Madden 2003 Review

I managed to find a store that was still selling Gamecube games so you can bet that I dashed to pick up this title! I currently own Madden 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Now that I have this title, I’m just missing 2005 and 2008. After that I can finally say that I own all of the titles in the series. (Up to 2013 of course, I’ll get Madden 25 and Madden 15 once the price dips a little) This title is nostalgia gold and it may even bring tears to your eyes. I can certainly say that it’s one of the best Madden titles!

Right when you turn the game on, you’re greeted by the great color scheme that was present in Madden 2002. It’s all so retro and impossible to put into words. I grew up with Madden 2002 and played it a lot until I got Madden 2004. (The ultimate Madden) It’s just awesome to see the old menu’s and colors again. It’s easy to pick up and play as you grab your favorite team and you get to face off against any other team. You can play in a season or join the minicamps to have fun with drills. I decided to see how I’d stack up right off the bat in Play Now.

I beat the CPU on Pro, but I lost on All Madden and All Pro. I’m confident that I can win on those levels though and it shouldn’t take many tries. It’s a good feeling since other games practically cheat to make the A.I. better. Madden is guilty of this to an extent as your receivers tend to drop more passes, but it still feels pretty fair. I made some hasty decisions on some throws and the game really got out of hand once I was down by 10. Win or lose, it makes for a fun challenge.

This was the first title to bring in the Mini Camp mode and I loved that feature in 2004. It’s pretty similar here and it’s a fun way to get better in the various aspects of the game. I didn’t really get a chance to do more than check out the feature since I have a lot of games to go through, but I highly recommend giving this mode a spin. It’s pretty cool and it’s probably the best Madden feature that is no longer around.

The graphics are pretty good. It’ll definitely seem pretty different from a title like Madden 13, but that could be in a good way depending on how you look at it. The graphics help for the nostalgia and it’s a top contender amongst the Gamecube titles. (That’s saying a lot) Once you play NFL 2K3, you really appreciate these graphics as well. The soundtrack is pretty fun while you’re getting ready to play if you don’t listen to the lyrics. Once you notice them, they can be a little off putting, but it’s easily remedied through the settings. Also, it won’t really affect you during game time, which is the important part!

The gameplay is a little faster than 2012, but it’s slower than 2004. I’d say that Madden 2004 was probably the fastest Madden that ever came out and even the modern ones aren’t quite as quick. (Especially with the commercials and extra loading times) I’m fine with the speed here since it can also portray the real deal a little more accurately. For the record, the faster the better is my motto, but I can find a lot of positives with both aspects. You’ll be happy to know that quarterback scrambles are still very effective here as I had a tendency to gain more yards on the ground with Quincy Carter than I did with Emmett Smith. I was able to pull off traditional runs no problem, but it is more effective to run with your QB when he’s about as fast as your running back and the defense is not expecting such a play.

EA has gotten a pretty bad reputation in the video game industry and that’s too bad. I still prefer their Sport titles to the competitors despite the fact that many prefer the NFL 2K games. I finally got one of them and I’ll be reviewing it shortly, but I easily prefer Madden. Keep in mind that I grew up with Madden and have been playing it since I was a child, but it’s just more fun for me. NFL 2K can be a little too slow at times and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it makes it very difficult to run the ball of pick up big yards on a play. Of course, I’ll get into that in the NFL 2K3 review.

So, where would I rank Madden 2003 among the titles? It’s very difficult since I didn’t play some of the Madden games as much as the others and they can sometimes start to blur in with each other. Roughly, I would say that the rankings go: Madden 2004>Madden 2013>Madden 2006>Madden 2002>Madden 2012>Madden 2003>Madden 2007>Madden 2011>Madden 2010>Madden 2009. Again, note that I barely played Madden 2006-07, I don’t own Madden 2005 or 2008, and that my recollection of Madden 2009 is pretty vague. I’m mostly familiar with Madden 2010 through 2013 and Madden 2002 through 2004. Maybe I’ll pick up some of the others again to review them at some point, but I’ll wait until I’ve gotten through most of my backlog in terms of reviews.

Another aspect of Madden that many fans don’t care for is the commentary. Supposedly it gets very repetitive and annoying. I definitely don’t agree with this either. I think they do a great job calling the game and it makes the experience that much more authentic. By now, you’ve seen that I really like just about every part of the game. Madden is great and I dare say that it is now officially my favorite video game series of all time. Madden 2004 has taken the title of the ultimate game from DBZ Tenkaichi 3 (Which got leap frogged since Brawl also passed it for second) and I don’t think it will be relinquishing that title anytime soon. I have high hopes for Madden 25 and Madden 15, but it would be just about impossible for them to win.

Overall, Madden 2003 is easily one of the best titles in the series. It’s easy to pick up and play and you should be totally ready to take on any level of difficulty so long as you understand the rules. It can be a little annoying to see your kicker randomly kick the ball out of bounds during kickoffs, but you are in complete control for the other situations. The gameplay speed is solid and there are no real negatives in this title. You’re guaranteed to just have a blast when turning the game on and that’s not a feat that just any title accomplish.

Overall 9/10

Backyard Football 2009 Review

I really wanted a quick Football game to play on the go and if Smash Bros can pull it off…why not right? I needed that experience so I ran to Gamestop and made the intriguing decision to buy this for the DS instead of Madden 2009. Madden is probably the better game, but it was also 3X the price….I made the right move. It’s a simple and easy Football game, but it’s still pretty fun and you won’t get bored of it for a while.

There aren’t a whole lot of modes to choose from. We have multiplayer, quick “Play Now” games and the Season Mode. I ran for the Season Mode and that’s where I spent about 90% of my time. I set the difficulty to Hard (Although it seems like it still went back to Normal for some reason) and turned off powers. It was pretty fun and I was undefeated as I crushed the opposition with really lopsided scores. The season ends once you complete it and there’s no continuing on to the next year as with the Madden titles. Instead, you’re free to just give it a whirl again with another team.

After I finished Season Mode, I went back to the quick matches and decided to play a Hard battle with items on. The games are insanely easy with items since you can literally steamroll right through the defenders or cause them to fumble whenever they make contact with you. Items are interesting, but I prefer sport and car games that don’t have them. It’s just more fun without the gimmicks.

Ultimately, the A.I. isn’t very good. Even on Hard Mode, you’ll be able to crush the CPU with relative ease. They cannot stop the run and throwing the ball will almost always work. You do have to watch out for the occasional interception, but they aren’t much of a factor here. This is the kind of game where you’ll need multiplayer since the CPU doesn’t provide you with a threat. Defeating them over and over again will eventually start to bore you. Towards the end, I just started rushing the games so I could finish. It was fairly easy since you can just run rings around the stadium to take out an entire quarter or more with a single play.

The graphics are decent. As far as DS games go, they’re not downright bad, but I’ve never found the DS to be very impressive in this regard. We have the 3DS if we want true portable graphics. Everyone is in chibi mode though so it’s hard to tell how much is intentional or not. It’s cool to see everyone as kids and the graphics won’t distract from the gameplay so I give them a pass there.

I didn’t really discuss the gameplay. I’ll let you look at the NFL rules on your own. The main thing to note is that you can only dash for short periods of time and pressing Y/X while near the ball will usually result in an interception. A more efficient method is to just rush the quarterback and get some sacks. Once you get a sack, it’s easier to get more since the CPU will keep on trying for some deep balls. The offense is fairly simple to handle since you just run on handoffs and press the button over your intended receiver to throw it. It’s simplicity itself and this is more like how the old Madden games would play. They were still more in depth, but they were easy to pick up. I’ve been buying each Madden as they come out so I have fun with the new upgrades, but this came around the peak of Madden. (Slightly after though since 2004 is where it’s at.)

The soundtrack isn’t anything special and you’ll probably start to tune it out by the 4th game. It’s just very uninspired and you want something a little more fast paced for a Football game. These themes just don’t get you very excited and you want to be thrilled about facing off against new teams. I think there might only be one theme in the game, but there must be more so I’m just going to assume that they all sounded the same to me.

There are a few made up teams in this game as well as some made up players. Each of the real teams basically get one player to represent them and then you put them together for your dream team. Since each of the players have reverted back to their kid years, it’s like putting together a team on the sandlot. A trust system is in place, which means that there are no penalties to slow you down. Just get ready for some fun Football action!

Overall, Backyard Football 2009 is a pretty good game to get. As far as Football games go, just about any other title is superior, but it’s fun to have on the mobile. The gameplay is more like the classic arcade games than the current sport titles and it may remind you of the Techmo Bowl. (I may get that one someday) For a little under 5 dollars, you can’t go wrong with this title. If you play the whole season, it should last you around 5-8 hours. If you’re willing to shell out 15, then I guess I would sooner recommend Madden 2009 for the DS. This is a good title, but it’s a little lacking in content and it just gets beaten by the other titles. The big edge that this game has is that all of the players are kids of course. You can’t go wrong there.

