Balls of Fury (Wii) Review

Balls-of-Fury (1)
Anyone remember the Balls of Fury film? I haven’t seen it yet, but I bought the original video game based off of the film for the DS a while back. Eventually, I ran across it in the 5 dollar bin section and I realized something….I had to buy it again! You can never have too much ping pong and while I may have been a little more impressed with the DS version, this one isn’t as bad as I initially thought.

The plot is basically from the film so I don’t really need to recap it all that much. Basically, the main character’s family member is murdered over a hardcore game of Ping Pong so the hero enters the fray. He gets trained by the best and he enters the ultimate tournament to avenge his family. Ping Pong is all he ever knew and it’s going to have to be enough to win the final battle!

I do give the game props for the dialogue boxes in the story. I know that the film didn’t take itself seriously either, but the game takes it to the next level. It makes sure that everyone looks terrible and you can’t help, but crack a smile when viewing the “cutscenes.” It actually makes me tempted to see the film, but some things are more fun in video game format anyway.

The actual story mode is fairly short and it’s around 8 battles give or take 2-3. I completed it in around an hour or two so you don’t want to rely on that for replay value. Although, just having a story mode is pretty cool for a sports game. There’s also an Arcade Mode and a Tournament Mode. You essentially just fight other Ping Pong players like in Story Mode. It’s basically the same thing except for the fact that there are no cutscenes and you can play as a different character.

The gameplay is the intriguing part. There is no moving involved. Now, this Is a Ping Pong match so I suppose that there is only so much room to run anyway. That being said, I was definitely a little surprised. The Wii Remote is the required remote for this game and it’s pretty basic. Swing your arm to the left for a left hit, up for a lob, down for a smash, etc. The controls are very simple and you can master them in a few seconds. Each character has a special ability as well. You can use it on your serve or on a generic hit. They are very useful…for the computer since you get no warning. When you use it, it’s really a matter of luck on whether it will go through or not. It’s still a good feature to include in the game though and the traditional super attack that I use is a fire blast. It’s very effective.

Each game goes up to 11 points with a few exceptions. The games can definitely take a while as there is a lot of back and forth, but the time is definitely doable. Some matches just require you to end up leading a match by at least 3 points, which tends to be a lot quicker. I’m sure that you can probably choose which settings to play with in multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer mode is really what saves the game from getting a slightly negative to barely standing rating. If this was like Casper’s sport game for the Wii, then it would have been a little dicey. Multiplayer is essential for this kind of game and I’m glad to see it included. Battling a computer over and over again can definitely get repetitive after a while. This game simply wasn’t made for that. It works for titles like Street Fighter, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros, but Balls of Fury really needs that multiplayer element.

I would say that the multiplayer part of it contributes to the replay value. Otherwise, the only replay value in the game would be the trophies angle. There are 10 of them in all and I only bothered to earn one of them. (For beating the game) Others are earned by completing tasks like completing Arcade Mode with everyone or without losing a point. The latter sounds difficult, but most of the others definitely sound achievable. I just have too many other games to play at the moment so I wasn’t really tempted to do any of that. It does help the replay factor though. So, if you are on your own, then this game is not going to last very long. With companions, this game can really stay enjoyable for quite some time.

There’s not much to say about the soundtrack in this title either. The main theme is pretty catchy and I really remember it from the DS version. You won’t get tired of it and that’s a good thing since you’ll be hearing it constantly. The taunts are pretty imaginative, but each character only gets 1 or 2 taunts so spamming them can get a little tough on the ears. The whole place shakes when you taunt though so it can be strategically used to win. (Note that it has no effect on the computer)

The graphics are….pretty bad if we’re keeping it real. The heads look photoshopped to the bodies and we’re looking at PS1 level for the animations. Now, that could be an insult to some Playstation 1 games, but it had to be said. Of course, graphics are really unimportant in a sports game so this shouldn’t deter you all that much. If you’re looking for a 1080P 60FPS game…then you’ve come to the wrong place and you’ll want to leave right away.

Overall, This definitely isn’t a bad game. The humorous story mode mixed in with the fun gameplay keeps it positive. The game doesn’t have a lot of replay value though and the graphics are downright bad. At 1.89$ this was definitely a purchase that I am proud of, but I can’t imagine buying it for 30 or 50 dollars. I recommend giving it a shot and you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Make sure that you give the game two chances. The Wii Sensor can be a little dicey and that’s why I had a pretty negative first impression of the game. It worked perfectly on this last run and it makes all the difference for this kind of game. The controls definitely hurt the game and it could have scored a 7 if it had some real controllers, but this was simply the extent of its abilities. It looks like the 5 dollar bin batch of games was definitely worth it and I’ll be sure to check it again in the future. Keep an eye out for this title when you’re at your local Gamestop and be ready for some hard hitting table tennis as long as you have a companion to play with. If you’re by your lonesome, then picking it up is still a decent idea, but you may as well buy Grand Slam Tennis for the PS3.

Overall 6/10

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Bujingai The Forsaken City Review

The PS2 has had several hidden gems over the past few years including Eve of Extinction and Oni. This was my next blind purchase as the description on Amazon was pretty intense and it looked like a must buy. I believe that the game is a little short, which can hurt the experience, but the levels that we do get are pretty great thanks to the solid gameplay. This is definitely another all star by the PS2!

The plot is nice and simple. Lau was having fun surfing through the cosmos when he finally decided to go back to Earth. His old pal has turned to the dark side so Lau has to put him down once and for all. Luckily, his sensei is around to help as well as a sorceress by the name of Yohfa. Together, these heroes can surely defeat this one villain right? Well, the mastermind has hundreds of demons by his side so it’s a whole planet of inhabitants against Lau….time to fight!

“You have to fight!” is basically what the game is about. The levels are fairly linear and there will usually be a few locked doors barring you from continuing. To unlock the doors, you must defeat a few enemies or grab some kind of key. The platforming part of the game is decent as you can air jump, which is fun to look at. (But not practical since it’s slower than walking) Of course, the main chunk if the fighting part!

Picture Dynasty Warriors and you’ll have a grasp on the main part of the gameplay. You have two ways to attack and from those two buttons you can chain many combos. I typically went for the classic 20+ combo since it breaks through most shields, but there was one exception so watch out for that boss! Aside from your attacks, you also have magical abilities which range from fireballs to light arrows to amplifying your physical strength. I typically went for the fireballs and the physical power up, but all of the abilities are fairly useful. Once you have your magic ready, you’re ready to face off against anyone!

When you clash with a boss, your magic crystals come into play. Essentially, both of you begin to duke it out with your blades and you can continue to duel like this until one of you runs out of crystals or you can jump to the side and strike at the boss from behind. The latter method seems to be full proof against humanoids, but the first method is great as well and you just need to watch out for the times where it doesn’t work. It’s safe to say that most of the bosses are humanoid, but there are a few creatures as well. Those are a lot tougher to fight because their moves aren’t quite as predictable or easily dodged. The varied enemies help keep the bosses fun. They would have been enjoyable either way, but each of them use a different style so it gives the game a better all around feeling.

Lau is the main character of this story and it’s hard to get a read on his character. As with Link and many of the other legendary heroes, he’s not much of a talker. He is a hero and he tends to do the right thing, but he just doesn’t have a whole lot of personality. He’s also pretty cheerful at the end considering that he had to take down his ole friend..permanently. He’ll never be the next Mario or Sonic, but Lau has potential and a sequel or anime adaption could flesh out his character. After all, a character who dances his way from deep space to Earth can’t be all that bad right?

Rei is the main villain and his goals are pretty ambitious. A dark event turned him against humanity and he now leads an army of demons. His skills are definitely real since we actually get to see him slice a moon in half with a single shot. If nothing else, that’s a very serious feat. He makes for a decent villain, but his backstory takes away any threatening aura that he may have had. The dancing makes it a little hard to take him seriously as well. His red blades make for good weapons during the boss fights. Rei’s only a decent villain, but it could be worse.

Yohfa is Lau’s main partner and she helps him out on the journey by opening portrals for him. Her cutscenes are typically odd since her mouth never moves while she’s talking. It must be fun to have telepathy. She’s not a bad character, but she never really added anything to the story. She’s really just there to help out the main character.

The same could be said for Lau’s old master. He’s not really a character when you think about it as he’s just the sensei. He likely got a name, but I quickly forgot it. One cool scene that he did get was when the master speedblitzed Lau. He quickly assured our hero that he had surpassed the master, but the scene really made you question that statement.

