto.

Like I’m never going to be into crypto. It’s not my deal. You know, props to you all, if you enjoy it. But it is definitely my, not my territory because I don’t understand it. And it’s just, yeah. But what I originally saw when I saw this, I was like, oh, this could be like that cute way to get more people into crypto.

But like, if you don’t have that crypto investment already, it’s like, Is it just the people that enjoy crypto also enjoy creature collectors. And this is kind of the baby of what has been born there or sort of something

Jeff: like that. Yeah. And I don’t know, just, just the cost alone. Cause like if all my Pokemon games, I can a crack out my old ones be a concealed, the high seas and do other things and aren’t quite legal, legal, gray area.

You wanna call it whatever it is. Or I can go to Walmart and go pick up a pecan Archaeus for 60 bucks. Yeah. All those options are drastically cheaper than 800 to a thousand dollars to.

Crev: You can buy a whole new computer and set up, set up to play at emulated version of Pokemon. You’re

Jeff: going to be, I could buy two Nintendo switches and two copies of Pokemon artists for me and a friend and still have money leftover in comparison to, to getting one account and actually Anthony.

Yeah, I don’t, from what I understand now, I don’t believe that game is performing nearly as well as it was because of this. How else would I want to call it a labor shortage? Because there, there, there is a, a labor shortage in this game because people who were making a full-time income for other people are now quitting in droves because they can’t afford to live anymore from this game.

Just fascinatingly weird.

Crev: Hey, what people do to make money? I support it. Y’all y’all work your best lives. That’s all I’m saying.

Jeff: We’re all doing our best, but. So I guess they’re going to Jordan, next one, a monster hunter stories too. Now I’ve played monster hunter before I’ve not played the monster hunter stories games have you?

Crev: I have not. So actually, when I was chatting with a couple of friends of mine who are big in the monster hunter game series, I was talking to them about this kind of planning for this episode. And they had told me about this monster. Mystery dungeon style game. That is monster hunter stories too. And they’ve, they’ve explained it to me as like the fan service version of the Pokemon collector of the hunt monster hunter.

So you’re learning a lot about fan service games today. But yeah, it, it, the way that they explained it was that it was enough to be on its own kind of side. It was, you know, very, it had a lot of the monster hunter aspects, like kind of similar, like not necessarily similar battles system, but similar weapons structures and similar, similar similar customization, that sort of thing as well.

And just kind of turned it into a creature battle. So yeah, they kind of compared it a little bit like how the world of final fantasy works with kind of the FF world.

Jeff: Okay. I have not played it. I like monster hunter. I’m risking the trailers for this and thinking it was much more of a dumbed down version of monster hunter.

And that’s fine for some people now I’m kind of games. They’re kind of skipping.

Crev: Yeah. Most like it’s I want to love monster hunter. I really do, but, and it’s because a lot of my friends love it and they just can’t, they, they are so involved in it and I love that for them, but I remember buying monster hunter world and just being so like lost, lost.

Yeah. I was just, and I played it a couple more times after that, but the series itself is so fun to watch. So that is one of the ones that I’ve kind of picked up secondhand rather than kind of experiencing the worlds for myself. But yeah. It, it is an interesting fan base and it, and it’s got such cool and diverse aspects of the games that, yeah, I figured it was worth the mention.

So that way, you know, people are into the kind of those fandoms and stuff too. They’d noticed to check that one out too. Yeah.

Jeff: I won’t go too much in a monster hunter. I’ve only played two of the games on the franchise. I really suggest playing monster hunter rise. It has. It’s the newest one. It’s on the switch.

It just come on PC. I want to say like one or two months ago, there’s a DLC coming out this summer. I don’t know if it’s going to the PC or just a switch, but it’s much more new player-friendly. Cause I have never played monster hunter until raw. I had. Monster hunter generations ultimate on the switch, which is one, it’s a quarter of, one of the older ones.

And like you said, there’s no handle on what’s or the no tutorial. There’s no, there’s nothing to get you in the game, which is kind of like how much hunting normally works. But monster hunter rise has that to explain to you like, Hey, here’s things to look out for. Here’s common things and it gives you a really good ramp up.

And that thing that’s really good entry in, into this series for new

Crev: players. I’ll have to consider that one then. Yeah. A lot of people I’ve, I’ve seen a lot of people play it, but they kind of breeze through all that because they’re used

Jeff: to kind of the model. Yeah, that was my first one. I really enjoyed it.

I got a lot of hours in it. I got to jump back in before the DLC comes out and play some stuff for it. It’s a good game. And we have a couple of our games on our list skier that I have never heard of. So if you want to start us off with one of those.

Crev: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the other ones that I’ve been watching, a few people play is Korman and quorum on.

I want to say either just came out or again, same sort of early access to release sort of thing. But it’s, it’s kind of an interesting play because the graphics are very reminiscent of the old Pokemon games. So yeah, so it, it absolutely, you can tell that it is an inspiration, at least with kind of the styling obviously with a more modern and kind of color, you know, aspect of it.

But it is it’s, it’s another one of those really cute and classic or modern takes on a classic game and they have kind of that monster, you know, taming. Yeah. Aspect that, you know, Pokemon has in general. So the battle systems are all very similar, kind of the overworld is very similar, but it’s made by a smaller studio, so they they’ve got their own kind of spin on it and own, own take with it.

And I just, I really fell in love with the art style it’s on my list, but I haven’t actually gotten a chance. Yeah. It’s really adorable. And for, it was like $20, I think, at max price. Yeah. So it, it it’s really affordable and it had kind of that polished feeling that I, I wanted to see from another creature creator that’s being released in 2022.

Jeff: It’s also apparently on Android. Hmm. Interesting. I definitely think that taking this John rhe to a mobile platform is a very smart idea. Not just like DSPs, Vita, switch handhelds, but mobile phones. This is a great genre for that because you don’t need to spend all day playing. You can go through Nicole fights, turn the game off for a while, you know this game is super cute though.

