This is it! My life is complete! Minna de Spelunker Z is finally out and completely comprehensible in English as Spelunker World. It’s free-to-play on PlayStation 4 and hilariously brutal and you should all go download it and we should play for a while. Check out my first 45 minutes with the game that I streamed last night and all the simple revelations I had simply because I could read text prompts.
I finally turned on the PS3 again and found my “loyal customer” payoff waiting. Sony started giving out these $5 and $10 bonuses last week and I had a feeling it was some kind of pre-event damage control. With the news that current PSN games won’t be playable on PlayStation 4 I can’t help but feel justified by that assumption.
It’s like Sony saying “sorry guys, have one last game on us” or “at least when you get a PS4 you’ll have $10 to spend”. I appreciate it and will gladly spend it but I’m suddenly terrified of downloading anything for our current consoles. I’ve got plenty of things plugged into the TV as is and was really hoping I wouldn’t need to keep a PS3 at the ready right next to a PS4. Ah well, thanks for the bucks anyhow, Sony!
Typically I’m the one who finds out about some contest or freebie long after the offer has lapsed. I blurt out my favorite movie quote on twitter or post a comment about how I’d love to win an Avocado Slamwich from Subway and THEN realize, oh, it’s over. But yesterday I managed to hop on a Raptr Reward in time to redeem the code (nevermind that image).
The free mystery PSone download codes were fronted by MonkeyPaw Games who most recently brought one of my favorites back to life on PSN: Tomba!. I was hoping my code would reveal a free copy of Tomba! but instead I got Kyuiin… oh. Of all the games that the codes could potentially have been for I got the one game I had never, ever heard of.
A side-scrolling shooter starring kids who are sucked into a fantasy book to save a fairy land from a bad dream, the pair ride the skies on the backs of vacuum cleaners. I think the vacuums may be sentient as well, I dunno, it’s all in Japanese! The game itself is kinda neat, encouraging you to stop firing so much, get in close and let your dancing vacuum hose suck up enemies. This refills a super shot meter which handily manages the enemies and bullets on screen but gets you no points for whatever it kills. It’s a surprisingly well designed system that I wasn’t expecting from what looked like ‘My First Shooter’.
Maybe I’ll post more about it at some point but redeeming the code and firing up the PS3 reminded me that this is the week for free episodes of The Walking Dead for PS+ members so I jumped over to that after a few rounds with Kyuiin. Tomba! or Yakiniku Bugyou or even Chou Aniki would’ve been great but I’m really happy to have won something peculiar and Japanese from MonkeyPaw and Raptr, thanks guys!
World Gone Sour is another one of those increasingly common games that I buy not for its apparent quality but because of how it revolves around real people I know online. When certified real person Adam Boyes (from co-developer Beefy Media) plays the game alongside equally real Giant Bomb co-founder Jeff Gerstmann, their banter is more than just a PR dude trying to sell a press guy on the game. They’re friends and though they may not call me the same, I feel a friendly connection to the two from years of Giant Bomb podcasts and tweets. It was during this quick look that Boyes mentioned a Giant Bomb logo hidden in the game which further blurs the line between things I like. If that wasn’t weird enough context to come into this review I also just earned enough free Microsoft Points from Bing to cover the cost of the game. Let’s just qualify it as “individual results will vary”.
World Gone Sour is a game about Sour Patch Kids candy but like in the days of Cool Spot and M.C. Kids it doesn’t shove candy or soda or happy meals down your throat. The licensed property is just there to set the scene, in this case a world where candy that doesn’t get eaten goes crazy and builds contraptions and obstacles out of everyday junk. You’re a saintly sour patch candy whose quest to rescue his friends has suppressed the madness. What that sets up is a Pikmin-lite system where you find other Sour Patch Kids and hurl them at switches, precariously placed pick-ups, or absorb them to grow bigger and enable new powers.
Those powers include growing and shrinking in size, doing a ground pound move and using your buddies like a bowling ball to take out enemies and explore the side-scrolling levels. It’s nothing cerebral like Fez or daunting like Super Meat Boy and paired with the mellow music and narration of Creed Bratton the whole game feels largely subdued. I’d even call it a nice change of pace from other platformers of late that feel like they’re out to prove something. World Gone Sour is also subdued (in a bad way here) in its visuals with textures that almost look out of a PlayStation 2 game. I like the Toy Story scale of things and the depth of field effects but I didn’t expect to be squinting at blurry objects to make out the gag labels in a modern game. That Giant Bomb logo looks crisp though, oh, and so do the Sour Patch Kids themselves. You can practically taste the crystals of high fructose corn syrup that cover them.
World Gone Sour is aware of what it is — a platformer based on a licensed piece of candy — and it tries to make it special. The narration is clever in spots and the Method Man video takes itself perfectly seriously but it doesn’t go far enough to be really memorable. If you don’t also have a strange meta connection to those involved with its production I can only call it a palette cleanser that isn’t as sour as you’d expect from a pun that bad. It’s cheap, lasts for a couple of days, has local co-op play and you’ll likely get all of the Achievements without much extra work. I hate to call it a throwaway diversion between bigger games but given the sugary nature of the source material that may be the most fitting way to put it.
Back in 2009 when I was writing for a site that has since deleted or hidden all my posts (not mad, really) I wrote up a game then known as Underwater Wars or U-WARS. It had already been in development at Russian studio Biart for a while and I was enticed by its cover based shooter gameplay set largely underwater. Thruster powered diving suits, harpoon guns, and hostile submersibles were all promised. Long (dev) story short, the game took a while to find a global publisher for consoles.
Ok, now for another long story. At least on Xbox Live Arcade the game is tagged as Deep Black: Episode 1 and priced at 800 Microsoft Points for release on April 25th. The full game, a German-exclusive PC release from last May included 40 missions and 8+ hours of gamplay so there’s no telling just yet what your 800 Points will get you. More confusingly, the game is also coming to PlayStation Network without the ‘Episode 1’ designation on the box art. Will it cost more? Contain the full PC experience? Is there multiplayer in any version?
It looks like I’ll have to wait until the day of release to finally put this U-WARS story to bed. Once that’s sorted out we can move on to whatever the hell Deep Black Online and Deep Black: Reloaded are.