Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Review

I recently saw Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer so I really wanted to play the game! I finally managed to find it in the outskirts of the city and it was well worth the 1.89$ that I paid for it! I have to admit that I feel really bad for the people who paid 30 dollars to buy it on opening day though. Man, those people must have been shocked at what arrived in their homes that day. Heh heh heh…okay, let’s start the review!

The game follows the events of the film, but really only the ending of it. There are a couple of minigames as you build toys for the kid who have waited all year to open their presents. Luckily, you will only have to wait a few minutes to go and deliver it to them. See, the game’s length is rather infamous. Remember when I played the Casper video game that you could beat in around 15-20 minutes? This game is even shorter as the run time is more like 6-10 minutes not including the short cutscenes that probably extend it to around 13-15. It’s a blast and a half….if you have not played a video game before!

One of the video games involves baking cookies. Okay…you basically have to swing your wii remote three different ways. Strike once to pound the batter, Next strike to smooth it out, shove it in the oven, and throw in the toppings. Rinse and repeat until the timer runs out to show that you have completed the game! Next up, you have to punch presents into Santa’s bag or onto the Christmas tree. This is probably the trickiest minigame thanks to the controls. Still, it’s about as easy as World 1-1 of the average Mario game or even easier since you can’t die. Just move with the Wii Remote and you’ll be find. Finally, you have to ride with Rudolph and friends to drop presents on the kid’s houses. This one’s the easiest as you can literally just drop presents for eternity. Just keep dropping them and most of the presents will actually land on the house. You’re not penalized for missing so you can do this with your eyes closed! There’s also a paintball minigame where you have to throw paints at the toys. It’s very similar to the Basketball minigame from Mario Party 4 so it’s pretty catchy.

There’s no way to lose any of the games so completing this title will be simplicity itself. Now, those minigames probably didn’t sound like a lot of fun, but you can try to make them more exciting. See, each game actually has a score at the top so you can try to get it as high as possible. There’s no actual reward or incentive for doing so, but why not right? You may as well to pass the time by. On the bright side, the game is so incredibly short that it never drags on.

The graphics are surprisingly good/decent considering how cheaply produced the game was. The character models aren’t stretched or blurry and the in game graphics are surprisingly clear. I feel like the graphics got all of the attention from the developers so they could at least make the trailer look good. For everyone who bought the game, they probably celebrated with a pizza. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but that probably goes without saying. (The theme that plays when you start the game is catchy!) We do have the classic Rudolph song though and that’s always great!

I appreciate the fact that there is a story mode even if it is extremely short. After each minigame, you get a small cutscene with the snowman from the intro to the film. He has a new voice actor who isn’t nearly as good, but he tries his best to be warm and friendly. The credits aren’t included when you finish the final minigame so you’ll have to go to the menu and enter the credits that have been available from the start. I guess they knew that you would finish it quickly so they decided to have the credits at the ready. Not a bad strategy right?

We also can’t forget about the hilarious loading screen for this game. In Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, people love to crouch over and over again. It’s a taunt in a way and it especially comes in handy when you are out of the normal ones. Well, the loading screen here just has the Yeti crouch spamming. That’s the loading screen! It’s like an inside joke that the developers are in on and the gamer can’t be apart of it. The loading screen almost makes the game and you’ll remember it for quite some time!

Rudolph is the perfect example of why I am always on the lookout for new games at the 5 dollar bargain bin. In particular, the Wii has a ton of “Shovelware” titles that actually turn out to be a lot of fun or at least highly amusing. This title will always hold a special place in my heart along with Casper for being so short that it is practically a parody of a game. No matter how small the budget was, it’s just incredible that anyone could actually get away with making a game that is this short. You’d almost expect the game to be sued!

