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31 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is a delightful Nintendo Switch platform game that takes players on an action-packed journey through the vibrant world of Mara. In this loving tribute to classic platforming adventures, you join the series favourite Koa and her trusty friend Napopo as they traverse wild islands, dodge cunning traps, and face off against formidable bosses.

One of the game's standout features is the diversity of the world it offers. With eight distinct worlds to explore, each with its own theme, traps, and bits of story, players will find themselves constantly engaged and eager to discover what lies ahead. From sandy beaches to bubbling volcanoes, the islands are charming and colourful, filled with secrets and collectibles that beckon exploration.

The gameplay is both exciting and accommodating, catering to different playstyles. Players can choose to race against the clock and aim for speed-running medals or take a more leisurely approach to soak in the beauty of each level while collecting shells, the main currency in the game. Collectibles scattered throughout the islands further add to the replay value, as they can be used alongside shells to purchase cosmetic upgrades for your character, boat, and even rebuild the city of Qälis.

Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara boasts a well-designed progression system. Unlocking the archipelago piece by piece keeps players motivated to uncover the mysteries that each island holds. The presence of memorable characters adds a layer of charm to the adventure, and helping them on their respective journeys enhances the sense of fulfilment in the game.

While the game may not bring anything groundbreaking to the genre, it compensates with its well-crafted mechanics, unique island designs, and diverse boss battles. Speaking of bosses, each island's final encounter is distinct, requiring players to adopt different strategies to defeat them. This variety ensures that players are constantly engaged and challenged as they progress through the game.

Whether you're a newcomer looking for a relaxed gaming experience or a seasoned speed runner seeking a challenge, Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara accommodates all players. With approximately six to seven hours needed for a relaxed playthrough or four to five hours for a more rushed approach, completing the main story offers a satisfying gaming experience. However, for completionists aiming for 100% achievement, the game offers plenty of additional content, ensuring hours of captivating gameplay.

The Good
Great graphics, game looks and plays great on the Nintendo Switch Lite. A nice fun little platform game.

The Bad
No double jump! How dare you! The controls can be a bit fiddly at first, and unless you are running, the movement of the character feels very slow. So, you just end up constantly holding down the button to run.

Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is a well-made and engaging platforming adventure. With its beautiful visuals, diverse gameplay, and memorable characters, it provides a delightful gaming experience for players of all levels. Whether you're exploring the islands leisurely or seeking to conquer time trials and challenges, this buccaneering escapade is a must-play for Nintendo Switch owners.

I score Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara a strong 7.5/10

Out Now on Nintendo Switch

25 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Miasma Chronicles on XBOX Series X/S

Review by Jon Donnis
Miasma Chronicles, a captivating tactical role-playing video game developed by The Bearded Ladies and published by 505 Games. The game is set in 2023, a post-apocalyptic version of the United States. Blending turn-based tactics with stealth game mechanics, this game immerses players in a world devastated by an enigmatic force known as the miasma, a substance that can transform or eliminate all living beings.

In the game, players embark on an epic journey alongside Elvis, a young man who was left as a baby in the care of a robotic older 'brother' in the mining town of Sedentary. His mother's departure, however, bestowed him with a mysterious glove that grants him the power to control the dangerous miasma.

The quest begins as Elvis and Diggs, the robotic caretaker, traverse the post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of answers. The secrets they seek have the potential to alter the course of human history forever, motivating them to push forward despite the dangers that lie ahead.

As players assume the role of Elvis, they'll guide him in his pursuit of his mother and his quest to understand the nature of the miasma. The game unfolds in real time, borrowing mechanics from stealth games to allow players to carefully navigate through the hazardous terrain. Players must be mindful of the enemies' field of vision, as staying undetected is crucial to survival.

Engaging in combat calls for tactical prowess, as battles are turn-based affairs. Players can even recruit additional non-player characters to bolster Elvis and Diggs' ranks. As the game progresses, characters can be further customized through skill trees, offering new abilities and bonuses, though they come with cooldowns to maintain balance.

