GI Joe The Rise of Cobra Review

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GI Joe is one of those games that you really can’t help, but check out. It’s the very definition of a movie tie in as it has everything that you would expect one to have. I think that one of the ways that you can tell whether a game is big budget or not is the little things. As a whole, this game may look like any other overhead shooter, but it’s the small things that keep it from reaching the heights of other great shooters. No matter, it is still a pretty fun game and one that definitely gives you your money’s worth.

The Joes have captured Baroness and the Cobra organization appears to be gone for good. Everything is right in the world until they are attacked and Baroness escapes. It appears that Cobra may not be dead after all and they are using their new teleportation technology to create a lot of havoc. Duke is going to have to go back on the field with the other Joes to stop the enemies from gaining ground. The only question on everyone’s minds is…”Can Cobra really be back?” Time to find out!

There are 20 levels to be found here, which is a pretty reasonable amount. The levels are long enough so that they can’t be called short while not being nearly as long as a War for Cybertron or Shattered Dimensions stage. I’d say that they’re juuust right if you ask me. The levels are pretty repetitive as you go on, but the actual gameplay is always fun so I wouldn’t really count that as a negative. The gameplay is similar to Centipede Infestation or Alien Syndrome. It’s overhead, but close enough to the ground where it can almost feel 3D. You won’t realize that it is overhead until you are done…or that is typically the case anyway.

You take out your guns and try to quickly destroy all of the enemies who are in your way. Typically, your objective will be to destroy certain objects along your way to the end. This means that you can actually skip a lot of the enemies if you really don’t want to bother facing them. I do recommend fighting them since it’ll help you earn points to get more badges, but it’s your call. Beating the levels on casual difficulty will let you quickly get through them, but you will not be able to get 5 star ranks that way so it’s a double edged sword. The gameplay never gets old and it’s a lot of fun to just blast everyone in your way. You’ll rarely need to resort to hand to hand combat, but it can be fun to use once in a while as a change up.

Graphically, the game definitely doesn’t impress. The facial expressions can definitely look pretty bad, but it can be in a humorous way so I can’t really fault it. It’s pretty sub standard for a PS3 game, but I didn’t expect anything more than that. The graphics still look pretty good during the gameplay, which is what counts. No frills or extra things to polish up the graphics, but that’s all right. The soundtrack can be a little uneven as some themes are just really loud. Notably the “Go Joe” theme that plays when you activate your power up. Mixed in with the sound of your gun constantly firing, you’ll be tempted to lower the volume. The stage themes are pretty unmemorable, but they aren’t bad. The characters can sound pretty intriguing though and Cobra Commander is the best example of this. The writers definitely are not familiar with his character since he sounds nothing like the villain that we’re used too. He’s constantly losing his cool and shrieking. The Commander doesn’t even try to keep up a tough facade as he panics when the Joes break in. It’s tough for his fans to watch, but you will likely get a good chuckle out of him.

GI Joe definitely shines when it comes to the Replay Value aspect. There are 130 emblems to get, which will take you some time since getting 5 stars on every stage is truly a feat. You will need to find several collectibles in each level which can be tough and let’s not forget the trophies. They’re all pretty fair and while they can be time consuming, none of them feel cheap. If you really want to get the Platinum in this game, I’m confident that you will be able too. I’ve thought about it and I may get it at some point, but I’ll settle for obtaining most of the trophies for now.

The ending to the game is pretty unsatisfying though. First of all, there is no final boss. That’s pretty discouraging since each world had a final boss aside from the last one. Instead of fighting Cobra Commander, we got to fight a few generators that some minions were protecting. The game also plays it a little too safe with the story and all of the villains end up getting away aside from Baroness. That means that we go right back to the status quo from the beginning of the game where this was the case…..a bit lazy if you ask me.

Now, I mentioned that it’s the little things that separate this from a high budget shooter. One example of this is naturally the minor glitches. Nothing major luckily, but sometimes your gun will just go through an opponent and you’ll need to stop shooting and quickly start again. That’s not terrible and it’s quite rare, but it’s a little thing. Camera angles can be tricky and it’s easy to get lost in some of the levels. The gameplay is a lot of fun, but it’s not very deep so you really need to enjoy it or you will definitely find it repetitive. I recommend always choosing Heavy Duty since he has the best super attack in the game.

Overall, GI Joe The Rise of Cobra is a pretty fun PS3 game. It won’t be winning any awards in the near future, but it’s the kind of game that really goes by quickly. You’ll never feel bored as you tackle the Cobra agents and the plot is decently engaging. I’m glad that we do get actual cutscenes so the game definitely didn’t skip out on the budget. At 20 levels, it’s definitely long enough for you to spend a few days on it and more if you want the Platinum. I recommend this to all action fans who own a PS3.

Overall 7/10

Naruto Shippuden Legends Akatsuki Rising Review

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This is a game that I’ve owned for quite a while at this point. It’s had to sit in my backlog for years, which tells you just how many games I’m juggling at the moment. After all, why else would an anime game ever stay on the shelf? This game is part of the Uzumaki Chronicles series so the gameplay is in that style. Unfortunately, the gameplay has significantly regressed, but it’s still a pretty fun game to check out, it just keeps it from getting a good ole 8. (Most 3D fighting anime video games do end up with 8s, which is why that is pretty notable)

The game covers the first arc of Naruto Shippuden. Naruto has returned to the village after a long time training abroad. He discovers that the Kazekage has been kidnapped by an evil organization known as the Akatsuki! Naruto won’t stand for this so he heads out with a few of his comrades to pursue the villains. Another squad is also dispatched to assist Naruto. They will need to hurry since the villains intend to destroy the Kazekage after their operation is a success.

The gameplay is the biggest factor here so let’s talk about that first. You’re placed in a 3D environment and you typically have to reach the end of an area that is filled with minions. The other type of area is a “defeat the enemies to advance” section which is self explanatory. On the normal areas, you don’t have to actually fight anyone as you run to the goal. I wouldn’t recommend that due to how tricky the leveling up system is. You can teleport with the O button and attacking uses the square button. You can use your ninjutsu like a Rasengan or a Shadow Clone to try and defeat the enemies a little quicker.

The gameplay sounds pretty solid right? It actually sounds great like that since a 3D fighting game is what we all want. Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as it sounds. The teleporting option is really what wrecked the gameplay because it doesn’t take up any meter. You can teleport forever and ever if you want too. Your opponent can go one step further as they can teleport through your attacks infinitely. This gets old very quickly as you can try to hit them for minutes without much success. It’s the biggest flaw imaginable since it makes fighting with hand to hand skills virtually impossible. The enemies will just keep on punishing you if you dare to use such a tactic.

