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Gaming PC Reviews Switch

Review: Black Future ’88

Developer: Super Scary Snakes
Publisher: Good Shepard Entertainment, Surefire.Games (China)
Genre: Shooter (SHMUP)
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Rating: T for Teen
Price:$19.99

When a video game sports the kind of “adult cartoon” artwork that I have not seen since the days when I accidentally watched Heavy Metal (1981) on HBO in the 2nd grade (hey, it was a cartoon and I did not know any better!), I take notice. Its pulse-pumping synth music, postmodern palette, and post-apocalyptic race to the death looked promising. Though the actual gameplay in the trailers did not appear to be to my liking, I would find that Black Future ’88 is more than meets the eye. 

The youngins reading out there, that last phrase is from a certain famous 80’s cartoon.

Content Guide

Fan artwork by DEL

The official ESRB page for Black Future ’88 is accurate. Though the game is a side-scrolling shooter, blood is practically non-existent except for a few background effects and references to blood or bleeding upon death. Guns are ubiquitous, but bullets are large and cartoonish. Most enemies are robotic, so there are few depictions of death at all.

Drugs do play a role, but they akin to the fictional kind in the Fallout world, serving as buffs. I also wonder if one item, a blood transfusion, is a reference to the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s. Players can poison their bloodstream, and only a transfusion or severe damage can clear the status ailment. 

Though rated T for Teen, I did not see anything that would warrant excluding Black Future ’88 from the collections of younger audiences. 

Review

Gotta run that gauntlet!

I frequently lambast shooters for their exiguous stories, but Black Future ’88 goes hard with its bleak yet vivacious setting. The year is 1988, and nuclear cataclysm has blocked out the sun; cold and unable to distinguish day from night, humanity has ceased to keep the time. Terminator fans may imagine the skull-riddled fields post-Judgement Day, but the game is set in a concrete jungle, or rather, a tower riddled with graffiti, overlooking the desolate landscape. It is as if the vegetation had never returned in Far Cry: New Dawn, and the Father’s monument has been encased within something more foreboding. Scale the fortress, beat the bosses, and loop the mission indefinitely until an inevitable heart attack ends the run. Why does Black Future ’88 include an 18-minute timer before issuing players a game over screen? Well how else can it simulate an arcade-style exigency?

Compounding the pressure of the 18-minute timer is that time is the most  precious currency in Black Future ’88. A specific merchant will refuse to open shop unless players “spend” up to 15 seconds to look at the wares. Passive ability upgrades siphon either 25 seconds or a full minute depending upon their rarity, though frugal gamers may try to survive on meager boss drops. There are ways to mitigate the countdown, but they range from rare to high-level solutions that do not become available until players have devoted serious time into the game. 

Some upgrades are cursed, which triggers more difficult enemy encounters.

Even so, I did not feel pressed during my Black Future playthrough. Plenty of other elements would kill me long before the timer expired. Along with the natural escalation of enemy difficulty as I ascended the tower, the in-game AI mechanic known as Skynet Skymelt would, in realtime, apply additional difficulty modifiers such as more enemies, stronger traps , or bounty hunter spawns should I fail to pick up money and item drops from enemies. Said traps generally did not pose problems, but a few saw blades on floors became a nuisance. 

Though the enemies are not all that remarkable in design, the gunplay is plenty amusing. Actually, the default loadout of my favorite character, Seagerist, packs a sword which I love to whip out for close-quarters combat and the possibility that I can find the passive allowing me to reflect shots. Her rapid-fire pistol is a weapon worth keeping, but there are plenty of gas-powered rifles, laser shotguns, grenade-launching handguns, to find. I fancy the rifles because of their “hitscan” and railgun-style strength, and the plasma-powered BFG-style weapon that requires dash/dodge charges to fire—power at the cost of evasion. 

Cursed foes glow red as though they are malfunctioning when in reality, they hit HARD!

