Redout: Lightspeed Edition Review

Redout is definitely a game that I can’t say I knew a whole lot about before getting it but it ended up being quite solid. It’s effectively an F-Zero type game. Granted there is no story mode here so you are really going to be focused on the races and going as fast as possible. There is a whole lot of content to be played through here so you’ll have a lot of bang for your buck. Especially considering how cheap the game goes for now. It’s definitely a title that you won’t want to miss out on.

The main mode you’ll be sticking to is Career Mode. Basically you will start off with a bunch of race options for class 1 vehicles. You will start to race on those and as you obtain medals you will earn EXP to level up. Once you have enough EXP then you will make it to the next level and then you gradually unlock more classes. There are 4 classes in total and the final one is unlocked at level 22. So at that point you can say that you have all of the content here ready to play. You don’t have to actually complete all of the stages in order to unlock the final class as it’s all about EXP. You could theoretically keep on playing the same level to grind out EXP although it would take much longer so there would be no point. Additionally I think the game is wise to that plan because I was farming gold on one level and then I suddenly started receiving 0 gold from there.

The reason gold is important is because that’s the only currency in the game so you have to budget out what upgrades to buy. An upgrade is around $10,000 for example, then power-ups are around $9,000, and a new car can go from $9,000 to $90,000. Everything gets more expensive based on the class of car/power-up you want and money gets scarce quickly. Each new car for class 1 and class IV get you a trophy so you’ll probably want to buy those right away. I ended up still needing to buy around 2 more cars by the end so maybe I’ll head back one day just to grab those silver trophies.

Ultimately if you want the platinum then you will need to beat all of the levels though. At least the base game levels. You will see some for the Mars DLC on the screen and you don’t need to worry about those unless you end up buying the DLC. So that’s one thing to keep in mind here. Beating all of the levels would definitely be really challenging. I played some of the tougher ones and kept on dying because it feels like you can just never move fast enough no matter what you do. It’s really tough to keep pace with the other racers but I suppose in the end that is part of the fun. Trying to keep outdoing yourself as much as possible.

The racing controls are fairly basic but one difference is that you use your right joystick to strafe which helps with the turning. This is the part of the game I likely didn’t master and feel like if I understood that mechanic better then I would hold my own a lot better. You also have the power-ups which are different based on which ones you equip but I have to admit that I never understood those so I intentionally chose passive ones. That way I wouldn’t have to even worry about activating them. In my races against opponents I never really got hit by anything so the whole thing’s a mystery.

This game could serve to have a real tutorial. I feel that’s pretty rare to say but that way I could be sure that I was playing the way the game expected me too. Instead I was sort of just driving as best I can which is good enough for the lower levels but really mastering the game’s specific mechanics is probably the only way I would be getting anywhere near the top. The graphics are really good though. Everything is colorful and vibrant the way you would expect for a sci-fi racer like this. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. There are some decently emotional songs in there but for the most part it’s very fast and techno the way you would expect it to be. It matches up well with what the game is going for.

There is also a lot of replay value because of all the purchases that I mentioned and the levels here. There really are quite a lot of levels so you should have plenty to do for a very long time. Just keep on plunging ahead to the goal and you’ll be at the end in no time. Even when you lose you earn a good amount of XP and Gold which I like because then it never feels like your race was a waste. There was always a purpose to entering each event and some other games can definitely take a few pointers from this one in that regard. You should always get something for your trouble.

Overall, Redout is a pretty fun game. The racing gameplay is on point and while I may not have understood part of it, the overall experience was still on point for me. There is a whole lot of content to enjoy here so you certainly won’t be bored all the way through. It may not stand out compared to other titles but it’s so cheap that you should really give it a chance. After all at worst you may just think it doesn’t stand out but at best it could be the next big racing game for you. It makes no real mistakes and I do like the simplicity of the level up system. Get stronger to race better cars. It’s extremely straightforward and so when you lose you just have to take a look at your car and rethink how you play the stage. There aren’t any big gimmicks to worry about.

Overall 7/10

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe Review

This is one of the few Kirby games that I hadn’t gotten around to playing earlier so it was nice to finally dive in and get to experience this adventure with the DLC included. It certainly is nice to get to experience a brand new epilogue thanks to this and I feel like adding extra story content is really a must for any big remake/remaster. It helps give the game its own identity as opposed to just being a port of the original title.

The story starts with Kirby and friends hanging out until a ship crashes. A guy named Magolor comes out of the ship and explains that he needs some serious help from Kirby and friends in order to make his ship whole again. The parts of scattered across the planet and without a ship he will never be able to go home to confront the big fire dragon. Kirby is eager to help because his heroism is only matched by his endless hunger. Is there more to Magolor than what meets the eye though?

There isn’t much of a story beyond that though. I’d say that it’s a bit smaller of a narrative than most of the other Kirby games as that is pretty much it for story progression until the very end of the game where you launch into the final bosses and the truth of the matter. Still, you’re playing this game for the gameplay and that’s where the game does well. You have your classic 2D gameplay here as you fly across the worlds and take on all kinds of enemies.

You have lots of power ups to grab and many different special abilities at the ready. Every level has a bunch of collectibles to grab which help you unlock minigames and continue to progress through the adventure. You can also choose to not use the power ups and fight the boss with your normal suction ability. Some abilities feel weaker than your base form but it all comes down to what kind of fighting style you are able to use best. I like being a brawler so any power ups like the sword, spear, or punch is what I’m looking out for.

The game is fairly short but not unreasonably so. You should be able to knock it out in under 10 hours and since it’s not a game that is super difficult you can actually shave off some time if you decide to speed through instead of worrying about collectibles. I grabbed a bunch just in case they would be needed later on but fortunately that was not the case. Collectibles should always be optional items to grab after all.