It’s very, very reminiscent of Pokemon in a modern-day. I really like how this looks. However, I look to that. Player characters. They got up, they got a fivehead they got big Scholes. They got some big domes on,

Crev: then you can’t exceed in every single aspect of a game.

Jeff: Come on. Yeah. I’m not knocking the art style.

They just got some big

Crev: foreheads. Yeah, those are, those were some noggins. I was gonna, I was gonna let them find that one out. Jeff,

Jeff: I’m looking at games, tips ever heard of

Crev: these. Yeah. I mean, it’s just, it’s a good fun little side. Into the same genre as kind of the classic games, just with a nice modern uplift and kind of, you know aesthetic in general.

And that’s very similar with the next game as well. So the other game that I was kind of chatting about, I haven’t played it myself, but I’ve watched some content on it. It’s called next Amman on to that was another one that just kind of hit the rails in this kind of very vibrant and modern art style creature collect your game.

So when you look at the game, I want to say it’s like cause I’ve never played these and I’m sorry, I’m not as old a fan. Is it Link’s awakening that I th I think it’s the similar art style. It’s got those kind of very like bright colors and sort of things. And it gave me kind of that Link’s awakening feel of a creature.

And that’s why I really wanted to mention this one because it looks really exciting and I’ve actually got this one on my wishlist that I’m going to pick up eventually. It shares a lot of the same aspects of the other creature collectors. It has it’s, you know, regular elemental aspects of each Pokemon or each Mon you want to call them.

But it gives it kind of this adorable thing with like, there’s like products that you can make. And then there’s also like just really exciting and pretty visuals. Like, I think one of them, one of the streamers that I was watching who was covering some of this was like showing me this like super big, like LABA area that had like a volcano area in it.

And it was just like super pretty. I mean, there was just like so much stuff to look at. And I’m a very visual person when it comes to a lot of these games. Like, I am very attracted to. Bright and vibrant art or just really unique art styles and this one kind of, it, it caught my attention immediately and I was like, oh, this is cute.

And it reminded me of kind of Link’s awakening. And I was chatting about that with another friend. So yeah, those two. Very nice. It is. Yeah. It’s really and it’s, and it’s different enough, like it’s, it gives kind of a new spin on what those graphics look like. Cause we haven’t really gotten, I mean, I guess maybe the closest would be like X and Y for that style.

But yeah, we haven’t had that in a long time and it kind of plays to that nostalgia. I think

Jeff: it, it, it looks like our style looks like a blend of what the original Link’s awakening would look like if it was drawn. Yeah, mixed with Pokemon because it doesn’t quite look like the new version of Link’s awakening, the switch version.

It just looks like a more hand-drawn version mixing the

Crev: Pokemon easier version, but not always, it’s got some darker elements and stuff to it, but it is a very, like, it is a very vibrant whereas a lot of the other games are kind of muted and, you know, a regular scale or monochrome, that sort of thing.

So yeah, this is very bright and colorful

Jeff: also. It’s also one on Android.

Crev: Oh, man. I’m just finding all the mobile game. I’m a, I’m an Apple person, so stuff applies to me. But that’s funny. I didn’t realize that. I don’t even know how I, I mean, I, I take that back because I have final fantasy seven on my on my iPhone that I play on like some stuff.

So also

Jeff: on the switch, it’s a call. So it’s apparently to call it next Amman extinction. Yeah. Yeah.

Crev: So that one yeah, so I think they, is it a second iteration of something there, there was

Jeff: like, okay. I’m guessing the steam, the steam version just says extinction. So I’m guessing it’s just not to just,

Crev: and so it’s probably just the whole of it.

Okay. Yeah. So that, that was the one that they had recommended to me. And it was just like, I remember just being so pulled in by the, by the art style and it just, I w it seemed very playable. Like there wasn’t any like obvious kind of like hurdles or kind of like, I don’t know. It just, it was, it was the same style, but it was just, it felt new and it felt vibrant.

And that was enough to get.

Jeff: So now we’ve talked about a bunch of similar games that are currently out for your perusal listeners at home and for us too, because I’m going to pick up next. It looks kinda cute actually. Yeah. Obviously we have a dog. Pokemon is not going anywhere. Pokemon’s gonna be on for quite a long time, I think.

And we have the newest games coming out as it, this fall or next fall. I want to say that this fall actually pretty sure it’s this fall. I can look we’ve scrolled and violet where’s your coming out whenever and a crab looked it up. And we don’t know a lot about this game yet. We we’ve seen a couple of trailers here and there and we haven’t seen a lot of hardcore gameplay trailers.

It looks like a slight blend of the sword and shield and Archaeus which I’m gonna to put RKS. So I can’t, I can’t attest to the gameplay of that. I do know how the game works and it looked interesting. Wasn’t my kind of game, but you know, it looked interesting as it. Spinoff Pokemon title. But like what, what do you want to see in, in, in a new version of Pokemon and in your ideal Pokemon world?

W what, what comes out in Scarlet and violet?

Crev: So honestly the cat and Pokemon I, I got so excited. Like I was, I had kinda been tuned off of Pokemon for a while, and I was just like, I’ll look at the art when it comes up. Like I was not looking for news. And honestly somebody had shared the. The cat, like the grass cat, like, and I’m just like, I want, I want the weed cat, like come on.

So he, he just kind of like, okay, so I was like, oh, he’s got a cute Pokemon. All right, I’m going in. And now I start looking into it. And it does feel very, I would agree. I think it looks like a combination of what shield a shield and sword and RTS are not Archaeus yeah. Archaeus would be. Yeah. So it, it had kind of that open-world aspect from what we were able to tell.

Obviously they haven’t given us much with it, but I like kind of the updated graphics. I like that they’re kind of tuning into this like open-world aspect still. But yeah, it, it’s hard to tell because we don’t have a lot of information right now. We just kind of have the hype and the name and kind of a.

