New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe Review


It’s time to look at the next big Mario Adventure. This one technically came out a while ago but it ended up being worth waiting for since the Switch title game with both games in one rather than having to buy both Mario and Luigi versions. The New Super Mario Bros series has definitely had a good run and I expect it’ll return with a new game at some point. The gameplay is just too solid to pass up. Of course with the existence of Mario Maker it will have to do something to stay at the top.

The plot is fairly basic as Peach is kidnapped once more by Bowser. Unfortunately, Mario and Luigi were unable to prevent him from doing this and are now forced to play catch up. In order to face off against Bowser the plumbers will first need to take down the 7 Koopa Kids and Bowser Jr. Only then will they be able to challenge the King of the Koopas. It’s definitely a nostalgic plot or at least that’s probably what Nintendo is hoping your reaction will be. At the same time you can’t help but think that Nintendo could have done something a little more original right? This plot really has been done over and over again.

As always the graphics are definitely excellent. The NSMB series does a good job of making all the characters and levels exciting and colorful without making it too simplified. It does feel like the natural progression of the Mario series and it will be hard to get any better with this art style. Nintendo is at the absolute front here with this game leading the charge. It’s hard to find a better looking Switch game.

As for the soundtrack that is naturally pretty hype as well. You’ve got a lot of classic Mario tunes here and a bunch of remixes. Throw them all together with the multitude of levels in the game and you’ll find yourself listening to good music constantly. In a lot of video games you’d be forgiven for forgetting the tunes because they sound so similar, but that’s definitely not going to be a problem with this one. Each world’s array of tunes really help capture the atmosphere that the game is going for.

As expected the level designs are also on point. They are created well so you can fast blast through the levels with a lot of cool acrobatics or you can explore and find all of the collectibles. There are a lot of them to find after all, but they are put in places that makes sense. If you are looking carefully then you’ll find the ones that you’re looking for. Meanwhile the gameplay is just as solid. The movements are all very fluid and you won’t have a problem making tight maneuvers. It really is a world of difference playing the NSMB games compared to the really old ones where even the simplest of jumps was very difficult.

There’s definitely a lot of content in this game as well. Between the many levels and collectibles you’ve got enough content to last you around 10 hours. Then you’ve got Luigi mode which almost doubles the amount of content that you have access to. The way they handle it is pretty cool as they don’t just reuse the levels. They’re all altered to fit in the space of half the timer so you can’t take a break to check out the scenery. You’ll want to run your way to the end to beat the timer. Getting used to the physics also means that you’ll need some time to adjust. The game never gets all that difficult and you’ll beat all of the levels after attempting them a few times, but it does add a little spice to the usual formula.

The best item in the game is definitely the flying variation where you get an extra jump. You can use that to get really far in just about every level. Watch as the villains turn away in fear when you just jump over em! This even works against Bowser’s first form as you can just jump over him and hit the Axe. Otherwise you can just run in when he jumps so either way you should be all set for action. Watch out for the final boss as well, you’ll want to bring your A game for that one.

While Mario Maker seems to have probably ended this series I’m glad that it still got another hurrah. There will always be room for more Mario games and what style can possible be better than New Super Mario Bros? Mario does tend to take many styles over the years so I am actually looking forward to what’s next. The recent Yoshi and Kirby artstyles do have me a little worried as well, but I have to trust in Nintendo and their passion to improve.

Overall, New Super Mario Bros Deluxe is definitely a game that I’d recommend checking out. There’s a lot of fun to be had with it and the levels are pretty intense. It’s a very complete Mario game and you really can’t go wrong there. The only way you won’t like this game is if you simply don’t like the classic Mario games or platformers in general. Of course in that case you have to wonder why you would buy this game in the first place. Maybe you just wanted to see what the hype was all about? Regardless, I think you’ll be embracing the hype by the end as Nintendo did not phone this one in.

Overall 8/10

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Star Wars Lethal Alliance Review


It’s time to take a look at a Star Wars game that is likely forgotten to time by now. Lethal Alliance was one of the few Star War titles that I did not own before now. It was in the way of my marathon so it’s good to finally own it. You can expect more Star War reviews soon but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Lethal Alliance is a very solid game that is held back a bit by sloppy gameplay mechanics. (The game also crashed during the second last level but that was more due to my PSP’s faulty battery than the game) I do like the ideas behind the game and the plot is solid.

The plot follows a girl who is trying to enact revenge on one of the high ranking members aboard the Death Star. To this end she has made an alliance with the rebellion and will aid them as long as their goals are aligned. She will quickly find out that this goal is a lot more difficult than it appears as there are many enemies in the Empire and overcoming them will not be easy. She has no Force abilities, but has a lifetime of combat experience and gun skills to aid her. Throw in her motive of revenge and she is ready for the task.

The gameplay is sort of like Bounty Hunter as the main character uses a gun to fight most opponents. You can also switch to the Lightsaber when you’re in close quarters combat, but for most of the game it is a lot easier to just gun spam. The title gives you a lot of freedom in how you fight though so I’m not saying that it is impossible to fight that way. You can certainly find quite a lot of success with the blade as well. You also learn new moves after every few levels although I never really used them. It’s nice to have options of course, but give me a good one and I’ll likely just start spamming it.

