GripGames recently announced Toxic Games’ physics-based puzzler was heading to consoles. On the heels of the original trailer they have just released another trailer featuring gameplay of what to expect in Q.U.B.E – Director’s Cut on your way to becoming Q.U.B.E Champion.
Q.U.B.E. – Director’s Cut is scheduled for release later this Summer, with no set date as of yet. Be sure to keep checking GameGuideCentral.com for all the latest news and info as well as an in-depth review and achievement guide when the game releases.
The Swapper is a clone based puzzle game from Carbon and Curve Digital. In a story as old as time you play a character that is trying to escape something with no recollection of why you are trying to do it. What is it about puzzle stories and amnesia? The Swapper’s universe is a hub world where you acquire orbs to open doors to get to other hub worlds. There are a large number of puzzle rooms to solve to get these orbs. Your ability in The Swapper is the ability to project up to 4 clones of yourself, all of these clones are linked together, so if you move forward, all your clones move forward also. Even if that would send them off a cliff. As long as the personality you are controlling lives, all the other deaths don’t count for anything which in itself is a interesting ethical and morale question I don’t plan to get into here. But if cloning morals is something you are interested in then by all means go rent the movie The Island, or don’t as it’s not that great. If fact many puzzles require you to eliminate old clones to allow new clones to move forward. “Jerry #325! How you doing down there? Don’t mean to be a bother but can you just go ahead and walk off that cliff and fall to a very painful and final death. Here let me give you a little nudge.” I’m sure Jerry #325 would rather just say thanks for creating me and I’ll just retire to the suburbs and live out my clone life if my services are no longer needed, but no, off a cliff with you.
Cloning for profit
One of the nice features is that each of the hub areas has a number of orbs required to move on and there are more orbs available then needed. So if one room proves too difficult, and for some reason you are not familiar with a little know website called YouTube to get some help, then you can keep going at other puzzles and come back later. And up to the very last area there is nothing from keeping you from back tracking and getting every little secret completed if you so desire. Puzzles ramp up their difficulty at a steady pace with new ideas and obstacles thrown in all the time. There are lights that stop you from making clones, there are lights that stop you from transferring your consciousness to another clone, there are your typical push plates you need to stand on. All of which is made harder because every step you take, all the clones take also. “Ok, Jerry #785 you need to stand on that plate so step forward, oh god. Jerry #854 not you. You keep still. Just what the hell are you doing Jerry #95425658545754?” It adds a nice depth getting everyone at the correct starting spot so each little jump and push ends up meaning all the clones are just where you need them to be. It’s not uncommon to get to a new room and know right away what you are supposed to do and it still taking you some time to figure out how to get the timing just right so that you can actually do it.
Colored beams are about the only color
The areas look nice but besides the colored lights that make up the obstacles the game is a very drab and boring shades of gray. The story plays out as you go through the game in a series of terminal notes that you read and interactions with another NPC that is on their own journey. The actor of the NPC is fine but it’s one of those weird silent protagonist stories that no matter how amazing or horrifying the situation is the hero never says a single word. I can forgive it here as the story to second to the puzzles and the interactions are short and to the point.
Overall The Swapper is a fun puzzler that does some very unique things. The length will definitely be determined by either your amazing puzzle mind or the fact that you leave YouTube open on your computer. And I would say you are doing the game and yourself a disservice if you YouTube your way through The Swapper.
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Steam
Single player, Local Co-op
I’ve heard a lot about Robotron 2084 and just how amazing it is but I am ashamed to say I have never played it. When I first started to play Ultratron I was hearing it was a throwback to Robotron 2084, so that’s got to be a good thing right?
For those of you who don’t know anything (like me) about Robotron 2084 it was a top down twin-stick shooter and Ultraton fits the same mold. Ultratron is extremely fast paced and frenetic in it’s gameplay which pits you against hordes of enemy robots wave after wave.
You start off as a lonely robot with the ability to shoot. As you progress through the waves you get access to more and more upgrades to enhance your destructive abilities. These range from smart bombs and grenades to pets and drones (more on those in a minute). Every time an enemy is destroyed they leave behind dots which can be collected and used as credits to buy the various upgrades on offer at the end of each wave. Along with upgrades that make you more powerful there are defensive upgrades too. You can even upgrade your life count (shields) which have a set price based on how many you currently own.