Jeff: For me, when I saw the trailer, I was like, okay, we’re going to get another, another rehash of the sword and shield. They’re going to phone in another version, just like they have for the past few. Jen’s at a couple of things here and there that only stood for one, one generation. Like there was a, what was it?

The X evolution. And then we have mega Pokemon. And like, you know, it’s all, it’s always like one gimmick that never moves the next John the. I would like to see just a more difficult game. I think that the like sword and shield was just such a snooze fest. I don’t think I’ve ever failed a single trainer battle in the entire game, which I’m not asking for like a fire emblem.

Permadeath crazy difficult. Role-playing game. I want some challenging, you know? Yeah. And having, having your entire team get experience at the same time, I’m fine. With that change. It was a good quality of life change compared to the ordinary. But that’s a lot of grinding. Yeah. But there’s just, there’s just, no, there’s no challenge involved.

I know my tight match-ups I get a good poke one as a fire type. It, it rocks through the game for whatever, how long it needs to go through. Then I swap my water-type or anything with that one until I switched the next one. So on and so forth. There’s no difficulty in these, in these fights. And I think that if they want to step it up to a more mature audience, they really need to dial in on how to make these trainer fights difficult, engaging and not leaving that for the post game.

So that’s what they’ve always done is leave it for the

Crev: post-game. Yeah. And I think and I know you had mentioned that you haven’t played Archaeus, but Archaeus is actually a step up in the grand scheme of the Pokemon games. It doesn’t handhold you the way that all the other games do. And that’s kind of what gives me a little bit of faith when they’re going back to violet and Scarlet is because they’ve made like, don’t get me wrong.

There’s a lot of things wrong with Archaeus. There’s a lot of good things with Archaeus as well, but they are kind of pulling this from that. And there, I ‘m hopeful that they’re going to take. A little bit of the handholding away still obviously make it accessible and make it you know accessible for, you know, difficult players or, you know, beginners who don’t want the challenge.

But I, I hope to see kind of a marrying of that skill, cause like the way you had to approach Pokemon in, in Archaeus is completely different. You can either try to battle them and weaken them. You can throw a polka ball from the shadows, you can do all of these other things. And I think if they kind of blended the two games, give us the accessibility of short sword and shield with the uniqueness of Archaeus and I think it could give us a good new starting point in a new jump pad for the rest of the generations to come after.

Jeff: What do you think about having different difficulty options in a new GoPro and game? If there was an easy, medium, hard

Crev: mode, personally, I am all for accessible. If it makes somebody being able to play the game 100%. So I’m there for the story, the easy and the normals. I don’t play on a hard level, so it’s hard for me to advocate as much for those.

Because you can still play the game. You may not enjoy the game. Right. So yeah, I would say on a general level, if that was an option to either have it or not put it in 100%, that way people can kind of pick where they go for. I like that idea.

Jeff: Like for me, I like my board games do me wrong by also do want to have that because the be like, let me talk to monitor on earlier.

There’s no X billion off monster hunter. And it’s just like either, you know, or you don’t know it, I’m totally fine with having like an easy, medium, hard mode for Pokemon, for, you know, new players or casual players or those who don’t want to put in the effort into like, trying to figure out, you know, typing.

And, and one of this one, I just grind through the coupon one. That’s totally fine for me. I don’t want to grind a million for a million hours to get like the perfect EVs, but you know what, I want to go into a fight and be like, oh, I might actually lose this fight. Do you know what I mean?

Crev: Oh my gosh. I actually have to think about what I’m doing rather than just push buttons.

Yeah. Yup.

Jeff: Then just like, all right, cool. My, my, my, my, my first starter website through their Pokemon and I swapped types, the next one, and then I’m done for the day. I just think it’d be, it could be such a more interesting take on how it works and give it a, just a better match for a more mature age.

Cause it will be. The majority of Parkland fans are probably going to be in our age group. We’re probably going to be here in our late twenties or early thirties. Cause that’s when the games came out for us as kids and we’re still playing.

Crev: We have that nostalgia generation and they’re in the process.

Like it’s hard because I see where they’re going with things because they have to like, unlike monster hunter Pokemon obviously is a much wider known kind of phenomenon in general. So like obviously as the more people know it, the more accessible something has to be. So I can see that, but I think one of the biggest things here would just be like, are we willing to trade a year or two, like difference in kind of like postpone between each game, if they were to add a lot of these features to the game.

Is that something you think that the community can live through? Cause like right now, Pokemon Pokemon is one of those games and, and I believe so as well, but It’s one of those things that’s been around for awhile and the name is still there. So I think they can go kind of that extra time. So if they’re willing to put in the time, there’s really no excuse.

And that’s kind of why I was thinking of it that way. Like they know that they don’t have to push out a new game every other year. Like they could take an extra year on it and be more accessible to more people. And then therefore they grow even larger. So like, there’s a lot of like fundamental things.

Like it’s like, because in a lot of fandoms you can’t do that. If you go irrelevant for two years, you’re done. So I think Pokemon is, is in a strategic place because they are, well-known pretty much throughout the world.

Jeff: Yeah. Like I’m looking right now at at the the releases for all the Portland games and they they’ve kept to that two year window for almost entirely until 2016 when the sun, the moon come out.

Because from SA from 2016 to now, it’s been released at least every year with a mainline Pokemon game, which is impressive. Don’t be wrong. But again, like I said, That every year effort has been a bunch of Pokemon games that have not been anywhere near as impactful as you think they are. Yeah. Like we talked earlier about, about sun and moon and ultrasound, ultra moon.

Those came out one year apart. I never played them. I’ve heard no one talk about them at all. I couldn’t tell you that. But point in those games have no clue. And

Crev: then it’s sitting on my mantle somewhere over there

Jeff: and like, let’s go, Eve came out in 2018. That was fun. I liked that. And then rap that came out a sword and shield.