Overall 6/10

Super Smash Bros 3DS Review

All right, it’s time for another big Nintendo review! We just got through playing with Hyrule Warriors and that game gave Nintendo another 9 star title. Now, the next Super Smash Bros is upon us and I can safely say that this one is worthy of the 9 star rating as well. There is a lot of content within this title and you’ll find yourself with things to do for days to weeks to months. For reasons that I will explain soon, it cannot really beat Melee or Brawl, but that’s the Wii U’s job anyway. Nintendo made the right choice in deciding to go to the portable market. Now, let’s see what this game is made of!

It’s been a long time since Brawl so we’ve all been pretty psyched for this game. It’s the first title that I’ve ever pre ordered and I’ll make sure to do the same for the Wii U version. That means that I took a break from the 5 dollar bin for once. At 9 stars, you can tell that this game is a cut above the rest. There are tons of positives, but there will also be some negatives or things that I think the game could have improved on. Before we get into the detailed topics, let’s take a look at the gameplay.

It’s a little harder to describe this game if you’ve never played a Super Smash game before, but it’s essentially a 2D “sprite” brawler. I’m using the word sprite to remind you of the classic GBA games. Mario, Sonic, Mega Man. Picture that style of running and jumping and then add combo attacks from a classic fighting game. Each character can attack 4 different way as you input their standard attacks with the control pad. Right, Left, Up, and Down. This also applies to their 4 special attacks and 4 smash attacks. There are many different combos for each character and you’re guaranteed a unique experience every time. There has never been a game quite like Super Smash Bros although many other titles have tried and failed. (TMNT Smash Up and Playstation All Stars come to mind. They weren’t bad of course, but they’re just not as good as Super Smash Bros.)

Typically, many of the stages will have gimmicks to make the battles more fun. Some stages may have enemies that attack or a stage that is constantly moving. There are dozens of items to also impact the battle, but you will still want to be skilled at close quarters (Or long range) combat for when there are no items to protect you. The game is very fast paced and it’s as strategic as it is action packed. Super Smash Bros is as deep as a game gets when it comes to gameplay and that’s why it’s a title that always ends up getting a lot of play time. Melee got well over 300 hours and Brawl had reached 999 at one point before my system data crashed. These games are built to last!

The graphics never really looked impressive online, but the 3DS isn’t meant to be viewed that way. The games always look better on the actual screen and this title is no exception. I don’t use the 3D because it hasn’t really helped any game, but it doesn’t need that affect. It’s very flashy and the effects definitely look like a 2014 title. It’s not overdone to the point where your eyes hurt, but everything does make sure to pop out at you so you won’t get bored of the scenario. Each level has been done with a lot of detail and the stages are very pleasing to compete in. None of them can really be called boring.

The soundtrack definitely earns a 5 star rating from me. (Out of 5 of course) Some of the themes aren’t as climatic as the ones from Melee and Brawl, but the large selection ensures that you will still find a lot of great tunes. I like the level theme from the Kid Icarus Uprising (The Reset Bomb level) stage. Now that is what I call climatic and it would have been very cool to hear that play during the final battle against the Master Hand. The Final Destination theme just isn’t as intense as I would have expected from the other games. Metroid and the Legend of Zelda likely have the best themes overall, but Pokemon and Kid Icarus definitely give them a run for their money. (The 3 big guest stars also have some great themes, but they aren’t quite as numerous, which is why they aren’t at the top. If it was just a contest for best theme in the game, it would be pretty interesting!)

There are many modes to play so let’s start with the most popular one. I’m referring to Classic Mode! Unlike the previous games where you went 8-12 levels, this one is only 6 battles long. I really don’t mind that though since beating 12 levels with 40+ characters would likely get tedious after a while. Classic Mode has really changed here as there are 2-3 paths per battle. You can take the easy way, medium way, or the difficult path to really test your skills. Moreover, you can decide how difficult the mode will be as a whole from the start. You can start at level 1 and go all the way to level 9! (I haven’t completed level 9 yet, but I’m working on it! Level 7 is currently my record) The final boss with Master Hand really gets difficult as you increase the difficulty setting. I was pretty surprised at the final boss so I’m not going to spoil it here. Although, SPOILER ALERT, I will be mentioning all of the secret characters in the game later so you have been warned. Let’s just say that the final boss has multiple phases like a Final fantasy game and the boss fight is so dark and disturbing that you may think that you have wandered into Resident Evil or Slender Man! Nintendo definitely outdid themselves there.
We’ve also got All Star Mode. (The mode that was always stuck in Classic’s shadow) It’s still pretty fun and the gimmick is that you are fighting all of the other characters without gaining health. (Although you are given 3 items to replenish your power) It really didn’t feel like you were fighting the rest of the characters though since it’s over very quickly. Perhaps that part was changed here. You can switch difficulties here as well and you fight the characters by their order of origin. That’s pretty fun since you can see which characters originated before the others.

Stage Builder has been taken away, but it has been replaced by a character customizer. Each character will have a few attacks that you can customize so that you really get your “perfect” version of that fighter. You can also equip badges and other items to make the fighter stronger. This is mostly useful in Smash Run, which I shall talk about shortly. There is a shop to buy trophies and it seems to be updated either once a day or every few hours. It’s a good way to pick up a few trophies from time to time and luckily they have all been new so far. There is also a Trophy Block Smash mode where you break Trophy blocks as a timer ticks down. It’s a fun minigame and it’s a good way to spend some coins and quickly earn some trophies. You usually earn most of your coins back as well so it’s a very good investment to make.

We’ve also got some classic minigames like Target Test and the Home Run Contest. They’re both pretty fun to play and it’s a good way to learn how to deal maximum damage as quickly as possible. I do prefer the old target test though. This one is not luck based per say, but it’s a little harder to aim for your very best since it’s very hard to aim your Sandbag with precision. There is also the Multi Man(Mii) Brawl, where you face many weak or skilled opponents. For example, 10-100 Man Brawl has you face that number of Miis. One hit will typically finish them and the mode is really about seeing how quickly you can dispatch them. On the other hand, we have Cruel Brawl (I keep saying Brawl, but that may not be the exact title anymore. Either way, it’s close enough) where the opponents are extremely hard to defeat and their attacks are devastating. Just defeating one of them is a pretty good feat in itself.

All right, let’s talk about Smash Run! Smash Run is essentially this game’s version of Adventure Mode. It’s really meant for group play, but it’s still good on your own. You are given 4 minutes to go around and find as many power ups as possible. They are hidden in treasure chests and you can also get some by beating the local minions. Finding a boss will net you some huge rewards as well. After that, you are faced with a Final Battle. It may be a standard fight or it could be a ground race. Maybe even a tree climbing race. I’ve tried this one 3 times so far and I got two regular matches and one race. It’s decently fun, but it’s not really a great substitute for Story Mode or Adventure Mode. It’s nice and short, which helps the replay value, but the other ones were a little more fun. At least the scenery in Smash Run changes each time you play it.

I think it’s time that we talked about the characters. Again, I will be mentioning the secret characters so you’ll want to skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know about them. This will be the only place where I shall mention them so skipping this paragraph and any of the ones coming up with a SPOILER ALERT sign at the front shall keep you safe. Some of the character decisions were intriguing. They can make you a little sad, but not so much because of who made it in. You’re really just sad about who didn’t make it. So, first let’s talk about the newcomers to this series.
SPOILER ALERT. There are 14 newcomers to the series not counting Miis and Pallette Swaps. First up would be Bowser Jr. It may seem a little disappointing to have another Mario character in the mix, but you can’t deny that his control scheme is very unique. He’s not the greatest character to play as, but I don’t mind his controls. I doubt that I’ll be playing as him much on the 3DS, but who would have thought that you would end up fighting in a Clown Car during a Super Smash game? I was surprised at the addition and I’ll give him a B rank overall. I haven’t tested out his final smash, but I’m sure that it’s solid.

Spoiler Alert. Dark Pit is next and he’s essentially a clone character as is Lucina. Lucina is a clone of Marth and Dark Pit is naturally a clone of Pit. Both of these play like their normal counterparts so there isn’t much to say about them. I give Pit a B+ and Marth an A so these characters stay true to those ranks. I am pretty glad to see both of them even if they are clones. Fire Emblem needed more reps and Lucina seems like she’s a good character. Likewise, Dark Pit was one of the big positives about Kid Icarus Uprising and he deserves to be in the game. My stance on clone characters is that they’re a good idea as long as they aren’t keeping other characters out of the mix. It’s like if James bond was in the game and James Bourne was a clone of him. That would be great for me since I refuse to play as James Bond.

Spoiler Alert. Duck Hunt is probably the most shocking addition to Super Smash Bros. I really can’t get into his attacks so far. He has the potential to be good and I’ve played an online opponent who used him already. He can definitely make for a good fighter, but his attacks don’t seem to be my style so far. He would probably rank in the bottom tiers for me at the moment, but maybe I’ll get used to him. I would give his gameplay a D for now, but the actual addition is very good! We needed a solid throwback character like this.