More upgrades than you can shake a stick at!
As I mentioned briefly earlier, you can buy pets and there are three to choose from; Shooty Pet, Laser Pet and Rocket Pet. They can each be upgraded and leveled up to increase their power and once you own them they cannot die. If they get hit they just stop fighting for you until you walk over them to save them. By the time you have leveled them all up you will be feeling unstoppable. The sheer amount of rockets and bullets flying around the screen by your pets is crazy.
Along with upgrades you can buy, there are power-ups which get dropped by little spiders. Again, there’s an array to choose from and if you decide not to pick them up, they stay there until you do or they get blown up meaning you can stack power-ups making you truly unstoppable for a limited time.
Three times the fun.
Ultratron doesn’t really have a story to follow but unlike most other games, that doesn’t really detract from the experience. In all honesty, any sort of storyline would probably detract from the gameplay and serve more as a slight breather from the fast paced action.
Each chapter is split into 10 waves, the tenth wave being a boss. In each chapter you also get challenge waves to shoot all the spiders, dodge waves to dodge all enemies without shooting them and assault waves for a chance to earn some extra credits.
The boss waves start off quite tame. At the end of the boss wave a massive robot appears slowly moving around the screen shooting you. Obviously the further you go in the game the tougher the bosses get. As an example, level 100 pits you against three of them at once…and it gets manic.
The visuals for Ultratron really suit the game. The 8bit/16bit graphics do it no harm what-so-ever and remember that’s coming from a guy who didn’t play Robotron. The colors really pop and the neon purples for the eyes of the pets etc are pretty cool too. The music is just as good as the gameplay, it fits with the craziness going on screen and keeps you engaged really well.
My only real hang up with Ultratron is the lack of online multiplayer. It does feature a local co-op experience but I didn’t really have anyone to try it out with for a prolonged period of time. What I was able to play it was just as solid as the single player experience.
As far as the achievements go, there are a handful of achievements for stacking certain power ups and upgrades to make super weapons. This requires a bit of planning and careful movements so you don’t accidentally pick up a power-up. Others include beating certain bosses, leveling up your pets and maxing out your shields. There is currently 1 glitched achievement but the Developer’s are aware of this and a patch is incoming. So don’t let the achievements scare you away from this great title.
Ultratron had a lot to live up to considering it was being compared to Robotron, and as far as I am concerned it delivered on all accounts. Although online multiplayer or co-op would have been excellent, there is more than enough going for it to make up for it. Ultratron should be held in it’s own esteem as a wonderfully made twin-stick shooter and it deserves to be mentioned in the same sentences as the best ones out there.
Sparkle Unleashed from 10tons is like Zuma; or Zuma is like Sparkle Unleashed. I don’t know which came first or if it even matters. Sparkle Unleashed is a marble triple matching puzzle game. Marbles come at you in a long row and you need to shoot marbles into the mix, creating matches, before the line passes you by and you lose. There are a 107 of these levels to complete.
I’ll be honest and say when I heard this was coming out my first thought was, “This is going to be a crappy Zuma clone. Play for 5 minutes and then trash it a quick review and move on.” But I was wrong. It’s not going to win any game of the year awards (unless there is a Marble Puzzle Game Monthly and if there is please forward me the subscription information), but when you think it’s going to be a 1 trick pony and the pony actually does 3 or 4 tricks, well your expectations just got blown up by 400%!
Shoot those marbles!
The graphics are exactly what I thought they would be. The marbles are nice and shiny but the backgrounds are dull and static. The music is standard puzzle fare, not something I plan to load up into my iPod and jam out to at the gym. There is a story to all this and it is fully voiced. The story pops up every few levels and is your standard puzzle storyline, something happens to the world and your only hope of fixing it is to shoot marbles!
Every time you complete a series of levels you earn a power-up. Cool things like Fireballs to destroy random marbles and things that will change marble colors for you. The best is that there is a actual tech tree and these upgrades are by your choice instead of just handed out at arbitrary times. There are 6 different paths and 3 upgrades to earn in each path. How you earn the power-ups in game is when you make several matches in a row a power-up will appear. You then need to shoot it to activate it. This adds another level of strategy to as to when you are going to activate a power-up and also that fact that whatever you shoot at it disappears. So if you are on a combo run and a particular color isn’t going to benefit you, you can shoot it at a power-up to get a new option.
