92 Reviews liked by callumjbyrne

its better than the zeebo port, i guess.
this remake is an exercise in futility. almost everything new is bad and everything good about it is from a 20 year old game that remains superior to this. part of what made the original special is that it was isolated from the rest of the franchise, and in every sense of the word this remake's number one priority is to homogenize it with everything else while still being "resident evil 4" in the most half-hearted, pathetic way possible.
the tone of this game wants so desperately to be melodramatic and self-serious in line with the other remakes but understands that it loses all appeal if it doesnt still portray RE4-isms, so in one scene nu-leon will say "Fuck... this has to be different... shit..." and in the very next he'll do The Bingo Line or go "Whoopsy daisy, looks like I just kicked you in the head" a million times during combat because otherwise it won't get a 4.6 average on Backloggd. it wants to be new but feels to obligated to be old because it is literally a remake so the entire thing feels wholly disingenuous.
resident evil 4 was also an action game and the modern RE remakes are more of an exercise in frustration than anything, so nu-4 tries to mix both worlds without really having the engine to back it up. the amount of times leon would be stunlocked by an enemy breathing on him is enough to make a man insane, and the enemy states in this game are also much more vague than the original. the idea is that if you should them in the head or leg you can perform a melee, but sometimes enemies just wont be affected by these things at all and the player is left entirely out of control.
there are plenty of new additions that fans of a PS2 action game are sure to love also, such as
- Cut content sold later as DLC
- Weapon degredation, and speaking of which
- Stealth Kills (who asked for this)
- Parries (but dont use them, because your knife will break. also the game makes it super unclear what you can and cannot parry besides having a brief parry prompt in the corner, so its as if the game still has quick time events)
- That thing where instead of mashing to get out of grabs, you just stab them. This is really pointless since it also breaks your knife but enemies grab you so much more here that fuck it, you can have my knife
- Iconic new Side Quests such as "kill 3 rats" and "kill 3 snakes"
- Unlockable charms that give wonderful bonuses like 5% higher chance of enemies dropping green herbs or shotgun bullets
- A crouch button(??)
- A new enemy thats practically the same as Salvador but more frequent and nearly unstaggerable so hes really just an ammo toll, thanks
this game is just so phony in so many ways. lots of little things are worse. the regenerator music is louder and they become a standard enemy instead of having their own special moments. characters talk more and have less to say. arguably every single boss encounter is more "cinematic" instead of being dynamic, like Mendez hiding in the background to pick up big red barrels for you to shoot instead of just being a boss fight. the game in general is more cinematic and even has one of those fucking sequences where you just hold up on the left stick while a psuedo-cutscene plays. in MY resident evil 4
i fail to see any way that this remake is trying to do anything besides rewrite history, let alone one of the most historically significant games ever made. i shudder to think of the amount of people who will say "resident evil 4" in reference to this and this alone. it does wimpily try to emulate the original, so it can still have its moments, but otherwise adds positively nothing to the industry and has effectively only harmed the reputation of the 2005 game. im glad people love it as much as they do, and i wish so dearly that they would be inspired to see what the original is all about too, but chances of that are low. this is new, and thats old. morir es vivir, morir es vivir