What hurts the gameplay is the platforming part. I feel like it was tacked on after the fact. It’s hard to turn without moving quite a bit which ultimately ends up with you falling off the cliff. At that point you have to go all the way back to the last checkpoint which can get annoying after a while. I also think this aspect of the game doesn’t add anything since the combat moments are the best anyway. Likewise there are some times where you control the drone and they aren’t challenging or inventive so I feel like it was just a waste of space. More content isn’t always a good thing after all.

It’s a shame since the combat is air tight. While playing as a Jedi is always the best I also like playing as these bounty hunters. It’s a pretty fun change of pace and you get to deal with overwhelming odds. Of course, this lead has a lightsaber so it’s a little different. One of the best parts of Bounty Hunter was having to fight a Jedi master while only having guns and normal armaments to fight with. It’s just such a cool concept even if you should have no chance in such a scenario.

The graphics definitely look good. It’s going for a bit of a realistic look so we don’t get a lot of flashy visuals, but there’s a good amount of detail. We also get some cutscenes which is always fun. One of them is unintentionally humorous though as you get ready for a big fight with the main villain and then the heroine wakes up in jail. I suppose you can’t always win all your fights with ease. Still, she managed to rebound after that and did her best to keep on going forward. I definitely think she succeeded as a lead and I liked the twist at the end. Her character is ultimately pretty important in the mythos although it was likely completely retconned by now. While the soundtrack isn’t the most original as it loves to re-use movie themes (Like a lot of the games for this franchise) you never get tired of hearing Vader’s theme. The voice sounded like him too so it’d be pretty neat if they managed to get the same actor to voice him.

The game is fairly short and there are no collectibles/no post game so there isn’t any real replay value to be found. It’s long enough where I wouldn’t feel cheated if I ended up buying it at full price. Nowadays it’s certainly cheaper provided you can find it in stock at least.

There are two points in the game that are a bit annoying though so watch out for them. One is a puzzle element in a level where you have to find a way down from a high up building. I don’t even know how I made it down (I just kept jumping til I landed on something) and it didn’t feel much like a puzzle so much as just a poorly designed level. Then the other iffy part is the final boss where the only way to beat him is to use one of the many abilities you learned through the game. Problem is that I never used this one before. It took forever to finally learn how to activate it and that dragged the game out a bit. Surely the game could have let me know how to use the combos or some kind of guide right? You’re expected to remember them all.

Overall, Lethal Alliance is a pretty fun Star Wars game. It’s a shame that it basically fell under the radar though. I think that’s probably because in general the PSP never got all that big (relatively speaking) so the games are typically not brought up day to day. Still, this is one game that has aged very well and it would be cool to see a big budget remake for the PS4 or something. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 09 Review


My FIFA backlog is finally near the end. It’s been a long journey but a hype one nonetheless. I can’t really say that my skills have evolved much over this period of time but what I can say is that the older FIFA titles do seem to be more fun than the new ones. At this point they start to become really similar though as there is really nothing separating 09 from 10.

When you boot up the game you’re given a whole lot of options. You’ve got the usual play now, franchise, online matches, training, etc. There’s always a lot of options in these sport games and so long as you enjoy the gameplay then the replay value is basically limitless. So as it all boils down to the gameplay lets talk about it. I feel more confident with my kicks and passes now and the arcade style gameplay definitely makes it more solid.

As it’s a team based game you always want to keep track of everyone on the field. Your passes and kicks must always take them into account or you’ll get the ball stolen. At low difficulties you can definitely get by on quick passes and then shooting the easy goal, but on higher difficulties that’s just not going to cover it. You’ve got to pull off a lot of maneuvers. I definitely still think that FIFA is one of the toughest sport games out there. NBA and Madden I can handle a lot of the difficulty levels, but on FIFA it’s just so hard to land a goal. Playing defense is easy, but on the attack side I can easily go a whole game without scoring.

So, this isn’t a “pick up and play” kind of title. You will need to put in the work and learn the mechanics quite well if you really want to succeed. In a way this is pretty nice I suppose. At the very least it doesn’t feel hopeless like in some of the other FIFA titles. You always feel like you’ve got a shot at the very least. After all, since you’ll be holding the opponent to only 1 goal at most you can always try to bring it back. Plus I do feel like I can always fire off a shot even if I don’t get close enough for it to matter. In the newer FIFA titles you also have to account for direction and power more which makes it very difficult to get the goal.

As with FIFA 10 I do enjoy the 1 on 1 practice mode that plays during the loading screens. I really do think that a 1 on 1 mode would have a whole lot of potential. It makes the whole thing pretty high stakes since if the opponent gets past you it’s a free goal. Sort of like the 1 on 1 NBA drills which are cool. FIFA’s probably couldn’t be a full game, but it would at least make for a pretty sound minigame.

