Battlestar Galactica Review


Battlestar Galactica is one of those games that should have been good by all accounts. It’s a Sci-Fi game like Star Fox with a direct plot involving aliens and a main character who’s already showing some sass in the first level. How could it fumble the ball this hard? Well, unfortunately the controls are pretty bad and the game design is even worse. You have to be prepared for an incredibly long level and if you die at any point during it there are no checkpoints. That’s exactly the kind of thing that you don’t want to do.

The game starts off with a bunch of alien robots showing up. They want to destroy the Galactica. Your mission is to stop them and prevent the Galactica from being destroyed. Simple enough right? Unfortunately not really and this was the last level I would see. I gave it a whirl for around 3-4 hours but it was just not enough to get through. You have to see the same cutscenes and dialogue each time too which can get old. The main character constantly saying that he’s not a cadet but the other characters mock him anyway gets old pretty quick. It’s a shame because the main guy had some potential here.

The core gameplay is that you’re in a 3D environment where you have to fly in and start taking names. You have your main weapon, your sub weapon, boosters, and a few other tricks up your sleeve. You can reallocate your stats to increase attack or speed. Additionally you have charge missiles and other weapons by holding down each button. I think this may have been part of the problem though. The game just got a little too ambitious with all of this. At the end of the day the main issue here is there are too many controls. You have so many different attacks and movement options that none of them are actually reliable.

Then you have the fact that the levels are massive so it feels like you are never making any progress. I’m telling you, I’ve gone through that exact same intro so many times in this game that it’s incredibly old at this point. It’s just the same dialogue options over and over and over again. You really need a checkpoint system in this game or in any game with long levels for that matter. The worst feeling is dumping a few hours into something without anything to show for it. While minor, I’d say at least adding a play time ticker somewhere in the game would do it wonders. Then I could at least put that down somewhere as a quick achievement. Without it, the game feels like an empty experience.

The graphics are really good at least. The game looks surprisingly solid for the PS2 era and you could make a case for this looking like a PS3 game. It’s got full voice acting and the soundtrack is on point as well. On a technical level this game can hold its own and that’s more than I can say for other games at this level. That’s part of why the whole situation is tragic since at least some of the departments working on this game seemed to try hard. Just not hard enough to really make this a good game.

So, how would I fix this? Well, aside from adding checkpoints I would remove some of the control options. We shouldn’t have 3 different ways to boost. Make R1 the boost option and otherwise you are accelerating by default. L1 will be to slow down. Square button will fire the homing rockets. No need to have it twice. I would make the lock-on system a whole lot more pronounced so you don’t have to be wondering where the enemies are. Remove the team strategy options or just make it something you control from the pause menu. Same for redistributing your skills in the level, that should be through the pause menu. Now with this we’re cooking with gas.

Next up, instead of making each level 20-30 minutes and only having 7 levels in the game, make it 21 shorter levels. Each level is the objective so the length is more akin to what an average Star Wars or Star Fox level is like. Bite sized levels like that are perfect for objective based games like this one. For that matter they make a lot more sense as well. With these changes I think you can instantly bump this game all the way up to a 7. It would feel like a completely different game in a good way.

Of course at the end of the day that’s all just wish fulfillment. The game exists and nothing’s really going to change that. Perhaps if the developers see this they can use it for context on their next game though. For some reason sci-fi games just tend to have a lot of issues I’ve noticed. Star Trek hasn’t exactly hit it out of the park and then you had that game about visiting planets a while back. Star Wars has had its hits but it’s also definitely had some titles that didn’t hit people the way you would have hoped they did. I don’t get what’s so hard to make about a space shooter. Just look at Star Fox Assault for a good idea of how to handle it. That game is quite old by now and yet to this day it is easily the best sci-fi shooter I’ve ever seen. It could handle both aerial combat as well as on the ground. It’s a true legend.