I have beaten Streets of Rage 2 a bunch of times since completing Streets of Rage 4 a bunch of times, because Streets of Rage 4 more or less trains you on how to play Streets of Rage 1, 2 & 3 correctly.
Game fans, myself included, often bounce off of old arcade-style beat ‘em ups because they can initially appear impossible to beat without reaching for the save-state. But we often forget Streets of Rage 2 and its contemporaries were designed to be appreciated again and again until you reached some state of mastery. Streets of Rage 2 was designed to be bought by your mum for £50 and played by you every day after school until Mr. X finally ate dirt. Streets of Rage 2 was not designed to be included in a 40-game Mega Drive all-you-can-game buffet that you can buy on Steam for £2.49 right now or enjoy for “free” as part of the Nintendo Switch Online Sega Mega Drive Expansion Package Plus for Nintendo Switch or whatever it’s called. You don’t have time to try Stage 3 of Streets of Rage 2 again - you need to go over there and play ToeJam & Earl 2 in its original Japanese translation, for some reason!
No, I say! Stay here and learn your Streets of Rage, kid. Because mastering a beam ‘em up always feels great! A good beam ‘em up often boils down to something between a fighting game and a puzzle game - figuring out what each enemy’s weakness is, considering the order in which to exploit these weaknesses, and then executing the correct badass moves under pressure from the advancing mob. It’s like Tetris, but the blocks are made out of punches and broken bottles. It’s beautiful.
This time round on Streets of Rage 2, I sleepwalked through the opening few stages without taking a single hit. I didn’t even realise I’d done it until I checked out how many lives I’d accumulated. Apparently I’d just been effortlessly side-stepping Galsias and out-ranging Donovans without even consciously doing it, applying some hybrid martial art that stands somewhere between the so-called “Tetris effect” and that bit in The Matrix Reloaded where Neo is just effortlessly ducking and stepping those Agent Smiths. Pro Gamer Shit.
Just kidding. I don’t consider myself a pro at Streets of Rage 2 by any stretch - but after playing through the game six or seven times with my brain turned on, I realised Streets of Rage 2 had trained me so well that I’d internalised all the natures and patterns of the game’s opening enemies. Folks, that’s some Good Game Design! And we haven’t even talked about the Good Design of the music or the artwork yet!
One thing this play-through of Streets of Rage 2 made me think about was how well Streets of Rage 2 serves as a perfect historical relic of its era and specific place in that era - a pixel-art tableau of early 1990s house/rave/hip hop culture on the east coast of America. More specifically, early 1990s house/rave/hip hop culture on the east coast of America as viewed by an incredibly talented, classically-trained Japanese designer and composer who could see that computers and video games represented the future. Streets of Rage 2 is how people outside of America saw this side of America in this era, and every era since - through film and music and video games. It’s fascinating to see what essential truths and dreams made it across the ocean to us. I think this game has genuine cultural worth that scholars in halls grander than Backloggd’s will one day celebrate.
About 8 years after Streets of Rage 2 made its own history, Japan’s Takeshi Kitano made a film called Brother. Brother was Takeshi Kitano’s first film outside of Japan, and was set in Los Angeles with a half-American, half-Japanese cast. As a hands-on director, writer and actor, there’s no doubt that Brother represents Kitano’s vision of Los Angeles and America at large. Check it out! It’s good! Exactly like Streets of Rage 2, Brother serves as a celluloid time capsule of America’s international cultural impact and influence at a specific point in time - and it’s quite striking how much had changed in the space of the 8 years between 1992 and the year 2000. Brother is one of Kitano’s lesser-appreciated films, but I think that film has genuine cultural worth that scholars in halls grander than Letterboxd’s will one day celebrate.
So, there you have it - an arcade beat ‘em up game with beautiful, artistic complexity of beat ‘em up game design, sharing bytes in the same cartridge with one of the most important cultural artefacts of the early 1990s. Still wanna fuck around with Toe Jam & Earl? C’mon man.



I had a lot of fun playing Tunic, with its cute artstyle and simple but addicting gameplay. Exploring in this game is done really well, with hidden paths and areas everywhere. Constant progress through new key items, or stat upgrades. It really felt like there was so many paths to take at any one time, yet I rarely seemed to meet any dead ends. I don't know exactly how linear the game is since I know some abilities are definitely required for some parts, but for a game with as much freedom as it gives, I never seemed to run into roadblocks. Instead it was a case of getting a new ability and getting excited to try it out on all the old places I've already been.
And even in the times I did get lost, it didn't feel like a complete waste of time because every enemy I killed brought me one step closer to paying for that next upgrade.
The game manual is obviously the biggest thing that gives the game its identity, and most people love it or hate it. I liked it overall, I thought it generally gave enough info to at least beat the game without having to dig deep. But some of the optional stuff is insane to expect people to work out by themselves, even just being able to get the true ending.
I think what I'd have liked was a way to get the text translated in-game. So many ways they could have done this, either by having each letter be a hidden collectable so you slowly build it up, having a translation be a prize for the final boss, so only in new game plus could non-super devoted players get to understand it, or if they really wanted to make the players do it, allow them to enter letters for each symbol that automatically turns every symbol into that letter. Never telling the player if they got the right letter, so it'd be just the same as writing them down on paper, but without the need to constantly cross-reference.
The majority of the game is just perfect. I can only really criticise some of the decisions to make some aspects near impossible without an online guide, or more time dedication than necessary.

