[EXPRESSO] Congo’s Caper/Joe & Mac 2 SNES | Sun Wukong Upon A Star

Ah, yes, the three inescapable truths of life: death, taxes and SNES caveman platformers that somehow you didn’t play or knew existed, like todays’s Congo’s Caper, just recently rereleased on the NSW Online subscription/retro apps.

This one it’s a bit more recognizable than stuff like Prehistorik Man, as it’s basically a spin-off of the Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja series by Data East, but also the second game in the series, since it was actually sold as Joe & Mac 2 in Japan and PAL regions.

And i kinda get why, as Data East also recycled some characters from the mainline Joe & Mac series, like the devil or the first stage t-rex boss , and the controls are similar, as it retains the high jump, but not the weapons, as you use only a small club to attack.

The more distinctive feature is the player character turning back into a monkey if hit, and regaining your human form with a red crystal (Mario style), with the ability to enter a “super saiyan” invincibility state too, you’re a half-monkey man after all.

Controls are actually pretty smooth, arguably better than the original Joe & Mac, the new protagonist has some new abilities like hanging from vines, so it should be better…. and it arguably is, it’s definitely more polished, has a lot more levels, BUT it’s too easy for its own good, it’s fun, but it lacks challenge, and the level themselves are very short, while also not providing anything you haven’t seen (or heard, as some of the sound effects are pretty much “ripped off” of Super Mario World…. or its sound libraries) done better in terms of level design.

So it’s not a bad game, but a decent one that could have been potentially quite good.

Shame, really.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season One) (2022) | Ragtime Round

Unlike many videogames to animated series adaptations, Cuphead having his own Netflix show makes some sense, given its aesthetic molded after the style of 1930s cartoons, why not make a cartoon using the characters and the retro-aesthetic?

I’m gonna say this now so we can move on from it, but yes, i really wanted the team to opt for a full proper rubberhose style animation, but that would have required a fuckton more time and money, and honestly the animation is pretty good, with some episodes even mixing live-action sets, and overall i gotta say it delivers on the presentation.

The voice acting is on spot in terms of accents and lingo too, the character designs and mannerism are perfect but in terms of content it’s a bit uneven because it doesn’t really go all the way to imitate the source material, i mean, you expect a lot more in terms of guns, cigars and gambling, but nope, it’s kinda mild and forgettable.

It also basically ignores the plot of the videogame it’s based off, instead going for mostly episodical…. mundane adventures. Yeah, Cuphead owns the Devil its soul… but that goes ultimately nowhere, and the writing it’s uneven, as some episodes do manage to work in a musical number, some good jokes and a good rhytm to the slapstick, others feel like they exist to waste time and deliver cheapo jokes that come off as too modern.

The Cuphead Show it’s an odd case of a series stuck in between a cheapish low effort animated comedy and a tribute to 30s style cartoons, so ultimately it’s just kinda there, inoffensive, fairly short and easy to binge, cute but just with not much of substance going on under its “borrowed” aesthetic.

A second season has already been greenlit, regardless. Mh.

Slower-posting and maybe rubric resurrections

Thought over this for almost a month, but in order to improve the quality of reviews and my physical-emotional status (i also have a full-time job and didn’t stop working aside from during the first wave of the pandemic, for some prospective), from February on there will be a post and/or review every 2 days instead of daily.

This will hurt my stats and views, obviously, but i’m pretty much burnt out, and some extra time would also be spent in reviving the old platformers rubric i had on my italian blog time ago, Platformation. Really would like to, but i need to write out some rules, quirks and whatnot, consider what to feature on there, etc.

Now i got an X-Box One, ho ho ho

Yes, for a change there are now some reviews you can expect from me since i got hold of an X-Box One X on the fairly cheap, though i do emphasize the “SOME” as there’s not really much to collect for this console, even if you’re a collector and mostly play-collect physical copies on consoles.

Sure as hell it’s more doable than getting a PS5 before 2023 for me, so look forward to some of the…very few notable X-Box One “esclusives-identifiable” games over the year!

On a unrelated tangent (which i forgot to mention two days ago), i won’t be reviewing Scream V as i honestly never watched the series, for various reasons not worth explaining here, i’m not even sure i will watch this one, at all.

Tomorrow we’ll start again with the full length reviews, too, so look forward to it!

Kirby Star Allies NSWITCH [REVIEW] | Brainwashing Stars

While we wait for the first 3D Kirby game (affectionately dubbed “The Last Of Kirby” by me of now) to launch next year, let’s talk about the last main installment in the series, 2018’s Kirby Star Allies.

The Kirby series is arguably the most traditional of Nintendo’s portfolio.

Kirby is Kirby, and the developer, Hal Laboratory, believe that Kirby is Kirby because it’s simple, it’s traditional, and it’s accessible, especially regarding the main series and it’s main genre, platformer. We have seen interesting spin on the formula with Kirby Mass Attack, Canvas Curse and it’s Wii U sequel, Kirby even had small rhythm spin-off, an entire spin-off dedicated to fighting, a pinball spin-off, and even a racing game. Each, even a “battle royale”. Kinda.

But Kirby is mostly a series of platforming that are charming as they are incredibly traditional and fairly easy for experienced players, but fun, wholesome and entertaining regardless, in fairly typical Nintendo fashion, so the formula is the same each main installment, but there are new systems layered on top of the basics.

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[EXPRESSO] Contra Returns iOS | Better than Rogue Corps

This isn’t technically new, since it has been available in China for years, but i guess someone at Konami woke from their slumber and figured out they didn’t release it westward yet.

