cover photo

Steve Schardein

Send Message
Add as Friend
Steve Schardein

About Me

Basic Information

  • Gender

  • Birthday

    18/04/1982
  • Hometown

  • About me

    I like working endlessly and spending money on websites and getting nothing back for it.

Contact Information

Education

Extra Info

  • Web site

    <a href="http://www.digitalchumps.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.digitalchumps.com</a>
  • Occupation

  • Interests

Member since
Monday, 17 March 2008 20:00
Last online
4 days ago
  • 3 weeks ago
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a combination of two wholly unique franchises which takes place fairly smoothly primarily thanks to the already-fantastical nature of the story. Of course it’s ridiculous, but the story is actually quite fun, and it’s compelling and unpredictable enough to captivate those with a bit of patience and willingness to accept it for what it is. Best of all, the gameplay from both series is represented well, set against the backdrop of a truly great presentation. Whether you choose to label it a cash-in or a shameless celebration, it’s collaborative love from Level-5 and Capcom that you probably won’t want to miss.
    3 weeks ago
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
    All of us have wondered at some point about the creative future of the gaming; has innovation given way to mere evolution? Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of those exceedingly rare games that will restore your faith in the creative forces of the videogame industry. This is no mere sequel… it is everything Galaxy was and more, a vast menagerie of the most outlandish ideas the creative minds at Nintendo could apply to a Mario game, twisting and contorting the template at every opportunity, all in the name of relentlessly entertaining gameplay. Even the harshest critics will struggle to find fault in its symphony of imagination, execution, and polish, while fans will cherish its brilliance for years to come as one of the very best games in history. Quite simply put, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the reason I still play videogames. And for that, it deserves the highest praise I can possibly bestow.
    2 months ago
  • Mario Kart 8
    Mario Kart 8 won’t change your mind if you’re against the series’ basic conceptual design, of course, but for everyone on the fence who just wants a fun, skill-weighted, multiplayer-centric party racer, this is truly as good as it gets. The balance of luck and skill is very well done overall, and the selection of available features, items, and gameplay elements is the best the series has had to offer yet—not to mention the excellent track design. It’s safe to say that this is the best Mario Kart since the SNES days, and that’s a pretty heavy statement.
    3 months ago
  • Mario Kart 8
    Mario Kart 8 won’t change your mind if you’re against the series’ basic conceptual design, of course, but for everyone on the fence who just wants a fun, skill-weighted, multiplayer-centric party racer, this is truly as good as it gets. The balance of luck and skill is very well done overall, and the selection of available features, items, and gameplay elements is the best the series has had to offer yet—not to mention the excellent track design. It’s safe to say that this is the best Mario Kart since the SNES days, and that’s a pretty heavy statement.
    4 months ago
  • Mario Kart 8
    Mario Kart 8 won’t change your mind if you’re against the series’ basic conceptual design, of course, but for everyone on the fence who just wants a fun, skill-weighted, multiplayer-centric party racer, this is truly as good as it gets. The balance of luck and skill is very well done overall, and the selection of available features, items, and gameplay elements is the best the series has had to offer yet—not to mention the excellent track design. It’s safe to say that this is the best Mario Kart since the SNES days, and that’s a pretty heavy statement.
    4 months ago
  • 4 months ago
  • Mario Kart 8
    Mario Kart 8 won’t change your mind if you’re against the series’ basic conceptual design, of course, but for everyone on the fence who just wants a fun, skill-weighted, multiplayer-centric party racer, this is truly as good as it gets. The balance of luck and skill is very well done overall, and the selection of available features, items, and gameplay elements is the best the series has had to offer yet—not to mention the excellent track design. It’s safe to say that this is the best Mario Kart since the SNES days, and that’s a pretty heavy statement.
    4 months ago
  • Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
    The beta is over, and it was 15 million strong; now, we have the product of its revelations. With a thankfully redefined purpose and a much more enticing endgame, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is probably the game you were hoping for years ago. It’s not about competition, but cooperation. It’s not about methodically stressing over your loot, it’s about the thrill of the hunt. It’s not about rushing to the top, it’s about the sheer enjoyment of the journey itself. It embraces its core competencies and brashly ignores all other complicating factors—and, with few exceptions, it’s a much better game for it.
    4 months ago
  • 5 months ago
  • Mario Golf: Wold Tour
    Mario Golf: World Tour is hardly progressive and rarely creative on the level of its predecessors—and in some ways, it actually feels somewhat regressive. However, the core appeal of the series is still alive and well nonetheless, and with the added extensibility of online play and tournaments—as well as downloadable courses—it’s hard to deny its appeal if you ever enjoyed what the series had to offer from the start.
    5 months ago
  • Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
    The beta is over, and it was 15 million strong; now, we have the product of its revelations. With a thankfully redefined purpose and a much more enticing endgame, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is probably the game you were hoping for years ago. It’s not about competition, but cooperation. It’s not about methodically stressing over your loot, it’s about the thrill of the hunt. It’s not about rushing to the top, it’s about the sheer enjoyment of the journey itself. It embraces its core competencies and brashly ignores all other complicating factors—and, with few exceptions, it’s a much better game for it.
    5 months ago
  • 5 months ago
  • Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
    The beta is over, and it was 15 million strong; now, we have the product of its revelations. With a thankfully redefined purpose and a much more enticing endgame, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is probably the game you were hoping for years ago. It’s not about competition, but cooperation. It’s not about methodically stressing over your loot, it’s about the thrill of the hunt. It’s not about rushing to the top, it’s about the sheer enjoyment of the journey itself. It embraces its core competencies and brashly ignores all other complicating factors—and, with few exceptions, it’s a much better game for it.
    5 months ago
  • It is the brilliance of games like this one that makes my position as a humble critic seem worthwhile. No matter your age, interest, or skill level, Super Mario Galaxy is bound to captivate you.
    7 months ago
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
    You might be tempted to overlook Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but if you did, you’d be missing out on an excellent platforming title with tons of style and polish. While it’s true that it doesn’t explore a lot of new territory, iteration within a genre is only bad to the extent which creativity and permutation are not applied. In other words, if it’s fun and feels fresh enough, it was worth the effort—and Tropical Freeze is every bit as enjoyable as its Wii predecessor.
    7 months ago
  • 7 months ago
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
    You might be tempted to overlook Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but if you did, you’d be missing out on an excellent platforming title with tons of style and polish. While it’s true that it doesn’t explore a lot of new territory, iteration within a genre is only bad to the extent which creativity and permutation are not applied. In other words, if it’s fun, it was worth the effort—and Tropical Freeze is every bit as enjoyable as its Wii predecessor.
    7 months ago
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