The best way to counter this is to just focus on Naruto’s Shadow Clone Jutsu and get it to at least level 5 so you can use the whirlwind combo. After that, just spam it for every single boss along with regular shadow clones. It’s the best way to win, but it’s not a very fun way. Once in a while, you can try to get up close and personal to take on a boss, but then you’ll just watch as they teleport away and hit you with a powerful jutsu that takes away 70% of your health. A single combo was enough to beat me several times so you have to keep your distance. I’m thinking that the developers just didn’t realize that the A.I. would exploit the teleporting so well. I’m hoping that this is fixed for Kizuna Drive since that would make the gameplay so much more enjoyable. Technically, the actual gameplay style is still great, but you really can’t get past the teleporting angle. Who wants to use the same jutsu over and over again for the entire game right?

One thing that could also have made the experience better would be to rehaul the leveling up system. Most games just give you EXP for defeating opponents, but this game added a new spin to it by giving you EXP for good combos as well. This means that defeating normal enemies gives you almost no EXP at all so you need to either keep facing bosses or racking up those combos. Getting a good combo is tough considering how often the opponents teleport so replaying levels to face the bosses is your best bet. Even then, leveling up isn’t very quick and the power upgrade is very slight so you need quite a few level ups to really feel it. I ended the game at level 44, which actually isn’t that bad. I only had to grind for level ups once, but that was before I learned that the Shadow Clone jutsu was the best in the game so it’s hard to tell just how necessary it was. I barely squeaked by one of the final boss fights though so it’s safe to say that it may have ultimately saved me. I think that it should be easier to see how much EXP you need to level up instead of going into the menu that leaves you vurlnable.

Speaking of which…you should be able to pause the game. There is no way to do that in the game, which is pretty sad. You just have to find a quiet spot and camp out t here while you open the menu to look at items and your status. Why the game doesn’t stop while you do that is beyond me. It provides a bit of a challenge in terms of health I suppose, but you should still be able to pause when you’re not in the middle of battle at the very least. (Pausing during battle should still be okay) Nobody wants to keep putting their PSP to sleep when they need to quickly go somewhere. It’s a smaller gripe than the others, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.

The graphics look pretty good. They’re not downright amazing and they certainly get outshined by other PSP games like Birth By Sleep, but it’s good enough. The gameplay graphics are pretty bright and sharp, which allow you to take in everything easily. The cutscenes can definitely be a little blocky, but everything is still clear. I definitely give the game a thumbs up in this area. The soundtrack is decent, but I’m a little more critical of it. There are only a few themes in the game. I’d say that at least half of them are pretty good and there are one or two really good ones. I think they should have had more themes though since just about every boss shares the same one. So, it’s a pretty fun game to listen too, but you should be prepared to hear the same tunes a lot. It’s not as bad as it could have been if the themes were not good of course.

The actual story mode is 10 levels long. Each level is pretty short in terms of gameplay..or at least technically. As mentioned earlier, the boss fights can be quite long and difficult at times so that actually helps to stretch the game out along with the cutscenes. 10 levels is my minimum for a game and my play time was a little over 7 hours so I’m pretty satisfied with the length. There is certainly a lot of replay value to be found here as well. You can try leveling everyone up to level 99 for starters. Then you’ve got Survival Mode and Mission Mode, which have a lot of challenges to complete. You’ve even got an Akatsuki Mode where you effectively play story mode again from the villain’s point of view. A pretty nice touch wouldn’t you say? If you’re really grasping, you can also try to complete each mission with a star, but I’m not sure what you unlock for doing that.

Overall, Naruto Shippuden Legends Akatsuki Rising is a good game, but it’s one that could have been much better. The leveling up system needs a little work since the bosses are typically a little too strong without some extra level ups. The teleporting trick also gets old pretty quickly since the bosses can abuse it while you just watch in awe. The actual story mode is very engaging so it’ll keep you glued to the screen and I still love the concept of a 3D Naruto adventure game. I definitely recommend it to Naruto fans and especially to gamers who want a challenge. Whether intentional or not, this is certainly one of the toughest Naruto games out there! I plan on starting Kizuna Drive soon after I get back to a few other video games so then I should have a review for it up soon. It has more levels than this game and it’s the sequel so we’ll see if they fixed the teleporting issue. I sure hope they did!

Overall 7/10

Transformers Prime Review

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Transformers has had a pretty great track record for video games. The War For Cybertron series always promises exciting gameplay with a good story and even the movie tie in titles have been very good. Naturally, the stand alone game for the Armada series was great since it mixed in the fun gameplay with some fun forest levels. Transformers Prime is no different and it is a very fun game, albeit a little short.

The plot certainly does start off like a classic episode. A Dark Energon spike has appeared so the Autobots arrive to see what’s happening. Megatron and Prime have their usual scuffle until the gang is separated. The Autobots will need to regroup to see just what is going on, but the Decepticons have their eyes on the kids. Meanwhile, an old Decepticon of legend has awakened and he wants to destroy the Matrix. Optimus Prime better watch his back!

The gameplay is a lot more combat centered than previous titles. Just about every Transformers game has the option to get in close and personal, but the emphasis is still on blasting your opponent away into oblivion. Blasting is really just a side option in this game although it’s very useful. I tend to use it quite often as the damage builds up pretty quickly. It’s also fun because it’s not the main option. It’s hard to describe, but you just feel the blasts more and it’s more fun to use than in the normal titles. As for the hand to hand combat, it’s what you would expect. You have two different ways to attack and you can string them together to unleash some solid combos. You can quickly enter an awakened mode that allows you to deal extra damage and unleash longer combos.

Naturally, changing into a vehicle is still an option and your blasters do even more damage in that mode. You can tell that the gameplay is not very balanced like in the TMNT game for Gamecube though. There are times when you know that the game wants you to use hand to hand to beat an opponent, but then you just switch to blasters and it still works. It takes a little longer to deal the same damage as a fist attack, but it’s almost equaled out since the enemies don’t fall down as often this way. I just loved blasting away and it’s especially useful when you’re outnumbered since the opponents can’t gang up on you. You can also make a barrier to block energy blasts and you can unleash slow power attacks that can break through a shield. I highly recommend using that only when it is mandatory.

Thunderwing is the new villain for the game and he’s not bad. He’s definitely pretty generic though and he doesn’t have a whole lot of character. He was pretty tough back in his day and he’s still proud of that, but you can’t say much more about him. His design is actually really good, but he’s pretty large so he doesn’t actually get to fight. He’ll just blast at you or try to hit you with his arm. It’s a simple matter to evade and keep on blasting him. His moves are just too limited so he never stood a chance. Still, he’s better than he could have been since he may have been generic, but he was still a tough villain who feared no being!

