Tag Archives: Zelda

Undermine (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Thorium Entertainment || Overall: 9.5/10


Undermine might seem like “yet another top down roguelike that resembles an old Zelda game,” but under the immediate aesthetic surface, you’ll find a wonderfully designed, fun, yet tough roguelike. The appeal of playing Undermine isn’t about messing around with a gimmick, but focusing solely on the strength of the genre with its gameplay and dungeon crawling.

You play as the endless queue of Peasants being sent to their doom by their king. The goal being to kill/loot/discover whatever it is in the Undermine. Each male and female you play as look exactly the same as the last; other than a pallet swap for clothing, a randomly assigned name, and different skin tones. The lack of individuality plays a role here as the Peasant will always die, and a new one will take their place.

While the story isn’t too complex, it keeps you guessing what the overall point of the whole endeavor is. You’ll discover/unlock upgrades and shops to help you get deeper into the Undermine, and progress the story bit by bit.


Undermine is a beautiful game. At first it was off-putting since I typically dislike “oversized” styles for characters, but I got used to it. While there isn’t a whole lot of customization to the player character (which is part of the dark humor in the game), they aren’t usually going to be alive long enough to matter before you are randomly assigned another Peasant.

There are a lot of unique enemies, only some being pallet-swapped versions of previous types. Effects are unique for each of the relics (power-ups) that you get, so it is easy to tell when something activates (which is also satisfying to see). Icons are also well done, so you recognize what each one is on sight rather than having to read it each time — though there are a lot of curses, blessings, and relics to remember so you’ll certainly have to check several times before recognizing repeats.


Sound is great, everything has a good feel to it. The music is also good, but there’s only one track for each dungeon, I believe. I ended up muting the music and playing my own music after a while (a lot of DragonForce in particular, recently).


The gameplay is actually not that unique from other roguelikes. What separates it is execution, which is practically perfect.

You don’t blast through the dungeons (a feeling I had with another roguelike, Moonlighter) due to the way the game is balanced. There are a lot of rooms with unique configurations; learning the rooms and enemies is a big part about preserving your health, which is hard to recover. You’ll die several times in the first dungeon before you get enough Gold to buy some permanent upgrades. Health recovery is possible, but food only heals a very low amount. I seldom ever get back to maximum health once I lose it; this is generally where a lot of the difficulty comes from since playing perfectly is emphasized as a result.

There are probably a hundred or more unique rooms, most of which are exclusive to their dungeon. New room configurations seem to pop up after a number of runs, perhaps due to a low chance of appearing, or maybe they unlock after a certain amount of time. Even after 30 hours, I still see new configurations in the first dungeon (known as the Gold Mine). When the room layouts are the same, enemy loadouts can still differ, so it keeps it fresh longer. A high percentage of rooms also have some sort of puzzle associated with them, sometimes not that obvious, so it’ll take experimenting over multiple runs to figure out what to do. Secret rooms are also fairly common, so being inquisitive often rewards you. You’ll use bombs and keys to solve the puzzles.

Progress ends up being slow and measured due to game design. This is a benefit because it doesn’t feel too easy and beating a boss or getting to the next dungeon feels like an earned experience. Once you discover a new dungeon you’ll be able to quick travel to it, bypassing the previous dungeon completely. However, it’s not the best decision to do so since you’ll lose out on all of the relics/items those floors have. You’ll get two relics for free for quick traveling, which is something they recently added to the build I was playing for this review — I found that it promotes quick travel as a more viable option. Before they added that in, I was traveling and completing the first floor of each dungeon before venturing deeper into the “progression” dungeon, but that strategy is painful by the time you hit the fourth dungeon.

Gold is the main currency of the game which can be used to purchase a number of upgrades at the entrance. A very important aspect to keeping the game high paced, is that after clearing a room, you’ll open chests or mine gold. The game doesn’t let you off that easy since there is an enemy called a Pilfer which will actually steal any gold that drops on the ground. They will keep spawning until the gold is gone, so you’ll have to run around and pick everything up or you lose out on it. This keeps the game high-paced and not always combat-focused.

Additionally, when you die, you’ll lose about 25% of your total gold (before upgrades). The loss of gold makes it more effective to purchase upgrades while you’re in the mine instead of just saving everything up for upgrades. Think of it as buying insurance before the taxes kick in on your pay check. If you repeatedly die without upgrading or buying things, you waste the opportunity of getting that much further in your next run.

