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PixelJunk Monsters PSN Mini Review

PixelJunk Monsters also went on sale at the Playstation Store for $4.99, but unfortunately I bought it right before the price cut. Fortunately, the game is very addictive and challenging. PixelJunk Monsters is an endearing tower defense game where your tiki man builds towers to defend his Tiki Jrs (or whatever they are). There are ground and air baddies and slow/fast monsters and all these factors make selecting the correct tower quite difficult. The game is incredibly challenging and requires some trial and error, but the game is so enjoyable to play I haven't really minded replaying the levels. There's always that sense that you can correct your mistakes and strategize your defenses better. The presentation is excellent and the sound/music is very unintrusive and quaint. The whole game comes off as a sort of fairy tale land which works very well and gives it that wholesome and enjoyable tone. For $5, you gotta buy this game. There's even local co-op which is really well done.

Gameplay: 9/10 - Tower Defense done right - challenging, deep, but not too frustrating
Graphics: 8/10 - Simple clean 2d art looks great but definitely is not stressing the PS3's hardware
Sound/Music: 9/10 - Music and Sound are the final touches that create the uplifting tone for the game
Lasting Appeal: 8/10 - Challenge and Co-op go along way in extending the lifespan of this game, but it doesn't change the somewhat low level count.

Tilt: +/- 0.00%

If you love this game and need more levels there's always the Encore Pack, but honestly I was happy paying $10 for this game and would be thrilled to pick it up for $5.

Verdict: 85%

PAIN Mini Review

PAIN recently went on sale for $4.99 in the Playstation store (originally $9.99). The game is little more than a fleshed out tech demo for PS DLC, Ragdoll physics, and Havok. The game is also pretty darn fun and well worth your $5 bucks. If you bought the game for $10, Pain definitely comes up thin on the gameplay modes and features. In fact the most annoying thing about PAIN is that the developers clearly held back on content to nickel and dime you later. The game comes with 1 character w/ 3 costumes and 1 unlockable character and 4 different modes all in the same downtown level. What's annoying is that there are over 10 characters that you can purchase and of course the upcoming Abusement Park expansion level. Given the shear sophmoric fun I had with Pain, I may splurge for the level add on (depending on $$$) but I certainly don't give a hoot about a naughty santa girl and all these other characters. Why not make them unlockable? Why do I have to pay $$ for a new skin on my ragdoll? Having unlockable characters would give players some goal in the wide open PAINdemonium mode other than getting 1 more trophy. Ultimately that's PAIN's problem...there isn't much incentive to keep playing after the first couple hours. You use a Slingshot to fling and hurt your ragdoll...this is extremely fun for the first couple hours, and there's something to be said for exploring the level and finding all the explosions, jokes, etc....but ultimately after playing the 4 modes which are all built on the same mechanic there's no real motivation to keep going and it gets a little monotonous. Only having the 1 level certainly doesn't help.

Gameplay: 7/10 - I need more Levels, Characters and gets stale too fast.
Graphics: 9/10 - Graphics are pretty impressive for a DLC game and among the best I have seen for a Downloadable Game on XBL or PSN.
Sound/Music: 8/10 - No complaints...characters say some pretty amusing lines and the rock soundtrack is appropriate.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10 - This game needs some more gameplay wrinkles, modes, levels, and characters. It's a decent deal for $5 but the previous price of $10 is a bit steep.

Tilt: -1.00%

Bottom Line is this game is certainly worth $5 and will offer you several hours of entertainment before it gets stale. It looses some points for the blatant overuse of microtransactions for DLC.

Verdict: 74%

Puzzle Quest XBLA Review

Puzzle Quest got great reviews and was a good demo, but I could never take the plunge for $15 when everything else on XBLA is $5-10. Well, Microsoft dropped the price and I picked it up and man was I missing out on an addictive game. Puzzle quest is such a simple yet brilliantly executed game. The main game is a competitive match-3 puzzle game which introduces the concept of spells & moves during your puzzle fight. The RPG elements take this Match-3 game to the next level. There is so much incentive to keep playing and questing. You keep playing for that next spell, next level, more gold, etc. Another great thing about the game is that there is a decent difficulty level but you are never severely penalized for losing a fight. What it boils down to is that Puzzle Quest is a steal for $15. If you are a puzzle game fan, this game's RPG elements extend the playing time of the game significantly. You'll definitely be inclined to play the game again as a different gender or class (there are 4 classes: knight, warrior, magician, and druid).

Gameplay: 9.5/10 - Pretty genius gameplay concept that is fantastically executed.
Graphics: 8/10 - Nothing Special in the Graphics Department, but it's an XBLA game.
Sound/Music: 5/10 - Definitely the worst aspect of the game...terrible voice overs and repetitive and boring music.
Lasting Appeal: 10/10 - You'll put hours into this game without realizing it. Major replayability
Tilt: +8.75%

Puzzle Quest is greater than the some of its parts. It has immense replayability and longevity and the gameplay is incredibly addicting and easy to pick up and play. Definitely one of the best games on Live Arcade that I have played, certainly the one with the longest lifespan.

Verdict: 90%

Top 5 Surprises of E3 2008

5. Killzone 2 Multiplayer - Ok, Killzone Multiplayer was expected, but did anyone predict the extensive features? The Badge/class system sounds sweet, great clan support, squadrons, 32 player, medals, trophies, online stat tracking, etc. This game definitely is going to have it all.

