Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Review

While it may be hard to believe now, there was a time when Shantae was relatively obscure. Released in the Gameboy Color’s twilight years, Shantae’s first game failed to get a foothold in a market that had already advanced on to Nintendo’s next iteration of the Gameboy line. That said, WayForward was confident in the I.P.—partly thanks to the cult following that had formed around the half-genie’s debut title—and were eager to develop a sequel. Eight arduous years and a few false starts later, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was released as a download title for the Nintendo DSi. In the years that followed, the game would see updated ports on several systems, including: iOS, Steam, Wii U, and now—of course—the Nintendo Switch. Read more Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Review

Vitamin Connection Review (Switch)

Vitamin Connection brings new meaning to the word cooperative.

Most games are pretty content with just putting you and a buddy in the same space and letting you play together, working in tandem and exploring the same areas. Even though you are working together, what you or your pal are capable of doing isn’t beholden to what the other does. In Vitamin Connection you have a truly symbiotic relationship – you play as a couple of ridiculously cute cartoon bobbins who save a family from their literal ills by way of a two-pilot capsule ship that can’t function without full
communication and cooperation from your friend.

Well, you could by playing the game solo, but what’s the fun in that!?

Each stage is set-up like an episode of an old Saturday morning cartoon – a member of the Sable family is on their way to an outing when disaster strikes as they step out the door and they become sick. It is then up to our heroes, Mina-Girl and Vita-Boy, to get them back on the healthy train by attack the bacteria plaguing them so they can get about their day. You travel through their interiors on mostly predetermined paths (with occasional branches to help you find secrets or pick your own route) and find and suss out that level’s big baddy by taking on what amounts to boss battles in pivotal areas of the body.

As you’re traveling, one player is in control of moving the ship in all directions and also the trigger to the Vitamin Beam which you use to clear your path. The other play is in control of rotating the ship, which is crucial in navigating your human host as well as aiming the Vitamin Beam. Both jobs are not created equal, with the person in charge of rotation and aim has to use motion controls which makes for some harrowing moments. The challenge of the game can be mitigated by one simple trick – communication. If you talk to each other and work together, it becomes a breeze!

The aforementioned boss battles are less your typical “find the weak spot and attack” nomenclature and more like mini-games. These too often make use of the Switch’s oft-forgotten gimmicks by having players play Irritating Stick-like obstacle courses and the IR sensor camera to extend a hand through a highway of viruses. It’s a nice break for the most part and yet another fun way to test your communication skills, but it felt like the game would ramp up the difficulty of these segments rather quickly, with my son and I getting stuck on the second level because the IR camera was finicky and the bad guy’s patterns being rather unforgiving. It was frustrating and could have done with maybe a different control option, but it doesn’t dilute the enjoyment we were having.

If nothing else, Vitamin Connection’s presentation compelled us to keep going as the saccharine storyline and infectious music kept us entertained so much that we had to see it through to the end!

Much like Affordable Space Adventures on the much-maligned Wii U, Vitamin Connection feels like an essential on the Switch. The game can be played solo, but it’s use of motion control feels important to the experience as a whole, thus making this game a tough sell for people intending on playing by themselves but imperative to those who have a friend or kid on hand. It has that WayForward charm permeating the whole experience and was so much fun I plan on playing through it again soon with a different son!

Vitamin Connection is a worthwhile way to spend a sick day, especially if you’re stuck at home with a co-pilot.

By Matt Mason. Follow him on Twitter @ObtainPotion and read more of his writing on his blog.

TBC 021: Shovel Knight Treasure Trove


Now that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is finally complete, it’s time for the TBC team to get their opinions on the record. Join us as we discuss Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Scepter of Torment, King of Cards, and all things SHOVEL KNIGHT!

Ready for more TBC Podcast? We are an ad-free show, and you can support us on Patreon:

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Review: Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game by House House is a unique, charming game for Nintendo Switch.

Disguised as a goofy goose sim, this stealth/puzzle game has you work your way through to-do lists, perfect for a productivity nerd like myself. But these tasks are all mischief related, and involve messing with innocent people’s things without getting caught.

There are four areas to explore, so while you may have an ear-to-ear grin throughout the experience, the credits could roll before you feel that your investment has been returned. It took me under two hours to complete (though post-game content in the form of additional to-do lists should effectively double your play time).

