Category Archives: Featured

Thimbleweed Park Interview W/ Ron Gilbert

Just a few weeks ago at PAX West i had the privilege to interview one of my gaming idols: Video game legend, Ron Gilbert. We talked about his most recent game, Thimbleweed Park, and it’s upcoming release for the Nintendo Switch. If you haven’t played it yet, do it! We thought it was a fantastic game!

Kris: So we’ve been big fans of your work for a long time one of my favorite earlier gaming memories is playing Day of the Tentacle which I know you’re a writer on.

Ron: Actually I wasn’t a writer on Day of the Tentacle…

Kris: Oh you weren’t a writer?

Ron: I wasn’t a writer, no. I think, I think, like, Moby Games has that wrong. Yeah, I was not a writer.

Kris: Okay, so were you like a creative…

Ron: I was, you know, obviously Gary and I did the original maniac mansion and then it’s, like, right at the beginning, I think… Gary and I said, “Hey, do it about time travel!” and that was like, that was it.

Kris: So, Tim Schafer gave you the…

Ron: Well, Dave [Winnick]

Kris: I didn’t know that, now I’ve learned something! But where I was going with that, too, is I remember playing Maniac Mansion, inside of Day of the Tentacle, and it being kind of hard for me at the time but still like being blown away by how creepy everything was and really loving it. So, one of my question is, “What got you into creating video games back thirty years ago, or however long it’s been?” Now, probably more than that.

Ron: Yeah, more than that, cause I started doing games when I was in junior high school, and what really got me into it was my dad was a physicist and so he had access to these like very early microcomputers before anyone could even dream of having them at home and I was really enthralled with them and I wanted to learn how to program, and I think when you’re a kid it’s like, you want to learn, you make games… you don’t make accounting software.

Kris: “Right?”

Ron: “…you get a game so I just started, you know, doing that and I would, you know, I’d go down to like the local pizza place and I’d play the arcade game then come home and I tried to replicate them on my computer so that’s just how I got started doing it.”

Kris: “Yeah, very smart too to think, like, let me go here and play this and then try to recreate it, that’s awesome. So out of all the years you’ve been making games all the different games you’ve made, what would you say is one of your favorite projects? Would it be Thimbleweed Park?

Ron: I think my favorite games to work on were actually the adventure games that we did for kids at Humongous Entertainment.

Kris: Yeah, Spy Fox?

Ron: Yeah, Spy Fox and Putt Putt and Pajama Sam. I think in some ways those were like the most fulfilling games to make because, you know, they were real, true adventure games and, you know, just going after that kid audience, I mean kids just just devoured those games.

Kris: I remember playing them, as a kid, and actually I was at that age where I may have been a little too old. Like, I didn’t need the “Welcome” aspects of it, but I still enjoyed it.”

Ron: Yeah

Kris: It was still fun, it wasn’t dumbed down because I was a kid.

Ron: Yeah, that was very important to us. They’re kinda simplified, but they’re not dumbed down.

Kris: That was fantastic. Because nowadays it seems like a lot of games that are made for kids are just dumbed down, it’s just so boring like “This is what you do…”

Ron: Just tap, tap, tap.

Kris: It makes me sad, cause in the 90s a lot of the games I grew up on… weren’t. Like, even Nintendo and stuff, sure they made it family friendly but they weren’t easy.

Ron: Yeah, exactly, they were actually very hard.

Kris: So that makes sense. I’m sure for many kids, myself included, we grew up on those, they even came out on the Wii, like 10 or 11 years ago.

Ron: I think I think more people, far more people have played, you know, Putt Putt, Pajama Sam than have ever played Monkey Island. I mean, we sold literally millions of copies of those things, yeah, and so I mean I have no doubt that more people play that but it’s like I’m known for Monkey Island even though far more people play these other things, y’know?

Kris: I guess I can see that and now as adults that’s what we think about more. Ron Gilbert. Monkey Island. It makes sense though, that it would hold such a fondness for you. But, I mean, moving on to Thimbleweed Park. What made you decide that that was your next project after all the other stuff you worked on?

Ron: Well, Thimbleweed Park, you know came about because Gary Winnick and I, you know, we did Maniac Mansion together. We’re just sitting around we’re talking about the charm that those little games have. You know a lot of modern adventure games are good and I enjoy them but they’re missing that weird charm that those games had and so we were just talking about what is that charm? What made those charming and then thinking about well, you know, what if we made one of those games again, kind of like we made them back then, could we figure out what that charm was?

Kris: Yeah

Ron: and that’s where it kind of all started and, you know, of course Kickstarter is a great place to go for that kind of stuff and you know we’ve gotten a lot of money so I think there were a lot of other people that were also interested in that.

Kris: I would agree, I know, as I mentioned Monkey Island… not Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle was one of the first games I ever played. I grew up on Space Quest and eventually it evolved. Space Quest was like my first point and click game. And one of the first games I ever played with one of my best friends. And then that evolved into, we played Monkey Island, we played Codename: Iceman, and, y’know, we played all these other point and click games. But it seemed like the genre had died in the 2000s especially. But the last couple years it’s kinda seen a resurgence. And Thimbleweed Park is like that perfect throwback to that time…

Ron: Oh yeah, very much.

Kris: Because those games didn’t take themselves too seriously, but yet they were serious and fun, and I feel like Thimbleweed Park is that.

Ron: Oh yeah, very much so, it is a very, very serious story, kind of. But that’s true even on Monkey Island, and if you look at the story of Monkey Island, it’s a very serious story, it’s just that it’s just kind of comedically told and there’s these comedic elements that ride on it.

Kris: It made it easy to stomach as a kid, I guess. You know you can look at the darkness, but it’s so funny! So, having used Kickstarter for Thimbleweed Park, is that something you’d do again in the future?

