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Critical Bit #6:
At Arm’s Length

Written by Ian Yuan, April 14, 2013, 0 Comments

Ni No Kuni has become somewhat notorious for it’s habit of teasing you with treasure chests that arejust out of reach (they’re accessible later on with some kind of gadget). If you’re like me and are a compulsive loot hunter, you’ll be infuriated to no end by occasional green chest perched high a top a cliff face. You’ll sneer at it knowing that 15 hours of game time later, you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t spend the 20 minutes needed to backtrack to that same spot just to open a chest containing some random and only marginally useful item. Ian H and I were discussing this via text message (as many young folk do nowadays). This comic’s punchline arose out of that exchange.

And before you mention it, no, the chest in the background is not within reach. Look at it! It’s so far! So far!

A Side of Guacamelee! Free of Charge

Speaking of games that love to tease, I was over at Ian H.’s house to play some Guacamelee!, a Metroidvania (I feel strange using this term) style 2-D platforming beat ‘em up from those fine ladies and gents over at Drinkbox Studios. I had some hands on time with it at GamerCamp and was curious what the final product would be like. We played for a couple hours and were both pretty impressed. The graphics are simple but crisp and very smooth. The art style is appropriate and endearing. In terms of controls it’s easy to pick up but beneath the surface is a surprisingly complex combo system.

The teasing comes with its exploratory action-adventure elements that involve a lot of hinting at hidden goods that require certain skills to unlock later on. In fact Ian H. spent 15 minutes playing with a timed switch because he couldn’t figure out what the purpose of it was.

The game also has a ridiculous sense of humour and is full of overt nods to both internet memes and retro games including grumpy cat, IKEA monkey, Legend of Zelda, Metroid and even Grim Fandango (which pleased me to no end). I still haven’t decided if all the reference are a good thing or not. It’ll certainly have you chuckling while you play but it can seem a little much at times.

If you’re ever perusing the Drinkbox Studios Site for Guacamelee! you’ll notice the Canadian Media Fund and Ontario Media Development Corporation (these are two government agencies in Canada that provide funding to creative projects of all kinds) logos near the top of the page. I’m glad to see my tax dollars at work for something useful for once! (I’m actually being sincere here for the most part. I am happy to see government funding going to support quality Canadian arts and multimedia ).

It’s still early going but it seems like a worth while play. It’s out right now for the PS3 and PSVita.

Critical Bit is a web comic about video games written and drawn by Ian Yuan. New additions are published EVERY SUNDAY!?! (That’s right)

About Ian Yuan

Ian has been playing games for as long as he can remember and pretending to write about them for some significantly shorter amount of time. Words often mistakenly used to describe him include: sophisticated, gentlemanly, scholarly and Korean. His favourite time-wasters beside videogames include reading pulp detective novels, making hand sewn sock animals and adding to his skinny tie collection. He does not talk about his day job and neither should you.