Overall, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a game that is so short that I’m tempted to give it a mere 3 stars. I still feel that it’s worth the extra star because the actual minigames are enjoyable and they don’t feel repetitive. I may have felt differently if I got it for 30 dollars, but at under 2 dollars, 10 minutes sounds pretty decent. I only recommend this game if you know what you are getting into. It’s one of the best 2 dollar games that I have played not counting sport titles. This is the kind of game that you will want to have at parties so that you can laugh at it along with your friends in some good natured fun. I don’t think I’ll ever be playing this game again since there is no real replay value to be found (I guess you could beat your high scores….) but it was a decent one time ride. Don’t believe all of the negative reviews (Mine is negative though) about the game not being fun. It is short, but the actual minigames are fun! Just watch the trailer and get back to me…

Overall 4/10

Cruis’n Review

It’s time to look at another title from the legendary 5 dollar bin. Let’s face it, it’s always an honor to pick out a game from that selection and I specifically went to a new Gamestop when I heard that they were still carrying this title. Cruis’n is everything that I had hoped for from the screen shots and while it is a pretty short game, it does have a decent amount of replay value to keep it relevant.

There are 13 races and you get to challenge them in Circuit Mode. Landing in the top 3 allows you to move onto the next stage. It is true that you can theoretically complete this game in under an hour since the average race is 2 minutes or less, but but you’re bound to lose at least a few times so beating it in an hour can still be tricky. Keep in mind that you may need to swap cars during this adventure as your first one will likely have some pretty underwhelming specs compared to the first one.

Winning a race gives you some spending money, which you can use to buy your next car. I bought most of them and ended up with 3 left. I guess I shouldn’t say “buy” though. When you get enough money, you automatically unlock the car. The final car needs you to have 2 million dollars and I ended the game with a little over one million. You earn 100 grand for each first place so just 10 more races would have been enough to have achieved that. I was tempted to do that so that I could say that I 100% completed the game, but there’s ultimately not a whole lot of point to doing such a thing so I took a pass on that. Perhaps I will go back for that someday.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward for a racing game. There are no items or real gimmicks here aside from the casual boost. You can boost three times and it gives you a decent chunk of extra speed, but it’s not too drastic so it doesn’t take the balance away from the game. Since this is an arcade style game you really have a lot of freedom as you drive around. You can break into a building and watch with awe as you look at the fun details. The fact that the developers actually designed the insides of the building is pretty neat since there’s a good chance that you could beat the game without ever going inside. Turning works pretty well and the gameplay is a lot of fun. The game will quickly reset you to the right direction if you’re spun around for too long so you never have to worry about stopping. Just power through to the goal!

Cruis’n is also purely a motion control game as you hold the Wii remote sideways and tilt to turn. Surprisingly, it actually does a good job with these controls and you’ll never have to adjust the Wii sensor or back away when you realize that the controls are not working. Everything works almost perfectly here and that was definitely neat. Once again, I have to stress that this isn’t your average 5 dollar bin game.

One aspect that I liked about the gameplay was the unique addition of random cars on the tracks. A lot of games like Mario Kart have experimented with other cars acting as obstacles, but not to the degree that this game throws them in. Most of the stages have dozens of cars blocking the way in the stages and bumping into one of them can critically hurt your chances of reaching 1st place. They are sometimes driving in the same direction as you or going in the opposite direction so you’ve always got to stay sharp. It’s why using your boost can be a risky endeavor.

The graphics are actually very good and that’s where I disagree with most reviews. The general consensus seems to be that the graphics are pretty bad, but everything actually looks pretty sharp. I am quickly reminded of the racing game that I used to play on the computer over a decade ago. The cars and stages are similar to that as well as the gameplay. I loved that game and still consider it to be one of the best racing games of all time. This title may not be quite as good, but it’s still pretty great and that goes for the graphics as well. Most of the game takes place in the night it is impressive to see how clear the game looks. I definitely have no qualms in this area.