Overall, Battlestar Galactica is not a franchise that I’ve ever started and this game definitely wouldn’t help me to turn around on that. It’s just not a very well developed game with the level designs being too long and the controls are overly complex. The series in general always seemed like an alternate version of Star Trek so there’s a lot of potential there. We just need a modern game version to really adapt the series and give it more respect with the fundamentals. I think if you handle this right then you may definitely have something here. Until then though, stay far away from this game and buy Star Fox Assault instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Overall 3/10

Nightshade Review


We have made it to the final new NES game added to the service by Nintendo. It’s definitely a very complex title with a whole lot of mechanics and such to learn. Unfortunately the idea was a little ahead of the technology in this case. It’s just not easy to seamlessly use your many items and the puzzles just don’t work as well as you would hope. The game isn’t all that fun and I would ultimately have to give it a fairly low score here. I just don’t see it being all that fun even if you were to progress further.

The main plot of the game is that you’re a detective on the trail of a villain. Unfortunately he caught you and tied you to a chair. I will admit that the opening of the game is intense as you literally start out strapped to the chair and have to slowly try to escape. The way to do this is to back up and cause a candle to burn through the ropes. It’s pretty interesting and not really something you see a lot. From there you work on escaping the castle and once you’re in the town it’s time to find where the villain is. I played the game for around an hour as I looked for the elusive villain. Let me tell you, that guy’s not easy to find. There are a lot of areas to explore and items to inspect.

The main gameplay style here is a 2D platformer but you are able to move up and down so I suppose it’s close to 3D. If you press the A button you can move a magnifying glass to inspect all kinds of objects. From there if you have a good hint of an object looks useful, press the B button to take out your other magnifying glass and inspect again. You get a different message that way. At this point if the object is even more interesting then click the select button to take out one of your items and try it out on the object. You can also pick it up if the thing you are inspecting is a loose pipe or something like that.

You’ll have a ton of items at your disposal by the time you finish getting out of the castle. The game doesn’t really explain any of this though so I recommend looking up the guide online for the controls. It makes a big difference knowing what you are supposed to do next as opposed to just stumbling through the levels hoping for the best. Not that’s a scenario that can get pretty dicey pretty fast. So I do applaud the fact that the game crammed so much in but I do think it comes at the expense of the actual user experience. At the end of the day you want these levels to be fun and you just don’t get that feeling of excitement from the game.

There’s even combat elements thrown in and I don’t feel like they were all that fun. It was pretty surprising though as a cop ran into me and then suddenly the game turned into a 2D fighter. The controls are really difficult though. It took me around 20 minutes to beat a female ninja that showed up. Apparently there are combos though so if you master those then that may make a good difference in the long run. Normal blows are easily blocked and countered by the A.I. here.

One more touch that the game added which was pretty nice is what happens when you die. When you lose a life you suddenly find yourself on a conveyer belt with the villain mocking you. Based on how interactive the whole time is I suspect that there is a way to break free but every time I reached for the lever the game told me I was too far away. I figure it was worth a shot at least. Then we get some images of the villain hanging out at a rooftop as some sad music plays. It’s all very atmospheric and works rather well.

When it comes to the graphics I would definitely give this game a thumbs up as well. It’s aged quite beautifully with the character designs being on point and the backgrounds looking quite nice as well. The music is good and so on that level the game succeeded. At least those background elements help to offset the gameplay. I think this is the kind of game that could do really well if it were ever remade in the modern day.

Overall, Nightshade is a very different kind of NES title. It’s a game that wants you to do a great many things. The fact that it originally came out with a part 1 in its title shows you just how ambitious the game was to start with. Clearly the developers had a really good plan in store for the series even if it ultimately didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s just not really any fun and that’s definitely one of the biggest negatives I would hold against a title like this. At the end of the day you have to be fun.

Overall 3/10

Yoshi Touch & Go Review


It’s time to look at a Yoshi game I didn’t know much about. Thanks to the Gamestop deal it was effectively one of the 3 free games so no harm either way. That being said…it’s just not very good. This game has no story and the 4 modes it has have identical gameplay. There’s really nothing to do here because it’s like playing a Mairo Party title that effectively only has 1 minigame. How long is that really going to last you when you think about it? A single game can work if there’s a lot of effort behind it or it’s simply addicting but I’m not sure if this one really seals the deal on that. At the very least I didn’t find it all that entertaining at all and grew bored of it pretty quickly. This is definitely one of Nintendo’s weakest games.