Miasma Chronicles caters to players of varying skill levels, featuring four difficulty settings that let players adjust the challenge to their liking. Additionally, the tactical combat rules can be optionally simplified, making targeting easier and reducing the impact of random chance.

In this thrilling post-apocalyptic world, players will uncover the mysteries of the miasma and shape the fate of Elvis and the entire nation, making Miasma Chronicles an unforgettable gaming experience.

The Good
As you would expect from a game on the Xbox Series X/S the graphics are exceptional, the cut scenes and the way the camera moves between the action are beautiful to watch. 

I loved the design of the anthropomorphic frog enemies; the voice acting is of a high quality and the mix of free roaming exploration and turn based grid combat is well balanced.

There is plenty of areas to explore, never too repetitive. There are plenty of weapons to use, all unique. 

The Bad
Some of the political references and pop culture comments will leave you rolling your eyes. Some parts are ridiculously hard, and the game does have a fair few bugs, which I expect will get ironed out in future updates.

Not perfect, but a fun game that will keep you entertained for a while.

I score Miasma Chronicles on XBOX Series X/S a decent 7.5/10.

Out Now on Xbox

20 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Stray Blade on Xbox Series X/S

Review by Jon Donnis
Published by 505 Games and made by Point Blank Games, comes Stray Blade, an action role-playing video game.

Immerse yourself in an action-packed adventure and become a master of intense combat while exploring the enigmatic ruins of an ancient civilization. Legends speak of Acrea, the Lost Valley, a wild and potent place, concealed by overgrowth. You play as Farren West who stumbled upon this forgotten realm but met a tragic end. However, fate smiles upon you as you miraculously return to life, but with a cost - you are now bound to this land.

Take up the challenge to reclaim your freedom and embark on a quest to restore balance to this war-ravaged and desolate place, guided by your loyal companion, Boji. Traverse towering throne rooms once inhabited by giant god-kings and explore long-lost cities, unearthing their long-held secrets. But beware, as you delve deeper, even deadlier adversaries will cross your path. Get ready for an adventure that shapes the world, influenced by your discoveries and the raging forces at play.

Experience an unforgettable journey into the heart of Acrea and its ancient legacy. Unravel the history that transformed the tranquil valley into a battleground of strife and death. Armed with this knowledge, seek out and destroy the remnants of the past, bringing peace to the war-torn valley.

As you progress through your journey, every triumph you achieve leaves a lasting impact on the world. Time moves forward even if you fall in battle. Return to the sites of your former victories and witness the changes you've instigated in the world. But be warned, your actions will attract even greater challenges.

Engage in hyper-responsive combat, allowing you to react swiftly and execute precise attacks, enabling you to dominate battles. Strategically anticipate enemy moves and respond with split-second blade-to-blade reactions, creating a thrilling High Noon of melee weapon combat.

Confront the very God-Kings who once marred the land with their destructive legacy. Bring their reign to an end and liberate the land from the shadows of its dark past. Harness their powers to unlock the mysteries of Acrea, revealing uncharted domains waiting to be explored.

Both you, the adventurer, and your companion Boji have unique talent trees. As the fighter, you gain experience through battles, while Boji, the craftsman, increases his expertise by discovering pieces of ancient lore.

Acrea's vivid world spans from overgrown city ruins to frozen caves and winding canyons. Together with Boji, explore the deepest corners of this ever-changing realm, brimming with adventure at every turn. Each discovery holds valuable treasures, from rare materials and recipes to powerful weapons and lore pieces, all amidst stunning landscapes. Prepare yourself for an epic and unforgettable journey through Acrea's vibrant tapestry.

The Good
All the ingredients for a good action-adventure game are here, you have your classic bonfire/campsite/shrine save points, your character can do the dodge roll, you can parry attacks which became my main way of attacking, as opposed to just running in and swinging wildly. There are plenty of enemies to come up against, from regular type creature enemies, soldier camps, to mystical beings, the enemies all have different abilities so each will need different tactics from you to overcome.

