Hey there, fellow resident of 2016! This may be a new year but, rest assured, this column remains as stale and formulaic as ever.

Let’s begin!

Bejeweled 3

bejeweled3Are you a ‘filthy casual’? Do you hate challenge? Is your main aim to glide through life generally unopposed, like a hot knife through particularly knife-averse butter? Well firstly, I’m completely with you. Secondly, let me introduce you to the wonder of Bejeweled 3.

The jewel-based parent of recent games like Candy Crush Saga, in Bejeweled 3 you have to align jewels of the same colour, they explode in a very pleasant manner and then– Look, it’s Bejeweled for Christ’s sake, you know the drill.

Rating: It’s lovely, relaxed fun. A perfect counter-point to the unending hell that is normal life. / 10

Ben There, Dan That!

bentheredanthatBen There, Dan That! is a point-and-click adventure game. I have therefore, as is representative of all my dabbles in the genre, immediately got stuck, became annoyed and quit.

As far as I saw, this is a perfectly adequate point-and-clicker. The pointing works, the clicking works, and there’s an endearingly crummy cartoon aesthetic tying it all together.

There’s a style of self-referential humour which isn’t as grating as it otherwise could be, and hits the mark more often than not. I’d imagine for a fan of this sort of game, you’ll get a kick out of Ben There, Dan That. It’s certainly worth the halfpenny piece you’ll have to pay to get a hold of it.

Rating: Oh c’mon. If the title’s already a pun, what the hell am I going to put here? / 10

The Binding of Isaac Series

bindingofisaacsteamWell, this is a big one. Instead of reviewing the original Binding of Isaac and its sequel Rebirth seperately, I’ve decided to lump them together. Rebirth doesn’t massively stray away from anything the original did, but rather improves on the formula in almost every conceivable way, so I’ll mainly discuss that one.

If you’ve never played Isaac, or seen anything of it, here’s a screenshot of a typical room to give you an idea. Do take a moment to compose yourself beforehand, you may need it. You’re ready? You’re absolutely sure? Okay, here goes…

2016-01-13_00009Right. So. That screenshot is an example of the very early game, and already I’ve snagged a few items including ‘Dead cat’ and ‘Dry baby’. Each item in Isaac, and there are many, has an effect which can upgrade any of your stats, act as a companion, or alter the way your tears are shot.

Yep, your tears. Your primary weapon is lachrymosity. In Isaac you have to cry on enemies until they die.

I contest to this day that this game would be the most difficult to explain to a relative. At least with most games you can just state a fairly grounded objective. If you’re playing Mario, for instance, you’d say “I’m traversing a dangerous land to save the Princess”. If you’re playing COD you’d say “I’m indiscriminately shooting foreigners to save the world”. But if you’re playing Isaac the best you can do is “My mum threw me into the basement and I have to cry on monsters, avoid red poop and mutilate myself with various items before I can finally kill her”. Some people might take against that concept.

After being thrown into the basement, you must guide Isaac or a different character through numerous layers, fighting off hellish abominations and picking up upgrades that aid you in fighting off hellish abominations. There’s elements of resource management – keys and bombs can be scarce, and even your health can be used as a purchasing tool in certain scenarios.

Aside from the bleak-as-fuck surroundings, plot, gameplay, enemies and menu options, there’s also a hell of a lot of fun to be had here. As you progress you unlock further items, further bosses and further playable characters, will full completion being achieved only by those who devote a tremendous amount of blood, sweat and… tears. Tears like in-game tears. Tears, like the ones… The ones the tears in the game, the in-game tears. Tears. TEARS.

Rating: A game that will require blood, sweat and– SHIT I’VE ALREADY DONE THAT JOKE / 10

Bionic Commando Rearmed

bioniccommandorearmedThis is one of those games where I’ve no idea how I got it, when I got it, or if it’s any good. I’ve still got no concrete answer for the first two questions, but I do have one for the third.

Yeah, ‘salright!

The ‘Rearmed’ in the title refers to the fact that this is a 2008 remake of the ‘classic NES game’ Bionic Commando. This is a classic that I’ve never heard of because I’m a bad games journalist. Nonetheless, it’s important to see how someone with no connection to the series finds the reboot, or at least that’s how I’m going to spin this to my advantage.

Bionic Commando Rearmed is a 2D sidescrolling shooter with platforming elements. The platforming is interesting, as this also happens to be a game in which you are, presumably due to some horrific accident in a long ago mission, completely unable to jump. Moving from one platform to the next relies on strategic usage of a grappling hook; this mainly involves remembering which button does what before inevitably falling into that same spike pit for the umpteenth time. There’s certainly a frustrating level of trial-and-error to this movement scheme, at least for the beginner, but when it works it’s a delight of free-flowing glory.

The shooting, on the other hand, is okay at best. In normal platforming levels, it often involves getting onto a ledge, ducking and tapping A as quickly as possible until the goon falls over. The main weakness of the game has to be the ‘enemy defense’ segments. These act as sort-of random encounters as you navigate the map, and are wonky, annoying twin-stick segments in which, if you’ve any sense at all, you’ll run through all of the enemies and shoot at the boss vehicle until the damn thing’s over.

That aside, this was a pleasant surprise. I might even play it for reasons other than writing about it! I mean, probably not though. I’ve just started Mass Effect 2, and there’s only so many hours in the day.

Rating: When robots don’t wear underwear are they going Bionic Commando? The answer’s obviously no. Why would robots wear underwear in the first place? Stupid. / 10