Graphically the game holds up just as well as all of the other FIFA titles. There’s a lot of solid animations and victory dances here. They’re programmed to work for every character and the soccer ball is as realistic as you can reasonably expect it to be. There isn’t much of a soundtrack so I can’t speak to the music. It’s definitely not nearly as expansive as NBA or Madden.

There are a lot of different customizations for the games so you can choose the time, difficulty, arena, team, etc. You can recreate whatever kind of situation you need and that’s definitely nice. It’s easy to take that for granted, but EA does give you all the tools you’ll need to succeed. As long as you enjoy the game of soccer (and hopefully you do if you bought this game) then there’s really nothing to dislike here. It’s a very solid all around FIFA experience. While there may not be much reason to play it so long as the newer ones exist, it’s not as if the quality declines just by existing. It’s as solid as it ever was.

One last tip I’ll leave you with is that it’s very easy to cheese the game once you have the lead. Just stay in your territory and keep on passing to your teammates once you have the lead. It’s very easy to confirm the win this way but there is a good reason why most people don’t do it. The simple answer is that it’s very boring and you almost may as well not be playing the game at that point. If that’s your strategy for winning tourneys and all that’s fine, but cheesing against a computer like this? I wouldn’t be able to last for many games doing that. It becomes a running simulator at that point. Might as well go for gold even if it ends up forcing the loss.

Overall, FIFA 09 is definitely a soccer game that you will want to add to your roster. It brings a significant amount of content for only around 2 bucks at this point. I suppose I should add the disclaimer that the online modes do not currently work as the game is too old so you shouldn’t count that in the replay value section. Either way with local multiplayer and franchise options there is enough content where you can fairly say that the game is basically infinite with how long you can play it. I don’t imagine anyone will be buying 09 this late in the game, but if you are tempted to do so then know that I do recommend it as a quality purchase.

Overall 7/10

Kid Icarus Review


It’s time to look at my next journey into the NES ONLINE collection. This time Kid Icarus was my next conquest and it’s definitely one of those games that is reasonably fun but held back by a lot of dated mechanics. Fortunately the save states do help make up for these aspects.

The basic plot is that Pit has to stop the ultimate evil known as Medusa from destroying his world. Lady Palutena has gifted him with many skills and now it’s up to him to put them to use. The gameplay is pretty basic as you jump from platform to platform as you deal with monsters by shooting your arrows. You can shoot your arrows in a straight line facing forward or up. Typically the levels will ask you to either climb very high or go all the way to the right. Each world has 4 levels and there are 3 full worlds with 1 final level. The 4th level in each world is the boss level which also serves as a huge maze.

The normal levels are pretty fun and will really test your platforming skills. A single misstep can mean the end of you. Your health also depletes quite rapidly so you’ll want to keep an eye on your health bar at all times. You do get a few lives so you won’t go all the way back but these levels are quite difficult so you would be wise not to underestimate them. You obtain hearts by defeating enemies which you can trade for health potions or temporary attack upgrades.

What holds the game back is the 4th level of these worlds. The mazes are quite frankly way too large. You’ll be lost with no end in sight here. It works like Metroid where if you don’t have a guide you will need to draw a map of your own. I can definitely acknowledge the time and dedication you would have had to spend to do such a thing back then. Games are really tricky back then…maybe too tricky. After all, this is more tedious than challenging after a point. You can easily waste hours going through this just as I used up a bunch of hours in Metroid. Some games just really haven’t aged well to be honest. Others have continued to excel though so that’s a good thing. Kid Icarus is kind of in the middle. It’s not bad, but this does prevent it from being truly good.

The final level is a nice look at what the game could have been like though. It’s an aerial level where you blast away at enemies in a level where the camera is constantly scrolling. It takes a lot of skill to blast your way to the end but it also doesn’t feel tedious. The final boss is also quite inventive as you have to blast at the enemy while blocking her attacks. You can only pick one option at a time so you have to constantly time your attacks just right. Mess up and then it’s all over for you. Definitely not a final boss to be taken lightly either. This whole game is one that is more challenging than it may appear at first glance.

As for the graphics, those are pretty good. The game uses the classic sprites as were the norm back then. The sprites do a good job of giving the characters clear designs. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty basic but effective. The main theme has certainly become iconic over the years. I can’t say that I really recall any of the other themes off the top of my head, but it’s pretty soothing and fits in with the levels. After all, this game is a pretty calm platformer in the sense that there is no timer. You can take as long as you need to in order to fully process the enemy movement patterns. Slow and steady will win the race here.

A unique gimmick this game also has is the fact that a certain enemy can transform you into an eggplant. If you are hit with this curse then you need to try and find a healing station to cure you. Until that happens you can’t attack anymore which puts you in a very vulnerable spot. It can definitely be annoying when it hits you since that’s most likely it for that life, but it’s a fun little feature that’s just so random that it really works.