You can collect resources which in turn can be used for crafting at set locations, tressure chests to find and open, different types of weapons, swords, shields, crossbows, spears etc.

The graphics are of the highest quality as you would expect on the Xbox Series X/S. Animation is very good. Your companion, Boji, gives a fun light hearted appeal. I enjoyed the cartoony feel of the world. Combat is strong, and most importantly, the game is fun to play.

Four different difficulty settings allow options for beginners and experts at this type of game, some customisation of the character (body type) is allowed. I would have liked a bit more of this.

The story is well told and interesting.

The Bad
Some gameplay elements can be a bit awkward at times, some enemies feel a bit too set in their routine.

The character's narration as you play is a bit annoying at times.

Ok perhaps not the most original of games, but it does have its own charm which is entertaining. Easy to get into, and enough content to keep you busy for a while.

I enjoyed Stray Blade. A fun action-adventure game which I score a decent 7.5/10

Out Now on Xbox at

17 Jul 2023

REVIEW: SpaceBourne 2 on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Time for another review, although as this is an Early Access Game, please keep in mind that it is not the finished article by quite a way.

SpaceBourne 2 is an "Open-world space simulator with RPG elements", the moment you start to play, you realise that this is a huge game with a lot of scope.

The game feels big, which is surprising considering it is an Indie game made by what I believe is a solo developer, so a huge task to take on for one person.

Let's take a look at the official blurb for the game.

"A single-player, open-universe RPG and third-person shooter game with an abundance of features, including role-playing, mining, trading, piracy, crafting, and deep exploration. The story picks up where it left off in SpaceBourne, but now the player's goal is to build a new empire in the galaxy, with the methods of doing so being completely up to the player.

In SpaceBourne 2, players are offered tens of thousands of diverse solar systems to explore. Each system has a unique structure, featuring different planets with varied surfaces and areas to discover. The locations, from the solar systems to the planets, are procedurally generated, ensuring that each system and planet is unique and has numerous points to explore.

SpaceBourne 2 boasts massive planetary surfaces, each with its own structure, climate, and gravity, as well as cities, villages, caves, outposts, and secrets to interact with. With tens of thousands of different planets available, players are given an unparalleled number of opportunities for exploration throughout the galaxy"

Straight away you will notice a problem with the game, that being it is too big, there is too much to do. Now usually that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when a game is made by such a small studio with limited budget and resources, it leaves the game struggling to do everything right.

With that said, certain parts of the game have really high-quality graphics, in the ship, in space etc, everything looks great. There are some issues on planet surfaces, but they will be improved as the game is further developed.

The game looks decent, it plays ok, there are a lot of improvements that can and I am sure will be made, but for an early access game, it is impressive.

There some issues with the interface, sometimes can feel a bit too busy, a few bugs here and there, but are being fixed as quickly as possible.
Considering the price point of this (£16.75), it might feel a little expensive at first, but when you consider there are certain games that cost twice the price, are supposedly the finished article, but are nowhere near as playable as this, then you have to be impressed.

Some of the scaling/balancing feels a bit off, general economy-based things, or upgrading/levelling up the ship, there is a long way to go to fix everything, but for a start there is plenty to do, and although you might find yourself frustrated here and there, I would say the game is worth sticking at for now.

The Good
Considering this is made by a solo developer, everything looks great. The scale of the game feels huge, and although some planets are a bit scarce, over time these can easily be improved. Remember guys this is an early access game, so a finished article could be years away.

The Bad
There are plenty of bugs in the game, the balancing is off on many aspects, some issues exist with firing.

As this is early access, I won't give it a score, as that would be unfair, but if you are a fan of the genre, then really this is a game you should invest it, not just by purchasing it, but by getting involved in the community, watching the game grow, and helping point out any bugs.

This is a HUGE game, with unlimited potential. The fact that there is only one guy making this amazes me.