The soundtrack is pretty fun and it fits in well with the rest of the game. The boss themes can range from really fast paced to more dramatic in tone and both of them work pretty well. The game definitely did really well in that category and I find that the beat em up type of games typically don’t tend to have great soundtracks so that was good for this title.

Graphically, the game is all right. I can’t say that there is anything spectacular about it, but they can look good at times. The big cutscenes try to have a more live action esque feeling to them while the regular ones are standard. What can be a little…interesting about the regular ones is that the characters like to dance and slash away at thin air. The final cutscene before the final boss is actually pretty fun because the characters keep on jumping and skipping instead of actually fighting. It’s an interesting effect, but I have to wonder if it was intentional or not. It’s just a little odd. Back to the big cutscenes, it worked most of the time. The scene were pretty impressive given the style and one could possibly say that it looked a little like Final Fantasy. The actual gameplay graphics may not have been excellent, but overall it can hold its own.

The overall setting of the game also helped to make the game enjoyable. The levels can have diverse designs as you fight near Lava, in Snow Mountains, and more. The main place is The Forsaken City and it’s a pretty fun place to fight in. I love fighting in city areas and I don’t believe that will ever change. It’s a whole lot of fun to fight an enemy and then jump onto a few buildings before challenging the next one.

In terms of replay value, the game is fairly low. There are 8 levels and I ended up beating the game in around 4 hours. You could beat it in a much shorter time if you don’t get lost in the maze level or spend too much time wandering around in circles. There are 40 medals to obtain throughout the game and a lot of magic spells as well. I assume that they carry on throughout your next playthrough, but there is also a stage select, which should allow you to find them all. There aren’t any multiplayer modes though and this was before the PS3 Trophy days. If you enjoy the game, it’s going to need to be for the Story Mode. It’s a brief, but epic experience!

I would say that I have one main negative with the game. It’s too bad that it’s short of course and the characters could have been more interesting, but I’m talking about the levels. Sometimes, it can be very hard to know where to go and the map is too small to really help you. The Snow level was very long since you had to keep reentering rooms until you figured out the puzzle. This was my least favorite one and it took me about an hour. So, that one level took up a quarter of my whole play time. I believe that they could have smoothed it out a little more. The 7th level had a tricky jump segment that was maybe a little overdone, but it is a good way to challenge gamers so I’ll leave that one as an ambiguous element. You could make the argument that it was a negative or a decent positive.

Overall, Bujingai is a pretty fun game. It has all of the fun beat em up traits that you would expect while adding a bit of the anime element to it. The characters were very powerful and the gameplay is very fast. The fighting system was pretty deep and the magic aided the regular combat to make it all flow together. The game is short so be aware that it will only entertain you for a few hours before you’ll have completed it. That being said, it is definitely worth it for this low price and you can experience one of the PS2’s hidden treasures. Any action fan should definitely enjoy it!

Overall 8/10

Yugioh Ultimate Masters World Championship 2006

I sort of beat the game a while back, but I never got the final 3 unlockable duelists because it involved clearing challenges so I didn’t really feel like that was part of the main game. This all happened a long time ago though so there shall not be a review for it at this point in time. Still, I highly recommend this game and it is easily one of the best Yugioh titles!

Overall 8/10

Minority Report Everybody Runs Review

On my video game quest to own all of the games worth owning, I sometimes like to take a step back and aim for a game that’s from the older generation. I got this one a quarter year ago and I have to say that it was easily worth the 4 dollars. This is one of the greatest movie tie ins that I’ve ever played and maybe The best one not including games that tied into superhero films. You don’t want to miss this action packed experience!

The plot is from the film I believe, but it involves a man by the name of John. He works at an organization where they target people who will commit crimes in the future and then take them out personally or lock them up in prison. One day, the future seers have a vision that John ends up murdering someone, but it’s not a unanimous decision as one of them does not report this. John knows that something is up and he aims to get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately, the entire agency made up of hundreds of fighters is out to get him. Will John be able to find out the truth about his alleged murder or will he be stopped in time!?

Since the game is based off of the film, I typically wouldn’t talk about any of the characters. I won’t here either, but I do have to comment that John made for a pretty good protagonist. He made the hero calls when necessary and he never lost sight of his goal. After experiencing a lot of twists and turns throughout his journey, John’s first words in the final level when meeting the final boss are “You’re under arrest.” Now that’s a dedicated hero!

The gameplay is where Minority Report really knocks it out of the park. It’s a mix of third person shooter and a 3D fighting game like Bouncer. It makes for the perfect blend of action types into the combat system. Shooting is pretty easy and linear as you have several guns. All of them are incredibly useful to a fight, but you don’t want to waste the ammo. More on that in a bit. The hand to hand combat techniques are surprisingly deep and there are about as many different combos in this game (20+) as in the average superhero game. You really feel the blows, but simple button mashing won’t be enough as you continue to progress through the game. You need something a little different.

What really makes the game interesting is how challenging it is. You don’t have a certain amount of ammo in each level. It really depends and sometimes you’ll be running on empty. You can spend some cash on it so have a temporary edge to beat the level, but then it can hurt you in the long run. Likewise, you can buy a permanent upgrade like extra health, but you’ll need to last through around 5+ levels without buying anything to work up the funds. Each choice has its amount of ups and downs. The items also aren’t unlimited for some of the temporary power ups like armor or an ultimate shield. I saved the armor for the final boss because…it’s the right thing to do. Trust me, you’ll want to save it! A helpful tip for the final boss is to use any combo that starts with A>B because it will stun her every time, which makes the boss fight a cakewalk after you get the hang of it.

Defeating any of the robots without a gun is very tough and almost impossible to be honest. They don’t flinch and you can’t risk more than 3 hits at a time or they will counter and knock you to the ground. Likewise, all bosses are impervious to guns as they’ll just jump over it or flip to the side. (With one exception.) This definitely forces you to think strategically about how you’ll want to tackle each situation. Saving up your bullets can be a wise move, but sometimes they can be useful to disperse a large crowd of attackers so that you can run by them. An attack that is really a must if you are to survive is the quick slide tackle. It can trip up opponents and deal damage so you should spam it to get the melee fighters out of the way so that you can target the gun fighters.

I also have to say that the game did a great job with the level designs. They do recycle a few old levels during the game, but the plot demands this since he goes to old locations. I especially loved the levels that take place inside of the base and the ones in the city. You actually get a jet pack to use for a few of the levels and it definitely comes in handy. It’s an amazing piece of technology and the gameplay for it is sound. You can move at high speeds and ram opponents to the ground instead of fighting them in hand to hand combat. Proceed with care though because the long range fighters are really good at hitting you no matter how fast you’re going.

The game doesn’t really have any replay value, which can be a little discouraging, but the actual story is pretty long. It contains 40 levels, which is certainly a lot more than one may have expected. The levels aren’t terribly long, but they’re long enough that you’ll feel like you got a good deal from the game. Not to mention that playing it at a higher difficulty will make things interesting. It was already very difficult at some points during the initial playthrough and the other levels of difficulty must be insanely tough. Playing through those would definitely be a fun challenge and that would likely keep you entertained for quite a while. (I would give it a whirl, but I have too many other games to try out….)

The soundtrack is great as you tend to expect from a Gamecube game. The random battle themes that play during the game are all very fast paced and they tend to really give the fights that extra boost. The themes are definitely very engaging and I would give it a 4/5 at the very least. Trust me, good music can certainly make the difference between a great game and a truly great one.

The graphics are pretty good for the game. The legs are realistically detailed as they turn into onion rings when you’re knocked to the ground. (They basically curl into a circle, which looks pretty painful for the main lead, but he tends to walk it off) The graphics definitely aren’t the next Wind Waker or Adventure 2 Battle, but they’re still good and that’s always fun to see from a Gamecube title. Gamecube is the King of Graphics after all.

Overall, This is a pretty great video game and I highly recommend picking it up. It’s going for a very low price and it’s a steal considering how flawless the gameplay is. There are also a few pain arenas where you get to face various copies of a boss, which makes for an unbelievably tough fight. How many games can you get for around 4 dollars that have 40 levels? The soundtrack is top notch and the graphics are good as well. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this title and you should stick around after the screen fades to black as there’s an extra scene in the post game. I can’t really say much more to hype up the game so you’re either sold on it at this point or you’re just not going to get it. Still, I have to say that you’ll be missing out if you pass on such a title!