Palutena is a pretty good fighter. I can’t really say that many of her attacks really stand out to me at the moment. I would give out a C+ or a B- until I really start playing as her. Her moveset seems to be acceptable, but I don’t see myself becoming a Palutena pro anytime soon. It’s good to have more Kid Icarus fighters joining the fray though.

Rosalina’s moveset is pretty interesting since it’s like playing as the Ice Climbers if they had a completely different moveset. I would also give her a C+ or a B-. I haven’t really played as her in an official match (Home Run Contest or Target Attack I believe) but she seems to be decent. I may need to get used to her as well and she’s a little on the slow side, which can be a little dicey.

The Wii Fit Trainer got a lot of hype since she was just randomly revealed after some big events when Sakurai played as her. She seemed like another random addition that nobody could have expected, but I thought that her attack set looked pretty sweet from the get go. I love hand to hand fighters and that’s exactly what she is! I would definitely give her moveset a B for now. I almost bumped it up to a B+, but she does seem to be a bit slow so I’ll have to check on that. Nevertheless, The Wii Fit Trainer is a solid character and a welcome addition to the game. (I may as well say now that they are all welcome additions to the game. Most Nintendo characters are likable, which helps a lot)

Shulk is one of the best new fighters and I would easily give him an A. I love sword fighters and his controls are pretty easy to just pick up and play. Learning all of the signs and maximizing the use of his sword will take more time, but his attacks have a good reach and they deal a lot of damage. He seems like a really good all around character and that’s always good to see. He’s a character that I will likely use a lot.

Villager is unfortunately one of the most disappointing newcomers when it comes to his attack set. He’s not great at scoring KOs and I found it pretty difficult to win with him. He’s very slow and his attacks have a very small range. Trying to hit anyone with his cannonball smash is tough. It’s only good as a way to stop people from climbing back onto the stage and you need to have had the advantage to try something like that. I’ve got to give him an F at the moment. He’s seriously the worst character to play as, but I can think of it as a challenge. I’ll just have to learn how to crush opponents with him!

Mega Man is easily the biggest newcomer to join the fray and he lives up to his name as the Blue Bomber. Just about all of his attacks are long range. It makes me a little nervous to use him online though since any fighter with a reflect attack can have a field day. You have to use a lot of strategic thinking to use him in that scenario. Of course, I loved using Snake for this reason and Mega Man has even more projectiles at his disposal. Really getting good with Mega Man could take some time, but he is definitely a lot of fun to play as. He’s definitely getting an A.
Pac Man’s another solid fighter whose array of attacks is befitting such a legend. I would give him a B+ or an A-. The reason why he scores a little lower than some of the other high tiers is because I love some of his attacks, but I don’t like some of the others. It’s a bit of a give and take with Pac Man. His Pac Charge and his aerial maneuvers are very useful, but I’m going to have to be careful when using him since he’s just tricky to play as. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like his attacks leave him a little more open and it’s hard to finish off an opponent. Definitely another great character to add to Super Smash though.

Now it’s time for the best newcomer to Super Smash! I’m talking about Little Mac and he instantly gets an S. He may just be my 2nd favorite character to play as behind Fox. I’m probably still better with Mario, (My old number 2) but Little Mac is insanely fast so playing as him always give you a rush. His KO attack can come in handy as well if you time it right. His grabs are a little weak, but I suppose that it’s to be expected since we wouldn’t want him to be too overpowered. If I really get used to his physical attacks, he can definitely replace Mario as my backup fighter. I look forward to using him a lot in the future.

As far as the Pokemon fighters go, Greninja is a decent fighter. As with Palutena, I find that his attacks don’t really stand out that much. He’s quick though and his Water Shruiken is a great long range technique. I’ll give him a B rank for now. Being quick is always a plus and his attacks don’t really leave him open for long. He’s certainly not the Pokemon that I would have chosen to add, but he’s a solid addition nonetheless.

Finally, we’ve got Robin. I’ll give him an A since he’s another really good sword fighter. His Thor attack is really powerful like ROB’s laser and charging it up is pretty easy. He’s not lacking in close combat techniques either so Robin is a real threat in all situations. I haven’t played as him that much yet, but I can see myself playing as him pretty often.

All right, there are still some characters who really should have been in it. I’m talking about Mewtwo, Lucas, Roy, Dark Samus, and Ridley. These guys have proven time and time again that they deserve a spot here. Each of these fighters could have beaten most of the newcomers that were not included. Of course, it also gives you someone to wish for the next game so it’s not all bad. It’s pretty sad that the Ice Climbers didn’t make it though since they were one of my best fighters in Brawl. One move that makes up for most of these instances is the return of Dr Mario. Now, that’s what I’m talking about here! Dr Mario is awesome and a nice twist from the regular Mario. Have you seen his final smash? This is one of the guys that I missed the most from Melee so it is good to have him back with us.

There’s not much to say about the old characters. Some fighters like Pit and Link were changed and I like their current controls. Other like Zero Suit Samus and Sheik are now recognized as their own characters. I think that was a good change and now Zero Suit has a really awesome Final Smash to use. Meta Knight’s final smash was definitely nerfed, but it’s hard to tell whether his attacks are less overpowered or not. We likely won’t know until the Wii U version comes out.

I’ll admit that it’s been hard to get in stride with Fox so far. I can’t rely on his drill kick to up smash combo anymore since the drill kick launches an opponent upwards. He’s still a great character, but I’m going to have to consider the chance that Fox may not be my best character in this game. I’ll still use him the most with honor, but that would definitely be a pretty big twist.

There are a good amount of stages to choose from and they’re pretty great. The Boxing Ring is like a new version of Final Destination and the Reset Bomb gives you plenty of options for how you want to attack the opponent. The Living Room is super spacious and it feels like Temple or the Bridge from Brawl. I definitely don’t have any qualms with the stage selection and Final Destination is still the best and that will likely always be the case.

There are many other factors that I haven’t even touched upon like the new Pokemon, Assist Trophies, and Items. Those are fun to experience and there’s not a whole lot to say about them. It’s always thrilling to see a new one and some are more thrilling than others. I do think that a good amount of the Pokemon are a little too easy to dodge, but the Assist Trophies help to make up for that since they can be pretty tough. Ghirahim is definitely a really good one. From the new items, my favorite is easily the cannon that fires a giant laser blast. You really can’t beat that!

Negatives? Well, there are definitely some to be mentioned, but they are pretty minor since the game is still getting a 9. Some are decently major, but not in the sense that I would take away a point for it. One is the lack of a Story Mode. It’s definitely a step back and I’m sure that they could have squeezed it in if they really wanted too. Just take out Target Test and the Multi Man modes if you really had too. I wouldn’t even mind if All Star Mode was thrown out or the Smash Run.

Not really a negative, but I dare say that the game was a little more similar to Brawl than Brawl was to Melee. By that, I mean that several of the Assist Trophies have stayed the same as well as the Final Smashes. Some character models like Zelda and Ganondorf really feel ripped from Brawls. It just seems like this game took a few shortcuts so that it could come out sooner. I’m fine with the Assist Trophies, but I do think that they could have put some more effort into the character models. Maybe played around with the abilities some more and also given everyone a new Final Smash. Even if it’s the same, change the animations around. Final Smashes are one of the big things that we all look forward too after all. I won’t even mention the alternate costumes since that is a given. They could have done so much more with it.

Super Smash Bros is definitely a lot of fun and I don’t know why the waiting line was so short. When, I went to Gamestop the second it opened, there was only one other guy waiting for the title. They must have been at the Nintendo Center for the midnight screening. Well, I ended up playing that game with my bro nonstop from 9:30 all the way until around 8. It was an epic 10 hours and there are very few games that I could play for 10 hours straight. Both because that’s a lot of time to spend on a title and also because most games would start to get a little repetitive or tedious by then. Not Super Smash Bros and that’s all I really need to say for the Replay Value factor. There are few games with as much content as this title.

Nintendo finally added some online rankings, but I can’t say that it’s the best addition. You can now play real ranked matches in the “For Glory” section, but you don’t get a rank. You can Global Smash Points of course, but it only shows how many people you are better than, not how many are ahead of you. In this day and age, they really could have put in the effort to have a real rankings system so that was pretty disappointing. I’ll still be playing online a lot, but Nintendo really dropped the ball there.

One final thing to mention are the challenges. As with Brawl, there are many challenges. When you complete one, you unlock a stage, a trophy, or something else. There are 105-108 challenges in the game and we’ve completed around 70-80 at the moment. Completing them all will definitely take some time because you have to complete various modes with every character in the game. Still, they’re pretty fun to do so you won’t find it to be a drag and it adds to the replay value.
Overall, This is one of the greatest games out there and it’s easily the best portable game of all time. Due to the 3DS being a lot smaller, the controls can be a bit of an issue. Because of this, I don’t see myself reaching elite status as quickly as in Melee or Brawl if at all. I’ll definitely play it a lot and I aim to be a master of course, but it’s definitely not the same as on a home console. That’s why this game is still not quite as good as Melee or Brawl. The Gamecube controllers are really a must at this point and you have to be careful with the circle pad since there have been so many reports of it breaking for people. It’s great for what it is, but this still won’t be replacing the Wii U Super Smash Bros. Either way, I highly recommend this title to all gamers. It will really keep you busy for a long time and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s the best game that has come out for the portable market. The only thing that can really surpass it is if a sequel were to come out soon. Now, get ready to Smash and I accept all Challengers!!!