As for the epilogue , I liked that it actually goes for a completely different gameplay style here. I mean it’s still 2D but you are using energy blasts and other kinds of attacks at all times rather than needing a power up. Magolor also uses an EXP system so you level up using points which was also cool. I think a Kirby leveling up game could be fun one of these days. I wouldn’t replace Kirby’s gameplay with this full time but as a change of pace I do think that it would fare quite well. It keeps in the core Kirby aspects while doing something new and I can definitely appreciate that.

Meanwhile the graphics are solid as always. Nintendo spares no expense on their titles and you can feel that in each of the level environments. The whole game looks really good and shines on all sides. Then you have the soundtrack which is also really good as you would expect. The boss theme also sounds a whole lot like the Ridley boss theme from Metroid which was cool. You can feel that Nintendo connection there and it works really well. It also increases the suspense levels for when you’re approaching the boss because you know that things are about to get interesting.

I would say the main thing to remember while going up against bosses is to not get sloppy. It can be easy to completely rely on your powers as you go in but that’s the easiest way to lose because you also need to dodge their attacks. In a battle of attrition you will always lose so dodging the boss attacks is extremely important. If you don’t do that then you are going to run out of health really fast and you will be down for the count. Slow and steady is often the way to win this one.

As always the game gets out there for the final bosses as the title suddenly turns into a cosmic epic. I always appreciate how the Kirby series does this because the final boss should feel grand. I would be on board for a whole game against cosmic monsters with all kinds of destruction in the background but I understand that this isn’t Kirby’s style even if it would make for a very effective game. I know that I would have a blast with it after all.

Overall, This was a fun Kirby game. Ultimately the only thing you can really say against it is that this one doesn’t stand out among those. For example you could call this your basic run of the mill Kirby title and that may sound like an insult, but at the same time that’s really what it’s going for. There aren’t any big gimmicks here or really memorable aspects to the title. The story is also barebones as just another adventure. So you’ll have a good time with this one but you probably won’t recommend it above some of the more influential Kirby titles. This one just isn’t the next all star hit from Kirby but all of the fundamentals are in place so it’s pretty solid. You will have fun all the way through the game and at the end of the day that is the main point to any title. So pick this one up when you have a chance and you won’t regret it.

Overall 7/10

Goosebumps: Dead of Night Review

This is one of those games that I basically got on a whim as I needed a low priced game for the Gamestop deal and it ended up being a bit of a gem in the rough here. Goosebumps is a short game but one that handles the first person horror genre well. It’s a fairly niche genre if you’re looking for a game like Bendy without going all the way extreme. This one’s definitely aimed a bit younger but they really put effort into each of the scares and level designs. So the game ends really quick but you’ll only need to spend a few bucks in order to get it so it balances out.

The game starts with you heading inside a house and finding out that R.L. Stine has been locked in a book. Slappy managed to turn the tables on him and cast the writer away while also ripping the pages out of the sealing book used to stop the dummy. You must now find all of the pages and take him down but you must dodge a whole array of monsters in the meantime such as the clown, the werewolf, and a zombie lady. You better run fast!

This game definitely reminds me of what a Five Nights at Freddy’s game would be like. There is danger around every corner and you’re always looking around. You can only run for a few seconds before you lose all of your stamina so you really want to be careful about when and where you run. You can outrun any of the monsters but walking is another matter entirely. There are plenty of places to hide so you can go under the table or in the shower for example but sometimes there will be a monster there as well. That’s how the clown got me once. Granted, there is an incentive to dying which is that just about every death to a different monster will get you a trophy the first time it happens. So sometimes you can just let them finish you off so that you can see what happens.

The gameplay is really simple though since it’s playing out as if you were really there. So you can only walk, run, and interact with objects. Only in the very last level do you get a laser gun although of course that is fun. The game wants to remain spooky though so it does come with a whole lot of restrictions. You can only fire for a few seconds and if you miss one of the enemies for even 1 second then it won’t be enough to defeat that fighter. You have to then wait for the cooldown and try to survive in the meantime. That cooldown also means that if you are up against more than 1 opponent at once then you are definitely going to be losing that encounter.

Each world also starts getting you involved in some new mechanics real quick. There are only 3 chapters in the game though so it does go by in the blink of an eye though. I’d say it’s probably a little longer than the 2 hours you see listed online but it’s probably around that time, maybe 2.5 hours at best or something like that. So if you see this game for $50 or something then it’s probably not worth getting until you find a discount. It’s not the kind of game you have to play day 1 after all, just play it once you see that it’s a convenient time to pick it up.

The graphics aren’t trying for anything special here but they look good enough. The characters are all recognizable right away. I’d maybe say this is more on the PS2 level than PS4 but as long as it’s clear that is the important part. The soundtrack is for the most part not very memorable but that does change in the final level where we get a final techno type theme once you get the gun. I thought that was a lot of fun and the game manages to give you a solid tune for the two boss fights against Slappy. I also give the game props for actually coming up with two real boss fights that have actual villain attacks and mechanics outside of the rest of the game where you’re just walking and interacting.

It’s the little things like that which showed that the game put in a bit of a real effort here. Ultimately it probably didn’t work since I hadn’t really heard anything about this game online before now but at least they tried. If they made a sequel to this I’d certainly be interested even if I think that is probably a long whiles away if it even happens at all.

So in the end whether you like this game or not will likely depend entirely on if you enjoy the first person style. You have to be in the mood for a fun horror game like this but if you enjoy that style then you will have a great time here. There are also a lot of important quality of life features here like constant save points so when you die you don’t have to redo a whole lot. That makes sense since the game is built around you dying a whole lot so it wouldn’t make sense if you had to go back every time. That would just end up being a drag right? One big issue that they somehow missed though was how you can’t skip dialogue. So if you die at the beginning of the boss fight then the villain will get his whole speech again.

