Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is a Secret Ninja Gaiden Tribute on Nintendo Switch

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: May 22, 2017 12:00:00 PM

shovel-knight-spectre-torment-idleAfter you're finished cackling over the treasure-chest that is Breath of the Wild—fistfulls of precious gold squirting wasted between fingers because, man, if Zelda isn't an endless video game fun-box—I recommend aiming your Nintendo Switch toward the eShop and buying Shovel Knight.

To clarify, don't get simply-Shovel Knight, but rather Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, which includes the new Specter of Torment expansion. Superior even to its predecessor's high-art 8-bit homage, Specter of Torment stands above the original Shovel Knight experience.

In our landscape of bargain-hunting indie games and Steam sale memes, throw all your available money toward the developers at Yacht Club games and buy Specter of Torment. The reason why is simple: this is a secret Ninja Gaiden game... 

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Topics: Game Review

Unfinished Video Game Micro-Reviews: Monster Hunter 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Max Payne 3, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: May 31, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Included here are four micro-reviews for major video game releases from a few years ago. You may remember them. You may not. Still, enough time has passed to give them a more thorough, unbiased perspective.

There is tremendous hype and mindshare that influences criticism on creative endeavors. I pointed this out in my study of Paradise Lost ages ago. As they are now, videogames are disposable candy snacks, like a rockabilly single from the 1950's, meant to spin on a radio turntable for a month, only to be replaced by the next single. Then very smart people started enjoying music, listening to music, and producing music of their own.

The same can be said of film. Formerly just little image reels, movies got, uh, big, to put it lightly, and EVERYONE wants to BE movies, be they athlete, rapper, or videogame. That artisitc perspective came with time.

I will not flex any muscle to say the micro-reviews included below are set to become celebrated triumphs five decades from now. None of them is the Citizen Kane of videogames (we won't know that for about 20 years after the assumed videogame is released). Nevertheless, these are THINKABLE games.

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Topics: Review, Wii U Review, Game Review, PS3 Review

The Only Perfect Destiny Review On The Internet

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Nov 18, 2014 12:00:00 PM


Destiny is a $60 bookshelf.

Part 1: Why Is It So Hard To Reviews Destiny?

Bad marketing can turn insecure people into jerks.

You've seen folks of that sort, their words weed-whacker buzzing and thrashing all about the Internet, summoning the jargon they've been taught to justify a purchase. Good jargon indicates good marketing and good long-tail marketing contains language to turn customers into delighted evangelists. Ideally, these people promote a product long after the purchase. Once the person has bought the item, and experienced it, they’ll want to talk about its worth beyond the dollar amount applied to it. It doesn't matter if it's a $1000 iPhone 6 pre-order or a $60 copy of Destiny. When certain people buy things, they’re going to have to talk themselves into the purchase again and again.

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Topics: Review, PS4 Review, Game Review

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge | Nintendo Wii U review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: May 1, 2014 12:00:00 PM

"The last of his people comes to a strange land."

part i | Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge is a suicide note

As a reminder, only sociopaths take full, physical glee in videogame violence.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge positions the series' main character, Ryu Hayabusa, as an outdated, barbaric relic. All he does is slaughter. He's kept his face hidden. He hardly talks. His favorite weapon is a sword, one sharp enough to hack off limbs. You can't track him. His agility is inhuman. Other global forces from outside Japan whisper tall tales about the ninja and just how many people he has killed in his life. The actions of a videogame character are being dragged into a realer light—what, did you think nobody would notice when you just spent two full games leaping over rooftops, summoning demons to modern cities, killing the demons, beheading people, and then vanishing off into the secluded hills of Japan. It's like, man, Japan is full of psychos, isn't it?

In games and in real life, I mean. Right? There is a western videogame producer somewhere snorting over his early-morning Monster Energy Drink, wondering who makes a game where your avatar is a masked, remorseless bladestorm in this day and age? When will the Japanese learn that that isn't what videogames are about anymore?

Ryu the super-ninja is outdated.

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Topics: Review, Wii U Review, Game Review

Valkyria Chronicles | PlayStation 3 game review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Aug 21, 2013 12:00:00 PM

"If there ever can be a best game, unfortunately, about war, this is it. It's long, brutal, occasionally boring, always intense, and above all else, never really in your control."


We can think about life faster than it actually goes by. Without meaning to, certain events and entanglements can consume years of unconscious thought, running parallel to what's actually happening right before you, sometimes outpacing your senses, sometimes overwhelming them altogether. You often are not in command of your mind, and what it will be, as those years pass. A decade from now though, it may. Life does not embolden life immediately. Experience's benefits are staggered and we cannot derive clarity at first glance because memory is not good enough -- true clarity comes from acknowledgment and confrontation, a repulsive thing to face right here in the waking present.

