Reviews

Reviews of the games we play, aiming to quickly encapsulate the game’s essence and quirks. Most games have an audience; our goal is for the review to make it clear to you whether you are part of a game’s audience - even if we aren’t.

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Capsule Review: ISLANDERS

A deceptively simple city-building puzzle game. Place a series of buildings on a procedurally-generated island. Each building earns points based on what’s nearby - lumberjacks get points for nearby trees, sawmills gain points for nearby lumberjacks, and so on. Earning points gets you more buildings and periodically new islands; the game ends when you finally run out of buildings and islands without enough points to get any more.

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Capsule Review: Aaero

A rhythm game combining tube racer and rail shooter gameplay. Use the left stick to maneuver an auto-flying ship - often to follow a rail that represents a song’s vocal track or equivalent, sometimes to avoid hazards. Use the right stick to aim a lock-on reticle and fire with the right trigger - usually at enemies, sometimes at bonus targets within the environment.

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Capsule Review: Sprout: Idle Garden

An idle game in which you grow flowers. Flowers earn you money, and with more money you can buy better flowers. The twist is that it’s also sort of a city-builder - you buy and place flowerpots, but also grass, paths, trees, houses, and more. The game is wholly free and has no in-app purchases, but there are a few optional boosts you can get by watching ads.

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Capsule Review: Word Stacks

A word search game where you must find words in an irregular grid of letters. The twist is that once found, the word is removed from the board and remaining letters fall toward the bottom center of the screen. Some words start out split by letters from other words, so you have to find the right words to start with and then proceed in order to get them all.

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Capsule Review: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

A fighting game starring Nintendo mascots and a few other characters. True to its name, Ultimate is the best and most complete iteration of the series. It’s incredibly generous with its content, options, and customization and can be enjoyed by players of widely disparate skill levels. As with earlier installments, the core gameplay is a fighting game based on ring outs: damage taken doesn’t deplete a health bar but rather increases the knockback distance of future attacks.

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Capsule Review: Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King

A top-down 2D action adventure game in the vein of (and in clear homage to) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, featuring charming pixel art and a beautiful chiptune soundtrack. Play as young knight Lily and use a growing arsenal of weapons and tools to explore the kingdom, conquer dungeons, and defeat the evil wizard.

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Capsule Review: League of Evil

A precision platformer tasking the player with running, jumping, and punching through hazardous levels to reach a goal. Each one features a risky optional collectible and also grades you based on your fastest run. Taking any damage from an obstacle or an enemy results in immediate death and level restart, but the levels are small and short.

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Capsule Review: Wandersong

A story-based 2D adventure and platforming game where you play as a bard. While you can walk, jump, and talk to people your primary method of interacting with the world is singing. Most of the game is quite gentle, with no failure modes to disrupt your carefree exploration and experimentation, though there are a few out-of-place difficulty spikes that damage the mood even if most players won’t have much trouble getting past them.

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Capsule Review: Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal

A remake of Senran Kagura Burst, updating the buxom-ninja-schoolgirl brawling action from a 2.5D sidescroller to full 3D while keeping the original story. The gameplay and graphics have taken several steps up along with a few quality-of-life improvements while the old mission structure and story are maintained faithfully - to the point of using literally the same text and art (in higher resolution) as before.

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Capsule Review: The Hex

Several game protagonists from different (fictional) franchises are gathered in a tavern on a stormy night… and one of them is planning a murder. That’s the frame story, presented as essentially a point-and-click adventure. You also play as each protagonist in turn, flashing back to their (fictional) source games and learning each one’s dark past.

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