It’s possible that the devs didn’t think about this because there aren’t many boss fights but wouldn’t it stand to reason that this is where you would be most likely to die? That’s definitely one thing I would change. The game is actually reasonably challenging which I appreciate. You will die a few times but in that case you don’t want to be stuck in cutscenes. Nothing will top the first Avatar game for Gamecube in that category but it’s always rough to feel stuck like that.

Overall, Goosebumps is a pretty fun game. You’ll definitely appreciate all the attentions to detail here. The first level is probably the best in terms of being a horror game though. Levels 2 and 3 start to become a bit more of an adventure. Particularly the third level since you get a gun in there while the second is more of a psychological horror as someone is giving you instructions and you have to decide if you will listen to him or not. The first is a classic horror though as you’re in an abandoned house with no way out and monsters around every corner. That’s definitely the level that you would be buying the game for without a doubt.

Overall 7/10

Fire Emblem Engage Review

Fire Emblem is one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises of all time and I’ve been meaning to play one of the main games for ages. Now at last I’ve made it. There may be some debate as to this being a spinoff or a main title but I absolutely give it the nod to hanging out with the other originals. It just works really well there with the classic gameplay. Nintendo has likely got the game of the year here with Engage since it’s hard to see this one being defeated. The story is phenomenal and every single aspect of the game is super polished from the dynamite soundtrack to the top tier graphics. Whether you like the tactics style or not you should check this one out.

The game starts off with Alear and the 12 Fire Emblem fighters of legend teaming up to deal some absolutely devastating damage to the villains. They even manage to destroy the villain and bring the world to peace. 1000 years pass and Alear wakes up in the present to find out that he is worshipped as a divine dragon. Unfortunately his waking was not coincidental as he is quickly attacked by the corrupted. They are a race of powerful villains, albeit fairly mindless ones who are aiming to really cause a lot of trouble. They are working for a group of villains who are trying to take over all of the kingdoms and steal the 12 Emblem Rings. Alear and friends will have to try and get them first but this adventure will go through a whole lot of twists and turns first.

The game took me over 24 hours to complete according to the playtime but if you count retries and such I’m confident it was a lot longer. Fortunately I had a lot of time to play this game, you make time for the top tier titles after all and I can’t think of the last time I marathoned a game so hard. It’s just because this is the kind of game you can’t put down. It’s just way too exhilarating and exciting. The rush you get while playing the story here is not something that just any game can get. You can imagine how much story content there is in such a long game and no expense was spared on the cutscenes.

For example a lot of games will have some cutscenes sporadically but this one has such long cutscenes that the switch would constantly dim from power saver mode and you’d have to make the screen go bright again. Additionally there is full voice acting in just about every step of the game which is incredibly impressive. You hear all the voices in the main story missions, the side quests, etc. It’s a lot of extra detail here and it’s the little things like that which make the game feel extra special. As I mentioned there are a lot of great tunes throughout the game as well and it starts with a very solid intro theme. The music can get quite emotional and then switch to action paced on a dime.

In terms of replay value it goes without saying that there is a lot to do here. After beating the game you can play through the tower of trials and a lot of other modes. There are extra paralogue chapters where you can meet characters and you can also increase all of your bonds with the characters to unlock bonus cutscenes. A nice bonus of watching these cutscenes is that they increase the bond level of your fighters further which increases the stats. There are even minigames like doing pushups to make your characters stronger. I didn’t touch too many of the bonus modes but there is just an incredible amount of content here.

Now if I have my first minor issue it’s that it can be difficult to see which weapon is more powerful to buy at the shop. In most games it’s quite easy to pick out the one you want since you compare it to the weapon you are holding but there is no easy menu to do that. Additionally every weapon has close to 11 stats and the one with the higher attack isn’t always stronger thanks to speed and type advantages. As a result that muddies the water even more and you almost don’t want to destroy any items. On the other hand it’s hard to earn money here so you really need to do that if you want more funds.

It’s a tough pickle for sure but this is a strategy game so that may be intentional. You can also adopt animals in this game which was cool. I made sure to rescue every animal I came across in the level hub worlds because as a hero I could do no less! You can pet them and feed them once you’re back at base which is fun. This is really a complete game. There’s nothing that feels like it was held back for DLC although we are getting several waves of that already. This is a game that was complete out of the box and I can always appreciate that.

Wow I still haven’t talked much about the gameplay right? Well, it’s your classic strategy turn based style so you move your fighters from area to area as you try to take out the enemy commander. Occasionally the objective will be something different but this is generally how it plays out. As the game starts you will control a few players but by the end you will control as many as 14 while the opponent has 30+. So it’s all about choosing when to start battles and when to avoid them. Like in Chess each character has a different amount of spaces they can move and their abilities are all different so you have to take that into account.

As you bond with your emblem you can learn new skills to stack on top of the old one as well. The gameplay is very thorough so pay attention to all of the tutorials. In terms of strategies my main tip is to always use Segall and Byleth as separate characters so don’t pair them together. The reason is that Segall can allow a player to get a second turn while Byleth can restore 4 turns. So if you use this as a combo right you can get 5 extra turns in the blink of an eye which is super handy. I used this combo a lot near the end of the game. There are plenty of other cool abilities as well so at the end of the day the main thing to remember here is to try and use each ability to the best you can. If you do that then you’ll be just fine.

If you die, no worries. You have a time crystal so you can respawn on any previous turn and rethink your strategy. Keep grinding out different formations until you have secured victory! The fight animations here are also really cool with complete choreography for each move. Admittedly I started skipping them after a while just for time’s sake as watching every attack would probably double or triple my overall play time. I do like that they put a whole lot of effort into this.