Black Future ’88 borrows from several roguelites at its core. Like Rogue Legacy, the experience earned by the end of a run unlocks more features—passives, weapons, and even characters. Like in Binding of Isaac, one can select from several characters of marginal differences. Like Dead Cells, the game displays accumulated unlocks in the beginning hub location, though differentiating what is what, and what does what is not easy. The in-game wiki is useful for those who have the time to match the images with the descriptions; I do not.  

With the exception of Sioux, who is handicapped with poisoned blood to begin her run, I did not detect genuine differences between the characters.

All these elements put together make for a fun game, but the 18-minute timer hints to the fact that this game is not nearly as robust as the roguelites I mention in the previous paragraph. When I was a beginner, there were times when I would die early, but I would not become upset because the experience I accumulated always contributed to the next unlock—gradual progress. However, after I maxed out at level 54 in about five hours, there is little incentive to jump back into the game, knowing that I must invest a good five minutes into a run before I can get a good feel of my character’s build trajectory. 

Synergies are ultra-rare, but powerful.

Enemies are relatively unremarkable, but the bosses are worth a word. Juno and Jupiter are my favorites, specifically because of the music that plays upon their introduction. Beware of cursed enemies, or enemies who appear unstable, and deep red. They are the most dangerous, with their fast and plentiful shots. 

The in-game glossary is a must-have for figuring out what’s what.

While Black Future ’88 does not usurp Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon from its title as the best (and campiest) 80’s throwback, goodness it tries its best. Though I did complain that the game feels short on content, this criticism comes in the context of robust indie games of different genres. As far as shooters are concerned, Black Future ’88 is the best I have personally played in 2019, coming just in time to close out the year on a good note.

Review copy generously provided by Sandbox Strategies. 

 

 

 

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Gaming PC PS4 Reviews Switch Xbox One

Review: Disney Classic Games—Aladdin and The Lion King

Developer: Digital Eclipse

Publisher: Disney, Nighthawk Interactive

Genre: Platformer

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Rating: E for Everyone +10

Price: $29.99

From the developer that brought us The Disney Afternoon Collection comes another re-release of classic Disney games: Aladdin and The Lion King. Both from the golden age of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, it is no surprise that these two have popped up now, in this era of gaming nostalgia and just before the launch of Disney+. The combo includes the Genesis version of Aladdin and both the Genesis and Super Nintendo versions of The Lion King, both of these originally developed by Virgin Games. 

Fortunate enough to have one of the original developers of Aladdin on their team, Digital Eclipse was able to gain access to a lot unreleased content, also making the transition to current gen consoles easier and smoother; the 16-bit classics reborn for a new generation to enjoy. Now that the game is out on consoles, how does it measure up to the past? Does it live up to its nostalgic factor? 

He’s back, ladies and gentlemen

Content Guide

Violence: Aladdin contains some hacking and slashing of baddies as you run through each level. It is all very mild cartoon violence and has about the same amount of violence as the original animated film did. The same goes for The Lion King

“It starts”

Review

Looks like this skeleton’s going to Disneyland

I was slightly disappointed when I found out that this bundle did not include the Capcom version of Aladdin, as that was my favorite version. But despite the Super Nintendo game’s absence, Virgin’s versions of these two iconic games play more like movies than games. Like the originals, Aladdin and The Lion King include very accurate animations of the Disney characters and have soundtracks that mimic those from the movies. These games are also known for their difficulty, which was not lost in translation. Yes, the tough levels and platforming survived, but Digital Eclipse has added a rewind feature, making gameplay accessible for those who want to complete the game and avoid the skill wall. 

Ah! Found the “noob” button!

While the rewind button is a welcomed addition, especially for noobs like me, it is not the only positive inclusion. Various editions of the games can be played, including the gameboy versions. I bet you’re thinking, “wait, there were gameboy editions?” Apparently, there were. These are available for your convenience, should you want to relive the adventure through a monochromatic lens. 