Definitely worth checking out at

14 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Spin Rhythm XD on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
I have been an off / on fan of rhythm games for a while now, I enjoyed the Guitar Hero games of the past, and the most recent one I loved was AVICII Invector which I class as just about perfect. Well, Spin Rhythm XD has decided to join an already crowded rhythm market, but does it have what it takes to break it down with the best? Read on to find out.

This plays more as a DJ rhythm game at its base, I played with the basic mouse controls, but to get the most out of this you can play with a MIDI DJ turntable that you can connect to your computer.

Music in the game is of the electronic dance variety, and there are 60 licenced tracks, although to be brutally honest, I didn't recognise a single song.

Controls are pretty simple, spin the wheel at the bottom of the screen so that the colours match the colours and the beats on the track. You will also need to press a button to match certain beats, and even spin the wheel in one direction or another.

The are 5 difficulties to master, Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert and XD, when you complete a level, you are graded on how accurate you were, and get a score which then will appear on the leader boards. As you progress you can unlock new skins for your wheel, a so on.

There is also a create mode, where you can make your own levels, but I found this to be rather confusing, and instead of just allowing you to upload your own song and let the AI create the level for you, it expects you to place every beat etc yourself, which instantly put me off. I am sure if I looked at the create mode closer, I could figure it out and there is probably some automation there, but the system is poorly designed and confusing.

Control using the mouse I found to be easy and fun, meaning you can play the easy levels of the game with one hand very easily, you can also play with a gamepad, but I did not try that.

Gameplay is fun, the graphics are nice, the style of matching the beats etc is not at all original, but I did like the spinning of the wheel.

The Good
Gameplay is easy to pick up, there are plenty of levels to beat, everything looks great, and controls are pretty much perfect for a game like this. Also being able to play with a MIDI DJ turntable is awesome, even if I never got chance to try it, I imagine it is a lot of fun.

The Bad
Create mode is poor, needs to be simplified.

I am in general a fan of electronic dance music, but I really struggled with a lot of the songs here, I understand that to get famous songs costs money so I understand why they had to use who they did, but when you compare this to the Avicci Invector, where every song is a well-known banger, you start to realise how important the songs are. No different than in Guitar Hero, games like this win and lose on their songs.

Just make it super easy to have you play your own MP3 albums, or let you connect to your Spotify account etc with level creation totally AI created, and then you have a winner. If that is possible in this game, then I could not figure it out.

Fun game, great controls, let down somewhat by the music, and the creator mode.

I score Spin Rhythm XD on PC a decent 7.5/10

Out Now on Steam

13 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Monster College on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
I have reviewed a few adult visual novel games over the years, and since it has been a while, I thought I would check out one that seemed a bit different to the usual lot. In Monster College the protagonist is a werewolf!

As is always the way with visual novel games, the main story is pretty much set, although you still have to make decisions as you play, which in turn will affect the story and how you interact with certain characters.

Your character (which you can change the name of), one day finds out he is a werewolf after getting a bit too aroused during an encounter with his girlfriend, he tries to hide his "condition" from her and then from his dad, but eventually has no choice, luckily for him, his father is also a werewolf. The decision is then made that he should enrol at Silverleaf University, which is a special university for special people. Basically the freaks of the world, demons, vampires, zombies, werewolves, gorgons and a place where your character will fit in.

Now because this is an adult visual novel; you will of course get to meet lots of very attractive women, and as is often the case you will try to make relations with them.

With 4000 images and 120 animations, there is plenty to see and the story itself has over 60,000 words and there are multiple endings to witness.

Like many other games of this type, it runs on the "Ren'py Engine" so if you have played other similar visual novels, the controls will be instantly familiar.

The Good
Very well-made images, the story is erotic and well told, and although not as many animations as similar such games, the animations are done well.

The Bad
There are a few bugs, but luckily, they are getting fixed in updates. No spoken word, everything is text based. And could do with more animations.

If you are a fan of the genre, and want something a little different, with some more interesting characters, then check out Monster College.

I score Monster College a decent 7/10.

Check it out at the link below. 18+ only!

9 Jul 2023

NEWS: Testament: The Order of High Human - Releasing on July 13th on PC (Steam)

From Fairyship Games comes a new first-person single-player action-adventure called Testament: The Order of High Human.