Overall, Fire Emblem Engage is an elite title and you will definitely enjoy your playthrough of it. I always enjoy tactics gameplay but that alone wouldn’t make this an elite game. No, what pushes this one over the top is how fantastic the story is. It’s one of the more emotional titles you’ll play in a while and it just has a super satisfying ending which seals the deal. I don’t go into much details here because it’s the kind of story where you want to go in fresh but there are just so many dynamite characters all around. Whether you’ve played Fire Emblem or not, you can absolutely jump into this one. It’s very new player friendly and you will have no regrets when going through the adventure.

Overall 9/10

Street Fighter Duel Review

Street Fighter came out with a new mobile game recently so I jumped in right away to give it a go. This is the only idle game I’ve played since that first Godzilla mobile game which I’d say nailed the concept a little better. Ultimately I don’t think idle games are for me or rather you would need it to either be an incredible franchise that I’m invested in or also have a big story mode to back it up. I think idle games will generally be decently fun and certainly super addicting but the ceiling is way lower than with most other genres. I wouldn’t call this game better than good but it’s still not bad. I’m actually writing this review in part so I can finally delete the game because otherwise it does eat up time and there’s only so many hours in a day.

The story is the minimum you need for this to be called a story and you can tell that there isn’t a focus on it. Basically mecha versions of various characters have appeared and we need to take them down asap! This also leads to a tournament being set up for some reason. Every 40 levels you will get a quick cutscene as you beat up a character who appears and that’s about it. I cleared close to 200 levels and the format never changed except for the chapters getting a little longer each time. At first they were around 36 levels and by the end they were 40 levels and more. It is really impressive that the game launched with more than 1600 levels though, I have to give the devs credit there.

Additionally I want to underscore that the game is not lazy by any means. Yes the story is but the rest of the game has a lot of content and various modes which is what people are playing it for. That is the impressive part to the point where there are so many modes that it is hard to keep track. I was still unlocking new modes as I went through the 5th chapter. There are so many areas to keep track of and I think the intent is for you to be a little overwhelmed. It can be tempting to spend some money so the game runs itself to an even higher degree but resist the urge! By definition an idle game will eventually give you the resources that you need in order to complete it, you just have to be patient.

Let me go into more detail on this. Remember those facebook gardening game? That’s the best example. As you go to sleep and keep the game off, your fighters are training and beating enemies constantly. This gives you EXP, orbs, money, and every other resource in the game. It caps out at 19 hours so make sure you at least log in once every 19 hours to collect the points so they start up again. Of course then you’re tempted to do the daily log ins, check each of the many modes to get those logins, etc. That’s where the game gets you. Yes you don’t have to do those things but it’s sort of hard not to while you’re there since each individual task only takes a few seconds, maybe 2-3 minutes max. But by the time you’ve done this for every single menu and mode suddenly you’ve been playing for 40 minutes. Then there are the levels. You can turn on “consecutive challenge” which will have all the levels keep breezing by but it still takes some time as you watch the characters take down the enemies.

You don’t really have to “play” the game at all and just watch the computers take care of business. You can take direct control to click on the special moves but the computers handle all the movement and normal attacks. You are basically the coach here and that’s not a bad thing but it is an acquired taste. I don’t think this kind of game will be for everyone. Hey, I found it addicting so I would say that it is doing something right but in general I love stats so seeing all the numbers going up and everything is great. You have to know when to cut out early though and after beating so many levels I figured I have the game a fair shake.

The graphics are on point and while the soundtrack is forgettable you can just turn on some background music. It’s not like you really need the game’s actual audio for checking in on your characters and materials. Ultimately you can do that in complete silence if you want although I feel like it’s always a bit comforting to have some kind of music on. I usually talk about replay value but it goes without saying that it is basically infinite here. You can keep playing for as long as you have time and if you opt to just log in once every 19 hours for a few minutes that is a valid strategy. Honestly they give you so many resources for free that you will be rich if you can just hold out for a few days without using it. You should be able to dominate all of the single player content the game gives you as long as you just give it some time.

Overall, I can tell you right now that the extent to which I covered the menus, modes, and overall game can’t possibly do the title justice to the sheer amount of content here. So if you are looking for a good idle game then this is a good bet. It will take you hours just to understand all of the mechanics and there are so many items to re-roll and develop that you should be busy for a very long time. This is definitely not a title that you pick up and master in an instant. I would just say to watch out just because I feel the risk of getting addicted here is much greater than any ordinary game. There’s something about it that just feels really aggressive but as long as your strength of will is good then you will have a good time here. I see this game being quite profitable so I expect it should be around for a long while. Maybe it will help fund a new Street Fighter anime or movie at some point.

Overall 6/10

Nexomon: Extinction Review

Okay it’s time to talk about Nexomon, a game that I picked up on a whim and it turned out to be way better than I was expecting. The story is absolutely epic and a nice change of pace after playing through Need for Speed (2015). In a lot of ways it’s sort of what you could picture Pokemon doing if they ever decided to make a story that was a little more Shonen like in nature. There are certainly a whole lot of twists in this one so by the end you know that you were in a huge RPG.

The game starts out by explaining that the Nexomon and Dragons were in a big war a long time ago. The humans didn’t fare too well in the crossfire but eventually a group did manage to destroy Omnicron, the king of the monsters. The world went into a state of relative peace afterwards but the Tyrants continue to spawn and while the humans do their best to fight, every day is a never ending battle. This can’t be how humanity was supposed to live. In comes Terry (You choose the main character’s name) and he aims to become a guild fighter who will climb up the ranks. Can he save this world?

