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‘Super Mario Odyssey’s’ Ten Most Difficult Moons

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SuperMarioOdyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is a joyous romp through a variety of charming and colorful locations that is impossible to play without wearing a constant smile on your face. Well… almost constant. Read some reviews of Mazza’s latest 3D outing and a fair few of them will probably claim that the game is too easy for the most part.

I’m certainly not going to be using this article to decry claims that the game can be a little easy at times – hell, some Moons are literally as difficult to obtain as getting dressed – but that largely adds to the sense of relaxing whimsy that most 3D Mario titles offer. Odyssey is not a complete cakewalk throughout, however, and there are several Moons that are about as relaxing to collect as a piece of hay from a massive stack full of needles.

Typically, and true to the form of its predecessors, Odyssey ramps up the challenge post-credits, especially on its final two bonus levels (more on those later), but even before the main quest is over the game is prone to the odd difficulty spike when you least expect it. Here are ten examples that will either have you shaking with PTSD-induced rage or have you shouting “git-a-gud” in a dodgy Italian accent. Either way, they were hard for me so leave it, yeah?

On the Eastern Pillar (Sand Kingdom)

If you’re going in level order, this is probably the first Moon in the game to truly test your skill to the limit. The level of precise timing and acrobatics I needed to collect this Moon was so high that I’m still not convinced that I did it in the most efficient way possible.

To gain your reward, you’re tasked with destroying a block on top of a pillar in the middle of nowhere. Conventional means won’t break it open, and the only way to succeed is by capturing a Bullet Bill and flying into it. The only problem is that there aren’t any Bullet Bills for miles, and the closest one I found was on the eastern side of the Tostarena Ruins by the Sand Pillar checkpoint.

To get the Bullet Bill over to that far away block, I had to stand near to his spawn point on the edge of a broken bit of wall and lure him over to me. First, and crucially, knocking his hat off as he approached me, I then had to perform a long jump followed by a cap throw/dive combo to a nearby pillar all while spinning the camera round mid-action to make sure I got my jump on target.

Simply throwing my cap on BB while stood on the pillar doesn’t grant enough time to fly all the way over to the block, so I had to perform another long jump off the pillar and quickly perform an inch-perfect 180 in mid-air to land the cap on the pursuing enemy. This then granted me just, and I mean just, enough time to hastily fly over to the block and smash it right before I turned back into a fat plumber and fell to the sand below.

A real bum-clencher of a Moon that seems designed with the smallest of margins for error that, admittedly, does look pretty cool when you pull it off.

Jump-Rope Genius (Metro Kingdom)

Harry already mentioned this bugger in his review, but I hate it so much that it’s getting another slating from me. The object of this Moon is simple enough – complete 100 successful jump-rope jumps. After the first 49, you might even think the execution is simple. Nope. Wrong. See you in an hour, chump.

Every jump after number 50 requires the most precise timing and an insane level of concentration. When you’re past 90 your neighbours will probably be able to hear your pounding heart right the way down the street. None of the precision is helped by the fact that, once the rope is at max speed, Mario will instinctively start the second phase of his triple jump every other button press. This means your time off the ground is unhelpfully lengthened and your rhythm is all askew.

Failure is the second worst facet of this challenge, as your rage and disappointment will never be entirely realized until you have to start again at the insultingly slow pace of the rope at the mini-game’s beginning. It’s not uncommon to alternate between scores of 75 and 15 purely because you’ll have been so into the fast rhythm that you can no longer get to grips with the slower rope speed.

The fundamental problem with this Moon is that it really just boils down to metronomic pressing of the jump button 100 times in a row – hardly a fun way to spend your time. Someone should probably have told that to the show-offs with five-figure totals at the top of the online Rankings Board. I’d bet my googly-eyed possessed cap that the top two players with scores of 99,999 achieved their scores like this…

Taking Notes: Up and Down (Cloud Kingdom)

Another Moon that, while not difficult on paper, has its challenge ramped up thanks to that bane of all things you actually want to see: the camera. You’re on a platform that moves up and down tasked with lobbing your cap on four musical note trios, placed at varying heights before a timer runs out. You’ll probably get the top and bottom notes easily enough, but it’s the two sets in the middle that really frustrate.

