Sidney Jacobs

Sidney Jacobs is a gamer and game designer who loves JRPGs, Visual Novels, and other story rich games. He also loves tabletop games and thinks that you should play more of them.

Entertainment, Feature,

Review: Crypt of the Necrodancer

I remember when I first played this game, it was at game design camp.  We would take turns entering the dungeon and trying to get the farthest possible.  Though I would never get to truly experience going to a retro arcade as a teenager with my friends and take turns playing on one machine, but I think this must have been close to that experience.

The only rhythm games that I have played before this were DDR and actually playing musical instruments.  The genre isn’t the most popular in America, and I am no expert on it either, but when I first played this game, I thought it was one of the most creative ways to make a rhythm game.  It took something simple, and made it complex.  While this isn’t always the best thing to do, it worked for this game.

Crypt of the Necrodancer is a dungeon crawling, roguelike, rhythm game, where the player must progress through randomly generated dungeons in order to progress a story.  In the traditional game mode, the player takes control of Cadence, who starts out armed with a knife, a shovel, and a bomb.

The player must control Cadence “to the beat” for every single action done: moving, attacking, throwing, eating, or casting spells.  At the start, the only buttons that one can push are the arrows to move, attack, or dig, or two other buttons to place a bomb or throw the knife.  As one progresses through the dungeon, they may pick up other consumable food or spell items that Cadence can use.

There is also other generic roguelike dungeoney stuff:  monsters, chests, gold, shops with OP shopkeepers, traps the lead to monster rooms, secret rooms with rewards, bosses, mini bosses, gems that can be spent in the lobby to add upgrades, and this sentence is probably too long.  There are also other characters that can change up gameplay elements such as starting equipment or even removing “the beat” that you have to follow.

Much fun is to be had in the game’s lobby.  Many shops where you can upgrade what you find in chests and shops as well as permanent upgrades like increasing starting health and increasing the dropped gold multiplier.  There are also arenas where you can practice dealing with certain enemies and bosses.  Also in the lobby are tutorials with “advanced” techniques such as dealing with monster rooms or robbing shops by defeating the OP shopkeeper.

There are two words that I would use to describe this game’s gameplay.  The first word is “fun”!  It’s fun to move to the beat, it’s fun to get upgrades, it’s fun to beat enemies and bosses.  The second word is “hard”.  It’s easy to make mistakes if you’re not careful, it’s easy to lose the beat, it’s easy to accidentally attack the OP shopkeeper and just get killed by them.

Despite this game’s hard, and sometimes frustrating difficulty, that is what makes this game fun.  Though there is a story to this game, I believe it’s supposed to have an arcade-ey feel to it.  Everyone who will play this will die a lot.  For most people it will take hundreds of attempts to get through the dungeons in this game.  As I write this article, I am only on the second dungeon.

I think what makes this game such a good game is that you learn as you play, whether through tutorials, mistakes, or ideas you want to try.  There are so many different playstyles and strategies that the player can learn and try out.  I feel like this is what makes any game great.

If this were a full price, triple AAA game, I don’t think it would be worth it.  However, since this fact isn’t true, I’d say it’s worth it for the price that it is currently set, $15 on most platforms.  There is a mobile version, but don’t get it unless you have a bluetooth, physical controller, as the touchscreen controls aren’t very good.  I haven’t tried every setup possible, though I’d love to try this game with a dance pad, but any button should work fine.

Games like Crypt of the Necrodancer are good for the gaming industry, just to shake things up and encourage others to combine different genres.  There’s also a Zelda version/sequel of this game, which I will definitely consider getting after (or if) I beat Crypt of the Necrodancer.  Also, if you do decide to play this game, use good morals (the OP shopkeeper is watching your every move…).



Sonic the Hedgehog: Game, Movie, or just a Meme?

I actually like Sonic a lot.  My first Sonic game was not the greatest game, but when I was younger I didn’t blame bad controls on myself, so I enjoyed Sonic and the Secret Rings (it’s actually not a bad game; it gets better the more you play and it has a decent party mode.  I don’t consider it one of the bad ones).  When I got a DS, I was introduced to the Sonic Rush games, and when I found out that the Wii could play Gamecube games, I became obsessed with Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.  Later in my life I found the Classic Quadrilogy and the Advance Trilogy.  I played those a lot and Sonic left my life for a while.

I got back into Sonic when I found out about and played Freedom Planet (amazing game). I then played Sonic Colors (both the Wii and DS versions), Sonic Generations, and even some fan games: Sonic Before the Sequel and Sonic After the Sequel (great free games by the way).  When Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were first announced I was very excited, but I only ended up buying Mania for reasons that will be explained..

That’s my life story involving Sonic in a couple paragraphs.  I still want to get Sonic Generations on Steam for the mods (which look awesome), but that will probably happen later, maybe when Freedom Planet 2 comes out.  Anyway, Sonic, what is happening to you?

When the movie was announced, which was way before the first trailer was released, I was expecting something decent.  I don’t follow people in the movie industry closely like many, so forgive me for not using proper names, but I remember there was someone who worked on the movie Deadpool working on this movie.  I thought this meant that we were going to get a super meta movie that would please Sonic fans, but it didn’t.