Ron: Maybe. You know, I think that Kickstarter… I mean Kickstarter is not like a solution to all your problems and so, you know if you get money from say a publisher, you know there’s a lot of upsides to that… there’s a lot of downsides to that. And when you get money from Kickstarter there’s a lot of upsides to that… lot of downsides to that. If you pay for the game yourself out of your own bank account lotta upside to that, a lot of downside to that

Kris: A lot of give and take.

Ron: yeah, and so you kind of gotta to decide and I think, you know, whether I would use Kickstarter again would probably depend a lot on what the game was I was building. Yeah, is it the kind of, you know, story that I can tell to Kickstarter backers to kind of get them excited?

Kris: That makes sense. So I know your first console that Thimbleweed Park was released on was Steam, PC, Xbox – what pushed you in that route first and then Sony and Nintendo later?

Ron: I think the thing that pushed us to Xbox first was, you know, we had went around to Sony and we went to Xbox and we talked to them and Microsoft just seemed really, really excited about it and they were really willing to really promote the game when it came out and a lot of stuff so it really was was just kind of their excitement for the game that’s kind of what kind of pushed us to them first but we’re out on Sony now, we’ll be out on the switch next month.

Kris: I appreciate hearing that too, about any of the “Big 3” when they’re actually easy to work wit, and they want your game there.

Ron: It makes it a lot easier.

Kris: Yeah, I can imagine.  So skip over Sony a little bit and go to Nintendo. Has it been easy working on the switch? Porting it over?

Ron: Yeah, from a hardware standpoint the switch is like really easy for us. then we’re using a custom engine, you know, we’re not using unity or anything and so getting all that over to Switch was really not that hard at all and we had started the iOS version and so I had written all of the code to deal with touch controls.

Kris: Nice!

Ron: So getting all that over to the Switch was all fairly easy.

Kris: That’s kewl, yeah I know I’m excited to play it on the Switch so I can play it everywhere I go. That’s what I love about my Switch now is how easy and accessible it is.

Ron: I don’t think my Switch has been in its dock more than, like, 10 minutes since I bought it.

Kris: Right? I put it in my dock at night, and then charge it and take it – it’s with me right now.

Ron: Yeah, just to charge it.

Kris: Another thing about the new Thimbleweed Park you can tell playing the game there was a heavy influence from shows like that X-Files and Twin Peaks,what other influences? That is correct, right? Those are a couple of the influences?

Ron: Yeah, mostly Twin Peaks. Yeah, I mean the fact that, you know, Agent Ray and Reyes look like Mulder and  Scully that was actually kind of a shock to us.

Kris: Oh really, so it wasn’t planned?

Ron: Yeah, because no it’s like we, you know, create those characters and we put the Kickstarter up and I swear like the second comment on the Kickstarter page was “Oh, they look like Mulder and Scully” and I went “oh shit” it’s like  I did not even think of that, you know, and so yeah I mean I didn’t really even watch the X-Files, you know. I mean I’ve seen some episodes and stuff but I was never really a fan so I would say far more influences has been Twin Peaks and David Lynch.

Kris: Yeah, it has that vibe. David Lynch is […?]

Ron: Yeah, he is. Have you ever seen Eraserhead?

Kris: I haven’t.

Ron: You HAVE to go watch Eraserhead.

Kris: I’ll do that.

Ron: It is the bizarrest thing…

Kris: I can only imagine, because Twin Peaks and I watched Mulholland Drive, and I’ve never been so confused than after watching Mulholland Drive. I’m still confused by it. Would you say, what other influences did you draw from?

Ron: Well… when I when when we were putting this putting the Kickstarter together and first like plotting everything out I was also watching True Detective right and so there’s the whole… there was, at least the first season there was a really kinda nice… there was an animosity between the two leading characters.

Kris: I haven’t seen the show but I’m familiar with it.

Ron: Yeah there’s a lot of animosity between them. There was a lot of mistrust between them and, you know, we wanted a lot of that to come out in the way Ray and Reyes kinda see each other. Whereas Mulder and Scully, I mean they’re friends right?

Kris: Well they slept together.

Ron: You know one of them’s a skeptic, one of them, whatever. I mean they’re friends, right? And we wanted there to be a little more animosity and also, uh, Stephen King was a big influence because you he does a really good job of writing these very kinda creepy stories that all take place in these small towns where there’s a whole lot kind of going underneath you know everything. I think those are really our three big influences.

Kris: And you can see that! True Detective I haven’t watched to truly get that.

Ron: Watch season one, ignore season two.

Kris: That’s the one with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey?

Ron: Yeah

Kris: I’ve heard its good and the second season isn’t good – i’ll have to watch it. Now that you’re pretty much finished with Thimbleweed Park, I know you’re finishing with the porting, are you going to make another Thimbleweed Park?

Ron: Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t tend to think about my next project until I’m totally done with my current one and had some time off, so as soon as these two ports are done, I’m gonna go, like, actually what I’m gonna do as soon as these ports are done and I’ve had a little vacation I’m gonna like download the Unreal Engine and because I’ve never played with it and I’m gonna spend like a month just understanding the Unreal Engine.

Kris: yeah?

Ron: I mean nothing may come of it but I just, I want to understand it. So that’s kind of my vacation in a way.

Kris: And as a programmer I’m assuming that that’s fun in itself.

Ron: Yeah, it is, yeah. It’s been more fun than laying on a beach.

Kris: Yeah, I agree, I mean I don’t program but anytime I’m playing with anything electronic I have more fun than laying on a beach. So I hear you. One final question for you: Who was your favorite character to create in Thimbleweed Park?

Ron: Probably Ransome the Clown.

Kris: ‘Cause he’s the best!

Ron: Yeah, he’s kind of an asshole.

Kris: He’s fantastic. He’s what you want a clown to be. An ass, and not a creepy happy clown!

Ron: I think the thing with Ransome that I really want to do with him is I wanted to make sure he had no redeeming qualities, right? And you’d look at, like in the Simpsons you know there’s Krusty the Clown and he’s kind of a jerk, but you can tell he’s got a heart.