The gameplay is divided into two phases. The first phase has you falling through the air as Baby Mario. The idea here is to grab as many coins as possible while avoiding enemies. Once you’ve fallen 1000 feet then your stats are used to determine the equipment for Yoshi in the next phase. The way to stop yourself from bumping into enemies is to draw clouds in the sky that you use as borders to steer Baby Mario while also blocking off the enemies. That’s really the only controls you have but it can be tougher than it sounds. Due to how the DS has 2 screens and all, you have to time the blockades really well or they will flat out miss the target. If that happens then things aren’t going to go all that well for you. You can keep retrying until you succeed of course but the gameplay is rather slow so it takes a bit.

The second half has you riding a Yoshi who automatically walks forward. The idea here it to throw eggs at enemies in front of you before you bump into them. Remember, a single touch will result in your destruction so you really do need to keep away. Also remember to build a bridge of clouds underneath you so that you don’t fall to your doom. It can be tough to multi task on everything but this mode works pretty well. Every enemy you hit also extends the timer on the level. The idea is to get as far as possible as there is no end. The only level with an end is Time Attack where you get to save Baby Luigi.

So that’s it, this is the extent of the game. The modes here are Score Attack, Challenge, Survival, and Time Attack. They all have the exact same gameplay though so there’s just not much to this. Additionally there is no way to skip the Baby Mario stuff. I feel like that would have gone a long way to make the game more fun since the Yoshi gameplay, while not perfect, is a considerable improvement. I can at least see myself having a little more fun there. The game just feels incredible rushed though. Couldn’t they have at least given us more stages or different ways to play? A very quick story or arcade mode would have done the job just fine and then there would not have been any kind of issue. That would have been absolutely fantastic so it’s a shame that it didn’t work out.

The graphics are okay though. It does look about as good as a normal Nintendo game. There’s not a lot to base this on because the gameplay is so limited but what we do have is fine by me. The character models are on point and the enemies look like how they should appear. The backgrounds are nice and it’s pretty nostalgic to see the sprites everywhere. The soundtrack is pretty forgettable but I wouldn’t say it’s bad either. It just doesn’t have the pop you would see in a more mainstream Nintendo title.

Overall, I just feel like this game was incredibly lazy. I feel bad for anyone who bought this day 1 and then immediately ran out of things to do. You can “conquer” the game within an hour. By that I mean getting your name in the top 10 leaderboard for each minigame. At that point it just depends how much you like the game so you can replay the modes over and over. The point of a game like this is to have you constantly try to get better and better so that your score goes high but it depends on how much you like the game. Usually there are a ton of minigames so you have a lot of options but in this case there’s only one so if you don’t like it then you’re sunk. It’s kind of hard to see why Nintendo would phone in a game like this. I’m confident they could make a better version of it for mobile now if they really tried. Ah well, maybe next time. In the meanwhile I highly advise you not to get this game. Even if Yoshi’s the main character, it’s just not worth it.

Overall 3/10

The Immortal Review


It’s time to take a look at a recent game Nintendo added to the NES catalogue. I definitely was not familiar with this one before starting it but I’m always up for giving each game its fair share. Unfortunately I can’t say that this one is particularly good. It’s a title with so many gotcha traps that you don’t spend much time actually progressing through the game. Everything in the title is meant to take you out of the picture and while that is pretty fun for how creative it is, it does’t really let you play the game.

You wake up in a dark room with a note from your master explaining that he was bumped off and you have to stop some sorcerer or something. The mystery is that the letter was addressed to someone else, not you. Still, these are the answers you were looking for so you leave the room and head into the rest of the castle which is filled to the brim with traps. Everything in this castle is made for the sole purpose of blowing you to smithereens. Seriously, you can die with every step. Sometimes by walking you’ll trigger a sword that shoots up from the ground and stabs you to death. Other times there’s a trap door or even a random monster in the ground trying to eat you. You’ll be lucky to make it more than a few steps before death sometimes.