The camera isn’t the only element out to ruin your day here; the platform will only ascend after Mario ground pounds it – something that I forgot about on countless occasions. Given that your time to collect all the notes is limited anyway, there’s nothing worse than screaming at the TV for the platform to ‘get a ruddy move on’ before you realize that its stationary indifference is entirely your fault.

Once you add these two obstacles together and multiply them by a cap throw that just isn’t long enough without some motion waggling, you’ve got yourself a real stinker of a time. Oh, and how come the musical notes don’t play classic Mario tunes anymore? That would at least make the challenge more palatable than its current guise of ‘Failure in C Major’.

Secret 2D Treasure (Mushroom Kingdom)

Well done, Odyssey – you made me hate 8bit Mario. To be fair to this Moon, most of the 2D sections in the game are easier than Mayor Pauline in a handbag shop, but this one is just taking the piss.

Throughout Odyssey, I was reluctantly accepting that achieving the game’s seamless transition between 2D and 3D sections wouldn’t be possible if we’re able to use the D-Pad in the former, but that doesn’t mean I ever got used to playing 8bit Mario with an analog stick. It’s just wrong, and the utilization of the analog stick is where this particular Moon goes from confusing to absolute mind fuck.

You’re playing through a homage to SMB’s world 1-1, trying to keep up with a creeping darkness that acts as a time limit of sorts. Get caught in the light and Mario will drop off the 2D surface to a three-dimensional death in an instant. While relatively challenging on its own, it’s a specific segment where you’re running around circular platforms that your brain begins to melt.

Rather than behaving as you’d expect – press left or right to make Mario run around the circle in that direction – Mario’s movement is mirrored from the on-screen circle to the position of the analog stick. If you’re in the top left of the circle and you press right, Mario will not move. To duck while on the right side of the circle, you need to press left, not down. If that seems difficult to get your head around, try figuring it out while trying to simultaneously line up safe areas of the background and avoid rows of Fuzzies. Nightmare.

Iceburn Circuit Class S (Snow Kingdom)

Look at those cuddly Shiverians bouncing around the racetrack. Don’t they look adorable flailing their arms around, wearing their little hats and having such a lovely time… Oh, that bouncy bastard knocked me into the snow again!

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I don’t enjoy these silly bouncing races. They were dull enough when they were easy, but the final of the four races in the game sees you almost constantly stuck behind – or, worse, in between – two absolute oafs who seemingly roided up between races.

What was once a bland-yet-charming mini-game diversion suddenly becomes an all-out demolition derby of anger and tears. You have to get your bounces spot on to stand any chance of winning this race as the rubber banding becomes so ludicrous you’d think you were playing… well, Mario Kart.

Every time I played this race I found it practically impossible to gain any sort of lead until the very last lap, and that was only provided I was near perfect until then. Naturally, this meant that it was very difficult to tell if I was in an unwinnable race until I’d already poured a decent amount of time into it. A repeated issue with some of these difficult Moons is the time sink they require even in failure. We’ll get to the worst offender for that later…

Diving From the Big Pot (Luncheon Kingdom)

This is probably the coolest Moon on here, and it’s even cool if you fail to nail it several times. The best thing about it is that I figured out what I had to do accidentally once I saw the Toad Hint marker right on top of a pot full of soup and decided that I really wanted the Moon to require me to take a massive dive into it from as high a point as possible.

It’s a really difficult dive to line up – so much so that I ended up questioning if it was actually what I was supposed to be doing after a while, and had to get Talkatoo to confirm it for me.

Taking ridiculous leaps from high places in Odyssey is inherently and consistently fun, so failing this Moon feels a lot less aggravating than most others. Narrowly missing the pot from such a ridiculous height is still an exhilarating rush, dampened only once you have to begin the climb to the big pot again for another go.