I think that was the only passable thing because let’s go peach and Evie was such a different take compared to sword and shield. It was a phone, it was a phone that phoned in, it was a dumbed-down easier version for nostalgia as for an establishment and for a younger audience, which I’m totally fine with that.

There were fun games, but I guess I’m from 2016 all the way until now. It’s been one release every year, except for 2020, which was the DLC for sword and shield, which I didn’t play it. I don’t know if we talked about, but you didn’t play it. Listen at home. If you played it. Just send us an email. Tell us about how much the DLC or Hinsdale seem.

That’s fine too. But like neuro plate and then 2021 was a rerelease of diamond and Pearl, which I believe did. Okay. It did numbers wise. I didn’t play it cause I didn’t care enough

Crev: about that. I have diamonds. I’ve been actually playing through diamond in preparation for like, I was like, oh, I haven’t played this series in a while.

So I was picking that up. But yeah,

Jeff: I played them in a Pearl. I just didn’t care that much about that generation. So I kind of skipped it, especially trying to

Crev: pay the first time. So this is right now.

Jeff: I just call it a Nintendo stop making remakes for $60. Come on. Yeah. You’re breaking me over here. I can buy a remake on esteem on some for 40 bucks.

I can buy a great indie game for 30. Don’t even pay 60 bucks for a game. You can buy five

Crev: good indie games for them. But yeah, no. And, and that’s kind of, you know, kind of the direction I wanted to jump into was like this mega-company has the ability to do more with their games, but they are so tight in on that window.

That that’s what they’re putting out. Rather they’re in love with the product or not.

Jeff: I feel, I feel like perhaps Nintendo and game Frick are worried that, that, that taking the Pokemon franchise and slowing it down to make a new product will end up putting them in that same hole that Metro crime four is in.

As we know has been in development for eight, 10 years now, a long time, and it keeps being pushed back and pushed back. And you know what I agree with Nintendo when, when they say that a good game takes time and crunches unnecessary. But I think that they’re worried that they take too much time. Pokemon is not going to be a good product.

Where’s the shame.

Crev: It could be reversed, like taking that extra year, especially with how conditions are like, I would much rather buy a game two years from now from a studio that’s not killing their employees. And I don’t know the working conditions. I can’t speak on them, but I feel like there’s a lot of pressure there whether they mean to in the workplace or not just because of that window.

So it’s something that kind of is something to think about. Like, could they push back a year and still be as popular? And I think they could, it’s just a matter of.

Jeff: I don’t think that Pokemon will ever lose popularity. I think they’re more worried about if they take too long on making a new game, they’re going to get self-conscious about how good this game will be and continue to push it back and back and back.

And I think that’s the issue that they are worried about. That’s my opinion. I could be wrong entirely. I don’t know, from what I understand the work conditions at game freak and Nintendo are pretty good. They don’t focus a lot on crunch. I could be wrong pain and Tendo, if you want to reach out and like talk to me personally, and like funny to Japan, I’m in for it.

I got a friend in Japan I’d love to go and visit him. But anyway, like I don’t, I, I think there’s, th there’s, there’s more worried about getting caught in that, trying to innovate and never innovating cycle. And I think that could be a potential reason as to why they’re so worried about making a new release.

That’s so wildly different. We’re skipping that. I think

Crev: a lot of it is like looking at the player base a lot too. You could tell that to an indie game lover. And honestly, we’ll be like, yeah, give it, give it to us in four years. We’re we’re on board. We got this. But if you tell that to somebody who’s waiting for a triple life, no, it’s two weeks late.

This is bull crap. Like you are the worst people. And that’s what it is. It’s like, it’s, it’s a balancing act between those people of who were okay waiting and who are the instant gratification people. And it’s like, when you deal with that, it can pull a studio in two different ways. And, and that, I feel it could be super dangerous in that regard because like they’re, if they’re trying to appease everyone, they’re not going to please anyone at all.

It’s never going to work for them. So I think it’s a matter of them internally figuring out whether or not it’s going to be like, worth it, to push it back and kind of finding the ability to see that. If they did this, this could happen. It’s, it’s that imaginary thinking, you know, that they’ve got to get behind.

And I know that’s really difficult from a business standpoint because obviously you’re in the business to make profit and that sort of thing too. So it’s kind of marrying those two principles.

Jeff: And then on the other hand, when it comes to Pokemon games or Pokemon light games coming on in the future I haven’t seen a lot of new games coming out soon in the genre.

I did a casual look here and there, I guess I didn’t find a whole lot that was sort of in this same monster battling Gianna that was really shining a light on something new, except for one game. I’m going to go in and give a content warning for all. This is at home. This game does involve.

Sweatshops slavery. I don’t know how to find this, but, but, but hold on. All right. Chet animal cruelty, I guess, is another trigger.

Crev: Slavery,

Jeff: animal, slavery, sweat shopping, animal cruelty. It’s called power world power world is God. It’s a fever dream of a video game as not kinda yet. We’ve had a couple of trailers so far of this game.

I’ll go ahead and read the, the, the steam description. Powell world is a brand new multiplayer open world survival crafting game, where you can befriend and collect mysterious creatures called pal and a vast world. Make your pals fight, build farm and work in factories. Now that doesn’t sound that bad. It sounds like a weird take on like a Terraria, Minecraft, whatever sort of game, but then you watch the trailer and There are Pokemon making guns, and you’re just like shooting Pokemon with like assault rifles.

There’s a, there’s a, there’s a brief clip that shows a bunch of Pokemon working in a, in like a gun manufacturing, sweatshop.

Crev: It’s I have

Jeff: a lot of feelings I’m watching the trailers playing right now in the background and it shows us big. Like, imagine if you took total row and P could shoe and fused together and gave him a mini gun, I just saw that and the trailer and it just, I got lost for a second, trying to figure what I’m looking at.

Like, that’s the kind of advertisement right here. This, this is the dark side of what Pokemon could be. Just,

Crev: you talked about crypto, if that gives you any indication how dark this is. Yeah. I okay. So I try to look at games subjectively. Like I try to pull myself out

Jeff: of an actual rocket, one of the gifts.