Players can try there hand at the gameboy versions of both Aladdin and The Lion King.

Another cool feature is that each game comes with a playthrough that you can sit back and watch. Not only is this helpful for getting to secrets, but the game allows you to jump in at any point, avoiding having to play through the entire game to get to a certain level or point. It seems that Digital Eclipse went through great lengths to make these games very accessible. Indeed, they are. 

Another iconic moment

As for the gameplay, it’s 16-bit platforming at its prime. Take control of Aladdin or Simba as you jump, hack, slash, smack, and roar your way through both Disney movies. It still feels the same as it did back in the 90’s, with the rewind feature being the only difference. Playing on handheld mode on the Switch is quite convenient and feels like the best way to play these games. It almost feels like an emulation on a tablet with a physical controller, which is basically what it is. 

There are a lot of graphics options that allow you to switch from widescreen, to full, to windowed, and so on.

Both versions of The Lion King are available, which include the Genesis and Super Nintendo versions. The Aladdin version is Genesis only, but all games come with a Japanese mode, which is basically just the same game in Japanese instead of English. There’s also a bonus Final Cut version of Aladdin, but there is not much else different, other than minor bug fixes and camera adjustments. 

To explain the rewind feature a bit more, when playing through these two games, the player can choose to rewind their progress at any point (and I do mean any point) up to fifteen seconds back. As long as it’s within that time limit, yes, even if you have died two times in a row, you can rewind all the way before those deaths. It’s quite useful, especially for those who enjoy video games, but are terrible at them (me). 

Love the sound bites from the original films too

To reminisce for a bit, perhaps my favorite part about both of these games are the Disney-like animations of each of the characters. There are even original characters in these games, absent from the movie, who look like they could have been in the movie. The amount of drawing, programming, and specific detail to mimic these animations took some time. The developers have included behind-the-scenes videos in the main menu, for those curious about how much work went into these games. Check them out!

My favorite parts about Aladdin are the different levels that were created to make it an actual game. Levels like The Desert and Genie’s Lamp were great for extra traversal and made for some tough platforming, but I loved the creativity that went into them. Having to explore ancient ruins in the Agrabah Desert and weasel your way through Genie’s blue smoke in his lamp are just a few of the fun experiences you get to relive. 

As for The Lion King, fighting Scar is iconic as it lasts the entire level and kept me at the edge of my seat. Having to fight him and toss him off of Pride Rock is every bit of epic as it sounds. I can’t remember how many times I died when playing it on the Super Nintendo. Needless to say, the rewind button is something I put to good use. 

Roar!!!

Getting to relive moments like these are what makes this game bundle re-release so great, as most of its pull is nostalgia. Even though it has so many different game modes and graphic options, it would have been even better with a time attack mode (sans rewind option) or maybe even a boss rush mode, like The Disney Afternoon Collection had. Despite the absence of these modes, the games are still great and they’re even better on the Switch, perfect for handheld mode. The price is a tad steep at $30, but I recommend it to those who want to relive another piece of their childhood or even to those who want to introduce them to their kids. You’ll have a great time together. 

Review copy generously provided by Wonacott PR
Categories
Gaming PC Retro Reviews Switch

Retro Review: Cave Story+

Developer: Nicalis, Studio Pixel

Publisher: Nicalis, Studio Pixel

Genre: Platform Adventure

Platform: Switch, PC

Rating: E 10+

Price: $29.99 (Switch), $14.99 (Steam)

 

The year 2010 was an excellent year to be a kid. Toy Story 3 had just come out in theaters, and Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are was playing on the radio. The Wii was becoming more and more popular, and its Wii Shop Channel offered demos for the kids like me who wanted to play free games. My favorite demo was Cave Story, and it was the first time I had truly experienced indie greatness.

Now, 9 years later, Toy Story 4 is in theaters, I have long since stopped listening to the radio, and the Switch is reaching record-levels of popularity. It’s the perfect time for a retro review of Cave Story+!