Arrival at Rabbit Ridge (Dark Side)

Ugh. A boss rush mode. Yay. Haters of the Broodals rejoice because you’re about to fight every single one of them, in their hardest variants yet, one after another with no health pickups! Oh, and then you can fight them all in their RoboBrood mech again at the end. Fail, and it’s right back to the beginning for you.

The Broodals really aren’t difficult bosses, but there’s an additional level of anxiety ready to make things a lot more stressful for you once you know that your health is massively limited – a max of six hits and it’s game over – and that a death at any stage is the end, and subsequent restart, of a pretty long road. Being careless or cocky in the early stages can set you up for a really tough run, and messing up at the final hurdle is infuriating.

The ordering of the Broodals is quite off-putting for this boss rush, as the hardest foe is easily Topper, and he’s up first. The crazy amount of spinning hats you need to keep an eye on whilst simultaneously resisting the urge to stay up close for too long – lest he hit you with his massive AoE attack if you try anything more than two cap throws. Admittedly, if you get through him unscathed then the sailing gets smoother (Rango is weaker than that Johnny Depp movie), but trepidation is still needed.

The level of tension surrounding the final RoboBrood fight gives it a real edge and helps it become one of the game’s better boss fights. You’ll need to take down the legs of the mech using the projectiles of a captured Hammer Bro, and it’s a lot of fun, it’s just a shame it comes at the end of a slog through, slightly altered Broodal fights you’ll have already done too many times as it is.

Vanishing Road Rush (Dark Side)

Now we’re getting into the final two kingdoms in Odyssey, we’re coming up against the game’s most fiendish challenges. Remember that Moon you had to collect in the Metro Kingdom by driving the scooter around a road that would vanish after a certain amount of time? Well, now you’ve got to do that again… without the scooter. Oh, and without Cappy too.

You better get your long jump and dive ability down (which you probably should have by this point) because doing anything other than one of those two moves will almost certainly mean you run out of time. The window of time you’ve got to make it from one safe area to the next is so tight you’ll frequently end up inches shy of that last platform.

It can become quite finicky getting all the jumps right, as they all require holding the ZL/ZR button down to perform. Do this too early and Mario’s going to slam that Italian ass into the ground, killing the run and himself in the process.

To add to the difficulty of nailing all your jumps without error, you’ve got a small army of Sherm shooting at you. Their aim isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely off-putting. Like always, there are two Moons to gather in this warp pipe area, and the second Moon – Vanishing Road Challenge – is probably even harder to grab as it, naturally, requires you to take a more difficult route to victory. Do yourself a favour – aim to get that one first, as you won’t want to make more runs at this than necessary.

Fruit Feast on the Sinking Island (Dark Side)

Another old Moon re-tooled to become much harder, this time we’re headed back to the Sinking Island from earlier in the game but we’re taking it on as Yoshi this time, and that means two things: less mobility, and fruit collectibles to pick up on the way.

The collectibles aren’t really the problem with this Moon – they are secondary to the fact that Yoshi’s flutter jump isn’t quite strong enough to make it up a platform from a standard jump. What this means is that you’ll have to do a side somersault/flutter jump combo on every single level of the tower you’ll be frantically climbing.

Side somersaults aren’t too bad when performed in isolation but half a dozen required at speed, whilst avoiding obstacles and grabbing fruit, is a real test of skill and timing. To be honest, I didn’t even know Yoshi could do a side somersault until this level, so at least I learned something.

Darker Side of the Moon

This level is absolute hell. Arguably the hardest 3D Mario level ever created that lasts well over ten minutes and has no checkpoints. Nope, not a single one. Have fun playing the same seven minutes over and over again for hours on end knowing you’re still nowhere near the end. It’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of YouTube videos dedicated to skipping as much of this ordeal as possible.

The Darker Side is a test of everything you’ve learned in Odyssey up to this point with the hard-o-meter set to 11. At the time of writing, I’ve still not managed to finish it, and I’m starting to think I just don’t have it in me to bang my head against it any longer. This is a test of mettle for even the most skilled Mario player.

