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Hugh Likes Video Games: Kunai

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Kunai
Developed by: TurtleBlaze
Published by: The Arcade Crew
Played on Nintendo Switch

The Skinny: Ninja Robot Tablet Action

In the distant future, a lone robot awakens to save mankind from the AI Apocalypse. With an energy draining sword and an emoji-displaying tablet for a head, he sets out to save the small band of human resistance fighters, along with the rest of the world.
While its story is a bit thin, Kunai delivers a pleasant and fast-paced Metroidvania experience. In addition to the aforementioned sword, a variety of upgradable guns are also at your disposal as you traverse a variety of technology-infused forests, floating mountains, and futuristic cities. You travel on foot, with the ubiquitous double jumps, and with the games’s eponymous standout feature, the kunai, a pair of grappling hook-like knives that allow you to scale walls and swing along ceilings with ease. The game gives you a huge amount of freedom early in the game, delightfully disrupting the traditional gameplay loop of unreachable ledges and unjumpable pits. The controls are fun and intuitive, letting the player navigate quickly and easily.The game is presented in a faux gameboy pixel art style, with grayscale backgrounds. Enemies are painted red, while Tabby and his allies are blue. While it doesn’t have the flash of Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight, the sprites are easy to see, and charmingly designed. Backgrounds are surprisingly detailed and cleverly imagined.
The game rarely slows down, except in a few sections which involve navigating courses consisting of hazards like bottomless pits and rooms full of spikes. These parts of the game feel separate, and a bit archaic. Fortunately, they are quite close to save sections, and the game gives a Super Meat Boy try try again feel.
While Kunai doesn’t have the narrative weight or graphical artistry of some of the bigger Metroidvania titles, it is a fun and fast-pace game with plenty of charm, and is well worth your time. It is available on PC from Steam or on the Nintendo Switch from the Nintendo eShop.

Hugh Likes Comics: Magnus

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Magnus #1
Written by Kyle Higgins
Drawn by Jorge Fornes
Colored by Chris O’Halloran
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
Published by Dynamite

Magnus

I’ve never actually followed the adventures of “Magnus: Robot Fighter.” He’s one of those pulp heroes that I’ve seen on the periphery. He falls into a category with characters like The Shadow and John Carter of Mars in that I know they’ve been around, and are in some ways foundational to pop culture, but I’ve never sought his adventures out. Perhaps it is because the premise, while awesome, seemed a bit too simple. He’s a dude that fights robots. It all feels very 1950’s to me; the square-jawed hero putting up his dukes and wits against a clanking menace while the terrified damsel looks on.
Higgins and Fornes new reimagining of the character is quite different, but it still has a veneer of classic science fiction about it. This version of the character is Dr. Kerri Magnus, robot psychologist. While the character so far seems to have more in common with Dr. Susan Calvin than the original pulp hero, the original creator, (name) was purported to have been largely inspired by Azimov’s “I, Robot” stories, so perhaps this reimagining is just bringing the concept full circle.
Fornes’s art is quite good, although there were a few spreads where I had some trouble following the panel sequence. His depictions of New York in the far-off year of 2020, and the ‘Cloudworld,’ it’s digital mirror, are intriguing, and O’Halloran’s colors create an absorbing SF-Noir feel for the book.
Magnus is a book with giving some fresh ink and perspective to some classic SF ideas, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes, although the first issue is a bit slim, it leaves some tasty breadcrumbs I’m looking forward to following. You can pick up Magnus #1 from your local comics shop, or digitally from Comixology.

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