In addition to a whole range of brand new games for both current and next gen systems, we’re also seeing plenty of ports come out during this busy period. We’re highlighting three of them today, with BFF or Die and Katamari Damacy REROLL on the PS4 as well as the Switch release of Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition.
BFF or Die
Although I initially thought BFF or Die was a sequel or spinoff to the excellent Move or Die, it’s actually a completely different take on the local multiplayer genre from ASA Studio that came out back in 2018 on Steam. Now, it’s been picked up by 2Awesome Studio for a console release, bringing the game to users on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.
Billed as a multiplayer game, BFF or Die can also be played solo, in which case it’s a lot like an old fashioned Pac-Man type of arcade game – running through a maze collecting glowing orbs to complete a level. The twist is that you can (and have to) also control a beam of light to help illuminate the right part of each level, but it’s easy to pick up and play.
You’ll also pick up and activate special abilities/gadgets here and there, but the game is best enjoyed in its multiplayer mode – which is also where the levels change to encourage cooperative play. While you still have puzzles and challenges to solve in single player mode, being required to work together is infinitely more fun and makes this is a far less generic maze game.
What’s a shame is that the game only supports local multiplayer, and not everyone will have four players ready to play, especially during these times. During co-op play, combining different gadgets is the key to success, and this makes the game better even though the campaign is still the same in terms of length (roughly two hours of gameplay time). There’s a cute but forgettable story for the campaign as well, but ultimately this is a game you’ll only want to grab if its local multiplayer mode is a good fit for you. With its accessible gameplay, it’s a good fit for family videogame fun during the holidays.
Katamari Damacy REROLL
Katamari Damacy REROLL is actually a re-release of a remake, as the revamped version of the 2004 classic first came out on the Switch and on Steam back in 2018 and only now received a wider console release – allowing us to play it on an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 so many years after first trying it on a PlayStation 2.
I still remember all the critical acclaim for the original release of Katamari Damacy, and thinking it was incredibly weird when I played it. Definitely a game that had to grow on me, because at first I kept thinking “there has to be more to it than this”. The story revolved around the King of All Cosmos and you as his tiny little son, tasked with the mission to restore the night sky and all the stars in it. Naturally, this is done by rolling a little ball around and finding objects that are small enough to stick it. Makes sense, right?
As you do so, your little ball (a Katamari) grows and grows, allowing you to stick larger and larger objects to it – and the game visually scales up in the process, which obviously was more impressive back in 2004 than it is today. You might start out tiny, scooping up sugar cubes, but before long you’re sticking entire television sets to your Katamari. Both the in-game visuals and the cutscenes are super quirky, and the whole thing feels like a great indie game from before indie games were a thing.
The REROLL version of the game sports updated visuals and new cutscenes in additional to support for full HD resolutions, but the end result isn’t something that’s radically different from the original game. In fact, it was a “this is exactly like I remember it” experience for me, and I had to look up some PS2 footage to see I was wearing some rose tinted glasses when I thought that. If you fondly remember the PS2 version or want to see what the original excitement was about, this is a solid though relatively unambitious release you’ll want to check out.
Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition
The title is quite a mouthful and something like “Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition” would suggest this is a brand new version of an existing game, but this particular version of Root Double actually came out years ago on the PS3 and PlayStation Vita and was only just released for the Nintendo Switch. Should you pick this visual novel up if you missed out on the Vita version and still want it as a mobile experience?
As with many visual novels that came out during the Vita’s lifespan, Root Double features a very lengthy narrative, but it’s one that is engaging with a solid premise and two perspectives on the core events. Central to the story is a nuclear disaster, and while one of your protagonists is caught right in the middle of it as a rescue squad captain the other is a student trying to piece together what happened.
Or rather, what’s going to happen, because the story portions with student Natsuhiko Tenkawa actually take place prior to the incident, so there’s a foreboding atmosphere there. This back and forth mechanic makes for a nice dynamic as narrative structures start to interconnect, but the most interesting aspect from a gameplay perspective lies with the emotion-based SSS system, which stands for Senses Sympathy System.
Here, your choices aren’t as definite as they are in other visual novels (where you can simply select to agree to disagree, to stay or leave, or to speak or not), but revolve around you rating your attitude towards other characters. Do you trust them? Are you inclined to follow their lead? Although a traditional visual novel also presents choices that will impact your relationships with others, Root Double turns things around and lets you determine your mood while the game fills in the responses. It’s not much more than a variation on a familiar theme, but it’s nice a breath of fresh for the formula. If you don’t enjoy visual novels it won’t be enough to sway you, but if you’re fond of them and feel like spending a good chunk of time with a somewhat original approach, then Root Double is for you.