Oh, it’s like,

Crev: it’s an FPS game. Like, and that’s what it’s like. I’m so confused. So I have many feelings about this game, so I try to pull myself out of things. So like, obviously, like if you look at things from a fantasy environment that, and just reading the bio, it looks cool, but we are all humans and deal with a lot of stuff going on in our real lives.

And this feels a little too real to me in the worst way. And that is, it has such unique and cool elements and cool art style, but the way that this is executed just feels very wrong. And yeah, it, it it’s basically what did you, what you explained before is how I would explain that at creature it’s a fever dream.

It is a fever dream. Yeah. It’s, it’s aggressive, it’s aggressive, it’s cutesy aggressive. It feels like happy trees.

Jeff: Yes. That’s exactly

Crev: what it’s like, happy tree friends. And if you’re a millennial, I hope you understand this Jen gears. I’m so sorry. This is a thing from our past. It happy, it reminds me of happy tree friends, the cutesy murder and that, and

Jeff: that’s, I will at least say, I don’t believe this game is M rated.

There is no blood or guts or like that. When you shoot enemies, whether it’s a Pokemon or a human they just ragdoll like any other game

Crev: it’s it’s fortnight.

Jeff: It’s like fortnight. Yeah. Like it’s

Crev: cartoony. It’s not gory. It’s not graphic. I want to say probably at worst, it’ll probably be like PG 13 or whatever.


Jeff: I’m looking at it. There’s a gift of the player with a Pokemon. A handgun on his head while he’s shooting an assault rifle. And like the image is ragdoll, it’s all they do. There’s no, there’s no violence like that. It’s just, I feel like all the core elements of this game look really, really good, you know, catching monsters and survival crafting is really good.

It’s very popular right now. And you know, baseball is really cool too. Did you have to have the guns though?

Crev: Yeah. The guns feel very misplaced and like, I’m not saying guns are bad

Jeff: again. Yeah. We’re not talking about gun control. We’re just saying that in this cutesy world of these fantastical monsters, it’s just so weird to see that in there.

Crev: Yeah. So it’s like, it’s like a fan service, a Fortnite and Pokemon. I don’t really know how else to explain it. Yeah, it’s just, it feels out of place. I mean, if y’all want to play it and tell us about it, please do. I don’t think either of us is going to be. Play in this, any future, maybe out of morbid curiosity,

Jeff: I’m going to keep a close eye on it.

Will I buy it? Probably not. Not unless there’s something I really want to get out of this, but like I’m keeping a close eye on it. Cause every time I forget about it, something new comes out and I go, what I’m looking at right now? What is this? It’s just such a weird game. It is very weird. Yeah. But that, so that’s it.

That’s all we have to talk about today, but Pokemon, unless you have any to add

Crev: crab. All right. I think we’ve covered everything from a to B and X, Y, and Z. And all the tangents include

Jeff: we’ve covered every gym. We’ve covered every color. We’ve covered every metallic metal, I guess. And I guess both colors.

So. There was more closest five colors. Now it was five colors were bad. I’m bad

Crev: at science and art. Sorry. Yeah,

Jeff: it’s fine. I’ll play video games. All right. I talk for a living. So let’s go ahead and dive into what are you playing this week? Crowd? What games have gotten your attention in the past week or two?

So I’m

Crev: on an indie kick right now. So I have been playing a couple of actually really exciting new indie games. So last Nova is one that I’ve been playing recently and it’s like it’s like a cutesy. Don’t start thinking. Like that paper kind of 2d kind of affects, but basically you play as this astronaut astronaut or something who crosses her ship on an alien island.

And she basically has to find a way to repair her shift to get going. And the, the whole area of this game is just kind of exploring this planet that you’ve landed on at where there’s sentience, apples, who are selling apples to their friends and apple pies and tarts. It’s just, it’s a lot of very silly humor, but it’s like, I cracked up at it and I have a pretty, I have a pretty serious like sense of humor.

So like not a lot of like the, this. Stuff is going to get to me, but I was, I was giggling playing it. It had a lot of very smart and cute, silly humor in it. And the arts there was really great. It was like it’s puzzles and collecting and kind of just like, it had little shop elements. It was just really cutesy and fun.

I loved it. And then the other game that I’ve been kind of playing a little bit on here and there is V rising which I don’t know if you’ve heard of this one yet. It’s that vampire-like Diablo. Yeah. So I have never played, I’ll preface this by saying I’ve never played a Diablo game, so I’m not really super well known in like kind of the top-down or action RPG scene.

But it, it reminds me of like vampire the masquerade met Val. So it has like kind of the battle obviously to kind of fight some stuff off. So it has kind of the Diablo, you know, S style skill bar at the bottom. And you basically have to build this base and protect yourself from the sun. Cause you start burning in the sun and start losing HP.

And I was like the, the different mechanics and kind of, you have this like strategy of like building, you know, the safe place where you can put your coffins and kind of resource management and gathering. It had kind of all of those fun things that I loved about Val Hime with kind of a fun, little like vampire twist.

So I, I really enjoyed it so far. So that’s, those are the two that I’ve been focusing the most on.

Jeff: For me I’ve been playing a lot of a hard space ship breaker.

Crev: I have no idea what that is.

Jeff: Yeah. So, so I really saw the trailer for this. I want to say last year and I forgot it. Because I thought the trailer was super interesting that for other game came out and it just hit game pass within the last week or so.

And I picked it up because I was like, Ooh, this is the game I talked about. I saw earlier. It is a game where you are disassembling a spaceships. You are a junker, a salvager they’re called ship breakers. In this universe. You are in massive debts to this like global, not global, this like huge corporation that basically owns your soul.

You’re like 1.2 billion credits in debt. And you have to work air quotes here on taking apart ships, which doesn’t sound that interesting. So the, the, the part that’s fun is that there’s a danger to these ships because you have to figure out, okay, how do I take out the engine properly? How do I handle fuel canisters?