Content Guide

Violence: Gameplay revolves around running and gunning.

Sorcery: There are trace amounts of witchcraft and sorcery displayed.

Death: It’s possible for several characters to canonically die.

Undeath: The final bosses have potentially disturbing stages and appearances with undeath.

Adult Humor: While little more than an occasional gag, there are hidden suggestive inventory items, such as female undergarments and lipstick.

Review

Since my childhood, I have played 3 different versions of Cave Story. The first was the Wii demo mentioned earlier. Then, when I was finally able to purchase a copy a few years later, I bought and finished the 3DS port. Today, I have the complete package on the Switch, with extras included. Is it worth playing in so many forms? Let’s start reviewing and find out.

This beautiful background is the first thing you see upon starting the game.
Settings Galore!

Starting up the game, Cave Story+ takes no time in demonstrating its improvements over the original Cave Story. Directly from the startup, a remastered version of the original theme plays, and three options are given: play the story, look at the game options, or listen to the jukebox (of which there’s only one song at the beginning).

However, the settings are where a lot of Cave Story+‘s perks are already shown. There are now six different versions of the soundtrack, which all sound incredible (more on that later). Other outstanding settings include an optional graphics remaster and unlock notifications.

Darn…I knew I should’ve turned left at Albuquerque!
A Challenging Adventure

Even on it’s normal difficulty, Cave Story+ manages to be a challenging experience. While being more forgiving than many other titles at platforming, it’s still very possible to die right off the bat, running into some spikes and instantly dying. N00bs beware!

After playing a few levels and gaining some experience, the challenge becomes adaptable; difficulty is based on little more than user error, so the better you get at memorizing certain pitfalls, the easier the game becomes. Even so, sometimes, it requires thinking outside the box!

Never forget to find Curly and save her (multiple times), or no Best Ending for you!
So Much to Re-Experience!

One of Cave Story‘s marks of genius is in its replayability. It has several different endings, and many items easily overlooked. While missing an item never feels good for a completionist like myself, it’s never too tragic of a loss, as Cave Story‘s campaign is just short enough to replay without needing an extended break. Cave Story+‘s additional settings only add to the replayability as well.

That being said, I can only take so much of playing the same levels over and over again. There are some particularly egregious backtracking segments (Sandlands, ahem) that, while fine on the first playthough, become burdensome upon a replay. 

Lastly, The Best Ending is both a blessing and a curse. There are several very elusive moments and items that, if missed, will automatically lock you out of the best ending sequence, with no way of going back after saving. Unlocking the best ending ultimately boils down to the following three rules: babysit Curly (as much as possible), search EVERY area thoroughly, and don’t follow your instincts outside of combat. Sounds easy… right?

If you manage to jump through all of the loops required for the best ending, you will be treated to the Bloodstained Sanctuary level (hardest and best in the story), and the final boss Ballos, along with some super-satisfying lore, unlockables, and endgame credits. 

Even after beating the game a handful of times over the years, it still took me three extra playthroughs to get the best ending. THANKS A LOT, CURLY!

More Weapons Than You Can Shake a Sword At

One of my favorite aspects about Cave Story is its weapon system. Unlike any other game I’m aware of, Cave Story‘s weapon system also depends on your skill. You need to gather experience to upgrade your weapon, but if you take enough damage, your weapon will lose XP and go back to level 1 out of 3.

There are 9 available weapons throughout the game, but only 5 can be held at one time. This means that according to your choices, you can, and will, miss out on other weapon options, depending on which “ultimate” weapon you chose. My personal favorites are the Spur (the best weapon in the game), and the Blade, which gets thrown like a tomahawk and is very powerful, both emotionally and physically.

When these two baddies show up, one of Cave Story’s most memorable songs starts playing. It’s especially awesome in Ridiculon!
Finally… The Soundtrack!