Kris: He has redeemable qualities.

Ron: Yeah, he does! I want to make sure that Ransome is just an asshole. Period. That’s all he was.

Kris: And you’ve succeeded.

Ron: (laughter) Well, thank you, I think, I think thank you.

Kris: No, it is a success! Because he’s laughable, in a good way, in a bad way-good way. Well I appreciate your time – very much, it really is an honor to meet you. I know, not just myself but a lot of us grew up on your work and this is why I like doing this is the hopes to meet people who created my childhood and my adulthood.

Ron: Right.

The Nintendo Switch: Six Months (Almost) Later

Can you believe it’s already been almost six months? I know I can’t. It seems like just yesterday Bigfoot and I were sending messages back and forth speculating about what features, games, apps and other things Nintendo’s new hybrid console would bring! So the question now is, has the Switch been able to live up to that massive hype train that it was able to build up the 6 months before its launch? In short I feel the answer is, yes.

The Good

Let’s start with one word: Zelda. If you have picked up a Switch it’s almost guaranteed you’ve played Zelda. And what an adventure it is. The massive world was a fantastic showcase of how an open world game fits so perfect on this hybrid home/handheld console. It made it so easy to sink hundreds of hours into the beautiful world.

And that is where the Switch truly shines. Just as it was advertised, being able to seamlessly undock my system and continue my adventure on the go is beyond fantastic. It’s something 15 year old me dreamed about doing, and now it’s a beautiful reality. Someone else needs to use the TV and you are in the middle of a race on Mario Kart? No worries, I’ll just pause my game and undock my Switch! Get home from riding in the car and want to keep your adventure going in Cave Story, but on a bigger screen? Dock that bad boy back up! It’s just so flawless. It legitimately makes me happy.

Then there’s the game line up. Sure, at launch it was a bit scarce. But Zelda’s massive adventure made up for that ten times over. Then it wasn’t long before the quality titles started coming out. Binding of Isaac, Mario Kart 8D, Minecraft, Arms, Overcooked, Splatoon 2 and Sonic Mania just to name a few. The quality of these games is so high it’s hard not to be happy with them. Sure, all but Arms and Sonic are re-releases or ports. But is that such a bad thing, to have that wonderful hybrid console option? Especially if you haven’t played them or loved them enough to buy them again! And with the near future having games on the horizon such as Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battles, Pokken Tournament DX, Rayman Legends, Mario Odyssey, Stardew Valley, Thimbleweed Park and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the future looks very bright for the Switch! Not to mention that’s just a small handful of games announced.

One last note in the good column, Splatoon 2’s newest mode, Salmon Run is oh so good. Be on the look out for our upcoming Splatoon 2 review for more but I will say this, one of my new favorite gaming sessions is getting 3 more friends together and playing some Salmon Runs. It is freaking fantastic.

The Not So Good

It’s hard for me to put anything in this column, but there is one thing that the Switch hasn’t done so well yet that has to be mentioned. And that is it’s online features.

Before I start my small rant I will say this, I’m giving them time to sort this out. I hope and pray that by the time their service goes to a paid service, we have a full fledged online service. But as of right now, it’s just severely lacking.

The fact that we still have to use friends codes, maybe not 100% of the time, but a lot, is just sad to me. The lack of being able to do basic things like send a message to a friend, create parties or chat with ease… is just sad. For a system with such a push to play with your friends, I wish this was all easier. And the recent release of Nintendo’s online chat app is pitiful. We shouldn’t need so many cords to chat in 2017, not to mention being tied to an app that has to be running in the forefront with the phone on to work!! But that being said there is potential here. The ability to look at your friends playtime of games is a nice little feature. Plus the fact that the system notifies you when a friend is online and what they are playing is a really nice feature. But there is a lot to improve here. I just hope they do it before the launch of the paid service in 2018.


The positives for the Switch far outweigh the negative. Because in my opinion there aren’t that many real negatives.  I honestly believe Nintendo will remedy the few flaws to the best of their ability. On the other had there is so many good things. The system just plays so flawlessly. The display is beyond pretty. The game selection is solid for it only being six months in, with no end in sight of awesome additions. Nintendo is supporting and pushing the system so hard it gives me a ton of faith in its future. So at this point, almost 6 months past what was possibly my most hyped console launch to date I can comfortably say that the Switch is a success.

Oh and I still love the sound the Joy Cons make when you click them on;)

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

What do you think of when you hear the words, “Game of the Year”? I’d think for many, your immediate reaction is an eye roll because it seems to be thrown around so often through out the year. We play a game, think it’s fantastic as we play through it and start flirting with that term, sometimes before the year is even close to over. Many times rushing the gun with that verbiage. I try really hard to stay away from that phrase because, quite often, something else comes out later that has me saying Game of the Year all over again.

But today, I am going to go against myself. Im going to make the very early prediction. I think Breath of the Wild could easily be my Game of the Year. If this changes by years end, feel free to mock me for saying it. But after over 150 hours in the game and a nagging desire to go back to it no matter what I’m playing or doing, I’ll be shocked if anything else succeeds at what this new entry in the Zelda series has done for me. If you’ve played BOTW you most likely have an idea of why I would make such a prediction. But If not, bear with me as I write this review.

I’ve been playing Zelda for quite a few years now. Even though I had an NES in the days of The Legend of Zelda’s introduction into the world, I was too young to appreciate it. I wasn’t formally introduced to the series until my friend Nick (Who you all know as Bigfoot) borrowed Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. I was fascinated with that game. I later convinced my parents to buy me a copy, and from that point I have been a fan. A HUGE fan. So naturally I was excited for BOTW. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a game blow my expectations away so much so as this game.

