It’s time to explore another trio of new releases, as we take a look as Assemble’s Shakes on a Place, Roundout by POWGI and a brand new DLC release for Tropico 6: Caribbean Skies.
Shakes On A Plane
Developed by Huu Games and published by Assemble, Shakes on a Plane wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Within about a minute, you’ll think “Overcooked”, and you’d be absolutely right. Even down to the fact that you’re preparing meals, picking up waste and serving delicious food, it’s a clear nod to Team17’s highly successful franchise. It’s out on Nintendo Switch and PC (through Steam) right now, so if you’re a fan of Overcooked and looking for something similar, this is one to check out and consider.
Despite the similarities, Shakes on a Plane comes with a twist, and it’s that your ‘missions’ are airborne and you need to be as successful as possible and score enough points before landing if you are to progress to the next level in the campaign. This translates to a few fun mechanics that fit well with the airplane theme, like passengers who can’t help but be in the way or the occasional cart that goes flying after what we can only assume is a little turbulence.
The visuals reflect this by showing the outlines of the plane (or flying saucer – this game also features aliens) that you’re in, but strip away the outside border and the layout barely reflects that of a typical plane. Perhaps that’s for the better, because floor plans for real planes don’t exactly offer exciting options for videogame mechanics.
The gameplay itself is fairly typical of Overcooked and the many similar titles we’ve seen in recent years. See what people want, get the order ready, deliver it as quickly as possible and don’t leave people sitting around with dirty stuff for too long either. Level progression is handled a bit differently though, and you need to actually meet a certain score to pass a level or you’ll fail and have to do it again. This wouldn’t be a big issue, were it not for the fact that the game feel improperly balanced for those playing the game’s single player mode. When I thought I did pretty well, I didn’t even pass the level – let alone get close to getting all of the available stars for it. To do that, I needed to play in a multiplayer setting, which is a shame because I can enjoy Overcooked as a solo player as well as enjoy it thoroughly with others.
So if you’re interested in something similar to Overcooked, then this is a less well polished version that’s best geared towards multiplayer gameplay, which is where it’s fun airplane setting works best.
Roundout by POWGI
When you see the name “POWGI” come up in a new videogame, the mind quickly drifts to the Lightwood Games’ many wordplay-based games that we’ve played and reviewed over the years. Roundout by POWGI is the next iteration of the concept, and this one’s out now for PlayStation 4 as well as the Xbox One. New-gen consoles also support the game through backwards compatibility, and there’s a Nintendo Switch version coming out in a few days as well.
You’ll notice that the Vita, which was home to many of Lightwood’s previous games, isn’t on that list. A release for Sony’s handheld is still hoped for, but Sony’s diminishing support for the platform isn’t making things any easier for publishers. Fingers crossed….
Gameplay-wise, Roundout by POWGI is a fun combination of an anagram solver and a crossword puzzle. You’re given a letter wheel that you can use to form words, and once you create the correct words you’ll see them appear on the crossword puzzle behind you. Words that are correct but not in the crossword are counted as bonus words, and you’ll just keep making words until you complete the puzzle.
The great benefit of this approach is that you’re not stuck endlessly guessing for words as you try and come up every conceivable letter combination to come up with a word you’ve never heard of. The crossword approach slowly but surely gives you hints by providing letters for the words you’re missing, and having a set goal to work towards is more encouraging than seeing how many possible words you’re still missing.
It’s been one of the most fun POWGI titles in a while for us, and we really hope it gets to the Vita by the time we get to travel again – this is a great way to pass a few minutes here and there, with 120 puzzles to complete. And yes, our wise-cracking dog is back with his sometimes hilarious and/or clever jokes, and so is Lightwood’s trademark visual style and music.
Tropico 6 – Caribbean Skies DLC
Kalypso only very recently announced they were handing the development reigns for Tropico over to a different studio (Realmforge), and it hasn’t taken long for a new DLC package to drop. Caribbean Skies is out now, and we decided to dive back in and take a look.
It’s touted as Tropico 6’s biggest DLC update to date, and with 5 new missions to take on as well as 8 new buildings to work with that is certainly true from a content perspective, as previous packs like The Llama of Wall Street only featured a single mission to play and three new buildings. Caribbean Skies is a tad more expensive as a result, but in terms of value for money still comes up favorable compared to other packs.
More important than just looking at the content is what that content does in terms of new gameplay mechanics, and in Caribbean Skies you’ll literally take to skies in a bid to expand your influence on a scale that goes beyond the island nation of Tropico. Cargo planes and drones make it easier to deliver and trade goods, but controlling the skies also helps El Presidente with his surveillance needs. On top of that, hot air balloons can also boost tourism, so the skies really feel like a new frontier in the game.
They’re all meaningful additions to Tropico 6 and they’ve provided us with a good reason to jump right back in. With five missions to complete, it’s also been a lot of fun to play around with the mechanics, as each mission emphasizes a different mechanic (the expansion also features new edicts and traits). My only ‘complaint’ is more a meta-complaint, in that playing Caribbean Skies feels pretty removed from the origins of the Tropico games, which back in the early days felt like being the boss of an island that was isolated from the rest of the world and stuck in time. That was part of the charm as well, but we also understand that after 6 games and countless DLC releases it’s nice to diversify a bit – and this DLC is a successful take on that idea.