Budget Gaming 101: Stupid Pandas and Psychotic Flash Games.

I wake up, stare at the ceiling, regret waking up, then roll over to turn on my PlayStation 4 via the wireless controller. The home screen boots up and, instead of firing up Battlefield or Call of Duty, I open the PlayStation Store. Images of holidays sales and deals that I “can’t afford to ignore” assault my vision. I begin to feel my willpower erode and decide that having something different to play sounds refreshing. Cash is limited, my wallet resembling a mausoleum, so I decide to view the deals in order by ascending price points. To my astonishment, a few games actually stood out, the next few hours were filled with depression, confusion, and a surprising lack of buyer’s remorse, this is budget gaming at it’s finest.

 Dear God, what have I brought upon myself? This entire game is a meme, from beginning to end. KFPSoLL, for lack of a better abbreviation, is an attempt by aptly named developer, Vicious Cycle Software, to recreate the joy of Super Smash Brothers within the Kung Fu Panda universe. The game just comes off as cheap; an overly simple main menu, lack of game modes, and shallow presentation lay the foundation for your experience with this game.

 Graphically it resembles the polygon days of the Nintendo GameCube, with overly rounded edges on the maps and characters. Once you’re actually playing you get to discover the poor mechanics behind the combat system. It’s unresponsive, glitchy, oddly specific, and mostly unpredictable. You’re never really sure what to expect when you try to attack another player, perhaps you’ll swing and won’t get any response thanks to small hit boxes or perhaps you’ll just be left standing there wondering why you aren’t swinging.

 The best part of this game would have to be the map design, even with it’s rounded edges and clunky performance. Dynamic events, like the ship you are fighting on beginning to sink, are implemented wherever they could fit them.

If that kind of care was put into the rest of the game, maybe it wouldn’t have been something you’d find in the bargain bin at your local Wal-Mart. The AI is ridiculously easy even on the highest difficulty and unlocking the full character roster takes a total of about 14 minutes. I might be mad, if I had spent any more than $2.99 USD on this game.

Controllers thrown: Absolutely none….disgraceful.
 Primary Emotion: Sadness
 Frequent/Best Quotes:
     “I’m fairly intoxicated right now, I think that’s the only way to enjoy this shell of a game.”
     “Why was this created?”
     “Okay but seriously, why?”
 Recommendation: I mean, I bought it on sale for three dollars. Don’t pay more than five. It’s not too bad when you’re drunk or at that point of exhaustion that you have no clue who you are or why you were born.
 No Time To Explain, a fitting title for a game where you have little to no clue what’s going on 99% of the time. This game isn’t that complicated but it can be quite frustrating, It is a console port of a PC flash game and I would consider it a puzzle-platformer.
The game just kind of throws you right into the shit, navigating around with a laser cannon as you attempt to rescue yourself from a giant fucking crab. the first few levels are fairly simple and are mostly there to help you get a feel for the controls of the game.
As far as the graphics are concerned….it’s a flash game. I mean it doesn’t look terrible and it runs fine so good job TinyBuild. It certainly has a style and I applaud it for the over the top design and simple yet hectic environments.
It’s fun, it really is, it’s fast paced and you die a lot, but it’s fun. It enrages me quite often though, the levels are really easy at first but get increasingly more difficult, and the boss fights can be fairly challenging as well, often times leaving you ready to chuck the controller at the nearest fragile object. The bosses wouldn’t be so bad if the controls were more accurate or if they weren’t two part encounters.
For every fight you get three lives, and by the time you get to the second part of the fight you are usually down to your last life. Then, right before completion that last life you had gets stripped away and you are forced to restart from the beginning of the battle.
I believe that much of the frustration comes from the relative inaccuracy of the analog sticks when compared to the mouse and keyboard the game was designed for. One of the levels requires you bounce off jump pads while directing your character with the laser cannon previously mentioned. It can be quite the headache trying to precisely navigate the protagonist in between obstacles while aiming for the next jump pad just to catch a spike in mid air and have to retry.
Overall No Time To Explain is a fun little nightmare that I personally didn’t expect much from, I’ll probably leave it on the console just to play it when i’m bored and trying to kill time.
 Controllers thrown: 3….There is a fucking shark and a giant orb, they made my blood pressure rise a good bit.
 Primary Emotion: Confusion…What in the hell is going on?
 Frequent/Best Quotes:
     “Would you just do the damn thing?”
     “A shark can not have tentacles, it’s just not natural”
     “Dude wtf?”
 Recommendation: I only paid like four bucks for this game, I definitely got my money’s worth and then some. I’d pay up to, I don’t know, ten bucks.
 Okay I’m just going to say that I had absolutely no hope for this game, I didn’t know anything about it and I only made the purchase because I wanted to review 3 games for my first budget gaming article. With that being said, holy shit. This little fast paced hell hole of a game made for some fun and also frustrating moments.
It’s very straight to the point, your menu options are versus and cooperative; followed by difficulty and map selection. There’s not much else there, it’s designed around local multiplayer so there isn’t really anything in the way of story. You have your four teams(red, blue, green, yellow) and the enemy NPCs (The Pirates). Your goal? To stop the pirates from spreading ANARCHY.
Your characters have battle suits equipped with a laser sword, a laser gun, a shield, thrusters, and the ability to call in reinforcements. Your enemies just have a lot of weapons and an unbreakable spirit. Battle is fast paced and, if you’re anything like me, you die a lot. Deflecting “bullets” with your sword can make you feel like a bad ass and flying right into enemy fire can make you feel like a waste of breath. It’s a good balance between joy and self loathing.
Stardust Vanguards runs well and doesn’t look too bad, it is still a flash game, but it fits the style of everything else so well that I honestly don’t think this game would be enjoyable otherwise. The maps in this game are not the best; they are extremely simple and not much else could be done with them. There is quite a jump in difficulty between the levels, easy feels like they are holding your hands too much, medium feels about 3 times more difficult than easy and hard is just ridiculous. On hard they just throw swarm after swarm your way and you’re expected to survive.
After it’s all said and done I had a shit load of fun in the short time I spent on this game, and I have a hard time believing I only paid $1.99 for it.
 Controllers Thrown: Zero, but in a better way than Kung Fu Panda.
 Primary Emotion: Anxiety, This game gives you a lot of “Oh Fuck” moments, especially at higher difficulties.
 Frequent/Best Quotes:
     “Are you shitting me?”
     “I’m pretty sure I’m my own worst enemy”
     “God damn I am not liked here”
 Recommendation: I’m not sure how much it is normally, but if you have friends that would actually play it with you I would probably pay up to like 8 bucks. I had a lot of fun with it.
–David, 1/7/2017


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