One of the many reasons why the story is so good is because of all the factions here. You have the humans, the Nexomon, the higher Nexomon known as the Tyrants, the kids of Omnicron, the Dragons, etc. Everyone is mixed in here and the Earth can only take so many factions so naturally there is a lot of action all the time. The game also asks you a lot of moral questions as you have to wonder if you are on the right side at all. I would even go as far as to say the game hints you are on the wrong side for a good chunk of the second half and I would say yes.

Now you are technically presented as doing the right thing at least in as far as you’re seeing things from the main character’s point of view but at the same time you also know that the arguments made in favor of his side are usually used by the villains. Basically the heroes fear the birth of a new creature called Vados who will end up wiping out all Tyrants in the world. This is actually the goal of the heroes so that sounds good right? Well the issue is that Vados is so powerful that he can wipe out all Tyrants in the blink of an eye so if he ever turned rogue then the heroes would be in trouble. Sounds similar to how Lex Luthor views Superman eh? Think about it in that context and it makes everything very interesting.

The game also doesn’t take the easy way out by making Vados a mindless creature or one who is super evil. He is actually fully sentient and even says several times that he will not harm the humans. He just seems like a good guy and as the heroes keep pushing him farther and farther you wonder if he will be able to stay strong or not. The writing here is excellent in how the game never makes any side appear to be too deranged and both sides have a lot of good points throughout the adventure. Throw in some clever 4th wall breaks as well as a lot of witty dialogue and you’ve got yourself a very engaging script. This would make for a really solid anime all the way through if it ever got animated.

Now the gameplay is also important of course so lets get into that. It’s basically Pokemon as you fight in turn based combat battles and catch Nexomon to add to your collection. The type advantages are a little different so you will need to get used to that and the way you catch Nexomon is similar to catching Pokemon but still a bit different as you have to match the right actions on the screen in order to effectively throw the Nexotrap. You can also increase the odds of success by feeding Nexomon or using a specific type of trap. As you play through the game you also get a lot stronger thanks to passive items with permanent boosts like EXP going up by 3% or your catch rates going up. Each one stacks so you really want to open every treasure chest that you can find.

The gameplay is very smooth and is probably one of the better Pokemon homages that I’ve seen in a while. The hubworld is really solid and a nice feature here is that monster encounters only happen in specific patches of grass that you see ahead of time. So you don’t have to be constantly worrying about running away from monsters as you can safely avoid them almost 100% of the time. There are a few select areas like some caves where random encounters will happen but these are few and far between. You can expect that you won’t be seeing these very much at all. So you’ve got quite a few quality of life updates here.

One edge Pokemon does have though is the EXP share system. It feels so odd to go back to only leveling up one Nexomon at a time. I’m glad there is only a trophy for getting one of them to level 99 and not a bunch because that would be a lot of work. I got one of mine to around level 70 so I don’t think it’ll be too hard to get it to 99. You do have cores you can synthesize which allow other Nexomon to get at least some EXP per battle though. So if you grind and get enough materials then eventually you can make your own pseudo EXP share.

So yeah you should have a lot of fun with the gameplay. As more and more games turn to a real time action combat system, it can be fun to go back to the more retro turn based style sometimes. I’ll never turn down real time action of course but I also really like turn based. Why not both as they would say right? This one still has a whole lot of relevance within the video gaming world and as long as it’s done smoothly then it will always work out. At most you could say that one thing the game is lacking is that the opponent can switch Nexomon after one is defeated while you cannot. Feels like a bit of an unfair advantage in the game and considering that in Pokemon both trainers can do this, it felt like an odd change. I always thought the computer was basically cheating a bit tbh.

The difficulty can be a little high at times so you should know that you will be grinding at some points within the game. It is basically inevitable but at the same time you can really focus on one and not worry about the other. The game’s enemies scale up so as you level up, so does everyone else in the game. Wild Nexomon, trainers, etc. So just get one Nexomon really high up and then catch 5 others to make up a team of super powerful fighters. If you do that then you will already be in a good spot and will stay that way for the rest of the game. Also make sure you at least use some strategy because the final boss is actually really difficult and has more phases than your average RPG final boss. Now that was an impressive way to end the game and if I had skipped out on any training then I may have been in trouble.

Overall, Nexomon: Extinction is a great game that I definitely recommend. It had one of the best stories that I’ve seen in a while and the developers did a great job with a fairly low budget. There may not have been big animated cutscenes here but the illustrations were all very well done and so were the sprite based animations within the gameplay. They showed more creativity with these than I’ve seen some AAA titles use. You really felt like the world was alive by the end of the game and it nailed the mix of humor and action. This is the kind of game you can play for hours without worry because of how smooth everything is. Definitely check it out and hopefully they get that sequel in quick!

Overall 8/10

Need for Speed (2015) Review

It feels like it’s been a while but it’s time to dive in with the next Need for Speed title. This one brings in all the exciting racing you could hope for from previous installments but the story isn’t all that good. This one is trying for an ambitious story with a lot of different group dynamics but it really never gets all that good. The first mistake was making this a more grounded live action kind of story. Give me fun graphics and an animated story any day.

The basic premise here is that you come into town and are looking for some fun racing action. You meet up a group who help you find the right tracks. From there you start racing so well that everyone wants you on their team. You have to complete missions from 5 different people and the more you complete on one side, the more the others get mad at you for always being busy. You even end up helping the Outlaws and so you’ll be in a meeting where everyone is upset at them but on the downlow you’ve actually been helping them the whole time. There’s some real drama here for sure and one character even comes close to beating you up at one point.