When I first popped the cartridge (I love being able to say that again) into my newly purchased Nintendo Switch it didn’t take long for me to climb to the highest point possible and just be blown away. To look out at a world that is so vast, and know I have so much to explore Was just an impressive feeling. Little did I know just how much exploring I was going to be doing. As of the writing of this article, 2 months after its release and 150+ hours in, I still feel like there is so much I’ve missed, and so much I want to see still. What a feat for any game. Normally if I havent finished a game by this point it has either been shelved, or I start looking at how to blow through the rest of the game. Not BOTW. I want to savor every precious moment.

In the early part of the game I was disappointed. I wanted more town exploration, more large scale dungeon exploration like in old Zelda titles. But after doing shrine after shrine, that feeling started to dissipate. I just wanted more. I wanted to discover that next shrine, Uncover more and more Korok’s, complete that set of armor, help my friend Hudson build his town. I couldn’t stop. And haven’t. With the expansion pack on the horizon, I won’t be completely done with Zelda for some time. And I couldn’t be happier.

The gameplay obviously kept me busy. I think it would be safe to say that everyone has their own favorite shrine, or favorite gear, or favorite divine beast. The best part of that being, they are all good, so it’s easy for everyone’s to possibly be different. The mechanics from using your paraglider to fly through the air to using your shield to surf down mountains, or using Magnesis to lift objects and throw them at enemies or Crystalis to walk across bodies of water, all this kept the game repeatedly fresh and intriguing. Not to mention the first time you encountered one of the Lynel’s or any of the other “Mini-bosses” scattered about the world. The world just had so much to offer, and so much reason to try it all out. THAT is how a game should be.

The graphics in the game look so crisp too. The cellshading looks so good that its easy to forget that it is even cell shaded. Taking time to look at the mountains, the fields, the lakes… it all just looks so real when you immerse yourself in the experience. It may not be as graphically complex as many of the AAA titles these days, but that doesn’t stop it from looking just as good. the music in the game is also very well done as it always is in Zelda. There are many memorable songs throughout the game. If I was to have one nitpicky complaint, it would be the lack of music as you are exploring. This is such a small thing to nitpick as there is some music there, I just found at times missing the constant music that you get in all the old Zelda titles. But really, with a game this fantastic, that isn’t a problem.

In conclusion, I’m going to be honest. I wanted to dislike this game. I wanted to be upset about the lack of “true” Zelda like dungeons, the fact that their are no classic items like the hookshot, or iron boots. But as I continued to play this masterpiece I realized, I didn’t even notice they weren’t there. Times have changed and BOTW Director Eiji Aonuma and his team, have done a beautiful job of changing with them. I can’t say that at some point, it wouldn’t be nice to see a return to the classic style of Zelda. But for now, I just look forward to playing more of Breath of the Wild, and seeing what this team as in store for us in the future.

Thimbleweed Park-a-reno

This review has been updated with our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch version: Thimbleweed Park was great on PC, but PC was like its home, that is where Point & Click games started and spent the majority of their life. I can gladly say it’s transition to the Switch was a flawless one.

Whether playing it with a Pro Controller or Joy Cons, docked or undocked, the game plays very smooth. (With a nice explanation of the controls and shortcuts early on) Where TWP really thrives is in handheld mode with its use of the touchscreen. Making for very quick and clean response time.

The game continues to play just as well on the Switch, as it has everywhere else. If you are a big fan of buying everything you can for the Switch like we are, and love point and click games, this should be an instant buy-a-who.

Some people are so good at what they do and such a unique way of doing it, that their name becomes synonymous with what it is they do. M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, John Grisham’s suspense novels, Peewee Herman’s children’s show, and Ron Gilbert’s point and click adventure games. You might remember we highlighted Grim Fandango back in December’s point and click month, and this month I was thrilled to get a copy of Thimbleweed Park for your review! TWP, developed by Terrible Toybox, was crowdfunded through Kickstarter and is a spiritual successor to such games as Maniac Mansion. Ron Gilbert was a key player in creating some of my favorite childhood games including “Day of the Tentacle”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Secret of Monkey Island”, “Total Annihilation” and he had his hands in more current games as “The Cave” and “Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness” (which I want to play, but have yet to…) The big question is, are our memories of point and click adventure games tainted by nostalgia? Or do they hold up today?

Starting up TWP I found it interesting that I was offered the choice of difficulties: casual or hard. I’m not really sure what difference casual offers yet, but I’m quite accustomed to these types of games so picked ‘hard’. After this I was presented with a small tutorial of sorts that described what all the different buttons and commands are for. Already being familiar with the SCUMM engine, this part was a bit dry – might be better suited to throwing into a help menu. Also, it’s become quite common to make tutorials in-game, so you can get used to playing by doing instead of just reading. I guess the first part of the game is kept very simple for this reason. You’re quickly introduced to the story: someone is murdered and their body is left to pixelate in some reedy pool. A not-so-classic comedy whodunit ensues.

Though utilizing pixelated graphics, TWP still rises far above it’s predecessors with graphics that have been beautifully done. I feel like it would have been lacking in style to create this in 3D. Not only does this play on my nostalgia, but I think even those who’ve never played the older games could appreciate it.

The years haven’t hurt Gilbert’s humor, from a foul-mouthed (though censored) insult clown to the niece of the local pillow factory magnate – who simply wants to program games for Mmucas Flem Games – there are plenty of opportunities for humor and, despite sounding a bit embittered at LucasArts at times, it’s well done!

Speaking of the different characters that inhabit Thimbleweed Park, one of the many things I enjoyed about playing was that you weren’t pigeon-holed into playing one character from start to finish. From the outset (well, very shortly after the outset) you’re able to switch back and forth between the two main protagonists, Agent Ray and Agent Reyes. But it doesn’t stop there, in later scenes you control the characters mentioned above, as well as several others in a search to determine who the killer is.