It’s not necessarily that any one part of the level is impossible, but more that the sheer amount of consecutive challenges thrown at you – almost all of which come with huge possibility of instant death – create an unforgiving grind that usually culminates in the disheartening sense that you’re so far back from where you just died upon retrying.

100% completion of Odyssey, therefore, is no mug’s game. No, sir. Sure, a good percentage of it is just finding Moons floating out in the open, but the final challenge of the game is mammoth and could prove to be a wall for many players. Make no mistake; the Darker Side of the Moon is not for the weak of heart… or me. I’m out.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes heading out for a sesh of Bakamitai karaoke in Kamurocho.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Patrick

    November 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve only done two of these, and I have absolutely no desire to even try the others. As soon as I saw a boss rush on Dark Side I turned the game off and have not played since. Jump rope 100 times? Ha! Whatever. I feel like half the post-game content is just recycled ideas arbitrarily made more difficult with higher #s to reach or faster koopas to race, or some other menial task that just amounts to a grind. I had a blast getting 538 moons, no reason to sully that experience with (more often than not) frustrating filler, but I am impressed by those who stick to it. I also think they’re insane, but hey, nothing wrong with that.

    • cleidsonlourenco

      November 19, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Imagine if you played some levels of Rayman or Donkey Kong Country then

      • Patrick

        November 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        Oh man, forget the K levels – I don’t have the patience to be good enough to beat those. I always give them a couple tries just to see what they look like, but yeah. I do think side-scrollers are better for those types of challenges though. Precision is a lot easier in 2D. Same goes for Rayman.

        • cleidsonlourenco

          November 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm

          That’s why SMO is so nice, you can be satisfied with the main campaign and that’s it 😛

          • Patrick

            November 22, 2017 at 8:04 pm

            Absolutely, that main campaign is totally worth it. Bonus for anyone who wants more, but I walked away completely satisfied with the money/time spent.

  2. GenghisHan

    November 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    If you tongue the wall with Yoshi near the top, it’ll pull you up. Makes the fruit level a lot easier than trying to do complicated jumps.

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Game Reviews

‘Super Mario 3D All-Stars’ Defines Three Incredible Generations

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the best bang for your buck compilation that the Super Mario Bros. franchise and the Nintendo Switch currently has to offer.

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo | Genre: Platformer, Action | Platforms: Nintendo Switch | Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch


After nearly half a year of rumors, it was no surprise that Nintendo was going to jump up super high with another compilation title on their red plumber’s next special numbered anniversary. It’s absolutely undeniable to say that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the best bang for your buck compilation that the Super Mario Bros. franchise and the Nintendo Switch currently have to offer. However, there are still a few pesky problems that persist through its leaking warp pipes. Nonetheless, what you are getting here is three updated masterclass retro classics that I probably don’t have to sell you on.

Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy are not only some of the most critically acclaimed titles on their respective systems, but they’re also among the most influential games ever made. Having all these platformers on one modern console handheld hybrid system sounds certainly promising, but how do they hold up in comparison to other games out on the market today? Is this really the best way to play these three classics? Have they been obliterated by time? Of course they all still hold up exceptionally well, but there are some upsetting answers to be found. Veterans and newcomers of Mario’s three-dimensional adventures will be rather pleased though by what is being offered in Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

3D All-Stars is a great best-hits package that can sometimes skimp out on features and upgrades, but it’s simply exceptional nonetheless.

Taking it all the way back to the past, 1996’s Super Mario 64 still holds a candle to many of today’s modern platformers as it flaunts its rebellious spirit through open environments and selective mission paths. The Nintendo 64’s shining star is just as good as you’ve heard or remember it to be. Despite some of its troublesome camera rotation and weird analog movement, the first three-dimensional Super Mario title still lives up to that high standard you would expect from a Nintendo release. Even after all these years, Super Mario 64 still comes out on top as the king of its generation.