There are now 1,199 reviews saying:
“it’s Portal, I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said already”

Nothing complicated here, Zero Mission was just a joy to pick up and tear through, blasting missiles and lasers in quickfire run and gun while maneuvering a tightly packed planet filled with careful and precisely placed powerups. It's no Super Metroid in terms of level design (no "Geemer crawling out of the wall" moments of discovery, at least), but the map is solid and with enough tinkering and studying, you'll basically be able to figure out exactly where to go and how to progress as long as you remember what goes where, since the map will mark collectibles/destinations but not specific color-coded obstacles for the correct powerup. Hell, I was even okay with most of the extended stealth section, since getting caught was not an instant reset as long as I stayed on my feet to quickly outrun and avoid the pirates, and it was super satisfying to scrape by the skin of my teeth at times. My biggest gripe is that I do think the boss fights feel less memorable than those of Super Metroid; a bunch of scattered fights vs giant worms and larvae and a Mother Brain fight where I got pinballed by a million projectiles while trying to escape the lava to get back onto the platform can't compare to the likes of Phantoon's ghastly spectacle or Draygon's underwater confrontation. But regardless, it's a nice and snug package of a Metroidvania with classic GBA visuals and upgraded 8 bit tunes of the original with plenty of abilities to exploit over the course of a few hours while picking up a few tidbits concerning Metroid lore and Samus's past, and I'm happy to say that it's basically comfort food for me at this point.

Maybe the most perfect game out there, especially this Mario All-Stars remaster. The way Mario controls is the best he’s been in 2-D, with a high skill ceiling but no barrier of entry like the unusual momentum mechanics in the original game. The level design is varied and memorable so that each stage really drills its way into your brain. This is helped by great art direction that shifts in unique ways from world to world while still retaining a overarching identity. I could go on!!!

100% complete on normal difficulty (32 heart pieces, 50 seashells, 193 chambers for Dampé's dungeon). While I'm not particularly inclined towards a hero mode playthrough for now, it was really great to have a good excuse to replay this gem of a game. Link's Awakening was my first 'proper' Zelda (I'd dabbled once or twice with the original on a friend's NES before this, but only barely) but despite that, it's amazing what a difference some of the quality of life changes make to a game that I was already very fond of.
The remake maintains the 'cozy' atmosphere that the smaller scope of the game engenders, further enhanced by the toy-like graphical style, while the world design, puzzles and overall gameplay are as enjoyable as ever. The improved functionality of modern controllers does away with most of the time-consuming menu and item management required by the original's two-button controls and the extra map warp points are another much-appreciated addition. Musically, the game also excels - Tal-Tal Heights and the final Staff Roll remain two of my favourite pieces of Zelda music and the orchestral recreations here do them proud.
Overall, the Link's Awakening remake really feels like the 'definitive' way of experiencing this superb early instalment in the Zelda franchise, highly recommended to all Switch owners.