4. Bungie Bumped from E3 - This is just a WTF screw-up by Microsoft. Something is definitely brewing in the Bungie Offices and I'm not sure it's in Microsoft's best interest...after all, they're not a Microsoft Owned Studio any longer. Bumping Bungie in favor of all the casual game stuff Microsoft showed seemed to be a mistake.

3. Rock Band 2 ...500 songs by 2009, Import RB1 tracks - While I am uber excited for Rock Band 2...I wasn't surprised about the announcement or seeing the game at E3. My excitement was taken to the next level when they announced 500 tracks for the game by the end of the year, 84 tracks for RB2, and the ability to import nearly all the songs from the RB1 disc over into the new game.

2. FFXIII for Xbox 360 - Microsoft's courtship of Square Enix was definitely a surprise, but it culminated in the Final Fantasy 13 announcement. How has Square Enix...long time Japanese Developer for Nintendo and then Sony jumped ship to Microsoft? Well, Sony is still getting FFXIII so they haven't jumped ship completely...but still surprising.

1. Mirror's Edge - Where did this game come from? Had anyone heard of it prior to E3? This game was not on my radar at all, but after it gained some pretty damn good momentum at E3 and the more I see of it, the more I think Mirror's Edge can really be an innovative and refreshing new title.

Honorable Mentions (but ultimately leaked or expected):
Xbox 360 Dashboard Update, Avatars, Netflix partnership, etc.
Resident Evil 5 Co-Op
God of War III Announcement

GRID Mini Review

GRID by Codemasters is the asphalt successor of DIRT. It even runs on the same graphical engine and has a "hip" 4 letter title too. I have no idea what the title means, but I do know that Grid is a very enjoyable racer which blends elements of sim and arcade racers and toes the line between the two pretty well.

Like sim racers such as Gran Turismo, Grid requires you to break and take turns at certain angles and is not Burnout, petal to the metal, on the dime arcade racing, but at the same time it is not nearly as hard and difficult as your typical sim. There are steering assists and warning lights which help tell you when to break and slow down. One of the big plusses for me is that there is no car tuning and monkey wrenching.

The game has the same tiered racing setup and selection that Dirt did and has everything from race sim time trials to the more arcadey drift battles and demolition derbys. The game does a really good job of presenting a diverse bunch of races that play very different. Of course one of the best new features (over Dirt) is the Rewind feature. If you are in the lead and mess up that final turn, you no longer have to restart the race...just press back, rewind the replay and tap X to snapshot back in time to right before your mistake. This new mechanic makes races much more forgiving and less frustrating.

The game nails all the graphical and audio high points. It looks gorgeous and has nice voiceovers, music and sound effects. There's an extensive single player campaign and online matches to get your money's worth on longevity as well. At the same time, the gameplay is really what will make you love or hate this game. If you love Burnout and arcade racers, Grid may be a little too realistic for you. If you love Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, Grid is probably a bit too skimpy on the tuning, car count, and realism. Grid works for those people who enjoy a steeper difficulty and deeper racer but who can't meet the commitment and challenge of a race sim. Give Grid a try, you may be like me and fall into that in between category of racer as well.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound/Music: 8.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Tilt: +0.05
Verdict: 83%

Play the Magic Toy Chest Now - Public Beta 2 is Now Available!

Graduate Games is happy to announce that you can download our second (and probably final) beta starting today (7/7/08-7/14/08). The game has changed quite a bit since the last beta and hopefully everyone who has played the game before will notice the improvements.

You can download the Beta here.

What has changed since last time? Well there's now 20 Tutorial Levels that will teach you how to play and how all 16 toys work. There's also background filters for everyone that found the backgrounds too "loud." There's also a number of tweaks that make the easier tonavigate, etc and nicer on the eyes. Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback and helped us make these changes. Keep the changes and levels coming and you'll receive $5 off the final game...just make sure we have your email address.

Remember to sign-up for our newsletter so you'll know when the game is released.

Watch the Game in Action

Metal Gear Solid Series - Top 5 Boss Battles

5. Olga (MGS2)

For anyone who's played MGS2 on Hard, the Olga battle is intense and incredibly challenging. On hard, She becomes a head shot sharpshooter and the battle elevates to Wild West Shooter proportions. Of course this isn't even taking into account the amazing atmosphere, graphics and weather effects.

4. Fatman (MGS2) An incredibly fun and new boss battle where you had to fight the boss and defuse bombs, plus Fatman was on roller blades.

3. The End (MGS3)/Sniper Wolf (MGS1)/Crying Wolf (MGS4)

Yes, it's a little cheap to group all the sniper battles together, but at least I've ranked them from left to right. Obviously, The End which gave players several ways to fight was genious. Sniper Wolf started it all, and Crying Wolf brings a whole new atmosphere and intense situation where you are hiding from Frogs and fighting a boss.

2. The Fury(MGS3)

Visually, this boss battle was breathtaking and truly showed off the power of PS2. It's also an incredibly fun fight where you are constantly hiding in the shadows, setting traps, and firing at the man in a spacesuit.

1. Psycho Mantis (MGS1)

Nothing beats Psycho Mantis when it comes to memorable boss battles. Not only did he read off all of your save files, but he was also unbeatable unless you switched to controller port 2. This trickery definitely goes down in history as one of Kojima's best.