Everything is quite sound here, whether we’re talking about controls, music, systems, graphics, etc. This game took awhile to release considering its short length, and it is evident that the developers made the most of that time to iron out any potential kinks in the gameplay.

While I would love to praise the game in specific ways, it’s difficult to do so without spoiling the moment-to-moment gameplay, which is often humorous and always inventive and charming.

I had a great time solving all the puzzles as they progressively got more complex. Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.

Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.

Untitled Goose Game is clearly lacking one feature, however, and that is a hint system. After having just played BoxBoy + BoxGirl, I can’t help but think of how helpful that hint system could have been if implemented in Untitled Goose Game.

Without an option for hints, some puzzle solutions just will not present themselves to you, no matter how long you waddle around the level flapping your wings and honking to no effect. You can always Google a walkthrough, but something more subtle and built-in would have been a worthy inclusion.

The value proposition for Untitled Goose Game is… well, suspect. House House is up against a lot of great competition on the eShop, especially around the $20 asking price. My gut tells me that the game will perform well during sales, but otherwise will have a hard time convincing people to part with a crisp green Jackson.

Conclusion: Untitled Goose Game is a tight, fun, memorable experience that leaves the player wanting more.


Does “Indie” Still Mean Anything?

Perhaps one of the greatest movements in the history of the game industry is the rise of indie development in the late 2000’s. With the advent of widespread digital distribution, increase in instructional content available on the internet, and the introduction of affordable game development software suites, such as the Unity or Unreal engines, game development opened up to be available to the general public, and not just those lucky few who managed to get hired at an established studio. Likewise, said established studios were freed from the need to secure funding from large publishing companies to keep their doors open via crowd funding services such as Kickstarter or the topically named Indie-Go-Go.

But what exactly is an indie game? Read more Does “Indie” Still Mean Anything?

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie Hero Spit Shine

With my recent completion of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, I am proud to say I’ve finally gotten all caught up on WayForward’s Shantae series. From the first game via the 3DS Virtual Console, to ½ Genie Hero on the Switch, I’ve played every game in the series all the way through (not counting bonus modes for the half genie’s latest title that is). Those of you who’ve seen my review of ½ Genie Hero know I greatly enjoyed that game, as I do the rest of the series, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take issue with some elements of the games’ design. Read more Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie Hero Spit Shine

Hollow Knight – Don’t Miss this Platformer

Hollow Knight is a beautifully atmospheric, yet incredibly challenging platformer. It debuted on Switch a few months ago, but it’s still charming any player brave enough to pick it up. Simeon and Scott take the game for a spin and give their impressions!

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Flipping Death Review (Switch)

Flipping Death is a very funny game developed by Zoink and published on Nintendo Switch. It looks like a platformer or side-scrolling adventure, but you should think of it more like a point-and-click puzzle game. It’s definitely story-driven; whether you’re watching cutscenes, hearing a recap during loading screens, or experiencing characters bantering back-and-forth during gameplay, the story is always advancing and the world is being built. It starts with the sudden demise of Penny Doewood, who enters the afterlife and is promptly put on substitute reaper duty for Death himself, who wants to take a vacation to the moon. You may have already gathered that Flipping Death is quite the quirky title, and it’s very charming and entertaining as a result.

The entire game is voice-acted, and skillfully so. This is a bonus that might come unexpected to the average fan of Nintendo games. The writing is top-notch, and Flipping Death’s greatest boast is its impeccable humor and timing. Simeon and I have never laughed out loud so much from a video game! You may be tempted to feel impatient as you can read the captions in half the time it takes the voice actors to deliver their lines, but the wait is worth it.

Another plus in the presentation department are the graphics. Zoink chose a really unique art style, which is memorable and looks beautiful on the Switch. One thing I didn’t like as much was the music—sure it fit the game, but there were so few compositions that the soundtrack grew repetitive. Something else to watch out for are the long loading screens in Flipping Death. A narrator will meander through a funny recap of the previous chapter, which makes it bearable, but you’ll want to try to finish one of the game’s eight chapters in a single sitting so you don’t have to endure the same loading screen a second time.