Speaking of which, the last 5 or so missions are basically just boss fights. Each Autobot gets to take on his/her rival. Starscream isn’t that tough, but he typically runs away a lot, which is true to form. Airachnid and Knockout are probably the easiest to defeat, but that’s probably because Arcee and Bumblebee are the most fun to play as. Spamming their energy attacks is always a lot of fun. Megatron is easily the most difficult opponent to defeat because of his constant air charges. Once he hits you, it’s tough to break out of his combo. I never actually lost a fight, but he did come very close on several occasions. The Decepticon leader is not to be underestimated!

The graphics look pretty good. The energy blasts stand out and they are actually pretty useful here. The character models are all good and the level designs are pretty fun as well. The color palette is a lot lighter than the War For Cybertron series so you could almost say that it looks better, but the latter is still more detailed. I just prefer some of the designs in this game.

Prime’s soundtrack is very good. It borrows the themes from the show and it works out pretty well. There are a lot of opera themes in the game and they help to set the mood for the Decepticons big plots. Once in a while the hero theme will play during a moment that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That is really the only negative that I can think of in this area since the actual soundtrack is pretty great.

Transformers has always had a bit of a problem with the length of its titles. It is not a real problem depending on your minimum for how long a game should be though. My minimum is 10 levels and the game goes beyond that to 13. It’s just a little dicey since some levels can be completed in under 5 minutes and the longest one is still 10-12 minutes long. That means that you’re looking at about a 2 hour game although likely a lot less if we’re just counting gameplay. This hurts the replay value a bit, but the game still does give us more to do to make up for this.

A pretty big positive for the game is the addition of multiplayer mode to the franchise. That was definitely huge and it’s a lot of fun. The way that it is set up implies that they were thinking of adding a 4 player option, but it may have been scrapped. You can still battle it out with a friend and I believe that you are also able to team up. It’s great to finally have a local multiplayer experience like in the good ole days. you can also try to get S ranks on all of the stages and find the collectibles on each level. That shouldn’t be very hard, but you’ll probably need to play each level at least twice so that should certainly increase the play time for you. I managed to get S ranks on several levels on my initial run, but I still missed most of the collectibles.

Overall, Transformers Prime is a pretty good game. It’s definitely what you’d call a cash in/tie in, but it’s pretty fun. You’ll be done with it in no time so getting it at 50-60 dollars may not be the way to go, but the price has dipped considerably since then. Now, it’s definitely worth purchasing and you’ll have fun playing in multiplayer mode. The replay value is definitely good enough and the graphics/soundtrack are very good. It never drags on and that’s always a very important factor to consider in a game. I recommend getting this if you’re a Transformers fan or if you’re a Wii U owner who’s looking for a new game. This’ll help you hold out until the next Legend of Zelda game comes out or it can act as a little break from Super Smash Bros before you go back to challenge the online warriors.

Overall 7/10

Playstation All Stars Battle Royale Review

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Super Smash Bros is still pretty recent so it was good timing to finally check out Playstation All Stars. This game was Smash’s big rival and there are still many loyal Sony fans who claim that it is better than Super Smash. It certainly has its fans since I’ve come across several online players who are at level 999 and find it hard to see why someone would play it that long. I got to level 27 with Ratchet after an online battle or two plus arcade mode. So, it would take a very long time to reach such a high level. It definitely has its flaws and I’m sure that you are familiar with some of them, but this is still a great game considering that it’s the first in the series. I’m confident that the sequel will be better.

There is no story mode of course, but we do have Arcade Mode so that’s something. Each character gets their own intro and ending as well as a cutscene for when you face your rival. Arcade Mode is usually pretty fun because it’s quick and you can get used to the controls on the fly, but the game actually dropped the ball here. Arcade Mode takes around 30 minutes no matter how good you are because the first 3-4 matches are times. That means that you have to battle for 3 minutes before the victor is decided so that’s already 10+ minutes. Considering that you have to beat the mode with 20 characters, that’s a lot of time. I still plan to complete it with everyone eventually, but you can probably see why I got this review out first. It’s definitely going to be a gradual thing to say the least. They definitely shouldn’t have added timed matches to Arcade Mode and hopefully they know better for future games.

As for the actual gameplay, PS All Stars uses a 2D combat system sort of like Super Smash Bros. Each character has a variety of attacks. You have three different standard attacks and each one has 3-4 variations. Then there are also grabs and you can roll to avoid attacks as it lets you become intangible for an instant. You can link these abilities to create fierce combos. Now, this is not how you beat an opponent. Typically, your moves would deal damage to chip away at a health bar or send the opponent flying off of the screen, but this is where Playstation All Stars decided to get unique. Attacking doesn’t deal any damage, but it does build up your final smash meter. You can charge it to a full bar up to three times. Filling it up will let you use your standard final smash and bringing it to the 3rd level will let you use the ultimate attack. You have to hit an opponent with one of these attacks to get a KO.

This is where the game starts to get pretty unbalanced. How good your final smash is will determine if your character is good or not. Some characters like Toro or Heihachi will have a level 3 Smash that instantly KOs everyone on the field while others like Ratchet and Kratos will have to earn them. It’s typically pretty easy to score KOs with your level 3 attack so it shouldn’t matter very much, but there can be a difference. The pro of Toro’s attack is that it guarantees 3 KOs in a 4 way battle. The con is that it can only get 3. Ratchet’s can go up to 6 in theory, but you could theoretically not get any as well. It’s a tough call and it’s something that you’ll want to consider before picking a character. The game’s roster is infamously unbalanced, but you may not notice unless you play it very competitively. In that case, you may want to stick with Kratos or try some of the DLC characters. Speaking of which….

This game suffers from the on disc DLC problem that Street Fighter X Tekken had. You’ll see a few characters on the menu, but you won’t be able to play as them without dishing out some money to PSN. I’m okay with DLC being around for the game, but I don’t like it to actually be on the menu. Why should I have to see those characters on the screen if I can never play as them? I think that it is in pretty bad taste since the game is trying to force you to buy them to clean up your character selection page. It’s also sad because the game already has a pretty limited character roster. There are 20 characters and almost half of them are joke characters. “Half…is that possible?” Well, let’s look as the real characters vs joke characters although our interpretations of a “joke” character may vary a little.

Real Characters
Ratchet
Jak
Sly
Kratos
Radec
Raiden
Sweet Tooth(Arguable…?)
Nathan Drake
Cole
Evil Cole
Heihachi
Dante
Nariko
Big Daddy

Joke Characters
Fat Princess
Parappa
Spike
Toro
Sackboy
Sir Daniel

Well, maybe that’s not as bad as it looks. This means that 30% of the characters are fall into the joke category, which is high, but not as high as I had feared. That being said, the roster definitely needs to shape up a little. All of the 14 normal characters are cool, but a fighting game in this day and age should have well over 30 characters easily. Even with the joke characters, we’re not quite there yet. The characters are just a little too limited for my case and even more so when you consider the fact that Cole is basically taking up two slots. It’s why people always bash the idea of Microsoft making their own Super Smash. Their characters would be much more limited than Sony or Nintendo and that can be dicey to think about. What Sony should do is add more representatives from each series. Just throwing in a second for each one would greatly increase the character count. I don’t have a problem with the stage count though since it’s of a reasonable size.

