NEKOPARA Vol. 3

NEKOPARA Vol. 3

The NEKOPARA series has consistently delivered entertaining kinetic novels with great visuals and audio, so it is no surprise that volume three does the same. This time the story shifts to Maple and Cinnamon, the only catgirls left at La Soleil who have not yet had their chance to shine. While the story spends a lot of time with these two the other catgirls also make regular appearances, so no matter which ones are your favorite, you’ll get to experience more of their cuteness. Like volume one and two, this game is available in censored and uncensored versions, with the former costing less and the latter including explicit h-scenes. Whichever version you choose, you’ll find a story that is packed with adorable catgirls, plenty of humorous situations and some of the best visuals in the genre.

Gameplay: NEKOPARA Vol. 3 is still a kinetic novel with no choices to make, but the story is entertaining all the way through.

Graphics: More stunning artwork by Sayori and more animations courtesy of the E-mote system.

Sound: The soundtrack sounds a little too familiar at times, but still has plenty of great tracks and some stellar Japanese voice acting

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy takes the addictive gameplay of the classic title and spruces it up with some brand new Voxel visuals. In addition to the 150 original levels, the game also includes brand new adventure as well as puzzle levels along with leaderboards. Best of all, Lode Runner Legacy features editors for creating everything from your own levels to custom characters, enemies and items. Fans expecting the newer features that were introduced in later Lode Runner titles might find the game a little too simple for their taste, but everyone who loved the original are in for a treat.

Gameplay: Adventure, Puzzle and Classic game modes along with leaderboards and editors to get creative with.

Graphics: The Voxel visuals are a perfect match for the game.

Sound: Nothing spectacular, but not too obtrusive either

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

The third installment in the popular Princess Maker series is finally available, but unfortunately not in refined form like its predecessors. The game is a lot more streamlined, but with sixty different endings, it still has more than enough content to keep players busy for ages. It is a pity that the game has had such a rocky launch and issues with the translation along with other technical problems continue to plague it, but underneath it all there is still a very addictive game waiting to be played.

Gameplay: Schedule your daughter’s activities and raise her to become a princes.

Graphics: This game dates back to the nineties, so don’t expect too much, but the pixel art animations are really nice.

Sound: The music is decent enough, but can become repetitive, although the voice acting is still good

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child is a new hidden object puzzle adventure where players take control of a young woman with psychic abilities. The game starts out as a quest to find her father who abandoned her at an orphanage when she was a child, but quickly turns into a paranormal mystery. There seems to be much less of a focus on hidden object scenes and mini-games in this title, while your exploration is also confined to gloomy areas such as train stations and factories. However, the Gothic style visuals look great and, while very short, the game remains interesting throughout.

Gameplay: The story is interesting, but the puzzles quite easy and the overall game is very short.

Graphics: The Victorian setting allows for some moody visuals, but most of the locations are not very imaginative.

Sound: Standard voice acting and nice, albeit limited, tunes

Perception

Perception

Perception is a unique horror title with a charming protagonist who just happens to be blind. This puts a whole new spin on exploring a haunted location as you have to make use of echolocation to find your way around. Although creepy, some of the horror elements, such as being chased by an evil presence if you make too much noise, doesn’t quite live up to expectations. However, the story is very interesting, despite a couple of cliches and discovering what happened in the house throughout the years is fascinating. While the game won’t win any awards for its monochromatic visuals, it does feature some stellar voice acting. Players in search of an atmospheric ghost story that isn’t too demanding should definitely try out Perception.

Gameplay: A little short and easy, but very interesting while it lasts.

Graphics: The visuals are purposely kept simple, which means it doesn’t look as good as some other horror titles.

Sound: Great ambient sound effects and brilliant voice acting, especially for the protagonist

Queen’s Quest 3: The End of Dawn

Queen’s Quest 3: The End of Dawn

The End of Dawn is the third title in the Queen’s Quest hidden object puzzle adventure series and the second starring an alchemist instead of royalty. This time you have to go on a quest to protect the world from an evil dragon, which obviously means plenty of hidden objects to find, puzzles to solve and mini-games to conquer. The hand drawn visuals are quite detailed, but the story offers nothing new and despite multiple difficulty settings the game can be completed rather easily. It is a title that newcomers might appreciate more, but anyone who has played a couple of hidden object games before will find that Queen’s Quest 3 has very little to offer that is new or innovative.

Gameplay: Plenty of hidden object scenes and puzzles, but everything can be completed rather easily.

Graphics: Detailed hand drawn visuals, but the fuzzy cut-scenes are a disappointment.

Sound: Neither the music or voice acting really stand out

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

From Donkey Kong and Dig Dug to Gauntlet and Gradius, the 1980s were a golden era for classic video-game franchises. One of these franchises is Lode Runner, which was first released for the Apple II in 1983 and quickly moved on to other platforms. Its action-packed, yet puzzle-oriented gameplay made it an instant hit and even people like Alexey Pajitnov counted it amongst their favorite puzzle titles. Although there hasn’t been a shortage of new releases over the years, the last appearance of Lode Runner was back in 2012 on Android and iOS. Thankfully, this is about to change with the upcoming release of Lode Runner Legacy for PC

Conarium

Conarium

Even if you don’t know your shoggoths from your Mi-go there is a lot to like about this Lovecraftian horror title by Zoetrope Interactive. They are no strangers to the genre and are clearly huge fans of H. P. Lovecraft, which is very evident in this game. The slower place and lack of combat might scare away some horror fans, but the attention to detail and the way that the game perfectly captures the atmosphere of Lovecraft’s work makes it a must play for fans. It might lack a little polish in some areas and it is over all too soon, but it is still a remarkable effort by a small indie team and one that deserves to be played.

Gameplay: Plenty of exploration and puzzle solving in environments that perfectly capture the style of H. P Lovecraft.

Graphics: Your surroundings are detailed and quite atmospheric.

Sound: The voice acting could have been better, but the rest of the audio is very good

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Whether you fondly remember the original 1989 Master System version or simply enjoy good platform games, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap should not be missed. This updated version is a true labor of love and features great artwork, brilliant re-orchestrated versions of the classic tunes as well as the ability to switch to the original audio and visuals on the fly. The gameplay is also still every bit as addictive as it was back in the day and can now be taken up or down a notch depending on your skill level. It is definitely no exaggeration to say that Lizardcube has pulled off one of the most impressive remakes of a retro classic that we have seen to date.

Gameplay: Still plays great and showcases why this game is widely regarded as a classic of its time.

Graphics: The new hand-drawn visuals look great and are also beautifully animated.

Sound: The original soundtrack is catchy, but the re-orchestrated version sounds even better

Drifting Lands

Drifting Lands

From big bosses and swarms of enemies to screens filled with bullets and explosions, Drifting Lands offers everything fans expect from the side scrolling shooter genre. However, it goes one step further by also merging it with some action-RPG elements that will keep you coming back for more in a bid to customize your ship to the max. It starts out a little slow, but thanks to multiple difficulty grades, the intensity of the action quickly ramps up. Anyone with an itchy trigger finger looking for a shooter that has a bit more replay value than usual shouldn’t at the very least try out the free demo.

Gameplay: A little overwhelming at times, but at least you are eased into things quite gently.

Graphics: Detailed and colorful, especially for a side scrolling shooter, but very few truly jaw-dropping set pieces.

Sound: The sound effects lack a little punch, but the soundtrack is as varied as it is rocking