    It’s on like… oh wait, I made that joke three and a half years ago, and it still wasn't funny then

    Hard to believe it’s been three and an half years since Donkey Kong Country Returns landed on the Wii. As gorgeous as DKCR’s 60 frames per second presentation was, it was screaming for a platform that could handle something north of 480p. And hence, in all its 720p glory, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was born, adhering closely to the very same principles that made DKC2 for the SNES a success in the wake of its classic predecessor.

    Things are slightly different from the start this time around. Retro Studios has teamed up with Monster Games (Excitebots: Trick Racing, Pilotwings Resort) for Tropical Freeze, though the game feels true enough to the Wii original that you wouldn’t have guessed it if it wasn’t pointed out to you. In fact, in many ways, it’s even closer in spirit to the 16-bit originals, as beloved composer David Wise (Aquatic Ambience, Stickerbush Symphony, and Fear Factory—to name a few favorites) has returned to collaborate with Kenji Yamamoto on the soundtrack too.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 17
    The vehicular sequences are back, of course, this time with a twist

    The story is just as appropriately ludicrous, too: some evil feral Viking creatures piloting a fleet of ice ships decide to invade Kong’s world, and thus, the tropical paradise that was Donkey Kong Island becomes layered with thick ice and unfamiliar snowflakes. The frosty menace begins to spread as Kong and the gang work their way back toward the affected areas from islands in the distance.

    In case you’re worried that this means that a large portion of the game takes place in icy environments, let me be the first to dispel your concerns here: only roughly a sixth of the game relies on winter-like conditions. In fact, for the most part, in Tropical Freeze, the basic template remains the same: you still play as Donkey Kong (as opposed to any of his nimbler relatives), and the gameplay very closely parallels the critically-acclaimed design of DKC Returns—that is to say, it feels enough like the DKC SNES games did, but it permutes that design to a sufficient extent such that none of it feels merely iterative. There are still plenty of well-planned and vividly-decorated traditional platforming levels to traverse, decked out with secrets but challenging enough to simply make it through in the first place. Likewise, you’ll find even more mine cart levels along with the cursed barrel rocket courses, lined with enough peripheral cinematic chaos to keep your blood pumping as you race through to the end.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 22
    Time to invent new curse words.

    In terms of what specific elements of the formula have changed, for starters, Diddy Kong is no longer the only available companion: now, you’ll see Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong equally often. Most of the time, they’re acquirable via DK barrels which rotate through three corresponding colors: pick up the barrel while it’s the right color to score the Kong of your choice. In single-player mode, the second Kong rides on DK’s back, which scores him additional maneuverability in ways specific to each buddy. Diddy Kong still brings his jetpack, whereas Dixie Kong can also flutter DK upward near the end of a jump, and Cranky Kong can pogo off of on hazardous surfaces (i.e. spikes) using his cane.

    Another area where each Kong companion features unique abilities is during underwater segments, which were missing in DKC Returns (some say for the better?). There are quite a few levels where you’ll find yourself mostly underwater, forced to sustain yourself through the use of bubbles scattered throughout the courses. These are still fun but could certainly be labelled the least enjoyable of the bunch—with a few exceptions, where the action is sufficiently hectic and the presentation impressive enough to overcome the cumbersome nature of underwater gameplay. At least swimming is less of a chore when you’re with a buddy in single-player: merely holding A will propel you through the water then, and Cranky Kong can even Judo-chop his way through enemies and obstacles.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 01
    Water levels: everyone's favorite worst enemy

    There’s only six worlds in the main game this time around too, down from eight in DKCR. However, the number of levels in each world has risen slightly (spanning between seven and eleven—not counting boss stages), and the levels themselves certainly seem longer in Tropical Freeze. There’s also some unlockable content which we won’t mention here, but we will point out that the balance of content has been shifted notably from mainline content to hidden stages: in other words, the full adventure might seem shorter, but only if you don’t take the time to look for secret exits (leading to additional levels) and other goodies.

