By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Live(ish) From The Games Shop. I was content to keep complaining about the lack of releases again, because unsurprisingly this is another barren week. However, a bright shining star was released on Friday, escaping last week's column. So I'm going to gush about that, then give you a couple of quality download titles you can take a look at along with this month's slate of PlayStation Plus and Games With Gold freebies.
Shovel Knight, is a 2D platform adventure game from the folks at Yacht Club Games. Comprised of former Wayforward Technologies employees, Shovel Knight was an enormously successful Kickstarter project that had the studio pull in $311,502 well ahead of its original $75,000 dollar budget. The titular Shovel Knight, is on a quest to free the land from the Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter and bring peace to the land. The pixelated art style is lovingly rendered to look like a classic NES game, but beware because the difficulty can be classic NES hard too.
Gameplay falls somewhere between it being the lovechild of Mega Man and DuckTales, with really tight controls and combat. Shovel Knight features a colorful world and cast of characters, in game achievements, an upgradable Shovel Knight, and a metric ton of unlocks coming up as patches including alternate playable characters. They also had Jake Kaufman and Manami Matsumae compose the soundtrack, which should excite you because Matsumae worked on Mega Man 1, 2 and 10 with Kaufman doing music for modern revivals like Contra 4. I'm kind of in love with this game right now, and look for a review soon. Shovel Knight is available right now on the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Steam.
Have you been missing twin stick shooter? Been itching for something like Geometry Wars? Well why not give Beat Hazard by Cold Beam Games a try. While on the surface Beat Hazard appears to be an ordinary twin stick space shooter, its biggest bullet point is its unique soundtrack. I say unique because your music library provides it, the stages are based on music files pulled from your PC then used to procedurally generate a level. Go ahead and try a 30 second song, or an episode of Jordan, Jesse, Go!, they all work with the gameplay. Beat Hazard boasts a pretty much unlimited amount of levels based on your mp3 collection and has added internet radio support, survival mode, co-op, and a leveling system. Beat Hazard is available on Steam and other download services and has an Android and IOS version available too.
Do you like adventure games, but not have the time to sink hours into them? Developer SOS has the answer with their 20 second adventure game, McPixel. McPixel centers around solving one screen puzzles in 20 seconds, with multiple different ways to finish the scenario, if you're unable to do so, you blow up. With a decidedly retro art style, catchy soundtrack, and 100 levels to complete McPixel isn't short on content. McPixel is available on Steam and other download services as well as Android and IOS versions.
A new month means new free games if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, so here's your monthly release calendar. PlayStation 4 users will get the pixelated battle arena game, Towerfall Ascension and the fantastic reboot of Strider. PlayStation 3 users do battle with the dead in space, in Dead Space 3 and indie puzzler Vessel. PlayStation Vita gets Vanillaware's beautiful Muramasa Rebirth. PlayStation Plus users also get a sweet cross platform deal with Doki-Doki Universe, the quirky puzzle game is cross buy on all PlayStation platforms and can import progress across all three consoles.
Xbox Live's Games With Gold program gets the terrific Mexican wrestling/Day of The Dead themed Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition on Xbox One. Guacamelee! is a very well made Metroid-Vania from Drinkbox Games and well worth the free admission. In the not so great news for Xbox One, it's really the only new free game you'll be getting as Max: The Curse of The Brotherhood stays free for another month. As for Xbox 360 from July 1st to July 15th you can download Gotham City Imposters, the team based Batman vs. Joker first person shooter. The end of the month looks like the real treat with 360 getting The Behemoth's theater based performance platformer, Battle Block Theater.
In a bit of housekeeping news, console versions of Rebellion's Sniper Elite III are available on the home consoles this week, including a collector's edition that comes with a tin case, playing cards, and a range target, along with some extra DLC bits. It was also brought to my attention that the Wii U edition of Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark did release with the other versions last week. I haven't heard good things about it overall and you should also be aware the Wii U version doesn't have co-op escalation mode the other versions have.
By the time you read this the Steam Summer Sale is over, I hope everyone picked up something they can enjoy for the month, because July's calendar, much like June's is pretty empty. I'm still pretty stoked about Shovel Knight, I'm really looking forward to getting deeper into that. I've also finally dug into the Saint Row IV DLC and was reminded how fun and demented that game is, it's really tempting me to go back and play Saints Row the Third again. You can check out some of the other things I do for Bleeding Cool, like giving donuts to creators at conventions. I also do a recap of the newest issue of the Walking Dead every month in Typing on The Dead. For everything else you can contact me on Twitter @John_Laryngitis where I answer everyone who tweets at me, so come and say hello, I don't bite.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from New Jersey's coast who loves retro styled games. Tell him your favorite retro remade, demake, etc on Twitter @John_Laryngitis