5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

UEFA Euro 2008 Review


It’s time to look at a soccer game that I’ve had for a while. This one isn’t FIFA so I definitely am not familiar with it. Right away you could also tell that things were a little different since the United States team isn’t available. It does say Euro in the title though so I suppose that is to be expected. It’s fun enough for big soccer fans, but it’s not really for me. I still can’t figure out how to score which is definitely rough. I need to score!

When you jump into a game you are given the option to play as the whole team or to just be one player and hope that your teammates pass it to you. It’s a novel concept, but after trying it for a while I can’t really imagine playing that way for long. I like to be in control of what’s going to happen and I can’t assume direct control if I’m locked to one player. As a result this strategy just doesn’t work for me. I also played a game as the whole team of course and that was a lot better. Of course, in that game my team didn’t score so there’s a flip side.

The rules of the game are similar to Basketball. You have to kick your ball into the opposing team’s net in order to score a goal. Whoever scores the most goals will end up winning and claiming the title. The problem of course is that scoring is incredibly difficult. The goalkeeper seems to be able to block any kind of shot that you hit his way and you are never given the opportunity to even get close because the other team is constantly stealing the ball or knocking you to the side. This game just feels like a mystery to me because nothing would work. This traditionally does happen in soccer games though. The only one where I was really able to get into the zone was Mario Strikers and that game has always been particularly awesome so that isn’t really much of a surprise. For all I know the Nintendo just really aces the sport.

Of course, a lot of people play these soccer games and score so it’s not that the game is glitched or anything. I like to think of these games as puzzles and this is one puzzle that I just haven’t cracked yet. Hopefully I will be able to soon as I will have a few more opportunities with soccer games coming up. I believe I at least have one more and then it’s on to the NHL. The graphics definitely look pretty good here even if they aren’t as polished as the other sport titles. You can always clearly see what is happening and that is absolutely the most important part to the graphics here. You’ve gotta be able to see in order to make the key plays after all.

In terms of replay value, this game’s still got a lot to do. There is definitely less content than FIFA, but there’s still a ton to do as long as you enjoy soccer. You can keep on playing games over and over again and you can really refine your play by choosing to lock yourself as one player I guess. It’s definitely not the option I would choose, but I’m sure that there are a lot of people who would enjoy doing that.

I guess one ironic part of the soccer games is that it’s one of the only sports where I’m better at defense than offense. I typically hold the other team to 1 point at best. I may lose the match, but it’s always a very respectable final score so that’s something I can be pretty proud of. It doesn’t really help with making the game more exciting though. A low scoring match like that just shows me even more why soccer just isn’t my thing. I really love high powered offenses and points, which isn’t really the point of soccer. This is possibly a game where a 1 hour tutorial actually could have ended up helping me out quite a bit. Interestingly the computer doesn’t get a whole lot better when you increase the difficulty or at least I couldn’t notice. I still can’t score, but neither can they so it evens out.

Overall, UEFA Euro is a quality soccer game. It checks all of the boxes that it needs to and while it doesn’t ultimately differentiate itself as the definitive soccer game it does give players another option when heading into Gamestop. Not every game needs to be the next showstopper and there are no real weaknesses with this game that would make you want to skip it. At the end of the day it adapts the game of soccer pretty well and that’s all you really need. It’s only around 5 bucks so I’d recommend picking it up if you see it. If you don’t like soccer, then you definitely shouldn’t be buying a soccer game anyway.

Overall 5/10

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8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NBA Live 14 Review


It’s time to take a look at yet another Basketball game! These really do keep on coming don’t they? Well, I haven’t played a Live title in a little while so it was fun to float back to it. This time I actually ended up preferring it to the 2K counterpart so that was pretty neat. It’s a very fast paced installment and there’s no long tutorial to get in your way so you can dive into the action. I tried facing off against the computer on standard difficulty and then again on the toughest level. Both times the games ended around the same way which is odd, but I did lose so maybe the computer just likes to keep it close.

I’ve already explained the rules of Basketball in my last 10 Basketball game reviews so you may be wondering why I keep on doing it. Well, I figure that every review is potentially someone’s first review so a short recap isn’t a bad idea. I will be keeping this fairly brief though. The goal of the game is to score more points than the other team and the way you score points is by throwing the ball inside the opponent’s hoop. This is tricky since there is always a defender right next to you and their goal is to swipe/block the ball and make some scores of their own. You’ll need teamwork to stop these guys since just taking over a game isn’t a completely viable strategy.

As mentioned earlier one of the biggest reasons why the game is so great is because Live 14 is just really fast paced. It actually felt like I was playing one of the Gamecube installments which was definitely neat. Those were really good times and the players also felt more like pros. I was sinking a ton of 3 point shots and they just weren’t missing. On the other hand, that meant I really couldn’t stop the other team since my best bet was usually to pick up the rebounds. Speaking of which, the rebounds are tough here because it feels like your player completely freezes when the ball is in the air. I’m not sure if that’s a new mechanic or if it’s always been like that, but it definitely did make things pretty tricky.

At one point I even got a 10 point lead against these guys so you know that I was feeling pretty sharp around this point. Then half time occurred and as always the computer started to make a miraculous comeback. I still think that there’s something a little fishy here. They ended up taking a narrow win but it was a very entertaining match. At least since my players weren’t constantly missing the ball it felt like I was actually playing. I didn’t do any fancy ball tricks, but I did do a lot more passing as well. Sometimes I try to play the games fairly realistically since that’s fun in its own way and other times I just charge the ball constantly.l

Then in the super tough difficulty match I never got a huge lead, but I did have a 2 point advantage to start the fourth quarter. It still proved to be futile, but one of these days I will score a definitive win against the A.I. Defense is definitely still holding me back because if I were able to make the occasional stop that would make all the difference. You can’t win on offense alone, you’ve got to dominate on both sides of the ball. It’s absolutely crucial that you do that if you want to rise up the ranks.