How do I depressurize the, into your cabin? So I don’t get blown out of here or get, you know, sucked into like a, a crack in the wall and die. How do I deal with like coolant and electrical systems and the game scales in how complex these ships get, which makes it more interesting and more challenging.

But it’s also just a huge vibe. Just like sit there and like, look at a ship and figure it out. Cool. I can see these points here and like use tethers to pull this out this way and like separate this and get into the reactor and like take out the power and then come back to the reactor and pull that out and put in the, in this area and then pull thrust drought.

It gets so into. But in a fun way, re you don’t need to like, write down like complex schematics of how to make a show part. It’s like, okay, cool. This part has this mechanic. This part has this mechanic to like, figure this out. And it’s just fun. It’s a lot of fun. I played on the stream a few times. I got my my best friend, Alex.

He got COVID over the past week rap, he’s doing fine. But he, he saw me play it on stream. He picked it up and he has been playing every day for the past, like four

Crev: days. Don’t you love that responsibility knowing that you just wrecked somebody’s life in the

Jeff: best way. I mean, he, like, he told me, he was like, Hey man, I took two days off.

Cause I’m trying to, you know I took days off of work and vanilla Coke. I’m like, yeah, dude, like still better, whatever. It’s fine. And I’m like that night, he was like, bro, I just saw her playing a shit breaker and I’m so addicted to this. And I was like, good for you, bud. Yeah, the next day he was like, bro, I was up till 5:00 AM taking shifts last night.

And I was like, bro, you have you, your fiance and your son all have COVID. You should be resting. You took time off work to rest. He was like, bro, I can’t stop myself. And like today,

Crev: all of those games that I hate for this games, I love that feeling of just like I have to keep playing. Yeah. He,

Jeff: he, he is, he is lost in the sauce for this game.

And the other game I’m playing recently. It, so I haven’t played much sanctuary. We stopped earlier. I’ve also been playing American trucking SEM. God,

Crev: the

Jeff: truckers I play, I play a lot of weird games listeners at home and crab. I play a lot of weird stuff. I have, I have my tastes I guess I like digital manual labor and not real manual labor.

I don’t know how to explain this. Cause like Hartley ship breaker, I’m doing manual labor, like fantasy, I’m doing manual labor, but like, okay. I have a steering wheel. I have, I have like the, the pedals and whatnot. You know, I have my, I have a stream deck that I I’ve outfitted with a bunch of keys for all my truck functions.

So my blinkers, my wipers, and like my lights and all that I get in the zone. Okay. I love that there, there are in game radio stations, they’re they’re fan made radio stations for American and Euro trucking SIM. That sound like real radio stations. And when I first started playing, I was playing late at night and I was cause there a lot of this community is European based and there’s playing, you know, like regular music, what not with like occasional little like fake commercial ad breaks to promote discord servers and whatnot.

I was playing in the daytime. They have actual daytime radio hosts, who would give you like, like news information on traffic in there, like the server they host for multiplayer worlds. And I’m like, what are they talking about? Like, this is so in-depth, I’m going to,

Crev: I’m going to jump in here because this is going to be a really funny connection.

I actually used to be a DJ in second, in second life online when I was 11 years old. When I first started deejaying online for online radio stations that were hosted by people playing the game and we would host on location, we would do all that stuff. And I was the voice of their advertisements a lot as well.

And I ran. Three or four times a week and it’s the same kind of thing. So I was like, oh no, he’s bringing this up. I can’t not talk about this.

Jeff: I had no idea. Like I said, I was playing at night and you know, nighttime I’m in Florida. So now, you know, nighttime for me is like super early in, in, in European time Roseby bowl.

And so a lot of it is just like prerecorded sessions, but you know, one day I finished work early and I hopped into play and I’m hearing like actual, actual voices talk to me in real-time to go on about like California traffic. Cause the game takes place and like the west coast of the states. And I’m like, what am I listening to?

Isn’t actual person on there. Like I can hear them like stumble over their words so I know it’s not prerecorded. And I’m like, what is this. It’s so immersive and so much fun. I’m trying to get to work in VR. I haven’t quite got to work in VR yet, but once I get the VR headset working with it,

Crev: that’s so immersive.

Cause you’ve got all the additional setup and stuff to you. Oh, those are so I love the, I’ve seen so many racing setups because I’ve been watching some iRacing recently. I’m not a big racer myself, but it’s fun watching kind of those setups where they have like the wheels and the pedals and all this extra additional stuff.

And it’s just crazy to see,

Jeff: No, I do play some, some racers here and there. I’m not good at all, but I do have them because racing Sims are always cheap. If you like racing Sims listeners at home, you can find them on during almost every steam sale for less than $10. And they have so much content, but you know, I got a steering wheel because I want to play racing Sims.

I want to play dirt, rally shocker. I’m bad at it. And those also all have great VR applications too. And playing those in VR is a trip and it’s salvage. I want to get my, my truck’s going to work in VR. I just haven’t spent enough time to figure it out. It’s a blast. There’s a lot of fun playing those games with the steering wheel.

You get real into it.

Crev: Yeah, they’re cool. That’s, that’s really neat. I’m so glad to hear that. Like other communities that are

Jeff: doing that. It’s nice. Well, that’s all we have to talk about today. Crab. Do you have anything you want to add?

Crev: Not today. Just thank you all for listening and we hope to see you back for many more episodes, kind of with our new

Jeff: revamp.

Yeah, absolutely. And if you guys want to figure out what games you play today on the show or play talked, talked about on the show. That’s what I talk about the games on there. She wouldn’t play the games on the show. You can find them in the show notes down below and stick around and let us know what you feel if you want to communicate with us, if you want to tell us about your favorite Pokemon game or your program experience or ask us questions, reach out to us on Twitter. It’s a bonus stage pod. You’ll find a logo down there. We’ll have that also in the show notes below and you guys have a great day.