For Replay Value, PS All Stars definitely has a lot of options after completing Arcade Mode with everyone. Each character has a combat trial to complete and there are general ones as well. Unlocking everything will take an extremely long amount of time and there are a few hundred goals to achieve as well. I don’t think there are any characters or stages to unlock, which can be disappointing, but getting everyone to level 999 is an adventure that you may want to pursue. Finally, we have the PS3 Trophies which are tried and true. Getting the Platinum is supposed to be pretty easy, but that’s with boosting. Without that, it can be pretty tricky thanks to the fact that you need to find a friend who owns the game for two of them. Getting through a match without dying once can also be pretty tricky. Not impossible of course, but tricky nonetheless. That being said, you can easily get around 40 of the trophies here so that’s a great way to boost your Playstation 3 score.

The graphics are pretty good although I would definitely not call them great. The stills are sharp and the cutscene with your rival during Arcade Mode looks great. The game is polished just about everywhere except the gameplay. That’s the area where the graphics tend to struggle a little bit. Especially in 4 player battles. The screen just zooms out a little too much so that it’s hard to see where everyone is and the character models definitely don’t look great at that point. Super Smash Bros can pull it off so this game just needed a little more work in the graphics department. The game feels pretty futuristic and polished otherwise, which has always been one of the perks of the PS3.

The soundtrack is pretty good for the most part. I didn’t want to pull the Super Smash Bros card again, but it’s not quite at that level in terms of the musical themes in the game. The main menu theme is actually pretty good until the singer yells and everything goes downhill. There is only one lyric in the song I believe and I’m not even sure what it is, but it disrupts the nice theme that had been playing. I have already forgotten all of the stage themes, but I’m sure that they’ll come to me in time. It’s fun to play as Ratchet because I get to hear music from his game when you unleash his Level 3 Final Smash. Those games typically had a decent enough soundtrack.

There’s just something about PS All Stars that makes it hard to take seriously. It’s hard to describe, but this just doesn’t feel like “The Next Big Game.” I’m sure that a lot of work was put into it, but some parts just feel like a cash in. You could never say the same thing about Super Smash Bros and that’s just one of the big problems for this title. It’s a great game, but it won’t be able to make it to the next level without some serious work and improvements in key areas. Again, this isn’t bad for a start, but I will have much higher expectations for the inevitable sequel.

Time to directly compare Super Smash Bros and PS All Stars. I could do a bullet point list, but this battle is a little too clear for that. So, let’s just go through the categories here. We’ll have it face off against Brawl since they were from the same generation. Graphics -Super Smash Bros. Soundtrack- Super Smash Bros. Gameplay- Super Smash Bros. Character Roster- Super Smash Bros. Items- Super Smash Bros. Stages- Super Smash Bros. Story Mode- Super Smash Bros. Replay Value- Super Smash Bros. Am I missing anything? Well, PS All Stars puts up a brave fight so don’t get me wrong, but it really did not stand a chance against Super Smash Bros. I hate to say it, but it will never beat Super Smash at its own game. (Especially if Pac Man, Sonic, and Mega Man are really here to stay) Sony just needs to play to their strength sand make a 3D fighting crossover game instead. Now that would be interesting to compare with Super Smash Bros. Especially since a lot of people are pulling for Nintendo to make the next installment in 3D…much to fans’ horror.

Overall, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is a solid fighting game that is destined to stay hidden in Nintendo’s shadow. The title is a little too long for my taste, but it shall have to do. I am glad that Sony tried to challenge Nintendo with this title and the roster isn’t bad. It definitely needs work, but it’s fun to see these characters meet up in such a unique game. The gameplay actually is a lot of fun. It’s not the kind of game where you’ll put in 100+ hours, but you can definitely pass the time by here. The game just needed more gameplay options for you to play around with. At least there is a lot of content to keep you busy here. The game needs to work a little more in the graphics area as well as add some more songs to the soundtrack. A real story mode would be nice even if those are rare in fighting games like this one. I’ve heard that the online is pretty laggy, but I haven’t experienced that so far. I definitely recommend this game to all fighting fans and just think of it as the next TMNT Smash Up or Cartoon Explosion. The gameplay may be modeled after Super Smash Bros, but it feels more like those other two games. Try to get to level 999 and let me know how long it took you!

Overall 8/10

Mario Kart DS Review

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This is certainly a title that has been pretty high on my video game list for quite some time now. Mario Kart is just one of those franchises where I want to eventually own all of the games so I had to start somewhere. Now, I’m only missing Mario Kart Advance, Wii U, and 3DS. That’s not so bad, but it could be a while until I get the latest one since the price is going to be very high for a long time. This title does a good job of keeping the Mario Kart DS series near the top of the Mario franchise.

There are 8 cups to complete in this game and the style is similar to Mario Kart Wii. There are four cups filled with all new stages and the other 4 cups consist of old levels from the previous games in the series. I do think that this is a little lazy, but seeing as how most of the old games only had 16 levels anyway, I guess it’s still a fair trade off. It is certainly fun to see the old levels come back with updated graphics of course…not counting Double Dash though since it looks better than this game. Completing all 8 cups can be done pretty quickly, but the game has other features to keep you hooked to the screen for some extra hours.

There are many unlockables to be found in Mario Kart DS like extra characters and items. There’s even an alternate opening/ending screen for the game if you get golds on various tournaments and beat the cups on harder difficulties. These features certainly add to the intensity of the game and there is no ultra long cup to worry about so trying to finish these cups off on 150cc shouldn’t be much of a hassle. Finally, the game also has a mission mode, which is a pretty unique feature for the series. It’s pretty fun and I think they should keep it for future installments as well. The missions help you focus on driving skills like steering and drifting in a fun way. You also get to race against popular bosses and even face off against King Boo. A certain Legend of Zelda villain makes an appearance as well so the missions are pretty great. There are over 50 missions in the game and I ended up playing close to 40 of them before deciding that I should probably take my leave of the title. (The L button was also acting up and some of the missions can be pretty tough to complete without such a crucial button at the ready)

So, the actual game may be pretty short, but the replay value is certainly there. A long time ago the replay value would have been much greater, but the servers were naturally taken down so that gets rid of the Wi-Fi potential. The home console versions always have the option of just racing a friend, which definitely give them an advantage over a portable title. Naturally, the game is still worth it if you are just looking at content since it should certainly tide you over for a few days or maybe even a week depending on how often you play it.

I doubt that I really need to describe the gameplay, but I’ll give it a quick run through anyway. The object of the game is naturally to cross the finish line first, but you will have to get past the other 7 racers to do that. There are many items that you can obtain by going through item blocks and you can use them to get the other racers in trouble or just breeze by them. Anything goes here so be prepared to do a lot of fighting as you power through.

