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Video Game Review: Thimbleweed Park

August 24, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Thimbleweed ParkThimbleweed Park is as delightfully retro as adventure games get.

Over the past decade, there have been a few attempts to revive adventure gaming to its glory days. Doublefine’s Broken Age and various LucasArts remasters have stood side by side with the narrative fiction subgenre, but no one has gone as far as Thimbleweed Park from Ron Gilbert, the creator of Monkey Island. Want old school? This is as old school as it gets.

CONTROLS (3/5)

A true point-and-click adventure, Thimbleweed Park revives the old SCUMM interface complete with commands and inventory. On a console, it gets clunky, but that’s somewhat expected given the genre and goal of the game.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4/5)

It’s hard to rate the graphics in Thimbleweed Park as the style choice is clearly retro. With that in mind, you get pixels similar to 1990s PC titles. What’s presented is done lovingly with a clear intention to take the best of what came before. Sprites and colors are gorgeous despite their limitations; just don’t expect any realism here.

LucasArts broke ground with providing voice acting for some of their CD-ROM games (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis featured a remarkable Harrison Ford soundalike) so the voice cast for Thimbleweed doesn’t break the nostalgia trip here. All roles are performed with solid delivery, though some of the supporting characters can be a bit over the top or underwhelming.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

You’re either going to love or hate Thimbleweed Park. It’s a point-and-click adventure with some obtuse inventory puzzles that require taking notes and working through them. For some people, that will be fantastic. For others, it’s frustrating and rage inducing.

If you’re on board, prepare for 20 hours or so of The X-Files meets Maniac Mansion. Though not as zany as Monkey Island, there is a humour in the unfolding mystery — it’s clearly a Ron Gilbert game. At the same time, a few modern conventions have been implemented.

First, there’s a task log, which any adventure game veteran will tell you is a welcome addition, particularly when you’re wandering around trying to remember what to do. There’s also a bit of fast travel, which will help moving between screens and eliminates the need to wander from side to side for screens on end.

Like Maniac Mansion, the game unfolds across multiple characters, though there is some flexibility in how you play it out. At certain points, you’ll need to switch in real time to get characters to solve a puzzle together.

Puzzles range from humorous to obtuse, though the game’s hint system and difficulty settings will help you move it along. Most importantly, this is a true retro experience despite some modern tweaks. It’s exactly what you expect.

OVERALL (4/5)

Although it’s not for everyone, Thimbleweed Park is a well executed throwback game with lasting play value. Now, let’s get Ron Gilbert to do a proper Monkey Island sequel.

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Video Game Review: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

August 17, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
While Final Fantasy X’s remaster — and indeed, a number of remasters from the PS2 era — suffer from the scaling process to HD, FFXII is fortunate that it came late in that console’s cycle and its models pushed the graphical power of the PS2. Because of that, the game looks exquisite.
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Video Game Review: Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 1

August 11, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
TellTale’s Batman series broke new ground with its initial season in two ways. First, it allowed the player to control Bruce Wayne just as much as Batman. Second, it took longtime elements from the franchise’s lore and mixed them in new and unique ways.
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Video Game Review: Valkyria Revolution

June 28, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
When Valkyria Revolution’s new action RPG scheme works, it really sings. The combination of real-time and tactical makes for exciting combat, and new elements such as stealth and fear/surprise buffs on enemies bring an experience that, while different from the turn-base strategy of the series, is still fun despite the control issues mentioned above.
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Video Game Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Episode 2

June 23, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
Under Pressure’s focus on character does slow the pacing down a little bit, though the episode’s sharp dialogue makes sure to move things along. Those hoping for something more epic will feel a bit of disappointment, but otherwise this dives deeper into the Guardians‘ mythology while maintaining the tone of the series.
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