Overall 9/10

Hyrule Warriors Review

It’s been a while since I played a good hack and slash game. The last title would likely be One Piece Unlimited World Red, but you could also consider that one to be more of a hybrid between an action game and a beat em up. The last big one that I played would likely be Devil Kings or the PSP version of Dynasty Warriors. It makes sense that this one would be really chaotic like the classic Dynasty Warrior games since it’s from the same people. They’re still the best at making beat em up games and I can safely say that Hyrule Warriors is the best game on the Wii U right now! (Smash Bros will change this in time, but Hyrule Warriors can enjoy the view from the top at the moment)

The plot involves an evil sorceress named Cia. She is descending upon the land of Hyrule with her dark legions and they’ve already enslaved most of the planet as well. Princess Zelda is forced to recruit one of the soldiers to help her and Impa as they fight on. This soldier is pretty courageous and his name happens to be Link. Once he dawns the legendary hero’s get up..he is ready to claim victory! The situation won’t get any easier for the heroes as the fight continues across whole dimensions. Old enemies like Zant, Dark Link, and Ghirahim show up while old allies like Princess Ruto and Agitha appear as well. Amidst all of the chaos, you can count on Ganondorf showing up at some point as well. The heroes will have to muster up all of their strength to defend the universe and luckily they have a skilled warrior aiding them by the name of Lana. What secrets is she keeping from them?

I am glad that Hyrule Warriors only has one main story as opposed to the usual format where each character gets their own adventure. The latter can get old pretty quickly and a lot of the scenes tend to be shared or similar so everything takes a lot longer to complete. This way, you can enjoy the true story and watch the heroes interact. Different stages will require you to play as different characters, but Link naturally stays as the lead for most of them. There are 17 levels in the game. Each of them can take 15-20 minutes and I usually tried to shoot for the former since that almost guarantees you an A rank in Adventure Mode. (Good practice for the future right?)

I already mentioned that the game is a hack and slash, but I’ll still explain what that means for the gameplay. You will typically wield a sword, but other characters also use magic spells and short blades. You are then launched into a giant area where you work to secure certain spots as you attack the army. You will have many allies as well who will help you secure the enemy’s territory. It is crucial to invade the strong hold of the enemy before they reach yours. There will also be sub missions during the level at times, which are typically helpful in winning the battle. Sometimes, the victory conditions will change as well so you should always be on your guard.

In essence, this means that you’ll be doing a lot of button mashing. After all, you’ll defeat over 1000 enemies in each level so you need to really enjoy this kind of gameplay. Luckily, it’s definitely one of my favorite types as it would only lose to something like Budokai Tenkaichi 3’s epic style of fighting. Of course, I tend to like most action genres so they’re all pretty high up in the ranks, but especially so in the case of hack and slash titles. Each character will have a super attack as well as a few combos to unleash during gameplay. You will be equipped with an endless supply or arrows, bombs, hookshots, and boomerangs to help you overcome obstacles as well.

There are also a lot of things to do once you beat the game. First off, you can go into Free Mode to replay the levels with other characters. Each level has 2 Gold Spiders (1 is not available until you complete the story) as well as two heart pieces hidden inside. The Gold Spiders are used to unlock illustrations, which unlock other things. (I believe that a stage is one of the unlockables) After you’ve beefed up your characters a little more, then you can hit Challenge Mode or Adventure Mode.

Adventure Mode is very long and it’s even longer than Story Mode. There are well over 50 levels to be found here and they are considerably more difficult than what you would have encountered before them. You unlock more characters, heart pieces, and gold spiders here. You also get the chance to find some great weapons and earn more rupees. I’ve only played one level here so far, but it seems to be pretty fun. Anything’s worth it for extra characters right? Challenge Mode is similar since you will have to complete several challenges during a level. It’s not bad, but I don’t see the point at the moment. It’s a new DLC that was added into the game though so they may add more incentives for playing this mode.

The rupees can be really helpful once you go to the shop. You can unlock badges for each character based off of the materials that you own. (It costs money to use them) You can make some potions, which can help during battle. (You shouldn’t waste your rupees on this in my opinion. I didn’t buy any of them since the money would be better spent on the next option) The best way to use the rupees is to level up other characters. If you only play as Link and get him to around level 50, the other characters won’t have gotten any stronger. Instead of going back to play as them, you can simply level them up with rupees. The only catch involved is that you can never level up a character past your strongest character’s highest level. Meaning that you couldn’t level up Impa to level 51 through rupees until you got Link to that level. Of course, if you played as Impa and got her to level 51, then you could just level up Link accordingly.

Cia is the big villain to debut in this game and she’s a decent antagonist. I definitely find her to be more interesting than Zant and Ghirahim. Aside from Ganondorf, she is probably the best main villain. Her magical abilities are definitely powerful and she’s probably one of the only villains to ever talk back to Ganondorf and actually surpass him in fighting ability. There are circumstances involved of course, but it’s very impressive. She has a pretty sad ending, but such is the fate for all villains in the end.

Lana is a pretty cool hero. She’s infinitely more interesting than most of the allies in this game. Her story also has a few sad twists, but she stays pretty optimistic about her circumstances for the most part. She’s a solid addition to the Legend of Zelda series and it would be cool to see her appear in more titles. I don’t care for her gameplay that much since she’s a magic user, but her attacks definitely have good range.

I’m glad that they chose the Skyward Sword version of Impa to show since that is definitely her best incarnation. It’s good to see her as a hero. I didn’t really care for some of the allies like Princess Ruto, Darunia, or Midna. They don’t really do much during the game and I think that Hyrule Warriors could have presented us with more interesting allies.

One of the newer characters from the game that I didn’t care for was Agitha. She’s definitely the kind of character that I don’t care for. She’s not much of a fighter and she’s a little too oblivious about the whole situation. I could definitely have selected a better character to put in her place, (A Wind Waker sage would be cool) but at least her role is pretty small.

We also have the two main villains that work for Cia. Wizzro is a dark magician and he seems to be pretty weak physically so he has to rely on his spells. I was pretty surprised at how confident he was when he went up against Link, but some villains just don’t realize their true limitations until it’s too late. His design is definitely pretty cool and he’s a solid villain. He would be even better if he was a fighter.

That is why Volga is the superior minion. He’s works as a rival to Link and while he is evil..he does have honor. Volga wants to defeat Link in a fair fight and he is one of the more powerful Link villains. He has everything that I could want in a villain and that’s why it’s safe to say that he’s easily in my top 5 of all time. He’s probably even higher, but I haven’t really gone back to think of all of the opponents that have appeared before. Needless to say, he’s a pretty great character. Hyrule Warriors did a good job of making the new characters likable as I enjoyed Cia, Lana, Volga, and Wizzro and Agitha is the only one that I didn’t like.

An assortment of bosses also appeared briefly, but they didn’t really get to stay around for character development. Ganondorf is as tough as ever and this game definitely portrays him pretty accurately. He never retreats and he continues to dominate his opponents with pure power. He takes over a good chunk of the land with ease and it doesn’t take him long to bend Ghirahim and Zant to his will. His new character design really works as well. You get a sense that he is definitely Link’s biggest threat and while he may have suffered defeat by the game’s main villain, he definitely comes back from that. His true form is as tough looking as ever, but I still prefer him in humanoid mode.

Link is pretty true to character. He started from humble beginnings and eventually showed Princess Zelda and the others that he is a true hero. I still say that he’s much more heroic than Mario and he really could be the most heroic character of all time. Of course, it certainly helps a lot that he never talks. He does have a moment where the Master Sword’s power goes to his head, but I can’t say that I disagreed with his actions. I think Link made the right move in attacking the enemy fortress by himself since he is the most skilled hero. Even then, Link never gave up until the bitter end.

Princess Zelda also looks pretty good. I’m glad that she didn’t just hide in the castle and decided to infiltrate enemy lines as Sheik. Sheik’s character design was pretty sleek here and I think the graphics did a good job of depicting it. She’s one of the few characters that I’ve played as aside from Link. (The only others would be Lana, Impa,(Maybe…I’m not positive) and Ganondorf) I do like Sheik more than Zelda, but they’re technically the same character so they’re both pretty good. Zelda is just suck in her leadership role more than Sheik so it limits her actions. Sheik is really free to do whatever she wants.