The graphics are definitely top notch and after playing this one and 2K back to back you can see the difference. EA spares no expense on the mainline NBA games and it’s always hard to see how the graphics can keep improving. After a while you’ve basically just become as lifelike as you can possibly get. As expected there isn’t really much of a soundtrack to note here. It’s around, but you won’t be on the main menu a whole lot anyway.

There’s a lot of content and replay value here of course. I’m thinking that the servers for this title are probably either gone or empty, but it’s worth checking into if you have PS+. The main draw will likely be the actual games though so that’s where you’ll be putting in a lot of time. It’s always fun to see yourself improving as you play game after game and the Basketball season has a ton of matches per season so you’ll be here a long while. At the end of the day the replay value will depend on how much you like the sport. A game like Madden I could play forever while NBA I would probably clock out after 20-40 hours. Still a great value for 5 bucks though.

Overall, NBA Live 14 is definitely a great title and one of the best NBA Live installments. The gameplay is back to being very fast. It’s definitely going for more of an arcade style than the simulation gameplay that 2K brings. Both have their strengths of course, but sometimes I am just in the mood for a quick arcade bout with lots of points flying across the board. This game delivers on that and is a solid way to end my Basketball run for now. Coming up are a lot of Soccer and Hockey games so stay tuned for those as I continue to dive into my sports backlog. Knocking that down to 0 will definitely be an awesome milestone!

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NBA 2K18 Review


It’s time to jump back into the world of NBA 2K! This one’s actually pretty recent so I was almost surprised that it is only a few bucks to buy nowadays. Well, that definitely works for me and the game is consistently good as always. It’s a solid Basketball game that will help you through the fundamentals and allow you to really see what it’s like to be on the court. The tutorial is a little too long to be honest, but once you’re through that then you’re ready for the full experience.

As I mentioned there is a bit of a tutorial when you start up. Basically you have to play endless games against the computer as all of the modes install and the game finishes downloading. This took around an hour and a half in addition to the 30 minute install before you could actually start playing the game. Add this in and you should get prepared for a long wait. I suppose being forced to face off against the computer is much better than just waiting on an empty menu though. At least you are given something to do right? It works as well as a classic Play Now feature so I’m guessing my experience is pretty much the same as it would have been.

As always the goal of the game is to throw the ball into the opponent’s hoop. To do this you will pass among your teammates until one of you is in range to claim the points and nail the win. It’s definitely not as easy as it sounds though since your players will routinely miss every shot they can. You can’t really depend on these guys and likewise they won’t be depending on you much either. They’re all just going to get ready to do their own thing and you try to follow along with them as best you can. It’s just odd to see these prop players missing baskets when they’re so close to the hoop. I’m sure there are some methods on how to score baskets more reliably, but until you learn them get ready to miss a lot.

Still, I did keep the game real close for the first half. I’ve noticed this is a bit of a trend as I’m right with the other team, but as soon as the halftime break ends they come out swinging. Maybe the games actually incorporate a little pep talk into the A.I. now. If so, then that’s definitely pretty interesting. Regardless, they blew me out of the water by the end, but I’m just glad that I kept it respectable for a while. I even landed a few 3 point shots, but ultimately missed way more than I landed.

As expected the graphics are pretty good here. They definitely aren’t as good as the main NBA titles, but 2K is still holding their own right up there with the main guys and that’s pretty impressive in its own right. The soundtrack isn’t memorable enough to really mention but I’m sure it’s decent. Sport games don’t tend to have my favorite soundtracks but they use a lot of real songs so that’s something. I just want some fast paced instrumental tunes and then I’d be all set.

There’s definitely a ton of replay value here of course as you try to earn all of the trophies. Each game is unique and so playing around in franchise mode will also take you a long time. In theory there is no reason why you would need to spend less than 50 hours on this game. There’s just a lot of Basketball fun to be had. Usually I’ve been preferring these to the main NBA titles, but this time it did feel a little extra slow. 2K is more about realism than bringing the party to the gameplay, but with everyone constantly missing it definitely slowed down the tempo a lot. Still, not enough so to hurt the score.

On offense I still recommend doing a lot of charging the basket and quickly passing to the outside for either a quick 3 point shot or a better angle to run in. It’s pretty hard to get in close enough to dunk and the risk with taking a super close shot that isn’t a dunk is the character tends to hold the ball a little longer than he should. At that point it just ends up getting stolen or missed entirely. On offense you just want to keep moving at all times. Do this and you should definitely be fine.

On defense there’s less I can recommend since the computers tend to do whatever they want. There’s no full proof way to stop them so my recommendation is to constantly charge into them with L2 and force them to make a shot instead of going for the dunk. At least this way there is the chance that they will miss. Additionally you can go for steals, but don’t do it too often or they all start turning into flags instead. The tricky part is that a lot of the time they will end up picking the ball back up after you knock it away because your players tend to be a little slow. Defense is never as fun as offense in any game, but Basketball’s is still solid enough. Basketball and Football definitely have the best defensive gameplay, but offense will always be my favorite part regardless.