Power-ups as far as the eye can see
I am color blind and typically these match 3 games are a pain to figure out. For me especially the green versus yellow marbles. Sparkle Unleashed luckily has a color blind option and the quality of it is impressive. It adds a symbol over all the marbles that is really high quality. I can see a lot of people using this as their default view as it really makes the different marbles pop.
Sparkle Unleashed is a game that is great to just start it up and play a few levels at a time and at a $8 price point it get a recommend from me.
SteamWorld Dig is a platformer by Image & Form that presents itself in a mining game style. The game almost entirely does take place in a series of mines and you do dig a lot but instead of crafting together some new gadget deep in the mines everything is brought back to town and simply sold off for money which you then turn around and spend on new upgrades. Things like longer lasting lights and faster and more dangerous pickaxes.
Some of the MANY upgrades
This is a randomly generated world and the exact location of ore and things like that are completely random to your playthrough. The game plays out over a series of mining shafts, each one going deeper than the last, where your job is to get loot and work your way down through a series of challenge caves. There are 3 main caves per level that provide basic starter upgrades like the ability to run and double jump. There are also a series of challenge caves that provide smaller puzzle environments that reward you with orbs and ore when you complete them.
Overall there are around 10 different enemies that you will encounter. Ranging from small beetles that only move in a set pattern in a set area to explosive drones that seek you out. It’s a nice range or types all with different styles of attack and defense. Nothing jumps out as; wow what an amazing concept for a enemy, all of them have their place and unique abilities.
One of the cool things in SteamWorld Dig is the escalation of speed. The further you go down the mine shafts the harder the ground gets to break up, BUT With some good upgrading and use of your abilities you start to cut through the rock like its not even there. What was once a chore to move your way down starts to feel like a hot knife cutting through butter. This is especially prevalent if you go back to the first area from one of the later stages of the game.
The graphics are very well done. Kind of a 16-bit engine with all the shiny abilities of the ONE thrown on top. Not over the top like a lot of “retro” games are doing, just a nice clean look that is perfect for the game. Kind of a retro robot steampunk. It is called SteamWorld after all.
One of my biggest complaints of all of these dig style games is that it’s fun to work your way down, but always a pain in the ass to get back up. SteamWorld Dig solves this problem with a series of placed teleporters that shoot you back and forth to the surface. A extremely nice addition. On top of that you can purchase unlimited personal teleporters. (One at a time only). These are permanently placed just about anywhere in the world. The kicker is they cost orbs which are a rare resource. Get a little too teleporter happy though and you’ll lock yourself out of some upgrades as the number of orbs in the world is a set number.
A thing to note is the game only saves when you go back to town. So a death in the mine is considered a game over, with a money penalty and load back into town with who knows how much progress lost. It’s important to not only think of town as a place to unload loot and get upgrades but as your one and only save point!
One thing that disappointed me was the opening tutorial was a nicely laid out story mode with interaction with other characters that made me think this was going to have a nice in depth story to go with it. Unfortunately as soon as you get to town everyone turns into a standard merchant NPC and your interaction with them for the entire rest of the game is simply a few lines here or there about what you are up to. It was a let down to see so much promise of story go down the drain so fast.
Town is slowly growing
The overall game is not that long and can be beaten in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. Which there is a achievement for doing that. In fact each playthrough is rated on 4 criteria. You are trying for 0 deaths, over 20k in loot cashed in, over 150 orbs found and doing the whole thing in under 2:30. There is definitely a speed run type mentality to this game with how fast can you clear the areas and with how few upgrades. And although there is a lot of loot, you will really need to scour the entire game and all the bonus caves to get everything unlocked.
Overall SteamWorld Dig is a lot of fun to play. It would of been nice to see the story more filled out but the gameplay and graphics are top notch. Being a single player game it is a little on the short side with a average run probably taking 3 or so hours but the randomly generated worlds give it a fresh feel each time and speed run type gameplay give you something to keep coming back for. For the $10 price tag I fully recommend it.
This is definitely missable. The tough part about this is the amount of Orbs you need. The portal teleporters are 3 orbs each and it’s easy to just keep buying one every time you get to town but be careful you don’t over spend as the top level items can cost 10+ orbs each and most of the minable orbs you find will be 3 orbs.
