Loot Rascals Review

Based on the title alone, you’d think that Loot Rascals is all about the loot. (And rascals, if you want to be pedantic about it.) For that much, it’s true, but the game is also difficult, esoteric at times, and damn hard to put down. It combines a lot of odd parts into a surprisingly compelling whole.

Perhaps that’s what you get when you have a man who says he’s not interested in roguelikes design a game that cribs quite a few staples from the revival genre. Ricky Haggett and the rest of the team at Hollow Ponds have created a game that features procedurally generated maps chockfull of enemies that drop color-graded loot—all of which you’ll lose upon death—but it’s everything else that makes it worth playing.

For one, it has personality out the yang. It’s bright and colorful in a way many games simply aren’t, but it’s also quirky to a fault. From the moment the story begins to unfold—which is admittedly light since it can be entirely summed up as “escape an alien planet”—you’re treated to a sardonically Scottish AI, a flagrant disregard for common sense and physics, and a full indulgence in the tone and attitude of a Ren & Stimpy. If there’s one thing you can’t hold against Loot Rascals, it’s its sense of style.

On the gameplay side, it’s shockingly simple, but with the adherence to a stark and unflinching set of rules, it becomes complex and brutal in a way that makes you keep coming back for more. The game takes place on a hex grid, and with each move you make, enemies patrolling the level can also move. Some move one-for-one to you and others only move one spot for every two of yours.

This is important because when you and an opponent occupy the same spot, you two battle it out. When you swing, you hack away HP equivalent to your Attack rating. When they swing, their own Attack rating, your Defense rating, and a dice roll get mixed up into a bucket and determine how much damage you get, if any at all.

At best, you’re going to be able to take five knocks or so, which means if you play recklessly, you’re going to die. Like, a lot. Even if you play smart, you’re probably going to die a lot. You have to position yourself to not get surrounded or cornered into battles you don’t anticipate because with a certain number of moves, enemies change tactics. If they attack first, you’re almost guaranteed to take damage, so you’re going to want to time your moves right so you can one-shot as many aliens as you can.

Loot Rascals

It conjures a fascinating dance between you and the game. You end up teasing out faster foes into a chokepoint where you can line them up and knock them down while trying to coax stronger, usually slower enemies into amenable positions to not get swarmed and—consequently—dead. And once you mix in map elements like electrical pads that charge up or wholly create new baddies, it becomes even more about managing these chess pieces that are inherently uncontrollable.

And then even if you fight your best, your best may not be good enough. Or rather, quick enough, as demonstrably harder enemies will eventually descend upon the map after a while. These guys don’t fuck around and suddenly turn this tango of opportunity into one of desperation, taking the kills and hits where you can.

The same sort of positioning philosophy comes through in your equipment and inventory. You have ten slots to fill with cards, cards that you’ll pick up along the way for killing aliens or completing side quests. Some are dedicated to Defense, some are dedicated to Attack, and others augment the ones you currently have equipped. The best ones, however, pull double duty, allowing you to switch their utility or giving positional bonuses.

Loot Rascals

Some, for instance, get bonus points for being in even slots or in the top row. Others will boost the card to their right while negating the card to their left. This interplay between physical alignment and actual card attributes makes for an unexpectedly intriguing and deep loot system. You’ll spend a good amount of time crying out to the gods every time you have to pick between an upgraded helmet card or a weaker one that can be actively switched between Attack and Defense or the like. (But, you know, in a good way.)

It’s almost too obviously not for everyone, despite streamlining the adrenal rush of getting loot and making your rewards’ value immediately apparent. With no team to keep track of and very little in the way of special moves, the focus is entirely on the mechanics and the prizes you get along the way. But the basic loop of embarking upon journey after journey only to smash bow-first into another set of cranky, alien rocks can be exhausting to the point of swearing it off completely as if it were a crazy ex.

Even so, there’s no reason you shouldn’t check it out at least once. You get to hang out with a bunch of oddball, charming spacefaring folk; you get to fight seahorse aliens that are actually half horse; and you get to tickle your pickle over an endless and endlessly joyful deluge of rewards. Get your rascals on the loot that Loot Rascals can offer and it just might hook you.