The gameplay is unique, in that you can gather souls as currency and spend them to possess bodies of the living, who inhabit a mirror version of the world. It’s always interesting to try out all the different characters, find out what their move is, and use them to solve puzzles or just fling them around. There’s a great variety of characters who become “playable” in this way, each with their own special twists and inner-dialogue.

Sadly, controls are sub-optimal. Sometimes, Flipping Death doesn’t feel like it was made with the Switch in mind; using Death’s scythe to teleport was a good mechanic idea, but never feels quite natural as you have to use the right stick at the same time as face-buttons and trigger buttons. Some things aren’t consistent between characters (like holding a button to jump). However, It’s nice that the developers included some touch-screen functionality, which makes using the wide map easier.

The Missions and challenges provide a great variety of things to do. There are also plenty of side-quests in each chapter to keep completionists busy. If you get stuck, there’s a hint system readily available which shows you what needs to happen, but not always how. It’s a good balance of negating frustration without making things too easy.

Flipping Death is an appropriate length, which throws a lot of different ideas at you, but doesn’t get redundant or overstay its welcome. For a second play-through, it may be fun to come back to after several years, but hearing the jokes for the first time is the main reason to play. You could also beat the main story, then go back just to clean up sidequests which can be pretty entertaining, especially when you’re tasked with possessing an undead lama and spitting on everyone.

Overall, this game really is funny. Not just during story segments either, but the way characters move, interact, and the things you can do with them. I did experience a bug that made me lose all progress while reviewing the game. Thankfully it was in chapter 1, and the devs were aware and already working on it. This game is one of a kind, and is enjoyable for the story and humor alone. Considering everything, Two Button Crew scores Flipping Death a 7.25 out of 10.

TumbleSeed Vs. Mode (Simeon’s Fear Game!)

Simeon absolutely REFUSED to play TumbleSeed vs. mode with Scott… until the Patrons voted it into the Live Show! And what do you know, it actually ended up being a lot closer than he thought…

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Thimbleweed Park Review

A few years ago, Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert wanted to make a spiritual successor to their hit adventure game Maniac Mansion. While many independent developers (and a few bigger studios as well) made their own homages to the point-and-click genre, the prodigal sons had returned to bequeath us with Thimbleweed Park, a love letter to LucasArts games of yore straight from the proverbial source. Initially released in 2017, this tongue-in-cheek hit now finds its way to the Nintendo Switch, perhaps one of the best platforms to play it on.

Set in the distant past (er, 1987), Thimbleweed Park begins with a murder. A body is found in the river of the small Podunk town and two FBI agents are sent to investigate. What follows is a multi-faceted story that takes our protagonists from one end of town to the other in search of clues in a plot that is both funny in a deadpan way and a genuflection of the likes of Twin Peaks or the X-Files. It’s told from multiple points of view, everywhere from a foul-mouthed disrespectful clown to the ghost of an owner of the local pillow factory. The story weaves its way through flashbacks and back in a satisfying manner, bringing plenty of context to what’s truly going on. A nice dash of fourth wall breaking humor and reverent in-jokes round out the package nicely.

Thimbleweed Park stays true to its roots not only in presentation, but in game mechanics as well. If you’ve ever played an adventure game you know the drill: investigate your surroundings, talk to people to infer some clues and use items you’ve picked up to solve puzzles. Rinse, wash, repeat. The game gives you a plethora of ways to maneuver Agents Reyes and Ray and crew that all feel well-suited to the way you want to handle it. Whether with a pro controller or using the touch screen, picking and choosing verbs, inventory or just moving to new locations feel natural. The game also offers both a casual and hard mode, with the differentiator being how many steps it may take to solve a puzzle. Considering there isn’t really a lose state in Thimbleweed Park, it’s worth noting you’ll miss out on a bit of content going with the former option.

For everything Thimbleweed Park has going for it, it does still fall into the trap of being a bit obtuse for its own good, as adventure games are wont to do. For the most part solutions to problems are sensible, it’s just a matter of finding the right item in the right place, which usually requires you to fumble your cursor around each screen until you come upon the magical McGuffin that’ll set the wheels of the game back in motion. Mileage may vary depending on the player and their skill at seeking and finding objects, but you will occasionally get hung up and your patience may wear thin.