Overall 8/10

Nerf N-Strike Double Blast Bundle Review

This is another one of the beauties that I snagged at the 5 dollar bin over at Gamestop. See, this game is a steal because it was a little less than 5 dollars and it brings the original Nerf N-Strike game as well as the sequel. You have to admit that two full fledged (Under 10 levels in the second one) games for such a low price is pretty great. The second game improves upon the first one and it’s a game that you’ll want to check out.

I guess I’ll talk about the first game first. It should be noted that the game originally came with a blaster and the sequel came with a red lens, but you don’t actually need them. It just means that you have to get the codes wrong and trip the alarms in the second time every time such a situation pops up. It means more danger for the player, but I’m sure that you could handle such a challenge right? Let’s hope so!

Back to the game. It all starts off when a kid by the name of Shane is playing with his friends at the arcade. He loses the (rigged) level and goes home only to find out that he has been selected to join the Nerf N-Strike team. B.O.B. tells him that he must defeat the other combatants in order to climb to the top of the ranks. Unbeknownst to Shane, B.O.B. is also goading the other combatants to defeat him. Whether it be through threats or insults, B.O.B. makes sure to get the job done. Can this kid fresh out of the arcade really defeat these trained (semi) professionals in a game of Nerf? To do this, the kid must infiltrate each of their hideouts and destroy the high scores at each minigame. Sounds like fun eh!? Let’s just say that B.O.B. may not be as heroic as he seems.

Nerf N-Strike Elite’s plot is a lot deeper and it has a more cinematic feeling. Jackal has decided to round up the team once again because a certain villain has returned and he feels like it’s their duty to stop him. Shane is arguably still the main character even though Tango is the one on the cover. The heroes join forced and take out their new Nerf Blasters. Only one group gets to walk away this time!

The gameplay for the first game is a little different from your typical shooter. There are 4 rooms and each room has 5 minigames. You have to beat them to proceed to the next room. We do have the classic FPS feel during the final minigame of each section, where you shoot all of the robots who oppose you. You cannot move as that happens automatically and you just focus on the shooting. It’s pretty fun and they did a good job with the mechanics until the final level. The other minigames are fun variations of the style. One of them involves shooting boxes out of the ring until you come across a purple one and you shoot it to win. Another one has you only aim at robots of a certain color. My personal favorite one is where you have to shoot boulders into a soccer goal/pool table. There’s also one where you have to shoot the boulders 5 times to blow them up without hitting the red ones. There are a few others, but that’s mainly the jist of it. There aren’t many actual FPS levels where you’re on an adventure, but the minigames are actually pretty fun so it’s all right.

The gameplay for Game 2 is more straight forward. Picture your average FPS game except that the game characters move for you. You just aim for anything that moves as you go through the adventure. I didn’t have the accessories with me so I had to incorrectly guess every password to let the villains come, which would let me go past once I defeated them. That’s all right and it doesn’t make things that much worse. I will say that the first game was infinitely tougher than this one, but the second does have difficulty levels that you can adjust to make the game harder. I’m sure that on Elite mode it would end up being even more difficult than the first game.

Shane gets the most character development from all of the characters. He’s pretty full of himself in the first game and he really rubs it in whenever he wins. He insults his opponent’s skills and he loves to hear himself talk. He does make the tough calls when it counts though as seen in the ending. In the second game, Shane has become a natural born leader and he’s an expert with a gun. He now believes in teamwork and he never leaves a man behind on the job. He’s essentially Duke from G.I. Joe in the second game. I’m not sure why he changed so much, but he is easily the best character in both games. His heroics rival Mario’s!

Tango is the army member of the group. In the first game, he’s a no nonsense fighter. He makes a lot of puns about his name and he proceeds to put up a decent fight against Shane. In the second game, he represents the strong, but not smart character. It’s a pretty big change and one that is a little hard to embrace. He’s scared of elevators and a few other things, but he does have the strongest (Nerf) gun in the group. Tango is a good teammate to have on board, but it’s hard to say that he’s likable.

Komodo is the first opponent that you face in the Nerf game so he’s also the weakest. From all of the characters, he easily gets the least amount of character development. I can’t say that I recall too many things about him and he’s just easily forgotten. He does have a pretty great moment in the second game though. After the most emotional moment in the franchise where someone betrays them and their hometown is about to be nuked, Komodo says “This is the best day of my life!” after seeing a cool rocket. That’s….a little insensitive to say the least since everything that they know was about to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Maybe it’s all just a game to him.

Jackal is one of the more intriguing characters. By that, I mean that he had the biggest accent. He’s always talking about how he hunts alone and “My grandfather used to say that one person starts the game and another one bags it. Watch as I bag this one.” It’s actually a pretty great saying, but the way that he says it is more humorous than threatening. (Which is what happens to most of the dialogue in the first game) His personality does a 360 in the second game as he gets a pretty huge plot twist that you may not have seen coming. I didn’t either, but the odds of any of my readers playing the game is low so you may not get to experience it. That’s pretty sad if you really think about it.

Raven is another one of the kids who was selected for the Nerf N-Strike team. She loves to remind her opponents that getting beaten by a girl is a pain that will never fade. She loves to use the girl power angle to humiliate her foes as much as she can when defeating them. In the second game, she’s mostly there to taunt Tango and she is the one who lets the villain know that the heroes are now N-Strike Elite members. She doesn’t get as much character as some of the others, but she is consistently around to help out when the going gets tough.

B.O.B. is the recruiter from the first game. His threats know no bounds and he’ll do anything if it means that he’ll get a new fighter for the N-Strike. His methods go a little far and one of the members gets suspicious when two of the kids disappear. B.O.B. can’t have that now can he? He doesn’t mind being frank with the heroes as he lets Shane know that he will not be able to defeat Tango. After Shane defeats Tango, it gets pretty personal and B.O.B. lets us in on a startling fact…this isn’t a game anymore! As a boss fight, B.O.B. is pretty impressive.

In the second game, he is more of a pawn than a strategic mastermind. He gets a big power up in the form of a giant robot, but is that really enough to defeat a few Elite agents? The boss fight in the first game was actually very difficult and it took me a handful of tries, but that was mainly due to the gameplay and the fact that I got a pretty bad gun. The second game smoothed out the gameplay a whole lot so the battle was a cakewalk. I definitely won’t be forgetting B.O.B. though.

The graphics for the first game are all right I suppose. The character models are a little sub par and that doesn’t really change for the sequel. Things just don’t look like they should for a big Wii game. The sequel does look a lot better. The difference is night and day between them and it helps that I played the second one immediately after the first game. Everything suddenly looks like it’s in HD and they put a lot more thought into the backgrounds. The second one’s graphics are actually very impressive and they can easily hold up to any of the other big Wii games.

The soundtrack isn’t really that impressive. I forgot just about all of the themes immediately after I finished playing the games. There isn’t really anything in it that likely took them a while to compose and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all free domain music. The themes aren’t that important in a shooter since your shooting will likely drown it out anyway, but it can definitely help. Just look at the Metroid Prime games as a shining example of this.

The bundle has a decent amount of replay value, but I would’t call it an exceptionally large amount. In the first game, you can continue to break your records in the minigames until all of your medals are Gold Rank and you can try to unlock all of the guns. In the second game there are a lot of weapons to buy and upgrade for each of the characters so it should take at least 20 playthroughs to get everything. Personally, I’m not That dedicated to getting all of the items so I would never even consider if, but why not right? The actual story mode for game 1 is 21 levels and assuming that you beat them all in a single shot, it should only take 4-6 hours to complete. The second game is even shorter with 8 levels and they’re very easy. That game should take you 3-4 hours or maybe even less. Overall, counting the bonus content, it’s still a decent amount, but the second game’s story is a little disappointing level wise. 10 is really the minimum amount that I find acceptable for a video game.

Overall, This was a pretty fun bundle. From the 5 Dollar bin, I would say that it beat Flingsmash, but lost to Geometry Wars. It also managed to beat Roogoo somehow. This is easily worth the 4 dollars since it has a lot of content. Either game works as they’re both good for different reasons. The first game was fun for the minigames while the second one has some really great animation and the plot is really there. The first one had a loose plot with some cutscenes before each boss battle and for each intro, but the second one has a deep and cohesive plot that continues for the whole game as the heroes try to save their town. If you’re looking for plot then the second title is for you and you’ll love the first one for gameplay. Either way, this is a steal and you can show the world that Nerf guns can hold up against giant robots bent on world conquest!