Overall, NBA 2K18 is definitely a solid Basketball game. There isn’t really a lot that has changed since the last installment, but that means it also hasn’t gotten any worse. If you like Basketball then this is a steal for only a few bucks. You’ve got a ton of content to absorb here and before long you’ll be taking these computers down for the count. Defense will likely always be tough but you can definitely nail the rhythm on the offense and start mounting your comeback there. The important thing is to remember that as long as you have the basketball you’ve always got a shot. You just can’t panic and start relying on the 3 point shots. That’s the quickest way to concede defeat. I don’t have 2K19 but there is a different Basketball game that I’ll be reviewing soon.

Overall 8/10

4 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Reviews

RWBY: Crystal Match Review


It’s time to check out the latest app game on my agenda. As it’s a RWBY title I pre-ordered it a while ago and was ready to see what the franchise would bring to the table. Unfortunately it isn’t the most creative app game as it’s just another copy and paste gem matching title. There wasn’t a lot of bug testing and quality control here either as I was hit with a game breaking bug where I am no longer able to even access the game. I’ve tried deleting and re-installing the app several times to no avail so while I had intended to play through a few more worlds before doing the review…I’ll just have to do it now.

There isn’t really a plot here as you just jump into the game and have fun. As a tutorial of sorts Cinder and Neo do show you how to play the jewel game and depending on how you interpret this it is possible that you are actually playing as a member of the White Fang or something. You are fighting the RWBY characters after all, but since this is the Chibi cast it could all just be in good fun. There are over 400 levels available from launch which is pretty impressive and so this game will definitely last you for the long haul. The real question is really whether the game will be fun enough for you to still be playing it at that time.

It’s self explanatory on how to play the game but in case it isn’t there are multiple tutorials as you go through the first world. The goal is to match 3 of a single color of gems and once you have done that they get converted into energy. The goal of the game is to match all of the jewels that you need to conquer in this specific level. Sometimes you need to match the red ones and sometimes it’s the blue ones. Other times you have to defeat enemies by matching jewels next to the creature. Either way you should be good to go and while the gameplay may not sound amazingly simple here, you’ll definitely get the hang of it after a few rounds. There are more advanced techniques as well like matching jewels in an L shape or using bombs and other items to blast a lot of gems out of the way.

Every few levels there is another new mechanic added so by the end it will be quite a handful, but since they’re added so gradually it never feels too overstuffed. The graphics look pretty good. It’s nice to see the effects of the jewels turning into energy and the character models are very clear. It’s RWBY Chibi designs so you won’t be seeing the characters in their prime, but I suppose it’s about time that this part of the franchise got its turn in the spotlight. Unfortunately the game was unable to get the RWBY music or voices which is a little disappointing. In this day and age you’ve just come to expect this. Maybe not an app game from 5-6 years ago, but one today? It should have more than a random voice that congratulates you as you play.

This game just doesn’t feel like a whole lot of effort was put into it. Lollypop and Fruits Mania both feel more intuitive and less cluttered. Part of the problem here might be how the RWBY game already has a ton of content locked behind paywalls like characters and costumes. You can eventually earn the right to unlock some of these things in-game, but the amount of time the developers spent on this is likely what ends up hurting the gameplay. The loading times are quite long and that adds up when you’re playing dozens of levels. The low user base is pretty fun in one aspect though. I actually claimed the world record in quite a few stages before my account got corrupted. That was definitely pretty fun and I really would have played the game more if not for the glitch.

There’s a lot of content here so the replay value is definitely very real. You could play this game for many hours without any worries. There is an energy system in place but it won’t really become a concern until you are several worlds in and the levels get really difficult. At that point you’ll likely have an issue since each level drains so much out of the meter, but I guess you can’t win em all. They have to find some way to make you pay right?

Overall, RWBY: Crystal Match is a little disappointing. It’s mostly what you would expect the instant that you see the gems, but even then there are much older app games with the same premise that handle it a lot better. While the title is enjoyable, I can’t reasonably give the game a positive score while this glitch exists. The only way for me to get back in would have been to start an entirely new account which I was definitely not doing. I’m ready for the Pokemon Masters game because I really need a mobile title that I can sink my teeth into. In the meanwhile I’ll just have to be content with the memories I forged here I suppose. If you really want a matching game then you should download Fruits Mania instead.

Overall 4/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Adventures of Lolo Review


It’s time for Lolo to come up to bat. There are definitely quite a lot of NES Online titles that I have yet to play, but Lolo seemed like the best one to check out at the time. It’s got a Kirby vibe to it, but it is puzzle based instead of being a platformer which is pretty interesting. It definitely changes things up and I’ll give the title credit for trying something new. I don’t think it’ll keep your attention for too long, but it’s a nice way to spend an hour or two.

The basic plot is that the princess has been captured and Lolo has to save her. As with the Mario games, Lolo always gets close only to be told that the princess is in another castle on a different floor. You have to scale all 10 floors and 50 puzzles if you actually want to save her. I completed the first 5 floors and then stopped on the 6th one. It’s definitely a title that is easy to get into, but hard to master. You’ll really have to think long and hard about the puzzles if you want to get all the way.