There are plenty of cleaned-up trimmings, including new textures and user interface icons sprinkled here and there that benefit the original game’s noticeably aging areas throughout it’s latest rerelease. In comparison to its bundled successors, however, Super Mario 64 received the short end of the enhanced stick. While I certainly won’t say that Super Mario 64 was utterly cheated out on receiving the gleaming treatment it deserves, in comparison to something like Rare’s remasters of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, Bethesda’s recent DOOM 64 port, or even just the other games within 3D All-Stars for that matter, Nintendo’s fifth-generation golden goose has disappointingly been adapted to Switch, to say the least.

Not only is the game not in widescreen like the other titles, but the framerate is still capped at 30 frames per second. Nintendo has created an authentic experience for those looking for the same adventure players witnessed when this groundbreaking masterpiece initially hit the public, but that does not mean these features could not have been optional. Considering Super Mario Galaxy is running at 1080p, sixty frames per second, surely Nintendo could have gotten the more primitive Nintendo 64 title up to that pristine quality.

Revisiting 2002’s summer vacation to Isle Delfino was a tear-worthy experience for me that one could say was fludding with nostalgia. I am not going to lie, Super Mario Sunshine was one of the very first console games I ever owned and it is still one of, if not my all-time favorite titles out there. However, ignoring my deep-rooted connection with the GameCube, objectively speaking Sunshine may perhaps be the Mario game that benefits the most from this compilation. Not only does the game look fantastic in widescreen format and high definition like the other games, but that extra field of view increases Delfino’s sense of scale and vision. It is truly incredible how well some of Nintendo’s earliest library of sixth-generation titles hold up visually despite being almost twenty years old.

The biggest concern longtime fans of Super Mario Sunshine will have going into this collection is how the control scheme would function. As someone who has played through the GameCube release dozens of times, I can happily confirm that Nintendo has done a fine job porting the game over to Switch. For those who are unaware, Sunshine originally allowed you to dictate the amount of water pressure F.L.U.D.D. would power out depending on how far you held the right trigger in. Due to the Switch’s lack of back analog triggers, replicating the original game’s experience was going to be difficult from the get-go. Nintendo’s solution was to make the character operate entirely on full power mode. This may sound like a major change, but in reality, the old control scheme was merely a feature that was fun to mess around with rather than a game-changing aspect. Outside of the late game’s irritating casino pachislot before the King Boo boss fight, there is no other area affected by the alteration.

While Nintendo’s newest GameCube emulation is surely impressive, it may not be entirely flawless for every perfectionist’s liking. Sunshine does indeed contain some minor faults that can likely be fixed in a future patch if Nintendo ever so chooses to release one. There are two notable quirks that will bother longtime fans although it should be mentioned that these are incredibly nitpicky changes in the grand scheme of things. For one, I noticed that a specific sound effect heard multiple times before timed missions had been changed to an oddly annoying censored beep- way to make El Piantissimo and Blooper racing bother more newcomers. Secondly, during some of the Fluddless missions focused on platforming, textured blocks that players are not supposed to see can appear that indicate an object’s trajectory.

Speaking of trajectories, its time to talk about the outer space adventure veterans probably have the most questions about. To bring this library to a close, we have 2007’s astronomical hit Super Mario Galaxy– the most critically praised game in this entire package, with the highest Metacritic and OpenCritic scores out of these three monoliths. Super Mario Galaxy is definitely the closest game to hit the modern standard of Mario’s latest globe-trotting adventures. When it comes to gorgeously designed landscapes and compact areas to explore, there are times where Galaxy could quite honestly stand toe to toe with Super Mario Odyssey from a distance. On top of this, we have what is arguably the most heartfelt Mario story to date as its beautifully constructed narrative never pulls any punches with its wholesome story entirely told through chapters of short text and subcontext.

Galaxy heavily utilized the Wii remote and nunchuck, but Nintendo is offering players with quite a few ways to now enjoy the title. Both Pro-Controller and Joy-Con proclaimers can breath easy because Galaxy supports both formats. While they may not be as pinpoint accurate as they previously were, the latest control schemes are exceptional. When playing with either of these controller options, you will have to utilize either motion or gyro to move the Luma cursor used to collect star bits, stop enemies, or solve various puzzles. Since the Switch lacks the intricately designed motion controls of the Wii, the developers have smartly mapped the right trigger to reset the cursor to the center of the screen.

