Clash Force from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Spicy Gyro Games
Feels like a mix of Megaman and Contra on the NES.
A side scroller platformer
Clash force is a fairly standard side scrolling platform. There are 3 different members of the Clash Force that you can play as, the only difference between them is cosmetic. The game has 3 difficulty levels; Normal, Hard and Expert. Hard appears to have more enemies while Expert has the same amount of enemies as Hard but you have 1 less health bar and the option to recover health has been removed.
As in any standard platformer you’ll progress to the right and shoot the enemies that appear on screen, most enemies only take 1 or 2 shots. While playing you will come across items to change your weapon, find hearts to heal your health, and a shield item that looks like a crest with an S in the middle that protects you from one hit before breaking. Fortunately, you have unlimited lives which can be helpful during the difficult areas of the levels or for less skilled gamers.
Your life bar has 3 hearts. Unlike most games, getting hit doesn’t just take away some health. You’ll lose any upgraded weapon you picked up as well as 1 heart. Luckily hearts and weapons upgrade items spawn a few times per level so you can restore what you lost. To avoid taking damage when the enemies shoot at you you will need to time your jumps since there is no way to duck or block the attacks.
The game and levels are pretty short as the levels can be completed within 2-3 minutes or less and the game can be completed in under 1 hour. There are 3 levels in each area before a boss fight. There are a total of 21 levels in the game. The boss fights remind us a lot of Megaman vs Dr. Wily fighting someone in a robot. Each of the bosses have a pattern of attacks that are easy to figure out and which is good since you’ll have to figure out the pattern in order to beat the boss.
After completing each level you are rewarded with a bonus area and a chance to pick your weapon upgrade or get a shield. If you are happy with what you have you can run through without picking up anything. This was nice to see as it gave us the option to leave without having to risk losing our weapon of choice.
The levels start becoming a little more challenging with new types of enemies. The platforming becomes harder too with the addition of moving platforms.
There are 5 different weapon items that you come across and you will be able to find your favorite after a few minutes. One weapon in particular really reminded us of the Spread shot from Contra which was our favorite weapon.
The game has the same background music on each level as well as the same sound effect for shooting no matter which weapon you are using. Since you will spend most of your time holding the shoot button you will get tired of the sound effect.
Clash Force is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
A Summer With The Shiba Inu from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Quill Studios
A long story with a nice soundtrack. Convenient mechanics for scrolling back to reread passages. Lots of Dog puns.
A Visual Novel with Puns
This is a visual novel set in a world of dogs. It is riddled with canine puns which are amusing at first but some of them seem to be trying a little too hard at times. They used a lot of flashbacks to tell the story which made it a little confusing at some points and hard to follow. It would have been better with less re-reading needed if there was a clearer indication of what is a flashback and what is present day. We actually restarted the game at one point to try and see what we had missed because we got lost about what was happening. There is a button on the bottom of the screen that will show you to see all of the conversation logs as well as the choices you made. We used this several times later in the game when we got confused and needed to go back and reread what happened. This became almost overwhelming toward the end as the story is over 70,000 words long.
The game has several endings for the story. The choices you make while playing through the story will determine the ending you receive. This adds a level of replayability to the game.
They have an auto-play mechanic that allows you to be hands free and just read along with the story. The dialog is purely text based. There is no voice acting. The only sound you’ll hear is the soundtrack and an occasional “dog sound”. We found the soundtrack to be pleasant and varied. It added to the relaxed feeling of sitting back and reading a novel.
The art work for the backgrounds looks a lot like photographs that have had an effect applied to them to make them look painted. The characters also looked a lot like photos with painted effects added just not to the same degree. Oddly, the clothes that the dogs are wearing looked like they’d been photoshopped onto the animals without having the blurring painted effect applied to them.
A Summer with the Shiba Inu is available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Concept Destruction from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Thinice Games
Enjoyable cardboard demolition derby. Well executed and easy to play with surprising solid driving mechanics.
Cardboard Demolition Derby
The game is a demolition derby with remote controlled cardboard cars. The play area is a cardboard arena sitting atop a large table in the concept garage. The arena is still littered with the scissors, pens, sticky notes, highlighters, tape, and rulers used to make the cars. To win you must cause the destruction of your rivals by inflicting enough damage to cause them to eject their batteries before they do the same to you.
There are a total of 8 different cars that you will unlock while playing the game, each with their own stats.
While driving around your car will get damaged from smashing into other cars, walls and objects in the arena space. They did a great job making it easy to see the amount of damage your car takes in different areas. If you take enough damage on the left side your door will fall off and so can the tires. You also see that part of your car crushed in. If/when your car takes too much damage you will lose your battery and your car is dead.
The car physics are better than typically found in games like this. The handling responds to the damage taken in a realistic way. If you lose a tire your car will drive like it only has 3 wheels and will lean to the side that’s missing a tire. The controls are good and responsive which is always nice to see. Like most of the arcadey driving games you have no gears to shift through just gas, brake, e-brake, and boost.
There is a “School” option which is the game’s tutorial. It provides a helpful place to start teaching you the basics. It is broken down into 3 sections: learning how to drive and control your car, explaining the way you damage other cars, and learning how to roll back onto your wheels. The last section is very useful as your car gets turned over a lot.
They also built a photo mode and gave it more options than we expected. You are able to take the camera anywhere on the level and even go through walls and buildings. There are some issues with clipping when you move the camera through a building like some of the walls disappear for a second and come back. You can also spin the camera in 360 degrees and adjust the focus if you’re trying to take an artsy shot. You might even be able to spot an easter egg or two while in photo mode since you’ll be able to see things you can’t normally see.