I had the same reaction as most when the first trailer for the movie came out.  I heard rumors that he was getting redesigned, and I remember the moment I found out it was true, I was so relieved.  Then the movie came out soon later.  I wanted to go the day it came out, but I ended up waiting a few days and went to see it later.  It was bad.

While writing this, I looked up reviews and saw that this movie was doing well in the box office and got decent reviews.  I don’t know if reviewers were viewing this movie from the family friendly lens, but to me, this movie is bad no matter what lens you look at it through.  As a good movie with a thought provoking story and characters, it’s bad, as a comedy movie that makes people laugh, it’s bad, even as a family friendly children’s movie, it was bad, but worst of all, as for the Sonic fans, it was bad.  Spoilers are ahead from here, but you shouldn’t care about them because you shouldn’t care about the movie.

The plot of the movie is original for the franchise, as it isn’t based on any of the games or previous media.  The plot of the movie makes no sense and is nothing close to any story of Sonic that the franchise has seen.  Somehow, the rings from the games become a plot device of sorts, as they have the power to turn into portals to other dimensions when thrown.  Dr. Ivo Robotnik (AKA Eggman) works for the US military and has no real motivation for wanting the energy of Sonic’s quills, having some super power, other than just him being insane.  Also, Tails, who appears in a post credits scene at the last minute, has superspeed too.

The comedy in the movie is slapstick and childish for the most part.  Most of the best jokes are from the trailers, and those are also bad.  The best part of the movie for me was when the crazy guy had the drawing of Sanik at the beginning of the movie, calling Sonic the “Blue Devil”.  That is the best joke the movie has.

Spoilers for the Sonic movie are over now.  Anyone would enjoy the other, less major Sonic the Hedgehog film way more than the film that is being discussed, for almost any reason.  This film goes by many names in the Sonic fanbase, but I will refer to it as Sonic the Hedgehog (OVA), which is the animated 2 episode special whose contents were combined to make what was shown in theaters.  People tend to have mixed reviews of what they saw of this “movie”, but “what they saw” isn’t what I want to compare to the new film, as what most people saw was most likely the dubbed American version (though this would probably also be better than the new movie).

Subs vs. dubs is a topic for another day, but Sonic the Hedgehog (OVA) is a decent little anime that has a good plot, good action sequences, some fun little jokes, (the music is also incredible,) but most importantly pleases the fans.  I won’t spoil this one because it’s actually good, but I will say the story and animation style takes some inspiration from Sonic CD.  Those that have played Sonic CD and have seen the cutscenes in that game should know that this will be a treat, especially if you are a Sonic fan.

Now the movie isn’t the only problem with Sonic right now, his last major game, Sonic Forces, was so mediocre, it was bad.  I’ve never played Sonic Forces myself, but from watching a few playthroughs of the game, I know how people feel about it, and I know how I feel about it.  Sonic Forces suffers from 3 main factors: a bad level design, bad gameplay design, and a bad story.  The level design has been talked about by other critics, but the other two have not so much.  Spoilers for Sonic Forces ahead.

The bad gameplay comes from the custom avatar’s weaponry and grappling hook.  The grappling hook “homing attack” appears slow and clunky.  Also, Sonic games don’t need quick-time-events.  The arsenal of weapons the avatar has is also a mess.  IN A SONIC GAME, PEOPLE WANNA GO FAST SO WHY DO THE WEAPONS SLOW YOU DOWN?  Most playthroughs of Sonic Forces that I have seen have only used the flamethrower because of its speed;  This is evidence of people wanting to go fast.

So the story has lots of problems, but I want to focus on the two main problems: Classic Sonic’s retcon of being a younger Sonic, and Infinite’s entire character.  Classic Sonic is now apparently from “another dimension” instead of being Sonic from a previous time, and while I’m glad to see Classic Sonic back, this was only done for a cheap tie-in with Sonic Mania.

Now Infinite.  While I am not a literature expert, and there have probably been cases where this hasn’t been done, but in general WHEN YOU HAVE A MASKED VILLIAN IN A STORY, YOU NEED TO REVEAL THE MASK, AND IF THE CHARACTER ISN’T ONE THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN INTRODUCED OR HINTED AT, THEY NEED A HELL OF A BACKSTORY!  I cite this on The Watchmen, Star Wars, and every episode and movie of Scooby-Doo that I have watched (and probably more).

When Infinite was first revealed, I thought that behind the mask, would have been Sonic or your avatar from the future, but actually happened was that he was a new character who was revealed by comics from the Sonic Twitter.  I think that having some time travel plot would have been great for this game, as it would have given Infinite a better backstory and possibly given a better excuse to include Classic Sonic instead of just a random portal.

Forces spoilers end here.  So Sonic doesn’t appear to be doing too well right now.  I have a feeling that the next big Sonic game will be revealed soon, once the virus stops stopping an event.  I’m not sure what is happening with Sonic, but I feel like the fans will be able to make Sonic what he should be again.