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Topics: Review, Game Review, PS3 Review

Bioshock Infinite's Ending Explained

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Apr 3, 2013 12:00:00 PM


Are you wondering just exactly how all those bits and pieces of Bioshock Infinite fit together? Wonder no more! I only found it complicated at first because it's a little contrived, with some odd character motivations at first glance. A game that requires examination is art. It looks nice and it makes you think. Anyway, without further delay, let's dig into what a floating city in the sky and a girl with some quantum physics books have to do with the Battle of Wounded Knee and alternate versions of reality.

++ SPOILERS!! ++ This is what Bioshock Infinite's ending means. ++ SPOILERS!! ++

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Topics: Review, Game Review, storytelling analysis, PS3 Review

The Last Story | Nintendo Wii RPG Review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Sep 19, 2012 12:00:00 PM

"[The Last Story] is Gears of Swords."


Sometimes, when you're walking along in the cobblestoned Lazulis City early on in The Last Story, the princess Calista might get careless when she's following you and whack her head on the sign hanging above the blacksmith's shop. It looks like it hurts. She winces the same way anybody would.

You helped her give some guards the slip. She is following you because she likes you. She hurt her head because she's a person. The Last Story is going to teach you how to love.

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Topics: Review, Game Review, video games, Wii Review

Killzone 3 | PlayStation 3 Review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: May 18, 2012 12:00:00 PM

Killzone 3

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(originally published May 18, 2012)

"It's just your gun occupying Killzone's world. If the gun was a more fun person to pal around and goof off with, then this would be acceptable..."


Put down your vaporizer and that bottle of Quaaludes, we're going to deconstruct concept of "winning" at online videogames. Killzone 3 does not do this. It does not win at offline videogames either. It's the expensive chew-toy that your dog perpetually ignores because it's spiky and it makes her gums bleed. It mashes its terrible haircut, let's say, for example, a weave, into a discolored biomass. Interacting with this world is a joyless affair.


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Topics: Review, Game Review, PS3 Review

Saints Row: The Third | PlayStation 3 Review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Nov 30, 2011 12:00:00 PM

Saints Row: The Third

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(originally published November 30, 2011)

". . .[Saints Row: The Third] a super-deformed, weaponized-speedball that knows the difference between good and evil."

There has been serendipitous fun in videogames for more than 25 years. Beating The Legend of Zelda in one sitting is serendipitous fun. Running through a grand prix cup in Super Mario Kart with the always-tiny cheat is serendipitous fun. Juggling a velociraptor with a quad rocket-launcher in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is serendipitous fun. Doing backflips off the highway median in a stolen Yakuza sportscar in Grand Theft Auto III is madness and all-consuming and fun. These things are special because we discover them within a defined, but easily violated, set of rules that the videogame has laid out before us (. . .rules like gravity). This madness becomes ours and becomes true, golden escapism. Even if we are told somebody else discovered that exact same bar of gold, it's never theirs, it's ours. As far as we're concerned, dad invented speedruns when he accidentally beat Super Mario Bros. in 1989 in eight minutes.

Saints Row: The Third was probably made by a covenant of college students that spent a lot of time avoiding responsibility for their actions in Liberty City, probably the GTA3 version, and they learned where serendipitous fun came from, challenging us now with the question: "Why brew our game from anything that isn't instinct, projected?" That's freedom -- not being given the ability to do anything and told to find your fun, but rather anticipating what people will want to do with the dark materials given to them.

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Topics: Review, Game Review, PS3 Review, video games

ExciteTruck | Nintendo Wii Review

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Nov 9, 2011 12:00:00 PM


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(originally published November 9, 2011)

"ExciteTruck is the best game created for the Nintendo Wii."


With the grace and civility displayed by a boxcar dweller performing "King Lear" while on acid, the Nintendo Wii, despite its side-show freakery, did not need to exist. It was an inelegant success for a year and a half. You could control it with a bathroom scale and pretend to ski-jump with Bowser and Sonic the Hedgehog. The best thing about the Wii was that it reminded lapsed videogame players that they had once been children that were capable of grinning. The system's design had the word "nostalgia" written on top of every brainstorm document and it was always written in pen. Lines shot out of that one big word, leading out to smaller bubbles that held words like "Mario," "Mario Kart," and "Your Older Sister." The system was based around the same idea that Brad Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, thought up in Fight Club -- level the playing field and take everybody back to zero.

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Topics: Review, Game Review, video games, Wii Review

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