Gilbert and Winnick have most definitely channeled their past selves to make Thimbleweed Park the proper descendant Maniac Mansion they’ve been wanting to make. If you’re a fan of SCUMM adventure games, wry humor, plumbers dressed as pigeons and plenty of irreverence we can’t recommend this game enough. If you’re new to the genre and can count on two hands how many times you’ve pointed and clicked in a game…well, we’d recommend Thimbleweed Park as well! It’s intuitive to play, it doesn’t intentionally obfuscate the player and did we mention there’s a couple of plumbers dressed like pigeons? Who doesn’t like pigeons!?

This review comes courtesy of Crew member Matt Mason, @ObtainPotion on Twitter.

Salt. A True Story of Fortnite's Hidden Weapon

I may have been late to the bandwagon, but there is no denying the fun that is Fortnite. If you are tired of hearing about this game, and have not yet played it, I highly recommend you give it at least a try. And now is the perfect time to join! It’s the start of a new season, which means that the map is new, there are new weapons and features, and everyone is getting used to them together. Plus, it Is free to play on Switch (or computer, if you’re taking a more tactical approach)!

Enough advertising. I was skeptical to start playing Fortnite for a number of reasons, including:

  • The game has been out for a while, which means I thought I had no chance (which turned out not to be the case).
  • I am not very good at, or typically drawn to, any type of shooting game.
  • The game is super popular, and sometimes I’m a hipster hater like that.

In the end, though, after an invitation from Scott, I finally succumbed and gave it a shot. Scott had been introduced by his brother, and it was his turn to bring me into the fold. After a round or two of battle royale (100 competitors all against each other) I was cracking the top twenty, and my turns were regularly lasting longer than Scott’s. Unbeknownst to me, I began to unlock some mind games that, although not beneficial for me, threw my buddy into a mood.

During one particular match as I decided which shotgun was better to keep, Scott, having been unable to find a gun his previous match, mocked with, “HUH! SHOULD I HAVE PUMP SHOTGUN, OR SHOTGUN PUMP?!” His brother and I were the only ones laughing.

After a day or so, Scott and I had about evened out, regularly placing in the top ten, but never claiming the elusive first place.

My wife happened to be with me on one such visit and requested to give it a shot to see what the big deal was. My wife is by no means a gamer, and I was elated that she was willing to give this ridiculous game that held her husband captive a shot. She dropped from the flying bus pretty much straight down next to the lake with a cabin situated on an island in the middle of it. without a gun, she marched through the lake, up the hill, and into the house without any opposition. Climbing the stairs, she entered a room with an occupant, and the rest of us (Scott, his wife and brother, and myself) cried out in shock! Swinging her pickaxe, she slew the unwitting squatter and took his gun.

We cheered and yelled through each step of her run, as the storm slowly forced her out of the house, making her take cover on the shores where the eye set up camp for the rest of the game. She crouched and crawled around as the number of remaining players dwindled. A port-a-fort popped up in the valley below. She popped out of cover, lobbing a stink grenade into the opening. Though she was not credited with the kill, we all saw that the bomb’s victim was killed after being forced into the open.

Eventually, the streak came to an end, and my significant other was slain. Her first game’s placement? Third place. We were all flabbergasted at the results. But her results were no fluke: her next two runs landed her in second and fifth respectively.

Though Scott has finally netted several victory royales since, the two of us were both jealous of my wife’s success. I had my very own piece of humble pie to eat. No matter the game, sometimes salty humble pie is the fuel of champions.

West of Loathing, try not to laugh!

Simeon and Scott give West of Loathing a spin! It’s a hilarious RPG all about gettin’ meat and shootin’ goblins. Seriously, every dialogue box in the game is funny. It’s worth a shot!

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Astro Duel Deluxe Spit Shine

We’ve all heard the saying, “everyone’s a critic.” It’s true, just about anyone can tell you when something’s bad; some can even tell you why it’s bad, but for some strange reason, very few ever take the time to determine how to take something bad, terrible, or simply unpolished and make it shine. Welcome to Spit Shine, a new blog series where I attempt to do just that: find the flaws in games that are good, bad, or anywhere in between and spitball ways to fix those issues while building upon what already works. In short, I’ll be refining games, not redesigning them from the ground up.