The access points help a lot but without them I can’t imagine going too far in this game. I died dozens of times during the course of the first 27 levels and they kept on getting harder with each new one so I would have been cooked. The game is overhead and the goal is to grab all of the pink orbs which opens up a chest on the level. Once you grab the gem in the chest all of the enemies in the area will blow up and you can proceed. Rinse and repeat as you go through the 50 levels. You have the ability to summon a ladder in levels that give you this option and you can shoot an energy blast which you get from energy squares. You only get 2 shots so make them count. One shot will turn an enemy into a gum drop and hitting them a second time will shoot the ball far off into the distance so they can ponder what just happened. You’ll need these gumballs to float in the ocean or to keep them out of your way as you get through the goal.

The toughest enemies to get around are the floating heads. If you walk in their line of sight at any point then you die instantly. They can see in 4 directions at once so dodging them is tricky. Typically you need to use a block to try and block them, but even that can be pretty difficult to achieve. One wrong step and it’s curtains. Then you’ve got the speed ghosts who move much faster than Lolo and a single touch is death. Well….okay any hit in this game is death so just don’t get hit. That’s a lot easier said than done though.

The enemies all activate when you’ve hit the final target in the level so you want to try and leave the one that is closest to the chest for last. Of course, that is easier said than done and some levels rig it so you can’t do this. You have to manipulate the blocks to make the best possible course for yourself so you can dodge these guys. It feels like a Layton puzzle to an extent just with less variety. These are real brain challenges though and are definitely not to be underestimated. I haven’t played a game this hard in quite a while. The NES definitely had a lot of real tough ones. I can’t say I miss the days of not being able to save and all, but they definitely had their charm.

Adventures of Lolo doesn’t have much of a soundtrack, but it’s peaceful enough while you’re playing. It does hold up with the graphics very well though. You’d barely believe that this game is so old because it just looks very smooth and clean. It’s the kind of game that could come out right now and you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. The length is pretty good too. Someone beat it in around 40-60 minutes which would be pretty crazy to me. There are 50 puzzles as I mentioned and it took me around an hour and a half to beat half of them. So you’ve probably got 3 hours of solid entertainment here and you can increase that number by quite a lot since you’ll likely be dying in some of the levels. There isn’t much replay value after beating the campaign, but that’ll take long enough as it is.

Overall, The Adventures of Lolo is a fun title. I’ll definitely remember it although before I play the sequel I’ll probably try something a little different the next time I head back into the NES world. If you’ve got the online Switch membership then you should definitely check this one out. It’s free so there’s no real downside and it’s nice to take a look at these retro franchises. Who knows, maybe Lolo will end up being the next title to get revived like Crash, Bubsy, or Spyro! The puzzle concept could certainly work well in today’s world as well, I just hope they add more of a story this time beyond the whole princess gets captured thing. I want full cinematics or at least a hype script.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Eternal Ring Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that I’ve had on the backburner for an extremely long amount of time. It’s been several years since I started this game, maybe even a full 10. Regardless, it was time to finally go through it and it’s a unique experience. I hadn’t played a first person RPG title before. I definitely prefer third person, but I’m always up for trying something new and this was quite the experience. The game has several weak areas though which prevent it from being a truly solid title.

The game starts by showing us a cutscene of someone fighting a dragon a long time ago. We then cut to the present where the king’s advisor sends his son off to a mysterious island to find out what’s going on. There had been something called an Eternal Ring planted in that island a long time ago. The king sent many soldiers to the island, but they never returned. The Hero arrives and things are not looking good for the army. Most of the members have succumbed to monsters and demons lurking on the island. The captain of the guards was personally consumed by the Eternal Ring and now exists as an undead who wants ultimate power. The lead will have to steel himself as he heads through this island to locate the Eternal Ring and complete his mission.

The plot is as vague as can be in the beginning so you get to piece together what is happening along with the others characters as the lead goes on. I tend to like this intrigue style and the more you withhold from me the better. Still, there isn’t a whole lot that happens here til the end. Then we learn about the infinite prison, the child of one of the gods being trapped, and other such things. The lead takes all of this in stride as he doesn’t bat an eye whether he is fighting ordinary lizards or taking down demonic tyrants. It’s all the same to him, he just wants to grab/destroy the ring and head home. It’s really all he is focused on and doesn’t even talk to anyone. Truly a tough man, but he gets the job done.

Eternal Ring is rather tragic with the plot as just about everyone dies though. I especially feel bad for the soldiers who have been trying to uphold the rebellion for years only to be completely left to fend for themselves. They did good to last this long, but when just one of the big villains can solo the whole army you know that things won’t go well. The ring is also too powerful for their mortal minds to just being near is an issue for them as well. There’s really no winning for the army grunts this time. The overall plot concept is still really cool though. There’s a lot you can do with it. It’s pretty simple at the core, a mysterious island exists with monsters protecting a jewel of ultimate power. It’s just all about the execution and the story is the strong part of the game.

As for the gameplay, as I mentioned it is a first person title where you swing a sword and fire magical spells. Think Call of Duty, but without the guns. You go from area to area as you collect keys and slay monsters as you get closer and closer to the heart of the island. Key spells include the recovery spell and the anti-poison one. They will save you much needed gems on potions and antidotes so you can buy the important things like MP crystals instead. When in a fight it is very important to strafe as much as possible to dodge hits. Almost all boss fights can easily be won by strafing while slicing the entire time. The matches will take an eternity if you’re under leveled, but they simply can’t hit you.

I ended up beating the game at level 27 which is way under leveled compared to where I should have been. That being said, I had obtained enough gems to get the wind summon which can easily destroy even the final boss in 4-5 hits. The summons in this game are ridiculously broken to the point where once you get one you have effectively conquered the game. It was smart of the title to keep them locked away for so long although if you knew where to look ahead of time you could have gotten the summons quite a bit earlier than I did. I didn’t grab them until right before the final few areas. They’re risky against minions since there isn’t a lot of space to use them so stick to fighting the bosses with them. Why does space matter? Well, summons actually deal friendly fire so they’ll destroy you in one hit if you’re close by when they strike.