It’s easy to see why this is an all star title. The developers put a lot of effort into it as they added many easter eggs for the series. Compared to the average Dynasty Warriors game, Hyrule Warriors is lacking a little in content, (Especially the character roster) but that’s okay. It only looks bad when compared to that game. Compare it to almost any other title and Hyrule Warriors really looks good. Counting all of the modes, there are well over 60 levels and there are many other replay value factors to consider. Gathering all of the heart containers, Gold Spiders, and maxing out everyone’s levels will still take a very long time. This game easily has over 30-50 hours of content within it and the developers continue to add more. Challenge Mode only has one level in it so far so we can be pretty confident that more will be added in the near future.

The graphics are pretty solid for the game. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect Final Fantasy levels of animation here since a hack and slash game is typically known to have worse graphics than an RPG title. That’s because of how many enemies are constantly loaded onto the screen. We still do get a few big cutscenes that look really good. I definitely would say that the graphics are 2014 worthy and you won’t be wincing at anything. You can really take in the scenary and enjoy your visits to the various universes relating to the franchise. Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, and Skyward Sword levels are all featured in one game. I doubt we’ll ever see that again. (Unless this game gets a sequel, which would be pretty cool)

Naturally, this is a Legend of Zelda game so the soundtrack is very good. A lot of the tunes are very fast paced to keep up with the action and that’s what I like to hear as I shred the armies that stand in my way. You’ll hear many tunes that you recognize from older titles and the atmosphere will make you feel like you’re in one of the main titles for the series.

The only thing that could come close to a negative would be that the game’s opening level is a bit of a tease. We get a pretty grand cutscene that makes the game feel like an RPG. It almost hints at character development for everyone and a grand story. We do get a story of course, but it’s more of a backdrop to the fighting. It would be comparable to a Tekken story, but a little deeper than that. It’s still not the next Final Fantasy there. We only get 4-7 big cutscenes after that and the game became more of a hack and slash through and through. I still did enjoy the story a lot, but the first level really had an RPG feel to it and it will make you think about the next big LoZ title. Hopefully the tone is more like this game’s opening than the last few games. (Meaning that the enemies get to attack right away and the hero is already a pretty good fighter) I still wouldn’t call this a negative though since I did enjoy the story and just got a glimpse of how it could be even better.

Overall, I definitely consider this to be the Wii U’s top title. It had everything that I could want in a hack and slash title. I wouldn’t say that I had any real negatives with the game. Everything performed to my satisfaction and it’s an all around complete title. The gameplay is the smoothest that I’ve played in the genre although Dynasty Warriors Gundam is still my favorite since the moves are more devastating and colorful thanks to all of the explosions. Hyrule Warriors is currently one of the only true hack and slash games that I’ve gotten to experience and it’s nice to see how a brand new, 2014 one fares. This game also gave me a chance to dust off the Wii U and give it all of the new updates. I definitely recommend this title and I actually enjoyed it more than the main installments. (That being said, I will always remember Wind Waker as the greatest Legend of Zelda title due to its replayability and the sheer joy of playing it) If you’ve been waiting to buy a Wii U due to a “lack of games,” I would suggest picking one up now. (Hopefully this inspires Nintendo to really do a big crossover story with the Legend of Zelda series)

Overall 9/10

Championship Foosball Review

It’s time for another game review! “2 in one day…that’s insane!” That may be the case, but this game is only around 30 minutes long…maybe less. It was easy to quickly complete it and then get back to you guys with this review. It’s the latest game from the infamous 5 dollar bin and it really holds up well to the hype….sort of. This isn’t the kind of game that you should expect to keep you busy for a while. It’s a short experience and it’s not spectacular. Let’s see how it really fared!

There’s actually not a whole lot to say about it. There’s no plot of course. When you begin the game, the main menu is rather empty. You have your standard exhibition battle against a CPU or another player and then you have the tournament mode. There’s also a tutorial mode that features a lot of “Challenges” to help you learn the game. I always skip tutorials unless there are trophies involved so I ran for the tournament. The tournament has about 5 rounds and each one is a best 3 of 5 games set. Each game requires you to win 5 points. So, that sounds like it should stretch out the game right? It better because there’s nothing else to do!

Do you guys remember Table Soccer or Foosball? If not, I’ll quickly explain the gameplay. You are using Soccer rules, but on a small table. So, your players are tied to a line. 3 on 1, 3 on another, and so on. You get around 3-4 lines. You just have to kick the ball into the opponent’s net. Sounds easy enough right? Well….

The game actually gave me a bit of a tough time at first because this is the kind of game that is tough on the Wii Remote. Let’s face it, AAA games have trouble utilizing it so would a 2 dollar, low budget game really be able to refine the controls? I didn’t think so! Turning the guys on the field to hit the ball can be very difficult. I lost the first match because of this and it looked like the game was going to be surprisingly difficult. Luckily, I quickly realized that the 1 button was the key to success. Just hold B and spam the 1 button for the entire match. It allows all of your players to perform an infinity kick so you just need to keep moving and only worry about kicking the ball. This easily made me breeze through the championship. That being said, it’s pretty hard to land a sure goal. The ball moves incredibly fast when you hit it and you just have to keep on smacking the ball as you run up and down to eventually try and score. Your eyes will probably not be able to keep up. That part was actually pretty intense since that’s a pretty good feat for the game’s speed. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the colors flying around or the speed, but it’s still pretty cool.

The graphics are decent, but they aren’t great. The humans look downright terrible and this could give Balls of Fury some competition there. Luckily, the actual gameplay is pretty sharp and it’s what you would want from a Foosball title. The colors around the ball when it’s shot look pretty good and you really feel like you’re in the game. It’s rather surreal and it can be pretty enjoyable to watch a match. There isn’t really a soundtrack so it automatically loses points in that area.

Overall, it was actually difficult deciding if I should give this game a 4 or a 5. See, the game still does have multiplayer mode and the gameplay really wasn’t that bad once I found out about the 1 trick. I’d actually say that the gameplay is downright fun, but I lot of it almost feels like chance because of how fast it is. These are decent reasons to give the game a 5. On the other hand, the game was basically over in 30 minutes and then there is nothing else to do. There are shirts and stuff to unlock, but they don’t make much of a difference. In the end, the lack of replay value ended up hurting the game and I went with the first score. 30 minutes is way too short for any game, even if you do count multiplayer. It’s not as if this is the next Super Smash Bros! I think you could have some decent fun with this game if you’ve never played Foosball before, but the sport definitely has the potential to be a much better game. Once the novelty is worn out, the game loses its charm. You will be better off just getting Madden 15 or the latest FIFA….choose Madden. I would still consider this game to be a success for the 5 dollar bin though. Simply because it was pretty fun and a good way to spend 30 minutes on a rainy day. (It was literally raining the whole day while I was playing! It’s still raining right now I believe)

Overall 4/10

Muramasa The Demon Blade Review

Muramasa is a game that I’ve had on the backlog for quite a while now. Luckily, I’ve been on a Wii roll lately so this game was bound to pop up sooner or later. Part of the reason why is took so long is because it was also easy to forget that I had the game. Well, no more of that! I can safely say that I won’t be forgetting this game anytime soon and it was a pretty fun title. You can tell that a lot of effort was put into it.

There are two stories to choose from in this game. You can play as Momohime or Kisuke. I opted to go for the Kisuke story and I may go back to do the other one someday. It could be a while until that happens though. Kisuke has lost his memory and all he remembers is that he’s a world class swordsman. Everybody that he meets calls Kisuke a traitor and that’s not very cool. Kisuke eventually starts to regain his memories and the stakes have definitely risen. If he doesn’t stop the big boss, the planet may not make it out in one piece. Kisuke will have to struggle to completely regain his memories as he gets ready for the ultimate showdown. After all, he doesn’t want to pick the wrong side!

The gameplay can be pretty fast paced. Picture your average Mario or Sonic side scroller except that you have a sword. You go from area to area, striking down any opponent that gets in your way. It’s pretty rare to have a side scrolling slasher and this game does a good job with it. You can unleash some pretty cool combos on the ground or in the air and each sword that you possess has a unique special ability. The combat system is pretty fluid and I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more games with this style.

You are allowed to carry three swords at one time. I recommend going for the 3 strongest ones, but don’t forget to watch out for speed as well. Some swords also have passive special abilities that don’t damage the enemy, but perform more useful tasks. (Like extra EXP) In any game that has a level up system, always look for the EXP boosters. Trust me, that advice has helped me through every RPG and I don’t think that it’ll stop now. Defeating enemies and eating food gives you spirit energy which you can combine with spirit power to make new swords. This is highly recommended since the swords really make all the difference against opponents. It’ll make your battles nice and quick. Some swords are not available even after you buy them because you have to gain some more levels to use them. Don’t worry, it’s still worth it!