These driving tests and races really get personal that’s for sure. You can’t afford to let your guard down at all or you may end up in trouble. The only thing to do is to race and race hard! There are a lot of missions in this game so I wouldn’t expect to complete the game too quickly. It can be a bit tricky with the races when their cars are going super fast and likewise the group drifts can get difficult. On the whole drifts are still easier than races though. I would recommend sticking to your main car for most of the game and just upgrade it as needed. Once you see that the opponent’s cars are simply faster than yours even with max upgrades then buy the best car you can. The reason you want to hold off on buying a car right away is so that you have enough money to buy one of the top ends as opposed to a middle grade car that will only buy you some time. There’s just not a whole lot of point in doing that and then having to earn money when you can jump to the top. I did this and so I only needed to buy one really great car at the end.

Just base it all on how much faster your car is. If you’re faster then you just have to make sure not to crash and you’ll win. If you’re slower…well then there isn’t a whole lot that you can do so you may as well not worry about it and just get a good car. The money is fairly generous in this game so I wouldn’t worry too much. Additionally, the more build missions you complete, the more upgrade parts you get so that’s another thing to keep in mind. You absolutely are going to want those down the line as it is so don’t lose sight of that. If you get to level 50 then you should have all of the parts at the ready although you’ll likely beat the game well before that. I beat it at around level 44 if I remember correctly.

You can fast travel to any mission by selecting it and then scrolling right so make sure you do that. I didn’t realize you could teleport at first so I was actually just driving around instead. Teleporting is infinitely easier and more convenient. Then you just complete the missions and if at any point you think a mission is too tricky you can select a different mission instead. With 5 types to choose from it’ll be a while until you actually have to take a specific mission and by then you will likely be a lot faster than you once were.

The graphics here are really sharp. The cars and environments are absolutely high end and everything just looks really sleek and nice. You feel like you are in the car and ready to dominate at all times. The speeds you can go at without the game lagging at all is very impressive. The soundtrack is more on the underwhelming side to the point where you will want to lower the volume in the settings right away. EA has never been known for its soundtracks so that’s not a huge surprise but be that as it may you will probably still shake your head here. Either way just hearing the engine is reasonably soothing.

There is some replay value after beating the game which is to try the Eddie challenges and go after the Platinum. You don’t even need the former to obtain the latter which is interesting. Good luck finding anyone online but the offline gameplay still has a lot of races and non story content to accomplish. Considering that the main length was also rather long as well, I’d say you should be kept nice and busy here. There’s just a lot to really take in and enjoy even if the story is really weak. You are mainly here for the gameplay either way.

The difficulty can be high but it still feels fair. There is a bit of rubberbanding on the CPU side with the enemies suddenly appearing right next to you at times but for the most part I wouldn’t say that this ever becomes a big problem. If your car is faster then you will win. I have repeated this point a few times already but mainly just to emphasize how big a deal that is. Yes crashing will become easier so you better master drifting but at the end of the day if you don’t make mistakes then you’ll be good and that’s how it should be.

Overall, Need For Speed is a quality game. I look forward to seeing how Payback stacks up against this one. Will it surpass the 2015 title or will it end up being left in the dust? It may be a while before I play that one so I won’t know the answer too soon. In the meantime I am aiming for the Platinum on this one so you can probably expect to see an update within the next few days. I mainly just need to get a lot of XP to reach Level 50 and do the daily challenges and I’ll be set. I think this would be my first Need for Speed platinum as those are usually really rare.

Overall 7/10

Super Sami Roll Review

Super Sami Roll
It’s time for another quality platformer courtesy of Limited Run Games. This one’s sort of a cross between Monkey Ball and Yoshi. You’re rolling around and trying to balance but unlike the classic Monkey you can use your tongue to maneuver around the levels. Effectively this gives you a whole lot more movement options compared to what you would have otherwise had. It makes for a fun gameplay style that is easy to pick up but hard to master. You are absolutely going to need some really quick reaction times if you are planning to survive this one.

The game starts with The NFT King Albert VII kidnapping Vera so now her friend Sami has to try and stop him. Sami didn’t ask for this fight but he’s not about to walk away from it either. He is absolutely ready to claim victory here and nobody is going to get in his way. To defeat Albert he will need to destroy all of his mecha as he travel across the various lands in search of Vera. If he can manage to truly stop Albert then the war will be over but it won’t be easy. At least he has his owl friend to back him up when the going gets tough.

There isn’t much of a story overall but in line with the retro style it’s going for we do get an opening and an ending here. The quick cutscenes we get are really solid looking illustrations and I’ll always take some kind of cutscenes over nothing. At the end of the day you are absolutely playing this for the gameplay though and fortunately the game delivers throughout. The gameplay is pretty tight and at most you might miss a jump once or twice where you could have sworn that you did actually press in time. Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t…it’s going to be hard to say but otherwise the momentum and jump settings are all on point so you have a lot of control.

You have to balance going carefully with going quickly. If you go too slowly through the levels then the timer will run out and you will lose but if you go too fast then you will end up falling to your doom a lot. With the checkpoints in the middle of the level that does help you not have to worry about this quite as much but you still want to keep it in mind. I will say that the checkpoints were a very good idea because without them I dare say that things would have been very concerning here.

In terms of gameplay tips I would say to use your tongue flip as often as possible. Keep in mind that this ability is borderline overpowered at times. It will help you win a whole lot of levels because the enemies don’t have a counter for it. For example during the final castle level I just could not figure out how to get past all of the obstacles in time. So what did I do? I just broke the level by climbing using a lot of quick tongue flips and I made it to the end. I can guarantee you that this was not how you’re supposed to beat the level as I managed to skip every obstacle and stage element in the game but it worked and that’s what counts. Always master the gameplay mechanics as much as you can and in the end you are sure to surprise even the devs with just how much you can accomplish.