Another modern twist that has been carefully crafted for our auditory pleasure: Thimbleweed Park has voice actors and it’s great to be able to listen to the zany dialog, instead of just reading it all. Though it can get repetitious listening to some of the dialog read over and over (and over… hey, i was stuck!) you can skip a line by pressing the period button on your keyboard.

As much as I loved finding all the “dead” ends in early Sierra games, like the Space Quest series, you’ll appreciate that Thimbleweed Park won’t let you die, or progress into the story without some key piece of equipment, leaving you hoping and pleading that you saved the game long enough ago that you don’t have to start from the beginning. I might’ve taken this fact for granted as I played, except that I was reminded of it in length, early on in the game, by a pair of plumbers dressed as pigeons.

All in all, Thimbleweed Park didn’t just live up to, it far exceeded my memories of how much I enjoy point and click adventure games. It’s as epic as getting roundhouse kicked in the face by Chuck Norris, while ninjas in My Little Pony costumes flip cartwheels all around you, and fireworks blast in the sky, while under your feet the earth quakes because it too has been waiting forever for a new retro point and click game. I really hope this is just the beginning of things to come. If this is a glimpse of what Gilbert and his team still have in store for the industry, then I would gladly contribute to Terrible Toybox’s next Kickstarter. Sign me up.

Thimbleweed Park is available to download for $19.99 from Steam, GOG, Xbox One, and the Mac App Store. Also, you can get your TWP gear over at FanGamer – hey, if you’re bored and want to send us a PinnyArcade pin, I won’t complain.

Stories: The Path of Destinies

When you first looked into this game, what was your initial impression? It’s got an anthropomorphic fox with an oversized sword, this sounds like something out of a cutesy Disney title, right? “I know how this story will end: happily ever after! I hope the gameplay is at least original…” Ok, maybe I didn’t sound quite that cynical. It was less than 5 minutes into the game [spoiler alert] when you’re chasing a young boy that you’re supposed to protect and he gets slaughtered by the emperors ravens that I discovered… I knew nothing about this wonderful title developed by Spearhead Games.

You control Reynardo, a fox with a sword large enough that it would make Cloud jealous. Another thing that reminds me of FF7? Gems can be equipped to increase your abilities. You’re also packing a Zelda-inspired hook shot, perfect for hopping from island to island via small, ornamental posts in the ground, and for pulling baddies over to you like some Mortal Kombat obsessed Vulpes, shouting “Get over here!” (Which the narrator does occasionally, a nod to Scorpion)

I don’t mention those references to lessen Stories any, or to downgrade it’s originality. Instead I want to highlight one of my favorite parts of this game: it’s full of fun, little pop culture references. I found several nods to Star Wars, Lord of the Ring, Mortal Kombat, Galaxy Quest and more. It really makes me appreciate the love the developers put into this game. Keep an eye out for them and let us know what your favorite was.

I found the battle system unique. One neat feature of it is that anytime you’re about to be attacked by an enemy, there’s an “!” above the head of the aggressive raven. If you move in that direction and attack just before it attacks, you freeze time for everyone else for a second or two. Just long enough to gather your thoughts and gain the upper hand. Plus, if you choose, you can engage your final sword’s ability to speed up your actions even more. Watching Reynardo dash around the screen slashing from bird to bird while they stand, frozen in time, makes you feel quite epic.

The real meat of this game is that instead of being completely linear you’re given multiple options of how you want to proceed. It’s laid out like a storybook with beautiful illustrations that fit perfectly. It’s wonderfully highlighted by a quote from the narrator, “Reynardo wondered if you could design a puzzle that would be different every time you played it… wouldn’t that be fun?” I feel like that was probably how the initial conversation began that lit the fire for this to be created. They did an amazing job at crafting a story that has high replayibility, in fact in the beginning you’re forced to replay the story in order to pick a different ending, but that’s okay! Each time you play through you keep the XP and items from previous runs, so that you keep getting stronger and faster.

The downside to this is if you’re trying to get the Platinum trophy. There are 24 different combinations each with a unique ending. Unfortunately each play thru uses the same 10 or so base levels, in different combinations, which eventually gets repetitious – like a Rubik’s cube having 43 quintillion possible combinations, but they’re all made up of the same 6 colors. On top of this you need to level Reynardo to 43 in order to get all his skills unlocked, which takes more playthrus than those 24 times, you eventually just find a good level and grind XP for the sake of grinding XP. Thankfully, the story’s twists and the humorous voice acting make it worth the extra time you put in.

In the end this is probably one of my new favorites. I’d definitely recommend playing thru it, I think the narration and storylines will keep you coming back again and again. We look forward to seeing what else Spearhead has to offer.

Pokémon Sun/Moon Review

The night Pokemon Sun and Moon was being released I worked a midnight launch for it to help out a friend at his store. As I’m selling a copy to a younger guy, prolly around 16, I mention to him how I remembered how excited I was for the original Pokemon games and how excited I am for this new entry with its new features and Pokemon. I’ll never forget this next part, he looked at me and said, “Man I wish I was old enough to have been able to play the originals when they came out! My first games in the series were Black and White.” As I handed him his copy it clicked. Black and White. BLACK AND WHITE!! This kid most likely wasn’t even born yet when the originals came out! Now whereas this moment did succeed in making me feel old it did something bigger, it helped me realize just how much staying power Pokemon has. How many series can you say haven’t just survived 20 years in the video game industry, but flourished and grown? Not many, but Pokemon is one that can, and Sun and Moon is the perfect tribute to what the series was, and has become.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate their twentieth anniversary then what they did with Pokemon Sun and Moon. There are so many beautiful throwbacks to the earlier entries in the series and so many steps forward in making this a unique entry in the series, and possibly, steps forward to changing up the basic formula that has been in the series for so long.