A secondary currency called Thorium can be found, but is much rarer. This currency is used exclusively to craft new relics or potions, which can be used in your next run and is added to the loot pool from then on. The only time a relic can be guaranteed is when you craft it initially; if you craft more than one you’ll actually lose the additional relics to a Pilfer, so you’ll only be able to use one crafted relic per run — same goes for Potions. You are only able to craft them one time, at which point they become a “normal” relic/potion in the dungeon waiting to be found.

Crappiest Part:

It is hard to pick something that is crappy, but probably the lack of gameplay customization or different classes. While it is certainly not NEEDED, it would be nice to be able to modify your initial loadout just a bit so that gameplay can differ right off the bat and not always rely on a “luck of the draw.”

Not all relics are playstyle changers, so it isn’t guaranteed you’ll get to play differently anyway. Eventually, you unlock a shop upgrade that allows for Relics to be bought, but I have yet to see one pop up at the vendor. Not sure if this is a bug or not.


9.5 is high praise for a game, and while it isn’t perfect, it is damn near it. My only gripe is probably the lack of agency in customizing runs reliably. Undermine is a genuinely fun title that deserves praise and fans of the genre should be very pleased. The benefit of being in Early Access for so long seems to have looked favorably upon Thorium’s development of this title.

Super Cane Magic ZERO (PC) Review

Developer: Studio Evil | Publisher: Intragames Co Ltd || Overall: 9.0/10

Super Cane Magic ZERO is like a wacky Zelda game with randomized loot. Go on an adventure through the zany world of WOTF and explore all of the random shit they put in for you to enjoy. The most obvious feature is the art, which is drawn by Italian cartoonist Simone “Sio” Albrigi, who has a very particular style.

On first glance, a lot of the “garnishments” of the game actually distract from what is underneath. I’ve found the game to be a fun, methodical action game, rather than a quick and bursty one. You have to plan your moves out ahead of time since a lot of the game hinges on the “twin-shooter” controls of pointing in the direction you want to hit something. Throwing things is also a very big part of the game and also relies on this “twin-shooter” aspect. Much of the combat relies on stunning an enemy, picking them up and throwing them against a wall or against another enemy for major damage. There are plenty of other abilities and items you can get that grant you different magic spells, so this changes up certain situations, but the most effective way to defeat enemies is by chucking them at a wall after they are stunned.

The actual gameplay loop comes with exploring the world of WOTF, which is a fairly large and intricately designed place. There are plenty of secrets and areas you can only access with certain items or abilities, which gives older areas new uses. Your goal is to find powerful wizards who will unlock talent trees for you and help you save the world of WOTF. As you go along in your adventure, you will also help rebuild the Kingdom of Poptarts with collectible items you get from killing enemies. This leads into the necessary grinding that you’ll be having to do, but most of it can be accomplished through normal play as you revisit areas over and over trying to find new things.

Loot is a very important part of the game. There are a lot of different stats that do different things, and they’re sometimes named not-so-intuitive things, which forces you to menu-hunt to get an explanation. Oddly enough, I could not figure out a way to easily compare loot without equipping and unequipping several times to see the differences they make in stats. Dropped loot will upgrade as you level up, so a lot of your stuff will be simply outdated as time goes on. There are different rarities of loot, and most of what you find is junk, but you’ll get a legendary every now and then that changes up gameplay quite significantly. Even though you level up, there still feels like a bit of enemy scaling going on, because the mechanics of the enemies are usually much more important than their stats. As a result, you don’t really “out-level” anything as most of the enemies in the game stay relevant.

The biggest gains in power come from talent trees, of which there are multiple. Most of the talent trees will have two sides and only allow you to go down one side, so you have to look ahead and see what you currently need. The exception is the first talent tree where you can go down both sides. You can always respec at a vendor if you need to walk on lava and you didn’t go down that tree, for instance. As one would expect, you gain talent points from levels. What isn’t as expected is being able to gain “bonus” talent points from finding “TVs” out in the world; there are also talent points to gain from finding unique items for the Poptarts museum. This sort of lets you get ahead of your levels a little bit, I suppose, though leveling up is something that happens pretty often, so it is hard to “feel” that bonus most of the time since there are a lot of filler talents.

There is local multiplayer only, and the game is definitely built with teams in mind. You can totally play by yourself, obviously, but when you are facing a huge group of monsters, having teammates would be helpful. Each character has their own set of equipment and inventory, so you can essentially start the game from scratch on a new character with different abilities. You can unlock more characters, but after about 25 hours of gameplay, I’ve only unlocked one. I also have to unlock about half of the game still, so I guess I just play slow.

