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‘Shantae and the Seven Sirens’ Review: Half-Genie, All Magic

Shantae and the Seven Sirens is at once the most streamlined and most ambitious Shantae game yet, making it easily the best in the series.



Developer: WayForward | Publisher: WayForward | Genre: Metroidvania | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Apple Arcade | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Much like the hips of its eponymous belly-dancing half-genie protagonist, the Shantae series is prone to shaking things up. Each game in WayForward’s iconic series of charming Metroidvania has put its own distinct spin on the formula, to the point that the last mainline entry, Half-Genie Hero, was hardly a Metroidvania at all. Shantae and the Seven Sirens bucks this experimental trend, however, by taking the very best mechanics from the rest of the games and putting them together in one glorious package. It is at once more streamlined and more expansive than any Shantae game before it, focused single-mindedly on everything that makes Shantae great while cranking its ambitions up to 11. There’s no two ways about it: Seven Sirens is easily the best in the series yet.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens sees Shantae and her friends taking a break from saving the world to enjoy a tropical vacation on an exotic island, where Shantae enters a festival for half-genies like herself. But before long, catastrophe strikes and all the other half-genies vanish, leaving it up to Shantae to venture into the massive sunken city below the island to find her friends and face the mysterious Seven Sirens.

As is typical for the series, Seven Sirens’ story isn’t too deep or grandiose. You won’t sit around in lengthy conversations discussing complex lore or deep character development; instead, it’s a briskly paced romp to defeat the Seven Sirens and rescue the half-genies. At the same time, that means that it doesn’t provide much context for new players. The game assumes familiarity with its cast of primary characters and their relationships to each other, so series newcomers might feel a bit lost at first. However, these characters are far more charming than they are complex, so it likely won’t be too difficult for players to get up to speed and get engaged in the storyline. The narrative does all that it needs to do: it introduces new characters and sets up an all-new adventure, and it does so with all the charm and humor that has made Shantae so beloved over the years.

Shantae on stage | Shantae | Know Your Meme
This gif alone makes Seven Sirens a 10/10

Where the story does get more ambitious, however, is in its presentation. This is evident even before you see the title screen, as it greets you with its gorgeous animated cutscenes, a first for the series. These short clips are used sparingly throughout the adventure and rarely last more than a few seconds, but they go a long way toward making each major story beat feel that much more impactful and make the world of Shantae feel grander than ever before in the series.

For its equal amounts of polish and ingenuity, Shantae and the Seven Sirens could easily rank as one of the finest Metroidvanias on the market.

And what a world it is. Shantae and the Seven Sirens returns to the beloved Metroidvania formula of the earlier games and executes it masterfully. Seven Sirens hardly holds your hand throughout the adventure—you’re set free to fully explore the island surface, and the sunken city beneath it, within the first five minutes of the game. As is typical for its genre, your world starts exceedingly small, but as you gain new power-ups and abilities, it gradually unfolds itself and offers its secrets for the discovering. This engenders a constant sense of exploratory euphoria by enabling you to make discoveries without ever pushing you directly, letting every achievement be solely your own. The world is designed with remarkably little fluff–as expansive as it is, it also feels streamlined such that every hallway, every crevice, and every room feels significant, as if they each hide treasures of their own.

And in the midst of world exploration, the dungeons are a special highlight as they also make their grand return after being absent in Half-Genie Hero. They’re filled with light brainteasers, platforming and combat challenges that task you to make the most of every tool in their arsenal. Even if the Sirens that await at the end tend to be underwhelming boss battles at best, dungeons nonetheless go a long way towards offering up new kinds of exploration gameplay.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Streamlined execution ensures that Shantae’s new abilities make the gameplay even faster and more dynamic

Shantae comes equipped with a whole roster of brand-new abilities to learn in Seven Sirens. Animal transformations and dancing abilities both make a return from previous entries in the series, but their implementation is brilliantly streamlined this time around. Shantae can transform into different creatures to aid in her exploration of the world, and these transformations simply require a single one-button command to execute. You can dash through the air as a newt with a single click of the shoulder button, or drill through the sand by simply pressing down, for example. This simplicity ensures that abilities make the gameplay even faster and more dynamic, a far cry from the elaborate, momentum-stopping dances required for transformations in previous games.

