Video Game Reviews

Full Bore
Whole Hog/Nkidu Games
Reviewed on: PC (exclusive)
Street: 05.06
Based on my initial gameplay of Whole Hog’s Full Bore, I found that my neural pathways were struggling to shoehorn the game into the genre of an exploration-centric platformer like Spelunky.  As I continued my journey into the forgotten, underground world of Boarkind however, it became clear that each new area I discovered actually housed a mind-bending puzzle that needed to be solved before I could continue my exploration.  It was a fascinating experience, to say the least.  Though Full Bore has been compared to games in the Metroid-vania subgenre, I feel like that is a forced parallel that has been slapped on the game in order to offer a bit of unnecessary context.  While I did notice influences from several other games, it’s unfair to try and pigeonhole a game that is so obviously trying not to be pigeonholed.   Though I found the control scheme to be frustrating, it does force the player to approach each puzzle with a very critical eye.  Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing. Miguel Acuña, who puts a bluesy spin on the old-school chiptune, provided the perfect backdrop for this little maverick of a game. –Alex SpringerFull Mojo Rampage
Over the Top Games
Reviewed on: PC (exclusive)
Street: 05.08
The rogue-like genre consists of a fragile balance.  On one hand, the game should be transparent enough to provide a momentary escape into a virtual world. On the other hand, the game should be complex enough to make the player want to come back for more.  Full Mojo Rampage veers too close to upsetting this balance, which makes for a slightly lopsided gaming experience.  For a rogue-like game, asking players to complete six to eight levels with two boss battles is a tall order—a flaw that could be amended if the levels were less repetitive.  Though the character gets tougher with each playthrough, I found it difficult to psych myself up for each subsequent run.  That being said, the game manages to gain ground with its multiplayer capability.  When planning a run with some buddies, the amount of levels seems less daunting and the onslaught of enemies is more manageable.  In addition to the solid multiplayer, the game’s voodoo aesthetic evokes a goth-Caribbean atmosphere that provides a unique world to interact with.  As a single-player game, Full Mojo Rampage falls a bit short of the mark, but, when playing with some friends, it’s easy to feel the mojo. –Alex SpringerHakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi
Idea Factory / Aksys Games
Reviewed on: PS3 (exclusive)
Street: 05.06
Thirty minutes into my first playthrough of Hakuoki, my girlfriend had to turn it off to silence my screams of agony. This game may be targeted at 15 year old girls who wear silly hats and have long, important-sounding discussions about which anime characters they want to bone, but I doubt even they would want to play it. Hakuoki’s story centers around a young girl named Chizuru. She is searching for her missing father when she inexplicably gets kidnapped by a group of rōnin called the Shinsengumi. They imprison her and threaten multiple times to kill her, but this team of dead-eyed, psychopathic prettyboys turn out to be her potential love interests. The plot unfolds with all the excitement of white paint drying on cold molasses, and the writing reads like a c-rate anime script. In a game that is ostensibly one long text-box conversation, this fundamental failure poisons the whole experience. I have read my fair share of lengthy RPG exposition text, and I won’t pretend it was all great literature, but at least the badness was interesting or completely ignorable. Scrolling through pages and pages of cringe-inducing dialogue between creepily animated bishounen filled me with a mixture of mind-numbing apathy and existential dread. Hakuoki is not so much a game as it is an exercise in self-flagellation, with player participation limited to dully pressing the X button once every 10 seconds. For every few hours you spend reading, the game will give you two or three meaningless choices that have no effect on the plot, but instead determine which of your murderous kidnappers “takes a shine” to you in that scene. I would rather read a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction written by a 10-year-old on Ritalin than endure another moment of Hakuoki’s banal horribleness. –Henry Glasheen