Cave Story‘s soundtrack is…amazing. While my favorite track will always be the game’s theme, there are a myriad of songs that are spectacularly well done and match each environment nicely. Just made a difficult choice and are now looking up at the moon and stars? Cue a slow song that makes you reminiscent of the hardships you’ve endured. Just been teleported to a Grassland full of froggy enemies? Cue a fun, bouncy, energetic beat as you fight your way through. And the list goes on.

With Cave Story+‘s remade soundtracks, these sounds never grow old (as I’m writing this, I’m still listening to the OST Jukebox on my Switch). My personal favorites include the “Famitrack” mode, which is the original that sounds like it’s straight out of an NES game, and “Ridiculon,” which is a rock remake for the “metal” in me. With the different soundtracks combined with the alternate graphic mode, Cave Story+ can feel like a brand-new game for even the hardest of Cave Story veterans.

Boing! Skrrrrt. Boing! Skrrt rt.

Even with the treasures that are Cave Story‘s combat and music, my favorite feature is still in its platforming. This is for one reason: the boosters. Boosters are similar to double-jumps and air-dashes of other games, but can do them at the same time, allowing you to “skrrrt” basically anywhere you wish, in all 4 directions.

Regardless of the mobility that the booster grants the player, many challenges are also formed from it later on in the game. The last cave, for example, has a lava pool that requires you to time your jump and boost, in order to fly straight and avoid spikes on the roof. These challenges are intuitive, and so satisfying to pull off.

Just make sure you get the right booster…

Conclusion

Cave Story+ is great. With a short but memorable story, loads of customization, satisfying and challenging gameplay, and an amazing soundtrack, it’s an experience all metroidvania lovers need to have at least once. With Steam sales on PC and a price tag 10 dollars less than other Switch games, it’s also a title with little excuse not to enjoy. So get this game, and let it tell you it’s story: again, and again, and again.

You said it, old man!
Categories
Gaming PC PS4 Reviews Switch

Review: Streets of Red—Dare Devil’s Deluxe

Developer: Secret Base Pte Ltd

Publisher: Maple Whispering Co. LTD

Genre: Beat’em up, Arcade

PlatformsPC (reviewed), PS4, Switch

Rating: T for Teen

Price: $9.99

I remember a time when my family would go out to eat and there would be a couple of arcade games in the back of the restaurant. I would waste a lot of quarters on the beat’em ups if I could get any quarters from my parents. I have very fond memories of those beat’em ups. Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe brings me back to those arcade games with some funny and crazy gameplay. Streets of Red is full of Easter eggs which recall a lot of those older beat’em up games and some classic horror movies. The game also has some really creative characters. This is a game that I played with my teenage son who really liked it, and I think Streets of Red is a great game for anyone looking of a couch co-op.

Content Guide

Streets of Red is rated T for Teen for blood, gore, violence, and language. In the game, all the enemies are either zombies are some other well-recognized or movie monster. The most disturbing of the creatures are the pregnant zombies who will launch a baby zombie out of their belly, or the baby zombie jumps out of the mother’s belly and swipes at the heroes. Players use shovels, swords, and robotics to hit the creatures until they are dismembered. There is a visual blood splash and also a corresponding squishy sound effect when a creature dies. After a few rounds of fighting, the floor of the levels become covered with red pools where creatures have died as well as the body parts of creatures. As I moved through the levels, I also saw helpless victims of the creatures lying all over the floor. If a hero kills more than three creatures at the same time a banner comes up that says slaughter or massacre to accompany the reward for the combo kill. The hero characters say some swear words when they complete combos or make a kill as well. It’s not a game I would recommend for preteens or children, but my teenagers really enjoyed it.

The heroes fighting a familiar masked monster.