Then you’ve got flying energy balls that follow you to the end of your days. I couldn’t find any way to get rid of them and they are much faster than you are. Trying to stay out of their way is virtually impossible so you’ll keep dying. Then you have spears being thrown at you and also shurikens that home in on your general direction. Finally we can’t forget the minions wandering around who will challenge you to a fight. The gameplay style here is very unique. Most of the game is an overhead platformer as you run from room to room trying your best to stay one step ahead of the rest. In combat it turns into more of a guessing game. Both of you have swords and the idea is to take the other one out of the picture. You can stab straight or to the side. Additionally you can dodge to the side as well. Watch out because the opponent can do the same thing. The whole match gets very tactical or you can strike first and wing it. If you keep slashing sideways at full speed then you will always deal more damage than the enemy can. Keep it up and you’ll win the battle although it’ll cost you considerable damage.

There are also a lot of puzzles in the game which is naturally not really my thing as you know. You are given various items as enemies drop them and some have special uses. For example, you can light up a candle which opens up the passageway to the next floor. Enter carefully as if you fall into the hole instead of through the ladder then you instantly die. Also, don’t read the scrolls you pick up since they blow you up which takes out another life. There are also jello monsters running around which absorb you resulting in another instant death. The game really throws everything at you here with no time to catch your breath. In a way it is quite admirable I suppose as the game keeps on showing you that this is all quite serious business.

Fortunately these deaths don’t all take you back to the beginning. The game seems to save after every major floor. I only made it to floor 2 so I don’t know if it stays that way for the whole game. You seem to have 3 lives so if you die once you respawn in the same room. Lose all of your lives and then you respawn back at the beginning of the floor instead which is quite the difference. I’m glad that the game doesn’t set you all the way but it’s a small comfort. You’re just not given enough time to actually play the game and that’s a problem if you ask me. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of trying to explore this dungeon.

The graphics are pretty old and haven’t aged as well as some of the other games. There’s not a whole lot of detail here. While the game doesn’t look all that good, I think it deserves some credit for building such an elaborate level. That is something which is quite a bit less common than you would expect. Usually the NES games wouldn’t have a whole lot of areas to explore just due to the nature of the system. It would have to focus everything into the gameplay while also staying within the disc’s size limit. Once you’re able to get past that then you can worry about everything else.

Overall, The Immortal is definitely not a game that has a timeless feel about it. It’s not a particularly fun game and its only gimmick of constant death is not one that lends itself well to playing over and over again. You’ll have a hard time just beating this game through once to be honest with how many obstacles it puts in your way. Good luck is all I’d say to that because the game is absolutely going to make you work for it. I’m hoping Nintendo continues to add more NES and SNES games though. They’ve really helped me play a lot of titles that I absolutely wouldn’t have checked out otherwise.

Overall 3/10

Natsume Championship Wrestling Review


It’s time to look at another wrestling game. I played one on the NES so it was finally time to try the SNES version. Unfortunately I definitely would not say that this game was very good. In fact, I thought it was fairly bad and has not aged well at all. There are a lot of little choppy animations thrown in and parts of the game where you have to watch what’s basically a small cutscenes. There are just too many breaks in the action and that ultimately ends up hurting the experience quite a bit.

There’s no story mode so right off the bat you can just jump into some exhibitions or the tournament mode where you fight off everyone at once. Definitely a pretty reasonable structure for a fighting game but then you need the gameplay to be on point and this one was not. You have 3 basic moves when you start to fight, you can punch, kick, or go for a grab. You can also try running blows but they are unlikely to land even when the computer is on easy mode. When you throw an opponent to the ground you can follow up by kicking them where it hurts, getting them into a submission, or picking them up to get a free hit in.

My favorite option was the free hit because it seems like a no brainer to me. You get the free hit and then knock him down to repeat the cycle again. It can be tough to time the first punch though so that you are in a position to grab again after that. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds after all. The annoying part is when you go face to face with an opponent and they grab you. There’s basically nothing you can do about it and I tried many different options. I would rewind and take just about any action but it wouldn’t matter. Once the opponent wants to grab you they won’t stop until they do. It triggers a cutscene of sorts where they make you run back and then forward into their punch. They then follow it up with all of the counters I described above.

Eventually they will try to pin you. With good button mashing you can break free almost every time but it’s still annoying to have to keep doing this over and over again every round. Then when you pin them they also break free so each match drags on for an incredible amount of time. You spend more time messing around on the ground then you do actually fighting and that just feels like a mistake to me. It takes away from the entire point of wrestling doesn’t it? I want to actually be interacting with the game. The problem is that while you’re on the ground and they jump on you there’s nothing you can do for a little while. Dead time like that doesn’t work in game format.