Aside from your health bar, you’ll have three others to worry about. They belong to your swords. When one goes down, the sword will temporarily shatter and you’ll be defenseless. It only takes about a minute or two to come back together, but that can be a dangerous amount of time. It’s important to switch up swords whenever possible to keep all three of them in top condition. Also, switching will allow you to get a free area hit once in a while which is useful. (Area Hit = Attack that does damage to all opponents on the screen)

The soundtrack for the game is pretty solid. The boss themes are decently memorable and they’re pretty fast paced to match the gameplay speed. It’s not an all star selection of themes, but it’s certainly above average. The graphics are mainly using sprites and they do look rather dated, but I suppose that it’s just the style. This game would be more comparable to an indie game than a AAA title, but it was made to be like one I suppose. I’m not sure how long ago it came out, but it’s about GBA level in terms of graphics. It’s easy to watch though and that’s the important part. I never considered the graphics to be bad or anything like that.

There is a lot of replay value in this game and it’s one of Muramasa’s strong points. As I mentioned, I was impressed with the depth of the game. The combat system is very well done and it’s the kind of game that makes you want to keep on playing it. Unlocking all of the swords is a pretty fun goal to have while also taking down all of the secret bosses. The level up system isn’t too easy, but it still moves fast enough for you to feel like you really have a chance at reaching Level 99. I made it up to 30, which is pretty decent. Typically, you beat the game with a level in the 40s or 60s, but I’m fine with 30. It’s also possible that the maximum level is 50 and not 100, but I wouldn’t be so sure about this. We also can’t forget that the game has a second story, which instantly doubles the content as well as a secret ending to attain once we beat the game with both characters.

That being said, this game isn’t perfect or it would have gotten a higher score. What is stopping it from getting 9 or a 10? One of the areas where I believe the game could have greatly improved is the travel area. You have to walk from area to area constantly. Act 1 may take place in one land and then Act 2 will take place halfway across the globe. Since each area can have around 15-30 rooms in it, it takes a very long time to get to where you want to go. One also has to consider that many rooms have enemies that you must defeat before you move on. They respawn so you can’t just win once and hope that they’ll be gone on your next travel. Once you beat the game, you are allowed to warp from shrine to shrine, but that should have been implemented from the get go. You should be allowed to warp to shrines that you have already passed. That’s how it works in most games like this and the only reason I can think of for now allowing it at the beginning is to extend the journey.

The game took me around 5 hours to complete, but it would be closer to 4 or a little below that without all of the excess travelling. It’s hard to say for certain because I would likely have still needed to grind out a few levels ups before the boss, but I would have saved some time. This could be a way for the developers to make sure that the player gets to a decently high level, but they underestimate the gamer. We are always prepared for the ultimate foes and grinding is simply how you do things here. We are all prepared for such an adventure.

One other part of the game that I wasn’t crazy about was the jump mechanics. I’m not sure if this is the Wii Remote’s problem or the game, but it’s really hard to jump from tree to tree. Jumping up and down is easy, but trying to land on a small spot sideways is tough. The controls are just a little too sensitive and you’ll keep overshooting the goal. This doesn’t matter all that much because you never have to make precision jumps, but it makes gathering the souls a little more time consuming. It’s a rather small qualm, but I still felt it was worth mentioning. Overall, the Wii Remotes did a pretty good job with this game. Nothing beats the GC type of controls, but it performed well enough.

Kisuke is the main lead and he definitely reminded me of Kirito/Rin Okumura a lot. The blue color scheme for his sword and the personality certainly helped matters as well. He’s a pretty good hero for the most part and he’s someone that you can root for. He definitely falls into the romance part a lot towards the end and his final act is pretty awful. He doesn’t have the greatest ending from your average hero, but he’s still a good character through and through. He’s not an all star, but he’s better than what you would expect for the main character of a game.

The Princess is pretty tough and it’s good to see that she can fight. That’s always the first step towards becoming a likable character. Her horse makes for a great ally and it would have been fun to have played as her. She’s another solid character, but her fight record is pretty bad in the game. She usually ends up getting defeated by the powerful foes.

Those two are really the only characters that get a lot of development. We have a helpful fox lady and a fox who watch over the heroes. They’re pretty nice and definitely an improvement over the all powerful being at the end. She didn’t stop Kisuke from making his big decision! The villains mostly pop out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. The final boss had a pretty cool super form where he turned into a dog, although the sprite didn’t look very real since it was so big. We also had an intense Spider Kaiju and a Dragon. The bosses were nice and varied so I have no qualms against them. The Princess’ allies are pretty weak though. They’re always knocked out or on the ground as they beg Kisuke for help. So much for the guards!
Overall, Muramasa was another obscure game that turned out to be pretty great like Oni or Eve of Extinction. It’s one of the reasons why I continue to scour the 5 dollar bins or even work my way up to the 10 dollar ones. You never know what gems you’ll find hidden in the rough. This game had a great combat system and it was just a lot of fun to play. It’s a game that has a lot of replay value and you’ll never feel bored with it. In that sense, it’s like playing one of the older Mario or Mega Man games. It brought me back to the Gamecube years and beyond. It would be great to see this game get a sequel and I would certainly be ready for it. I recommend this game if you like 2D swordfighters or if you’re just looking for a fun adventure. You can’t go wrong here.

Overall 8/10

Enemy Territory Quake Wars Review

It’s time for another first person shooter! TimeSplitters was pretty good so it’s safe to say that I had some reasonable hopes for this game. The level designs looked pretty intense from the back of the cover and it has a pretty sweet opening cutscene. I was all set for a pretty intense adventure, but this title is unfortunately not nearly as it could be. There’s a huge reason for this…so let’s get to it!

There is no real story mode. Let that sink in for a few minutes. There is a campaign mode and their are several countries to choose from, but it’s basically just a team Deathmatch like in Transformers. You can play them in online mode or offline. Naturally, it’s been a long time since this game came out so I didn’t even bother to check the servers. I jumped into the offline battle and it’s definitely not quite as entertaining on your own. You fight the enemies, but there is no plot and everything resets once you finish the level so you can try it again. You keep the level ups, but it’s really just like playing an online match by yourself.

I give the game credit for how big the levels are, but it’s not really enough to make this game a winner in my books. A story mode is a must or at least some more variety. There is seriously nothing to do in this game. I could play a lot of “multiplayer” matches by myself, but finishing one level was tough since it’s just so long. I definitely wouldn’t want to try the levels too many more times. You can optionally lower the timer to 10 minutes, but you still wouldn’t be accomplishing something. It would be another story if this game had trophies, but this was before the PS3 started giving them out to all of the games. Either way, I have a feeling that most of them wouldn’t be achievable anymore.

The gameplay is rather deep for an FPS. I dare say that it may be a little too complex, but I’m sure that Call of Duty fans will appreciate how much effort was put into this. You get 5 different weapons that you can shift between and you get to pick your class at the beginning of each match. Once you decide whether you want to be an alien or a human, you get to go onto the battlefield. You want to fulfill your objectives and conquer as much land as possible. The stage is so big that the battles easily take up the 40 minutes. I ended up dying about 50 times in those 40 minutes.

It’s similar to Star Fox Assault in that the vehicles are pretty overpowered. Your attacks don’t do all that much damage to them and a single hit will wipe you out. The enemy had a ton of objects at the ready to blast you with and my army felt pretty unprepared. You can also jump and duck. It’s a pretty realistic shooter as far as the mechanics are concerned. It’s also pretty cool to be able to coordinate such a large army and it’s like a beat em up, but without the fun parts. (The beating everyone up in fluid/fast gameplay that makes everything exciting.

The graphics definitely hold up rather well. A lot of detail has been added to the game and considering that this came out about half a decade ago, it holds up well. The enemy attacks really look cool and the opening is definitely something that will catch your attention. It’s very realistic, which works for the setting that this game has. I think the grenade explosions could be a little better, but this will have to do. There’s not much of a soundtrack here to speak of. It got lost in all of the shooting that was going on!

This game could have easily scored a 7 with a decent story mode. At least give us a 1 on 1 option for some local multiplayer! There really isn’t anything wrong with the gameplay and the levels really give you a lot of options. You can swim so you can go around the enemy base through water or you can set up ambushes in a factory. This game is really extensive and you could certainly make some real plans as long as you got the microphone for the PS3. On your own, none of that is an option and the game loses over 95% of its replay value. Fighting against computers isn’t very exciting and there are no real rewards, which also takes away the incentive of playing it. A game should always prioritize story mode over the online functions or at least make sure that it is a reasonably good option. This game had a lot of potential, but it ultimately blew it.

Overall, Quake Wars was definitely not as good as TimeSplitters. At its peak, I’m confident that it will have still lost since I preferred the gameplay in the futuristic title. It may have been rather simplistic, but that’s definitely okay for an FPS. The speed of the gameplay was important as well. Quake Wars is a dependable game if you just want to earn exp on your own against some computers, but know that there isn’t anything to do with it. It’s like questing by yourself in an MMO with no story and no ultimate goal. For that reason, this game is almost unplayable. You can definitely get it for a low price, but if you want to play a real FPS, check out Agent Under Fire for Gamecube! Now that is an FPS with a story that also contains a very solid multiplayer alternative.

