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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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In retrospect: Shadow Complex'

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I have a few different weaknesses when it comes to games.

Number one: if a game is shiny, invoking even the slightest bit of cel-shading or comic styling, I have to play it. There is no and, if or but about it. The game must be played, for my eyes must consume the shiny. It's as if I have some sort of straw attached to my eyeballs and each wonderfully colorful game is a delicious milkshake of pleasant palates.

That got weird really quick. Moving forward.

Number two: if a game has an extremely competitive nature to it, I must be the best. 'Timesplitters 2' first awakened this, and then 'Halo' stoked the fires. However, I've gone on and on about competitive gaming since November, so I'm not going to bore you anymore than I have to.

You're bored now, aren't you? Crap. Onward we go.

Number three: if a game is anywhere close to the Metroidvania genre (for the uninitiated, it's an exploration-heavy style that usually consists of leveling up and gaining new abilities to more fully explore your environs), I will destroy it. I will find every nook and cranny, I will reach max level, and I will leave that castle/laboratory/cave system turned upside-down and devoid of treasure.

One of my absolute favorite games from the Metroidvania family is 'Shadow Complex.' Made by the fine folks at Chair (who would eventually go on to make the Infinity Blade series on iOS), this game was a love letter to anyone that had played 'Super Metroid' or 'Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.'

This game had the delicate balance of combat and exploration fully realized, its corridors and caverns that held hidden (yet not obtuse) puzzles and secret stashes that were an absolute joy to explore and unearth. The 2.5D visuals sang thanks to the power of the third Unreal Engine, while still exuding an entirely old-school vibe. When you got down to it, 'Shadow Complex' was the second coming of 'Metroid.' It was everything a Metroidvania game needed to be.

The underlying story was a fairly unique concept, having you perusing the underground layer of separatists looking to ignite a second civil war. However, the voice acting was very uninspired, even when the lead character was voiced by Nolan 'Nathan Drake' North doing a very uninspired imitation of himself with a brain injury. It wasn't a make-it-or-break it feature, but it could have launched this game into immortality if the characters had been fully realized.

Thanks to a New Game+ feature, I got to play through this game twice, and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Seriously, if you haven't picked this up from the Xbox 360 Arcade yet (sorry, PS3 and PC), you are missing out. Go forth and explore!

Aaron Waite would like to remind you to always leave a note.


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