Overall 7/10

One Piece Unlimited World Red Review

I currently own most of the One Piece games that have come to America, but none of them have really stood out. I don’t own the Wii installment, which is supposed to be pretty good and I just had the GBA and Gamecube games. Luckily, this one is a few leagues ahead of those and it’s definitely the definitive One Piece game. As Budokai Tenkaichi 3 revolutionized DBZ and Ninja Storm Generations helped Naruto, Unlimited World Red is currently the ultimate One Piece experience.

This game takes place after the long time skip and the Strawhat Pirates are in the New World. They stop by an island to resupply and let Pato go home. Luffy goes to get some food, but that’s when Pato breaks the news. Luffy’s comrades have been kidnapped and Luffy will have to find all of them. Pato seems to be pretty happy about this and he follows his master’s orders without question. That’s just the kind of guy that he is. Luffy isn’t thrilled about this and he’s also a little skeptical since his comrades are supposed to be tough. Nontheless, Luffy begins his journey and sets out to save all of them. Guarding his friends are most of the big fighters that Luffy has met in his travels and it’s odd how they have all appeared. Are they real or are they fake? It doesn’t matter since Luffy plans on winning either way!

Meanwhile, the game also has a Colosseum Mode. This acts as a separate Story Mode which covers the current arc in the manga, but very loosely. Luffy and Law have formed an alliance and they need to win the large tournament to take down Doflamingo once and for all. Doflamingo mostly seems to be amused by this and he allows the two fighters to stay in the tournament. Will they be able to defeat all of the challengers as well as Doflamingo? The journey begins!

The gameplay is one of the main highlights since it is a classic beat em up. Picture Dynasty Warriors, but add a little more substance to the attacks. It’s not a straight fighter like Naruto or DBZ, but it does take some of those elements and ends up incorporating them into the beat em up style. Because of this, most enemies won’t go down so quickly. The health of the minions is pretty formidable and while they won’t pose a threat, it is wise to use combos to take them out as soon as possible.

I do think that beating the minions can be a little time consuming at first, but it gets better as you level up. I have not attempted hard story yet so I cannot say how much tougher they get, but I do plan on completing that mode soon since it’s necessary for a trophy. The boss fights are really fun since you’ll need strategy alongside your button mashing. You are given the option to dodge (Like Luffy) or block (If you’re Zoro) an attack right before it connects. This holds true for most final smashes as well, but there are exceptions as seen with Shanks and Doflamingo. You don’t want to use too many power attacks in a row since it can eliminate the option of dodging or blocking an attack.

You can equip words, which act as your equipment. They can from something to help in battles like an attack boost or something more subtle like extra money or exp. I highly recommend going for the EXP option since that’s just about always worth it. Having some items at the ready can also be the difference between a victory or a loss since those healing potions are crucial. Typically, you’ll be fighting in a group of 3 members. Even if one member dies, you can just switch to one of the other two. One key thing to know is that your partners never lose health while the computer is controlling them. In light of this, you should never let one of the members die and just make sure to switch when you’re at low health. This way, you’ll still have two partners draining away at the enemy’s health. It’s a pretty solid strategy!

One part that makes this game stand out as a cut above the rest is the fact that the developers really went all out with the story. We get many cutscenes throughout this mode and some of them feature actual fights. We get to see Red take on the crew and we get a brief glimpse of the fight between Lucci and Luffy. Scenes like that are just great because I always love to see a good fight. Even if you’re a video game, there is no excuse not to have an animated fight. Currently, it is still pretty rare so the game did a good job of including these scenes. Luckily, the graphics are solid so the fight scenes work really well. I would definitely say that the characters are drawn in more detail than the average game and this one definitely looks like a modern PS3 game. It’s not at Final Fantasy levels, but one could argue that it’s intentional since One Piece is supposed to be colorful and fun to look at. I’d say that the game managed to show this perfectly.

Naturally, this game has trophies. There are more of them in the game than usual as it contains 57. I have amassed around 35 of them so far and I’m lightly aiming for the Platinum. It seems to be a little on the time consuming side, but I’ve already posted around 30 hours so I may as well go all the way. None of the trophies are unreasonable although finding all of the strong words will take a while. A lot of the trophies are simply grinds like rocket jumping 500 times or slicing a bullet 100 times. The trophies are not very difficult and you should definitely get the Platinum if you purchase this one.

The soundtrack for the game is decent. There aren’t a whole lot of tunes in the game, but the ones that are present as decent enough. It definitely does have Soul Calibur feeling to it and it compliments the gameplay. I would have liked some really fast paced music as well, but you can’t have it all in one game. Otherwise, the others wouldn’t look so good.

Red is the new villain who was made up for this game. He’s known as one of the legendary pirates since he could fight on equal grounds with guys like Gold D Roger and Whitebeard. He’s decided that he needs to be immortal and he sets off on this quest while mocking the heroes. He’s a very formidable foe and he’s easily one of Luffy’s strongest opponents. I definitely respect his raw power, but I can’t say that I care for him all that much as a villain. Towards the end, he never became one of my favorites, but he is decent and he definitely beats some of the other fighters as well as the other two game original characters.

Pato is a raccoon who was with the Strawhats prior to this game and he ends up revealing that he is working for an unknown master. This destroys a lot of the trust that the Strawhats had had in him and it was definitely a low move by Pato. I never cared for him by the end because his heart may have been in the right place, but I just couldn’t take him seriously. He doesn’t have enough power to back up his tough talk and his personality was really similar to Chopper’s. I don’t know, we could have had a better fighter.

There’s also the shop owner. She doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime, but we know that she’s decently tough since she stands up to the thugs at the beginning of the game. She mostly lets us know which parts of the town should be built first and it’s a noble sentiment. That being said, she just doesn’t have much of a role in the story and she didn’t really change any of the events. Things would have played out with or without her.

The Strawhats are interesting to see since they’re in their New World forms. I still can’t say that I’m a fan of most of the changes. Luffy, Sanji, Nami, Chopper, and Robin are all right. I don’t dislike their new forms, but I can safely say that I do prefer each of their old forms. Brook is beyond saving from before the timeskip so it’s really Usopp and Franky that are a little hard to take in. They’re all still in character besides that and the banter between them is good. With the exception of Brook, this group is one of the stronger Shonen Jump casts and they’re far more interesting than the Genin 11 and Ichigo’s pals. It should be noted that this game was not dubbed so everyone is talking in japanese. That shouldn’t really affect the game for you since the text is still in english and it’s fun to hear how they sound in their original voices.

There is certainly a lot of replay value present in the game. The story mode takes around 4-6 hours as there are 9 levels and each one takes around 30 minutes. Aside from that, you are also tasked with building the city and it can take a while to get all of the necessary parts. After that, the trophies require you to buy 100 things from just about every store. There is fishing to be done, insect catching, running a museum, planting, etc. We also have the alternate story mode, which is about as long as the main one and there are many bonus challenges to do in the Colosseum as well. I’ve clocked in around 30 hours and I still have plenty of things to do. I’d say that this game will last you at least 50 hours and that’s definitely a lot of content. You certainly can’t say that this game was empty.

Overall, This is easily one of the best games for the PS3 and one of the best ones out there. The gameplay is nice and smooth. It doesn’t get repetitive after playing it for a long time. The trophies will take a long time to get, but they are achievable so it’s a fun goal to work towards. (No online trophies so no worries about servers!) I highly recommend this game and it’s a good way to get into the One Piece franchise. You’ll be able to meet the characters and see how strong they are. It may be a beat em up, but I wouldn’t call it a complete button smasher thanks to the depth. I highly recommend checking out Colosseum mode as well as the normal story mode because you get to play as some of the stronger bosses. Whitebeard, Doflamingo, Shanks, they’re all in it! So, this is a golden opportunity to play as the strongest warriors around. Hopefully, all One Piece games will reach America starting with this one.

Overall 9/10

Pac Man World 3 Review

It’s been years since I played Pac Man World 2 and this game has always been on my list. It just never made the cut and finally my bro ended up purchasing a copy. Does this game live up to the 10+ years of hype? Well, it’s tough for any game to do that and this one is a good game, but it’s not quite as enjoyable as the last installment…despite some fun additions. Time to see why it didn’t click!

The game takes place on Pac Man’s 25th Birthday. The festivities are cut short when Pac Man is whisked away into the Spectral Realm by Orson. Orson tells him that a new villain by the name off Erwin has kidnapped the four main ghosts and he’s wrecking both planets through his siphons. Once he has gained enough energy, then both planets will collide and the outcome will be devastating. Pac Man (extremely) reluctantly agrees to help, but he’s not too pleased about this scenario. Erwin is determined to stop him and he has the Spectral Fiend by his side to ensure success. In light of this, Pac Man gets some help from Clyde and Pinky.

