Dodgeball Academia Review – Retro AND Modern

There has been a recent resurgence in all forms of media where creators want to repackage 90s nostalgia to sell to customers while doing minimal work. Whether it’s a classic television show. a popular movie, or just the aesthetics, this is a common approach to creating new content while not giving the audience anything new or different than the original content.

Dodgeball Academia could be in that category. It’s clear the game is heavily inspired by a classic NES title, Super Dodgeball and it would be easy for someone to create a clone of that classic game and sell it for twenty or thirty dollars.

That’s not what Dodgeball Academia is about. While Pocket Trap, the developers of Dodgeball Academia are fans of Super Dodgeball, Dodgeball Academia is more of a love letter or an homage to a classic title showing what can happen when nostalgia is only the first step of a project. 

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12 Minutes Review – Quite a bit longer than that.

12 Minutes is the latest game published by Annapurna Interactive. It’s a strange narrative adventure involving the player repeating the same time frame in a Groundhog Day-style loop.

Players start by coming home late from work when their wife has cooked dessert for them. After a nice average evening at home, a cop knocks at the door, and when you or your wife open it, the cop will quickly arrest you and your wife, and ends up striking or choking the player to death. And the game restarts.

This is an abrupt and disturbing scene, but it’s exactly what’s in store for the player in 10 minutes increments, each time loop usually ends with a horrific end, and the player is left to wonder how they can fix their predicament.

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Xbox Game Pass August 2021 Reviews – We begin with a strong month

I’m Kinglink and it’s time for the Xbox Game Pass August 2021 Review. 

This is something new on my channel, if you’re already familiar with my work, you know I review the Humble Choice the first week of every month and talk about who might enjoy which games and if it’s worth picking up.

Xbox Game Pass is a bit different, it’s a subscription service where players can play any game on it and games get released throughout the month.  I’ll do my best to cover the major releases as well as a variety of other games.  My channel is focused on the PC platform, so that’s the platform of choice here.  

For these videos, I’ll be doing short reviews for each title, and I’ll talk about the most notable and unique games that I have found.  These aren’t intended to be full reviews, however, unlike the Humble Choice and its time constraint, I’ll continue playing beyond the first hour for these titles when possible. 

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Omno Review – A serene journey of discovery

Omno is a lovely game. Rather than teach the player from the first moment, it promotes a sense of exploration. The main character is a silent onion-headed avatar, in a new land, filled with creatures and puzzles just waiting to be discovered.

Omno evokes comparisons with Journey due to the style, and gameplay. It’s a serene journey that avoids combat, while still giving the player a fantastic sense of wonder as they explore each new area and land. It combines music, graphics, and gameplay to evoke the sense of the unknown throughout.

Omno’s focus is on minimalism, using only a few words to teach the player the basic mechanics of the game, whether it be a button press required or a new ability. Throughout the game, players will earn four different abilities, such as a fast dash allowing players to cover distances in moments.

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Tell Me Why Review – Dontnod tackles a difficult subject

Tell Me Why is from Dontnod Studios.  After their success with Life Is Strange, I was curious what other realms Dontnod would explore, and it seems the apple hasn’t fallen that far from the tree. 

Dontnod’s newest game is once again an episodic narrative game with characters who have special powers, deal with heavy issues, and feels almost like it could have been titled Life is Strange 3. 

The story revolves around a pair of twins Alyson and Tyler who are given a special power to share memories.  Yet again, this power is neither explored nor explained.  It’s just a storytelling element for the game to explore previous events.

It’s probably important to mention that Tyler is transgender, being born a female, and is now a male in the story. Yet the only reason I feel compelled to bring it up is due to how often the game pushes the issue as if it wants people to notice how progressive this is.  Dontnod even released a FAQ regarding this, and the fact is they handled the topic well, exactly how I hope other studios treat transgender characters.  

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Emily is Away <3 Review – Returning to the well for the third time

Emily is Away ❤ is the third installment in the Emily is Away series.  Once again players are taken into the world of retro chat agents with a compelling and interesting look at the world and story. 

In Emily is Away <3, the developers have taken a step forward and migrated from the AIM parody platform of the first two games to a spoof on Facebook, called Facenook.  While a majority of the game is focused on the Facenook Messenger, there’s a decent look at Facenook and the experience of using it to form a social circle.

And once again, Emily is Away ❤ is heavy with nostalgia for a bygone era of the early, less commercial Facebook.   It’s the beginning of the social media craze.  Where Emily is Away, and Emily is Away Too stoked memories of chatting on AOL’s messenger, Emily is Away ❤ can effortlessly bring those same feelings to the surface.

Nostalgia however will only go so far though a majority of Americas will likely be familiar with Facebook, the messenger on the app is perhaps a different story.  The fact that so much of Emily is Away ❤ is based on the original form of Facebook as well may cause some issues for the nostalgia, but that might be overcome by the story. 

Emily is Away ❤ delves into the deep interpersonal relationship between a variety of people.  Where the first game focused on conversations with someone named Emily and how AIM kept people connected yet at arm’s reach, Emily is Away Too added in a love triangle to develop a more interesting and deeper look when talking to two characters, Emily and Evelyn.

Emily is Away ❤ goes all out, and rather than just use a pair of characters, Emily is Away ❤ seems to develop a whole social group.  There are at least seven characters that the player can interact with and have conversations with.   