Eternal Ring makes your journey a little more tedious than necessary though. For starters, there is only one shop in the entire game. If you want to go buy some supplies to help you out in the final sections then you’re going to have to run all the way back to the army base in the forest. This can take you an insane amount of time since most levels are constructed to be mazes. If you don’t have a map nearby then all I can say is “Good Luck!” because you’re going to need it. Then you’ve got the fact that save points and level ups don’t restore your health or MP so if you don’t have your health ring ready then you’ll be burning a lot of items very quickly.

The game also doesn’t help with finding out how to create the rings you want. You have to put the attribute in the left and the type on the right, but with 6 slots and over 100 possibilities you could potentially go throughout the whole game and not get the cure ring. I would have been sunk without it and that’s just unnecessarily difficulty. Nothing in the game is properly explained so you’re just left to your own devices. The story doesn’t need to be explained, but the same cannot be said for the gameplay. I absolutely need to know how to do the things so I can plunge through and claim victory!

It can be hard to see where you’re going because of how dark the game is as well. I have to attribute some of the blame to my TV since it’s always had a very tough time with PS2 games in general. Still, I could have done with more light levels as opposed to almost all of the stages being inside a very dark cave. It’s not even as enjoyable as being outside because at least in the latter scenario you can always see what is happening no matter what. Caves all look the same after a while.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There’s a decent blend of tunes here and the themes are more extensive than I would have thought. As I write this review I’m listening to the soundtrack and it all sounds so nostalgic since I just beat the game. It’s not amazing, but it’s better than I would have expected. It helps make up for the game’s sub-par graphics. As for replay value, there really isn’t much at all after beating the game. You could try to grab all of the magic rings and such, but there isn’t really much to do with that newfound power once you’ve beaten the game. At that point it is just time to take a step back and head for the next title.

Overall, Eternal Ring was definitely put on the bench for a reason. It’s a game that the me of 10 years ago would have probably been really confused by. As it stands I still think that the game makes itself overly complicated at times and needlessly grindy in other sections. Leveling up isn’t very convenient and the lack of healing and shops in the game make you have to backtrack and run around a lot. Getting lost is also rough because if you lose then you’ll be sent back a long ways away to the last save point. You just never want to go out that way. If you really like the idea of a close quarters monster brawler then this could be the game for you. Just know that you are going to have a lot of exploring to do so the gameplay may not be as fun by the end of your struggle. First person style may not be my thing, but I’d be down with a sequel to this title if they gave it some more polish.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario Tennis Aces Review


I didn’t expect that I would be able to play this game for a few years, but fortunately Nintendo stepped up and made this game completely free for all online members. You get a 5 day demo and that was more than enough time for me since the story is only around 4 hours long. It’s definitely a fun tennis title, but one where I think Nintendo went a little too far in adding extra mechanics and gimmicks. The tennis gameplay was already amazing back in the Gamecube days. Nothing else really needed to be added to take it to the next level. Finally adding a full story was cool though.

Mario and Peach were busy winning another tournament when Wario and Waluigi show up holding a mysterious racket. Luigi manages to snag it and the dark power turns him evil. Mario must now travel the world to find the 5 power gems which will allow him to subdue the racket. This will be difficult though as the villains are after the gems as well and a powerful guardian protects each of the gems. Mario will really need to bring his A game if he wants to triumph here. He’s survived some tough odds before so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

The story is surprisingly good for a Mario game. We get actual dialogue for the characters aside from Mario and Luigi. They talk through recycled voice clips which may be a bit lazy, but it’s certainly better than talking through gibberish like in Yooka Laylee. I do think that the opening cinematic was made in a hurry though because the sound bites there are especially out of place. For the text box cutscenes it was all standard enough. Bowser gets to join in the story too as you would expect and the background elements of a dark and light god running around feels like something out of Final Fantasy. It’s a short story, but definitely a fun one and I was also glad that Daisy manages to get involved this time around.

As for the gameplay, at first it seems like your traditional tennis set up. You can hit lob shots, ground shots, power moves, etc. Your goal is to score points by getting the ball past the other player. Well, this all gets thrown for a loop when the tutorial continues and they introduce zone shots. This occurs when you have some special meter and an opponent hits a ball to you that bounces a little high. You can stop time for an instant and hit the ball wherever you want. If the opponent is slow to react or hits at any point but the proper one then their racket will take massive damage and potentially shatter. If their racket shatters then they lose the match instantly. Typically you start with 2 rackets so you’re fine if just one breaks.

On the defensive side of the ball you can also choose to slow down time at any point in order to make it easier to take the shot. Finally, you’ve got your final smash which is 3 times as strong as a zone shot so it will instantly break the opposing racket unless you perfectly block it. I used this quite a lot in story mode to win most of my matches via KO. It saves time compared to going the whole 9 yards. Still, I didn’t particularly like these extra mechanics. I feel like it takes away from the actual tennis fundamentals since these abilities really take over. You just can’t win without mastering them. Especially because you’ve got a new dive which takes you almost halfway across the screen in an instant. That mechanic also went a little too far if you ask me.