Just under a year ago, I published my first game review here at Two Button Crew (assuming you don’t count my That Was a Thing series). Despite ultimately liking the experience Astro Duel Deluxe offered, I couldn’t help but take issue with its lack of content and some staggeringly bad U.I. design. Read more Astro Duel Deluxe Spit Shine

Cat Quest Review (Nintendo Switch)

Cat Quest is a funny action RPG game all about cats. It was developed by Gentlebros, and came out on Nintendo Switch in late 2017.

It’s a top-down, open world game (think like the original Legend of Zelda) set in a place called Felingard. Yes, like feline. Just about everything in this entire game is a cat pun, so get used to that! The game’s writing is one of its highlights, providing a healthy dose of charm.

You play as a sword-fighting, magic-wielding cat, and your cat-sister has been kit-napped, so it’s your job to rescue her. (If you hated that pun, you will hate Cat Quest.)

Gameplay in Cat Quest consists of following an ever-present arrow telling you which way to go, accepting quests, entering dungeons, and fighting baddies.

Combat is unique, revolving around your proximity to enemies, attacks’ area of effect, and quick dodging reflexes. Every move has an outline that shows where it will hit, and you don’t want to be standing in the wrong spot when an enchanted fist crashes to the ground or a dragon shoots a ring of fire.

Oh yeah—this game has dragons, and they’re the main boss fights.

Like the game itself, this review will be short, simple, and to the point. Cat Quest is more at home on the mobile platforms it was ported from, but controls well with Joy-Con. It’s an enjoyable game to relax with, listen to music or podcasts, and level up your character and weapons as you mindlessly clear out bad guys.

It will keep you busy for a handful of hours and make you smile
along the way. If you’re looking for more complexity, you won’t find it here. Maybe in the sequel, confirmed to be in development for Switch.

Cat Quest gets a 7/10.

Getting into Fortnite on Switch

Believe it or not, there are quite a few Nintendo fans who have not played Fortnite. Well, the game is now available for free on the Nintendo Switch eShop, so now is the time to dive in. Here are a few tips for you!

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A Robot Named Fight Review (Switch)

A Robot Named Fight wins an award for the weirdest video game title. Beyond that, it’s also a really good game!

This is a pixel-art, roguelike, Metroidvania. A Metroguevania, if you will.
You would think that these genres are incompatible, with Metroid’s weapon-based progression and roguelike titles’ procedural generation and permadeath. Well, I’m pleased to say that developer Matt Bitner Games pulled it off!

You play as the titular robot, Fight, and are immediately thrown into a scary world where Tutorial Smith (or Tutorial Joe, or some other name depending on your run) gets to impart a small piece of wisdom before he dies. My favorite was “Press B to shoot, pres—Argh—I’m dying—press buttons!” From there, you’re on your own as you traverse through corridors swarming with violent, sentient meat monsters.

Yeah, the game gets a little bit gruesome as you blast baddies apart, with pixelated splatters and surprisingly rolly meat physics. You can turn these effects down in the settings, but it honestly doesn’t help too much… And everything is depicted in roughly 16 bit, so if you can handle the action, there’s plenty of exciting puzzles and hidden weapons to discover.

I love how A Robot Named Fight is smart about the levels it generates. There is a constant sense of purpose and direction, without much emphasis on backtracking, which is nice. Somehow, the game perfectly balances the placement of necessary items, while giving the player an opportunity to feel a little bit lost. The result is a sense of accomplishment as you successfully route yourself through the minimap.

If you’ve played a roguelike, you know what you’re getting into. Death sets you back to square one, although your disparate attempts will unlock hidden items for future runs. This game encourages a more cautious approach to Metroidvania exploration, and it makes every earned energy tank feel like a reward that brings a boost of confidence.

The weapon variety is huge. A Robot Named Fight’s developers were very clever about creating unique items that enhance progression and combat in different ways.

I played a lot of this game with Simeon. It’s primarily a solo affair, although “girlfriend mode” co-op is available. He was particularly fond of the flamethrower, which used a small amount of energy but could blast through terrain, set enemies on fire and burn down obstructions in front of doors.

We had a blast taking turns and seeing how far we could get. A successful run might last you 45 minutes to an hour, but the game is easy to pick up, play, save, and come back to later. A welcome feature was the ability to retry a run you particularly liked by saving the “seed.”

