Category Archives: Other

REVIEW: Labyrinth X

Here we go again. It’s no big mystery that Team Shuriken has been getting moderately to filthy rich on the teenage libido for quite some time. Well, I assume they’re making loadsamoney. Labyrinth X (80 MSP) is just the latest in the long line of probably a dozen or so similar ‘games’, and they’ve already made five bucks off me. Ask anybody; the business of boobs is a sure bet, and it’s why Al Gore created the Internet.

Labyrinth X - Screen

Look closely and you can see my dignity chained up next to her.

Labyrinth X plays like past Shuriken games (choose a path, guesswork ‘puzzles’, breasts, repeat), though its style this time around is a combination of the usual softcore bondage scenes (see above) and actual animation, chiefly as punishment for bad decisions, though the environments do feature some flair in motion if you stop to take notice.

And the gory scenes of your pixelized demise are the best part of the game, equating to ‘fatalities’, Mortal Kombat if it was done in Microsoft Paint-style. It’s comical, having your head punched clean-off or split open by a laser, and fun to purposely aim for, not that you’ll need to. With no let up in the number of ways you can fail (‘inane puzzles’ are a constant) you should get a chance to witness all the ways to die anyway.

I do give credit to the developer for putting in a little more work on Labyrinth X; the substance in the content, the chance to pick up ‘items’ or make an occasional selection that alters the playing field, albeit briefly. A few of the sequences vaguely reminded me of Shadowgate (NES-era), in that sort of ‘Should I do this?’, Curiosity Killed the Cat kind of way, but it’s still a coin toss so far as what will happen to you.

Labyrinth X - Screen2

Hey, honest mistake. We’ve all been there after a long night of drinking.

‘Combat’ remains as baffling as ever. Why would I punch a group of bats, but kick a spider? Why wouldn’t the opposite work? What determines success and failure? Size, height off the ground at that exact moment, their place on the food chain? Where in the human manual of self-defense does it say that such attacks are and aren’t allowed? I’ll save you the Google research; it doesn’t, making this continued trial-and-error apathy towards logic all the more irritating…

…but short-lived. Even accounting for the game’s slightly-less linear path, slightly-more complex ‘solutions’, and the inevitable retries from checkpoints, you should finish in a half-hour with plenty of buyer’s remorse. Still, if you’re keeping score at home, I would place Labyrinth X ahead of both Ninja Priestess and the awful, turd sequel to Temple of Dogolrak. I don’t recommend any of the three, ultimately, but that Labyrinth X came close to changing my mind and ranks tops among its own internal competition has to count for something.

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Bonus! Save your MSP, or just get a laugh out watching The Indie Ocean’s Alan navigate Labyrinth X in his multi-part series.

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REVIEW: Temple of Dogolrak 2

Having already taken the plunge into Team Shuriken games previously, I had a little less inhibition, more trepidation this time around. I knew the enormity of my task, and I figured, what the hell, another scar on the prefrontal cortex of my brain can’t hurt at this point. Nonetheless, I am a virgin to Temple of Dogolrak 2 (80 MSP), having missed out on the first episode, renowned for its contributions to the world of vaginal artwork.

That's no moon...

That’s no moon… it’s a space pussy.

While the imagery may not be as blatant in the sequel, the objective is the same as always; a choose-your-adventure story with a de-emphasis on ‘choice’, ‘adventure’, and ‘story’. The continuing plot finds your character of Archibaldo trying to escape an all-female monastery that predictably supplies the requisite eye candy. And you’ll be able to fully enjoy that, as there’s no demand or challenge thrust upon you. For choosing an interactive medium like videogames, it’s continually entertaining how these games treat interactivity merely as ‘dressing’ to the dressing.

Temple of Dogolrak 2 - Screen

[Cue porn music] [Devilish grin] ‘Well then, what can we do that won’t require you ladies to speak?’

The ‘gameplay’ here will leave you bored stiff (oh, the puns!), a myriad of trial-and-error one-button moves and ‘choices’ that eventually winds into a ‘To be continued…’ …after just ten minutes. Not that you could have expected a complex plot, hours upon hours of replayability, or anything close to originality from Team Shuriken, but six hundred seconds of banality for a buck can’t be anyone’s idea of a good time. And the letdowns continue. Given that most of this game’s audience comes (puns!) for stuff like the above picture, Temple of Dogolrak 2 is strangely bereft of the usual hentai-ish teasing.

Though this shouldn’t be confused with maturity or turning a creative corner. The whole package is terrible, just made more so by the lack of ‘visuals’. At least Ninjas and Priestess attempted to have some style. There’s less to appreciate here than even the most optimistic and horniest of gamers could imagine. Particularly hilarious is the disclaimer on the title screen that promises everything in the game bears no relation to any persons living or dead, as if anything in the human oeuvre could be confused with something this bat-shit inane.

