SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated

SpongeBob in front of his pineapple house

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is coming to Android and IOS on January 21st. The game was initially released for PC and major consoles in June and July of last year. This is actually a remake of the original Battle for Bikini Bottom, which was released in 2003. Updates from the original game include a multiplayer mode, cut content from the original, and updated graphics. This remake was published by THQ Nordic and developed by Purple Lamp Studios. Reviews for the game have been across the board, but the remake is sure to bring nostalgia to fans of the older SpongeBob games.

SpongeBob running from robots
Robots make up the bulk of the enemies in Battle for Bikini Bottom.

Are ya Ready Kids

Battle for Bikini Bottom is a 3D platformer. Most of the gameplay consists of collecting various items and destroying evil robots created by Plankton. You can play as SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy in these levels. Each one of these characters have their own abilities too. As the trio travels across Bikini Bottom, they encounter plenty of giant robot versions of classic SpongeBob characters. These giant robots make up many of the enemies in the game’s boss fights. There are also several other classic characters from the show that make an appearance in the game. You can also go to many of the show’s most iconic locations.

SpongeBob fighting King Jellyfish
Giant robots aren’t the only bosses that SpongeBob and his friends must face.

Aye Aye Captain

What’s changed from the 2003 version? Not much outside of higher-end visuals and modern resolutions. However, there is now an offline and online horde mode that lets you play with a friend. You can choose from a wider set of classic SpongeBob characters and fight against hordes of robots. You can play as Gary, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Robot Plankton, and the singleplayer characters. This game is a family-friendly classic that tries to appeal to both the original audience and a younger generation of gamers. Retail price for PC is $29.99, but the mobile version will only be $9.99.

#SpongeBob #Classic #Remaster

Flea

Flea is an indie game released by the one-man studio Lowtek Games on October 30th 2020. Alastair Low ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a platforming game that would support a physical NES release. The NES was originally released in 1983 by Nintendo and changed the gaming industry as a whole. Having been a huge fan of NES games when he was younger, Low wanted to create a new game that would run on his favorite old console. Alongside the Flea physical NES cartridges that have been produced, you can also buy physical discs for the SEGA Dreamcast or download the game on Steam. All in all, this is a very unconventional 2020 release with a fun backstory behind it.

Flea uses other bugs as enemies, like mosquitoes.

Back to the Basics

Flea is a 2D retro platformer. It’s a relatively simple game where you play as Henry the Hyperactive Flea. Henry jumps around and navigates enemies that take the form of different types of bugs You also collect blood in order to complete the levels. There are a total of 80 levels with plenty of interesting characters in the game. Characters include the Fleadom Fighters, Humflea, Taiflea, and the Itchhiker to name a few. This game doesn’t bring much innovation to the table, but that’s the point. Flea attempts to entertain the player by bringing them a classic video game experience straight from the 80’s.

Nostalgia Galore

Like many of the games that appeared on the original NES, Flea can be very challenging. Although certain levels might be brutally difficult, there is enough fun to be had so that most fans of retro games will be able to get through to the end. Flea is $10 on Steam but it’s 50% off until January 5th at noon. If you’re a fan of retro platformers, then consider giving Flea a shot.

#Indie #Platformer #NES

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is set to be released for PC and next-gen consoles some time in 2021. It’ll be the first game in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Produced by the Ukrainian company GSC Game World, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is a dark horror game set in an open-world environment with first-person shooter combat. Set in a fictional timeline of the Chernobyl disaster, the player explores the wastes of the “Zone”. The Zone is where scientists conducted vile experiments that went horribly wrong after the nuclear explosion. The game is filled with characters and mutants that will keep the player on edge. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is the fourth game in the critically-acclaimed series and it has been nearly twelve years since the most recent release. This new game will be the biggest by far and will run on a much better engine.

a ferris wheel
The Zone has a very creepy and eerie feel to it.