Pac Man is the main hero in this game, but I’m sure that you expected that. He’s always the main hero in this series after all. He finally gets to talk in this game, which is a big gamble from the writers. We all come into the game with certain expectations of how cool Pac Man will be and this gives us less freedom for interpretation. He’s a little on the mean side and he believes in insulting first and fighting later. He’s an experienced veteran at this point, but he does complain a lot.

What might really get Pac Man fans is the ending. It’s not just Pac Man as Ms. Pac Man and Pac Man Jr look pretty mean as well. Let’s just say that if you’ve just been through a tough ordeal and you helped a hero save two worlds…don’t think that you’re invited to stay over. The situation ends up escalating very quickly and Pac Man decides to eat some people. Pac Man may have been a little on the mean side during the game, but that scene may have been overdoing it a little.

Pac Man did have his moments though and he gets a lot of witty comebacks. He typically outsmarts the villains and distracts them through discussion as they end up setting up their ultimate demise. Pac Man is definitely very crafty, but he arguably sacrifices his heroics in the process. I have to say that the character personality isn’t terrible, but it’s really not Pac Man. I’m sure that Mario fans would be outraged if he ever looked like this. Pac Man’s portrayal could have been worse though and we have a current example of that in the media…..

Orson is the helpful ghost who aids Pac Man throughout the game. “I’m sure there are many things that you don’t understand Pac Man” is one of his better lines as he insults Pac Man to his face. Usually, his insults aren’t quite that direct. He typically starts off every sentence by saying “Sorry Pac Man” right before stating what negative thing is happening this time. He typically teleports the hero into dangerous circumstances and you have to wonder whether it is intentional or not. The whole game he tells Pac Man that the worlds will be destroyed if they collide….and then the villain points out that this isn’t the case towards the end of the game. Orson quickly agrees and we find out that he knew this all along. Of course, most of that isn’t to be taken seriously as he’s a hero through and through, but his character was definitely interesting. He was a solid ally for Pac Man and he provided us with some necessary banter and epic lines.

Erwin is the main villain of the game and unfortunately, he’s not a very good one. He’s a comic relief scientist who is good at building robots and that’s about it for his character arc. Pac Man loves to humiliate him verbally whenever they meet. He’s supposed to be humorous through their chats, but while I do like Orson and Pac Man’s lines, Erwin’s aren’t really my style. They really needed a better villain to make the story more interesting. Erwin just isn’t very powerful and threats won’t be enough to stop the legendary Pac Man!

The Spectral Fiend doesn’t really get much of a name, but he’s a solid character. He’s tricky and he doesn’t mind a little deceit if it means that it will help him win the fight. He doesn’t seem to be much of a fighter as he talks a good game, but he quickly crumbles when things get dangerous. That being said, he was a fun villain and his voice is catchy. This is someone that I could root for and I wish that he could have been the main villain instead of Erwin. This guy’s design was also pretty great and he reminded me of a Sonic character.

The gameplay for Pac Man is your average 3D platformer. You walk and jump to the place where you need to be and solve puzzles along the way. Pac Man can ground pound and he can also punch in this game. Punching is pretty fun and it’s a great addition to the series. I definitely used it a lot at first, but ground pounding tends to be a lot more effective. There are also several orbs in the game that give him powers like thunder and circle explosions. They are pretty good and they can help to take out the villains a lot quicker than you could have otherwise. The gameplay itself is pretty fun and I just don’t care for the parts where you have to stop and fight a bunch of villains. There was something about the gameplay that made it a little less fun. It may have been the speed or something. That being said, it’s still a very good form of gameplay by any standard.

Once in a while, you have to enter the arcade and then the gameplay goes back to how it was in the original game. The only difference is that the gameplay isn’t quite as smooth and the levels are very small. You get 4 lives, but most of them are a cakewalk with one as you just grab a Power Pellet, regular pellets, and then repeat the formula. The ghosts will never even be able to recover and you’ll be set. If the levels were not so easy, then it could have been a challenge since the animation didn’t work well with the gameplay. It was hard to tell when you were being chased or not.

The gameplay itself shouldn’t be that bad, but it’s just not as great as it could have been. Each level is around 30 minutes and that’s not necessarily a bad thing although it is definitely a big threat when you are not a beat em up style game like Dynasty Warriors. Getting through a level can feel like a big challenge because the game typically leaves you to your own devices. I got lost or temporarily stuck several times because I was unsure of what to do next. Because of that, the game lasted for quite a while and I’d say that the game was around 7-8 hours long. It could have been a whole lot shorter though since 3 our of the 15 levels were very short. There are times where you get to play as the ghosts, but I can’t say that it really added a lot of depth to the game.

This game puts a lot of emphasis on fighting so there are many rooms where you simply have to stop and fight the enemies. Defeating the enemies isn’t really that fun because the gameplay simply wasn’t built for it. Beating an enemy can take a little too long at times and defeating the ghosts requires you to run to a power pellet and just eat them. The only problem is that they only come out 4 at a time instead of all at once so you have to keep running back to the power pellet.

There are also two levels where you get to play as Toc Man. His gameplay is fun although it’s a little too easy and simplistic. Just keep on punching away at the villains until they go down and then the level is over after a few minutes. I would have liked more of these levels since they were a pretty nice change of pace. They could have added in some more challenges and then I’d be set.

Pac Man’s graphics holds up pretty well. The ghosts can be a little hard to take seriously with their big mittens and all, but they don’t look bad. The level designs can be a little dark so it’s hard to see, but it’s not really an issue with the graphics. Older games just tend to come out dark on my TV. It’s good to see Pac Man have his classic design back as well. The graphics aren’t the next Super Smash Bros Melee, but they are very good.

I enjoyed the soundtrack in the game since it could be pretty catchy. Unfortunately, most of the good tracks aren’t in the actual gameplay, but around it. I like the theme that plays when you jump into the arcade and battle it out with the ghosts in a retro fashion. Losing always brings about a classic sound and the stages within the game were supported by the peaceful music. You’ll forget the in game music instantly, but the arcade one never fades.

The game has a decent amount of replay value to it. You can replay a level to get a higher score or to get more of the collectibles that are scattered across the stages. Doing all of this will take some time and you can always keep on playing the retro stages for points as well. The replay value is there, but there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to getting all of the collectibles.

The difficulty of the game is pretty low as you continue from where you were even if you lose a life. So, you can die during a boss fight and wake up in time to beat him. He won’t regain any health and building up lives is pretty easy. I had over 10 left when I completed the game. One area that separates this game from Pac Man World 2 is the boss fights. World 2 had several of them and they were all fairly interesting. This game only has two bosses and the second one is just a recoloring of the first. Since this game was more fight heavy, I was expecting a whole lot more in that department. When I saw the final boss, I couldn’t help, but feel like it was a wasted opportunity. We need a boss for Pac Man to punch!

Overall, This was a good Pac Man game, but it didn’t have the usual aura of fun that the classic game and World 2 had. World 3 had too many stop and fight moments and the stage designs weren’t that good or unique. You were typically locked inside a pretty small place and you wouldn’t get to see the sun in all its glory. There are a lot less levels in this game than World 2, but they are longer. I prefer a lot of short levels to a few long ones, but it’s a matter of preference I suppose. Pac Man’s portrayal was unique and he didn’t really feel like a hero or Pac Man anymore. His family wasn’t much better and the ghosts were all right, but Clyde is really the only one who got a big role. Orson is a good supporting character, but Erwin isn’t a great villain. The writing can be pretty cheesy at times, but I definitely liked all of the insults that were thrown around by the heroes and villains alike. The graphics and soundtrack are solid and it’s still a nice way to end the trilogy. There may not have been a lot of closure at the end, but there was enough. I recommend this to fans of the platforming genre and especially if you like challenging yourself to solving tough puzzles. They definitely gave me a run for my money at times. Considering that the price for the game is pretty low, this is definitely a worthwhile investment and a chance to see the classic Pac Man one last time.

Overall 6/10

Geometry Wars Galaxies Review

After Chaosfield, I feared that I would never again play such a chaotic shooter filled with terror and honor. Luckily, I saw Geometry Wars in the 5 dollar bin at Gamestop and I snagged it. You have to make a move on a game like this quickly if you want to end up with it. It looked intriguing from the back, but I can’t say that I really knew what to expect from it. Suffice to say, the game was much more enjoyable than I had thought it would be.

