Editorial: Impressions, Vol. 1

Greetings, and welcome to the first post for my thoughts on games that I have played but not yet completed. Some of these games have been on my watch list for a while as I wait for the price to be right before I jump on them. Others were a day one purchase, but did not hold my interest. These three games made the jump to my library after becoming discounted during the sales over the last couple of months. If any reader should like to see a full review of any game below, then please let me know in the comments.

Punch Club

Ninja Alligators?
Some fight are against ‘unique’ opponents.

Developed by Lazy Bear Games, Punch Club is the game they worked on before Graveyard Keeper (review here). This game caught my attention due to what I though were mechanics similar to the idle genre. The player need to raise the stats of their character (agility, strength, and stamina) by training. Actions require spending energy, and energy is replenished through sleep or consuming food and drink. There is a hunger meter that players must keep an eye on also. Food is purchased at a local convenience store, and money is earned through winning fights or working a job.

Fights are divided into turns in which players select an equipped move and try to reduce their opponents health to zero before their own health is beaten away. Moves require spending stamina, so players cannot spam their strongest move repeatedly. As the player progresses down skill trees their are new moves and passive abilities to unlock and use in combat.

This loop sees players traveling around a city to perform the various repetitive tasks necessary to continue building their stats. The only problem with this is that stats also decrease over time, so constant attention is needed to make sure they do not deteriorate faster than the players builds them. Time is a precious resource that players need to manage to get the most gains. To add to the problem there are also several story lines to divert attention away from other activities.

If not for the deteriorating stats I may have put more time into this game. Graveyard Keeper was enjoyable despite the repetitiveness of its routines, but Punch Club felt like too much of a step back. Such is the way when playing a developers earlier works.

Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!

Holy Potatoes! How long before this joke gets old?!
Holy Potatoes! A screenshot?!

This is the game that begun the Holy Potatoes! series. The player takes charge of a group of weaponsmiths to produce gear for budding adventurers. Every character in the game is potato shaped, and most have pun names or are parodies of famous video game characters. Lusipurr would refer to this as a process simulator, and I believe that is a fair description of the game.

Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! appealed to me because I enjoy crafting in games. Players start by choosing the type of weapon they wish to craft. Once selected, a list of adventurers who would buy that type of weapon is displayed. Each adventurer has a weapon and stat preference that players need to keep in mind when forging new equipment. Whilst the weapon is being crafted, each potato smith stationed in the shop will add one of four stats to the weapon (attack, speed, accuracy, and magic) based on which station they are assigned to. The ideas is to maximise the desired stats on a weapon so that adventurers will pay more for it.

A smith is dispatched to a distant location to sell the players wares. Adventurers in that location all offer money for weapons, and more money is offered is it has stats that appeal to the adventurer. Better weapons will give the adventurer more experience, increasing the fame of the player in turn. At certain fame levels the player unlocks new locations and people to sell to. New weapons are discovered by sending smiths to explore locations for relics which are then researched back in the shop.

The mechanics of the game leave the player waiting around for their smiths to return home, otherwise new weapons cannot be forged with as many stats. Forging requires the player to wait also. The game feels like it should be played in short bursts on a smart phone (where it is also available). The stop-start nature of the game means that I want to put the game down as often as I want to play it, and eventually stopped wanting to pick it up again.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization

Kirito is a player, but not that sort of game.
The Sword Art harem.

I have mixed feelings about the Sword Art Online series. Hollow Realization is the fourth game chronologically, though the first two were released as a single title in the West. Hollow Fragment showed promise, but was ultimately swamped with unnecessary features and hampered by a poor translation. Lost Song improved upon both and was a high point for the series. Features creep back into Hollow Realization along with ridiculous dating mechanics.

Players control Kirito, the protagonist of the series, in a party with up to three other characters from the series. The games diverged from the anime early on to introduce their own story lines and reoccurring characters (read: women) to the series. Hollow Realization sees the party playing the beta of Sword Art Origins, a game based on the world they tried to escape from. There is a wandering NPC that appears to be bugged because the escort quest she offers pays out very little. The party seem concerned because the NPC may be deleted as her data is missing, but this was as far as I got. This action RPG is fairly grind heavy, and the side quests are of the fetch kind that are quite uninspiring.

Combat mostly revolves around tapping a basic attack button (Kingdom Hearts style) whilst dodging World of Warcraft area of effect spells. Party members act on their own, but can be directed by the player. This means they are often on healing duty as I take every hit to keep my damage bonus on a target. There are a lot of fodder enemies around to help players build an experience combo so that they gain levels faster. I have bought this game twice in the hope that I plays better on a console rather than a handheld, but so far neither has worked for me.


  1. The SAO game looks the best, but those games are poor, poor, poor. Poorly conceived, poorly designed, poorly executed. Not bad looking, mind, but otherwise regretable.

  2. I read most of this article – thanks for writing it, Imitanis! Although they do look like pretty dreadful wastes of money, time, and system memory. At least they’re not Steam Greenlight games.

  3. @Tanzenmatt: Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I’ll have more of these coming in the future.

    @Lusipurr: You’re right, SAO is the best of this bunch, it just suffers from being overdesigned.

  4. @Imitanis: A typical fault of the series as I understand it, but also symptomatic of a certain attitude towards Japanese-ish RPG design these days.

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