Review

The Benny Arcade Expo of 20XX was going just fine when all of sudden there were ZOMBIES, and the only hope for our heroes is to cosplay their favorite video game character to fight the hordes of undead. That’s the story line of Streets of Red that is told through a cut scene very similar to the opening of Megan Man 2. The first time that a player starts the game, the only character that is unlocked in single players mode is Kingston, a janitor who is cosplaying as Shovel Knight. In order to get to the rest of the game, the player needs to fight their way out of the expo which is the tutorial level.

The controls are very easy to learn, but the controller layout is confusing. I would have liked a better controller diagram in the options menu other than the list of buttons (i.e. button 1= attack, button 2= special).

Kinston, Queenie, Jackson, and Axel.

Once the expo level is done there are four characters to choose. Kinston (Fat Shovel), Queenie (Magic Tech), Jackson (Generic Ninja), and Axel (Broken Link). Each of the characters plays very differently which makes co-op more fun since each character can fill a certain role. Kinston is the tank, Queenie the healer, Jackson is fast, and Axel is a good offense character; there are two additional characters that can be unlocked with the good ending of the game. There is a good and bad ending which all depend on how much cash the players collect.

Fighting Aliens

Streets of Red is about defeating waves of zombies, hags, and evil dolls, but what makes the gameplay unique is the cash. As heroes kill creatures, they drop coins and blue special power pills. The power pills help build up the special power meter for each of the heroes powers, and those powers will help the player get more cash. Players who make power move kills or fatality kills will get more cash from the creatures. The cash that creatures drop is very important because if your hero dies, it costs $750 to respawn, but after the first respawn the price doubles then triples and so on. If players don’t collect enough cash, they can’t respawn and the save file they were using gets deleted. The only way to avoid losing your save file is to buy soul tokens after each mission which function like additional quarters in an arcade machine.

I really enjoyed playing this game with my son. Streets of Red is a really great couch co-op kind of game sporting a retro 8-bit look. When my son and I were playing the graphics were sharp and clear enough for us to keep track of our own heroes. There is a handy feature in the game which allows each player to highlight their hero with a colored column of light. Streets of Red‘s only drawback to the graphics is the limited color palette. Most of the colors were dark shades of green, brown, and yellow which isn’t bad to look at, but I would like to see this see with a bright color palette.

That looks like a very familiar fairy.

The game’s sound effects and music are also retro 8-bit music which never got on my nerves, but kept me engaged with the game. The heroes each have a small amount of well-acted voice catchphrases whose humor kept me laughing. For example, I chuckled when I heard Kinston saying, “Who’s your daddy?” Alex uses a spear shot similar to Scorpion, and he also uses the phrase, “Get over here!” I also saw so many Easter eggs from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, Terminator, Aliens, and many more. However, not everyone will appreciate the humor or the horror Easter eggs because of their gruesome nature of the game.

Overall, I would recommend this game for any gamers who have friends or family who can play couch co-op. Streets of Red doesn’t have any online co-op mode, so without others sitting down next to them players are stuck playing by themselves. The game is fun to play alone, but I really think that Streets of Red shines when played with others. Co-op gaming can be hard on a PC, but with the Steam Link app and a Raspberry Pi the PC can be streamed to the living room. I think it’s good that there’s no online mode because I support any games that bring gamers closer together. Streets of Red is available on PC, Switch, and PS4 for less than $10 which is a bargain for a game this fun.

Categories
Gaming PC Reviews

Review: Hypnospace Outlaw (PC)

Developer: Tender Shoot

Publisher: No More Robots

Genre : Simulation, Indie, Retro

Platforms : PC, MAC, Linux

Rating : None

Price : $19.99

As a society, we are always trying to look back and capture the feelings of the past. People use different mediums to re-experience bygone eras sometimes for nostalgic purposes or for satire. Gaming is a big part of this trend; retro-style games imitate their cultural predecessors not only through gameplay but also through look and sound. Hypnospace Outlaw is a game that tries to capture the look and feel of the late 90s internet and operating systems.