Loot Rascals

+ An art style that you wish you could have on your walls
+ Gameplay that is simple but deep and punishes and reward you in equal measure
+ Loot system forces you to make some heartbreaking decisions
– Brutal difficulty can be a real turnoff at times
– Story is charming but isn’t at all compelling

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Game Review: Loot Rascals
Release: March 7, 2017
Genre: Turn-based roguelike
Developer: Hollow Ponds
Available Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Players: Single-player
MSRP: $14.99
Website: http://lootrascals.com/

TRP 10/21/14: Existential Dread and Loot

This week on the podcast Neil, Tom and Kaz get together to dissect Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within, the good, the bad and the letterboxed. Afterwards Neil tries to find meaning in his Destiny travails and updates the pack on what he’s been doing these past weeks (spoilers: mostly being sick). Then Kaz digs into the beginning of Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Reblogged 2 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

[UPDATED] Good Smile is coming to MCM London and bringing loot

Update: GSC have also confirmed they will have a very limited number of Nendoroid Halloween Miku available. Only twenty will be sold, ten on Friday and ten on Saturday. Get them before they’re gone!

It’s still tough being a figure fan who lives in the UK, but things have been a bit more fun ever since Good Smile Company set up an official European branch and started attending major events all over the continent. With one of the biggest events of the British convention calender next week, the colossal MCM Comic Con London, European rep Maritan has announced she and her colleagues will be back in attendance.

British readers who are going along, you’d be well advised to check out their booth, as there’ll be the chance to get your hands on some pretty neat stuff. Among the items on sale will be exclusives like the Nendoroid Sayaka and Kyouko twin pack and Snow Miku. Here’s the entire list of what’ll be available:

Nendoroid Aircraft Carrier Wo-Class
Nendoroid Gilgamesh
Nendoroid Levi
Nendoroid Levi: Cleaning Ver.
Nendoroid Luigi
Nendoroid More: CUBE 01 Classroom Set
Nendoroid More: Dress-up Pajamas
Nendoroid More: Face Swap
Nendoroid Ryuko Matoi
Nendoroid Sayaka Miki: Uniform Ver. & Kyouko Sakura: Casual Ver. Set
Ryuko Matoi: Kamui Senketsu Ver.
Homura Akemi: you are not alone.
Nendoroid Sakura Miku
Nendoroid Mami Tomoe: School Uniform Ver.
Nendoroid Akagi
Nendoroid Shimakaze
figma Black Gold Saw: TV ANIMATION ver.
figma Ultimate Madoka
Miku Hatsune : Cheerful Ver.
Nendoroid Asuna
Nendoroid Dead Master: TV ANIMATION Ver.
Nendoroid Hatsune Miku 2.0
Nendoroid Kirito
Nendoroid Petite : Fate/hollow ataraxia
Nendoroid Petite: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Nendoroid Snow Miku: Strawberry White Kimono Ver.
Nendoroid Ultimate Madoka
Saber Lily ~Golden Caliburn~
Ultimate Madoka
Asuna -Knights of the Blood Ver.-
Belldandy with Holy Bell
figma Kaga
figma Levi
figma Levi: Cleaning ver.
figma Mikasa Ackerman
Natsu Dragneel

That’s a pretty hefty list of stuff! It’s always great to see companies show up in official capacity at conventions that are somewhere other than Japan or the US, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to follow up on my interview with Maritan from last year and see how far GSC have come in the European market.

Reblogged 2 years ago from www.tomopop.com

Good Smile is coming to MCM London and bringing loot

It’s still tough being a figure fan who lives in the UK, but things have been a bit more fun ever since Good Smile Company set up an official European branch and started attending major events all over the continent. With one of the biggest events of the British convention calender next week, the colossal MCM Comic Con London, European rep Maritan has announced she and her colleagues will be back in attendance.