The area where I do have some qualms with the game is the music. The soundtrack tries to be edgy or ghettoish, which results in some good tunes, but the overall music leaves much to be desired. It’s why I’m not even a fan of the average Madden title as the music gets a little too out there. For racing, I just want fast paced themes with no lyrics. That will let me race to the best of my ability with no distractions. In a game like this, you certainly will need to focus.

I also have to take away points for the suggestive content in this game. As this is underground racing, the game has a scantily clad lady holding up the “Ready Set Go” sign and she’ll also dance in the background when you take first place. Throw in the sad voice when you are going through the modes and it takes away some of the wow factor from the game. We definitely didn’t need this and more games should just play it straight if they really want to win. From the voices, the only one that I actually like is the creepy laugh. It pops up randomly during the game and that can definitely be pretty intense.

Now, the main reason why this is in the 5 dollar bin is probably because of the lack of content. After you unlock all of the races, then you can unlock a handful of cars. Unlocking those will give you some more options, but there’s nothing to do with them. Playing the stages is the only thing to do aside from the classic Multiplayer mode. You can upgrade each car to its maximum potential by participating in races with all of them, but even the average perfectionalist probably wouldn’t bother with all of that. So the multiplayer mode makes up the majority of the replay value, which means that you will probably want to have someone to play this game with. Otherwise, it’s certainly going to be a very short experience.

Overall, Cruis’n is a very fun racing game. Keep in mind that it’s only about 3-4 dollars for a reason, but it’s well worth the price. Given the fact that you could be done with it in 30-60 minutes, I could understand being disappointed if you bought it for 30. Even 20 dollars would have been a stretch, but for under 5 dollars I think this is sufficient. The levels that you do play are pretty great and the A.I. actually manages to keep things competitive. It never gives up and all it takes is one wrong turn to throw you from 1st to 8th. The graphics are better than expected and they easily hold up against any racing game. The suggestive content can make you wince, but it’s still not as bad as it could have been and it disappears once you are actually in the race. I definitely recommend this title and now I’m looking forward to seeing what racing game I play next. Let’s just say that we may not have to wait very long for that. Also, it should be known that I used the Pontiac Firebird during my playthrough since they didn’t have the Quest. It’s a very reliable car and I recommend using it when you play this game.

Overall 7/10

The Destiny of Zorro Review

Time to check out one of the classic Wii games that I got from the 5 dollar bin recently. Naturally, these games are typically in the 5 dollar bin for a good reason, but that never deters me from grabbing a game with potential. Zorro certainly has this as it’s an action game with a lot of fighting, but it manages to really blow most of its opportunities.

The plot sees Zorro vanquish some evil doers before he meets the toughest opponent yet. Mr. Calavera kidnaps the main heroine of the story and he heads off to an ancient location to become the King of the people there. He has already tricked them all so Zorro will have to infiltrate the island and defeat all of the guards. Once he has done that, nothing can protect Calavera from Zorro’s fury!

It’s a rather basic plot, but that helps it achieve that retro feel that the developers were aiming for. There are 14 levels in the game and some of them can be 5-9 minutes while others will take around 20-25 to complete. Typically, the levels tend to be on the long side, which can really make them drag on at times. A level will usually have you defeat a certain number of enemies, break an object, beat more enemies, and maybe even walk a little if you’re lucky. Diffusing bombs is easily the worst part of the game.

Battling enemies sounds fun, but that’s where the game eats up most of your time. You’ll have to defeat enemies in batches of 10 many times and you can’t defeat an opponent as easily as you would expect. Most enemies take 8 hits to defeat and the bigger ones require more of an effort from you. When they gather in groups, you’ll need to try to get some hits in through hit and run tactics, which are always a little risky. Sometimes, I would die 6-7 times before defeating an enemy because it is very difficult to separate them.

