Retro Video Game Collecting

Because every game is eventually retro.

Category Archives: "PlayStation 4"

Hot Steamy Fun | SteamWorld Heist

Posted on 6 June, 2016  in Current-Gen Reviews, Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita

SteamWorld Heist HD

KAPWINGGG!!! (Credit: Image & Form)


I just love the story of developer Image & Form.  After a modestly-selling mobile title and the muted response to a Nintendo DSiWare release, this group of plucky Swedes decided to put everything on the line for one last, everything-or-nothing attempt at a commercially successful game.  The result was the brilliant, wonderful, critically-acclaimed, and best-selling SteamWorld Dig.  If you haven’t played it, please do — it’s available on just about every platform.


Anticipation was high for a sequel.  I was particularly excited, as SteamWorld Dig was (and still is) one of my favorite games of this generation.  I wanted more of its procedurally-generated mining / platforming / puzzle goodness!  So I was a teeny bit apprehensive when I&F announced its next game would not be a true sequel, but an entirely different genre of game, set in the same universe.


My fears were wholly unfounded.  SteamWorld Heistout today on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC — proves Image & Form’s success with Dig was no fluke.  It is a phenomenal game in its own right, and an experience made all the richer for its collection to the ever-increasing SteamWorld lore.



Heist is a little bit difficult to fit neatly into any particular genre, and that’s what makes it so great.  It’s a turn-based strategy game at its core, but it isn’t an RPG at all.  Heist looks and feels a bit like a platformer, but at a much more deliberate pace.  It gives the player plenty of time to think and plan ahead, while keeping a tense atmosphere of near-constant danger.  SteamWorld Heist does all this while presenting itself in a charming, beautifully-rendered 2D package, wonderfully scored by the beloved indie rock band Steam Powered Giraffe.  (I can attest to their popularity — the line to meet them at A-Kon here in Dallas last weekend was two hours long!!!)


In SteamWorld Heist, the player controls Captain Piper, a steam-driven robot space pirate, and her motley crew of renegade automatons, in their fight against diesel-powered robo-punks, a tyrannical robot kingdom, and another mysterious force.  Piper’s band boards various enemy spacecraft — most of them randomly-generated — and fights off robotic fiends, while scooping up loot, weapons, and other goodies.


Here’s the hook: instead of the typical run-and-gun action found in many games of this ilk, Heist implements a turn-based system of battle.  Each robot has a limited number of spaces they can move per turn, during which they can also aim and fire their various weapons at enemies.  A few guns come with helpful laser sights that will show the expected path of the bullet or missile, as well as any subsequent ricochets the ordinance will undertake.  Most weapons lack this feature, so careful aim is a must to hit one’s target.  Adding to the challenge: these ‘bots don’t have the steadiest of hands, so the player must time shots just as the firearm’s barrel is squarely aimed where desired.  On top of that, various ammunition types may arc, spread, bounce, or even cause “friendly fire” damage to allies.


It sounds complicated, but the designers did an excellent job of making it easy to learn without an overbearing tutorial.  After a few simple missions early on, the challenge picks up steadily — but it can always be adjusted between missions.  Even beginners are accommodated with a “casual” setting.  And if you find the going gets too tough later on, you can go back to earlier stages and grind some experience, thanks to a nifty level-up system.  I spent many hours happily grinding away, to better prepare my crew for the teeth-gritting final chapter.


I have only one minor criticism of the game; there is no reward for skill shots, trick shots, or any other methods of dispatching enemies.  While the animations are lovely and frequently quite funny as bad ‘bots collapse or explode, and we do get some “bullet time” slowdown with particularly tricky shots, no bonus is provided.  The game even tells you this in the occasional on-screen hint, reminding players that there is no score given for kills.  If nothing else, I would have liked a “instant replay” of great kills that could be uploaded to the internet in some way, but that’s really a luxury and doesn’t detract from the game’s value at all.


Skilled players can probably complete SteamWorld Heist in under ten hours.  As you can see in my screen-grab here, I spent considerably more time with it — not just grinding, but working to improve my scores.  Each mission has a star-rating system, a little bit like Angry Birds, judging the player on how well they completed objectives while keeping everyone in the crew intact.  I’m not often a completionist, but the random nature of missions (most starships have a different layout each time) and the seriously addictive gameplay kept me coming back.


Today’s launch of SteamWorld Heist on PlayStation and PC platforms comes with optional paid DLC, already available on the 3DS.  I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I urge you to play through the standard campaign first, as the DLC may be a teensy bit spoiler-y.


Image & Form assures us SteamWorld Heist is also coming to Wii U and Xbox One, so you won’t have any excuse to play it if you don’t have one of the above options.  And remember to try SteamWorld Dig, too!



SteamWorld Heist logo


SteamWorld Heist


  • PLATFORMS: Nintendo 3DS; PC; PlayStation 4; PlayStation Vita
  • PUBLISHER: Image & Form
  • DEVELOPER: Image & Form
  • RELEASED: December 10, 2015 (3DS); June 7, 2016 (PC, PS4, Vita)
  • ESRB RATING: E 10+
  • FRANCHISE: SteamWorld
  • DESCRIPTION: Randomly-generated turn-based strategy action platformer geometry physics shooter with robots
  • WHO WILL ENJOY THIS: Fans of strategy, action, humor, well-crafted indie games, and robots
  • WHO WON’T ENJOY THIS: Anyone with a short attention span, lack of patience, and fear of robots
  • SIMILAR TITLES: Angry Birds; Advance Wars; SteamWorld Dig


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Target Knows its Call of Duty Audience

Posted on 11 November, 2014  in PlayStation 4, Random, Xbox One

A Target in-store display featuring Doritos and Mountain Dew with Call of Duty branding

Dudebro fuel.