The ost is also really solid here. I was surprised at just how many quality tunes were in the game but they just kept popping up. Particularly the fire world at the end where all of the levels had really fun, fast paced tunes. They just kept hitting you with great tune after great tune. The other worlds had good tracks as well but that was the best one and it is a large variety here. You won’t hear too many repeats as you go through the game and so that keeps everything very well balanced. The graphics are also pretty good here. Everything is always clear and the worlds all have distinct designs. You won’t really be seeing any worlds twice since they all have an element although not every level within a world will necessarily follow that element. For example there are 2 levels following the world 1 theme in the final world which was definitely a twist. Not sure if they were extra levels that the devs just wanted to include or it was a callback.

The game’s length is fairly reasonable. There are 4 worlds here and each one has around 15 levels to complete. The levels can range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes but you also have to factor in that you will probably die a whole lot during the game. So unless you end up being a true prodigy at the title I imagine it will take you around 6 hours or so to complete it. I might be overestimating it a tad but that’s around how long it took me to beat the game. I know it was 3 batches and I think on average I played it for about 2 hours a pop. Maybe lower that to 4 hours total if you’re rounding but 4-6 at least and add or subtract time based on how quickly you go through the levels.

World 1 was certainly really easy but then after that there is a really drastic increase in difficulty which just doesn’t relent. So how long it takes you to get past World 2 will be a good indicator. For me World 3 was easily the most difficult because it’s just really hard to get past ice. The slippery surfaces make things tricky after all. If you don’t master your balance then you are definitely going to be in a really sticky situation. Note that there is also quite a lot of replay value in here as some levels have secret exits which unlock bonus levels. There is also a shop where you can buy color swaps and items but I never ended up using it during my campaign.

Overall, Super Sami Roll is a pretty good platformer. It may not have a deep story or anything like that but it gives you quite a lot of levels to go through. There aren’t many games in the Monkey Ball niche so if you’re a fan of those then you will definitely want to go and play this one as well. That series seems to have slowed down quite a lot after all so maybe we can get more Super Sami Roll games at some point. That would definitely be really nice. There is also a bonus mode you unlock by beating the game where you can play as the main heroine and fly through the levels. I’m guessing they will probably redesign the levels or make them all new because otherwise I can see the player breaking a ton of the stages. Although maybe that will be part of the fun since this is a reward for beating the game after all.

Overall 7/10

Children of Mana Review

Time for another installment in the Mana series. The Children of Mana has a title that really makes sense by the final boss which was a really unique opponent to go up against. I’d call this a dungeon crawler RPG. You don’t have any partners to help you out this time around so it’s like you’re some kind of solo leveling warrior on your way to stop all of the villains and prove your power. It’s a title that definitely ends up being really solid the whole time and you’ll have a good experience here.

The story follows a kid named Ferrik who one day gets roped into a massive adventure when monsters start appearing everywhere. Tess, one of those who prays to the Mana lets Ferrik know that he has to stop these monsters and use the Mana Sword for justice but the Mana Lord doesn’t want this to happen. He aims to create a lot of chaos and endless battles among those in the world before destroying it all. He is effectively using the mana to wipe out everything and believes it is the will of mana. Ferrik has to stop this lunatic and quickly but it won’t be easy. This guy basically is pure power after all.

The structure of the game is fairly straight forward. Each world has you enter a dungeon and go through a bunch of floors until you beat the boss at the end. At first the worlds are around 4 floors long, then 8, and then the final one was around 15-16. You can save every 4 floors which is really handy. One minor annoyance is if you lose you have to shut the console off and on again to load your save because otherwise it takes you back to home base. SO keep that in mind and try not to lose too often. On the other hand the big plus about this setup is that when you die you keep your EXP and weapons that you obtained. In that way it’s like a rogue game in that each playthrough will make you stronger. You get exp really quickly here so the level ups just keep coming in.

Each floor will have you try to find a gem in order to get to the next floor. Once you find that then you have to find the portal and each level will always give you a hint as to where that is. It can be trapped inside a crystal or perhaps generated by beating all of the enemies in the floor. The messages are very clear so you should never be confused on what to do next. It will just end up coming naturally to you. This is very much a game where you will get more and more comfortable with the controls as you play through the game. The important thing is to make sure you are good at attacking and then running off. Don’t bother finishing the combo unless it is a one on one fight or you may leave yourself open to a counter.

You equip gems to balance out your character so I made mine a glass cannon. The plus of that is that every enemy goes down quickly including the final bosses but the downside of that is that each hit really knocks you for a loop. A few hits and you will not be surviving. I still thought this was worth it because while I might die more I will also be obtaining exp a lot quicker so it adds up. Wouldn’t you say hat this is the right move when you take all of that into consideration? You can switch your setup at any time too so there’s no rush there. The game is very plentiful with the resources.

The gameplay style is that of an overhead real time battle system by the way. You start with a sword but gradually get 3 other weapons in the bow, hammer, and chain. Each one is handy so you will be using them a lot. Mainly I would focus on the hammer for environmental damage like destroying the big crystals and activating traps. The bow is great when you need to pick off enemies from a distance. It will take longer than using the sword but it is always a whole lot safer and I found myself relying on this more in the final worlds. The chain is good for if you are getting overwhelmed by enemies and need to create some distance. It hits in a full circle so you can hit a lot of enemies at once.

Grow used to each weapon and you will really be set. You also have magic but I never really used it the whole game since it just seemed really weak. My advice is to equip the light based one since as a passive ability it will heal you from time to time. At the end of the day that’s all I really need. Just give me that and I can take care of the rest with my weapons. There is really a lot of depth to the gameplay though so playing around with the equipment and weapons is really fun. I recommend just messing around with all of them and finding the setup that works for you.