At least the graphics are okay I guess. They’re clear enough. The game is very down to Earth so it’s not like they’re going to be able to show a whole lot anyway. What we do get works well enough I suppose. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though. It’s to be expected as Wrestling isn’t about the music anyway but I still would have liked to have had a few good themes. I think it would have been a good idea. Anything to give this game a bit more life. As it stands there isn’t much in the way of replay value aside from fighting more people in wrestling matches I guess.

Overall, Natsume Championship Wrestling just isn’t fun. At the end of the day that’s one of the last things you want to hear about a game. When you pop a title in to play a few rounds you’re expecting to have a fun time and to be entertained. This game just doesn’t let you do that and I would sooner go back to the NES version which was at least a bit more fast paced. I don’t really buy wrestling games in general but I’m confident that the Gamecube ones would have better gameplay. Just call it a gut feeling but I think it definitely is a reasonable assumption.

Overall 3/10

Pikmin Review


Pikmin is a game that I’ve owned for a long time and didn’t actually play through. The reason for this is despite being a big Nintendo game the gameplay never looked all that fun. I had briefly played the game in the past and it just didn’t work out for me. I tried it again now and am still not a fan. The exploration gets old pretty quickly and the mechanics are really hard to use. I’m hoping the sequels tighten things up a bit as that would help quite a bit.

The game starts with Olimar crash landing on a planet. The citizens of this planet are little creatures known as Pikmin and they have various elemental abilities. Olimar must use them to try and locate the broken parts of his rocket so he can get back home. He’s only got 30 days to do this so time is not on his side. There are 30 parts to collect and 30 days to do this which is a pretty perfect blend. If you average 1 part a day then you’re pretty well set. Olimar will have to be careful not to mess with the other aliens wandering this planet though. Those guys mean business.

One thing I will say in Pikmin’s favor is the overall story is pretty good. Every day Olimar updates the journal with his discoveries as things start to piece themselves together. We learn that the Pikmin are actually quite violent so it’s good that he’s on friendly terms with them. The game also gets pretty dark as Pikmin that are left by themselves seemingly get eaten by the monsters. Olimar also can’t breathe in oxygen which makes you wonder where he is actually from. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure.

I also do like the graphics. Those hold up very well to be sure and the levels/world design in Pikmin is very impressive. I only got to play through 2 levels because my Pikmin were not helping me in the slightest but what I saw was quite good. The controls are smooth for moving Olimar around and it makes you think that the gameplay for this could have been quite amazing from the start. If the game had played it straight without the Pikmin angle then I do think this game would have been quite great. The soundtrack is also pretty good. It’s quite peaceful without being dull because you still feel a good amount of energy in it. The soundtrack holds up quite well to this day.

Now lets go into what didn’t work for the game. I have to go right to the Pikmin. How it works is that you lead the Pikmin where you want them to go with slight commands or by running in the direction. The range is quite small so in most cases you’re better off just running over anyway. So you run somewhere and have the Pikmin pick up things or attack enemies and objects. When they find a piece of your rocket you escort them home and hope they don’t get eaten by a monster. It’s not ideal but I can work with this. The problem is that some obstacles require different Pikmin to tackle and they rarely co-operate. For example, you need yellow Pikmin to pick up bombs.

The problem is that getting Yellow Pikmin can be really difficult. Even when you lift up a yellow piece so they can come out the Pikmin will keep bringing it to the red spaceship. I couldn’t figure out how to stop them so what would happen is that I had a ton of Red Pikmin by the end of the game and almost no yellows. That was pretty rough since the Reds can’t really do anything except fight a bit. I do appreciate their tenacity and all but I wanted the Yellows. Then you’ve got the fact that if the Pikmin jumps a little too far even once they will get stuck behind the wall and that’s game over for them. You’ll have to wait til the next day if you’re out of the Yellows.