That being said, the second screen can almost be unfair against some of the items. One item has a squid pour ink all over your main screen so that you cannot see, but a new feature of the DS version is that you can look at the race from an aerial view on the bottom. Evidently, the developers forgot to think about this so the squid is now pointless as you can quickly shift views. The aerial view can actually be more efficient in some ways since you can see everything from that point of view so you can turn accordingly. It’s a very useful feature, but I think the ink should affect it as well when someone uses that item. I suppose that it’s just a minor slip up.

The graphics are pretty good for the DS. There are few games on the console that look better than this one and Nintendo has always done a good job of working on the graphics for their sport titles. It’s fun to see how the older stages look on the portable screen and you can clearly tell what is happening at all times. The character models are never too blurry for you to comprehend what is happening and they have held up well against the test of time.

The soundtrack is also one of the better ones that you will see on the console. A lot of the themes are pretty nostalgic and the new ones are pretty good as well. They are suitable for the races and there isn’t really a “bad” theme. They’re all pretty peaceful and soothing, which help you to fight off the long roads when there are no other racers in sight. It’s easy to listen too many times, which is good since you will likely be playing the stages several times to try and unlock everything.

How does this game stack up to the other Mario Kart titles? Well, it naturally loses to Mario Kart Double Dash and Wii. I’m guessing that it likely loses to Mario Kart Wii U and 7 as well so it’s best chance is against the old, old Mario Kart games and the Advance version. It should beat all of those in terms of gameplay, although the older ones for the Super Nintendo and 64 would probably win overall thanks to the multiplayer aspect. That’s not a knock on Mario Kart DS of course, but it’s a racing game and that genre always does best on the home console front since you have people to play it with. Mario Kart Double Dash doesn’t keep a record of your play time on it, but I’m confident that it is my most played game by a long shot with 999+ hours. I played it just about every day for a few years and I still end up playing it now and again. It’s simply the ultimate Mario Kart title, but the DS version is pretty fun as well.

Overall, Mario Kart DS is a very strong racing title and it could be one of the best portable ones that I have played. The controls are sound and the graphics hold up pretty well. The soundtrack makes the stages pretty fun to play since you don’t have to worry about getting bored of hearing the same tracks over and over again. The other portable racing games that I’ve played would probably be games like Sonic Rivals and F Zero. I think this game is probably better than those if we look at them for pure gameplay, but Sonic Rivals’ story mode and longer replay value would ultimately give it the edge. I look forward to seeing how fun Mario Kart 7 is since I’ve only heard good things about that title. I know that Mario Kart DS is old and that just about everyone has already played it, but if you don’t own it yet…I highly recommend checking it out. The online functions are gone, but you can still enjoy some good races. If nothing else, Mario Kart is always a whole lot of fun and it’s the kind of game that you will never get bored of…like Smash Bros!

Overall 7/10

Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Review

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It’s time to wrap up the big three racing games that I got for Christmas. Pac Man World Rally was pretty fun, but it could have been better. Mario Kart DS was about as fun as I could have expected, but it’s safe to say that Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing easily took the win here. It’s very fun and I can see why the case is made that it could give Mario Kart a fair challenge. The game is certainly very good and while it may be a stretch to say that it’s better than Mario Kart….it’s getting there.

There is no plot of course and there are 24 courses to play in. They are divided into 6 different cups so that you only have to play 4 courses back to back. Completing the cups can help you obtain trophies and points that you can spend at the shop for more tracks, (For 2 player purposes) characters, and music. There are certainly a lot of things to buy, which can be daunting at first, but earning money in this game is surprisingly easy so that makes it a lot more fun. You can earn about 10000+ points for completing any of the latter cups, which is over 3000 points a stage. That’s definitely not a bad bet.

Speaking of which, the trophies in this game are pretty reasonable for the most part. They will take some time since a trophy requires you to get 750000 points, but that’s not a bad grind compared to many other games. It should be pretty easy if you enjoy the game and you may even get it naturally. The only trophies that I don’t care for are the online ones since those are definitely asking for a bit too much. Unless a match is rigged, how are you going to lap someone? That person would have to be playing extremely poorly for that to happen unless we had a stage similar to Baby Park in Mario Kart…and even that is a stretch. There is also a trophy for racing a friend…let’s just say that this can be problematic. On the whole, the trophies are certainly reasonable since most of them are just long. That being said, I likely won’t be getting the Platinum here.

I enjoyed the level designs here a lot and I dare say that they look better than Pac Man World Rally’s as well as the levels in Mario Kart DS. That being said, this mainly applies to the Sonic stages. I don’t care for most of the Monkey Ball or Party Monkey stages and Sonic’s tend to be the best ones. The Haunted Mansions and City levels are also a lot of fun of course and the stages usually have a shortcut or two to spice things up. One short cut is so great that it’s almost impossible to win without it. I think that this is a bit much, but it does force you to learn where it is before you can finish off the cup.

The gameplay is pretty much what you would expect from a racing styled game, but it all handles so smoothly that you will still be impressed. Naturally, you have to make it to the finish line and you use items that you pass by to help you achieve that goal. You can attack other racers or just focus on speeding your way through to the finish line. Drifting is very important here since you get a considerable boost from using this technique. It’s as good as a mushroom from Mario kart or even better since the boost lasts for several seconds. Likewise, performing tricks on the air will give you a similar effect. Technique is important here and while the items do balance things out, it can be the difference between the 1st and 2nd place racers.

Graphically, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing manages to hit it out of the park once again. Every character design looks flawless and the graphics are definitely PS3 level. Everything is really colorful and it just pops out at you. This applies to everything in the game. From the backgrounds to the items, nothing in this game is lacking in detail or looks out of place. It may just be the best looking racing game that I’ve played, but naturally I have not played Mario Kart 8 yet. Until then, Sonic’s going to have to take the win there.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. I actually found it to be a little too limited at first since the character’s All Star moves always give them their theme. You will likely hear Eggman and Amy’s a lot since they constantly get their super attacks and then any stage from a certain video game where the stages are all in the city always has the exact same theme. It’s a good theme, but I like variety. Of course, that’s when I noticed that I still had over 30 songs to purchase. That ought to help a great deal and I consider the game’s soundtrack to be pretty good with them. I definitely wouldn’t call it excellent though and that’s mainly due to the fact that it takes tunes from many different games. I like just about all of Sonic’s themes, but I definitely don’t care for the party ones or for Monkey Ball. Their themes just don’t work for such a fast and explosive racing game.