Overall 4/10

TimeSplitters Review

It’s time for a new series to join the ranks of the blog! Starting a game series always fills you with a lot of emotions because you are about to be thrown into a whole new world! Who knows what dangers lurk around the corners and which games will end up becoming instant classics. TimeSplitters is an FPS with a sci-fi theme so let’s see how this plays out.

What does FPS mean? Basically, this game is a first person shooter similar to Call of Duty. It’s not your average shooter though because it has an arcade feel to it. So, the gameplay is very quick and you’re always on the go. Tactics aren’t really going to save you from getting blown apart so my best advice is to just run at the villains. Simply fire before they can fire back as you dash towards the goal. There are 9 levels in Story Mode and each one can be beaten between 30 seconds to 4 minutes. According to the play time, I took a little over an hour to beat it.

“So what happened DReager1…did you hold back?” Well, that’s the logical assumption to make since the game should have only taken me around 36 minutes to beat considering my epicness. The big twist is that I’m not very good at FPS games. Don’t get the wrong idea! I could still take just about anyone out in this kind of game, but I simply can’t deal with the sniper gun. That’s the level that I tried around 40 times before finally completing it. Over 40 times!! Even if the levels are short, that’s certainly going to keep the clock running and I eventually just muscled my way through. It was tough, but no level can hold me at bay for long. There is technically a plot, but it’s only in the booklet or on the cover. The actual game doesn’t really have one so I won’t really address it here.

Once you are done with the story mode levels, you unlock Challenge Mode. I believe that there are around 18 challenges so that should buy you some more time and we can’t forget about Arcade Mode! The game also goes up to 4 players, which is pretty good since multiplayer is a must in any FPS. People don’t spends thousands of hours playing Call of Duty and Halo for the story mode…they play it for the huge online battles! Likewise, you’re bound to have a lot of fun in multiplayer playing this game since competing is always fun.

The soundtrack is decently good for this game from what you can hear. Amidst all of the shooting, you’ll likely only remember the main menu theme. It’s pretty good, but I would have liked to see some other themes as well. Of course, when you beat a level in under a minute…you may not be giving it enough time to really get going.

The graphics are pretty decent for this game. The character models don’t look too blurry or anything like that and you can clearly see where to go next. Considering that lighting is typically a problem on my TV, it was impressive to be able to see everything. The level designs are a lot of fun and my favorite level is easily the mansion. Surprisingly, the future levels tended to be the least imaginative. Maybe I just didn’t like playing as the robot, but it wasn’t quite as exhilarating as being in that huge mansion.

First Person Shooters have been one of my least favorite genres. I used to really not like them and part of the reason is that you really can’t focus on the scenery in those. You’re always looking at the screen through the barrel of your gun and it can be tricky. I’ve grown more accustomed to them over the years though, but my skills are still a little behind since I rarely play them. I enjoy the game’s fast pace since it helps it feel a little more like your typical third person game. If you are just entering the FPS world, this may not be a bad place to start!

Overall, This is a pretty fun game. You’ll definitely enjoy it if you like the FPS genre and there are a ton of characters to use. It may not matter so much to some fans since you can’t really see the character during the game, but a lot of them have some pretty intriguing titles. “PeakABoo Jones” comes to mind. The only reason why you would want to think before you purchase this game is the duration. 1 hour for story mode isn’t a whole lot of time and considering that Challenge Mode is double (2 hours) the time and Arcade Mode is likely another hour, you’re not looking at a very long game. Still, the going price for it is very low and you must count the multiplayer replay value as well. Simply put, you’ll enjoy this game more if you have someone to play it with. I would still recommend it if you are by yourself too of course, but then you’ll want to make sure that you don’t mind short games. (I usually get thrilled to see a short game since I have so many on the back burner.) I can safely say that the sequel is naturally on my list now since it can only improve and it’s on the greatest console of all time….the GAMECUBE! It’s supposed to seriously give you the chills so I look forward to that. As far as creepiness goes, the zombies/TimeSplitters in this game were pretty intense. I hope that there is more of a plot in the sequel since it should help to make the story mode a little more interesting. We do need to raise the stakes right? Maybe you’ll keep this review in mind for the next rainy day so that you can have this game at the ready. It’ll be like watching a quick scary movie to pass the time by.

Overall 7/10

All Star Karate Review

It’s been a while since I stopped by the 5 dollar bin at Gamestop right? Yeah, I had that thought as well so I quickly snagged All Star Karate on my next trip over there! It’s definitely worth the 400 or so pennies that I had to launch in order to secure this title. It’s a pretty long game and there are tons of unlockables and other bonus content to really make this a heartwarming experience. Was All Star Karate the best game that I’ve ever played? In a sense…it was the best Karate game that I’ve ever played!

The plot centers around a teenager who loves to watch movies and eat ice cream. I forgot his name since he’s just that forgettable, but the important thing is that this guy never gives up when he’s in a pinch! One day, he comes across an old man who teaches him how to fight. The hero’s relationship with his friends starts to get pretty strained as a result of this and what about the ninjas from his dreams? The main character is definitely going to have a lot to deal with as he tries to become a black belt!

It’s easy to be proud of this game considering how much content is involved. As I mentioned earlier, this game is pretty massive! There must be at least 50-70 levels in this game, but I’ll know the real amount once I plug it into my stats and records post. There are also bonus levels that are around apart from the mandatory ones and we even get challenge mode versions of several stages. You unlock things based on your rank at the end of the level and it gives you a real incentive to keep on playing. (If you really like the game) Of course, the gameplay needs to be good if you’re going to be playing all of those levels so let’s see how it did.

This is a Wii game so you can expect that you’ll need to move your arms a lot. This is really where the game crashes and burns. Due to the nature of the game, it may not have been too much better on another console, but it would have been a lot easier on the arms. This is the kind of game that you have to play in batches since it really does end up hurting your arm a lot. I don’t remember playing a game that painful since Barrel Blast for the Wii!

Back to the actual gameplay. It’s sort of like dance dance revolution for most of the game. You have to match the symbols on the screen. One may signal you to punch out with your right arm and the other one will motion to your left. There are around 21 moves that you can pull off and you just have to keep on doing them. This accurately describes most of the minigames since they are just variations of each other. Tying up the belt, Mimicking, Follow the Sensei, and Learning the Kata are examples of this kind of minigame. From the 50-70+ levels, I’d say that they make up at least 60 of them. If you don’t like the sound of this gameplay, you’re definitely going to find the game very repetitive.

Luckily, there is one mode that is a whole lot more fun than those other ones. This is the sparring mode where you actually get to fight your opponents! You have to use the moves from the other modes, but you can do them at your own pace so it feels like a fighting game. The moves can be a little limited, but I’ll take what I can get at this point! This certainly helped the game and it was my favorite part! (There’s also a 3D mini game where you fight ninjas, but it barely appears and the whole FPA (First Person Attack) mode didn’t do any wonders for the game.

I do give the game props for trying to develop the characters a lot. (Even if it didn’t really make them very likable) The sensei is one of the main characters and his character development was rather odd. His sob story implies that he destroyed his mentor…although it was an accident. After that, he went on to train the main character and he disappears very mysteriously at different points in the game. The origin story just came out of left field and if it was trying to make the game more emotional…it failed. The sensei talks tough and I can tell what personality the writers were going for…but it just doesn’t work. He’s a little too mean to the main character and his big plot twists don’t really help either.

Karl is the main rival of the game, but he’s easily one of the weakest rivals a guy could have. He loses every single fight against the main character. Keep in mind that the main character fought him when Karl was a black belt and the main character was a white belt….intriguing eh? Despite his constant losses, Karl always comes back to brag and insult the main character. The humiliating part is the fact that the main character always makes sure to point this out. Karl does get the main character to engage in a street fight though and his first big plot twist is pretty epic. I guess I liked Karl in a parodyish way. I did appreciate all of the insults since the main character needed a rival, but he’s too petty and weak to take seriously. If nothing else, at least he makes the main character look good in comparison.

As for the main character….he can be a little annoying. He decides to learn karate, which is noble…but then he basically betrays his friends. He falls asleep whenever they go to watch a movie and he just acts distant in general. The friends start to get mad at the main character and vice versa so this is one of the big side plots the entire time. Every game needs a little drama I suppose, but I was actually more on the friends’ side than the main character’s. It did depend on the situation though since I was on the lead’s side when they forgot about his big tournament and didn’t stick up for him when Karl was around. The main character talks tough and he learns what it means to be a karate master. He has a solid scene where he lunges at Karl and his trash talking is good as well. Unfortunately, he does tend to get scared a lot and the danger room scenes can be a bit much. I guess you could say that he’s slightly under the average video game lead.

I do give Story Mode credit for the cutscenes as well as the length. The cutscenes aren’t really cutscenes since they’re just illustrations and text bubbles with some mild movement, but they do have voices for the lines, which helps it all feel a little more real. The length is a given as well so it’s safe to say that I was impressed with the overall format of the mode. Having a story mode in itself can be dicey for a 4 dollar game.