Pikmin also uses a day system which is not ideal. I haven’t liked that system in any game. Essentially the game has 30 days that pass by and when they’re all over you get to see a happy cutscene or a sad one depending on if you got the parts or not. As I only obtained 3 it was pretty sad to see him launch up and then fall down. It doesn’t actually delete all of your data though as it just re-starts the final day over and over again. I’m not really sure what you can do in one day to be honest, but maybe it still saves so you can eventually win. The problem is the unskippable cutscene you’ll have to sit through each time.

A day system like this just encourages you to rush through the game and that’s why I’ve never liked it. I prefer to play the game at my own pace and some days I may just want to run around. In Pikmin this is especially true because of how long it takes to find where you have to go and all. The game is fun at first when you’re exploring but when you actually try to progress and see that nothing is working then it gets old real fast.

Overall, Pikmin is a Nintendo game that has not aged well. The mechanics just aren’t very fun and I don’t believe that they are explained very well either. You’re left to your own devices which isn’t a bad thing if you have all the time in the world but with the days flying by that just isn’t the case. You’ll quickly be hit with the feeling that the end is near and you’ll even start jumping through days when you realize that no progress has been made. I already own Pikmin 3 so I’ll need to buy 2 at some point but I can definitely tell you that it is not very high on my list. Pikmin is probably the only Nintendo franchise I can think of that I actually dislike. I suppose even Nintendo had to have at least one series that didn’t work out for me.

Overall 3/10

Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game Review


It’s time to look at a DBZ game that I’ve had for a very long time. Part of why I kept it in the backlog is because the game just wasn’t very interesting. I would play it a bit from time to time but the controls were confusing and since there wasn’t even really a story I didn’t see the need to keep on playing. Well, I gave this one another whirl and the game is as confusing as ever. It’s hard to ever make any headway here.

The game is based on the actual card game. Unfortunately it is hard for that to translate well to video game format. Unlike Yugioh or Duel Masters this game feels very clunky with matches that go on forever. Literally almost all of my matched went to time, which is the full 7 turns that a duel can take. Matches should not be going to the equivalent of sudden death every round. That tells me that there is something at least a little weird with the game. Since I don’t get it then the A.I. should at least be able to beat me up pretty quick.

Here’s the gameplay in the simplest way I can describe it. When you start the game you draw 5 cards. If you go first then you get to play any non combat cards you have. After that you choose to attack or pass. If you pass then you discard all but one card and draw a fresh 5. Once the opponent has done so as well then they will attack and you will pick a card to defend with. You have to try and take down all of the Life cards that the opponent has and they will do the same to you. You can win in one of 3 different ways. You can take all of their life cards away which will be a complete victory. You can also win via technical win by exhausting the opponent of all cards or maybe you can even grab the Dragon Balls and win via super victory. A final way you can win is also by raising your power level and anger level to the max setting. If you do any of these things then you will have claimed victory.

The problem is that the opponent will never let you do this. They block all of your hits and always seem to have more cards than you do. They don’t run out despite playing so many and every time you raise your anger level they reset it back to 1 using a spell card. As a result you just can’t claim the advantage and the rounds take forever. I was somehow able to beat Krillin and the second guy, but Guldo is where I met my match. After dozens of fights I still couldn’t conquer him and that’s where my DBZ card adventures concluded. It was time to throw in the towel. After all the only way to improve your deck is to keep on re-fighting the first two opponents, but I was only able to beat them once after a ton of tries. Doing so again just to hopefully get a useful card to make a comeback feels like such a long shot that it is barely worth it.

Then you’ve also got the fact that the game has no real effort put into it. There is only one piece of music in the entire game which keeps on looping over and over for every action that you take. You can only hear the same song so many times before you just have to take a break for it. How is it possible that the game wasn’t able to get more than one tune? It’s just crazy to only have 1 in the entire soundtrack if you ask me. There’s not much to say about the graphics either since there barely are any. You’ve just got the one illustration for each character as the squares match up with each other over and over again. The cards don’t look all that flashy either.

This game feels like a total cash-in and that’s not too surprising considering how long the loading times are. Each match takes forever in part because you can’t go through the turns quickly enough. You can spam the A button to at least get rid of the drawing phase and it speeds up the attacks but it also skips card effects so then the catch is that you’ll lose further track of what’s going on. It’s a pretty unfortunate situation all around. The length of the game is quite long as a result although it feels artificial. In theory you can probably get a good 20 hours out of this one and maybe more depending on how often you lose. There won’t be any real replay value, but at this point you wouldn’t need any since the campaign is so long.