How’s the overall value for the game? Well, the 6 cups won’t last you very long since it’s roughly 4 minutes per race with only 24 in the game. So, the game will barely last 90 minutes if you just count that, but there is a whole lot more to do. Trying to get the Platinum Trophy will mean that you’ll definitely have to play it for a few days and let’s not forget about buying everything at the shop. On the way to the Platinum you’ll need to master all of the missions as well and there are a little over 60 of those. I haven’t even touched that mode yet, but you can bet that I’ll certainly be trying it out soon. I always like tackling a good mission!

In the end, does this game beat Mario Kart? That’s very tough to say and especially since I’ve put in a few hours on this game and hundreds on Double Dash. It’s fair to say that this game automatically beats all of the portable Mario Kart titles and all of the other item based racers, but can it really beat the famous Mario Kart titles? It’s just hard to definitively say so. That being said, I don’t believe in ties so I will say that it is slightly better than Mario Kart, at least when you’re playing by yourself. We’ll see if it’s Mario Kart level in multiplayer or not eventually.

Overall, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing is a great racing title. It really could be one of the best period and it’s a worthy rival to the Mario Kart series. I would just say that it is the best racing game of all time, but we have to consider the racing games without gimmicks and then things get tough once again. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel since I’ve heard that it’s even better. The gameplay is supposedly pretty different from this one, but I’m okay with that since it still sounds like lot of fun. After all, Transformed is the Sonic title that I’ve heard manages to maybe even defeat Mario Kart 8. It’ll be interesting to see if I agree with that. I recommend this to anyone who likes to enjoy a good racing game and for anyone who especially likes a chaotic racing game. You’re always moving at a very high speed so the excitement never dies down as you race for the Gold!

Overall 8/10

Pac Man World Rally Review

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For Christmas I decided to go with a racing theme with the video games. From the 6 that I got, 4 of them were in this genre and I managed to get one from the three big video game icons. You’ll find out what the Sonic and Mario games were soon, but Pac Man was the first one that I completed so it made sense to do this one first. It’s pretty fun and you can tell how it was inspired from Mario Kart, but it lacks the latter’s sheer intensity.

There is no plot of course and the goal is to beat all of the tournaments and ultimately unlock all of the racers and items. There are 15 levels in the game and they are divided up into 4 cups. After completing each cup, you will unlock the ultimate cup, which features all 16 races back to back. I have to admit that those gauntlet styled cups have never been my cup of tea. Imagine losing on the 14th or 15th race and having to do it all over again. It’s a pretty scary thought, but it ultimately must be done if you want more characters. To get all characters, you’ll need to beat all of the cups on hard and getting all of the items means eating a certain amount of ghosts in each cup. That definitely helps the replay value aspect since locked content is always fun to unlock.

The actual gameplay is very similar to Mario Kart, but with its own wrinkles and twists. There are 8 racers and the gameplay speed is similar to Double Dash’s. Along the way you’ll see a lot of items and you can use them to blast the person in first with a Paratroopa Blue Ghost or throw some red shells red ghosts. The game didn’t really try all that much with the items since many of them are not subtle knockoffs of Mario Kart. Instead of lightning, we get a lightning cloud here since I suppose that this makes everything okay. The items are still good of course, but they just aren’t original.

Each level has a shortcut that is blocked by a food door. To get past it, you’ll have to find the fruit switch somewhere on the stage and drive through it to unlock the fruit. After that, you must find the actual fruit and then head through the shortcut on the next lap. Typically, the shortcut is well worth the effort as long as you are able to get the fruit while you are driving. You do the same thing with pellets. First, you activate the switches and then you collect as many as possible. Once you have enough you can use your final smash. I have only used Pac Man’s so far, but it’s definitely solid. You get a new theme to play over the stage music and then you drive a little faster as you eat any cars that get in your way. Eating cars is important to unlock items so you’ll want to eat as many as possible. Occasionally an angelic ghost will appear to give you some pellets, but I’m not sure exactly why it comes to help. It seems like there is some sort of meter that triggers this, but I cannot confirm such a notion just yet.

I think that the game could have done a little better with the stage designs. I liked the final cup the most as the Retro Maze was a good idea and we finally got a city level. The thing is..the first three cups are filled with landscapes that simply aren’t very interesting. A game like this should have a lot of bright levels like Mario Kart Double Dash so you can marvel at the graphics as you drive. The city level towards the end is one of the only ones that I can think of which fits this category. Most of the others are fairly bleak and you’ll forget about them very quickly. There may have been an island level or two, but it’s simply not the same.

The graphics certainly aren’t as good as the other racing games on the console (F Zero and Mario Kart) and it definitely doesn’t look like a whole lot of effort was put into this game. The graphics simply aren’t that good and I would compare them to the MnM game, which is pretty bad. The graphics actually did hurt the game a little as it would be more fun with better graphics. Graphics are never the most important factor in a game, but they certainly play a big part in sport titles.

The soundtrack is as forgettable as the stage designs. You’ll naturally remember Pac Man’s sound effects from the Arcade Game and they are included here, but the themes just vanish in the wind. I can’t think of a single theme and I’m sure that I wouldn’t be able too even if I had just finished playing it moments before this review. It’s like elevator music. It’s typically decent while you’re in the elevator, but you end up forgetting it immediately after.

Needless to say, this game loses out to Sonic and Sega’s All Star Racing as well as to the Mario Kart titles. Pac Man World Rally just lacked a few things that it would need to compete with those two like great stages and fun items. The game can still be pretty fun of course, but it’s not the kind of game that you will want to keep on playing for very long. It would just get tedious and the battle mode is really what saves it from the fate of the 6 star game. Duking it out while on cars has always been a novel concept and while this game may not pull it off as well as Mario Kart of Sonic Riders, it’s cool that it still has it as an option. Just be warned that the games can last a while since the stages are rather large.

Overall, Pac Man World Rally is definitely not the ultimate racing game, but it’s pretty fun to play. It’s on the Gamecube, which is great news for the game because it means that it can support 4 player action and that’s always exciting. This is the kind of game that greatly benefits from that option and there are also many battle modes to try out if you don’t want to race. The replay value is definitely enough to keep you playing long after you’ve beaten the 4 cups since those, admittedly do not take all that much time. I definitely recommend checking this game out and you’ll just need to try and get past Pac Man’s insanely high pitched voice when he celebrates. It’s simply not the Pac Man that we are used too.

Overall 7/10

Scribblenauts Review

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The portable video game marathon continues with this unique puzzle game. Have you ever thought that you could complete any video game if it could keep up with your imagination? Well, now you can put that to the test since this game allows you to try and think your way out of a situation. There are naturally some limitations, but it does a good job of making you feel like you’re in control.

There isn’t a plot in this game as you just tackle the missions. There are two kinds of missions in the game. They are puzzles and action levels. Each world has 11 stages of each mode, which comes out to 220 stages…wow right? That’s definitely a lot of stages and it’s cool that the developers put in the effort to include so much content in the game. Some levels may just take you a minute, but others could take a solid half an hour easy if you don’t know how to win. The goal of each level is to ultimately attain the Starite whether it be through exploration or giving someone what they want.