kraid's lair theme stays on during sex

I want to like Clive N Wrench. Trust me, I’ve followed this game almost since whispers of its inception in 2011 and its resultant failed Kickstarter campaign in 2015; it’s a miracle that somehow we still got a finished product after all this time. Yet, despite over a decade consisting of various degrees of development hell, Clive N Wrench is one of the most undercooked 3D platformers that I have ever played in my life. I so desperately want to give this game the love and attention it deserves and recommend it to all my friends remotely interested in the indie collectathon revival… but I can’t.
Where do we even begin? Clive N Wrench suffers from a slew of strange technical and design issues, and to go over all of them in detail would probably take another separate review. So here’s a quick listing of everything that I noticed over my playthrough (and there’s probably more that I’m missing):
- Destructible objects and ragdolled “defeated” enemies behave at a different frame rate than the in-game frame rate, so they will fly wildly upon hit and their models can often spaz out and distort/elongate into Longachu-esque forms while clipping into surfaces.
- Projectiles sometimes fail to unspawn after a certain amount of time, and running into them will still damage you.
- Collecting an ancient stone (the equivalent of Power Stars/Shines) puts you in an unskippable collecting animation cutscene, but you can still take damage and die while in this state.
- Poor AI for enemies means that they don’t know how to path upon spotting you besides running in a straight line, so enemies get stuck on walls and corners all the time.
- Some objects just straight up lack geometry and solidity.
- The climbing animation when climbing poles runs at a different frame rate than in-game. So, the climbing animation appears to lag while going up/down and the result is this, where the model appears to vibrate into the pole. This is recorded at 60 FPS by the way while the game runs at 144 FPS: on my 144 Hz monitor, this effect is exacerbated and Clive turned into this black blurry blob of a rough outline and it actually caused me minor motion sickness focusing on the climbing.
- Some random pushable/contactable objects in the overworld that serve no purpose other than being mobile (such as the tennis balls in the first world) do not properly respond to collision and behave erratically.
- Most sloped vertical surfaces don’t actually cause any slippage via friction or present any barriers to movement, so you can walk up and stand on just about anything. No, that's not an exaggeration.
- Sometimes these sloped surfaces have obvious invisible protrusions, so you can stand in mid-air.
- There was an enemy completely submerged under death water that was shooting me with arrows whom I could not touch, despite the fact that all other enemies died upon contact with the death water.
- When adjusting the camera near walls, it will pop out of the environment, so you can see the infinite expanse outside of the level walls.
- You can’t adjust the camera upwards without the camera getting uncomfortably close to your character.
- There’s no way to adjust camera sensitivity, and it’s really, really slow.
- For that matter, there’s no way to adjust most of the settings (no FOV slider, no brightness slider, no frame rate limiter, etc), much less tinker with exact graphical specifications on PC.
- You also can’t adjust text scroll speed, and the built-in speed is super slow. But you also can’t just press X to skip to the end of the dialogue, because that closes out of the dialogue box!
- The right trigger handles camera reset while RB is used to crouch/ground-pound/dive, which feels backwards to me given that the latter is used way more often. Similarly, LB is held down a lot to run while the left trigger does… nothing. Sure would be nice to rebind this, but you can’t rebind controls whatsoever!
- Some characters will have a context sensitive “Y” prompt above their heads when you can’t actually talk to them (so Y does nothing).
- Every time Clive runs over the edge of a platform, he will short hop. Not full jump or fall down from gravity, but rather short hop. This interfered with my habit of timing my full jump right before running off the edge, and caused my double jump input to be eaten early so many times, resulting in tons of dumb deaths.
- You can’t skip the intro cutscene of Clive jumping out the time machine and the resulting cutscene camera pan over the level introduction, no matter if you’ve completed the level or not. Expect to see this a lot.
- The landing animation doesn’t always activate immediately on surfaces, so Clive will sometimes “glide” for several seconds before finally stagnating and landing.
- There’s a certain boss run level that forces you into a narrow linear corridor and locks your camera while platforming multiple times; adjusting the camera left or right during any of these segments will cause the camera to do a complete 180 (while you’re in mid-air or on a collapsible platform by the way). Also, you can’t perceive depth very well because it’s a straight-on horizontal camera angle and you can’t tilt the camera up or down during these sections. Fun!