    And, most importantly, the quality of the levels hasn’t really wavered. One of DKCR’s most impressive accomplishments was the fusion of stunning cinematics and lush environments with fundamentally solid platforming gameplay. Tropical Freeze seems every bit as well-tuned, with meticulously-detailed backgrounds (complete with diverse and dynamic elements, such as barrels and leaves in the backdrop that react to DK’s ground-pounding) and an excessive assortment of ancillary animations, such as customized destructive sequences for when your barrel rocket inevitably explodes into a wooden tower or giant rock, bringing the obstacle down in flames with it.

    Progression through the levels is also ever more unpredictable, with barrels blasting DK every which way, and creative (never obstructive) camera angles accentuating the trip. It’s this sort of generous application of veteran polish in conjunction with the excellent gameplay that makes the overall experience feel so rich and valuable. It’s as dense as it is expansive—and Retro’s brilliance shines through once again, further solidifying their role as the 90s-era Rare of the 2000s.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 19
    It's different enough, and it's fun. 'Nuff said.

    In terms of challenge, Tropical Freeze kicks it up a notch from DKCR—shockingly. There are now even more secrets lining every stage, with a larger number of secret exits and some really tricky puzzle pieces. Fortunately, you don’t have to find all of it to see all of the game’s stages—just some of it. Without getting specific, the hidden content is brutally difficult too: even tougher than that of DKCR. Less-experienced gamers will appreciate the return of purchasable perks and augmentations in Funky’s shop, ranging from an extra heart to an invincibility potion which kicks in after the first hit.

    In other words, yes, at its heart, this is more of a great thing—and, like nearly all great modern platformers, its brilliance lies less within its foundational design than in the permutation of the basic principles of the genre to produce a unique, fresh-feeling experience in each new level. Tropical Freeze is every bit as successful as DKC Returns when it comes to the overall impression and presentation of its stages, and it’s equally well-designed in the realm of mechanics, too.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 02
    Funky has been relegated to shop duties. My, how things have changed.

    The six worlds manage a more varied assortment of themes and concepts, too, with such unconventional notions as braving a forest filled with fruit harvesting equipment or platforming (with Rambi the rhino, no less) through tornadic conditions. There’s even an African safari-themed area, complete with cheery chants, dancing trees, and rhythmically bouncing celebratory figures that you have to climb on. And though we love to hate them, the swimming levels feature such memorable sequences as being chased by a massive squid who wants nothing more than to kill you, whether by tentacle or floods of ink. Nearly every level has a scripted excuse of the sort for why you’re dealing with the challenges in front of you, and that’s part of what makes the effort worthwhile.

    Returning once more to the topic of aesthetics, Tropical Freeze is predictably bolstered by its newfound HD chops. It’s one of the most gorgeous games on the Wii U yet, with vibrant, richly-animated sights and a still-fluid 60 fps frame rate underneath it all. But David Wise’s return to the audio team (along with Yamamoto) is equally significant; his contributions in Tropical Freeze feel right at home, almost as if it’s 1994 all over again. With a massive assortment of songs, too, the material never really wears out its welcome. You’ll find equal parts new and remixed, with series favorites like the three songs I mentioned at the beginning of this review receiving extra attention (and frequent interlacing throughout various other tunes in the game).

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 20
    The environment choices are unique and welcomed.

    Songs are highly atmospheric and dynamic as well, frequently shifting their instrumentation and intensity to match the current situation in the stage (i.e., underwater, chaotic, etc.). The only gripe, if any, is the fact that the game relies 100% on MIDI, and not always that of the highest quality. In an age where many games (including most of Nintendo’s flagship titles) are including live instruments and orchestras as parts of their soundtracks, it’s always a bit of a disappointment when we regress once more to merely simulating those things.

    There are a few additional extras, such as collectible artwork, music, and other items, and a Time Trial mode for each of the game’s stages. You’ll also find quick and easy access to leaderboards for each level. But the largest of these is the co-op multiplayer, which works fairly well as long as both players are good enough to progress through the levels (which, again, can get to be very difficult). The camera always follows the player in front in this mode, though it is always possible for the second player to leap onto DK’s back and ride along instead. On vehicular levels (mine carts, rocket barrels, etc), both players ride together—fortunately. The multiplayer doesn’t fare as well as any of the recent Mario titles, but it’s still a fun inclusion.

    WiiU DKCTF Jan 11
    Still gorgeous, but even better in HD.

    All in all, while it doesn’t break a lot of new ground, Tropical Freeze is an excellent HD follow-up to a fantastic Wii game. It’s just one more reason for platforming lovers to consider a Wii U.

    7 months ago
  • 8 months ago

S5 Box

Login Form

Other Stuff