The writing, unfortunately, feels lazy compared to everything else. It is mostly nonsensical for the sake of being so, and isn’t a motivating factor at all in playing. The jokes are good, but the main intent of the writing is really just to tell jokes and make fun of stuff rather than tell any sort of cohesive story. There could have easily been an interesting story and still have jokes, but whatever, I guess. It just felt like the amount of effort put into the art style and gameplay deserved a bit more effort in this regard. On the plus side, the humor makes its way into basically every aspect of the game including items, loot, and characters. There’s plenty of laughs to be had.

Super Cane Magic ZERO is definitely a game I’d recommend. It is a lot of fun and has a lot of humor in it. The gameplay doesn’t feel lacking and there’s definitely a “point” in endlessly exploring around trying to find all of the secrets that are laying around. If there were ever a “Squackle: The Game” it would be something similar to this, and I suppose I can only dream of what that would actually be, otherwise. For now, I’ll just play Super Cane Magic ZERO.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch) First Impressions

Every time a new Zelda is announced, Nintendo manages to light a collective fire among their diehard fans. Almost immediately, there are more questions than answers about the newest installment featuring our favorite wielders of the Triforce of Power, Wisdom and Courage. Most important of all, among this tizzy of emerging fan theories and confirmed features from Nintendo, the simple question of “Will it be good?” reigns supreme. With that in mind and with about 10 hours of gameplay under my belt, I can still say with certainty that this game is one of the best in the series.

The best way to describe Breath of the Wild is to say that, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” While a lot of the elements are a major departure from recent installments in the series, many also harken back to more classic elements of the franchise. Working together, all of these features give a fresh feeling to the game entirely, while still being a thoroughly Zelda-like experience; ultimately a mixture of old and new turns into a great game.

With that in mind, here’s a few of the features worth noting.

The World is Your Oyster

Taking a note from the first game of the series, Breath of the Wild begins with an open world and a generous old man. Once what serves as a tutorial is put out of the way, you are given freedom on how you want to approach things and a litany of distractions to prevent you from getting anywhere. Among the main quest and side quests, there are a number of shrines that serve as mini-dungeons to explore throughout the world. Each provides a puzzle or battle to overcome and serves as a worthwhile distraction. Beyond that, the world is littered with things to do. Enemy camps, collectible items, and materials populate the world around the player. More often than not, I found myself far and away from my original goal as I pursued one distraction after the next.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Variety comes in many forms in Breath of the wild. Unlike previous iterations, Link has a more robust assortment of weaponry than the typical sword and shield. Things like heavy blades, hammers, and spears are available and have their own properties in combat. While the standard sword still swings in a half circle arch, heavy blades and hammers possess a heftier swing that can also knock a shield right out of an enemy’s hand, and spears have a far more reach but don’t swing nearly as far. The arrows also come with their own assortment of choice, each possessing moves that can shock, sizzle, freeze or even explode enemies on contact. Though where the variety really shines is how the world lets you tackle every encounter and puzzle. Every enemy can be beaten traditionally by hitting them with whatever weapon you have equipped, but it’s far more fun to use the environment against them. Big rocks, flammable grass, and exploding barrels are some of the many ways you can turn the environment against Link’s enemies. Beyond that, puzzles can be treated the same way. While most of them have a standard way to solve them, many allow for the player to deviate from the norm and find their own way to solve them.

Broken Beyond Repair

New to the series, (unless you count the Giant’s Knife from Ocarina of Time) every weapon, bow and shield in the game has durability. What this means is that those items will eventually break, and that they will break often. It’s not too uncommon to have an item break after one or two encounters, or to have several weapons break during a particularly hard battle. While a mechanic like this could easily verge on the annoying, Nintendo has done a good job at making the loss only minor. There are so many weapons, bows and shields throughout the game that finding a replacement is almost instantaneous.

Prepare to Die

Shockingly enough, Breath of the Wild can be difficult at times. Since the world is open to explore that also means that it’s entirely likely that the player will encounter an enemy they have no business facing. Every so often, I would be one-shotted by what seemed to be a common enemy only to later find out that their weapon far exceeded my current hearts or armor. That said, the enemy AI also got a boost. They no longer run blindly into danger, and seek cover when attempting to shoot them from afar. They no longer attack one at a time, but instead seek to surround link and hit him from all sides if possible. Overall, this reminded me of A Link to the Past and the many times when I was either surrounded by enemies or fighting one that was far beyond my current experience.

Everything Old is New Again

Despite all the changes to the core gameplay, Breath of the Wild still feels like a Zelda game. The story is filled with a cast of colorful characters, the sense of adventure reigns supreme, and many other elements return to define this as a Zelda-experience. While the execution may be different, there’s enough here to make any diehard Zelda fan fall right back in love.