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Video Game Review: Runner3

May 28, 2018 | By Herija Green | Comments (0)
Runner3Only 46 more precise actions before the checkpoint!

As a genre, endless runners probably wouldn’t rate in our top 10. There are always exceptions to be made, however, and back in 2013 we got our hands on Bit.Trip presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien… and enjoyed the hell out of it. Now, the series has returned on Steam and the Nintendo Switch with a rebranded developer (Gaijin Games is now Choice Provisions) and a streamlined title, Runner3.

At first blush, Runner3 checks all the boxes for a successful sequel. The production is noticeably slicker with cleaner graphics, more dynamic backgrounds and, of course, more Charles Martinet. The more time we sunk into the game, however, the more it became apparent that the fancy new graphics were covering up (and occasionally causing) some questionable gameplay decisions.

Let’s start with the presentation. Although it looks objectively better than its predecessor, Runner3 arguably suffers from too much going on in the background, and that includes having objects enter the foreground to serve as obstacles. It’s not as big of an issue when the Switch is docked, but when you’re using it as a handheld it can be difficult to maintain focus on all the stuff you need to avoid because of everything going on behind it.

That decision to have obstacles dynamically enter the actual gameplay almost invariably plays out like this: you’re running, avoiding hazards and then you die because something you had no way to anticipate happened to trip you up. The next time you know what you to look for and will pass… until the next occurrence and so on. To channel our inner Ian Malcolm, they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

This frequently creates a phenomenon where you progress incrementally through little fault of your own. It’s an issue that’s exacerbated by considerably longer levels than the previous entry, since there’s still only one checkpoint per level. We kept grinding on, but there were definitely moments where it felt really frustrating, and the removal of difficulty settings makes the game less accessible than Runner2.

And that brings us to the matter of content. Whereas the last game had 95 levels, each with three difficulty settings, Runner3 contains 27 core levels. Yep, 27. Now there’s additional content — each level contains a tougher “gem path” that unlocks when you complete it, and optional “impossible” levels open up when you collect enough gold — but it’s still a pretty significant cut.

Although there are definite issues, this is still a very solid game. Its challenge, while frustrating at times, rarely feels unfair, and the way the difficulty curve ascends is natural, making you a better player as you progress. And when you really nail a level, collecting everything along the way, the musical accompaniment it creates and the natural rhythm of inputting all the right controls can be downright exhilarating.

Speaking of the music, Choice Provisions has put together another excellent soundtrack, once again inserting the beeps and chimes of picking up gold or gems to great effect. It’s a testament to its quality that even as our failures on levels kept increasing we never soured on the music being replayed again and again.

Like other Bit.Trip games there are retro challenges, though these have gone another direction entirely, deviating from the endless runner setup and allowing you to fully control the character’s movement. As platformers they offer a different challenge, but we didn’t really dig the graphical styling (bootleg Cuphead?) or the departure from the game’s core gameplay principles.

Coins collected from said retro challenge and the gems from your secondary runs through levels can be used to purchase costumes and accessories for the various characters (you’ll start with two but can earn more by completing “hero quests”). It’s purely cosmetic.

OVERALL (3.75/5)

While the core gameplay of Runner3 remains enjoyable, many of the intended improvements feel like steps backward versus the excellent Runner2. If you liked the last game, it’s worth getting the sequel, though you may want to wait for a price drop.

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The Wire Troll: Gorkys Hernandez Heating Up

May 26, 2018 | By RotoRob | Comments Comments Off
Jankowski was a first round pick (44th overall) in 2012, so we shouldn’t be shocked, but before this season all he’d done is put up a 30-steal season in 2016. There’s no doubt speed is his calling card, but before a slump this week, he was hitting .390. Okay, so that’s down to .325 now and will likely keep dipping, but Jankowski is hitting well, swiping bags and getting on base at a .395 clip. He even drove in a rare run on Friday. Surely, he has use in a mixed format league right now.
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Blu-ray Review: Annihilation

May 24, 2018 | By Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Much like Ex Machina, Annihilation is science fiction tinged with plenty of realism, and as it turns out that familiarity makes the differences all the more unsettling. This is still Earth, and not some crazy futuristic dystopian version, either. The technology, the characters, the location, all of it is immediately recognizable and relatable, and that serves to ground the more fantastic elements in a sense of reality.
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Blu-ray Review: Game Night

May 22, 2018 | By Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
One of the movie’s strengths is keeping the humour coming without becoming overly manic with the delivery. There are enough lulls to give the best jokes space to breathe, and there are a number of silly one-offs (like rich person fight club or the fertility doctor) that get played out as we go. It ends up being a very well-paced mix of clever lines and slapstick physical comedy.
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Blu-ray Review: Red Sparrow

May 20, 2018 | By Herija Green | Comments (0)
Speaking of gritty, there are no punches pulled here. The violence is intense and realistic with choreographed fight scenes replaced by blood-soaked desperation. There’s sexual assault and multiple scenes of gruesome torture where the perpetrators of these acts don’t bat an eye.
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