Overall, Kid Icarus has its fun moments, but its downsides as well. You gotta take the game as a mixed package and likewise I gave it a pretty mixed review. Honestly there isn’t much reason to play it as this point though. If you want to experience the Pit adventures then just check out Uprising. It’s an improvement in literally every way and is a very satisfying experience. The original Kid Icarus is a good title to play for the novelty, but you won’t be missing out on much by skipping it. I’m sure it was fun for its time, but there are just better platformers to play nowadays like CupHead or something like that. Of course if you already have the online Nintendo Switch membership then you may as well check the game out since it’s free. It’s only a few hours long and you can use the save states as much as needed in order to secure your win.

Overall 5/10

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One Review


It’s time to look at the final Ratchet & Clank game. (Not counting the movie adaption) All 4 One is definitely a very different game in the series as it focuses on the multiplayer aspect and naturally had to switch the gameplay a bit to set this up. I think they probably could have still pulled it off with the normal gameplay if you ask me, but I don’t know the full details of how that would work so it’s just speculation. Either way, while the gameplay is a bit weaker it’s still a solid all around game with a fun plot and good fundamentals.

Ratchet has retired from the hero gig and Qwark is now the President so everyone has achieved their goals. This is all thrown out the window though when the planet is invaded by an army of robots. Ratchet & Clank must get back out there in order to save the universe and Qwark tags around to help give his approval ratings a boost. They are even joined by their old enemy Dr. Nefarious who is only working with them for now. He warns the heroes not to get the wrong idea. Who can possibly stop this group of all stars?

The gameplay is your classic 3D blasting platformer. You are given an array of guns and other weapons to use as you rampage through the various levels. You’ll gain many weapons through the game by going to the shop and purchasing them. There aren’t a whole lot of weapons this time so you should have enough money to buy em all well before the final level. It also won’t take a whole lot of grinding post game to get the rest of the upgrades to be honest. The main difference here compared to usual is the team gimmick as I mentioned. There are a bunch of obstacles in the level that you can’t get by without a partner. If you’re playing by yourself then the A.I. will help you but it’s probably one of the worst A.I. I have seen in a very long time. Clank will literally jump off the stage to intentionally die just to make sure you lose.

You don’t actually lose a life unless both characters die, but with a computer ally more times than not that means both of you will die if you do. The game isn’t all that difficult and there are save points constantly so that’s not a big deal, but it will get annoying when you’re counting on your partner. Some parts of the gameplay are also just a little less polished than usual as well. For example, switching between weapons can be pretty rough as you need to cycle through 2-3 screens to get to the one you want. Sometimes it will result in you picking the wrong weapon as well. Then you’ve got the target aiming which will actively switch targets on you if there are a bunch of enemies. Small things like that keep it from being quite a solid as some of the others. It feels a bit more like a cash-in.

That being said, making the game multiplayer is no small feat. It’s definitely always a great idea to have that as a feature and in this title’s case you can team up with people online or offline. Your character also gains levels throughout the game so for example I got Ratchet to level 7. I’m actually not sure what the levels do, but they must have some kind of benefit I’d imagine. There are 9 chapters in the game and each one can take close to an hour or so. It’s a pretty good length for the title and nowadays you can get the game for cheap so you’re getting good value for your purchase here. Only thing to watch out for are glitches. They happened to be twice where I had to die to get the boss to appear again after he vanished. Definitely an odd one.

I also definitely did enjoy the story. The series never fails to deliver on that front with a lot of crispy dialogue. It’s one of those games where characters are constantly talking. There are big cutscenes after every chapter, but with all of the mini ones thrown in there the game stays very cinematic like the rest of the series always is. The plot may not be quite as long or deep as previous games (particularly the time travel trilogy which got real serious) but it still brings across the ole charm of the series. Seeing Qwark and the gang is always fun. Nefarious is probably the weakest member of the group when it comes to the humor, but he rarely gets to be part of the team so it was nice to see him. Ratchet also finally remembered why he became a hero in the first place so I expect that development will probably stick for the sequel. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the story goes in that one. The only boring part of the story would be the main doctor villain and his good counterpart. They don’t add a whole lot to the story although the twist about who the real main villain was definitely worked really well.

The soundtrack isn’t all that memorable, but I did like the credits theme. That one definitely worked really well to wrap the game up. The graphics also look real good, especially the cutscenes. It holds up really well over the years and I think it will continue to look good many years from now. While the gameplay may not be the sharpest in the series that isn’t to say that it isn’t good either. It’s still very good and I love this style of gaming. Mixing 3D platforming with gun skills is always a recipe for success. Just look at Fortnite or Star Fox Assault!