Overall, Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game is the weakest of the DBZ games. It’s hard to picture any game losing to this one although since the DS also had a title based on the Card Game it is possible. What the title really needs is a better explanation of the rules and to speed up the gameplay a bit. I know the computer was able to use his avatar card at some points when the tutorial never even referenced how to do so. I tried using mine a bunch but every time I tried the game said that it wasn’t the right situation to do so. That’s not entirely helpful to be honest but it may not have mattered much. My deck simply wasn’t strong enough to beat my opponent’s so no matter how many times I would draw some cards it just wasn’t going to make up the difference. The only way you should get this game is if you are a really big fan of the official card game.

Overall 3/10

Beyblade Evolution Review


This may possibly be the weakest Beyblade title and the series hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders before. I thought that the series was on an upwards trend after playing the last game, but this one brings the series down once more. It takes away all of the strengths of Metal Masters and goes back into a control scheme that is even more obnoxious than blowing into the DS like the first title. Sorry guys but this is one game that you should stay far, far away from.

Beyblade Evolution doesn’t really have a story which doesn’t help matters. Effectively you are playing as a new kid who doesn’t know the first thing about the game, but wants to compete in the World Championship. He’s clearly not a main character who thinks things through all that well, but I suppose you have to admire his enthusiasm at the very least. You go around fighting people and playing minigames until the tournament starts. Win or lose you are sent back to level 1 to replay the entire game again…….

The game uses a day system which is one of my least favorite gameplay styles. Several games I’ve played have used this including Armored Core, Megaman Zero, Pikmin, and Yugioh GX Duel Academy. It’s never once worked out as a positive. I get that it is a bit more realistic this way, but it forces you to hurry through the game and you can’t enjoy it as much. While I’m not the biggest fan of Majora’s Mask, at least it doesn’t trap you in the days the way that the others do. Beyblade Evolution has 50 days. Each action you take aside from accessing the main menu counts as a day. You want to go to the shop to buy some parts? That’ll take up a whole day. Wanna play a minigame to earn money? Another day gone. There are only 50 days in the game so you’ll very quickly find yourself at the very end.

This title seems to be built on the assumption that you’ll want to play through the game multiple times because there isn’t enough time to do everything otherwise. There is little reward for beating opponents either since you don’t get any money or parts. It’ll help you unlock more people to fight, but why would you want to do that? The most efficient way to play through the game seems to be doing the minigames. Some of them are quite easy so you can S rank them on hard and get about 3800 points. With these points you can buy superior parts and build yourself a pretty great Beyblade. Keep on doing this until day 47. Use the next two days to clean out both shops. (Why are there 2 shops? To make sure you waste 2 days buying parts instead of one.) You’ll have to hope that RNG is on your side though as the shops cycle through inventory quite frequently so if you pick the wrong day to go in they will only have weak points and you’ll have to waste another day to go in and get what you want.

There isn’t an easy way to see what parts you do have though. Your best bet is to go into the sell window and look at your parts that way which is a lot of extra clicks. There isn’t even an inventory option to see how many total parts you have out of the full collection. There’s a lot of quality of life updates that just aren’t present in this game. When you think you have a good Beyblade, head to the tournament and hope that the force is on your side. Be careful…skill doesn’t play much of a role here.

I was surprised to see that you cannot move your Beyblade. Basically you launch the Beyblade by flipping your 3DS backwards (which is really bad for the screen so I’d recommend holding the screen in place but it will mess up your launch) and then you watch it fight the opponent. I couldn’t move it in the slightest with the stylus, D Pad, or by moving the 3DS. You just have to watch it roll around. The only support you can give it is by shooting energy into the Beyblade by aiming with the motion controls. After that you can watch grimly as the A.I. jumps off the track and you lose by default. In the big tournaments you need 4 points to win the match. Winning through survival is one point so you have to win 4 times while if the opponent knocks you out of the ring they get 3 points in an instant. It’s really not very balanced if you ask me.