Thanks guys. Thanks.

Sunblaze – Review

Sunblaze – Review

I’m back! Back in the New York Grove’, sang Ace Frehley in 1978.

Shortly after, KISS took off their make-up and Ace Frehley then left the band. They had become a bit dated, silly even? So, too, the platformer. They came to be seen as undemanding, linear games; the preserve of younger kids who like the cartoon presentation of these games.

Even efforts to compete with the advent of 3D did little to halt the decline of the platformer from its market share heyday of a third of games sales to 2% by 2006, but whisper it like Ace Frehley… the platformer is back.

Is it worth playing Sunblaze?

Sunblaze, developed by Games from Earth, is a 2D single screen platformer harking back to classic days. It’s title screen opens with a popping tune reminiscent of early Mario music and the soundtrack throughout is top notch.

Cute Ponytail

You are Josie, a cute pony-tailed little girl whose father is a retired old superhero. Better than that though, Dad owns a Superhero training simulator – well of course we’re gonna try it. It is during the training session that we…err train and are taught all the basic moves in the game environment; the double jump, the dash, hang crawling, hitting things or jumping on things causes them to fall and this can break obstacles.

These are all the usual, expected staples of a precision platformer and they are introduced quickly and seamlessly. It’s a joyous start.

Then the training simulator goes wrong and you are stuck inside and have to fight your way through various colourful levels to escape back to Dad. 

Sunblaze Review Screenshot Josie
Sunblaze Review - Games From Earth

One of the starkest things about Sunblaze, right from the start, is how darn quick the game is in almost every respect. Sunblaze treats death in the best way, from red sauce to resurrection in a millisecond. Instantaneous and unforgiving failure is followed by instant play again without even the need to press a button.

Speedrun Death Challenge, Anyone?

There surely has to be a contest for who can rack up the most deaths in under a minute? Then when you complete a level there is no fade screen or load screen, the screen simply melts into the next level like the moment you see a magic eye image…boom it’s there and you are stood right where you were but in a different room, facing a different puzzle.

The pace is amazing, making the experience a pretty continuous one and emphasising the positive part of that, no matter how you are doing.

Sunblaze Review

Pretty soon however, you start meeting those challenging levels where the game demands you put together your newly learnt moves into combinations in order to whizz around the board.

Each level (created by a friendly rainbow unicorn, naturally) needs to be solved and they become more a complex puzzle each time. There is an order of doing things, hitting jedi training robots, dropping blocks, exploding TNT, squashing laser gates, breaking glass barriers and all sorts of other things.

Pretty soon you start each level with a moment of pause to survey the puzzle in front of you and try to figure out a way to the end.  As the game progresses, each new chapter introduces more hazards. There are spiked floors, poisonous coral, explosive oil drums, volcano spitters, and evil computers. 

Sunblaze Review and Gameplay

Played normally, Sunblaze is a pretty difficult game. It isn’t called a Precision Platformer for nothing. You know what you are in for when you see that the game keeps a death counter and a timer. There’s going to be competition with speedruns and lowest deaths (or as I prefer, posting a screenshots of completing a game with an unbelievably high death count).

Death comes in many forms and frequently, you can explode into residue on touching spikes, be crushed entirely by a moving block or fried in classic cartoon style of shocking your skeleton when caught in a laser gate. If it all proves too tough there are a multitude of difficulty settings that operate seamlessly.

Firstly there is a Zen Mode which is, effectively a rookie mode and gives you the whole game and story with fewer levels and a reduced difficulty, so the game can be played by a variety of ages and capabilities.

On top of that you can switch on various cheat functions that remove the game cap or cooldown on abilities such as infinite jumps or infinite dash. You can even make levels easier by giving yourself the ability to ignore volcanos and laser gates by switching on invincibility or to smash glass barriers on contact and avoid the perils of messing with squashing blocks. These accessibility options can be combined in any mode; play the standard mode and tackle a particularly hard level by switching on infinite jumps for example?

A Variety Of Deaths

Sunblaze is a great game with a wealth of accessibility. It knows what the flaws of a platformer are and if gets around them confidently. You will never be stuck for too long, you can always tweak the game parameters a little for one level of the whole game and experience much the same as someone else who plays the more skilful variant. And for those of you who want greater challenges you can try to collect the power cubes in each chapter. Do all this and there are a reputed 700 levels in the game.

All in all you can play Sunblaze from start to finish in a couple of hours using all of the easiest settings and cheat modes or you can take on the full challenge and it will take you days and well over 1000 deaths. That the game can be immensely accessible and extremely challenging at the flick of a setting and lose you nothing in gameplay gives Sunblaze broad appeal.

Sunblaze Review

The plethora of Roguelites around in recent years has given the platformer a lesson in how to present death as irrelevant to gameplay or at least not a setback to progress.

Is It Worth Buying Sunblaze?

During the lockdown of the last year there has been a widely reported jump in playing video games, Platformers are in the top five genres for growth in that period with platform play growing by 25% in that time. 

These days Ace Frehley is back playing with KISS, they still tour and they are back in their daft glam costumes, but what we realised is that we liked it that way after all. Sunblaze is one of a developing new breed of platformers in the line of Super Meat Boy and Celeste that realise the platformer never really left us and know how to give us what we really liked all along. 

You know that feeling you sometimes catch yourself doing in a game whereby you lean hard to the left in your chair, subconsciously willing your character to make that jump, you’ll be doing that a lot here. Like any game, when you put together a series of combinations to travel with speed and fluidity across and around all the obstacles to complete the level, it is glorious when you succeed.

I literally punched the air and let out a holler when I completed things. So, if you ever liked a platformer then you should check out Sunblaze and you too can sing ‘I’m Back’.

Skul: The Hero Slayer  –  Review

Skul: The Hero Slayer – Review

Yay…another Roguelite. If your game isn’t procedurally generated, then you’re not with the programme.