Dancing, meanwhile, plays a more nuanced but important role. This time around, dances function to summon genie spirits to support you, whether that be by revealing hidden platforms, shaking the earth, or zapping everything in the room with a bolt of lightning. They can feel a bit unbalanced, however: some of them are easy to forget about, whereas others (like the lightning dance) feel extremely overpowered–being able to wipe out an entire room of enemies at little cost ends up trivializing some combat encounters, especially later in the game.

The most significant gameplay addition is the Monster Cards, which can be collected from fallen monsters and equipped to grant Shantae specific status buffs, such as eliminating damage taken from spikes or increasing the effectiveness of certain items. However, if you prefer to keep Seven Sirens free of such RPG-lite elements, then you’re never directly required to use them. That being said, their upgrades add a much-welcome element of strategy to the game and their collectible nature adds a nice incentive to keep exploring the world to find them all.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Bringing the World to Life

Better yet, this world is inhabited by Shantae’s typically charming cast of characters. Some are series mainstays like the adorably mischievous Squid Baron, whereas others (like the eponymous Seven Sirens, or Shantae’s newfound half-genie friends) are entirely original additions to the cast. New or old, every character is infused with the series’ signature brand of slightly off-color yet strangely wholesome humor, where dancing can inspire hope “that transcends even strict content age ratings” and where the mysteries of the ocean are described as “the Mom and Dad’s room of water.” If the gameplay somehow doesn’t hook you, then the characters likely will.

The ultimate cherry on top of all this is the presentation, which is similarly glamorous. Screenshots don’t do it justice, as the graphics might seem like only a slight upgrade from Half-Genie Hero when viewed as images, but in motion, the game is smoother than Shantae’s dancing prowess. Characters have extremely fluid and lovingly designed animations that make every enemy and NPC vibrantly spring to life. The luscious character portraits shown during dialogue are similarly beautiful, shimmering with artistic splendor that really accentuates the series’ signature anime-inspired art direction. It’s technically solid as well–I reviewed it on Switch, and even there it had rock-solid performance and sharp visuals.

The music is the only slight blemish on this presentation. While Jake Kaufman supplied the iconic tunes for the previous games, his work is absent from this title, and it shows. Much of the soundtrack adopts a strangely chiptune-inspired sound, which certainly isn’t bad in its own right, but feels somewhat out of place compared to the lush modern graphics. There are still a handful of standout songs, but for the most part they fail to live up to the standard of high production values and catchy tunes set by previous games.

Her Best Showing Yet

But such a small complaint can hardly detract from the merits of this relatively substantial adventure. It took me just over nine hours to see the ending credits, yet that was without fully exploring every room or collecting every item. I had only 60% completion when I beat the final boss, so I could easily imagine a few hours being added to that run time.

Even then, those nine hours flew by, as the game was a joy from beginning to end. What makes it feel so remarkable is how seamlessly and elegantly it cuts to the core of what makes Shantae, and, by proxy, the whole Metroidvania genre, so special. Its world is streamlined yet packed with constant opportunities for discovery, its dances and transformations make Shantae a more versatile hero than ever, its personality is as distinctly silly as it’s ever been, and its presentation is second to none. For its equal amounts of polish and ingenuity, Seven Sirens could easily join the ranks of indie darlings like Hollow Knight as one of the finest Metroidvanias on the market.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens puts on a remarkable show: it manages to incorporate everything that worked from the previous games while polishing them up and making them even better than before, while leaving out the few blemishes that tarnished their prior reputation. It’s a glorious celebration of everything that makes Shantae great, and even newcomers will be able to appreciate its fine-tuned gameplay, sharp sense of humor, and gorgeous visuals. Shantae’s been dancing for nearly two decades now, but with Seven Sirens, she’s offered her very best performance yet.

Campbell divides his time between editing Goomba Stomp’s indie games coverage and obsessing over dusty old English literature. Drawn to storytelling from a young age, there are few things he loves as much as interviewing indie developers and sharing their stories.



  1. John

    May 26, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    My heart sank when I read Jake Kaufman wasn’t involved in the music. I still want to try it though.

    • Campbell Gill

      May 26, 2020 at 7:53 pm

      I get that. It’s definitely disappointing, but there’s still some nice music in the game. The Armor Town remix of We Love Burning Town is solid, and some of the dungeon themes are pretty pumping (Sea Vent Lab is my personal fave).

  2. Jeremy

    May 27, 2020 at 1:40 am

    What platform did you play on for the review? I don’t see that info in the review. Did I miss it?