A Robot Named Fight is one of the few games that held our attention so much at Two Button Crew that we just had to keep talking about it and playing it over and over. It kept us from other games we needed to play and we’ve been really excited to recommend it!

A few shortcomings you need to be aware of: the user interface is sadly sub-par. Sometimes randomly generated enemies are concealed by HUD elements. Also, it’s clear that not much time was spent on quality-of-life improvements within menus. For example, you can pause the game with the Plus button but you’ll have to move your thumb over to “A” to continue. Start doesn’t unpause.

Then, there’s the common roguelike issue where things aren’t explained well, which can be frustrating. You’ll find shrines with NPCs that ask you for sacrifices, but it never seems to make them happy and you end up with a curse. This kind of gameplay mechanic discourages players from experimentation, and in a game where health is precious and every stat counts, you can’t afford to throw away resources and downgrade your character.

You quickly learn to avoid these minor issues, and overall, this is an awesome game to have with you on Nintendo Switch. It can be propped up and played with one Joy-Con, thanks to the game’s controls being mapped expertly to the limited amount of buttons. It’s also great to dock and experience on the big screen, with speakers pumping some extremely Samus-y tunes. You almost can’t go wrong with A Robot Named Fight. Two Button Crew gives the game a 9 out of 10.

Runner3 Impressions + Review In Progress

I’ve been so excited about Runner3 coming to Nintendo Switch. As a long-time fan of the Bit.Trip series (especially the Runner games), I welcome CommanderVideo to new console/portable hybrid with open arms.

As you have surely noticed, the Switch isn’t hurting for indie titles, so the Commander might be met with some stiff competition, but it’s always good for another developer with as rich a portfolio as Choice Provisions to throw their hat in the ring.

I’m really thankful to be given the opportunity of reviewing Runner3. I excitedly played through the main game and prepared my thoughts thus far, though I am still reserving final judgment. By the end of this write-up, I think you’ll agree with my reasoning.


Runner3 is ambitious. After essentially introducing the auto-running genre, then perfecting it, the team is now expanding the genre and has included branching paths, vehicles, multiple objectives, non-playable characters, and more. I never expected to have quests or interact with NPCs midlevel in a game like this.


Moment to moment, you know exactly what to expect from a game like this. The core “Runner” gameplay is here and as compelling as ever. You know what you are signing up for, and it’s good.


It wouldn’t be a Choice Provisions game without the pounding soundtrack. I can confidently say that the music is good, though I won’t claim it surpasses the heights of the original Bit.Trip Runner.


The creators behind Runner3 sure know how to dress up a game! From entertaining (and fake) advertisements, puppet shows, incredible narration from Charles Martinet, more puns than you can shake a stick at, and clever level names, Runner3 is dripping with personality.

Runner3 is dripping with personality.

Other Good Things

The game definitely sports some fun cameos, like playable Shovel Knight and Charles Martinet—that’s AWESOME!

Play Value

I don’t envy the developers’ task of making a follow-up to games like Runner and Runner2, which are each incredibly difficult and rewarding to master. So where should the threequel pick up as far as difficulty? How long should you spend onboarding newcomers to the series, versus serving experienced fans?

I found myself breezing through the first two worlds somewhat unremarkably. Upon reaching world 3, I felt a noticeable difference where the challenge seemed to hit a sweetspot and the level design felt more inspired. World 3 was really cool… but it was the last world.

Roughly half the levels in Runner3 are “Retro” stages, which you aren’t told how to unlock… but the loading screens start giving you hints about what to do IN them from the start of the game. I found this frustrating, and I’m still trying to locate the VHS which will get me into Retro world 1. I tried reaching out to other reviewers, but they were unable to help. Perhaps I could have pinged the developers, but I felt the need to form my own opinions about how this game does (or doesn’t) guide you through the discovery process.

Crunching a few numbers, you find that the game overall has fewer levels than Runner2, and only a couple more levels than the original Runner.

Replay Value

But just beating the game once from point A to point B doesn’t put a cap on your time with Runner3. Not even close. The replay value in this title is nothing if not dense. I saw credits roll but came nowhere close to conquering the game’s available challenges.

There are lots of attainable achievements for completionists (especially the “not-actually impossible” impossible levels).