The graphics here are pretty good. The game gets major credit from me for having some cutscenes that were fully animated. I know that’s not easy based on how few games for portable would actually do it. So that’s a really good amount of extra effort that’s just really nice to see. Major kudos on that! The soundtrack is also pretty good. I enjoyed the boss theme here and the game had that classic RPG feel to it. The music is very authentic and so you should be satisfied here. In terms of replay value, well the game is decently long. I want to say it took me around 15 hours or so. There isn’t really much replay value beyond that that I could see but the game hinted that there may be a post game hidden somewhere so that’s something to keep an eye out for. You should be able to get this for a decent price right around now too so this is definitely worth it.

Overall, Children of Mana is a pretty good game. The dungeon elements are fun and it’s not something that is done very often in the RPGs so I think it worked well as a change of pace. I don’t think the story itself was quite as engaging as some of the other Mana games and mainly I think that is because I do miss the banter with all of the characters. Since you’re just playing as the main guy with nobody around for about 90% of the game, there isn’t a whole lot of time for witty dialogue and all of that. If anything there isn’t a lot of talking for a very large portion of the game. As a result the story just didn’t have as much time to really grow and adapt. Still the gameplay will always be the most important factor and the game delivers on that so I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

Trials of Mana Review

The Mana series has always been a lot of fun. It may not have gotten quite as popular as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest but it can certainly hold its own with them. Each title has been really solid so far and this one gives us multiple main characters so there are different ways to experience the story. It gives the adventure a lot more replay value even if it does mean that the platinum trophy will be a lot more difficult to obtain. It’s still worth it in the end.

I decided to play as Duran and so during the game I set up a party of 3 characters and I suppose you would get the other 3 if you go through a different route. Duran was an ordinary soldier of his kingdom until a fire mage broke in one day and slaughtered everyone. Duran now has to avenge his people by gaining great power. A fairy ends up entering into a binding contract with him so Duran must also save the world but fortunately that will put him in the crosshairs of the mage. Does he really have enough power to defeat such a foe though or will he need some help?

The gameplay style is that of a real time 3D adventure. You use your sword or staff to whack away at the opponents and can roll to dodge attacks. You also have items and super moves at the ready to keep things balanced as well. Your characters move a bit on the slow side so you have to be careful about using the rolls though. It’s meant to be a high risk high reward move so it will get you out of the line of fire but has a lot of stun. Make sure you time your rolls well to really maximize how well you fight. I liked how the game really encourages you to dodge because otherwise the enemies deal incredible amounts of damage.

The only catch here is that the AI for your partners makes Donald and Goofy look smart in comparison. Expect them to get hit by literally every attack that the boss throws your way. They rarely ever remember to use their super attacks at the right time even if you turn them to the most aggressive settings possible. You will have to do a lot on your own here so keep switching between characters but the rough part is they’ll bump your character off after you’ve switched. I died two times because of that which was rough. The game can be difficult but the exp system is well crafted so you can always just go back to training and then you’ll be okay.

It’s a very solid PG with no real gameplay issues there. The platforming is done well too and running away from enemies is seamless. There are a lot of collectibles which will take time to obtain but it’s not overdone either so you feel like you could actually get them all. One day it may be fun to go back and platinum this title because it seems like it would be a pleasant walkthrough. I’d also get a chance to experience the game’s bonus story and see what that’s all about.

The graphics here are really solid. It’s all very colorful although I would have liked some fights within the cutscenes. Those can be harder to set up but the payoff is always great. You want to see how strong the characters really are without gameplay mechanics and this would be the best way to find that out. Meanwhile for the soundtrack, it’s good although I wouldn’t say it’s super memorable. It gets points for having a lot of themes though. Quite a few of the bosses had unique themes instead of the game just having one stock boss theme for everybody. I always thought that was a good idea.

The game’s length is pretty good. Apparently it’s usually around 20 hours although I knocked it out a good deal sooner. The length will probably depend on how much you level grind while going through the game. It makes things easier and you won’t die against bosses as much. You can speed it up further by skipping character intros but I liked seeing the origin of everyone I came across. Personally it helped make this feel like more of a cinematic adventure and you also identify with the characters this way. It’s like a crossover effect with each character doing their own thing until you meet.

Now there is one thing I would have to criticize here and it’s the loading times. The game has a loading screen pop up constantly. It shows up for every area you walk across and even between cutscenes. The loading times are fairly extensive so if you went the wrong way by mistake get ready to have two of those in a row. It’s absolutely not game breaking or anything, but it can be annoying since it’s very noticeable. I haven’t played a game with this many long loading screens in quite a while.

Of course when your biggest issue in a game is the loading screens then you know that you’re playing a great game. Duran makes for a fun main character. He’s your classic hero trying to avenge his village and save the world. Then you have Angela who is a fun mage. She isn’t very good with magic initially so she is working on getting better at it as the game goes on. There are other characters who get big and small roles depending on which story you’re playing. There are also a number of villains and different factions here. some don’t do a lot so I’m betting they’re in other stories as well. It really makes this feel like you’re watching part of a bigger adventure through one character’s eyes and so the game succeeded in what it was trying to do there. You won’t be forgetting the game anytime soon after you complete it.

Overall, Trials of Mana is definitely a great game. You’ll have fun with it as you have a quality story and good characters. The gameplay is on point which is always the important thing and there are a number of quality of life features the title has that can’t be understated. For example, it’s got a map feature that actually works. The game always clearly marks on the map where to go next so it’s impossible to get lost. I always appreciate that and every location is also noted on the map for when you want to do some free travel. The levels even tell you how many treasure chests are remaining in the area so you don’t have to guess. These are all features that are great to have here and you earn bonuses for finding collectibles that enhance the experience even more. This is definitely the way to go when making an RPG as comfortable as possible.

Overall 8/10