Overall, All 4 One is definitely a title that I would recommend. Naturally you’ll enjoy it the most if you’re actually playing as a full group, but you’ll still be able to progress through the game very smoothly on your own. The fact that there are save points every minute or so is always good since you won’t feel like you lost a lot of progress when you die. I’m pretty surprised that we haven’t gotten an announcement for another game in the series by now. I thought they always sold really well so Sony would want to have it back soon. Maybe they’re just waiting and are going to unveil a huge sequel one of these days. Either way, I can definitely say that the series had a great run.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 10 Review


It’s time for yet another FIFA game. You’d think that by now I’d really have the controls down, but it’s still a pretty tough game I have to admit. Scoring goals is really tough although I found out near the end of the game that I had actually been using the wrong button to shoot the ball the whole time. That explains a lot. Once I figured it out I still only scored one goal, but that was an improvement and I did end up winning the game so that was cool. I ended up winning another round in a penalty shootout as well. I think I will one day be able to start really winning here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here. You’ve got your franchise mode, quick matches, exhibition, minigames, and online battles. Naturally all of these modes have quite a lot of content in them so you don’t need to worry about a lack of replay value. The replay value here is endless and you don’t have to ever stop playing unless you don’t want to. Of course, with newer FIFA games out there you probably won’t want to stick with this one for long, but at the end of the day the gameplay is pretty similar for all of them anyway.

I would have a hard time telling you what is different between this one and FIFA 11 for example. Like with that one you get to play in 3D practice mode while waiting for the screens to load. The gameplay is still fairly simple which works out for me. I still think the goalkeeper is pretty overpowered and you’ll be lucky to land any real shots here, but at least you’ll know what you’re doing. The defenders give you a lot of space so you’re free to run in and try to dominate the pace of the game. Playing defense is a lot easier. So long as you don’t go for many slides you likely won’t attract any fouls. With no fouls to worry about you can just go ahead and crush your competition until they hand over to the ball. It may result in a lot of 0-0 games, but it’s worth it.

As always the graphics are definitely quite sharp here. EA spares no expense on its sport titles. It’s all very lifelike which is pretty neat. Naturally you can’t compare it to the really new ones, but this game did come out quite a while ago. When it came out the graphics were definitely very high end. The soundtrack is a lot less noticeable like in most sport games since the actual sound effects and such end up completely dominating the music. That works for me though since EA’s music is rarely all that great. The tempo tends to fit for the game you’re playing but I can’t really speak to the lyrics much.

There’s really nothing bad to say about FIFA 10. There were no glitches or bugs that I encountered. There are quite a lot of modes to choose from so it’s not as if the game was made in a rush either. It’s just a very direct game. What you see is what you’ll get. It’s got you covered with whatever kind of soccer modes you want to try. The gameplay may be hard to get into, but once you do learn it fully you’ll definitely be ready to dominate your competition quite easily. It’s definitely a very rewarding game in that sense since once you learn it you will completely dominate your competition.

Overall, FIFA 10 is another solid game. Ultimately there really isn’t much reason to play it now though. You can play FIFA 14 for about 5 bucks nowadays and you’ll have much better luck finding opponents online. I get the feeling there even if the servers are still up for 10 (and they probably aren’t) it’ll be a while before you find a match. There just won’t be many people still playing a FIFA game from that far back. It’s just not going to happen if you ask me. Still, just because there are better versions of the game doesn’t mean it takes away from this one’s score. You have to judge the game on its own and in that case I’d say that this one is still fundamentally sound.

Overall 7/10

Dust: An Elysian Tail Review


It’s time to look at another Limited Run game. The company’s been on a roll with their releases. Asdivine Hearts has probably been my favorite thus far and even holds its own against most AAA rpgs. Dust certainly ranks very highly as well though as it mixes the classic 2D platforming with some good sword gameplay. Throw in a solid plot and you’ve got a winner.

The game’s premise revolves around a reign of tyranny that has enveloped the planet. Moonbloods are hunted by the evil empire across the planet and most have been exterminated. That’s where the main character steps in. He has complete amnesia and is unsure of how he got here. Based on his uniform it seems like he was a member of the villains but of course he can’t know for sure. This character meets up with someone named Fidget who decides to call him dust. Dust then meets up with a legendary sword that can talk and seems to know more than he lets on. Together with his new companions, Dust sets out to find the answer to his past as well as to stop the empire. Can he pull this off?

Right away you’ll see how there is a lot of heart put into the game. We have full voice acting and even some hand drawn cutscenes which was pretty cool. Additionally the graphics were pretty solid throughout the game as well. The character designs are on point and the levels are all very striking. There’s a good amount of variety to be found here. If anything, it’ll make you miss the minor characters like the first boss who had an awesome design but of course did not appear after that. The music throughout the game is also pretty nice. While the themes may not be ones that you’ll automatically remember as you finish the title, they’re all pretty original and fit in with the gameplay.

Dust isn’t afraid to be an emotional game either. Most of the bosses are characters who are being mind controlled by the main villain. Alas, it is tough to break this spell and Dust doesn’t even know about it at first so there is at least one casualty. The ending is also pretty intense and I’d say it wraps things up quite well. I’d certainly be down for a sequel. There’s definitely a lot more that can be done in this universe even if the empire plot wouldn’t return.

Meanwhile the character cast is strong. As I mentioned, the one shot bosses are pretty solid. Then you have Dust who is pretty similar to Link. He may not remember his past but that doesn’t stop him from jumping in to try and help everyone else out. He’s very skilled with a blade and his design is good. Fidget is not quite as exciting as the other characters, but she’s actually helpful which is good. For the little sidekicks like herself, the goal is always to try and have them support the main leads. That means Fidget should be strong enough to be helpful while still being weak enough where she doesn’t overshadow Dust. The game achieves the balance well. If anything the sword is the weak link here. He basically knew everything from the start, but plays dumb for the duration of the game. I question how he knew everything and I could see that being a plot for the next title. He probably has some dark secrets of his own.

