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Game Review: Cuphead

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Game Title: Cuphead

Initial Release Date: September 29, 2017

Developer: Studio MDHR

Publisher: Studio MDHR

Designer: Jared Moldenhauer

Engine: Unity

Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Every now and then a game comes along that is so eye-popping, stylistically gorgeous, that you just can’t put it down no matter how hard you try. In years past we would say that list of games would include “Mark of Kri,” “Comix Zone” (Google it kiddos), “Zelda: Wind Waker,” “Bioshock,” the list goes on. And now the list has another groundbreaking and original visual treat – we’re talking about “Cuphead!” The 1930s style animation is so captivating to play and interact with and the watercolor backgrounds are as immersive as they are beautiful. Seriously, the visuals in this game are such a sweet treat, our eyeballs have contracted contact diabetes. Pull up a gaming chair and get ready to drink up this review of Cuphead with our Trunk Gaming crew!

A word of warning for those gamers who are controller throwers, and you know who you are! You might want to duct tape the controller to your hands, because this game is toon-crushingly relentless. There are no checkpoints and no way to regain health. The design of this game is such that everything is random. You have no control over where something like a platform may be in the exact same point of the game you were previously playing. In other words, you might just get killed by sheer chance that things did not line up just right for you. Though this can be frustrating, it’s still a blast to play and the swanky style of this game kept us coming back for more.

There are three basic types of gameplay you experience in “Cuphead.” You have left and right platform gaming similar to “Super Mario Bros.,” if Mario was packing heat. The second style is like a throwback to classic arcade side scrolling spaceship shoot ‘em ups. The third and most exciting style of gameplay are the platform battles that feel almost like a fighting game at times, blurring the lines of what you would expect to see and play. You can unlock special abilities that you will need to play around with to accomplish different tasks. This can prove vital to moving along your gaming journey instead of the try, try again routine.

All in all, “Cuphead” is not only a visual treat, it’s also a gaming delight. We showed up for the visuals of this game, but we stayed for the gameplay and enjoyed every minute of it. This game will have you oohing and awing, laughing and cursing (more than once), but after all the animated smoke settles, you’ll find yourself wanting to go back again and again. We finished our “Cuphead” and can’t wait for a refill!

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Trunk Gaming

Game Review: Stranger Things

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Game Title: Stranger Things: The Game

Platforms: IOS, Android

Price: FREE

App Version: 1.0.223

The worst thing about falling in love with a TV show like “Stranger Things” is having to wait for the show to come back for the next season. So, what do we do in the meantime to help sooth our need for media consumption with our favorite shows? We gobble up any new trailers, footage, interviews, etc., related to our beloved show. “Stranger Things” has given its fans a real gift with this FREE app. Sure, we know they’re trying to promote “Stranger Things” season 2, which drops October 27 on Netflix, but they put a lot of work into this game. It doesn’t feel like it should be a free app. In fact, we would pay to play this. Grab your Eggos and multi-sided dice and follow us into the Upside Down of the gaming app world with this Trunk Gaming review! (Don’t worry, no plot line spoilers ahead, but read on to see how to get an exclusive trailer from the game!)

“Stranger Things” is masterful at capturing the time and era they are in, and they carried that over into this game. With the SNES Classic recently launching, we can’t help but notice the great stylization they packed into this app to make it look like a classic Nintendo-esque game. The kids from the show would have definitely played this game. It has an RPG element to it, very similar to “The Legend of Zelda,” but with a little “Final Fantasy III” mixed in. You start off playing as Jim Hopper. Those rag-tag kids we love from the show have gone missing, and it’s up to Jim to find them. As Jim tracks the kids down, they join your party, and you can switch back and forth between playing as each character. Each character has a different skill. For example, Hopper has a mean right hook to pummel enemies, but Lucas has a slingshot you can use to shoot switches out of reach.

The game has very simple and easy-to-use controls. You just tap where you want your character to go on the screen. If you want to punch a bad guy or smash something, just tap the item or bad guy and your character gets to work. At first this seems super easy, but rest assured, once you get a page of opponents mixed with some lasers and other obstacles, the difficulty increases. Some enemies cannot be dispatched by simply clicking them. You may have to trick them into walking through a laser or trap. There are also definite RPG elements to the game. You can investigate everything in the room from books to phones. Problem solving and puzzles are a big part of the game as well. The diversity of game play helps keep things fresh as you explore the digital world. We also love the soundtrack, which plays into the “Stranger Things” universe nicely. When you unlock a door or find a new key/item, you get a familiar “Stranger Things” tune that has been filtered through the 8-bit sound machine for something that fills your heart with gaming joy.