The graphics are pretty good. The artistic style is hard to describe, but it works since the characters don’t feel pixelated. They are still using sprites I believe, but they are clean and distinct. There’s no real guesswork here when it comes to figuring out what is happening. I’m definitely satisfied graphically and the soundtrack is decent. I have to say that it is rather forgettable, but you don’t typically play a puzzle game for its music. It’s supposed to really just be soothing so that your mind can totally concentrate on the task at hand.

Tackling the 220 levels will certainly take a while, but the game also has some other features at the ready for replay value. For one thing, you can buy everything at the shop with your well earned cash. You’ll likely have a lot of money left over from completing the levels anyway so you may as well spend it on something good right? Some new tunes are in there, which can be great since finding new music is always fun. You can also replay every level on difficult mode, this means that you have to complete a level 3 times in a row and you cannot re use words. That sounds nearly impossible in some levels, but it’s probably okay if you are familiar with your synonyms and alternate names.

Now, the one thing that can make completing some of these levels tricky..or one of the things anyway, is that your imagination can differ from the developers. The biggest example of this is the bridge. I love bridged and I kept trying to make them work, but they are never useful in this game. That’s because the bridges are absolutely tiny. I don’t think that they end up helping you out in a single level…which can be pretty sad. That’s the classic example, but you will certainly find more as you play the game. To an extent, this can certainly destroy the illusion that the game produces where you control everything thanks to your imagination, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they put a lot of effort into the title to incorporate all of the words. I can’t imagine how they coded this since it seems like the game should take up a massive amount of data. I know that game developers have their tricks though so they made it work somehow.

Moving can be a little tricky at first due to two factors. One is simply the fact that this game is puzzle oriented first and foremost with platforming being secondary. So, most of the game developing time probably went to the level designs, but the other factor is that you control the main character with the stylus. It’s been a while since I played a game like that and I certainly miss just using the pad. It’s not terrible though and you will get used to it fairly quick, but you should definitely be prepared for some self destructs. It’s almost impossible to go through the game without such an event occurring.

The game’s difficulty level does make it a little too intense for kids though so I would actually say that it is more suitable for older kids. There’s almost no way for a kid to solve some of these puzzles and at the very least it would take them a while. It’s nice of the game to award us with two free levels at the end since they are both just trolling the gamers. You can literally beat a level by walking a few steps at the end. That being said, most gamers will probably be tricked since there is an elaborate level set up. Who could have guessed that you would just have to ignore it and keep on walking right?

Overall, Scribblenauts is a pretty fun game and it’s very unique. It did for puzzle games what De Blob did for platforms. It opened new doors and it’s good to see that the series is still going strong. I haven’t played many puzzle games so I can’t really compare it to much on that front, but it’s definitely a good game. I imagine that I should have the next game relatively soon although the ad of “120 new levels” is a little alarming since this one had almost double that. I’m sure that there is a twist that I am not seeing though. The game can be difficult and the hints are not usually helpful, but this helps you to stretch out your thinking muscles.

Overall 7/10

Wario Land 4 Review

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This is the first Wario side scroller that I’ve played so far so it was definitely interesting to see how it would stack up against the average Mario or Yoshi title. I can definitely say that it’s not quite as impressive as those, but it’s good to see Nintendo taking a fairly original stance here. This title brings some more strategy into the typical side scrolling genre. It’s more of a miss than a hit, but fun nonetheless.

There isn’t much of a plot since Wario is just out for treasure as per usual. He wanders into a Pyramid and it has many labyrinths full of treasure and danger. Beyond all of the tombs is the legendary Pyramid of Gold. Wario will have to find all of the locks and jewels so that he can gain entry into this wondrous place. Can he handle all of the guardians who stand in his way? There is also a cat that seems to be guiding him somewhere the whole time….hmmmm.

The soundtrack is noticably different from the average Nintendo game. It fits Wario’s character I suppose….but I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of it. The music during the gameplay is not bad, but every level has a timer effect on it (Which I shall talk about in a second) so it drowns out the music for at least half of the level. What we do hear is good though. The cutscenes have odd songs in them though with lyrics that aren’t really pleasing to the ear. I think the game dropped the ball in this area.

The gameplay is pretty smooth. You can move and jump like in Mario and a lot of emphasis is placed on grabbing objects and throwing them with your super strength. One of the new features in this game is a shoulder throw which can let you break through blocks and other objects. Wario can also run fast enough to shatter walls that cannot be broken with a dash. The key difference in this game is that your goal is not to get to the end of the level. It’s actually to find 4 gems and a key that are hidden inside of it and then making it back to the starting point before the level’s timer runs out. There are secret passages to watch out for and you have to really be observant so that you remember where to go. Each level also has a puzzle area where you have to figure out where to go and all the things to do. You can only second guess yourself once after all.

Graphically speaking Wario Land 4 isn’t very impressive, but what Game Boy Advance games were? They were fun portable games to play and we didn’t really care about the graphics back then. They were simply sprites and those can look good or bad depending on how they are used. I don’t think that they look quite as good as your average Mario GBA title, but they’re still not downright bad. On the contrary, the blurriness actually works well for some of the spookier bosses.

Which, I do have to note that some of the boss designs were quite clever. We had a giant Teddy Bear and there’s even a mysterious being who has many faces. It’s pretty intense and it’s a fun way to wrap up the game since it has the abilities of all the previous bosses. I think some games could take notes on this since this is a very good formula to use for the final boss. It makes you think back to all of the old fights to remember how you should go about fighting this thing. One section involving a hammer took me a while since I forgot how to hit myself.

The game doesn’t really have any big negatives, but there is naturally a reason why I am only giving it a 6 and not a 7. Most side scrollers automatically get 7 stars so something did hold it back a little. The puzzle route of going through levels may be unique, but I don’t think that it worked out so well. Maybe if this just occurred for some of the levels, but it’s in all of them and sometimes you just want to jump your way to the goal. One of the reasons why Mario is a series that will always be considered elite is that the levels are always fun. Whether you keep losing on an insane long jump or breeze through a world 8 stage in under a minute, you will have fun. The game never feels unfair or intellectually challenging to the point where you’ll need to go watch a Transformers film to feel relaxed again. This game just wasn’t as fun as your average Mario game and that’s because the puzzles made it feel more slow paced than it should have been. I still can’t call them bad per say…the gimmick really wasn’t bad. The game just works better as a fast paced, race to the finish kind of game.