This is where the “unlimited lives” part comes into the equation. When you die, you are sent back a few steps, but the enemies keep their current health status. So, even if you lose a few dozen times, you can wear down the enemies eventually. It just takes some time and a good strategy at the ready. The only times where you can actually die and have to restart the area is when the bombs are present. I was taken out by them during one of the levels. (I blame it on the controls) Replaying a 17 minute level can definitely be dicey and I’m glad that it only happened once. There’s a chance that you can also lose in the second final level with the tower, but I didn’t lose there so I’m not positive about that. If there was ever a game that deserved to have infinite lives, it was this one. You really need them since there are no checkpoints and starting from the beginning is never any fun.

For the controls, this is back during the good ole Wii Remote days. You just swing it around a lot to slash at the opponents and jab at the screen for a stab. Stabs are the most effective attacks since you can KO almost any opponent in two hits with it. (The final boss takes 3 to defeat him) The reason why you need 8 attacks to usually win a battle is that normal attacks have no effect on the villains. They help you build up stamina so that you can hold B and then use the same attacks to actually deal damage. 3 hits gives you enough meter for one stab so you repeat the process once more. That lets you beat just about any opponent in the game. You also have Z attacks that lets you do a quick combo which also gives you back some health. It’s useful although it does around the same damage as a stab.

Zorro has a lasso that you can use, but it barely even stuns an opponent so there’s never a reason to use it in battle. It comes in handy for the platforming areas though as you jump from place to place. Considering that this game is not exactly a big budget title, you can see how the controls can be problematic. Using an attack that you didn’t intend too or watching an opponent slash you through a wall are common occurrences. One of the final bosses was pretty annoying with this as the goal of the fight is to let him hit a totem pole while you hide behind it. Many times, he would just slash right through it and knock you out. 2-3 hits are usually enough to beat Zorro so that is never a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, the retro feeling doesn’t help for the cutscenes. Zorro is the kind of hero that you can’t root for as he is always looking for romance and flirting with his alter ego’s friend is not beneath him. You really can’t root for the guy and his dialogue can be pretty off at times. He just talks in a 40’s manner as he says his lines very slowly and he loves to insult his opponents while talking. “Do you mind fighting up wind” is a line that you will probably hear about 100 times as you play the game since the dialogue can be pretty limited. The cutscenes are all stills so don’t expect any big cutscenes.

The soundtrack is definitely old and it’s not very engaging. You will barely hear it as you are playing anyway, but it’s definitely worth noting. The graphics are pretty sub par as well. The game often forgets to switch the head on the top when a character is talking and almost all of the enemies look the same. There isn’t a whole lot of detail added to anything so all of the backgrounds begin to look the same after a while. I’ve seen Super Nintendo games that have looked better to be honest as the classic Super Mario World games have a lot more detail and refinement. Actually, this is probably one of the worst looking games of all time and that is a little sad.

In the game’s defense, the combat system did have potential. Chipping away at an enemy’s health using strategic moves sounds pretty good in theory does it not? The bosses had some fairly unique gimmicks like being immune to all hits except counters. The game never tells you what to do against them, but you tend to figure it out pretty quickly. Swinging the Wii Remote around isn’t even all that bad and had the enemies had smaller health bars, it could have been better. The problem is that the battles simply drag a lot so you ultimately stop having fun. The final boss is hilariously bad as you just block all of his hits for what feels like an eternity before finally getting the chance to counter and beating him in 3 hits.

Finally, the game has its share of glitches as well. There were quite a few times where I ended up getting frozen in place because my foot sank into the ground. The pixels must not have been solid enough and I could only watch as a sniper shot me from the distance. It’s a pretty sad way to go and if it was a 3D game you may have tried to yell for help only to realize that there are no allies in this game to come to your aid. That’s quite the predicament right?