Disaster at Chernobyl

Like the past titles, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 faces the player with a multitude of major decisions to make as they play the game. There are many different endings for the game, all of which are determined by the choices that you made. The game also has a high replayability, as every playthrough will have different events unfolding in the world. GSC Game World wants the Zone to feel like it’s alive and moving all the time. Not only do you directly impact the fate of the Zone, there are special events that will impact it as well that might be out of your control. Altogether, the state of the Zone can end up being wildly different by the end of two different playthroughs.

strange mutants in tanks
You’ll find very strange things in the Zone, including mutants.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is Back

Just like the older games, you will play as a brand new character in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. Playing as Skif, you are one of the stalkers. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stands for Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers and Robbers. They’re people who’ve come to the Zone to exploit it for financial gain. They hope to find precious treasures and artifacts that have been abandoned in the dangers of the Zone. Some stalkers work alone while some stalkers band together into factions. As a stalker, you’ll be pit against humans and mutants alike. The first-person perspective helps make the player really feel the situation that their character is in. The fear of what might be behind a corner is amplified and you really are nervous about what’s going to happen to the character. If you’re a fan of horror and having control of the narrative, be on the lookout for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 in 2021.

#STALKER #STALKER2 #Horror

Hades

Hades logo

While an undeniably challenging year, we can at least remember some of the great games that came out in 2020. Hades, already out on PC and released on the Nintendo Switch last September, was one of these games. Hades won IGN’s Game of the Year Award. It also won Best Indie Game at The Game Awards 2020. It was produced by SuperGiant Games, known for the successful indie title Bastion and a few others. Hades is a rogue-like dungeon crawler. This means that every time you die in the game, you start all the way at the beginning and start your journey again. However, the game is different every time you awaken. Plus, there are loads of powers, weapons, and abilities that will unlock themselves as you get farther with each run through. Hades also features a fully voiced set of characters that tell the game’s story. The art is beautiful and the gameplay is well-designed. Hades has a lot to offer.

Dialogue from the player's character
Every character in Hades is beautifully hand-drawn.

See you in Hell

You play as the Immortal Prince of the Underworld, Zagreus. The game takes lace in the mythological ancient Greek underworld of Hades. It’s you’re goal to escape this world and ascend to Mt. Olympus with the gods. But it won’t be easy, as there are countless waves of monsters blocking your path. As you attempt to escape, again and again, you’ll meet many characters. Some will help you on your journey and some will not. There are well known gods like Athena and Zeus. There are even strange underworld gods like Thanatos and Chaos. You can also find classic Greek heroes like Achilles.  Hades also features powerful bosses with strange motivations. The game’s story is slowly unraveled as you meet these characters and uncover all that this game has to offer. There are thousands of unique story events and no two runs will ever be the same.

gameplay screenshot
In Hades, no two runs will ever be the same.

Time to Go Get Killed Again

Hades is a dungeon crawler. Whenever you enter a new area, you won’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side. It could be a room full of ghosts, you might get to speak to a Greek God, or it might be a giant monster. The spontaneity of each run motivates you to keep trying to make it through the entire world, no matter how many times you die trying. You’ll want to meet every character. You’ll want to slay every enemy. But most importantly, you’ll want to keep on playing. Hades earned its accolades for a reason, so give it a try if you like dungeon crawlers. It’s 20% on Steam until January 5th.

#Hades #SuperGiant #Indie

Transformers: Battlegrounds

Transformers: Battlegrounds was released on October 23rd for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. It’s published by Outright Games, known for publishing family-friendly games across a range of titles from Ice Age to Adventure Time. Transformers: Battlegrounds is an XCOM-styled strategy game. The player controls a team of up to six autobots that include fan favorites like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. In each fight, the player will battle decepticons in turn-based combat using coordinated strategy. The game also features an overarching story about the hunt for the allspark and the fate of the universe.

Optimus Prime
The player can take control of a range of classic autobots.

Autobots, Roll Out

Transformers: Battlegrounds features an original story with a familiar plot. Megatron is invading the Earth in his hunt for the allspark and the autobots need to stop them. The battles will take you to maps across the Earth and the transformer planet of Cybertron. On Earth, fights will unfold in desserts, forests, cities, and even Cybertron itself. Plus, each controllable autobot has a unique Ultimate ability to be unleashed when their Energon meter is full. After you complete the story mode, the game also features local multiplayer. You can team up with a friend and play in co-op mode against the decepticons. Or, you could go head-to-head in battle against each other.