    • Campbell Gill

      May 27, 2020 at 11:48 am

      Thanks for pointing that out, and I’m sorry I omitted that detail. I reviewed the game on Switch. I’ll edit that in!

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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.



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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Game Reviews

‘AVICII Invector Encore Edition’ Review: Rhythm and Melancholy

‘AVICII Invector: Encore Edition’ is a music and rhythm game perfect for newcomers and fans of the genre.



AVICII Invector Encore Edition Review

Developer: Hello There Games | Publisher: Wired Productions | Genre:  Rhythm | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

In terms of a pure adrenaline rush, nothing tops a well-designed rhythm game. Good rhythm games let players feel a euphoric sense of flow and even excitement. But the best the genre has to offer taps into the heart of music itself. AVICII Invector Encore Edition is a rhythm game perfect for newcomers to the genre but also works as a moving tribute.

I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

Whether it’s tapping buttons in time with the beat, smashing feet on a dance pad, or moving an entire body in front of an IR camera, rhythm and music games have always been popular. AVICII Invector Encore Edition takes inspiration from music games that came before it but stands firmly on its own. It’s wonderfully accessible, truly a music game for anyone. From diehard fans of the rhythm game genre to people who are simply AVICII fans who also have a console, Invector checks a lot of boxes.

Levels across AVICII Invector play largely the same. The player picks a track and a difficulty level, and is off to the races. They control a slick spaceship moving forward along a track, and must tap or hold buttons as the ship passes over them. This “falling jewel” style has been popular from the Guitar Hero franchise and beyond, but Invector finds ways to make it feel unique. The art direction is breathtakingly stellar, taking players on far-out trips through cyberpunk-esque cities and crumbling pathways. There are even portions of each level where the player can steer their spaceship Star Fox-style through rings and around pillars to keep their point multiplier up.

Invector feels like it’s trying to affect as many sensory inputs as it can. Though Encore Edition is fully playable on handheld mode on Switch, Invector shines brightest on a big screen with a thumping sound system. The neighbors might get annoyed, but who would hear them complaining?

Tracks are divided up by worlds, with four to five tracks each. Worlds must be cleared sequentially, by scoring at least seventy-five percent on each level in that world. While this may sound initially restrictive, Encore Edition gives players access to two extra worlds with five tracks each right out of the gate, so players have plenty to play with at the start.

There are three difficulties available, and each mode offers a different experience. For players who just want to experience AVICII’s music in a low-stress way while enjoying amazing visuals and ambiance, Easy mode is the way to play. Anything above that amps the difficulty up significantly, with Hard mode escalating the required precision to an unbelievable degree. Building up a competitive high score can only be achieved by hitting multipliers and keeping a streak going. At higher difficulties, Invector feels challenging but exhilarating. Scoring above ninety percent on any difficulty mode above Easy feels extremely good, and the online leaderboards are the perfect place to boast about that achievement. During high level play, earning a high score feels transcendent.

Worlds and levels are strung together with brief, lightly-animated cutscenes. It’s a slim justification for a rhythm game, but they’re better than nothing and provide just enough context to keep things interesting. AVICII Invector is both visually and aurally pleasing, but even if the player isn’t a diehard fan of EDM or House music, there is plenty to love.

This world can seem cold and grey
But you and I are here today
And we won’t fade into darkness

AVICII Invector is a truly fantastic rhythm game. But it’s also more than that. It is impossible to play Invector and not feel a twinge of melancholy. The game is a tribute to a hard-working perfectionist, but the man behind the music had his demons. Though the visuals are enticing and the gameplay electric, it is difficult not to feel sad from the opening credits. It is to Invector‘s credit that all throughout, the game feels like a joyful celebration of Tim Bergling’s music. It is a worthy tribute to a man who revitalized and reinvigorated the EDM and House music scene.

At the end of the day, almost every aspect of AVICII Invector reflects a desire to connect. For players connected to the internet, global leaderboards are a great opportunity to share high scores. Invector is much more forgiving than Thumper or Rez or even anything in the Hatsune Miku catalog. Players can cruise through this game on Easy mode if they want, and they won’t be punished. The Encore Edition even includes a split-screen multiplayer, which is fantastically fun.

In his music, Bergling worked across genres to expand what pop music could look like. With Invector, music lovers and players of nearly any skill level can have a pleasing experience. In video games, that’s rare, and it should be celebrated.