Temple of Dogolrak 2 - Screen2

I’ve always treated this site as a hobby, a group of opinions that you’re free to dismiss or agree with, so it’s rare I’d outright insist on using the platform as a bugle for a public service announcementTemple of Dogolrak 2 marks one such instance, and I have a nagging suspicion I’ll be forced to do it again in the future. You can’t see me now, but I’m wearing a hard hat and reflective vest, frantically flagging your MSP to head in the opposite direction. Not only should you shield your dollar’s innocent eyes from its vulgarities, but place a chastity money clip over the bills in your wallet as well. The more protection the better. Avoid, again.

REVIEW: Ninjas and Priestess

After my last expedition to Europe and several subsequent doctor visits, I promised myself I’d never pay for the company of beautiful women again. Surprisingly, that decree lasted the better part of four years, as I’ve now patronized Team Shuriken‘s latest, Ninjas and Priestess (80 MSP).

I debated (yes, debated, don’t read that funny) putting this in a ‘softcore porn’ category, but figured I’ll sacrifice the guaranteed uptick in page views and drop it in ‘other’. The Team Shuriken games (Temple of Dogolrak, Mystic Forest, Avalis Dungeon) have always been less about expanding the art medium and more about giving young men what they want— a gentle introduction to hentai in the disguise of a video game. That ‘education’ typically comes (don’t read that funny either) at the price of three dollars, and in return, you get a not-even-point-just-click adventure with an emphasis on huge tits visuals.

Oh honey, please; I bet you say that to all the 12-year-old boys.

It’s more of the same here. The problem with Ninjas and Priestess is the same issue that’s plagued every Shuriken release; it’s not really a game. It’s ten minutes of aimless clicking until you reach the end and the promise of a sequel. In fact, it’s little more than a (formerly $3) advertisement for you to buy the artist’s book of collected drawings. You do unlock some preview images for your trouble.

Sure, there’s the art to ‘appreciate’ (think of that what you will), but every decision you make in the game outside of navigation, which is hit or miss as far as actually getting somewhere, is random. You have three party members at your disposal that represent different attacks, but the ‘combat’ is trial-and-error. Attack a barely-clothed chick with one of the three, try another if it doesn’t work, restart if she kills you off. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. How stimulating.

Hey, it’s not the size of the fry that counts…

I realize there’s not much point in me complaining here. I chose to purchase it of my own free will and under absolutely no pressure, and it’s not as if a ‘review’ is going to sway a horny kid away from buying. The games must be selling to continually pump them out.

That said, it would be nice if Team Shuriken decided one of these times to build an actual game to compliment all the skin. Pandering to a certain clientele is one thing, overcharging for something you can find on deviantART; that’s a whole other issue. Avoid.

REVIEW: The 4th Wall

I would’ve demoed The 4th Wall (80 MSP) regardless, but when something looks this blatantly strange and gets all dodgy and interrogative, my involvement is a foregone conclusion. What lies beyond The 4th Wall? asks the marketplace description. Indeed.

A remake with better art and more content (the PC original can be found here, for the extra curious), the game could be described as a first-person ‘puzzle’ (the developer has coined it an ‘abstract horror puzzler’), but that’s not entirely truthful. The only ‘puzzle’ comes in the form of a maze, the rest boils down to trial and error and weirdness, so I had to go and create a new designation for the game— ‘Other’.

And unfortunately, I must invoke the first rule of Fight Club, as to talk about The 4th Wall is to spoil playing The 4th Wall. You’ll have to rest on brief and disjointed phrasing— exploring the white noise, a bleeding worm, a room constructed entirely of words, and eyes watching you.

See?

What I will say is if you decide to give it a try, you shouldn’t suffer any bouts of boredom. I blinked twice the whole time. The continual ‘resets’ of the visuals keep you going, as do the questions. It’s wall-to-wall WTF. Maybe the bleeding worm is a metaphor for the state of the planet, or maybe I’m supposed to be the worm? Or the blood? Maybe it’s just a really long penis. Who knows. The 4th Wall isn’t forthcoming.

Nor is it scary, in the traditional sense. One or two ‘pop-up’ or ‘corner of the eye’ instances. Unnerving? You could definitely say that, mostly in the spatial relationships between you and the ‘screens’, how a much larger room can exist inside a smaller one. That part reminded me of House of Leaves, which (partially) explored the sudden occurrence of a constantly-expanding labyrinth in a family’s closet. That scared me, the idea of a place folding, shrinking, or twisting itself without pattern. Something like this would be worth a whole game on its own, were it properly managed and expanded upon.

Exactly how my parents taught me things.

As it is, I won’t downplay the strangeness of The 4th Wall, which warrants a look if you’re into oddities, but I can’t call it a ‘buy’ either. Your time with it will probably run under an hour, mostly out of confusion and wandering, and there’s no real payoff. The ‘ending’ makes about as much sense as the rest of it. It’s a art house game, easily gathering a crowd to stand and gawk, some tension achieved, but with only the minimum in satisfaction after the ‘show’ takes its bow.