You start off the game arriving to your new house in the Alola region, which is made up by a series of islands, having just moved here from the good ole Kanto region. From the Ditto pillow in your room to your families pet Meowth, you can get a sense of the throwback love right from the beginning. The game kicks off pretty quick and shows glimpses of what turns out to be a pretty decent story for a Pokemon game, since their stories are usually minimal, and introduces you to some of the games main characters. The games rather bro-like Professor, Professor Kukui, your “rival” Hau and Professor Kukui’s assistant Lillie. All of whom play a rather big part throughout the story. I will say that this game takes the longest of all the games to get you to where you pick your starter Pokemon. But that is a small thing because it all moves very fast. From that point on the game seems to flow in a very well paced manor. Never feeling like its going by to fast or taking to long.

You’ll quickly notice as you progress through the game that Gyms and Gym Leaders are no more. You now instead complete various trials, led by Trial Captains. Trials may have their own unique gimmicks usually ending with you fighting a trial Pokemon, a stronger version of a certain Pokemon surrounded by an aura that strengthens it. After you fight all of the Trial Captains on a certain island, you then fight the island Kahuna. These battles are pleasantly tough and I felt rather accomplished as I finished them. This whole experience is not necessarily better then the Gyms we are so used to fighting in, but it is a welcome change for now nonetheless. It’s just nice to see how Gamefreak is willing to try new things, even when what they had, was established and loved. It shows that they know their games well enough to change the formula up a bit and still create a compelling experience. Each game in the series has always had its gimmicks of sorts, but this was a big change. And it doesn’t disappoint.

In my opinion the area that this game flourishes the most is it’s new Pokemon. Not since the Gold/Silver/Crystal generation of games have I personally had so much trouble deciding what to raise. Not because I wasn’t a fan of the new entries, because I was SUCH a huge fan of so many of the new entries. I know many had their complaints about some of the starters, but I actually liked all three of them and struggled with who to choose. As I usually play through a new Pokemon I will cycle Pokemon in and out has they evolve to fill up my Dex. All the while only having about 2, maybe 3 Pokemon being used in battles. This time It was so much harder. I kept wanting to keep everything in my lineup because I enjoyed using them. Pikipek, Crabrawler, Rockruff, Mudbray and Salandit just to name a few. I thought they looked cool and unique. I liked their attacks and typing. I was just happy with the outcome of this Dex. Not to mention the Alolan forms of some of the original 150! This is one of those things I think Gamefreak did beautifully. Making alternate forms of some of these classics was incredibly cool. It added to my plight of what to raise and it was just unique. This forms to range from the awesome (Marowak) to the strange (Dugtrio) to the downright bizarre (Exeggutor, grass dragon typing??) It was nice seeing some of my old favorites get a nice breath of fresh air. Honestly I hope to see more of this in the future.

Another big new addition are the Z moves. The last gen brought us Mega forms, which were cool enough but I wasn’t a huge fan of. I found Z move sot be more appealing because they can give you a huge advantage, but you can’t spam them. It’s one and done. Teaching your Charizard Solar Beam and then giving it the Grass Z crystal so it can use Bloom Doom is pretty darn cool. Maybe not the most effective use of a once a battle move, but cool! These moves are cool looking (See Snorlax Pulverizing Pancake) and were a very welcome addition to the series. I’m sure that they will have a nice impact on competitive play as well.

After almost 20 years with the series, it amazes me that I always get so excited for the new entry in the series. When Pokemon Blue came out I remember thinking I would never get sick of playing Pokemon. But I also said the same thing about Pog’s and Tamagatchi’s and I have long sense lot, gotten rid of, or thrown those in storage. Yet Pokemon stays strong. I look forward to new releases and think about going back and replaying old entries. That speaks wonders of a games staying power. Pokemon Sun and Moon may not have been my favorite entries in the series, but they are my favorite in a long time. That alone is saying something for a series with nothing but strong entires. This is the game in the series that should appeal to all. Long time players, new comers and those who have been away but want to feel like a kid again. This game is worth owning a 3ds for in of itself. So do yourself a favor, get a copy. Sit there and play it while watching some Saturday morning cartoons. Just enjoy, let go of the stresses of every day life and go back to being a kid with the series we’ve almost all grown up with.

Achievements: Why They Matter, and Why I Hope the Switch Has Them

When I was a kid, I remember sitting there and playing Super Star Wars on the Super Nintendo a lot. I loved that game so much. I didn’t have a plethora of games to play at the time so I would replay games multiple times. I recall playing on every difficulty including the painful Jedi difficulty. I remember getting so frustrated but refusing to give up. Eventually I did it. I beat the game on Jedi and when those credits rolled I knew I had done it. I was a Jedi Master.

Fast forward 7 years or so and I’m playing Final Fantasy 9. I decided that it was going to be the first Final Fantasy that I did everything on. EVERYTHING. And so I did. All weapons obtained, all abilities learned and I even beat Ozma. That was such a grind but I did it. I was so proud.

Here we are now, 15 years later, and I’m still proud of those moments. But as I retell these stories I think to myself, “What makes people believe that this is true? I can’t prove it.” Super Star Wars didn’t have save files, and I’ve long since lost my PS1 memory card with that FF9 save file. So all people can do is take me at my word. This very reason is why I love Trophies/achievements and think they are an incredibly relevant part of gaming today.

I know there is still the gamer out there who could care less about their achievement/trophy score. But in my mind it has become a necessity. Being able to brag to my friends that I spent the time to unlock every trophy and got that elusive platinum in Borderlands is such a wonderful feeling. People don’t just have to take me at my word anymore that I spent the time doing it, now I can show them. And let’s face it, as gamers we are a bunch of people that are proud of our accomplishments and should be able to show them off! I’m glad we can.

This brings me to my next point. Since the introduction of trophies on the PS3, trophy hunting has become an enjoyable pastime for me. I like trying to do those impossible tasks that only .2% of the others who have played it have accomplished. Bragging rights, baby. This sadly is something that Nintendo is sorely lacking. I will always play my first party Nintendo games, but if a game comes out on all platforms that I really want, odds are good I won’t pick Nintendo due to this one blaring fact, lack of an achievement system.