The game’s length is pretty decent. There are roughly 20 levels in all and each one can take 5-10 minutes. For replay value, you can try to get all of the jewels and swirlies along with the maximum number of treasure chests by beating each boss as quickly as possible. This will also allow you to get a longer ending so that’s a decent incentive right? I’m definitely satisfied with the length of this title and it’s worth the big bucks. (Although I got it at a relatively cheap price anyway)

I’ve now played around 3 Wario games and I’ll improve that soon with Wario Land Shake It or Wario World. His series definitely loses out to Mario, Luigi, DK, and Yoshi, but that can always change with one really great game. I haven’t played Super Princess Peach yet so I really can’t comment on that one. The gameplay also seems slightly different from the norm so it’ll be interesting to see how Nintendo switches it up. It’s a little regrettable that none of the Wario supporting characters have ever managed to be popular, but maybe they will someday. The Final boss from this game should seriously appear again because it was just that awesome!

Overall, Wario Land 4 is a pretty fun title. It’s interesting to see Wario play the lead character for once. The ending was a little much, but I can at least admit that I didn’t see it coming. Stay tuned for the after credits scene as well to see what Wario spends his riches on. It certainly fits his character and you have to wonder when he will go on his next treasure trip. I can safely say that I will be buying Wario Land Shake It at some point, but I also wouldn’t expect to see a review for it this year. Bottom line is that I recommend Wario Land 4 is you like side scrollers or if you want to see some strategy in a game. It can be a little slow paced, but it’s ultimately still a pretty fun game. The portable video game marathon continues next with another strategic game!

Overall 6/10

Tenkai Knights Brave Battle Review

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Looks like it’s time to check out another 3DS game! It’s always a rush when you get to play a new Wii U or 3DS game since they’re part of the current gen. They won’t lose this shine for about 5-8 years so I need to appreciate all of the games while I can. Tenkai Knights is probably one of the greatest new franchises to step out of the great blue along with Buddyfight and Cardfight..depending on if you count Cardfight as recent or not. A video game based on the show was sure to be good. Knowing this…I opened the 3DS and began to plug and play.

The game adapts the first arc of the TV show. Essentially, 4 kids are given lego bricks and told that they can turn into 4 legendary heroes on another planet. They are needed because an evil robot has ammassed a large army and both planets are at risk without help from our heroes. They are glad to join in and quickly find confidence in their new roles. They are the Tenkai Knights and they shall protect all of the worlds!

Their confidence won’t be forgotten as the main character says “I won’t ever give up” whenever you complete a level. There are almost 30 levels in the game and this number gets closer to 50 if you count the side missions. That’s a lot of times to hear his catchphrase so you’ll certainly remember it by the end. I was impressed with the length of the game since I was expecting something closer to 15 levels. The game took me about 6 hours, but I had fun with a lot of the side missions so about 4 hours would probably be closer to the actual campaign length. Keep in mind that the majority of the game is made up of cutscenes as the actual levels are typically short. There are some long ones, but most of them can be finished rather quickly.

The cutscenes are basically just pictures and text. Once in a while you get some actual voice acting for the lines, but it seems like that was added at the last second since it comes very sporadically and it doesn’t mesh well with the music. It’s very hard to hear what they are saying even if you have the game on maximum volume. It’s probably not what you may have expected from the 3DS era, but at least the screencaps are good thanks to the quality animation of the show. It’s not the greatest silver lining, but hey…the cutscenes could be like the opening from Mario Galaxy 2!! These are still passable and the actual plot is very engaging like in the show. It really feels like you’re watching a kids version of the Power Rangers at times. At least, this is how I’ve always pictured a Power Rangers show to be like.

The graphics are pretty pixelated, but they’re decently good. Super Smash Bros and Kid Icarus are easily the best looking 3DS games by a mile. So, it’s probably a little tough on this game since I was playing Super Smash Bros rather recently. The graphics still aren’t bad and they won’t deter you from doing what needs to be done. It’s still fun to use your final smash although the smoke effect is a little lazy since they don’t need to add any explosions that way. I guess I would give the graphics a C-, but the screencaps have the solid animation of the show, which helps.

Brave Battle’s soundtrack is surprisingly good. All of the big characters get their own theme and I actually like most of them. I don’t care for Valorn’s or Venetta’s, but the rest of them are all pretty great. Chooki’s sounds like a classic Mega Man X theme and the Guardians have a cinematic level theme with their opera music that plays. I actually don’t care for Villius’ theme while his two henchmen get a pretty good theme. It’s very overused since it plays constantly, but it’s pretty fun. Naturally, Guren has a pretty good hero theme as well. This aspect of the game was certainly above average and I was not expecting such a good array of songs.

We cannot forget the gameplay though! It’s a side scroller that plays out like Mega Man to an extent, but you typically use a close range weapon like a sword. There are many weapons to choose from though so you can stick with a classic cannon if that’s your preference. The gameplay is definitely comparable to the Naruto Ninja Council games, but if you are not familiar with that series, then think of any GBA cash in title. Especially a super hero type game like Spider Man or the Power Rangers. It’s 2D and there are always playforms, but it’s not a platformer. You are stuck in a limited area and you typically have to beat a boss or clear out some enemies. It’s pretty fun and the controls can be a little iffy when jumping, but you can typically win any level from the ground anyway. Just stick to your strengths and you’ll be just fine.

The health bars are a little odd though as you can beat Dromas, the second final boss in under 10 seconds, but it takes you a few minutes to take out the large cat creature. That boss was definitely a lot of work until I realized that my standard attacks did more damage than my power ones. To spice up the gameplay, you can pick up items that the minions drop. There are two kinds, health items and final smash items. The latter let you destroy all of the enemies on the screen at a time while the health ones replenish your strength. You can also find material that comes from the enemies to build new weapons. The developers may have overdid it with the weapons selection as there must be over 100. I built a whole lot of them, but I’m not even close to getting them all. Unfortunately, the materials that you get are random and it takes quite a while to stockpile what you need to build the weapons that you want. It’s a long grind and not one that I’m about to do, but it’s better to have too many options than too little right?

I have to say that buying some weapons should be a top priority for you. I got one that improved my attack power to 280 and it still didn’t do all that much damage to some of the final minions and bosses. I can’t imagine how long the fights could have taken with a standard blade. Don’t worry about your booster and just pour all of your resources into a good sword and a good shield. Those weapons will never let you down and you’ll be able to go all the way to victory!

Overall, Tenkai Knights Brave Battle is a pretty fun game. The gameplay may not be the greatest example of how to pull off a classic Ninja Council gameplay on the big screen (Relatively speaking) but it’s still a lot of fun. You won’t even notice the time ticking by as you slice up all of the bots. The soundtrack is great and more than makes up for the graphics. The plot is also very engaging and especially intense if you have not seen the TV show yet. The game isn’t very long, but the side missions and obtainable items will certainly extend the overall length. I highly recommend buying this game and getting introduced into the world of the Tenkai Knights! (Maybe we’ll get a sequel to this game.)

Overall 7/10