So the big things to think about are:
1) Deaths cost money. Don’t die.
2) Rebuyables like Ladders, Lamps, Health reloads and Teleporters can eat into your money fast if you don’t keep spending in check.
There is some extra loot out there, but not a whole lot.
You need all of the following items fully upgraded:
– Pickaxe (including both the speed/damage type upgrades and also the base copper/diamond pickaxe style)
– Water Tank
– Steam Punch
Two Kinds of People – 50gs – Complete the game with more than 20000 gold collected in total.
You can see your total every time you turn in ore in town. 20,000 is past max level but she will still let you know how much you have turned in.
Quicker Than a Tumbleweed – 50gs – Complete the game in less than 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Shine on, You Crazy Round Thing – 50gs – Complete the game with more than 150 orbs collected in total.
Just Like Real Life – 50gs – Complete the game without getting killed once.
This one is actually pretty easy if you know the cheat. The game only saves in town or when you acknowledge a death. So when the death screen comes up, just go to your Xbox Home screen and hit Start and choose End Game. Then reboot in and you’ll be at the last save before you died.
Master Prospector – 200gs – Get all four gold stars in the same playthrough.
This achievement is for doing all 4 of the other ending achievements in one run. 20k gold, 150 orbs, no deaths and under 2 hours 30 minutes.
1) Skip hunting for Ore in the first area Archaea, the value is next to nothing.
2) Blast through the main 3 caves and get to Old World asap and only come back for challenge caves when you have some upgrades.
3) Know where your water is! This is super important. Remembering water near a teleporter or main entrance can save you huge amounts of time.
4) Ignore requests to go to town. These conversations are not needed to continue on to the next cave.
5) Hit B to skip all conversations. Time is money so just ignore any talks. Including the ones in the opening tutorial. Just head over to the get the Pickaxe immediately.
It’s a Secret to Everybody – 50gs – Find all secret areas in the caves.
There are a total of 19 secrets throughout the all 3 areas. The video shows all 19 in the order you will probably be able to get them as some require upgrades and you’ll have to return to previous areas
#1 – Archaea – Cave III – 157m
#2 and 3 – Archaea – Cave I – 32m – Need Dynamite to do this early which is also required for the Sequence Breaker achievement.
#4 thru 7 – Old World – Cave III – 415m – Sequence Breaker 2 cave
#8 – Old World – Cave 80 Proof – 306m
#9 – Old World – Cave II – 334m
#10 thru 12 – Vectron – Cave I – 603m
#13 thru 16 – Vectron – Cave II – 690m
#17 – Vectron – Cave with 7 Bulb Light Above It – 788m
#18 – Vectron – Cave with 3 Light Strip – 859m
#19 – Vectron – Final Cave
Rock Bottom – 50gs – Reach the bottom of the world.
The lowest you can go is 871m deep in Vectron. Just run along the bottom and the achievement will pop.
Sequence Breaker – 50gs – Destroy two generators before entering Vectron.
This is missable. How you are supposed to do it is get to Vectron and then get the Double Jump, BUT you can do it before then by the old Quake Rocket Jump, except with Dynamite. The two caves in question are Cave 1 in Archaea and Cave 3 of Old World. Exact walkthrough is in the video below but generally you place the dynamite and then jump right before the explosion to send yourself straight up.
Turtle Soup, Yum! – 50gs – Defeat a turtle submerged in water.
The turtles are the large shelled creatures that shoot out spikes. They always move towards you even if it means falling so you can lead them to water. The easiest location is the first Cave but you need Dynamite unlocked to get it early. This is the in same area as the generator for Sequence Breaker.
Scratching the Surface – 50gs – You found Archaea! (Secret)
This is story related and the first achievement you will earn in the game.
Mythical Creatures – 50gs -You found the Old World! (Secret)
This is story related and gotten when you get to world 2. Old World. This is the bottom Cave of the first area Archaea.
It Goes Deeper!? – 50gs – You found Vectron! (Secret)
This is story related and achieved when you get to the bottom of Old World and discover Vectron.
Assimilated – 200gs – Immortalisation of a destructible steambot. (Secret)
This is story related and the last story achievement. This is for beating the final boss. Have all other playthrough achievements you want completed before entering the final cave.