There is no plot in the game and you are just launched onto the level select screen. Every Galaxy has 3-8 levels and you must earn money to buy the stages. When you buy a Galaxy, you are given two stages and then you must buy the other 6. Rinse and repeat for quite a few galaxies and then you have the game. There must be at least 40-60 stages in this game and completing them all is a true challenge. There is also a secret world at the end, which acts as on disc DLC. Instead of paying 5 dollars to open it, you must buy the DS game and use it to unlock them. One could argue that this is a more expensive form of DLC, but maybe you’ll like the game so much that you have to get both! (I like the game, but I won’t be getting it on the DS)

Geometry Wars Galaxy also brings a mini version of it called Retro Evolved. It’s a nice tribute to the fans, although I mainly stayed with the Galaxies part of the game. I’m glad for extra options, but it’s a lot more fun to launch into the main game and start earning those records and medals. The gameplay is the same except that you don’t have a robot to back you up and the exp bonuses take much longer to build up so your score will likely be considerably lower.

The gameplay in the main game is pretty simple, but describing it is tough. It’s essentially Galaga, but you are allowed to move throughout the space that you are in. The shape and size of the area will vary depending on the stage and the important thing is to simply stay alive. You have an endless supply of ammunition so you’ll want to keep your finger on the button for the duration of the battle. (With a few exceptions such as the block level. Shooting at the wrong time can bring out more enemies than you can handle)

You are allowed to bring an ally with you during the battles. There are several types of robots to choose from and it can be an Attack, Defense, Turret, Collector, or another kind of ally. It’s pretty self explanatory as to what they will do and the only three that I would use were the Collector, Turret, and Attack. The Attack bot saw me through the first few galaxies, then I turned to the Collector for a while and I would sporadically use the Collector. Those are the three best robots in my opinion (I have not obtained the final two though) and I made sure to max them all out.

Now, Attack and Turret may make sense, but why would the Collector be so useful? Simply put, as I mentioned, you will need to keep on destroying the enemies and rack up points. There is no timer and no end to the monsters so you just need to survive. At first beating an enemy may grant you 100 points. After you defeat him, the enemy will drop a yellow orb, which will increase your EXP bonus to 2X. You can go all the way up to 150 and you can see how much of a help that is. That same enemy will now give you 15000 points instead of 100 and that’s one of the cheaper enemies. Later on, some enemies will give you almost one million points in a single shot if you are that maxed out so the Collector is pretty awesome. That being said, he doesn’t fire at the enemies so you are truly on your own at that point. The Attack and Turret bots will give you a whole lot of backup, but then you must dash for the orbs yourself. Getting them is important because staying at 2X bonus or less isn’t very efficient.

Sometimes the enemies will just be too vast to overcome. In those cases, you will have bombs to help out. A bomb will take out every enemy in the area or at least most of them if it’s a very large arena. The bombs do not give you any points though so it’s truly a last resort if you are about to die. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth using one of them. They are certainly good in a pinch though.

The gameplay itself is masterful and it really provides you with a challenge. It’s easily one of the hardest games that I’ve played in a while and some of the levels can take many tries. If the gameplay was boring, beating this game would have been pretty painful. I’ve earned well over 400 million points at this point and I still don’t find the gameplay repetitive. It’s simply a lot of fun and I could keep on playing it over and over again. There is really nothing that drags the game down except for one factor.

This factor would be the Wii Remotes. The game is sensor based and I’m sure that we are aware of how sketchy the Wii Remotes can be at times. The nunchuk is perfectly all right, but the main remote has a tendency to destroy you when you are about to win. It happened to me several times and I would have to let the console rest for a few hours. This game would be so much better if I could use a Gamecube remote. The classic controller is compatible I believe so that would fix this negative. It really helps your reflexes out and the levels would be a whole lot easier. It would still be a challenging game, but you would feel like you were battling on even grounds.

There is one other part that affects the game, but it’s more of an annoyance than a total negative thing. That would be the money system. As I mentioned earlier, you do have to buy the future levels in order to play them. Earning money is by no means an easy task. Getting a medal for the first time gets a lot of money and if you end up getting a lot of Golds, then it won’t be a problem for you at all. For me, I finally had to start replaying a lot of the levels by the final galaxy because I just needed the money. Eventually, I just kept on replaying the same level since I would always get at least 10000 a shot and I would earn around 50000 if I managed to win. The final levels were 200000 and around 130000 so I had to play the level quite a few times. It’s not as much of a grind as in other games since the gameplay is always fun, but it’s an artificial way of lengthening the game.

The graphics are pretty good. They aren’t all star material, but the graphics are definitely important in a game like this one. You’ll constantly be blowing up dozens of enemies when playing and the screen is filled with tons of bright colors and pellets for the EXP bonus. If the graphics were bad, then the game would be much harder to play. Luckily, the gameplay is very bright so you won’t bang into an enemy by mistake and every object looks pretty sharp. This isn’t Final Fantasy of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, but it’s good enough. The soundtrack is pretty forgettable though. I don’t even recall hearing any music amidst all of the explosions and chaos. It’s something that you just forget by the end as the sound effects are what you’re focusing on. The sound of getting an extra life or bomb is pretty great!

Overall, this is a very good game. I dare say that it may even be better than Chaosfield. Gamecube remotes would have helped the game out even more and getting rid of the money system would have been great. It likely would not have jumped up to a 9 if those things had been appropriately changed, but it would still help the experience. The game is decently long thanks to the need for money, but you should still be able to beat it in under a week. Any fan of shooters or Chaosfield will enjoy this title and it’s a timeless classic like Pac Man. (The gameplay, not necessarily the game) The soundtrack could be better, but you can always mute the game and play a cool track from the computer. (At the risk of being unaware of a seeker alien coming out of nowhere) Hopefully, this game gets a sequel for the Wii U or PS4 someday. I do wish that something could have happened after the final level like a message or some bonus money to show that you’ve beaten the game, but nothing happens. Ah well, maybe I need to get all Gold Medals to unlock a message.

Overall 8/10

The Sly Collection Review

This is a fairly large game time wise and it’s also a memorable one. It was the final game that I got to complete on the old PS3 (Game 1) and then I finally got to go back to it on the newer one. Three whole video games in a single package is a very good deal and the price was right. I enjoy the Ratchet and Clank series as well as the Jak titles so I was sure that Sly would be fun. As expected, it was an enjoyable experience.

The first game is Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. We are introduces to Sly, Bentley, and Murray as they make a pretty solid team. They’ve been friends for many years and are known for stealing artifacts and having fun on vacations. Now, they’ve uncovered a lead onto the gang that took out Sly’s parents and stole the Thievius Raccoonus. The trio decides to recover the chapters from the respective gang members and take down the leader. It will be tough, as a special agent by the name of Carmelita Fox is hunting them and she won’t stop until Sly’s behind bars. Looks like Sly Cooper is in for a rough ride!

The first game’s gameplay is unique as the next two games go for a more traditional route. In this game, you have to avoid detection as you make it to the goal. One hit will essentially finish Sly off so you have to be careful about how you handle it. The stealth part is pretty interesting and it’s like playing as Spiderman Noir in Shattered Dimensions, but without all of the athletics and webbing. That’s not to say that Sly isn’t athletic though. You will have to use his skills to jump from place to place and hang on to a ledge when needed.

It is pretty novel gameplay, but I am glad that they ended up switching it. I believe that stealth works best when you have it for a few levels as opposed to the entire game. Having to re do an entire section because you were spotted can be pretty rough. The game was a solid start to the series and Clockwerk made for a powerful adversary. The story is good and the banter between Sly and Carmelita was in top form. The replay value for the game isn’t incredibly high, but getting the Platinum and finding all of the bottles/clues will take a little extra time.

The second game’s plot picks up from the first since someone has stolen the parts to Clockwerk. Sly remembers how dangerous that foe can be and the gang must quickly get ready so they can find the culprits and stop Clockwerk from being revived. Will they be able to do this? Meanwhile, a new face joins the police force by the name of Constable Neyla. Together with Carmelita…they may finally be able to take out the Cooper gang!

This is where the gameplay becomes finalized for the franchise. There is still a lot of stealth involved, but not as much since you can afford to just tackle your opponents. It’s not really advisable for large groups, but it’s still an option. Sly now has a health bar and it feels a lot like the original Jak game. No guns, it’s just classic hand to hand combat with some athletics. I’m a fan of the gameplay and it’s good to see how the series has progressed. Of course, I would love a laser gun, but it’s not completely necessary.