Overall, The Destiny of Zorro is certainly not one of the better games out there. I had been tempted to give the game a 6 star rating as the gameplay was not terrible and the actual game just dragged it down from a 7. Unfortunately, playing the game more and more began to expose it as a worse game than that. I feel like a 6 would just be a little too positive for this title and a 4 feels more appropriate. The graphics and soundtrack only add to this feeling. The main reason why this game gets a negative ranking though is that it can be a little boring. It was a bit of a struggle trying to power through the final levels of the game and I blame that on how long they were. You’ll feel relieved to part ways from the game by the end and I really don’t see myself ever playing it again. I dare say that the first levels were better than the latter ones, but that is probably because they were shorter and didn’t drag on as much. I beat 4-5 levels on my first sitting and then just beat 1-2 on my other attempts before powering through the final 4 yesterday. I definitely don’t recommend this title and you should just go out and buy Super Smash Bros for Wii U if you want a good party fighting game.

Overall 4/10

Speed Racer Review

I finally managed to complete the Speed Racer video game! It’s actually quite fun although it’s the kind of game where you can definitely get worn out with the tournaments. Also be warned that it can definitely induce seizures. It’s rather unique for a cash in and it’s easily one of the best PS2 racing games. I got it for a decent price so I can definitely say that it was worth it and it is one of the final games from my Christmas batch that I had yet to complete. Let’s look at what makes this game cool.

First of all, there is no real story mode, but we do get a tournament mode. That’s a fair trade off if you ask me although I certainly would have preferred a plot. You basically have to play around 30-40 tournaments and each tournament has 2-5 races in them. Unfortunately, a bunch of the tournaments are in the 4-5 range so they can be quite long. That’s my main problem with the game. No matter how fun the gameplay is, staying glued to the TV for 30-40 minutes on one tournament can be quite taxing. Beating the game is definitely a long battle and it will leave you feeling very tired by the end.

The standard rules for the race are set to 2 laps and 12 racers. The 2 laps part may sound pretty great at first, but they still take around 3-4 minutes per track so it still manages to be as long as the average Mario Kart stage..or even longer than those stages. 3 laps would have definitely been too much and even with 2, I think that some of the stages should have been a whole lot shorter. Like I said, the tournament mode basically burned me out so I definitely can’t think about playing this game again for a long time. At least solo, local multiplayer would still make for a lot of fun races.

One of the new gimmicks in this game is that getting to 1st place is only a secondary goal during the race. It’s highly recommended since it helps you get points in a tournament, but staying in the middle of the pack has its perks. You get points by ramming into the other racers and a whole bunch of them when you destroy a car. Every 1000 points gets you 1 real point so if you get 13000, it’s even better than coming in first. The best of both worlds is hitting a lot of cars and still managing to come in 1st, but that’s extremely difficult in the latter stages. I would sometimes come in 11th, but I smashed so many cars that I still got the most points. If you ask me, that’s definitely the best way to go about it. You can juke from side to side to hit the cars or do a spin move if they are right ahead of or behind you. The combat system is a lot of fun to play around with. You also gain energy as you move, which you can use to heal yourself or boost. As for the boosts, you can wait until you have 3 of them and use the ultimate boost.

Be warned that the ultimate boost is great, but it is tough on the eyes. You go so fast that you don’t even need to steer as it just takes you through the course, but the game can’t really keep up. You colors start to turn purple and orange and the screen gets very blurry. You’ll even lose sight of the racers as things start to get loopy and I have a feeling that the developers were just having a little fun there. It’s still something that you’ll definitely want to be aware of if your eyes are weak against flashing lights. They definitely make me feel tired, but my glasses protect me from that kind of thing.

Naturally, this doesn’t speak very well for the graphics. They’re actually pretty decent when they work, but I’ll have to give this area a failing grade. The boosts should not make the screen as chaotic as they do and the game gets way too blurry for me to say that it is acceptable. If not for the graphics part of the game you probably wouldn’t be able to even tell that it is a cash in for the film.

Although, one tip off is the stage selection. Initially it looks like there are a lot of tracks. After all, you are playing on over 100 of them during the tournament mode. The trick is that a lot of the stages are simply recycled over and over again. Some of them are technically different, but just about the whole track will be the same aside from a slight twist. The background and road for most of the stages are identical so there was definitely not a whole lot of effort put into them. It can certainly make the game more repetitive than it would have been with unique tracks. The final two levels are basically the same with the difference being that the final level has opera style music.