Many may say that’s not a good enough reason and that’s fine, I respect your opinion. But that extra bit of bragging rights makes a big difference to me. Now, Nintendo has flirted with achievements a bit. New Super Mario Bros U and Hyrule Warriors both had in-game achievements that you could earn. And Hyrule Warriors could even be posted on the Miiverse! It was a valiant attempt, but not enough. Not having a place to see what games your friends have played and compare your “progress” against them was a disappointment for me. One I hope that the Nintendo Switch fixes.

Whether the Switch has an achievement point system or not will not affect whether or not I get it. I’m getting one day one no matter what. But it will tip the scales back into Nintendo’s favor on multiplatform games again. Back on the GameCube/PS2, I always bought my multi platform games on GameCube. But that has changed. I would love for it to change back though.

Just think about it… You are playing Mario Switch and you play through that underwater level in record time. *Ding* Nintendo Medal unlocked! Or you are playing through Breath of the Wild and you find that last heart piece. *Ding* Nintendo medal unlocked. Now you can brag to all your friends that you put the time into your favorite game series and unlocked the hardest achievements.

With the Switch release not that far away I hope that we find out that they are adding an achievement system. In this day and age it almost feels like a necessity. Whatever the case may be I still can’t wait for the Switch. In the mean time I’ll just be over here trying to get that Final Fantasy 15 Platinum.

Five Star Wars Games That are Out of This Galaxy

Super Star Wars

With the release of Rogue One, Star Wars is on the mind yet again! Though for some of us it never left.. But after I watched (and absolutely loved) the movie, I couldn’t help but think of some of my favorite forays into the Star Wars universe in the video game world. This list wasn’t as easy to put together as I thought it would be because there are an insane amount of Star Wars games and so many of them were beyond good. There were some stinkers in the bunch (maybe we will write an article on that in the future) but the majority were just so good. So after much deliberation, here are my 5 personal favorite Star Wars games, listed from oldest to newest.

Super Star Wars

My first Star Wars game and it’s still one of my favorites. The game is loosely (very, very loosely) based off of A New Hope. Whereas some events are the same, like the trench run and, well that’s pretty much it. There was no scene in the movies where Luke fights a Sarlacc or fights a lava beast in a Sandcrawler. But this outlandishness almost adds to the game.

Out of the SNES trilogy of Star Wars games I can’t even say this one was the best. But for me it’s the most memorable. I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I had when I finally beat the game on Jedi difficulty. Now I can’t even beat it on easy! The game is just fun though. Once you get your lightsaber it’s even more fun! Then you get to play as either Han or Chewie and you’re sold! If you haven’t played it before give it a shot, there’s a lot to love! Just be prepared for some grossly unfair deaths.

Shadows of the Empire

This game…. ooooohhhh, this game. I remember looking at the previews for it in issues of Nintendo Power and being so excited. Then finally it came out, and it didn’t disappoint.

Empire Strikes Back was my favorite of the original trilogy and when Shadows starts off and you get to recreate the Battle of Hoth, that moment completed my childhood. Finding out there was a whole story between Empire and Return was what introduced me to the expanded universe and skyrocketed my already strong love of Star Wars.

Everything about this game from the battle of Hoth, to the swoop bike “race”, to the battle with IG-88 was just beyond memorable. My memories for this game are so fond and because of this game the words “wampa stompa” forever have use in my life.

Jedi Power Battles

Man, this game was fun. I remember going over to Bigfoot’s house when we were kids and playing it for the first time. Hours and hours of fun ensued.

This game taught me who Plo Koon and Adi Gallia were which alone started me down the path of prequel trilogy expanded universe. The games simple hack and slash combat system and basic leveling system leave much to be desired. But being able to play as a Jedi with your friend in tow is a concept that we still very much love to this day. I would kill (not literally) for a sequel today.

Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike

Whereas I wouldn’t say this is my favorite of the Rogue Squadron series this entry had something that put it over the edge for me: Multiplayer.

The first Rogue Squadron was awesome as far as dogfighting in an X-wing and all my other favorite Star Wars vehicles go. It’s sequel, Rogue Leader, was even cooler with the updated graphics of the GameCube. Then came Rebel Strike. Frankly, I wasn’t blown away by this one as much as I was by the other two, until I played the co-op. Being able to play through the campaign of Rogue Leader with a friend was awesome and made for a super good time! It’s one of the many reasons I keep my GameCube hooked up all the time. Now if we could just get a new entry in the Rogue Sqaudron series…

Knights of the Old Republic

When KOTOR was coming out, it almost didn’t seem real. A fully immersive Star Wars RPG where you create your character and get to choose the path he/she goes down? I mean, yes  it was done to an extent in Star Wars: Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight, but not to this extent.

Being able to become a Jedi/Sith and learn force abilities, get to know your crew and mostly decide your own fate… was just amazing. It still is. The game gave us an amazing story with some plot twists that were very unique for the time and not to mention Darth Revan. It’s sequel was good, but not as good as the original. KOTOR was great in its own right, but a third game in the series would bring joy to the masses.

So there you have it, my favorite Star Wars games. There are many other that I love a ton for their own reason (Kyle Katarn is enough reason to love the Jedi Knight games alone) but these ones just have the best memories for me. Like always I look forward to see what’s on the horizon for Star Was games and hope to see some more enjoyable entries in the future. You love any of these games as well? Want to talk about your favorite Star Wars game? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

Grim Fandango

Every once in a while a game comes along with so many great pieces that you just know it’s going to be a smashing success – and then it proceeds to flop like that kid in your hometown community swimming pool. These games become cult classics. So many people know their names, but how many people actually played it? Not that many. Grim Fandango is a classic example: LucasArts was on a roll with their point & click adventures in the 90s; It was a brain-child of Tim Schafer (@TimOfLegend @DoubleFine); Grim Fandango had story, graphics, voice acting; Haven’t even mentioned the critical acclaim.  It was sure to be a slam dunk! Unfortunately, sales proved otherwise. 

