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Graceful Explosion Machine is a graceful, explosive shooter

For as popular as side-scrolling shooters are, it’s tough to pull them off well. Not so much the basics, but the finer points — the feel, the difficulty curve, the action itself. It’s easy to make one that has strong fundamentals, but doesn’t quite nail the fine tuning. Graceful Explosion Machine, from developer Vertex Pop, is one of those games that hits all the right points flawlessly. Released earlier this year on the Switch (now released for PlayStation 4 and PC), Graceful Explosion Machine is a side-scrolling shooter where the levels wrap around on themselves. You fight through four planets worth of stages trying to survive increasingly menacing waves of foes on a mission to collect warp crystals to take you back home to Earth, vying for the highest score possible all the while. Your ship is equipped with four different weapons, each mapped to...
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Hearthstone: A great, fundamentally broken game

As 2017 marches through August and into September, Hearthstone has just experienced the launch of its sixth expansion in three years. Since March 2014 when the game originally released, it has been regularly supported with the launch of new cards sets and occasional single-player adventures. I’ve played Hearthstone semi-regularly throughout this time, playing enough games to get me to Rank 20 each month, but never investing the time, energy or cold-hard cash required to get all the way to the top. I consider myself an average Hearthstone player in many respects. I’ve enjoyed Hearthstone in small doses, and have had great fun with it on many occasions, but I’ve always found several aspects of the game frustrating that have made me never want to play for extended periods. As time has gone on, my frustration has gradually increased. The more of the game I have...
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Chess Ultra is sure to strike you a match

Chess is a rather unique sub genre of gaming, especially in the console gaming sphere. When we think about playing chess against an A.I. opponent, we naturally think about playing chess on a personal computer of some kind. Historically, chess has been a staple of personal computers, almost to its earliest days. Chess on consoles, on the other hand, haven’t enjoyed quite the same amount of notoriety. The image of console chess is usually one involving a wizened bearded man, hunched over a chessboard, gazing knowing at you, one hand reaching for a frosted glass chess piece, the board and pieces illuminated heavily with light from below, while a soft indigo glow encircles the man’s head like a hood. Newer incarnations have done away with the suggestive imagery in favor of a more modern, traditionalist design, featuring close ups of chess pieces. The classic design...
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