It’s a tough deal these days, after Hades; the bar has been set high. So along comes Skul: The Hero Slayer, joining the group like a new pop-up artisan burger joint, offering Japanese corn-fed beef patties on a piece of slate, in a brioche bun and serving Argentine beer whilst they play full Bob Dylan albums… on vinyl.

Just like a few years ago when burgers became artisan…roguelites are everywhere at the minute and there is no sign of let-up. Don’t worry, I’m here to help you know which waygu and which way not to go.

One Large Retro Pixel Art 2D Roguelite, Please

Skul is a pixel art 2D platform roguelite. The graphics and the way the text scrolls one generated letter at a time is very much like an old Nintendo Entertainment System or SEGA game.

The whole look of the game is retro styled and has an early Zelda feel to it. The usual roguelite elements are here. You die lots and keep nothing with you except for small incremental trait improvements which are split into three options, magical attack, melee attack and critical damage chance.

Gradually a combination of mastering the attack styles of enemies and the compound difference of incremental trait advances starts to pay off; you can go further, do more and so the game scales.

The premise is that the heroes of the world have united to finally conquer the demon kingdom and have imprisoned the Demon King, defeating and capturing monsters and wraiths of the underworld in the process. All except you that is… You are Skul, the tiny little skeleton sent on a final desperate mission to expel the Heroes and rescue the Demon King. You do so by journeying through RNG rooms that you have some control over.

Before entering the next room, you are presented with a choice of two rooms from one that delivers a skull, one that delivers money or one that delivers a power-up item. You get this reward when you clear the room full of enemies, but the level of reward, common, rare, unique and legendary are randomised. There is also a blank room which is simply a random pick of any one of the above. This allows you to somewhat control what you get in reward at the end of each room on your run.

Throughout levels there are shop doors to pass through that offer the chance to spend money on a variety of RNG items in each of the categories and a free skull is often offered to you.

You also have the end of level doors marked in red where you fight mini-bosses in the shape of caped heroes or one of six end of section big bosses.

Back To The Grind?

So far everything is pretty standard stuff for a roguelite, it’s done very well, but nothing special. The trick (and difficult bit) of making a successful roguelite is to avoid the improvement seeming like too much of a grind. There is nothing worse than being thrown back to the beginning for the 80th time, hating the idea of having to do those rote early levels yet again. One of our developer podcast guests recently described a lightbulb moment for him.

It was understanding what the central appeal or mechanic of your game was and to not limit it, but give lots of it to the player. That, after all, is why they are playing it. So, a roguelite has to constantly offer you demonstrable character improvement to keep the player in that feeling of ‘this time know I can get further…one more go’.

How does Skul do at this? There are two things that let it down. Whilst the rooms are procedurally generated, the enemies within rooms are not RNG; they are the same ones in the same places, following the same movements each time and there is limited variety in rooms.

There could (and should) have been more on offer here to make replaying them seem like less of a pointless grind in getting to whichever level you are currently powered for. The other problem is that in the early stages of the game, progress is very slow and the difficulty is punishingly hard. You can easily die fifty or sixty times with little progress beyond the early sections and seemingly scant character trait improvement.

Rotate Your Skuls

These issues could cripple Skul, but they don’t, because what lifts Skul: The Hero Slayer out of what would have been a mediocre entry to the genre at best, is an amazing mechanic that is the core attraction of the game. The ability to swap your skull and pick up another with radically different merits and powers.

There are about thirty-five skulls you can be given but you can only use two at any one time so, there are choices to be made. Each skull will be focussed on either speed, physical attack, magic attack or a balanced one of all elements. Within that there are different tiered skulls that give your play a different level of deadliness in attack and variety.

There are common skulls: rare ones, unique ones and legendary ones. These can and do pair with increasingly power with items that you pick up that complement the characteristics of speed: power or balance more so than the other skulls. The right combinations can result in your character becoming a devastating whirlwind of retribution on the heroes invading your land.

Oh yes… and if the difficulty is too hard there is a rookie setting that halves incoming damage, which 20 % of players choose to switch on – ooufff clearly tough then.

At first it might feel that you are at the mercy of getting an early unique drop of a rare or legendary skull to have any hope of progress, but as your character increases trait power with each run the common skulls become very playable and both the common and rare skulls can be upgraded to become as powered as a legendary one.

This means that not only are there a vast range of playstyles open to you with these RNG skull drops, but as your character levels your ability to use almost any of them effectively also increases, making for an enormously different experience of play each time. Perfecting them and settling on a preferred playstyle is fun and you can very much single-mindedly focus on this from a restart, keep only physical skulls and always choose/buy the physical upgrades.

You can also crush all other found skulls into bones to use as a currency to upgrade your Skul. Make these decisions early on based on the first skull given and you can rapidly compete with a legendary skull, you need not wait on the RNG to gift you one. This is only really possible when you have enough compound trait progression though.

This bewildering choice of gameplay styles and power-up make the early rooms playable on a repeat basis because you are forced to learn several different playstyles, hitting from distance, melee, special moves that are directionally dependent and ones that aren’t, the list goes on, all dependent on the skulls dropped for you in the early rounds.

Games do not usually make you learn more than one or two play-styles, but here there are a vast array of combinations and these changes, if you upgrade; remember that you can only ever hold two skulls at a time. This semi-forced variety is a magical mechanic to the game that takes some learning, but is richly rewarding.

All of this combines to produce amazing combat that you can easily control and master to clear dozens of enemies from different directions with wonderfully satisfying and increasingly powerful attacks and combos. It is something that looks like chaotic luck, but isn’t. 

Skul: The Hero Slayer Review Summary

You will probably get about 40 hours out of Skul: The Hero Slayer and it is worth every penny of a relatively cheap price point. This isn’t a perfect roguelite, but it is a good one with a marvellous core mechanic that defines the game and lifts it beyond the small problems it has. Being the bad guy has never been so much fun.

Now go and pick up a Royale with cheese and get slaying some heroes.