Which are pretty much impossible.

… The game stops counting your deaths after 99, by the way.


User Experience

The degree to which you have completed a level isn’t always clear. I can think of many things that MIGHT increase your “grade,” but they would be guesses:

There is gold to collect as well as gems, checkpoints that could be skipped instead of used, collectible items, a score counter that can be boosted by setting off optional rockets along the way, and a bullseye target at the end. It’s not communicated which of these feats correspond to which color of ring on the level select, or color of + icon, or position of said colored + icon. You can go into Stats and it literally records your amount of Perfect, Perfect+, Special, Special+, Special Perfect, Special Perfect+ and “Special Perfect Double+” levels without telling you what the differences are or how to achieve them, so I’m a bit fuzzy on what it takes to 100% this game. I know it’s cute to have those ambiguous ranks, but I felt lost. 

Hiccups and Hang-Ups

I wanted to love every moment of this game, but I feel that it is my duty to report back honestly about some snags I experienced along the way.

– There are so many long loading screens in this game. If you want to back out from the level select to the menu, you’re going to sit through a lot of these back-to-back.

– Sometimes you can’t switch tracks, and other times they seem to switch for you. Sometimes you die because one track is lower than the other (but you’re supposed to be able to switch at any time).

– Accomplishments aren’t very celebrated. Levels end with some calm, anticlimactic elevator music (even if you had an outstanding run or defeated a boss). After an intense feat and narrowly winning, it feels like a crescendo is in order rather than things fading out with a wet fizzle.

– CommanderVideo is missing some of his moves from previous titles, like holding forward to reflect beats with a shield—that was an awesome mechanic! There is also no loop-de-loops or dancing. [Update: Dancing IS included in this game! Immediately after stumbling upon this action with a shoulder button, I was given a loading screen that informed me about the mechanic.]

– The art style is definitely unique, but can be disappointing in places—like looseness in certain animations, background elements being big and weird but not always nice to look at graphically, etc. I feel like a measure of precision was sacrificed when moving this series from sprite graphics to 3D. This is the kind of game where precision is paramount (yes, their proclivity for alliterations is rubbing off on me).

Value Proposition

This game is more expensive (at $30 digital, $40 physical) than any of the others in the series. Runner 2 is available right now on Wii U for $3. Buy that.

But don’t write off Runner3 for charging more, either. You know it costs a lot of benjamins to get such an acclaimed voice actor to lend his talent. And if you’re willing to grit your teeth, crack your knuckles and rise to the “post-game” challenges, you’re going to have a nice, long stay in this wonderfully wacky world.

And after knocking out those impossible levels and completing your collection of Super Duper Triple Plus Perfects (or whatever), you’ll have plenty of in-game currency to spend on capes, clothes, and other goodies. There are no in-app purchases to be found, which is reassuring in this day and age.

There are no in-app purchases to be found!

In Summary

I had a great time with Runner3. My wife even enjoyed watching me play, and loved the music. (How many games can you say that about in your house?)

But there were undeniably several niggling aspects of the game’s design that kept me out of the flow, whether they were apparent glitches, omissions from past games, or a general sense of not knowing how to do more than advance through the basic levels.

I would have loved to publish a full review on embargo day, but I have yet to access any of the Retro levels.

I think it would be negligent to offer a score on this game after playing only half the content.

You might struggle a lot less than me once Runner3 is available for purchase, with help from a printed manual or online guide. I think those would have come in handy during my play-through (and still will as I continue to explore).

One more note:

Gaming’s landscape has changed a lot since CommanderVideo first graced consoles. On Nintendo Switch, Runner3 is faced with competitors like the incredibly tight and exciting musical levels in Rayman Legends, or the superbly atmospheric rhythym-horror title Thumper. $30 is a tough sell when Runner3 struggles to stack up to the impressive accomplishments of its earlier installments. But if you’re a fan of the series, and/or someone who 100%s their games no matter how difficult, you could hardly go wrong here.

I will definitely report back once I have a better understanding of the game’s full offering. I’d also like to extend a huge thanks to Choice Provisions, and Dant over there, for giving us the hook-ups. I hope this early look at Runner3 helps inform your buying decisions ahead of launch day, May 22nd! And set a reminder for our live steam!