The third game takes place after a long time has passed since the previous installment. The gang has parted ways and things had been going slowly. Then Sly finds the ancient base of his ancestors and a villain by the name of Dr. M is heading there to get the treasure. Sly will need to bring his old partners back to the team while also recruiting a few new (and old) faces to help with the task. It’ll be the toughest mission yet, but Sly is ready! Carmelita isn’t far behind and she’s ready to take Sly down for the count.

This one experimented with a lot of concepts. We got to control a pirate ship and board other ships to steal a lot of money. This is great for when you need some money to buy everything in the shop. The gameplay could be a little on the tricky side for this mode, but it was pretty fun. There are also airplane battles, which are handled very well and car battles, which are just as exciting. You also get to play as the Panda King and shoot fireworks at the opponents. Dimitri gets his own level where you scuba dive and get to see some action. The Guru’s gameplay involves possessing the enemies and causing them to ram into something or get corralled somewhere.

Carmelita also gets her own gameplay where the game becomes a third person shooter. It’s naturally not as well developed as PN03 or Star Fox, but the gameplay is still fun. Beyond that, we still have the usual Bentley programming game and the Murray smashing part. Sly’s gameplay is also true to form and there is one boss fight that suddenly transforms the game into DBZ. You get to charge with immense speed at the boss and blows are exchanged. It was a very entertaining boss fight and maybe the best (Or top 3 anyway) in the trilogy.

Aside from the three games, we also have a few minigames. They weren’t very memorable and I only gave them a quick try so I could snag the trophies. (Well, I would have played them anyway, but only once a piece) They are relatively basic and you should have no trouble getting solid scores on them. They’re entertaining enough, but they don’t add to the replay value because you won’t really find yourself replaying them. One or two shots per game is typically enough to feel satisfied.

Sly is the protagonist of the Sly Collection and he’s actually pretty cool. See, he actually does flirt with Carmelita and some of the other characters, but he’s always classy about it. It’s more of a game to him and he never goes too far. It’s just light banter and both parties know it. So, instead of having a forced romance subplot or a James Bond character, we get a very interesting hero. He is a thief, but he (typically) only steals from those who have already stolen something. Calling him a hero may be a stretch, but he does bring many criminals to justice Batman style. He always has a few comebacks at the ready and he basically made the series. I can safely say that the trilogy wouldn’t have been half as good without him as the lead character.

He continues to improve throughout the trilogy and he’s essentially a master by the second game. He may have been a little nerfed in the third game since he couldn’t take out the giant mech, but it happens. I didn’t care for his decision at the end of the third game since it was almost a bit of a betrayal to his friends. One scene cannot negate a whole trilogy of solid acts so Sly is still one of the better protagonists in gaming. He’s an example of a romantic who doesn’t let it bog him down. The Cooper Gang is his creation and they shall go far.

Bentley is the tactical member of the group and he makes all of the plans. He gets a small subplot where he starts to get a little jealous of Sly, but luckily he snaps out of it in time so I won’t count it as a negative. His voice is catchy and it’s the most memorable part of his character. He does get into a romance, which was pretty unnecessary and not very enjoyable. It definitely helped to drop him and this occurred during the third game. (Along with Murray’s drop) His gadgets are interesting, but he’s not not a very intriguing character. He just doesn’t have any traits that make him stand out (apart from the voice) and he could easily be replaced with any other genius. Sly is definitely the one carrying the group as far as personality goes.

The Murray started out as a solid character for the first two games and then he went downhill fast. He’s the opposite of Sly in that he’s not very smart or cunning and he never has a good comeback at the ready. He makes up for this with his fists and he’s the power hitter of the group. (I would easily take Sly in a fight against him though) He likes to refer to himself as The Murray and that’s why I liked him a lot. Then, he decided to abandon his fighting methods thanks to The Guru and he started a lot of meditation. So, most of his lines in the third game were pretty annoying since he wasn’t a convincing pacifist and most of his “wise” sayings just weren’t funny. He has a classic rage moment at one point where he turns back into the original “The Murray” but it came a little too late. He still beats Daxter, but Murray definitely dropped as far as characters go.

Carmelita is Sly’s biggest rival and they always get to share a lot of epic dialogue. She makes sure that the police are in top shape and she has risen to a very high position. Her skills with a blaster are definitely worth mentioning and she’s able to take down the bosses that even gave Sly’s gang a tough time. I do miss the days when capturing Sly was her only goal, but the ending is happy for her. A little too much romance if you ask me though. It’ll be interesting to see what her role is in the next game. She’s definitely an integral part of the franchise and her rivalry with Sly is what makes the banter so much fun.

Dimitri is easily one of the more unlikable villains, but it seems like he was well received by the fans so he got to return for the third game. It’s too bad because I just don’t see why he is supposed to be cool. He spends some time flirting in the third game, which isn’t cool and his only good scene that I can recall is the fact that he didn’t succumb to Sly’s black mailing attempts. Beyond that, he’s just another enemy who turns into a hero and then forgets to have any significant character development. I’m hoping that he won’t return for the next game.

The Guru is easily one of the most annoying characters in the trilogy. The fact that he only makes sounds and then everyone can understand him is a trend that I really don’t like. (Just look at Bumblebee) This way, the characters get to say things like “Whoa, impressive thinking Guru” or “I like the way you think Guru” It’s a cop out because we don’t know what he is actually saying and I just can’t root for him. He’s supposed to be immensely hardcore based on the reactions from the characters, but I need to hear it to believe it. His subplot just wasn’t enlightening and he prolonged the game just so that he could be at one with nature. Yeah….that’s a no go for me.
Penelope is one of the new members to join the gang in the third installment and she’s all right. She beats most of the other new recruits, but I couldn’t get myself to become a fan of hers. She’s also pretty smart and she has her remotely controlled vehicles, which makes for solid gameplay. That being said, I just can’t get behind the forced romance subplot between her and Bentley. It didn’t do wonders for any of them…that’s for sure.

The Panda King started out as one of the big villains in the first game. His boss fight was pretty fun and his flame attacks were brutal. He made for a solid villain and he was definitely one of the more memorable bosses. After that, he became a hero in the third game and changed his ways. That’s where he went downhill for me. His new meditation personality was too similar to Murray’s change and he just wasn’t believable. I have to agree with Sly that it’s a little hard to overlook his deeds from the original title. His mannerisms can also be a little tough and you just wait for his scenes to be over. In the end, I’m definitely not a fan of him anymore.

Clockwerk is the big boss from the first game and he shouldn’t be underestimated. The Cooper Clan has feared him for many generations and that’s because of his overwhelming power. The boss fight was pretty interesting and it was fun to test my metal (get it?) against his. His character is solid and he kind of reminded me of Unicron. Maybe it’s just his commanding demeanor, but he’s a solid villain and easily one of the most memorable ones in the franchise. It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that he is my favorite villain in the franchise and it will be reasonably difficult to pass him.

Muggshot is an example of a hardcore villain who stayed as a villain. He appears in the third game and I believe that he was in the original as well. He’s pretty hardcore and we get to witness a battle between him and Carmelita. He has a lot of muscle power while Carmelita is good from long range. I have to admire his raw power and there aren’t many fighters who could take him down for the count. He’s not an amazing villain, but he’s good enough and he has no annoying gimicks. He just works to pound his opponents with simple (yet effective) brute strength. That’s my kind of villain.

Constable Neyla is the new face on the police staff and she’s the only one to get any development aside from Carmelita. I can’t say that she’s very likable because she’s the reasonable, heroic officer. She doesn’t mind teaming up with Sly if it means that they will nab the culprit and she’s just not as fun as Carmelita. Her fighting skills aren’t quite up to par either and you have to wonder why she didn’t just grow up to be a nameless officer like the others. She also seems to be tricking Carmelita…could she have a secret agenda?

The Contessa is one of the bosses in the second game and she’s mainly memorable because she’s involved in a rather large (but expected) plot twist. She’s pretty crafty and she can also engage in classic fisticuffs when necessary. Her design was interesting and the boss fight was pretty good. There’s not much more to say about her, but the Contessa isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Her hypnotic machinery can be powerful and she takes no prisoners.

General Tsao isn’t a likable villain by any stretch of the imagination, but I really did like his boss battle so he deserved a mention. Dueling with him in the forest was good, but the battle on top of the forest was in a completely different league. That’s a battle that I won’t forget and the developers definitely had fun implementing the new gameplay. Personality wise, this guy definitely didn’t rank. He was likely a one shot character so I don’t need to worry about him appearing again.