The main villain is also pretty decent. His name is General Gaius and he leads his fleet to conquer the world. The game plays him up to be a bit more sympathetic than you might expect, but at the end of the day he’s definitely still a villain. He’s the kind of antagonist who doesn’t really see himself as being evil, but evidently he stepped down the wrong path at some point. The final boss fight is definitely a challenging one as he keeps on getting up no matter how many times you put him down. I had to go back and train for a while although I probably overdid it because when I came back he was a breeze. It’s why grinding pays off in these titles.

As for the gameplay, I’ve already talked a bit about it. Dust really shines with how fast paced the gameplay is. You can really choose how to approach a match. You can run into the enemies and go for big combos or you can blast them from afar. The larger the combo the more exp you get though so try not to get hit. Obtaining EXP is pretty easy here so if you’re ever stuck just go back to fighting minions for a while and then you’ll be fine. The toughest part is deciding which power ups to go for. The game does force you to keep the stats within reach of each other but you still have some control from within. I personally liked upgrading attack the most as beating enemies quickly is the best, but of course that does hurt your combo chances so it’s a double edged sword.

The main story will take you around 7 hours so it’s a pretty reasonable length. There are also a lot of side missions you can do and you’re certainly welcome to continue leveling up your character as well. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here after the initial adventure, but if you did everything on the way to the ending then that should buy you a few extra hours. You’ll probably be extremely overpowered by the end if you get the best equipment and max out the level.

Overall, Dust is definitely a very fun game. I would definitely like to see more 2D platformers where you use a sword instead of the classic buster. This one shows how you can do it effectively. The story was also pretty engaging and having voice acting always helps push the title into the next level. If you haven’t played this game yet then I definitely recommend changing that. It’s a title that I would recommend to any and all gamers. You just don’t want to miss out on this one. It’s another big hit for the Indie circuit. I’ve had pretty positive experiences with them so far and expect that to continue.

Overall 8/10

Fate Extella Link Review


It’s time to look at a brand new game that isn’t really getting a lot of attention. I don’t pre order too many games throughout the year because…well that gets pricey very quick. So typically I try to hold out for the best games of the year. Now you may be wondering why this one would make it. Well, I’m a big fan of the beat em up genre first of all. Then while Fate the franchise may have its ups and downs, you can’t deny that the premise is definitely really good and it’s a very interesting verse. Mix the two together and it definitely makes for a game that I don’t want to miss. At the same time I do have to admit that the game is incredibly short to the point where it does hurt the longevity part a bit.

There is one main plot here as opposed to a bunch of small ones like in most beat em up titles. You follow the champion of the previous game. He conquered the Fate game on the Moon and thought that a time of peace would be coming but instead a new villain group has arisen. Really it’s just one main villain who is mind controlling a bunch of old foes from the various Fate battles. Fortunately a new character has shown up to help assist the lead. He seems to be hiding a secret, but as long as he is helping then the lead is willing to overlook that.

I won’t mince words here, the game’s story is only around 3 hours long. It’s incredibly short, there are only 8 levels until you get to the ending. Each level varies in length but it certainly won’t take you very long to complete. The levels are longer than a platformer’s or something like that, but they are still short compared to other beat em ups. When the credits start rolling you’ll try to wake yourself up because it just seems to have happened way too quickly.

Still, there is some replay value here which will definitely add a bit to the experience. For one thing, there are 3 different endings to the game. Each path takes about as long as the first so then you’ve turned the game into more of a 6 hour game. (“Wait…that’s not 3X 3!” Well yeah, but you’ll be breezing through by this point) I’ve beaten two endings by the time of this review and my play time is a little under 5 hours. After beating all of the levels you can also jump into the Extra Battles which are effectively the same story levels, but now they are a lot harder. This is a good way to get some level ups and more equipment. There are also a bunch of attacks and costumes to unlock and items to craft. While most of the trophies in the game are easy, they will take time so if you go for the Platinum don’t expect to get it anytime soon.

Then we need to talk about the gameplay of course. Beat em ups come in a few different styles. You have the Dynasty Warriors games which are pretty realistic so you aren’t slamming people by the hundreds and then you have the Nintendo ones where you are beating hundreds of opponents in an instant. This one is definitely more like those as you’ll end up beating hundreds of opponents in seconds. It’s definitely pretty nice and I think the whole point of the genre is to feel powerful. In this respect, the game certainly succeeds. Then you’ve got a nice array of attack options so you aren’t literally using the same button over and over.