Screenshot of battle between transformers
Different autobots have different specialties in combat.

Fights against the Decepticons

Transformers: Battlegrounds features 3 difficulty modes to facilitate fun for players of all ages. The digital deluxe version include four skin packs and Cube mode. Cube mode is a capture-the-flag styled battle where the autobots and decepticons fight for the control over the allspark. All-in-all, Transformers: Battlegrounds is straight-forward in what it provides to the audience. If you enjoy the XCOM series or are a fan of turn-based combat, then you might enjoy this game. It’s definitely unlike any other Transformers game released in the past.

#Transformers #Battlegrounds #Outright

Stellaris: Console Edition

Stellaris: Console Edition is releasing the MegaCorp expansion DLC on January 26th 2021. This is the third expansion pass released for the console edition. This expansion adds giants corporations into the world that can help build giant megastructures and facilitate booming populations. Originally released for PC on May 9th 2016, Stellaris is a grand strategy game set in space. Your goal is to explore the universe and steadily grow your galactic empire/republic/nation. Stellaris: Console Edition was released for Playstation 4 and Xbox One on September 6th 2020. The game provides the player with a wide variety of personalization options for their galactic civilization. You choose what your alien race looks like, where they live, how they think, and how they survive. Whether you want to play as war-mongering bird people or trade-faring plant creatures, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who went down the same road as you. Like most of Paradox Interactive’s games, there is a steep learning curve. But once you figure out a successful strategy, there’s an endless amount of fun to be had with the game.

Screenshot of the game's map
The galaxy is filled with alien empires to be conquered or befriended.

An Infinite Universe

The player isn’t the only one with a unique civilization. Every time you play, you’ll experience varied and unique species. This will make every player’s galactic journey different. Stellaris features an expansive diplomacy system where you can communicate with the different species that you encounter. The types of diplomatic options that you have with each species can vary based on technological, cultural, and other factors.  Plus, the galaxies in the game are procedurally generated. This means that you’ll see different planets, stars, quests, races, and events every time you start a new game. No two playthroughs will ever be the same. Because of how different each playthrough can be, Stellaris has a high replayability value.

Screenshot of a space battle
When diplomacy fails, war will follow. Space battles might unfold between two galactic empires. There are also battles against giant space-traveling monsters as well.

Galactic Conflict

Stellaris features beautiful 3D models and artwork that keep the player excited to continue exploring distant galaxies. You might find a cute alien race that wants to be your friend or you might find a terrifying alien race that wants to devour your people. Or you could even find a cute-looking alien empire that wants to blow your home planet to bits. As you build up your own empire, you’ll see it all. Beyond the alien races, there are also beautifully crafted spaceships that are unique to different species classes. Humans, insectoid aliens, and plantoid aliens all fly in very different looking spaceships. Each species has its own personality beyond the statistical bonuses and drawbacks for each species. They don’t just play different, they look and feel different. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and strategy games, then consider giving Stellaris a try. But be prepared for a learning curve when figuring out how to manage your galactic empire.

#Stellaris #Paradox #Strategy #Space #Sci-Fi

Jump Force

Ichigo Kurosaki

Jump Force has recently revealed Yoruichi Shihouin, from Bleach, as the newest DLC character to be added. Originally released by Bandai Namco in February of 2019, Jump Force is a crazy idea for a video game. It takes almost 60 characters (with the DLC) across all the most popular Shonen Jump mangas and has them battle it out in a fighting game. The game also features a unique story story mode. You create your own character that can blend elements from your favorite characters across different series. This game can answer the age old question amongst anime fans. “Who would win, Goku or Naruto?”

The Statue of Liberty sank into the ground on Namek
Jump Force also offers a range of fun maps.