This week, Target brings back its annual pre-holiday sale on video games — buy two, get one free. A few guys in line ahead of me were getting Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare as part of their haul, no doubt reminded by this helpful display.

Best Buy is having a sale as well, with buy one, get one half off for most Nintendo 3DS titles. In both cases, you might want to take your chances at your local stores, as the online storefronts offer somewhat slim pickings.




The Xbox One Price Cut: What Does it Mean For Wii U?

Posted on 27 October, 2014  in PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox One

Left: an Xbox One with Kinect and controller; right: a Wii U and GamePad

Credit: Microsoft / Nintendo


This week, Microsoft announced a holiday season discount on Xbox One, slashing the price of no-Kinect console bundles to $350. It’s a very good deal, and a shot across Sony’s bow heading in to the crucial Christmas sales season.


You’ll do doubt recall Nintendo threw a little pre-holiday Hail Mary of its own last year at about this time, knocking $50 off the price of admission for its slow-selling hardware, and even throwing in a free game or two. But even the price cut and the debut of the acclaimed Super Mario 3D World didn’t do nearly as much to increase the Wii U user base as hoped.


So what, if anything, does this have to do with Wii U? Microsoft has been working all year to please gamers who have been on the fence about which new-gen console to purchase, dropping mandatory Kinect and achieving price parity with the best-selling PlayStation 4. This latest move puts a bit more pressure on Nintendo to improve its own value proposition, but perhaps not all that much.

A quick survey of top retailers (Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart and Target) shows a number of new Wii U bundles at around $300 each — several with at least two games included. The system already has a decent-sized library after two years on the market, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is just weeks away. It’s a good time to buy.


But Xbox One has an insurmountable edge over Wii U when it comes to most gamers, and that’s blockbuster third-party titles. Pretty much everything multiplatform title that’s being released for PlayStation 4 is coming to Xbox one, so the price cut brings Xbox One into favorable territory for gamers who aren’t particular to one brand or the other, or who don’t anticipate any must-have exclusives on either system. (Though Sunset Overdrive sure looks like a blast, doesn’t it?)


Inexplicably, Nintendo’s biggest carrot for these core gamers — Super Smash Bros. — is not presently being offered in any sort of official retail bundle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Walmart or Best Buy cook up their own BOGO-type deal to move Wii U hardware, but it seems if Nintendo was planning a price cut or SSB console bundle, they would have had to announce it by now.


I’m a Wii U day-one owner and I’ve been particularly critical of how Nintendo has managed the platform for the last two years. Unless Nintendo answers Microsoft’s smart move and makes the Wii U a too-good-to-pass-up $250 price point right away, I think it will be Kyoto’s way of saying “Meh”. That is, they are resigned to the Wii U being a niche console for the most dedicated of Nintendo fans, a secondary console for well-heeled core gamers, and as profitable as can be with low sales volume and a small install base.


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BREAKING NEWS: Mortal Kombat is Violent

Posted on 14 July, 2014  in Android, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Raiden fatality animation from Mortal Kombat X

Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment


The latest Mortal Kombat title is out, and it’s the 1990s all over again.


But what’s different this time is that even diehard fans, many of whom are longtime MK fans who have relished virtually snapping an opponent’s spine for years — have begun to express dismay at some of the blood-spraying imagery of the game.


Let the mass media hysteria resume.




No MLB2K? No Problem. (Sort of)

Posted on 23 April, 2014  in Android, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox One

Cover image for R.B.I. Baseball '14, featuring Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles

Credit: Major League Baseball Advanced Media


I love arcade-style baseball. Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is one of my all-time favorite Super NES games.  I probably played a dozen complete seasons before the battery died.


I have a couple releases of the MLB2K series for Wii and DS, and they are terrible. I really want a great MLB sim (the last one I played at any length was All-Star Baseball ’99) or arcade-type game. Today, as a non-PlayStation owner, my options for a true MLB sim are nonexistent, and Take-Two has dropped its MLB2K series, so it’s Sony or nothing for fans.


Then along comes Major League Baseball, becoming the first North American professional sports league to publish its own video game. I would be eager to try R.B.I. Baseball ’14, but I don’t own a PlayStation or an Xbox… or an iPhone / iPad. Strike three!


An Android release is forthcoming, so I may check it out then, but a Wii U or 3DS version would be nice. (Not happening.) But I wonder: should pro sports leagues be in the business of publishing their own titles? Would NFL sims be better if the league decided to hire its own dev team and leave EA out in the cold? The NFL already has to approve everything that goes into Madden, so it’s not like we’d suddenly see a bunch of great features removed… or would we? Would an NFL-produced game have no injuries or concussions? Would the league exaggerate the abilities of certain marketable stars at the expense of lesser-known players and teams?


Would an NBA-created game cover player jerseys with advertisements (or, will they require future NBA2K installments to do so, once real jerseys start bearing ads in 2015)?


Would a FIFA-built game include options for accepting bribes, match-fixing and a “flop” button?


It’s very disappointing to me that there are so few options for an MLB-licensed game now.  Baseball feels like it lends itself very well to video games and can be easily picked up by even those without any prior knowledge of the sport, if an “easy mode” is provided.  I suppose this is just the latest symptom of an ongoing decline in the sports genre, brought about in no small part by what amount to $60 annual installments that sometimes amount to little more than roster updates.


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