I mean, this is the same company – among OTHER things – that wanted to release 3 Silent Hill games in the same month, cancelled a project involving Junji Ito, Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro, and keeps embarassing itself even with the few things it still peddles as videogames, instead of pachinko and/or slot machines.

Who the hell knows.

And i wanna stress that, because i’m almost surprised by how this is actually decent, fun even, and furious since Konami decide to release that abomination of Rogue Corps and ask full price for it, when the older free-to-play mobile game by chinese developer Timi was miles better.

Sure, it looks cheap, the art direction it’s kept familiar to the Contra bombast even if you can still kinda tell it was handled by a chinese team (as in, it’s solid but kinda generic), but it’s actually proper Contra devoid of bullshit (like overheating mechanic for weapons in a shooter)), and it’s actually playable enough with touch controls, while it supports (and plays better with) gamepad.

There’s the gacha, the power level bullshit and all the upgrading n equipping and shit that comes as standard with the mobile free-to-play model to get you hooked and all the usual crap we fully expect from this business model.

It even leans big into the nostalgia for the olden days, but it actually backs it up on the gameplay department, nothing great in terms of level designs, but considering the trappings of being on mobile and free-to-play, Contra Returns it’s definitely fun enough to waste some time on it.

Didn’t expect that.

[EXPRESSO] Jelly Boy SNES | Europlatforming Of Old

Figured i’d check in with the SNES and NES online measly offering and see if some obscure back catalogue title dropped while Nintendo forgot to say it or did but we didn’t care.

And Jelly Boy is indeed one of those titles you might have gone your entire life without knowing about as it blends perfectly into the humungous pile of platformers of the 90s, and only came out in Europe, to boot.

So, it’s one of those 16 bit platformers that wanted to jump on the bandwagon, so it has a Sonic style health system, and often very tight time limits for the levels…. which i guess were made to make it feel more like Sonic when it’s otherwise a more linear “europlatformer” of british descent starring a humanoid shaped jelly in baby pink that can morph in various shapes, including a duck… when you duck, so the game has a sense of humour.

The main issue is that you have to find jigsaw pieces hidden in the level to unlock the zone’s boss, bu beating bosses only nets you item needed to finish the game, but to actually enter the next zone/world you have to find out first that there’s a hub area to access each world’s map, and you need to find a key in each zone to access the next one.

The game doesn’t tell you about any of these, most likely on purpose to sell guides and avoid people from easily beating it while renting it in the day, even more because just the first world it’s so obtuse. Once you know what the hell you’re supposed to, the game is actually decent, looks good , has a lot of levels, i’d say it’s worth a play by platformers buffs…. with a walkthrough on hand.

Medievil PS4 [REVIEW] | Re-re-remaking The Past

While not what you would call a system seller, if you ask anyone growing up in the 90s, Medievil will probably come up in the discussion, so ingrained this little, beloved series of action platformers in the Playstation brand and overall legacy, despite remaining a cult/nostalgia sensation.

Though, when i say series, i mean the PS1 original (still available as digital PS1 Classic release on PS3 and Vita), Medievil 2 exists, but it’s mostly forgotten by the internet hivemind/consciousness, and this isn’t even the first remake of Medievil, as there’s a PSP port, Medievil Resurrection, with upgraded graphics that also changes some of the story, adds new features and remove others.

This is more of a remaster than an actual remake, a complete technical re-built but with minimal changes to gameplay and controls, very few modern concessions, all in order to offer a faithful recreation, for best or worst. Because as much as i like Medievil, this remaster/remake also works as an interesting litmus test of where bringing back the 90s, and – expanding the question – appealing to the nostalgia market eventually leads.

At least without going into the unholy effects of meming fuckin Bubsy (and Shaq Fu) unto life again, we’ll visit these forsaken lands of excrement and death, but not today.

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Do NOT buy the Kao The Kangaroo Trilogy on GOG

Yeah, this article isn’t timely, but i wanted to get around to it eventually, and eventually here we are.

Earlier this year, GOG re-released all the original Kao The Kangaroo games as bundle for 6 bucks, and since i was actually waiting for a re-release of the first and third games, as i’m a platformer buff and these are getting hard to find, i immediatly bought them, especially with a small discount to 5 bucks.

But sadly GOG really dropped the ball on this re-release of a niche and forgotten platformer series from polish developer Tate Interactive, especially as it wasn’t released before in its enterity. Kao 2 is basically the same as the enhanced Steam release, and it was also released on PS2, so there’s really not much to say.

The problems come with the other two games, the ones most people bought the collection to play because they didn’t before. The original Kao The Kangaroo game was released on both Dreamcast and PC at the time, so of course the GOG release ignored the version WITHOUT tank controls, and released the PC one.

Good idea for a 3D platformer game, good idea.

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Putty Squad PS4 [REVIEW] | Blob In Time

Ah, yes, the lost Amiga platformer that wasn’t really lost at all, and even released on Super Nintendo in 1994 (not be confused with the SNES port of the first game, Putty, retitled “Super Putty” because Super Nintendo naming conventions), but was tauted as “reborn” for the PS4.

Yeah, this was a launch title, not that surprising, this is System 3 we’re talking about, i remember distincly them putting Super Fruit Fall on the Wii at launch, at full price, because why not?

Does it merit full MSRP? No. Doesn’t matter, since we’re putting it out when there’s bugger all to even play for the console. System 3 have been one of the cheapest UK publisher around for decades, and they’re still around, even if they mostly put out videogame pinball collections, some “HD” port for modern consoles of their old internal-developed MS DOS titles like Constructor.

And yes, they tried selling this one again on Switch, with the “Super” monicker slapped on, though, if you want a retail copy you might have to import it from the EU region.

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