There is a side quest that involves tracking down video tapes. If you manage to get all of the video tapes collected, you’re treated to an exclusive trailer with never-before-seen footage of “Stranger Things” season 2. We found this to be a really innovative way to promote fandom and the show itself. The app is totally FREE, so no reason to not download it. For a free app, we were pleasantly surprised to not be bombarded with ads while you play. It’s just you, your IOS or Android, and the “Stranger Things” world. We had a blast with this app and recommend it to keep your brain occupied until the show returns on Netflix. Go forth, download, enjoy!

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Trunk Gaming

Game Review: PREY

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Game Title: PREY

Platforms: PS4, PC, XBOX ONE

Release Date: May 5, 2017

This was, for these reviewers, an odd gaming experience.

What do we mean?”

Well, the marketing for PREY seemed to portray the game as an action packed, first person shoot ‘em up… yet folks online were touting the RPG perspective of the game. So what the heck is it? A first person shooter or an RPG?

The answer is, the game is not a single form of any inside the box gaming. Arkane Studios really thought outside the bun here, just like one of our favorite pregaming fuel up spots. As you start playing, you’re immediately dropped into a totally immersive environment. It appears you’re getting in a helicopter on a high-rise building to be whisked off, but don’t believe your eyes… or your ears for that matter. Nothing is what it seems in this game, and that is really what captured our interest.

Admittedly, it was frustrating at first. There isn’t really a built-in tutorial feel to give you the bearings you need to get going quick. There are “tutorials” available in the options menu, but nobody really wants to do that, right? You want to just seamlessly and naturally figure out how the controls work and be given a clear direction on what you should do. PREY does the opposite, and at first we were ready to turn the game off and take it back, but we forged on and before long, we could NOT put the game down. The lack of direction that frustrated us at first soon became what we loved most about the game. It’s as if you are truly the lead character of the game, MORGAN YU (male or female, they give you the option). You have no clue what’s going on at first, but it’s okay, because neither does your character. YOU decide what to believe and who to trust. Should you listen to your brother who tries to convince you of what your thoughts are, or should you listen to the robot that has your voice and supposedly YOUR directions on what to do and where to go?

One very exciting element of PREY is that there is not just one way to complete an objective. Say there is a locked door you need to get in, and you don’t have the access code. Look around your environment. Maybe there is an air vent up high or some duct underneath your feet. Is there a button on the other side of the door you can use a foam dart gun to activate? Maybe you can find a passcode via the computers in the space station, because guess what… there are actual emails on each terminal, maps, well acted audio logs, etc. Arkane does a wonderful job of painting this haunting space station environment. So these are really the RPG elements of the game. You can decide to help the people you meet, or if you don’t believe them… well, let’s just say you can launch them out into space, whack ‘em with a wrench, or let the aliens rip them apart.

Though there are a few guns in the game, you’ll soon find they are not necessarily the best way to deal with your opponents whether they are the aliens (Typhon), rogue turrets, or corrupted engineer robots. As you go through the game, you study the different aliens you have to fight. As you gain knowledge, you can use “nueromods” to inject this knowledge and abilities into your system. You’ll discover that using a lightning blast or increasing your health is far more beneficial than loading up that shotgun. You’ll also need to gather materials to recycle and fabricate your bullets, guns, EMPs, etc… there isn’t much of just finding random boxes of ammo lying around like a regular shooter game.

PREY is a wonderfully bizarre game that will grab you, pull you in, and before you know it, hours will have passed. That’s why despite our initial knee jerk reaction and a few glitches in the gameplay, we are certifying this game as a quarter muncher! Because if this game was in an old school arcade, we would be pumping in those hard-earned silver coins to find out what happens next. Our advice is play through the game once quickly (around 16-20 hours), then go back and really delve into the game and do all of the smaller tasks and enjoy the details (40 hours-ish).

Until next time, keep on pressing start!

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