According to publisher Wired Productions’ website, all music royalties from AVICII Invector Encore Edition will support suicide awareness through the Tim Bergling Foundation.

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Game Reviews

‘Tamarin’ Review: Monkey Trouble

Like Yooka-Laylee before it, Tamarin flounders in its attempts to recreate its source material for a more modern audience.



Tamarin Game Review

Developer: Chameleon Games | Publisher: Chameleon Games | Genre: 3rd Person Shooter/Platformer| Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC | Reviewed on: PlayStation 4

You have to be of a certain age to recall a game like Jet Force Gemini. One of Rare’s one-off titles of the N64 era, like Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini never earned itself a sequel but was a fun sci-fi adventure for its time. It’s this same energy that Tamarin, from Chameleon Games, attempts to channel.

Made up of former Rare staff, the folks at Chameleon Games are almost certainly the best team to make an attempt at rekindling such a long dead franchise with their spiritual successor. However, as can be the case with retro throwbacks, sometimes it’s better to ask whether you should bring back an older style of gaming, rather than if you could.

As we’ve seen with games like Yooka Laylee and Mighty No. 9, it often seems that the idea of an older game or franchise being resurrected for modern audiences is better to imagine than to actually play. While the occasional Bloodstained does come along to buck the trend, more often than not we get a game which is too faithful to its sources to make a mark or too different to rekindle that old love and nostalgia.

All of which is to say that Tamarin, while very faithful to its inspirations, never quite hits the mark that brings it to the next level. Part of this is the natural aging process, particularly of the first era of 3D platformers and adventure games which spawned on the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. While many of the games of that generation packed in endless hours of fun, so too have many of their mechanics aged terribly.

Tamarin Game Review

This accounts for Tamarin‘s weakest point, which is undoubtedly its combat. The shooting sections of the game, while channeling another Rare franchise that balanced cuteness with cartoonish violence, are just so mechanically terse that they drag the game down egregiously each time they crop up.

Like with Jet Force Gemini, players will spend much of Tamarin battling troubling insectoid enemies that threaten the peace of all of civilization. Also like the game which was such a clear inspiration for Chameleon, Tamarin brings back the clunky 3D aiming reticle. Not only is the shooting janky here, it feels downright unwieldy when you first get your hands on a firearm.

Though players can get the hang of it with a little effort and some reworking of how they see shooters, there seems to be little point in doing so. Tamarin‘s braindead AI and sparse few enemy types make combat feel like much of an afterthought to the experience, despite how central it is to progressing through the game.

To be fair, Tamarin does also bring some of the good from its spiritual forebear. The gradually growing arsenal of laser guns and rocket launchers does feel fun to play with, and the game is peppered with plenty of upgrades for the guns along the way. Sadly, then another of the Space Invaders style mini-games will pop up and derail things all over again.

Yes, there is a strange reference to yet another long gone gaming franchise here. Unlocking certain doors requires players to start from the center and aim the analog stick around firing at hovering, shifting rows of bugs. Again, it feels very unwieldy, and by the end most players will simply settle for spinning the analog stick wildly while firing with the machine gun for maximum ease.

Fortunately, more successful are the platforming sections. Making up the other side of Tamarin‘s coin, is a game more inspired by Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country 64 than anything else. As players travel through the outside world, gathering collectibles and gaining new abilities as they go, Tamarin shows much more variety than its combat sections.

With clear cues marked on the terrain to denote which areas require upgrades or new abilities to traverse, Tamarin is generally able to point you in the right direction across its world, though a map or minimap would help matters considerably. Though the game is split into many separate areas, they often look so similar that it can make the game hard to navigate and harder to remember where previous markers were for exploration. Even a rudimentary map feature would make this far less of an issue.

Alas, the exploration flounders on occasion as well. Jumping sometimes feels a bit too flighty and can even break the game at times, allowing players to jump off of surfaces they shouldn’t be able to normally. Further, the need to hold down a button and press another to grab certain collectibles is totally unintuitive and is another feature that seems to be more or less pointless.

As such, for all of it’s cute mascot spiritedness and lovingly attributed influences, Tamarin ultimately falls short in bringing back some of the best franchises of yesteryear. Though the effort is a valiant one, Tamarin, hampered by the flaws of the games it attempts to emulate, is just too clunky in its execution.

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