The desktop of the Hypnospace OS

I don’t know that the game will have the same meaning for a gamer who didn’t grow up with the earlier version of the internet. Hypnospace Outlaw is a masterful, beautifully constructed experience that transported me back to the 90s, and as I sit here listening to a 90s playlist I hope that I can do justice to the experience of the game.

Content Guide

As far as content as concerned, Hypnospace Outlaw has no ESRB rating that I could find at the time of this article. The content of the game would probably get an E or E 10+ rating. Hypnospace Outlaw is about replicating websites from the late 90s so there are some websites made by teens with images of guns, and there are some websites for psychics and new age practitioners. There are no pornographic sites. Most of the content in the game is text which was typical of websites from the 90s. Children and pre-teens could play this game but they are not the intended audience.

Review

Authentic 90s look.

I originally heard about Hypnospace Outlaw on The Humans of Gaming podcast by Love Thy Nerd when they interviewed, Jay Tholen, one of the creators. Hypnospace Outlaw is set in a very original, alternate history of American society. The way that people access the internet in this alternate history is through the use of hypno bands that the user wears while they are sleeping. Other than the hypno bands, the internet, hypnospace, of Hypnospace Outlaw will look very familiar to anyone who grew up in the 90s. The images are low resolution and the animation is choppy. Music and sound effects on the websites are of low quality as well. The webpages load slowly and most of the sites have some music that starts up as soon as they begin loading. All the music is original, which is amazing as the game has some unique music genres.

A typical website

The role of the player in the game is that of a moderator of an internet service similar to AOL in the late 90s. There is a very brief and corny introduction website that explains all the tools that moderators, known as Enforcers, have available to them. The enforcers are on the lookout for things like copyright infringement, harassing website content, illegal activity, and malicious software. Using their tools the enforcers can report any violations which earn enforcers Hypno-coins. Hypno-coins can be used to purchase software and songs from websites. The game operates similarly to the Windows 95 operating system.

The player gets notified of possible violations through the enforcer inbox and case system. Hypnospace is divided into zones such as Teenopia, The Cafe, and many more. The enforcer gets limited access to a few zones at first but as the player completes cases they get greater access. The gameplay of Hypnospace Outlaw is the investigation into possible violations. Some cases are solved by a simple search for a particular image or search term, while the harder cases involve lots of digging into the websites. The creators will often leave clues to hidden pages or file names in a random bit of text at the bottom of a page or in a hidden link.

An example of the original music

I found myself writing down notes and drawing diagrams out in order to keep track of my investigations. The game does come with a handy sticky note feature which helped keep notes. I really got into the investigation part of the game, and I found that is was really rewarding to piece together the information in order to hack a password or access a hidden page. As I began to get farther along in the cases, I could see the impact that I was having on the users. They would leave messages for me to find that expressed their frustration with me, and some users left the service altogether because of me.

Programs can be purchased with Hypno-coins.

Hypnospace Outlaw is a game that I would recommend to anyone who likes puzzles or investigations. I didn’t know if I would like the game in the first couple of hours of gameplay; the game has a slow build up to the more interesting cases, and there is a lot of text to read in the game. The clues were often hidden in passing references or in riddles. I am a very visual gamer and it was hard at times to sit still and read through every part of each website. There is a handy feature which will read the text to the player which became very helpful to me. The more zones that I had access to meant that my investigation would need to cover many more websites, and I have to admit that I would lose interest if I couldn’t find any clues right away. I would then turn to a different game. I never felt like the cases were too difficult nor were the clues too hard, but it takes a lot of real world time to sift through all the website content. It was very satisfying to solve the problem.

For those from my own generation—the game’s intended audience—Hypnospace will feel very familiar and they will appreciate the game’s funny 90s references. There seems to be a cult following for the game which I found while researching for this review. I don’t know if I could recommend the game to younger gamers, not because of objectionable content, but because the game is very focused on a small slice of history. Overall, I think the game is very well made, and its high level of attention to detail makes it worth playing.

Review code generously provided by No More Robots.