Testament is an immersive action-adventure game that incorporates RPG and Metroidvania elements, taking place in the enchanting fantasy realm of Tessara. Following the treacherous actions of your brother Arva, madness has plagued the land. Assume the role of the immortal king of High Humans and embark on a perilous journey to ensure the survival of the realm.

Traverse through the captivating landscapes of an ancient civilization, where you'll encounter deranged followers of a mad dictator, devout worshippers of a blood god, and impending dangers. As you strive to reclaim your lost power, you'll face numerous challenges and unravel the truth behind the chaos, ultimately leading to a confrontation with your brother Arva.

Within Testament, you'll experience a groundbreaking form of swordplay presented through a first-person perspective. Discover innovative combo techniques that allow you to unleash devastating attacks on your adversaries. Additionally, unlock a wide array of magical spells capable of ensnaring, immobilizing, and immolating your enemies. Harness the power of your bow to exploit the weak points of your foes. Prepare to be captivated by the versatility and intricacy of Testament's combat mechanics.

Delve into mechanical puzzles that will test your problem-solving skills and put your platforming abilities to the ultimate test. Overcoming these trials will grant you newfound powers and unveil the hidden truths of the world you inhabit.

Beware of the pervasive darkness that plagues the realm. Encounter blocker eyes, which obstruct your path, leech eyes that bestow invincibility upon other creatures, and night bringers that cast a shroud of darkness, intensifying the challenges you face. Wield your bow of light to eradicate these malevolent eyes of darkness and restore balance to the world.

Harness the power of consumable items available through the in-game wheel and witness their profound effects on your play style. These magical items are more than mere temporary enhancements; they offer unique and captivating abilities that can greatly impact your approach to combat. Embrace their potential and experiment with their diverse effects. Craft these items within your wheel to ensure you have an ample supply for your endeavours.

Immerse yourself in the gripping tale of two High-Human brothers, Aran and Arva. Aran, having lost everything, remains steadfast in his commitment to fight for the realm, while Arva teeters on the brink of consuming the very realm he discarded. The outcome of their clash will determine the fate of the world and its inhabitants. Become an integral part of this compelling narrative and shape the destiny that unfolds before you.

With this game being released on the 13th of July, now is a great time to check out the trailer, and see if this is a game you might enjoy.

7 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Tad The Lost Explorer - Craziest and Madness Edition on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
Did you know that Tad is also known in some parts of the world as Tadeo Jones! In the UK and US, he is Tad Stones. And with that said, it should be a good indicator as to what kind of game this is, especially considering the release of a certain Hollywood film in recent weeks.

Let's check out the official blurb and see what how the game makers describe the game.
"Tad The Lost Explorer - Craziest and Madness Edition takes you on an exciting new global adventure to uncover the origins of a mysterious curse accidentally released by Tad. Join the lost explorer and his faithful companions as they travel through bustling cities on an epic journey solving intricate puzzles, facing off against crazy adversaries and reconstructing parts of the past to reveal the secrets of the Emerald Tablet.

Finally, players will be able to immerse themselves even deeper into the story of Tad's quest in the all-new 3D cinematics. Relive this thrilling adventure through both comic style and 3D cinematics and keep an eye out for hidden details and references."

Based on the Spanish cartoon film, and the game released last year on PC, Tad The Lost Explorer is a 2.5D platform game.

Basic gameplay is your standard platform stuff, get from the beginning of a level to the end, collect various items, avoid the obstacles, traps and enemies, and try to survive. Levels include the lost ruins of Veracruz and the inside of Egypt's Great Pyramid.

You start off playing with Tad, and as you progress you will get to play with some of the other characters, including Sara, who has the ability to double jump. The Mummy, abilities allow the Mummy to jump higher and hide inside her sarcophagus. Ramona, who has the ability to levitate, as well as telekinesis, the ability to reconstruct objects from the past. The Mummy character is a new playable character that was not playable in other releases of the game.