The only aspect of Super Mario Galaxy that can often become problematic is when the game is being played in handheld mode, but this really only applies to specific sections of the game. In regards to on the go action, the game’s motion controls have been optimized for the touch screen, however, anyone who has played the Wii release can probably tell why this would not always work efficiently. When it comes to specifically collecting star bits, Galaxy can be a nightmare to try and multitask as you have to either pull your hand away from moving the left stick or inputting basic action commands like jumping. Menus and motion puzzles work great in handheld mode and can even be easier to play at times, but it is odd that the docked and tabletop control schemes can not be used with attached Joy-Cons.

Outside of the core three titles, Nintendo has opted out of including any special modes or features, unlike some of their various other notable anniversary titles such as Kirby’s Dream Collection or even the original Super Mario All-Stars rerelease on Wii. Without the additional extra content that properly commemorates the history of the Super Mario Bros. series, this anniversary can feel dishearteningly shallow as it looks more like a hangout than a massive birthday on the surface. Aside from including each game’s incredible soundtracks that double down as a way to always mix up your main menu experience, there are no art pages, interviews, design documents, or anything significant to glance at in this collection when it comes to additional trincites to awe at.

At the bare minimum, Nintendo could have at least included each title’s original manual for players to browse through, but even that is absent here. Even Super Mario Maker’s physical release came with a special booklet for fans to peruse five years ago. The games are obviously what matters most, but for something made to celebrate such a noteworthy milestone, audiences will definitely be expecting more from a character as iconic as Mario. The Super Mario Bros. franchise has such a fascinating history with a literal ocean of trivia and art worth exploring that you can find across several official artbooks, social media platform pages, and wikis. It is truly a shame that Nintendo did not go the extra mile to include any of this when commemorating 35 years of their mascot, but once again, the games at the spotlight are what truly matters most.

Despite its minor emulation issues and missing opportunities, 3D All-Stars manages to defy three incredible generations in one worthwhile package.

With its outstanding lineup of three masterclass generation-defining titles, Super Mario 3D All-Stars exceeds in a value rightfully way above its retail price tag as it bundles together three incredible journies into one package. Whether it is your first time getting to know Mario’s fantastical world or you are coming back to relive your childhood memories, this is a special title that offers some of the finest platforming adventures the red plumber has embarked on. Outside of the fact that it is literally a limited-time release, Nintendo’s latest anniversary best-hits extravaganza is well worth running out to purchase. If you have not played Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy, you owe it to yourself to experience every one of these games.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is indeed lacking in bonus content to make this truly feel like a shebang worth celebrating, but its three games keep the entire party from ever being less than exceptional. All three games included still remain tremendously entertaining as they prove to excel upon the passage of time. Perhaps it is not the grand superstar it could have potentially been, but it will put a huge smile on any veteran or newcomer’s face as they explore Peach’s castle grounds, take on a thwarted island vacation, or skyrocket into the cosmos that have brought decades of enjoyment to audiences of all ages. Collect your coins and get it while you can or begin plotting a Bowser-like scheme to score a copy in the distant future.

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PAX Online: ‘Unpacking’ and ‘Infernax’

Our PAX Online coverage continues with a game the calm and relaxing Unpacking and the not-so calm and relaxing Infernax.

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Unpacking and Infernax

Our PAX Online coverage continues with a game that takes a hated activity and somehow makes it relaxing and another game that will leave you clenching your buttocks.

Unpacking

Unpacking game

Platforms: PC
Release: 2021

As someone who is coming fresh off of moving just a little over a month ago, you couldn’t have blamed me for being a little skeptical going into what was dubbed a “zen puzzle” game based on the final stretch of the process. Unpacking is just that, though. It’s a calming, almost therapeutic exercise that happened to serve as a wonderful way for me to unwind at the end of a day.