Speed Racer’s soundtrack is definitely very good. It’s a little limited to be sure, but it fits the intensity of the races. It’s all very fast and the climatic sounding theme in the final stage is really fun as well. Racing games definitely need a good soundtrack since nobody wants to race with a boring theme playing in the background. Luckily, Speed Racer delivers on this front.

Typically, glitches aren’t a problem in a video game since they are rare occurrences that you may miss when you’re playing the game. That being said, it’s much easier to run through them when you have to play a game for as long as I played this one. It’s not uncommon to just fall through a stage or get launched off the rails. There are many times where you are not supposed to fall off the stage, but you are using your triple boost so you just go flying out of the level. Once I just fell through half of the stage and instantly fell into a big hole over in last place. The glitches still don’t occur too often, but they are certainly noticeable this time.

It’s definitely commendable that the game has so many playable characters. There may even be 50 as I lost count, but you tend to unlock 2-3 per tournament. There are many guys that you’ll never have even heard of here. I stuck with Speed Racer through all of the levels, but maybe you’ll find a character who catches your eye and forces you to change from the famous mach 5. You definitely won’t want to discount the possibility.

For replay value, there really isn’t a whole lot to be found here. Once you beat the game, you do unlock mirror mode so you can play a bunch of tournaments in reverse. You’ll probably find that you’re way too tired to do such a thing after the main mode, but it does add to the game’s length I suppose. After that, you’ll want to hope that you have someone to play the game with since there will be nothing left to do. The multiplayer option is the main reason why I ended up giving this game a 7 over the 6 after all.

Overall, Speed Racer is a pretty fun game. The actual gameplay is really a blast and it really says something about how good it is when you consider how many levels I had to play in this game. The stages are just a little too long, but the tournaments actually do auto save so you can turn the game off in the middle of one if you need too. Knowing this, that actually helps the game a whole lot, but I didn’t find out until the end. It only minimizes the problem though as the stages really should be shorter. The graphics look very sci fi esque, but they’re still too crazy and blurry. The music is good and the character roster is very impressive. If you are by yourself, I recommend the game, but it’ll be a shorter experience. If you have someone to play it with, then this game is definitely one of the ultimate racing titles and you’ll really want to play it. Just watch out for those glitches!

Overall 7/10

Scribblenauts Unlimited Review

Time to play the next installment in the Scribblenauts series. This is the first one for the home consoles so that was definitely neat. This also meant that I was one step closer to completing the series! It is definitely different from the first two in a few ways. It’s more open world and that’s always a good thing, but it also results in a slightly shorter game.

The plot involves the origin of Maxwell. Long story short, his parents were explorers and they found a book that brought anything that you wrote in it to life. This was pretty neat so they gave it to Maxwell, but the power quickly corrupted him. Then, his sister started turning into stone and Maxwell was told that the only way to save her was to help people with his incredible book. Helping them would cause the people to drop Starrites and he could save Lily’s life if he collected enough of them. With this knowledge at his disposal, Maxwell headed off to go save Lily…and the world.

Collecting Starrites is classic and a tradition for the series. The new part is that there are also Starrite Shards to find. Getting 7-8 of them will form a full Starrite. There are 106 of them in the game and you only need 60 to complete the story. Seeing as that is only a little over half of them, it’s pretty easy to find enough solvable puzzles to work through so that you can save Lily. Each level has 1-3 Starrites and 5-10 Shards. There are quite a lot of levels, although not as many as the previous games since you can compact a lot of missions onto one level. I actually prefer it this way since you don’t have to move around as much. Finding and solving the missions is more linear.

When you enter a world, you’ll see people who need help. The ones with Starrites over their heads will give you one if you help them and you get hints if it is taking you a while. There are no hints for the Shard missions, but they are typically a lot quicker anyway. As you collect the Starrites more and more levels open up. The final ones are all in space so you can tell that the stakes have been raised.

