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Capsule Review: Fire Emblem Heroes

A turn-based tactical RPG scaled down and streamlined to work as a mobile game. The core of the Fire Emblem experience remains - characters with a variety of traits and abilities that interact to create multi-layered rock/paper/scissors combat that feels almost chess-like due to the importance of positioning. A lot of the fuss on top of that (breakable/consumable weapons and items, units interacting and growing closer, a story that’s worth a damn, etc.

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Capsule Review: Super Mario Run

An auto-running platformer with a simple but deep control scheme where you collect coins, avoid obstacles, and defeat enemies. It has three modes - World Tour, a series of designed levels with replayability through multiple sets of challenging coins to collect, Toad Rally, which remixes the World Tour levels and tasks you with outperforming an AI ghost to earn Toads for your kingdom, and Kingdom Builder, where you use your accumulated coins and Toads to expand and customize your kingdom.

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Capsule Review: Drancia Saga

An action RPG-lite. There isn’t much story and the action is very streamlined. Your character is constantly moving across the screen with weapon outstreched - hit left or right to point them in a direction, press a button to jump, and press the button again to dive and point the weapon down.

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Capsule Review: Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay

A sidescrolling platformer with hidden collectibles and some enemies to beat up. Unsurprisingly for a movie tie-in aimed at kids, it’s a bit roughly put together, which is a shame because there is solid potential here. The different heroes have different movesets - manipulating physics as Hiro or speeding around as GoGo can be a lot of fun, though unfortunately you can’t play as Baymax or Honey Lemon.

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Capsule Review: Frozen: Olaf's Quest

A standard collectathon platformer that doesn’t have anything wrong with it but feels cheaply slapped together. It’s clearly aimed at kids - there’s no reading, no dialog (aside from some Olaf voice clips obviously taken from the movie and used as repetitive barks), and no story to speak of. The sixty levels are all pretty short, and the entire game can be thoroughly completed by a skilled player in two hours or so.

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Capsule Review: Nihilumbra

An atmospheric 2D puzzle platformer where you paint surfaces different colors to give them different properties - blue makes them slippery, green makes them bouncy, brown makes them sticky, etc. You use these properties to navigate the levels and get past enemies and other obstacles. The puzzles never get that deep (at least in the main story mode) and there’s some learn-by-dying, but the art is beautiful and the player character’s wonder at experiencing the world for the first time is charming.

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Capsule Review: Escape Plan

A puzzle game where you manipulate the environment and guide two characters through a series of rooms. It’s fairly atmospheric and has a distinctive aesthetic, but the mood is disrupted regularly because each room is apparently considered a distinct level and after every one you have to be told your time and the number of stars you earned.

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Capsule Review: Insecticide

A comedic noir platformer/shooter/adventure game set in a world populated by anthropomorphic insects - you play as an “Insecticide” detective, equivalent to a “Homicide” detective in the real world. The noir setting is presented in a light-heartedly satirical way with a near-constant stream of insect jokes and puns, the cumulative effect of which can be enjoyable despite most of them individually not being particularly funny.

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Capsule Review: L.A. Noire

A noir action-adventure game in which the player takes the role of an LAPD officer in the 1940s to investigate crimes, interrogate witnesses, and do some driving/shooting/punching along the way. The interrogation gameplay relies on impressively realistic facial motion capture intended to allow the player to watch NPC faces for nervous tics and other tells when they may be hiding something.

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Capsule Review: Type:Rider

A 2D platformer where you play as two dots rolling and jumping through themed levels learning about typography in different eras. It’s a cute idea with visuals and music that make for strong atmosphere and the early levels feel like an interactive museum exhibit. There’s some interesting history to be learned, but it’s rather poorly integrated as periodic walls of text that you have to pause the gameplay to read (and that have some errors that appear to be artifacts of the translation from French).

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