- The 2nd boss of the game shakes the table that the boss fight takes place upon a ton, and is extremely nauseating.
- The game’s physics while on rapidly rotating circular platforms are very messed up; Clive will correctly slow to a crawl while walking in the direction against rotation, but then also slow to a crawl while walking in the direction of rotation instead of accelerating and similarly feel restrained while walking towards/away from the center of rotation. Basically, you have to jump like a hot potato to meaningfully move on any rotating platform.
- The game is optimized extremely poorly; at high settings, it was still dipping below 60 FPS in random environments (not necessarily because of heavy object spawn or large loading distances) and because game logic is actually tied to in-game frame rate, this often meant collision and ragdoll physics felt extremely inconsistent between 144 and >60 FPS. For context, I'm playing this on PC with a GTX 3070.
Beyond all this lack of polish however, lies one fundamental issue; the game is just too easy. Clive can gain considerable height with a quick backflip/sideflip (quickly change directions with the left joystick and then jump) and then double jump into infinite glide/hover with Wrench. This maneuver can basically be used for 75% of the jumps in the game, and the other 25% can be cleared with simple dash into double jump. For context, it would be like if you were playing Super Mario Sunshine and 75% of the jumps were just spin jump/sideflip into the hover nozzle with infinite water. There’s no satisfying “efficient” speed tech in the game, because there’s no “low-and-long movement” option like a long jump or the dive from A Hat in Time. There’s not much challenge to necessitate this movement either; one egregious example is in the pirate level, where two ancient stones are located within visible sight of one another, both upon tall stone watchtowers that can be platformed between within one minute. The vast majority of challenges are just some degree of repeating the same jumps within this mostly open world of scattered collectibles, many of which are presented as the exact same type of objective. As a result, platforming begins to feel pretty rote once you’re an hour or more into the game… which rather defeats the purpose of a collectathon 3D platformer wouldn’t you say?
What really serves to hammer the nail in the coffin though, is that Clive N Wrench lacks charm. I cannot recall any of the songs on the soundtrack; most sounded quite a bit like generic Creative Commons elevator music (I would make the comparison to Kevin MacLeod’s work, but that would be rude to Kevin MacLeod) in short loops of a couple of minutes or less. NPCs don’t really offer any interesting dialogue or have any body to their personality beyond generic questing descriptions and some quick one-liners. Similarly, Clive N Wrench themselves don’t really have any notable personality quirks (you’ll be very disappointed if you’re trying to make comparisons to the banter of Banjo and Kazooie) and have basically no input upon their roles in the narrative. Speaking of narrative, the intro cutscene has no dialogue and is vaguely pantomimed out while the rest of the story is told here and there with sparse dialogue boxes; you’ll probably understand the story more from the Steam Store description alone. The time travel theming just feels rather weak; besides the lack of atmosphere from distinct level elements and tunes, they’re all over the place with the level inspirations (how the hell does a Toy Story 2 Andy’s House rip-off level fit into meddling with time travel?) Finally, the game is unfortunately rather hideous and the characters look like discount Five Nights At Freddy’s animatronics... but there’s no horror to be found except from how bland everything looks!
I’ll give one concession to the developers here: I really appreciate the utility of the in-game stopwatch detector to help you hunt down those last collectibles, and they also made sure to plant destructible vases containing stopwatches next to important switches and objectives so you’ll be able to easily track down remnants without excessively struggling for that completion. Unfortunately, this game aged like milk within the 11 hours that it took me to snag everything, and I honestly can’t see myself going back any time soon given the lack of both personality and gameplay depth. I do hope that the developers listen to the early reviews and fix up all the technical issues, because it would be a shame if this was how the story ended after all this time… but good god, I still can’t get over that art style. I swear it’s not that complicated to make 3D platformers look crisp guys, we figured this out all the way back in 2000!

Skywalker Saga is even a step back by Lego game standards to the point where just remastering LSW1 and 2 would have been better, thanks to some extremely mindless gameplay and level design that borders the line of hardly being a video game.