Below Review – Welcome to the Heart of Darkness

Originally published on DualShockers on December 28, 2018. I have republished the introduction of the review here for myself. If you would like to see the original post, check it out here.

The very beginning of Capy Games’ (Capy) Below offers a taste of what you’ll come to experience as you venture down into the depths of their rouge-lite dungeon crawler. The camera is pulled way back over a stormy sea; thunder cracking all around as the waves roll. Slowly tracking in, a small boat comes into focus as it sails forward through the storm. After five minutes, the boat makes land and a tiny character hops out. The island and its depths are now open for you to explore.

Below provides an immensely gripping atmosphere with procedurally generated dungeons that reveal just how meticulously hand-crafted it truly is after a few hours of spelunking. The island’s mystery provides little incentive to find out “what lies below” after the notion of randomness is replaced with one of memorization and preparation. What starts out as intentionally obtuse becomes a game that demands you learn, study, and master its rules if you ever hope to make it to the end.

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A Look Inside Disney World’s Kingdom Hearts III Pop-Up

Earlier this month, Square Enix announced that a pop-up shop for Kingdom Hearts III would appear in Disney Springs, an outdoor shopping and dining experience near Disney World. Staying open from December 14 through January 31, this shop would allow fans to play a demo of Kingdom Hearts III weeks before release while checking out replica Keyblades and some Kingdom Hearts swag that’s for sale on Square Enix’s online shop.

I live just outside of Orlando, FL and decided to check out the shop, both for myself and for you fine readers of DualShockers. I’ve only been waiting over five years since Kingdom Hearts III‘s announcement and 13 years since Kingdom Hearts II. Figured this was my time to shine.

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Eon’s GCHD MK-II Review — Unlocking the GameCube’s Full Potential

Originally published on DualShockers on December 19, 2018. I have republished the introduction of the review here for myself. If you would like to see the original post, check it out here.

I love the GameCube. I grew up on my Game Boy systems and the Nintendo 64, but the GameCube defined much of my gaming love to this day. I shout the good word of Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door from the rooftops and grunt when Nintendo ignores my pleas for a spiritual successor. Wind Waker will always be my favorite Zelda game, even if others have surpassed it critically. I remember playing Mario Party with the microphone accessory or being captivated by the planet of Talon IV in Metroid Prime.

All this love has also been recently twisted by crippling nostalgia. I have a severe case of it. Throw anything from my childhood on screen and I will likely be drawn towards it. That’s why I have been slowly circling down the rabbit hole of resurrecting old game consoles onto modern HD displays for years now.

My entry point to this niché hobby was a YouTube channel called My Life In Gaming. Coury and Marc run the channel, creating highly educational videos about bringing classic consoles back to life on modern HD TVs. I immediately jumped to their video on the best solutions for the GameCube and found out the financial horror associated with bringing the GameCube into the modern era. Nintendo’s official component cables cost an arm and a leg, going for $250+ on eBay. To get an HDMI port for your GameCube a few years ago required physically modding the system. I nearly pulled the trigger on a roughly $160 mod, but backed off after more research and not being keen on physically altering my childhood system.

Through all this time in the rabbit hole, I came across a new company early in 2018 that was offering a plug-and-play option for HDMI cables on the GameCube. EON created the GCHD, a tiny adapter that plugged into the digital out port on original GameCube systems and allowed native 480p output for $150. Just like the physical mod, I nearly pulled the trigger a few times, but it was never in the budget.

Ten months later EON revealed an upgraded version of their adapter. The GCHD MK-II (MK-II from here on out for simplicity) was revealed on November 15 and offered a couple new features and refinements over their original model. We were fortunate here at DualShockers to receive a consumer unit a couple days ahead of its official release on December 15, 2018. Selling for the same price of $150, I wanted to find out if the MK-II is really worth the cost to bring my beloved GameCube onto my HD TV.

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Guacamelee! 2 Feels Like a Natural Fit on Nintendo Switch

Originally published on DualShockers on December 10, 2018. I have republished the introduction of the review here for myself. If you would like to see the original post, check it out here.

Back in 2013, I wrote my first review ever for Guacamelee! when it launched on PS3 and PS Vita on my personal blog. I loved the little Metroidvania, Mexican inspired game jam-packed with memes. I even turned around and got the platinum trophy for it.

When Guacamelee! 2 was announced last year, my eyes lit up at the return of one of my favorite PSN games. I snagged a copy right at launch for PS4 this past August and started chipping away at the new adventure. I never wrapped it up though, due to work and Marvel’s Spider-Man being released just two weeks after Guacamelee! 2 (Sorry Juan). When DrinkBox Studios (DrinkBox) announced the Switch port, I “Rooster Uppercutted” my way into reviewing this port for DualShockers. The Switch version is officially out as of today but we received a copy ahead of time from the publisher so that I could see how it compared to the PS4 counterpart we reviewed earlier in the year.

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The Legacy and History of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo’s industry titans, as it stands among Mario and Zelda as a powerhouse IP for the company. Outside of the all-star line-up and stellar game direction from walking video game encyclopedia Masahiro Sakurai, the ravenous fan-base has propelled the series to meteoric heights. The series has kept a 17-year-old controller alive, created iconic mash-ups between characters that we never thought possible, and continuously celebrated gaming as a whole.

So let’s look back and celebrate Super Smash Bros.’ long legacy as we prepare for the ULTIMATE version of one of Nintendo’s best franchises.

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An Unnecessary, In-Depth Look at the New Super Smash Bros. Ultimate GameCube Controller

As the Super Smash Bros. community gears up for the latest entry, Nintendo has graciously given consumers the rare opportunity to buy a brand new, 18-year-old controller for a whopping $30. The GameCube controller is the gift that keeps on giving…the same gift. As Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s release draws near, the controller gods smiled upon the Smash community and allowed us to buy brand spanking new GameCube controllers, instead of marked-up, used ones with Cheeto dust and dead skin caked on.

But has Nintendo tweaked the formula on mankind’s pinnacle of invention? I decided to take a deep dive look and review the new GameCube controller. For science and for Smash.

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My Favorite Part of Red Dead Redemption 2 is Reading the Journal

In a massive (and occasionally daunting) open-world game made by hundreds of people over thousands and thousands of work hours, I sometimes nestle into one or two areas or goals to make the game feel more manageable. It usually starts out as focus on the story and side quests that interest me; from there, maybe I focus on filling out the map or tracking down secrets. By the end of my time with a game on that scale, one of those tasks triumphs over the others and becomes my favorite element in the game.

It was finding all of the Riddler trophies in Batman: Arkham Knight. For Breath of the Wild, it was completing all the shrines before facing Ganon. In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, my favorite part of the game were its fascinating side quests, especially the boxing matches in each region: that all culminated in fighting Skellige’s champion, a straight up bear. All of these goals bubble up and become the most memorable parts of these grandiose games to me.

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