After you complete the level by winning or when your car gets destroyed you are provided with a results screen. This will show your score, the amount of cars you killed, the time left in the round, your car battery percentage, and a breakdown of the damage your car took. It was nice to see the breakdown of how much damage each part of the car took while you fought for victory in the cardboard death match.
Overall the game does a really great job presenting information visually. Not just on the results screen either. When selecting your car, they clearly display the stats so you can see how the cars compare to each other. They also clearly show where and how much damage you’re taking during the derby so you can effectively protect your weak areas while trying to maximize the damage you’re dealing to your opponents.
There are 8 levels in the game, each with a different theme. They range from a fancy plaza complete with fountain, stonehenge, a really cool football stadium, and a forest among others. Some of the levels reminded us of the Micro Machines games for those of you that remember them.
Concept Destruction is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Duck Souls+ from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Green Dinosaur Games
Enjoyable platformer. Hard mode is not for the faint of heart or impatient. Novices should definitely stick to casual.
A fast-paced platformer
You play as a yellow duck who has been sent by a group of ghost ducks (the Duck Souls) to find the duck eggs and keep them safe. Each level has one egg and is contained on a single screen. You’ll need to navigate from one side of the screen to the other to collect the duck egg. That’s all the narrative or story that’s present in the game.
You can jump off of the walls and dash to get to the higher areas on the levels. You can also use dash to jump over spikes, avoid other hazards, and break through walls.
There are 100 levels in the game. Some of the levels are very simple and can be completed in 1 life while others are more challenging and are likely to require multiple attempts. The game has a great respawn system which puts you back in control the second after you die. It also has a death counter that you can see both when you die and once you complete the level.
While playing through the 100 levels you will come across new challenges, themes, and mechanics. We enjoyed the variety provided by these. They kept the game fresh and enjoyable so it didn’t feel overly repetitive.
You are able to customize the look of your duck by changing the hat your character is wearing. You will unlock and collect hats while completing the levels. The hats are only cosmetic and provide no alteration to your character’s abilities. It would have been nice if the hats actually did something other than just change the look of the character. Some players will really enjoy the customization options these provide while others will find them pointless.
You are able to pick between 2 different modes. Casual mode has checkpoints placed throughout the levels while Hard has no checkpoints so if you die you have to start that level over from the beginning.
The controls are easy to pick up and play as you can use the thumbstick or D-pad to navigate with depending on what is most comfortable for you or provides you with the best control. You can also aim your dash by using the same thumbstick or d-pad you use to move. Being able to aim dash is a requirement for successfully completing some of the more difficult levels. This was an interesting variation to the dash feature typically seen in platformers.
The pixel artstyle is colorful in the early stages. The themes in the game become darker in the later levels as you go deeper into the ground to recover the eggs. These changes in the theme from level to level correlated directly with the increasing difficulty. The early easy ones were bright and colorful and as the levels became more and more challenging the colors became darker and darker. It was fitting of both the narrative of being further underground and the intensity felt by the concentration required to complete the harder levels.
The audio is enjoyable. They have a relaxing soundtrack that helps keep you calm with simple sound effects for your movements.
Each of the levels have their own interesting names based on video games and movies. Some are easy to get the reference while others are a little more obscure. A little Googling will help if you don’t quite get the reference. You might find something really cool.
The game is single player only with no leaderboards. Once you complete all 100 levels and unlock all of the hats there isn’t a reason to go back and replay the levels unless you want the challenge of Hard mode.
Duck Souls + is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Petite Games
Repetitive but enjoyable retro FPS
A Neon First Person Shooter
The game is a First Person Shooter where you shoot enemies and pick up the coins they drop to buy upgrades for weapons and health. It has two game types: challenge, and arcade mode.
Challenge Mode has 30 stages to play and provides you with a specific challenge you need to complete before receiving your Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating. The ratings are based on how quickly you complete the challenge but there’s nothing to indicate what the requirements are for each rating until you complete the stage and see what your time was.
The first 15 levels or so, we didn’t find the challenges to be particularly challenging. Most of these stages were able to be completed in under 1-2 minutes. At times, the most challenging part is just finding the enemies.
Arcade Mode has 5 game types
Classic Mode – Normal Classic mode
Hardcore Mode – More Enemies with more HP
Combo Breaker – You need to keep a combo going if it runs out its game over.
Maximum Strength – You start out using a Rocket Launcher.
Snail Mode – You move slowly and can’t jump.
We enjoyed classic mode and maximum strength mode the most.
The artstyle is a neon voxel and has a retro mid 80’s feel. Enemies look like they could’ve been taken right out of arcade classics like Space Invaders or Centipede. The level design and sound effects fit the game’s aesthetic and are in keeping with that retro feel. They chose dubstep for the music. While this is not exactly in keeping with 80’s retro it still feels like a good fit for the gameplay. While the controls are very simple they work nicely and are pretty responsive.
Sadly, there is only one map that is used for every stage both in challenge mode and in arcade mode. After about 15 minutes you’ll figure out the fastest way to make it around the map and where to take cover during combat. While this does help make the challenges a little easier since you’re familiar with the terrain, it also makes it more boring.
There is no story or narrative and the challenge mode (30 Stages) can be completed in under 1 hour. With no online leaderboards, once you complete the challenges you are unlikely to replay them unless you want to try to get a higher rating for personal reasons. The arcade modes were more enjoyable as the stages last until you die (or lose your combo in Combo Breaker). That at least kept things going longer than a couple of minutes.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.