British readers who are going along, you’d be well advised to check out their booth, as there’ll be the chance to get your hands on some pretty neat stuff. Among the items on sale will be exclusives like the Nendoroid Sayaka and Kyouko twin pack and Snow Miku. Here’s the entire list of what’ll be available:

Nendoroid Aircraft Carrier Wo-Class
Nendoroid Gilgamesh
Nendoroid Levi
Nendoroid Levi: Cleaning Ver.
Nendoroid Luigi
Nendoroid More: CUBE 01 Classroom Set
Nendoroid More: Dress-up Pajamas
Nendoroid More: Face Swap
Nendoroid Ryuko Matoi
Nendoroid Sayaka Miki: Uniform Ver. & Kyouko Sakura: Casual Ver. Set
Ryuko Matoi: Kamui Senketsu Ver.
Homura Akemi: you are not alone.
Nendoroid Sakura Miku
Nendoroid Mami Tomoe: School Uniform Ver.
Nendoroid Akagi
Nendoroid Shimakaze
figma Black Gold Saw: TV ANIMATION ver.
figma Ultimate Madoka
Miku Hatsune : Cheerful Ver.
Nendoroid Asuna
Nendoroid Dead Master: TV ANIMATION Ver.
Nendoroid Hatsune Miku 2.0
Nendoroid Kirito
Nendoroid Petite : Fate/hollow ataraxia
Nendoroid Petite: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Nendoroid Snow Miku: Strawberry White Kimono Ver.
Nendoroid Ultimate Madoka
Saber Lily ~Golden Caliburn~
Ultimate Madoka
Asuna -Knights of the Blood Ver.-
Belldandy with Holy Bell
figma Kaga
figma Levi
figma Levi: Cleaning ver.
figma Mikasa Ackerman
Natsu Dragneel

That’s a pretty hefty list of stuff! It’s always great to see companies show up in official capacity at conventions that are somewhere other than Japan or the US, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to follow up on my interview with Maritan from last year and see how far GSC have come in the European market.

Reblogged 2 years ago from www.tomopop.com

The Loot Cave Situation

If you’ve played Destiny, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Loot Cave. Or maybe it’s successor, Loot Cave 2.0. (Not very creative with names, are they?) The gist is this: the way Destiny‘s loot system works is primarily based on Engrams, or little bundles of categorical rarity that you have to have decoded into actual loot. The color scheme should be familiar to nearly all of you, starting with white and going to green to blue to purple and finally to gold.

Destiny, in its pseudo MMO-ness, has a similarly standard respawn structure. There are particular entrance points into the world where enemies can enter. Sometimes they are dropped by massive teleporting alien ships and other times they seems to blip and bloop simply into and out of existence. And then there are the times they come scurrying out of a literal hole in the ground. But they will only appear if the game thinks no one is watching.

This is where the Loot Cave comes into play. The first was located in the Cosmodrome area of Old Russia. With a legion of Guardians huddling around a slab of rock and shooting into a cave, it was a puzzling sight. But combine the two aforementioned aspects (loot drops and enemy respawns), and you have a Loot Cave. From that rock formation, you are far enough that the game thinks you can’t see the furtive birthing of foes. But with a zoom scope and a few friends, you can fire endlessly into that hole and be massively reward for your efforts. We’re talking kaboodles of blues and purps here, guys.

Destiny

In a recent patch, though, Bungie saw fit to nerf the honey pot—among other things. But just as quickly as they did so, another cave popped up. Also in Old Russia, this was even easier because the enemies had a tendency to seek you out if they got past your wall of hot death. And something tells me it’s only a matter of time until they patch this one as well.

The interesting thing, though, is that Bungie seemed to genuinely understand the grassroots thing borne by their game. From a blog post regarding then-impending changes: “The social experience of a cave farming run is amazing…The speed at which the community organized around this activity was inspiring and humbling to us.”

But then further along, they also say, “shooting at a black hole for hours on end isn’t our dream for how Destiny is played.” These words very literally translate to the fact that players broke the system, counter to some opinions that it’s a feature and not a bug. While making good points and well written, the developers are straight-up saying that this was not intended.

Destiny

Of course some people will always choose the path of least (interesting) resistance. Shooting into a dark cave that spits out goodies? Bingo bango. But really the problem here is that the progression after level 20 is so incredibly boring that the best option all around is to join the ammo dump fest into a Loot Cave. That’s why you are so rarely alone at the caves. Even when instanced into separate realities of a handful of players, you will still find people at the caves.