Though Emily is Away ❤ remains stuck with the original game’s one major issue.  Players can’t really “talk” to anyone in the game, rather players can choose from three different messages to decide what their response will be.  Players then will mash the keyboard to pretend to be typing it out or turn on Autotype, but overall it’s not exactly a deep experience. 

However, this is also where Emily is Away ❤ starts to have new issues.  Where the original two titles were limited to just a messenger app with the expectation that you would focus there, Facenook, the in-universe Facebook equivalent, has pages you can flip through on each character.  But also the Facenook Messenger is rather slow, with responses appearing about every twenty or thirty seconds instead of five.   So much of the game is either pretending to type a response, waiting to hit enter, or just waiting for the next message to pop up. 

While Emily is Away ❤ is broken up into five chapters, it was only around the middle of chapter three where I started to struggle with the response speed, and yet there was no way to change it. 

Still, when the messages arrived, Emily is Away ❤ delivers that same intimate feeling the first two titles had, where you feel like you’re able to connect with people through the game, the writing is top-notch and can manipulate people into feeling that this is more than a game, even as it’s a fully scripted experience. 

The intimacy though leads to the second major issue with Emily is Away <3.  Ultimately this is a story-driven game, and while players will want to ‘win’ the game and earn the best ending, potentially wanting a deeper more meaningful relationship with their chosen paramour… that’s not to be. 

There are multiple endings possible in Emily is Away <3, however, a “best” ending isn’t available from the start of the game.  According to sources online, players will have to complete one playthrough and then attempt a second playthrough of the opposite character due to a choice between Emily and Evelyn still existing in this title. 

The issue is that this comes after approximately 4 hours, and if players choose to chase the other character, they’re in for around the same length of time.  That long twenty-second delay between messages seems to be permanently forced on players, and suddenly there’s less reason to explore Facenook even with some new characters becoming available. 

Ultimately Emily is Away <3’s biggest flaw is how much the developer asks of players to just experience the majority of the game.  There are five playthroughs required just to get the major endings, approximately four additional smaller endings possible.  But Emily is Away ❤ makes it hard for players to want to return to the game to experience the alternate pathways due to the experience provided.

It’s not that Emily is Away ❤ is a poor game.  I had a consistent flashback to feelings that I was involved in romantic discussions with people online, the same experience that the previous two titles provoked, but where the previous titles made me want to experience more of the game, Emily is Away ❤ left me more annoyed by the mechanics presented, than enjoying the experience that had just occurred.

It’s a shame, but I feel like I had to force myself grinding through the slow messages just to chase a better ending, because ultimately, a little different text isn’t enough of a reward to replay such a long game, nor would I want to replay it three more times for different results.  

It’s the reason I won’t be returning and the reason I can’t recommend this title, even while I enjoyed myself for the first playthrough. 

I give Emily is Away ❤ an arbitrary 

6/10

If you enjoyed this and want to see more from me, you can check out my youtube channel at 

https://www.youtube.com/c/KinglinkReviews

Humble Choice July 2021 Review – An average month, with average games.

I’m Kinglink and it’s time for the Humble Choice July 2021 Review. 

Once again I’m back after playing each game for an hour, and I should be able to tell you who is going to enjoy each title, and who might want to skip them.  It’s a strange month so let’s just get to the games and talk about them. Starting with a major franchise…

Yakuza 3 Remastered.  If you’ve been a Humble Choice member for a while, you’ve probably already seen Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2, which was the first trilogy of Yakuza games for the PC.  It appears that trend is continuing, with Yakuza 3 Remastered this time. 

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Life Is Strange 2 Review – A stranger tale, but not a better one

After Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, the third game in the franchise, Life Is Strange 2 had a lot to live up to. With two major but unique titles already in the franchise, the direction the next game would take was in question as the series already explored the city of Arcadia Bay with the first two titles.

Life Is Strange 2 separates itself quickly, introducing players to two new main characters, Sean and Daniel Diaz.  The Diaz brothers have a nice life in Seattle which is upended by an event where their father and a police officer are killed and they choose to flee to the Mexican town of Puerto Lobos 

Life Is Strange 2 also takes a different approach to its story.  Where Life Is Strange and Before the Storm both took a look at the life of Max Caulfield following her through a normal progression of her day, Life Is Strange 2 becomes more episodic, not just from the content delivery but from the format of the story. 

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All About Yakuza: The Kiryu Saga – Answering all your questions at once.

I’m Kinglink and let’s talk about the Yakuza Franchise, particularly the Kiryu games, which I lovingly call the Kiryu Saga. 

Though I’d like to explain this concept of this series quickly.  The quick backstory is after finishing both Yakuza 3 and 4 I wanted to make a video but hadn’t finished the entire series, there was a lot to talk about such as the Tojo Clan’s place in the series, or Kamurocho’s evolution, but I couldn’t talk about the entire franchise.   

I also often get questions about where to start the series on any of my Yakuza videos so I figured this might be a good topic. 

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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Review – A free but still incredible adventure

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was a lead-in to Life is Strange 2.  It is designed to be a title that helped promote the new title in the franchise, but also is a standalone title for the majority of it, and is quite well made. 

Captain Spirit focuses on a young boy, Chris Eriksen, and his desire to be a superhero, a common dream of young kids, and a relatable one.  He imagines himself as Captain Spirit with a band of fellow superheroes who fight against a league of villains. 

Of course, this is just a fantasy, and while the trailer hints that Chris Eriksen has some kind of special powers, this doesn’t appear to be the case.  Instead, DontNod develops another interesting and unique character and shows why they are revered as great storytellers. 

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