Beat em up games are button mashers at heart so that doesn’t go away, but at the same time it’s fun to switch things up a bit. The leveling up system can be a bit slow though. Even by the end of the game you’ll only be around level 30. Assuming that the cap is 100 I don’t think you’ll be getting up there very quickly. The flip side of this is the cool EXP share option that most games have been having in this genre for quite a while. You can match the level of every other character to your main one right away. It doesn’t cost too many resources either so you can just max out one character and you’ve instantly matched everyone else. It helps take away the grind aspect of the game so you only do that if you really want to do so.

There are a bunch of other aspects of the game that you can have fun with like bonding and such, but you don’t need to do so. I didn’t bother with any of that myself, but I can see the appeal if you like hanging out with the characters. Typically this aspect tends to get a little dicey so I’m certainly fine with skipping it. Back to the gameplay for a moment, aside from all of the usual final smashes, you have a Noble Phantasm attack which is effectively your ultra move. It hits everyone in the area that you’re in and the attack power is crazy. The game did a really good job of effectively making it a one hit KO move. I also like how they implemented the command seals into the gameplay. You can save them as last second revive moves or you can use all of them at once in order to get full meter. It can be a tough choice, but typically I’ll go with the latter.

After all, this game isn’t all that difficult. Even on hard mode I don’t expect you’ll run into many challenges unless you aren’t leveled up enough. On all other difficulties the enemies barely fight back. The only level where I actually got in some danger was the final boss of the second path. (Of course I haven’t played the third path yet) I’m sure the game will only continue to get more and more difficult though which is good. Difficulty is fun, especially when it’s optional.

As for the technical level, the graphics definitely look pretty good. It’s not exactly at the top of PS4 level, but everything is nice and colorful with a good amount of detail. The attacks all look good and I like the level designs. The music is less memorable, but it’s not bad. I’d say that this is the kind of game where the gameplay is really what the developers focused on and the graphics/soundtrack were less of a priority. As long as they are good enough that’s fine with me.

There isn’t much to talk about with the story either since it’s so short and there isn’t a lot to cover here. The main character is fun enough. He’s a solid adventurer who likes a good fight. His backstory is definitely interesting since it does make you think twice about his character. His future definitely seems like a grim one so it’s good that he can at least have fun now. The main villain is pretty over the top villainy, but I guess he can be enjoyable. There just isn’t all that much to him to be honest.

There’s less to say about the champion. Technically he is the player so that makes sense, but he only appears once in a while and mainly just talks through thinking bubbles. He goes with the flow and does the heroic thing, but doesn’t really have any character. Everyone else is pretty much in character from the shows. They show up and get their moments before being thrown off screen. Everyone gets to make their presence felt.

Overall, Fate Extella Link is a great game. It is limited by the length in the same way that Sonic Forces was, but ultimately it does provide you with enough of a satisfying experience to overlook that. You actually will be interested in playing through the levels multiple times to get level ups and see the alternate levels. The interfaces are all very smooth and the gameplay is exceptional. While I do express caution at buying the game at full price considering the length, I can definitely recommend it as long as you enjoy the gameplay style. There is enough replay value here to be worth your while.

Overall 8/10

FIFA 11 Review


I definitely don’t play a lot of FIFA so most of the gameplay mechanics start to go over my head. You could probably tell that from my earlier FIFA review. Well, the marathon must continue and now I’m going at FIFA 11. I am proud to say that this one is actually an improvement. If anything that could actually be a bit of a negative of course since that means the games got worse as they went along, but that’s mainly because I’m a casual. FIFA 11 is a lot more arcade based so the controls are just simpler. I was actually able to score this time.

As always there are quite a few standard sport modes here. You can quickly pick up and play a normal game, do some minigames and challenges or you can run through a franchise. A cool part of the loading screen here is while waiting for the game to start you can head to the field and practice your shots 1 on 1. I enjoyed these quite a bit and while it would definitely be a very different kind of soccer game I think it would make for a fun one. Some 1 on 1 battles would definitely be a good way to practice fundamentals.

Still, the main part is naturally the actual games and in those I do feel like I improved. At first I couldn’t score a single goal, but then I played some more games and was getting some good shots in. I was able to defeat the opponent on the two easiest difficulties and then after that I started getting blown up again. It’s inevitable, but at least I felt like I was playing as opposed to just staying strong. I got my wins and losses and this just felt like the definitive version of the game.

Everything about FIFA 11 just feels right. The gameplay mechanics and visuals are on point. As always EA really delivers on how the game looks and plays. Then you’ve also got the way the shots work. In the later FIFA games you have to be hitting multiple buttons at once to get the shots where you want. In this one you just hit the shoot button and you’ve got the general direction down. From there it’s all about just keeping on until you get to the end.

Naturally there is also online battles to increase your replay value. Fighting other players online is just a great way to really start testing your skills beyond a local level. At this point it’s hard to imagine going back to just having local multiplayer. For some games that works of course, but especially with sports having online access makes it feel a lot more lifelike. You can go through a complete season with 15 other real teams (Well, that’s Football but you get the idea) and then you’re okay even if you don’t have a friend who plays FIFA.