Anime Overload

This game somehow feels like it has a ton to offer, yet not enough. The best part of the game would have to be the extensive roster of playable characters. The game features characters from Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, DragonBall Z, One Piece, My Hero Academia, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and multiple other franchises. Plus, Jump Force continues to add new characters to the roster through DLC to this day. This is possible because all these titles are published under the Shonen Jump name. Creating your own character can also be quite fun. When you consider that you can pull together apparel and abilities from different series at the same time, you can make some very entertaining and unique combinations. Jump Force does have a real issue though, and that’s what to do with this great roster.

Character customization screen
You can make a pretty wacky character when you combine elements from two really different franchises.

To Go Even Further Beyond

While it’s fun to see each character perform their moves and occasionally transform into a more powerful form, this will get old without riveting gameplay or an entertaining narrative. Unfortunately, the story mode is bizarre and the plot is very hard to follow. It’s unlikely that the game’s story will deeply connect you to your own character. Beyond that, the actual fighting in the game tends to get old after playing for a while. Considering the $90 retail price of the deluxe edition, the game isn’t usually worth the price. The deluxe edition doesn’t even include the second character pack. However, the game is currently 75% off on Steam and is often included in steep sales on all platforms. This price is far more reasonable. For anime fans and fighting game lovers, Jump Force might be a great addition to your collection… if it’s on sale.

Naruto To Boruto: Shinobi Strikers

Shinobi Strikers logo

Yesterday, Bandai Namco revealed the newest DLC character to be added to Shinobi Strikers. Naruto Uzumaki in the Sage of Six Paths mode from his fight against Kaguya will be available to players in 2021. Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers was originally released on August 31st 2018 and is still the most recent video game title from the Naruto universe. It is also the first in a long line of video games to allow you to create your own unique Naruto universe character. One of the primary draws of the DLC is that each new added character provides your unique character with new apparel to wear, weapons to wield , and moves to learn. This lets the player combine the abilities and attributes of all their favorite characters into one powerful ninja of their own. This new feature combined with the team-battle gameplay sets Shinobi Strikers apart from past Naruto titles.

Naruto Uzumaki in Sage of Six Paths mode fighting Sasuke Uchiha
Shinobi Strikers continues to pump out DLC characters over 2 years after its release.

Believe It

Shinobi Strikers is very unlike previous Naruto games. Not only are the game’s new features unique to this title, there are unfortunately some classic features that are stripped. For example, Shinobi Strikers has no narrative or story mode. There isn’t a scripted adventure for your character to go on. Rather than developing an elaborate single-player experience, Shinobi Strikers focuses on multiplayer. Players are expected to individualize themselves by fleshing out their playstyle. Whether you want to use a unique character or a character from the anime is up to you. Gameplay consists of 4 vs. 4 team matches where players go head to head against each other on a relatively large map. Each character in the game is given a special role. There are Attack, Ranged, Healing, and Defense characters. A well-balanced team would develop a strategy to make proper use of all these roles. Players can also enjoy different game modes. These include flag battles, base battles, and combat battles.

The character creation screen
A unique character in Shinobi Strikers can use almost any major weapon or ability that makes an appearance in the anime.

The Ninja Way

Much like the DragonBall Xenoverse series and Jump Force (both produced by Bandai Namco) Shinobi Strikers wants to generate excitement for its players by letting them create their own character that utilizes elements from characters in an existing universe. This lets the player live out the fantasy of what their own original character would be like. However, unlike Xenoverse and Jump Force, there’s no story arc that comes with the character creator. So if you don’t really enjoy the gameplay, you probably won’t feel like you got your money’s worth after purchasing this game. The DLC does add great content. There are plenty of new characters and loads of new customization options for your character. But these can get pricey at $30, $30, and $15 for each season pass on top of the $50 base game. If you’re a fan of Naruto and you enjoy co-op fighting games, you might really like Shinobi Strikers. But if you’re looking for a fighting game that has a narrative, look elsewhere.