Grim Fandango’s stage is set in a land that’s part film noir, part Aztec legend of the afterlife. You play the role of Manny Calavera, travel agent for the deceased. It’s your job to sell the dead an attractive travel package to get them to their final destination. The most virtuous get a golden ticket to take the short ride on a fast train, while the others… well, it might take 40 years and a journey fret with peril, but there’s always walking. 

The adventure revolves around your attempts to track down Meche, one of the newly dead who gets picked up by your office. A lady who’s life was so clean, she should’ve applied for being a saint. Not just that, but she’s attractive too! Surely, she would be a shoe-in for a golden ticket… only, you can’t find her information on your computer. Embarrassed, she sneaks away to begin her long walk, leading to you following on her heels the whole way. 

The voice acting is delightfully well done, and riddled with quirky quips that are bound to bring a chuckle. Often times these interactions aren’t required to move the story along so you may miss them if you’re not on the look out. 

The remastered edition features two types of controls, either “tank controls” where pressing up moves Manny forward, left and right makes him rotate like a first year ballerina, and pressing down makes him back up. (Hint: playing the whole way through using these controls will fetch a pretty trophy on the PS4) or a standard mode for the kids where you just press the direction you want to move. 

The puzzles are entertaining, but mind numbingly difficult at times, as there’s sometimes little to no instruction, and you’ll have to re-do things repetitiously in hopes of finding the right combination. A couple of the maps were more like mazes, as well. It’s difficult to find where you need to go because the path isn’t so clear (or is just plain hidden) I found myself referencing a walk thru at times so that I could enjoy the story. 

As mentioned, the PS4 comes loaded with opportunities for trophies which only go to further the point that this game is really difficult – only 9% reached chapter 2? – but for the completionists will give plenty of reason for a second playthrough. 

Overall I’d highly recommend downloading and giving it a shot. With the resurgence of point & click games hitting it’s full stride, it’s a great idea to go back and play one of the classics and as long as you don’t give up early, Grim Fandango is sure to not disappoint. 

Four Point and Click Games to Keep on your Radar

With new games coming out on the regular it’s hard to know what to play sometimes. What should I keep on my radar and be excited for? What game(s) will be worth my hard earned buckazoids? Well since this month is Point and Click month here at Almost Perfect we decided to compile a list of four of the point and click games we are super excited for, and feel you should be too! Check them out.

1. Full Throttle Remastered

One of the best point and click games from the 90’s is getting a fantastic looking remaster. In Full Throttle you play as Ben Throttle, leader of the biker gang, the Polecats. If you are familiar with the works of the great Tim Schafer, you are fimiliar with how great his games are. They are always fun highly humorous adventures that are be hard to put down. Full Throttle leads the pack in that regard.

If you’ve played any of the other fantastic remasters of the last few years (Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango) you have an idea of what to expect here. Polished up new graphics with the option to seamlessly switch between new and old never gets old. Even though this is a remake of a 20 year old game, its easily one you should be looking forward to when it comes out in 2017.

2. Space Venture

This is one I have been very excited for for quite awhile. It’s being created by the Two Guys from Andromeda, the legendary Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy. These guys literally helped pioneer the point and click genre with The Black Cauldron and the Space Quest series. If you haven’t played them you NEED to play the Space Quest series and you NEEd to be excited for Space Venture.

Space Venture is the closest thing to a new Space Quest as the Andromeda Guys can get to creating due to them not owning the rights to the series. But its clear where the inspiration is. In Space Venture you play as Ace Hardway and from what I’ve seen, he seems to have that same oafish charisma that Roger Wilco always had. Not to mention the game is bringing back the Narration of the great Gary Owens and some other fantastic voice acting talents. Unfortunately it has taken a bit longer to come out then anticipated due to some hiccups but when it comes out I have no doubt it will be worth the wait, and should definitely be kept on you watchlist.

3. Thimbleweed Park

The games on this list are being created by gaming royalty.  It feels like we are back in the hayday of the point and click genre and adding a game to the list thats being created by the one and only Ron Gilbert solidifies that Point and Click games are back with a vengeance.  The man created some of the most memorable games in the genre including Maniac Mansion (Of which he also created the SCUMM engine for the game. That engine went on to be used on most point and click games from that point on) and the first 2 Monkey Island games.

Now he is working on Thimbleweed Park and it looks amazing. The only game on the list I’ve had the opportunity to play so far (I was able to play it at PAX Prime this year) and I have to say it feels so fantasticly nostalgic and incredibly fresh at the same time. The game plays comedic homage to TV shows such as the X-Files and Twin Peaks and does so in stride. As you try to solve the mysteries of Thimbleweed Park you switch through the five playable characters each with their unique set of “skills”. If you haven’t seen anything on the game yet go to If you are a fan of point and click games I guarantee this is one you will want to keep a watch for as it comes out in 2017.

4. TellTale’s Guardians of the Galaxy

TellTale may be the newest name on this list, but they are less then new to the genre. They could be credited with having a huge hand in the recent revival of the point and click genre. The Walking Dead episodic game was hands down one of the best games that came out in 2012, winning many game of the year awards, and they have a rich library of other fantastic point and click adventure games that should be checked out.

Their most recently announced one based off of the Guardians of the Galaxy has us intrigued. The blockbuster movie showed fans of the comics and newcomers alike why they should like those characters and the chance to play as them and make choices for them in a TellTale game has us itching to try it out. There isn’t much to go off of yet on this one but just given the history here, it will be great.

Well there you have it. These are just a few of the Point and Click games we feel strongly about this coming year and can’t wait to get our hands on them. Hopefully checking this out will give you a chance to look into them a bit more! Anything not on this list you feel we should be excited about as well? Sound off in the comments and let us know!