Unpacking is exactly what it says on the tin. There are no scores, no timers, no leaderboards, just you, and a few boxes with various items in them that need to be placed somewhere. The demo starts with a single bedroom in 1997. There’s nothing in the game that tells you where something should go, only your own taste and intuition; a locked diary would probably go in a desk-drawer while a soccer trophy would probably be displayed on a shelf.

As I slowly unearthed items one-by-one, I gradually got a feel for what the room’s new inhabitant was most likely like. The endless supply of stuffed animals implied someone of younger age while the numerous art supplies indicated someone inclined to right brain thinking. It’s rather engaging to learn about this person’s life purely by their belongings.

Every item taken out was like a delightful surprise and would sometimes even make me feel a little sentimental such as when I took out a small device that was clearly a Tamagotchi. More importantly, Unpacking nails that sinking feeling of when you feel like you’ve used all your available space but still have boxes left. Reaching the point of just throwing stuff wherever it fits is such an immediately relatable feeling that I was almost offended. And that was only for a single bedroom!

Unpacking game

The demo’s second stage was a little more involved with a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen in the year of 2004. The hilarious moments of finding a boot in your kitchenware box or a bra with your toiletries also felt like a call-out to my own hodge-podge packing methods. It’s something I can’t help but let out an exasperated chuckle at.

It was also neat to see how this person has grown since their earlier abode. Much fewer stuffed animals but more art supplies and a brand new computer imply this character is maybe entering the working adult world. I’ve never actually seen this character, but I can’t help but feel a connection to them already, and that was only after two moves. The full game will have eight total moves to follow them through and I am genuinely curious to see how our nameless and faceless protagonist grows throughout them.

Now if only unpacking in real life could be this soothing.

Infernax

Infernax

Platforms: PC
Release: TBA

Some players may recognize Berzerk Studio for their excellent 2018 bullet-hell, rhythm game Just Shapes & Beats. Coming hot of the heels of that hit they immediately pivoted in the new direction with Infernax, a delightfully edgy 8-bit adventure platformer that takes cues from old-school Castlevania titles.

Our hero returns to his land after a successful crusade only to find it overrun by horrible monstrosities in every which direction. With nothing but mace in hand, he sets out on a quest anew to rid the land of the undead filth. Immediately apparent upon starting is just how tightly the game controls; anyone fond of earlier NES titles will feel right at home with Infernax. I quickly got a handle on my exact attack reach down to the pixel and began mowing down the zombies in front of me. It emphasized how much joy a game is possible of eliciting from simply a jump and attack button.

Getting to that proficiency is important too because the game doesn’t waste any time in taking off the training wheels! Even the base enemies shaved off half my HP if I got careless and that difficulty ramped up at a rapid rate as new enemy types were introduced at a decent clip such as flying evil eyes and jumping rodents. Not only do these foes burst into tasty experience points and gold to be spent on upgrades, but also into extremely satisfying fountains of blood.

Infernax isn’t particularly shy about turning up the gore factor, but it’s still impressive by just how creative they get with it using simple pixel art. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you are killed. Every single enemy type has a unique kill animation when they deal the final blow to our hero. From the chump ass pillbugs to the big bad bosses, all of them mutilate you in a different way and it’s honestly morbidly mesmerizing to witness. It made me want to suicide against every enemy I came across just so I could see what creative way they took my life.

Infernax

Depending on your playstyle you might not want to do this, though, as Infernax features two different ways to respawn when you die. Hardcore respawn sends you all the way back to your last save point, just like in those classic NES titles. Casual respawn lets you restart right where you left off with no loss in progress, but choosing to do so locks you out from Hardcore the rest of the game. It’s a sort of mark of shame that I was glad to wear during the demo after I came up against the final boss and promptly got my ass handed to me. It sounds a little cheeky on paper but is actually very consistent with the game’s overtly edgy tone.

Infernax feels like a game that was lost to time during the NES era and is just now being rediscovered. Those looking for for a game that harkens back to the simplicity of the olden days need not look any further.

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Games

Indie Games Spotlight – Going Full Circle

We’re featuring five exciting indie games in our latest spotlight, including the internship roguelike Going Under and the cozy puzzles of Lonesome Village.