The graphics are about equal to the other games since they’re still using sprites. I assume that they are in HD here and they are certainly a little clearer. Watching the objects on the big screen is definitely a lot of fun. You can’t say that the graphics are at Legend of Zelda or Sly level, but they’re not meant to be. You’re using sprites to save the world and that’s good enough for me. The actual gameplay is crystal clear so you never have to wonder where to go next or what an object is supposed to be.

The soundtrack is not really around. There are a lot of familiar jingles like the remixed victory theme, but it’s more of a soothing experience than most games. There is background music, but it’s all very subtle so that it transitions smoothly from level to level. The music is pretty calming to listen too and it definitely fits the gameplay.

For Replay Value, you can naturally go back and collect all 106 Starrites. That’s about it for replay value, but that should still last you quite a few hours after getting the initial 60. That would end up at around 10-20 hours of play time and it would probably steer closer to the 20 than 10. It is definitely shorter than the other Scribblenaut games and technically it’s the easiest since you don’t have to worry about fully beating all levels. It’s actually a little more appropriate for the kids since I found the first one to be a little too difficult for the average youngster, but this one is just right. There are some that they will likely have trouble with, but that’s what the hints are here for right? Typically, the final hint will make it clear enough to solve the riddle. The going price for the game is less than 20 so that more than makes up for the short campaign and the replay value helps even more.

Fans may be a little disappointed with Maxwell since he is evidently not the selfless hero that we all had expected. He likes to play pranks on everyone and the power went to his head very quickly. He quickly sees the light once his sister is in danger, but I’m sure that his fans will be surprised. He’s a pretty likable main character although he doesn’t get to talk. Lily gets all of the lines so Maxwell may just end up being a silent main character. It’s worked well for Mario and Link so it could be a good move.

One thing that was mildly disappointing is that there is no final level joke this time. Perhaps you get a secret level if you get all of the Starrites, but I was expecting a little more. Some kind of final boss would have been nice like in the last game. Something that forces you to create a Starrite or do something really simple. The previous two games loved to troll the gamer like that and I was hoping that the tradition would be upheld. Instead, you just get a quick cutscene when you get the 60 Starrites. Again, I’m assuming that something happens once you get all 106, but I wanted more closure.

A tip for any future players is to always have your wings on. It’s helpful in just about every scenario and it beats walking through all of the levels right? Using your adjectives wisely will help you complete a lot of missions since you can just make a beast cheerful instead of giving it food to make it cheerful. As there are many words in the English language, there are many ways to beat a mission so you can really choose one that you prefer over the others. There are also dozens of playable characters so you can switch how you look, but that doesn’t impact the gameplay. It’s merely a stylistic choice.

Overall, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a pretty fun sequel to the first two games. The fact that it is now all mission based as you help the people is a fun twist in how you collect the Starrites. It’s probably the best game in the series and the big screen effect certainly helps with that. It’s less repetitive in the types of missions that you complete as opposed to Super Scribblenauts and the gameplay is smoother than the original. The original game will always be a classic since it was the toughest and had the most environments, but this one has done a good job of upholding the legacy. It also helped to increase my Wii U collection. The next Scribblenauts is already at home waiting to be played, but quickly it’s time to go back to a Wii game first. That being said, it shouldn’t last long and then we’ll see if Unmasked will be able to take on Unlimited. Get ready for an adventure! I recommend Scribblenauts Unlimited to Casual and Core gamers alike. It’s a fun way to spend your time and it’s pretty unique. I’m sure that everyone will have fun putting their life experience to the test as you try to think of how you can help someone. It will test your mastery of the English language.

Overall 7/10

GI Joe The Rise of Cobra Review

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

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

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

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
Sweet Tooth(Arguable…?)
Nathan Drake
Evil Cole
Big Daddy

Joke Characters
Fat Princess
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

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