The gameplay may not be perfect, but it’s still fun. If you really enjoy Tennis then you should still have no problem with it. It was fun enough where I went back to story mode after clearing it and beat the extra dungeon as well as most of the bonus missions so I got all 5 rackets. Online I got destroyed by the other opponents so I’ll need some extra work there. The demo only lasts for another 2 days though so that’ll probably be it for me. In terms of offline content there isn’t actually a lot to do so hopefully you love the online. You’ve got tournament mode and a ring mode to pay through. Gone are the days when we had a dozen minigames to have fun with. I think the problem is that there is less incentive to play all these offline modes in Aces because you won’t really get anything.

I do think Nintendo has done a good job of continuing to support the game with DLC though. When you first boot up the game you’ll see that you’ve unlocked an extra 5-6 DLC characters right away. That’s pretty neat since it’s all free. Meanwhile the graphics are definitely quite solid. I don’t care for Mario’s new design, but you are able to switch back to the standard costume as long as you unlocked it from the trial copy a long time ago. The stages and the details within are all very clear so you always know exactly what is going on at any point in time. The soundtrack is not very notable for a Mario game, but I wouldn’t say it is bad. It just doesn’t have that all star quality that you’ve come to expect from Mario.

Overall, Mario Tennis Aces is a fun game. It’s the perfect rental for a nice weekend as you just relax with the characters. That being said, there is nowhere close to enough content to justify a 60 dollar purchase unless you really love the online. After 2 days you’ll likely have finished all of the offline content so online will be all that you’ve got left. I think once the price is around 20 then it’s not a bad purchase, but until then it’ll just feel like not enough content considering how much you’re spending. Hopefully Nintendo continues to add more and more to this game with each update and then my recommendation for the game will get stronger and stronger.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun: The Lost Age Review


The first Golden Sun was a really great game. Definitely one of those RPGs you probably won’t be forgetting anytime soon. As The Lost Age is the direct continuation (Even called Book II in the opening credits) I expected more of the same. Unfortunately, it does suffer from it’s unclear directions and a slow first half for the plot. The second half picks up quite a bit, perhaps not enough for me to call it a great title like the first, but certainly good enough that it’s still worth getting to complete the saga.

Last time we followed Isaac as he and the gang were sent to stop the villains from lighting the lighthouses. A cosmic being told them that if this happens the world could be plunged into darkness. Unfortunately the villains lit up 2/4 of them and so the game ends with a whole new level of urgency for the heroes. This one picks up with the villains on their quest to light the final 2 houses. The game keeps their reasoning hidden until we get near the end of the game but you’ll probably suspect that something is up. These guys used to be friends with Isaac and the others so how could they defect so completely? Then you’ve also got the more supernatural villains who seem a lot meaner than the humans. It’s definitely a game where some communication would have gone a long way. Can you help these guys light the final 2 lighthouses or will you ultimately throw the fights and lose on purpose to protect the world?

The plot is definitely more expansive than that but the rest is pretty heavy with spoilers so you need to experience it for yourself to really appreciate it. I will say that the game does give you a lot to think about on which side to root for. Also make sure you stick around past the credits as there are quite a few scenes and they are all massively important. The third game definitely looks like it’ll be starting a completely new story in the saga.

The best moment in the story is definitely when Isaac and the gang return though. In the first game since you played as Isaac you didn’t really get to see his character so now that he talks you really get into it. Seeing his team take on the villains is definitely hype and I dare say that Isaac would have won if he didn’t get distracted. The game’s best theme popped up for the scene as well. There aren’t a lot of plot heavy moments until the end of the game so this was definitely one of the best scenes. I also like how Isaac’s group made it before ours, showing that they are still the best adventurer group in the biz. The other best scenes all involve the big villains as well.

The game took me a little over 40 hours to complete but from that time the villains only show up for around an hour or two. Surprisingly most of the game is pretty laid back. It’s not filler as we explore the world and light up the lighthouses, but the main plot surprisingly doesn’t come into play for quite a while. As a result the stakes feel a lot lower than the first game even if that isn’t actually correct. It’s just the way that it goes. I have no qualms with the story though. The main issue I have with this game is that it can be very hard to know what to do next.

Part of why this is the case is because The Lost Age is supposed to be more of an open world RPG. You can actually tackle most of the islands in any order you want as either way you’ll need to do a lot of backtracking once you get more abilities. You do have a map, but the issue is just that you don’t know what direction to go. Of course you will eventually go the right way, but that can feel like a small consolation when you are wandering aimlessly. Even when you do go the right way you can go for hours without a single cutscene. We do get more cutscenes once the second half starts though.

Without an online guide I probably still would have not beaten the game. There’s also the matter of the data transfer. The game has a cool set up where if you played the first game then you could transfer your data into the sequel. Since Isaac and the crew don’t show up til near the end it wouldn’t make a difference until then but it’s pretty neat since you keep your abilities. Of course, that does mean you get heavily penalized if you didn’t play the first game. There are whole areas that you cannot explore and multiple Djinn and weapons that you can’t obtain. It’s a little harsh, but I do like that the developers really wanted you to play both games. It did make this feel like a true saga and seeing the characters you were playing as from the outside is cool. It’s a missed opportunity that the two groups didn’t get to fight though.

The graphics definitely still look good like in the first game. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. In particular the villain theme was downright amazing and I listened to it on loop for over an hour. It really ramps up the tension for whenever they appear. This game definitely didn’t pull any punches on a technical level. Make sure you stick around after the credits as there are quite a few extra scenes and bonus content to absorb. It changes the ending entirely and makes it so that a sequel wasn’t really needed. There are some plotlines that could become loose ends, but if they never continued you could also interpret them as a full ending.