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Journey of the Broken Circle

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we highlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming independent games. Summer may have come to a close, but that hasn’t stopped big announcements from rolling in. With events like PAX Online and the recent PlayStation 5 Showcase flooding the web with announcements, trailers, and gameplay footage, there’s been a constant deluge of news to keep up with. With so much coming on the horizon, we’re spotlighting five exciting indies that you’ll be able to play sooner rather than later. Whether you’re in the mood for a brutally addictive action game or a cozy adventure and social sim, there’s bound to be a game that speaks to you in this spotlight.

Moving Up Professionally in Going Under

Work is its own payment in Going Under. In this action game from developer Aggro Crab, you’re put in the shoes of an unpaid intern who must explore the endless ruins of failed tech startups while fighting off the monsters that spawn within them. It’s hard work to do without a single paycheck—but hey, at least you’re gaining valuable experience!

As a former unpaid intern myself, the writing in Going Under certainly resonates with me and it’s sure to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever felt underappreciated or overworked. Its vibrant and colorful 3D graphics, as well as its satirical story, only make it all the more enticing. It really should offer a great working experience when it hits all consoles and PC via Steam on September 24.

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Fill in the Gaps in Journey of the Broken Circle

Something’s missing in Journey of the Broken Circle. Like its name would suggest, this puzzle platformer follows a Pacman-like circle with a hole to fill. It wanders through a world that is whimsical and existential at once, searching for a companion to fill its gaps. As the circle rolls through ethereal environments, it encounters different shapes to use that allow for new gameplay mechanics.

Journey of the Broken Circle might be about an abstract shape, but in its quest to become whole, it strives to capture the human experience. It promises to be an intimate experience that clocks in at about five hours to complete. If you’re interested in getting this ball rolling, it’s already available now on Switch and Steam.

Prepare to Get GORSD

There’s a delicate balance between unsettling the player without being outright scary. GORSD treads the line here as a one-hit-kill shooter that stars humans encased in the skins of octopuses, dragons with human faces, and nightmarish environments. Something feels off about GORSD, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting.

Brought to life with detailed pixel art, GORSD supports up to four players who can face off in chaotic matches in varied arenas. It also features a full-fledged single-player campaign with a vast overworld with dozens of unique stages. Its concept is inspired by its developers’ native Southeast Asian cultures, making for a unique gameplay and aesthetic experience. If you’re ready to dive in and see it for yourself, it’s available now on all consoles and PC via Steam.

Get Ready For a Foregone Conclusion

Saying Foregone is a 2D Dark Souls would be cliché, but accurate nonetheless. It’s a hardcore action game where you’ll fight against insurmountable odds to prevent monsters from overrunning the world. It has a brutally addictive gameplay loop—its difficulty may be excruciating, but because it offers a wide assortment of abilities to leverage, it’s immensely euphoric once you overcome the challenges before you.

This beautiful 3D/pixelated hybrid action game has been available on PC in early access since February, but at long last, it’s seeing its full console release in October. It’s been a promising title ever since its pre-release days, and now that it’s finally seeing its complete iteration, there’s never been a better time to dive in and give it a shot. It’s hitting all platforms on October 5, so there’s not long to wait!

Finding Good Company in a Lonesome Village

Mix Zelda with Animal Crossing and you might get something like Lonesome Village. This newly-revealed puzzle adventure game features Zelda-like adventure in a hand-drawn world populated by animal characters. Players control a wandering coyote who stumbles upon a strange village and decides to investigate its mysterious happenings by interacting with villagers, solving puzzles, and exploring its dungeons.

It’s more than a simple adventure game. In addition to puzzle-solving, you’ll interact with Lonesome Village’s eclectic cast of characters to forge relationships and unravel brooding mysteries. It’s showing plenty of potential with its cozy gameplay loop, and if you want to give it a shot, check out its official demo from its Kickstarter page! It’s already been fully funded in less than 24 hours, but if you want to help the developers out even further, consider contributing to their campaign.

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