There are other influencing artifacts to this treasure hunt, though. Namely the formerly cryptic rewards coming from the Cryptarch (the guy who decodes your Engrams for you). Bungie had to deliberately drop an injected element of randomness to the decryption, a choice previously made seemingly to only obfuscate the value of any given piece of loot.

The color of the engram didn’t always coordinate to the item it would result in, bringing about many bouts of frustration and rage and tweeting, especially (and usually) when a legendary drop only ended up being a rare piece of armor. The patch that removed the first Loot Cave also forced every engram to decode to its colored value or higher. It additionally forcibly downgraded all legendary engrams to rare ones, with the patch notes suggesting players decrypt before the patch while admitting “but let’s be honest–even if you don’t, we all know they were blues already…”

Destiny

Strangely enough, neither of are the true wrench in the works of Destiny, merely symptoms. Truly, the main problem that sprouts these smaller albeit more visible problems is that Bungie missed a vital part of designing an MMO: communication. It’s fine and well that your mission’s objectives are always delightfully highlighted on your screen but the game lacks communication in regards to how it should be played.

Alternatives to the intended design are usually taught to be less-than-viable. Dark Souls, for instance, teaches you that lesson through severely brutal deaths. But the alternative to Destiny‘s proper way to grind for gear is entirely too sustainable, which is to say shooting for hours on end into a dark Russian hole. Nothing teaches you otherwise because you are rewarded for you efforts eventually. The science checks out.

But much like World of Warcraft, the preeminent product of effective MMO design, late-level progression comes easiest in the form of faction alignment. You earn reputation and currencies and then you get your big rewards. That concept is rather alien to a console game and fighting an uphill battle against the ever so inviting fallacy of uncertain but immediate rewards. Turning in bounties gets you substantial gains in experience and faction points as well as afford you the occasional opportunity to engage with exotic bounties for exotic-level loot.

Destiny

While Destiny intends for you to earn Vanguard and Crucible points to buy gear from the respective charter’s dealer, it doesn’t really communicate to you that is the end game of this point gathering. From the outset, it appears as if you are collecting points for each faction just to collect points. And then along the way you chance into access to engrams and special quests and the like. But through hyperbolic discounting, you trick yourself into playing into the Loot Cave’s hands.

It’s clear that Bungie has its shooting down. Destiny feels as good as Halo ever did. (The similarities between the two games are striking and honestly somewhat disconcerting, but we’ll get to that later.) But it’s also clear that in all that time of hewing one hand into a finely tuned gun, Bungie forgot to shape the other into an MMO, driving you to both loot and understand the loot. Maybe it’s something patchable and maybe it’s something too base to be smoothed over. We’ll soon find out.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

Loot Crate’s September crate is Galactic, packed with exclusives

We officially have one foot firmly in September and Loot Crate has announced the theme for this month’s box. Drawing from the Sci-fi realms of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Firefly, the next round is called “Galactic.” As always, the specifics of the Crate’s contents is a mystery but we received word that it will contain three exclusive items, one of which will be a Funko Mystery Mini figure. One lucky subscriber will also receive the Mega Crate, stuffed with US$1,000 worth of goodies. You can get an idea of what the Galactic Mega Crate will contain from the image in the gallery.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up for Loot Crate here. There is a 1-month plan (US$19.37) as well as 3-month (US$55.11) and 6-month (US$105.99) ones.

Read more…

Reblogged 3 years ago from www.tomopop.com

Nendoroid May’n redefines concert loot

When I go to a concert, usually all I come back with is a useless ticket stub and half a cup of low-quality beer that’s been spilled on me – if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky, a lot of beer has been spilled on me. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could leave a concert with a Nendoroid, though?

May’n fans have such an opportunity as Good Smile Company will be selling a special Nendoroid version of the pop star. It’ll be sold at concert venues along her 10th anniversary tour, making it an actually memorable piece of memorabilia. Kahotan’s blog has the preview, showing off May’n’s trademark accessories and some really cool box liner art. This is yet another reason to love Japan.

Read more…

Reblogged 3 years ago from www.tomopop.com