Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered - Before You Buy

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Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered - Before You BuyTomb Raider I II III Remastered (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch) collects the classic games in a convenient package with some modern upgrades and visual tweaks. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: ▼ Watch more 'Before You Buy':

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong Review - Silly Gorilla, Mini-Marios Are For Kids

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The original Mario Vs. Donkey Kong on Game Boy Advance was a victim of its own success. A successor to the stellar and underrated Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, it brought back many of the same puzzle-platforming mechanics with adorable mini-Mario toys serving as stage collectibles and story MacGuffins. But the minis ultimately became the stars of the sub-series and took over its identity. We've received a steady stream of Lemmings-like spin-offs since then, centered mostly around guiding minis through trap-filled stages. While those games were charming enough, they never quite recaptured the magic of Donkey Kong on Game Boy or Mario Vs. Donkey Kong on GBA. Thanks to a combination of quality-of-life improvements and visual flair that showcase what made those older games special, this Switch remake gives that original design ethos a new lease on life.

The minis are the impetus for the story, though, which begins when Donkey Kong spots the little clockwork toys and gets an insatiable appetite for them. He invades the Mario toy factory and steals all he can get his mitts on, and Mario--apparently concerned about his licensed merch--chases after the ape to recover them. Donkey Kong isn't the villain, per se, but more like a childlike, not-too-bright antagonist in an old cereal commercial.

The puzzle-platforming stages have Mario traversing through a series of traps and enemies to reach a mini-Mario in a vending capsule. You can collect a series of colored packages, carefully tucked away in hard-to-reach places, as a bonus in each stage. Once you've completed a series of six themed stages recovering the minis, there's a follow-the-leader stage where you guide them to the exit, attempting not to lose any along the way, and having them collect alphabet blocks (spelling "TOY," naturally). Then there's a boss stage against Donkey Kong, and the more minis you successfully guided in the previous stage, the more pips of health you have for the battle. Rinse, repeat. It's a nice little loop that allows each stage's goals to feed into the others.

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Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden Review - Ghostbusters

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It can't be a coincidence that Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is launching just a day before Valentine's Day. As its title suggests, the latest game from Life is Strange developer Don't Nod is brimming with ghost hunting and spooky happenings. Yet, at its core, it's also a surprisingly tender love story about life, death, and sacrifice. This isn't the most well-trodden path for an action-RPG, and that's just one of a few key areas where Banishers is atypical for its genre. Between outbursts of stiff, run-of-the-mill action, it's the quieter moments where the game comes into its own. Like Vampyr, one of the studio's previous games, delving into various characters' lives and making tough choices with far-reaching consequences are what make the game memorable.

Banishers begins with dual protagonists Antea Duarte and Red Mac Raith arriving on the sandy shores of the fictional island of New Eden, Massachusetts. It's 1695, and the pair of eponymous banishers are hired spirit hunters entrusted with dispelling the ghosts and specters that still linger in our plane of existence, trapped between the living and the afterlife. New Eden, you see, has been afflicted with a malevolent curse. Hauntings are frequent, the weather is perpetually cold and dreary, crops are dying, livestock has perished, and the island's settlers are in desperate need of help. With so many lingering effects, this is no simple curse, and while attempting to banish a particularly powerful spirit, Antea is tragically killed as Red is plunged into the freezing depths of the ocean and left for dead.

Upon waking up on the opposite side of the island, the grief-stricken Red is soon reunited with his fallen lover. Antea is now one of the ghostly apparitions she would previously hunt, forcing her to wrestle with the fact that she's become the one thing she hates. From this point on, you can swap between both characters on the fly. You're then thrust into making the first of many choices you'll have to consider as you're asked to swear an important oath. Will you accept Antea's fate and ascend her soul, letting her move on to the afterlife, or sacrifice the living in order to resurrect her? Initially, I picked the former, for as much as I wanted to revive Antea, killing the settlers who asked for help never sat right with me. Morally speaking, it also seemed like a pretty clear-cut choice. Then I started meeting New Eden's denizens, gradually delving into their lives and uncovering their darkest secrets, and my stance started to change.

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Ultros Review - Toil And Soil

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With an increasing number of them to choose from, it has become even more challenging for new metroidvania games to stand out. Those that have in recent memory all managed to establish either a distinct and enticing look to them, such as Hollow Knight, or refined a set of familiar mechanics that reinvigorates the entire formula again like last month's Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Ultros aspires to be spoken about in the company of these games and earns that right through an exciting blend of satisfying platforming and slick, fast combat, but also the ways in which it breaks away from the traditional mold of the metroidvania formula. It's these elements that make it truly stand out, even if some of its experimentation with form and format doesn't stick the landing.

You awake aboard a ship floating in space, unaware of how or why you're aboard, before quickly coming into contact with a variety of other alien species all carving out their own versions of idyllic life aboard the craft. A ghostly apparition that guides you through the opening moments of the game explains that there's a security measure in place to keep an all-powerful deity from escaping its sarcophagus, the very ship you've found yourself aboard, and that you'll need to sever the connection of eight beings to the system to ultimately be free. It's not long after that Ultros establishes itself as a pseudo-roguelite, with a time-looping mechanic underpinning your progression and exploration throughout the entire adventure.

These roguelite elements don't function how you might expect them to based on genre staples, however. For example, when you die, you're sent back to your last save point instead of restarting in a new loop, which firmly reminds you that Ultros is first and foremost a metroidvania at its core. Initially, a new loop is only started after you perform pivotal actions around the world, and only after you return to a central hub where the entire world is reset again. You do still have a significant portion of your progress reset, including all of your upgrades and inventory items, as well as losing your primary weapon and utility robot that stores all your other permanent mechanical upgrades. Having the latter two revoked each new loop is initially jarring as not being able to attack or double jump at the start of a loop feels foreign after a few hours utilizing both, but it does serve a purpose if you want to explore Ultros' world with a more passive approach, opening up alternative avenues to investigate if you manage to figure out how to get around. It quickly becomes trivial to reacquire these vital pieces of gear, too, with each new loop offering shorter routes to them that let you get going again quickly and avoiding a sense of frustration after making important story progress.

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