#Naruto #Boruto #anime #ShinobiStriker #BandaiNamco

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Despite its original release being all the way back on March 20th, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still one of the best-selling games this holiday season. This is Nintendo’s fifth Animal Crossing release in the main series. New Horizons is the best selling Animal Crossing game by far and the second-best selling game on the Nintendo Switch console as a whole. In this iteration of Animal Crossing, the player purchases a deserted island from Tom Nook and slowly makes it their own. Over the course of 2020, Nintendo has also provided multiple free updates that have expanded the game’s content.

Screenshot of the menu open for crafting
As the player collects more items, they can personalize their island through crafting recipes.

Your Own Island

What’s the goal of Animal Crossing? Well… to have fun. You can collect various items throughout the island and use them to customize your space. You can also build structures and furniture. The core gameplay revolves around doing tasks, interacting with the characters, and customizing your island and yourself. The game doesn’t explicitly spell out  how to play in a linear fashion. The player is expected to make the island unique to themself. As the game progresses, them will meet more animals and find more opportunities to grow the community that they’re building on the island. There are plenty of ways to interact with the island, too. Players collect items in different ways, from fishing off the island’s coast to gathering fruit from the island’s trees. The game is meant to be low-stress and relaxing.

Screenshot displaying the Halloween update
The game motivates players to check in during special times of the year, like Halloween.

Dedicated Community

Considering how long Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been towards the top of the charts for the Nintendo Switch, it’s no surprise that the developers are still working on free updates for the game. There were numerous additions to the game based on calendar events. These events added new places to visit, new events to participate in, and new items to acquire. There were events centered around Nature Day,  May Day, International Museum Day, Wedding Season, Halloween, and more. These updates keep the game fresh and encourage players to keep checking in on Animal Crossing after they’ve put it down for a few days. Free updates are a great way for developers to show that they care about the game’s community. We’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo does with Animal Crossing in 2021.

#Nintendo #Switch #AnimalCrossing

STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II

Darth Nihilus

Star: Knights of the Old Republic II was released yesterday for IOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play. Originally released for PC in 2004, this game is the sequel to the original Knights of the Old Republic game that also inspired the widely enjoyed Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. KOTOR II is an RPG that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. You can control if your character goes to the dark side or the light side. You also control which This game takes place about 4,000 years prior to the events of the original Star Wars film. This means that, despite the vast changes that have occured in the Star Wars universe’s canon since the game’s release, it can still fit into the greater Star Wars story.

Companion selection screen
There are several companions to pick from on your adventure.

Fulfill your Destiny

The original KOTOR games are filled with choices that help to shape the game’s story. As a former Jedi who’s been exiled from the Jedi order, your ship is attacked by Sith assassins. Your journey starts there and takes you all across the galaxy. You can choose your gender, what you look like, what you wear, what weapons you utilize, what force abilities you focus on, and even which companions you want to develop the closest bonds with. This game is loaded with the potential for the player to choose how they want to experience the story. Plus, that story is excellent. It’s especially excellent for a Star Wars fan. Even though none of the characters from any film make an appearance, the allure of a lightsaber, the force, and the battle against good and evil is as thrilling as ever. The writing is terrific and the voice actors are passionate about the story that they’re a part of. Like its predecessor, KOTOR II does an excellent job at sucking you into the game’s world.

The player using the Force to electrocute enemies
The force can be a powerful weapon.

May the Force Be With You

The combat system in KOTOR II is the same as it was in the original game. It’s a third-person RPG with a Dungeons &  Dragons styled dice roll system. Every attack that the player, a companion, or enemy makes has a dice roll behind it. This roll might determine critical hits or misses. You can shoot enemies with blasters, slice them with a lightsaber, or even use one of the game’s many force abilities. You use strategy to come up with the best way to take down your enemies as you level up. There are many different types of enemies that you could expect to find in Star Wars. KOTOR II will pit you up against killer droids, alien monsters, dangerous thugs, and even Sith lords. There is so much content in the game that it usually takes about 50 hours to play through the game. All in all, the App Store’s $14.99 price tag is well worth it. If you liked the original KOTOR, make sure you play the sequel. If you haven’t played the original, pick that game up too! It’s only $9.99 on the App Store. Both games are classic RPGs that go down as some of the best in the genre.

#STARWARS #KOTOR #RPG #IOS