The graphics are naturally sub par to say the least. Everything looks pretty choppy and there is a bit of lag in between certain moves, which can look rather odd. The controls don’t always work that well either since this is the Wii Remote system. The soundtrack is decent and it reminds me of the Balls of Fury game. I’d say that this one isn’t quite as good though so both of these areas don’t help the game all that much.

One factor that helps the replay value a little is the fact that we are given a multiplayer option. Since the sparring mode is an option, that could actually be a lot of fun. This was before the online days so it’ll have to be local, but I imagine that the servers would have been down by now anyway. Including the extra levels and unlockables, this game definitely has no shortage of replay value!

Overall, All Star Karate is about as good as I thought it would be. The gameplay wasn’t great and it can get repetitive, but you don’t really mind all that much while playing. It does depend on the level as well since some will require you to do over 80 gestures while others can be beaten in a minute or two. The game is a little painful thanks to the Wii Remotes though (literally) and nothing about the game really screams “Excellent” or even “Very Good!” There is a lot of replay value in the game, but there really isn’t a lot of incentive to do everything in this game. It’s definitely a bargain for 4-5 dollars and I would definitely recommend it to those who love the Wii Remotes and want a good fighting game. If not, you’d be better off getting Street Fighter IV for around the same price as this one. This couldn’t match up to some of the other 5 dollar games that I’ve gotten, but I was still pleased to see that it was a complete game. (Unlike Casper) If you actually do get this game, make sure to let me know how you liked it!

Overall 5/10

Madden 2013 Review

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It’s definitely been a while since I got to play a new Madden game. In case you are not aware, I am a huge fan of the Madden franchise. I’ve played almost every one of the titles since 2002 and they were all rock solid. I’ll admit that Madden 2010 may have slipped a little, but it was still a blast. 2011 and 2012 were also enjoyable experiences so I was all set to grab this one. I didn’t realize that it had already dropped to 6 dollars so it was a steal! Madden 2015 just came out so I’m sure that this game’s online days are numbered. That being said, I’m really glad that I finally got to try the online experience because it is amazing! This is easily the best Madden title for the PS3!

I also know that I need to make this one last because I likely won’t be getting one of the newer Madden games anytime soon! There is no Madden 2014 because they decided to come out with the special Madden 25 package. I’m looking forward to playing it, but it’s still going for 25! I love these games, but I always wait for the price drops since they’re so frequent. I wouldn’t expect to see another Madden review on this site for even a year, but maybe I’ll surprise you guys and get one of the few titles that I missed for Christmas!

Back to the game! Madden 2013 uses a lot of elements from the past games while changing things up. I know that everyone has already heard the stories and some are still upset that EA refuses to change the formula with any drastic measures. There’s no need to change a system that is already great and EA still does provide a unique experience each time. In this game, the defense is probably the most notable change, but the whole game is really impacted. Is it in a good way? It depends on the effect. I won’t really explain the rules because I’m sure that you are familiar with the NFL. If not, it’s an easy game to figure out.

One of the ways that Madden seems to have changed is how fiercely the cornerbacks will go after the ball. It is essentially impossible to throw a deep ball anymore. You can still do it of course, but you’ll be forced to watch your receiver get shoved out of the way as the cornerback snags it for a pick 6. Sometimes, your receiver will just stand there and wait for the football while the cornerback jumps up for the steal. They can jump extremely high by the way and they aren’t opposed to catching the ball with one hand in a rather fancy athletic movement. One way to stop this is to quickly take control of your receiver and turn around to grab the ball. Of course, this is a Lot trickier than it sounds and it requires perfect precision on your part. More often than not, this won’t work. Once in a while, your player will actually catch the ball, but you’ll have already thrown a lot of interceptions by that point.

It’s great for the defense and I’ve always enjoyed getting an interception. It’s pretty thrilling and it’s one of my favorite plays along with kickoff/punt returns. On the flipside, it makes you hesitate to throw the football. You’ll find yourself relying on basic screen passes and other short throws because you can’t risk going downfield. Throwing it into the centerfield for your tight end is usually a decently safe throw, but I miss the days where I felt comfortable throwing to any part of the field. You can definitely forget about slants unless your receiver is in a great position. So, this is definitely a mixed bag.

One area where the game really excels at is how realistic the hits are. It’s great to see your player get tackled or to record a sack on your own. You really feel the hit and it’s usually interesting to see how your player will go down. Sometimes the game will even revert to slow motion although that could just be the frame rate hitting the ball. This is more like the Football that we’re used too!

The graphics for the game are always pretty solid and that doesn’t change in this installment. You can clearly see all of the players and every option available on the field. You’ll never find yourself squinting to see something and the field looks as real as ever. I definitely have no complaints with the game on this front and the commentary is also good. There are some obvious mistakes like when they say that there are 15 minutes left when only 6 are on the clock. Some of the lines can get a little old when you hear them so often, but I actually enjoy it. It really makes the game feel professional and it means that I won’t have to listen to any (awful imo) music like in some of the other titles. Remember NFL Street? Great game, but the music was pretty terrible. I’m not a fan of EA’s music so the commentary means that the music has to go away. I don’t think it plays at all during the games anymore and that’s fine by me!

The game does have one annoying cutscene that plays after every timeout. If you call a timeout, your opponent’s player will meet up with one of the staff for a drink of water. The trainer will get him the water and the player always stops the guy from leaving so that he can get a second drink. This happens every single time and it gets old rather quickly. The character models are constantly chewing as well although I believe that it’s supposed to depict them talking to each other. Trust me, you’ll wish that it wasn’t there after a while!

If this game had one big weakness, it would be how they’ve made every action a lot more complicated. Gone are the days where you only needed to worry about running and where to throw the ball. Now there are so many buttons to press! You have to remember to hit a button so that you don’t fumble, there’s a button to sprint as per usual, but you can also tilt one of the joysticks to bring your head down and charge. There are like three different ways to juke and you really need the hit stick on the defensive side or the opponent will just break your tackles. I don’t think the game really needs to be this complex. It wouldn’t be so bad either if your player wouldn’t fumble all the time. Never run right into the opponent player without pressing something or you’re almost guaranteed to fumble. So much for my wild charges into the crowd eh?

Franchise mode is long gone and now we have the Connected Careers mode. It’s essentially the same thing so it’s all good. You can play as the Coach or as the players. I only use the latter of course and you can even add yourself to the game through Gameface. The EA account is actually pretty handy since it really does a good job of recording your online stats. The online ranked battles are really where the action is at. It’s almost hard to go back to the classic offline battles when you can fight such talented players online. (Almost is the key word! Regular matches are still a blast.) My current record is 5-4 as of this writing and I already scored over 150 points, which netted me the first few online trophies. The highest one is at 600 points and that is likely where I would stop online gaming for this title. It’s a blast, but I have so many other games where I need to accomplish that I wouldn’t have time for it anymore. The offline world is another story since there are more trophies to get there.

The trophies are pretty fair for the most part, but I think that EA is asking too much for the offline ones. You would basically have to play over 10-20 seasons if you wanted to snag them all unless they expect you to start simulating all of them. There are many workarounds to grab a lot of the trophies, but adjusting sliders and such, but that doesn’t seem right. Thus, I am doomed to have a relatively low trophy% in this title, but I’ll still do my best to snag as many of them as I can. At least there are more trophies to be collected in this one than in the previous Madden titles!

I almost don’t even need to bring up the replay value. The trophies alone can last for weeks or even months. This Madden also has quite a few different modes to play. You can relive famous moments in NFL history and try to complete each of them. The Connected Careers mode can go on for as many seasons as you want and you can play it from the coach’s point of view or from the player’s. The replay value to this game is essentially endless and the servers are actually still up so you can have fun online or offline. The game is really a bargain at 6 dollars and it would have been well worth the original 60 dollars if I had bought it then too. It just goes against my buying code to do that. I only go that far for Smash Bros at this point in time.

Finally, it’s worth noting that EA has done a good job to really make the games feel alive. On the main menu, you can actually see the scores for the current NFL 2014 Pre Season games. Not to mention that there are Facebook and Twitter options inside of the game so that you can post your scores and stats throughout the season. Everything is completely up to date, which is pretty fun. You won’t lose touch with the real world by playing this game and their Origin system helps you to link your account through all of their titles. EA may have a very bad reputation with the average person at the moment, but one can’t deny that their games are great!

Overall, This is an excellent Madden game. As mentioned earlier, I would say that it easily clobbers Madden 08-12. It’s tough to take on the Gamecube ones, but this is easily one of the best installments. I do believe that the game has gotten a little too complicated in some areas, but you can still choose to simplify things based on your playstyle. I got used to it after a game or two and the only troubles that I’m having now are with the audibles. It’s hardly something that will really cost you a game since audibles are pretty rare. I highly recommend getting this game and you’ll have fun for dozens of hours. Madden is one of the only games that can compete with the new Super Smash Bros for how much time you can pour into it! It’s going to be tough for Madden 25 or the new Madden 15 to keep up with this one!

Overall 9/10