I didn’t really mention the gameplay but it is as solid as ever. The turn based system works really well here and I like the added dynamic of choosing to get your summons ready or just making the base character stronger. In the first game I went with the latter while in this one I did the former with the exception of the final boss. Both strategies definitely have their merits and there are so many different ways that you can approach a single fight. The gameplay is really advanced and while I did have to spend a lot of time leveling my characters up for that sudden spike in difficulty with the final boss, you get the level ups pretty quickly at the turtle cavern. Whenever you spend 40+ hours on a game you know that the length was quite good.

Overall, Golden Sun: The Lost Age is a solid game. It’s a big drop down from the first game thanks mainly to having a weaker main cast and less of a focused plot compared to the first. (The Ancient One’s final test still makes no sense even after you think about it) I think making an RPG non-linear isn’t a bad idea in theory, but it should still be a little easier to know where you’ve got to go. One of the big benefits of being a long game though is that your good memories quickly overwrite the rocky start that the game has gotten. Even if the first 10 hours are pretty rough, if you get a great 30 hours after that then it’s easy to let bygones be bygones. It still does hurt the score compared to the first one, but at the end of the day I’ll still give this game a thumbs up. I’d recommend checking it out, but you should definitely get the first game before this one so you can take advantage of the data transfer.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Beast Quest Review


Looks like it’s time to jump into the world of Beast Quest. After getting the game it was tempting to check out the books, but since there’s well over 100 of them I quickly backed out of that idea. This game’s got a very retro feel to it. It reminds me of the old PS2/Gamecube games from back in the day. It’s hard to describe as you just had to be there, but the platforming elements are basic and to the point. There’s no extra flash or specific techniques here. You’ll learn all there is to know about the gameplay within 10 minutes. From there it’s off to the races. It’s definitely the kind of game where you can also feel your progression right away.

So the plot of the game starts with an old wizard heading off to meet with the son of a legendary fighter. He tells the kid that only he can save the world from the evil which plagues it. This kid is eager to get started so he quickly gets ready with his sword and shield. The old wizard lets him know that he has to free the 4 legendary beasts which have been put under the control of an evil wizard. Along the way the kid meets up with a girl and her wolf. Together the group must accomplish this quest and make the world safe to live in once more.

It’s a humble plot but a solid one nonetheless. The accents are on point and the game has quite a few cutscenes. Voice acting is definitely important for the immersion in a game like this one so I was glad to see that. As I mentioned this is a 3D platformer so for most of the game you travel through the lands following your compass and fighting enemies that you run into along the way. When you meet up with an enemy the game turns into a close quarters combat style. You can use a horizontal slice or a vertical one. You also unlock other attack options like a flame slash or an ice blast. You can block attacks with your shield or do a crispy dodge which allows you to counter attack. As you attack you gain more meter which you can use for other special abilities. As you attack you fill up a second meter that you can use for final smashes. Additionally you have potions to heal yourself with. The game’s difficulty is pretty balanced. You’ll have a hard time at first, but then it gets easier from there.

You have an extensive level up system. You get orbs from enemies you defeat and you use them to increase various stats like attack, defense, critical, health, etc. I highly recommend going for attack first. See, in any game with an EXP system my first order of business is to increase the exp you get. Likewise in mobile games where you have to collect orbs to buy things I always buy the orb extender first. In this game attack translates into orbs and I’ll tell you why. Unlike traditional EXP, you get orbs by beating opponents without getting hit or landing a multi-KO. That means you need to be able to swing hard so you can beat them before they have a chance to counter attack. if you max out your attack then you can beat virtually any enemy in the game before they launch a counter attack which is absolutely crazy.

The attack difference is also incredibly noticeable. You do almost 4X the damage by the end and even bosses will go down in an instant. Also, if you want to grind EXP then go to the very first level in the game. Since they’re the weakest enemies that means they ironically give out the most EXP. It’s definitely an interesting system and one that I can get behind. Then with your coins you can also buy health upgrades from the shop. I recommend buying more space in the bag so you can hold up to 7 potions. Once you have that then it is very difficult to lose. The collectibles are handled really well.

The graphics may not be all that impressive, but again they have a very retro look bout them. It looks like a PS2 game. There are some glitches sadly like when the ground fell away during a boss fight, but it did make for a good view. That was a glitch that I can get behind. The soundtrack is less inspired and you’ll forget all of the tunes almost immediately. They’ll go in one ear and out the other.

There is quite a bit of replay value here. The reason for that is due to the game having such a short length. You can beat it in about 4 hours and the trophies are all surprisingly easy. After collecting everything you just need to beat the game on hard mode and then you’ll be all set. It’s tempting to go for this platinum. It’ll be on the top of my list once I become a trophy hunter again someday. It does really help cover the 4 hour campaign and since the game is fairly cheap it makes for a good value buy nonetheless.

As for the characters, they aren’t anything to write home about. The main character is your average hero, but he is very quick to let some secrets out while he is chatting with total strangers. Fortunately the heroine is here to keep him on the straight and narrow. She’s definitely a lot more on task and her pet tiger is definitely fun. The old wizard seemed shady the whole time and I was expecting a twist but it just didn’t happen. The main villain isn’t too smart though. He arrives to gloat at the characters but then you find out that he actually can’t fight. A single shove nearly destroys him and after that somebody finishes the job. It’s definitely a brutal end for the character. Maybe next time he’ll think of a good spell to use before walking into such a dangerous situation.