Doctor M is the big villain from the third game, but he’s easily the most dull compared to the previous two final bosses. He just comes out of nowhere and I have to say that the evil scientist character is really getting old at this point. No…it is already old! He does have a mech to help him out, but the boss fight isn’t terribly fun and trying to finish it in a short time can be brutal. (But worth the trophy) I really could have done without him and he didn’t add anything to the franchise.

It’s also fun to see how the graphics have changed from game to game. The first game is very bright and definitely more cartoony than the other two. I actually think that it looked the best from the three and it’s just fun to look at. The second installment gets a little darker, but you can also see how much newer it is. The third one is basically as modern as it will get and the character models look solid. The graphics are technically “better” I suppose, but the first game still looks the best to me. I just won’t be forgetting that art style!

One bonus that occurs from older games getting to the PS3 is that we can get trophy support! The trophies for all three games are very reasonable and I obtained all three Platinums. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of this and the developers did a solid job. Some may say that the Platinums were too easy, but they were tough enough to present you with a mild challenge during the third game. The minigames also contain trophies, but no Platinum comes along with them. Ah well, you can’t win em all. Either way, this could be another incentive to buy the collection. Who doesn’t want to add three more Platinums to the collection?

The soundtrack for all three games is a little on the generic side. Sly’s main theme from the first game is pretty memorable, but that’s about it. Ratchet and Clank typically doesn’t have a lot of memorable tracks either so it may just be a company thing. (Although Jak’s was pretty solid) It could be argued that I was so into the game at that point that I couldn’t hear the music, but I’m sure that I would have remembered a dynamic boss theme. Well, at least the music isn’t bad.

I do have to say that the ending to the third game isn’t that good. One can definitely see how it didn’t get a sequel for so long, but it really feels like Sly gave his teammates the short end of the stick. It’s almost a tragic ending if you didn’t believe their happy stories at the end. I definitely wasn’t satisfied with such a conclusion, which is why I can’t wait for the next one. The Cooper Gang must never be allowed to split up!

The big question is…could the Sly series defeat Jak or Ratchet and Clank? Well, I would still take both of those series over this one, but they’re a little more out there and the guns advantage almost makes it unfair. Ratchet is the best main character from the three, but Sly’s partners beat the counterparts from the other series. It’s fun to compare the three series and it does appear that Sly has outlasted Jak. Maybe it’ll end up giving Ratchet and Clank a run for their money eventually. (The film is coming out soon for both series after all. Can’t wait to see them compete!)
Overall, this was a fun trilogy and it holds up well against the famous Mario Galaxy series. Completing all three games and getting the Platinum definitely means that you are getting a lot of value for your purchase. Replay value is not an issue and you’ll be glad that you purchased the game. The graphics are good and the banter between Sly and Carmelita can be pretty awesome. The rest of the dialogue is typically well done as well and the writers must have been very focused when working on it. The levels can get a little repetitive in the second and third games, but it’s really not bad and nothing compared to the DS Prince of Persia game. Bentley’s levels are scarce, but I love the Pac Man/Galaga levels where you have to destroy the viruses. The first game allows you to free roam through the levels and the third one has a lot of challenges that are fun since it is basically a way to replay any minigame or stage. Fans of the platforming genre should greatly enjoy the game and the writing is superb as well. All in all, you can’t help but give the collection a thumbs up!

Overall 7/10

Prince of Persia The Fallen King Review

The Prince of Persia franchise is a pretty good one. I enjoyed the film that came out and both games for the PS3 were very well done. I enjoyed the GBA installment as well and the only one that left much to be desired was the “Battles” spinoff for the DS. This is another Nintendo DS spinoff so there was definitely a reason to be a little worried. I’ve actually been working on this game for years and I finally got around to beating it. It’s definitely a decent game, but nothing more than that.

The plot is pretty convoluted and while it is a sequel to the PS3 game, it’s back to just being the Prince. (Evidently the epilogue explains why this is why, but I wasn’t about to spend money to buy the DLC) The Prince is basically looking for the King so that he can help out to stop the dark forces that he unleashed in the last game. He finds a mysterious being by the name of Zal, who is also dealing with some issues at the moment. Pieces of the puzzle have been stolen and villains are running rampant with all of their newfound power. The Prince agrees to help out Zal since he’s such a nice guy. Can they find out who the mastermind is and stop him before it’s too late? (The plot is a little vague because my recollection of it isn’t too good. Good ole Wikipedia definitely helped for the early parts.)

The gameplay for the game is essentially the traditional 2D Prince of Persia style from the good ole days. What’s the problem? Well, you should always be able to jump in a 2D side scroller. Always! Unfortunately, you can’t do this. The stylus is used to control everything and it’s very sensitive. A single misstep will cause you to lose and be forced to go through a long part again. I’m guessing that’s why the developers decided to give the player infinite lives. The only way to jump is if you are leaving a platform and tap the air or the next platform. This will cause the prince to do a little jump, which may destroy you when he jumps unexpectedly. Your partner (Zal) is around to fire energy blasts that can’t hurt your opponents or to disarm them. He grabs onto the purple energy, which is used to finish off puzzles. He can do all sorts of things that are just variations of each other throughout the game.

The actual combat is pretty rough. You have to tap the enemy and hope that the Prince won’t roll and leave you open for attack. The enemies are generally pretty easy since you just need to attack, block, attack, over and over again. It’s a winning cycle, but a tedious one at times. You really don’t feel like you’re fighting at all since you’re just tapping the same part of the screen a lot of times. Thanks to the infinite lives, nothing will really be a challenge for long. The final boss took some time because I couldn’t figure out what the game wanted to do, but I eventually solved it. (Hint…some giant swords can be stuck for a while.)

The Prince is all right, but definitely nothing special. He talks a good game and saving the world is a cool goal to chase after. He just doesn’t do anything noteworthy and The Prince is really along for the ride. I’m sure that he can fight, but there isn’t anyone for him to fight. Most of the game is just banter between him and Zal, but it’s not very good banter. The writers could learn a thing or two from the Sly Cooper writers.

Zal is really the only character in the game aside from the Prince, or at least the only notable one. I did not like him because it felt as if he was constantly making things harder for the Prince. They just need to hash out their differences and team up long enough to go and save the world. Zal may have some noble sentiments in there, but it’s hard to root for him. It doesn’t help that the plot is so vague and the story isn’t that well told. He’s just a really unmemorable guy who happened to be around for most of the game.

Graphically, the game isn’t very impressive, but the cutscenes aren’t bad. The “cutscenes” are stills where we get to see the plot advance. The artwork may not be top tier, but you do know what is happening and how to get there. While in gameplay, you’ll really just see a pixelated figure running around. The Megaman Battle Network games would put this one to shame. The Prince’s super form is awesome, but you can only see this thanks to the illustrations. In gameplay, it’s just not that effective. I don’t think a whole lot of effort was put into it.

There isn’t really a soundtrack. Sure, there is music in the game, but it’s just generic desert music. Nothing special and you won’t be remembering it after a while. This is unfortunate, but just how it has to be. I don’t believe that the music even changed all that much for the boss battles, but maybe it was a little different. Either way, I typically don’t expect much out of the DS games in terms of music, but this won’t win the game any stars. (Now, the GBA had some incredible tunes!)

Uh oh, this is not sounding like a positive game is it? It definitely fails as far as sequels go and it’s really just filler. I think the game was quickly made for a few bucks and you can tell that the quality control just wasn’t there. That being said, the game was pretty long so you definitely got what you paid for. (I got it for 5-10 dollars, which wasn’t bad) I forgot how many levels there were, but around the same as a typical Mario game. Unlike Mario, you cannot go back to play previous levels and you are permanently stuck to the world that you are up to. This means that I can only play the final three levels if I wanted to relive the good ole days. Trust me, I have better games to play so I wasn’t planning on it, but it’s disappointing that the option isn’t even there.

Overall, this is easily one of the worst Prince of Persia games. I’m tempted to say that it is the worst, but I’ll have to go and play the other one a little more first to be sure of this. The story is pretty dull and the characters aren’t very interesting, but the gameplay length is good. The actual gameplay could be much better, but it could also be a lot worse. I would say that the game isn’t very good and it gets repetitive very quickly. Still, the game is decent and I would never say that it was a downright bad game. I do wish that the stylus didn’t have to be used because the controls are definitely prone to cause unnecessary deaths because any movement will have the Prince running or jumping to his doom. I can’t say that I recommend this game and buy the New Super Mario Bros game if you want a true 2D side scroller.

Overall 5/10