There are 14 levels to beat, which are based on the movie, lots of different and unique enemies to overcome, and a fun story with comic book style cinematics to enjoy.

Watch the trailer below and you will get a good idea of the style of game this is.

The Good
I never saw the film, so I am new to the story and character, but the timing of the Switch release is no mistake, with the Indiana Jones film just being released. But this is more than just a cash in on the genre, this is a fun platform game with its own character and style. Enemies are challenging, levels are well designed, and the graphics are impressive, even on the small screen of a Nintendo Switch Lite.

The 3D levels give a new perspective and different gameplay dynamic to the usual platforming. For example, there is a behind view of your characters in a boat as they have to move left and right to collect stars and avoid obstacles, I liked the puzzles you have to solve, and although not particularly hard, they are a fun element of the game. Using the Mummy character and having to use stealth to pass the level is fun and different to the use of the other characters.

The Bad
At times the background graphics can get in the way of your character making it hard to see where you are, only a small issue, but as I like to explore and look for secrets, sometimes it was hard to see where I was, when at wall area. Sometimes the character feels a bit light footed, so you do not feel like you are in full control, you do get used to it, but I prefer a more solid footing in a character.

This is a fun action-adventure platform game. Ok it is not at all original, but it is very well made, the levels are well designed, the 4 characters you get to play with are all pretty different, with unique abilities and skills, which helps break up the gameplay. I liked the cinematics, the comic book style, and in general the look of the game.

I score Tad The Lost Explorer - Craziest and Madness Edition on Nintendo Switch a solid 8.5/10

This is a game you should add to your collection.

Out Now on the Nintendo Shop at

And check out the films that the game is based on at and 

2 Jul 2023

REVIEW: Curse of the Sea Rats on Xbox

Review by Jon Donnis
Another day, another review, this time Curse of the Sea Rats on Xbox, which is described as a "ratoidvania", basically a platform game with anthropomorphized rats as the main characters.

Everything is hand drawn with 2.5D animation, and looks fantastic, you can tell that a lot of time and love as gone into the animation. Main characters are 2D, with the backgrounds being 3D.

"Embark on the epic journey of four prisoners of the British empire, transformed into rats by the notorious pirate witch, Flora Burn. To regain their human bodies, they will have to fight dangerous bosses, uncover the secrets of the vast Irish coast, and ultimately capture the witch who cursed them."

You start off the game Shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland in the 18th Century, although you started off as prisoners, the captain begs the gang to rescue his captured son. You can choose to play as one of four playable characters, David Douglas (classic sword action), Buffalo Calf (Uses dagger and knives), Bussa (fights with his fists), and Akane Yamakawa (uses a spear). Each character as a unique fighting style and skill set. You can play in solo mode or with friends in a local co-op mode.

Gameplay consists of classic platforming action across a somewhat non-linear world, you will still need to beat certain bosses to progress, with lots of different routes to take, treasures to find, kidnapped children to save, curses to reverse and enemies to beat. As you progress you will be able to teleport back to other areas, and as you level up you can unlock new skills in the skill tree. For example, increasing your hit rate, health bar, new magic powers, double jump, dash and so on.

The levels are well designed, lots to explore, passages to find and so on. As you meet NPCs if you choose to talk to them, they will often give you a side quest to complete, for example something to find and return to them.

All in all, a decent platform game.

The Good
Beautifully designed and animated. Gameplay can be challenging at times, but the more you play and unlock, the easier it becomes.

The Bad
The game is a bit buggy at times, but I am assured that the developers are listening to the players, and fixing things as fast as they can.
Some enemies seem unusually hard until you have levelled up, and upgraded your character, a few shots and you are dead. The balance seems a bit off, and there needs to be more save points, and perhaps difficulty options.

Curse of the Sea Rats on Xbox has a lot of potential, and hopefully after the balancing issues and a few of the other bugs get fixed, this should be a great little platform game for people of all ages.

I score Curse of the Sea Rats on Xbox a fair 7.5/10

Out Now on Xbox