Summer tends to be a slow period for game releases. Everyone eyes the holidays and spring for big releases. Some year’s summer reviews are slim pickings, not so much this year. A steady stream of games have been piling up in my "to be reviewed" stack. I'm going to try to start cutting that stack down this week with an older game released on a new system, a sequel, and a subscription service. The games are Minecraft Wii U Edition and Lovely Planet Arcade and the service is SteamCrate, a monthly “mystery box.” So let’s get cutting.
Minecraft Wii U Edition
Minecraft has become a global phenomenon that doesn’t seem to have an end. When I reviewed it way back in 2010 it was still an alpha version. As cool as it was I never would have predicted it would become the behemoth it is today. With the addition of the Wii U Edition, it is now available on all major current generation consoles. It’s also available on two older consoles, a hand-held device (PS Vita), Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. I would not be surprised to see Minecraft on in-car stereos next.
4J Studios have been responsible for the development of all console versions of Minecraft. For the Wii U Edition they did not stray away from the template they have set up. Why would they? It’s worked so far. The console version of being able to mine and create with simple button presses on a menu system is simple and effective; here it is no different.
What is different is the inclusion of the Super Mario Mash-Up Resource Pack. This free game download allows you to replace all the graphics and sounds with elements from Super Mario Bros. Daniel "C418" Rosenfeld, wonderfully relaxing music, is replaced with various recognizable themes from the Mario Bros Games. Zombies are replaced with Koopas. Even the static flowers are replaced with bouncy smiling flowers.
As a plus, Minecraft Wii U Edition can be played easily on the Wii U GamePad with touchscreen abilities doubling abilities that players would normally use via button presses.
Minecraft Wii U Edition keeps up the building block meets adventure gaming fun that has made Minecraft so popular. I give Minecraft Wii U Edition a 5 out of 5.
For more information see the Minecraft Wii U Edition website.
Lovely Planet Arcade
In 2014 I was asked to review a quirky first person shooter called Lovely Planet. As simple and minimalist as the game looked and played, surprisingly, it had a lot going for it. I was blown away by what was essentially a first person trick shot puzzler game. I enjoyed it immensely. Developer Quicktequila is back with a sequel, Lovely Planet Arcade.
The formula for Lovely Planet Arcade is the same as the original; figure out the quickest route through each level while shooting the evil green “snowmen.” Graphically it remains a simplistic and colorful Japanese minimalist style. There is one slight change, you’re now able to see the gun (barrel) you’re holding and you have hands!
Challenging as ever, you will die often. You will restart again, determined to get past the point you died. This will take place over a hundred levels in four different worlds. Lovely Planet Arcade has high replayability since every run is timed and posted on leaderboards. Again Quicktequila has challenged my first person shooter skills and I am enjoying the challenge. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
For more information see the Lovely Planet Arcade website.
Most monthly “mystery box” services send you a physical box full of surprises with a theme; geek boxes have geeky items, clothing boxes have clothes, and food boxes have food. SteamCrate is for gamers and they give you a “box” full of games. Well, “box” is really an email full of game codes.
Like any other mystery box you subscribe for a plan (monthly, 3-month, 6-month, or annual) and receive a “box” full of goodies. In this case a list of codes for Valve’s Steam digital download service. So what kind of games do you get? Well, a mix of games. My sample box contained:
Metro: Last Light - $9.99*
Breezeblox - $4.99
Brilliant Bob - $2.99
Burgers - $2.99
Resident Evil Revelations - $29.99
Chains - $4.99
Chicken Shoot 2 $6.99*
Chronology - $4.99
note * currently not listed on Steam
Not a bad batch of games overall. Four of them (Metro, Resident Evil, Middle-Earth, and Dead Rising) are well known and well received AAA titles. What about the other six games? Of them, I would really only say there was one clunker, Brilliant Bob.
So what are those six exactly? Breezeblox and Chains are puzzle games, Brilliant Bob and Chronology are platforming games, Chicken Shoot 2 is a shooting gallery style game, and Burgers is a side-scrolling shooter. I enjoyed all the games except Brilliant Bob. It felt like someone's first attempt at game creation; loose controls, bad camera angles, and poor collision detection made for a very lackluster game.
As you can see above, I listed the current retail prices on Steam as of 9/8/2016. Since both Metro: Last Light and Chicken Shoot 2 are not listed on Steam I had to get prices from other sources, so they are approximate. All totaled that's $117.90 worth of games. SteamCrate's priciest plan, the Monthly plan, is $31.99/month. In this case, you have saved $81.91 or approximately 73% off is my math is right (rounding up). That is one hell of a deal.
“What if they send me a code of a game I already own?” I hear you ask. Well, they will gladly exchange that code if you want, but SteamCrate informed me most folks gift them to friends or use them as prizes; the one-time-use code is yours to do with as you wish.
SteamCrate is a “mystery box” service I can easily recommend for gamers looking for more games to play. SteamCratetells me on average the “boxes” they send out have over $100 worth of games in them, so you are saving a lot for a good mixed selection of AAA and indie titles.
For more information see SteamCrate's website.