One gameplay tip for all aspiring FIFA players is you definitely want to pass quite a bit. Get close enough to the goal and one player will always leave his man to try and get to you. That’s when you want to quickly pass the ball and get yourself into a prime position to make the goal. Even then it’s going to be pretty tough of course since the goal keeper is incredibly OP no matter what FIFA game you’re playing. You just gotta keep going and you’ll score. There are less tips to give to the defensive side since it’s pretty easy to stop the goals from being scored so long as you keep tackling the other players. Don’t bother with the slides since you’ll usually get penalized for them. Just go for basic shoves and the other players will never be able to get past you. That’s one thing I’ve been consistent about in both FIFA games, the opponent just doesn’t score.

I did try one game at the highest difficulty level though. It didn’t really follow the same path though as this time I couldn’t stop them from scoring. In my defense, the highest level in any sport game is typically insane. Even in Madden, which is my best series, I have a hard time keeping up at this level. The other team inevitably ends up winning the game by the end even if I can keep it close. So keeping it close in FIFA at this level? Nah…..I can’t do that.

Overall, FIFA 11 is definitely a very solid game. Soccer still isn’t really my sport, but I do think this one is more beginner friendly and the controls are more straight forward. I can see how veterans may not like this, but at the moment I consider this to be the definitive FIFA. I do have other FIFA games to go play (At least 3 more) so we’ll see if those can match up. Considering the trend they just might end up getting even better.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 14 Review


It’s time to look at an old FIFA game. I would say a “modern” one but at this point 2014 feels like a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of experience with FIFA, but I’m a little better at it than I am at MLB. At the very least I keep the games close. It’s definitely a fun title, but certainly one that you will enjoy a whole lot more if you are actually good at it. Knowing how to make the plays that you want to achieve simply makes for a world of difference here.

There are a bunch of different modes. I imagine that you will spend most of your time in Franchise mode ordinarily. After all, that’s where you get to really learn and grow with your team. If you can’t get the hang of the controls for a while you’ll start out with some bad records, but eventually you’ll be able to completely flip that. I don’t really have enough time to do all of that, but it’s always a great mode for any sport. Beyond that you can also run drills, practice, Go online and play, or a bunch of other options. There is no shortage of modes and content here.

As for the gameplay, it seems pretty good. it’s definitely one of those games where it’ll take a while to actually master the controls. There’s a lot to them and you can’t really skate by on just doing the easy controls. You’ll really need to apply yourself here. For example, I played a few games, but couldn’t score a single goal. I just can’t get close enough to take a realistic shot, it’s crazy. On the other side though, I didn’t allow any goals to be scored in most of the games. (They did score on me once) So…either the goal keeper is just OP here or I need more training. I imagine that it’s the latter because otherwise the FIFA games wouldn’t be nearly as big as they are now. I felt more confident than in Baseball since I’m at least not getting blown out, but at the same time you can’t win without scoring right?

The graphics are certainly solid as always. EA doesn’t hold back in that area. As always in the sport games the music isn’t all that memorable, but it seems to be pretty fast and fitting for the sport. On a technical level the game is quite good and the gameplay is solid as well so I have no real complaints. The only thing really hurting the score is the fact that the game won’t be incredibly fun until you get good at it and you also have to love the sport. If you think about it, technically you’re going to be going through the same motions in every match. That’s true for many games of course, but it does emphasize how much you need to like the gameplay in order to go through with it. Otherwise it would just become a chore by the end and you don’t want that.

To date the best Soccer game has definitely been Mario Strikers. It took a more arcade style look at the sport with simplified controls but still hitting all of the right mechanics. It’s a game that holds up well today and I think FIFA could learn a thing or two from it. FIFA is of course going for a Soccer Simulation style as it’s very realistic but I think it could loosen up on the mechanics a bit. Make the ball go in more precise locations instead of just anywhere and that would help with the shooting. Of course, this is something that would help casual FIFA players like me while professional gamers would likely not like having their experience go to waste so it’s definitely a mixed proposal. I’ll definitely still be buying the next FIFA games once the price is reasonable so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, but I do think it would be a way for the series to get to the next step.

Currently from the big EA titles I’d rank them as Madden>NBA>FIFA>NHL>MLB>PGA. If we threw Tennis in there then it would be third after NBA. In general those are the 3 games that are way above the others. Starting with FIFA they just aren’t as interesting. Put it this way, Madden is a 9 star series and NBA/Tennis are 8 stars. FIFA is a 7 and the others range from 6 to 3. There’s probably a strong correlation to how I enjoy the real life sports too I suppose.

Overall, FIFA 14 definitely continues the series off well. I look forward to playing some of the other FIFA games I have in the backlog but haven’t played yet. They’ll all be older, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be even better. The more I play them the better I should get so that could help plus sometimes the older games had simpler controls which is also important to notice. It’s the opposite of fighting games where they’ve gotten a little simpler over the years. (Although in some cases that’s been a good thing like with Super Smash and Street Fighter) Whether you’ve played a previous FIFA game or not you should be able to jump in pretty quick here as long as you know how the sport works. Actually winning a game is a completely different discussion though. For that you’re gonna need to practice your shooting for quite a while and that’s no easy feat.

Overall 7/10