If I have one complaint with the game it is that its map function can break at times. By clicking on the right hand side of the PS4 controller’s touch screen you launch a glowing mine that shows you where you have to go. You chase after it like in Mirror’s Edge until you get to where you need to be. The problem is that it gets confused sometimes and just leads you in circles. At that point you have to use the master map and just find the next location the ole fashioned way. I don’t get why the map wouldn’t work at times. I’m thinking this part just wasn’t play tested the way that it should have been.

Overall, Beast Quest is more fun than you would expect at first glance. I definitely recommend checking it out. Once you’ve gone on the quest there is just no turning back. It’s a real page turner in video game format. I think one of the reasons why it works so well is because the layouts are all very clear. It’s got a clean interface and you actually feel like doing the side quests and such because they’re all just a lot of fun. So pick up this game and if you’re having any difficulty just make sure to upgrade your attack and you’ll be just fine.

Overall 7/10

9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Madden 18 G.O.A.T. Edition Review


It’s time to look at the next Madden title. I’m really close to being caught up now, but I’ll likely wait a year before getting 19 so it drops down to the 5 dollar bin. The Madden games have historically been great. They’re consistently solid across the board and 18 is naturally no exception. This one even added a story mode of sorts although I didn’t try it this time. Basically you start out as a college kid who gets signed on to a team and during the game you rise up the ranks. It’s a pretty cool concept and while I would mainly be sticking with the tried and true quickplay battles, more options is never a bad thing.

Madden 18 has really got everything you can ask for. You can practice, play online, start a franchise, play the story, etc. They even added more options for the gameplay. You can now choose between arcade style, basic, or online for glory mode. I choose the last option of course because I want to be ready to take down an opponent at any time. It was definitely a lot of fun too and they finally brought speed back into the equation. Yes, you can run fast again and that is huge. I’m wondering if Madden 17 might have had some option in the back end where you could have switched the style. Either way, 18 definitely gets credit for showing you how to do it. It makes running the ball a lot more fun when you can just take off like this.

The gameplay is the same as it has been for the last 18 years so there isn’t much to say about it. The goal is to get across the opponent’s end zone to score some points. Score enough and you’re home free. On Offense I really like passing the ball, but it is always a lot riskier. Thanks in part to the whole “aggressive ball” mechanics you never really know if your guy is going to make the pass. There’s an equal chance that the other team’s player is just going to rocket from across the sidelines and knock the wind out of you. If that happens then you’re gonna fumble or you’ll end up throwing a pick 6. You want to only throw bullet passes and you want to do it when your guy is wide open. As a result I have to be really careful about where I throw it. You just can’t toss the ball in the air and make a play anymore.

Fortunately as I mentioned they brought the running game back. My favorite thing to do is pick a Hail Mary play and then run it with my quarterback. Most of the time you can gain an easy 10 yards. I average 10-11 yards per run with the quarterback. He almost always gets 100 yards by the time the game is over. It may feel a little broken at times, but I think a quarterback should be really mobile like that. It really opens up the offense. I get how it makes the defense a lot trickier to control, but I think it’s a fair trade considering how much better the ball covering is now. Running the ball traditionally is also good. You tend to pick up 2-3 yards. Madden continues to feel more and more like the real deal. I even get final scores that are like real games like 10-7.

On defense I’m mostly still at the mercy of the computer. I always pick a guy to try and sack the quarterback, but I only get 1-2 sacks a game. Otherwise I just hope I’m in the right place at the right time to make the stop. Otherwise I just get to watch and weep as the guy shakes a bunch of tackles and breaks an 80 yard run for a touchdown. In my defense, I usually shut the run down pretty well but when it comes time to pass then it’s all up to the luck of the draw. The computer either runs right through me or they throw some terrible passes and punt.

Special Teams is always fun even if it’s very brief. You get to do some free style running and that never gets old. Kicking the field goal and punting are still not my favorite with the new system though. It’s a lot harder since you have to press the X button at just the right time multiple times to launch a kick. It definitely does make kicking a little riskier so if that was the goal then the game succeeded. I just don’t think it was necessary. Ah well, it’s not like that really hurts the game all that much at all. A large part of the Madden experience still comes down to how quickly you can react. On any given play there is always an avenue for success when you’re on the offense. The defense’s job is to give you as little time as possible to make the right call. It’s just really hard to keep track of so many guys running on the field at the same time, but it’s exactly what you’ve got to do if you want to secure the win.

The graphics here definitely look quite amazing as expected. The players are all so lifelike and the presentation is still quite amazing. I enjoy the sound effects and the music doesn’t seem bad. You won’t really notice it aside from the main menu though so unless you stick around there for a while you really won’t notice it. The game has limitless replay value with the online mode and all the other content it has got. It’s always hard to see how you’d be ready to switch up to the next game in the following year. I suppose if you’re playing this full time then maybe you can get through it, but otherwise it probably feels like the next title is right around the corner.

Overall, Madden 18 is definitely an excellent title. Sadly the G.O.A.T. version doesn’t really change anything for me since I don’t have the online and it’s all expired by now, but the vanilla version will do quite fine. For 5 bucks you also can’t go wrong here. It’s a big upgrade over the last Madden I played and this one will rank up there with some of the classics that I’ve played. If you even remotely like Football then you’ll love this game. EA may not have the best rep, but I can say that they’ve never phoned in a Madden title. They give it their all year after year.

Overall 9/10