There’s no fun to be had with the gameplay. I want to be able to move my Beyblade and feel like I’m actually doing something. Otherwise I may as well be watching two A.I.s going at it because that’s really what’s happening. Half the time sending energy to your Beyblade doesn’t even help much since they just spin out of control. I didn’t think the gameplay could get worse than the first DS one I played, but it definitely happened. I’ll even take the microphone gimmick over the motion controls. I already didn’t like motion controls in the Wii, I can guarantee you that they are even worse on the 3DS. The 3DS wasn’t made for motion, I don’t see why a game was developed with that as the intent.

Ah well, the graphics aren’t bad I suppose. The character designs are nice enough and we get some decent backdrops. There aren’t a lot of areas to see though as it’s the same locations over and over with the same re-used character models. All of the tournament cutscenes start out the same way. The amount of recycled footage is pretty staggering to say the least. As for the soundtrack, it’s fairly generic. There isn’t a lot of variety to be found here.

In terms of replay value the game is pretty light. You’ll be ready to leave as soon as the 1-2 hour playthrough to day 50 is over. After that you can keep on playing to either get a better ending or get all of the parts. Those are the only things left to do anyway and for the latter you’ll never know if you have anything because the game never gives you a place to check how many parts are in the game. With the shop constantly changing inventory it’s also hard to keep track of how many are left. It’s a bit of a tough predicament.

Overall, Beyblade Evolution is a game that I’d advise against purchasing. It’s just not very good. It’s barely even a game and more like you are just watching a demonstration among the computers who are fighting to see who is the best. That’s not very entertaining if you ask me. I now own all of the main Beyblade games from the modern era and I can see why they haven’t made any in a while. The series doesn’t seem to understand how to make the series fun which is surprising because it should be pretty clear. Look at the Gamecube Beyblade game as an example of how to do one of these titles. Now that was a masterpiece!

Overall 3/10

ESPN Sports Connection Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent Wii U game I got to play. I haven’t had a chance to play a true cash-in title in quite a while so it was nostalgic to an extent. That being said, the game was pretty underwhelming and falls for most of the traps that the Wii U games tend to sink in. The Gamepad and Wii Remote are both mandatory which is an issue since the Wii U should be able to play the game with its own controls. It’s like asking you to have a Gamepad while playing a Nintendo Switch game.

There are 6 games here and they range from okay to downright bad. It’s really something that Wii Sports has aged a lot better with the controls and pure gameplay. ESPN is just not on the same level and that’s really a bad sign. None of the games feel like they had any real care in them and they were simply slapped together for a quick profit. There is barely even a main menu as the only options are to click into the games or look at your in-game achievements. Those are your only options so the game is incredibly quick as you have probably already begun to suspect. Well, lets look at the games.

First up is Football which should have been great, but unfortunately the game messed this up by making it all motions controls. Throwing the ball is actually very difficult because the game won’t read your commands and by the time you are able to toss the ball it is usually too late so your guy will drop the ball. A lot of the game also boils down to luck as you pick 1 of 4 directions and hope that the other player picked a different one. If you pick the same one then the defender ends up stopping the attacker. It just doesn’t feel like Football, especially since you can’t run the ball at all even after catching it. All you can do is throw the ball which doesn’t even work well. Thumbs down on the first sport.

Then we have Tennis which has controls that are worse than the Balls of Fury game for the Wii. It’s made to be like Wii Sports as you swing your arm around and try to connect but the sensors aren’t perfect for this one either. You’ll have a very tough time hitting the ball and an even tougher time trying to get it to go where you want it to. The points all last way too long and so do the matches. It may be fair to say that this is the worst version of tennis that I have played in a game.

Not to be outdone, the Golf game here isn’t any better. In fairness to this minigame, it’s no worse than most Golf titles. It’s just that Golf isn’t for me and this is not the game to change that. You will have a hard time hitting the ball just right because you’ll end up swinging too hard to compensate for the sensor not reading your light hit. That means you can expect to get a Bogey instead of a Birdie.

Then you have Karting which is the best game almost by default. It’s not great or even that good, but at least it feels like a real game. You can actually accelerate accurately and the stages had a little effort put into them. By now it’s a pretty small bar, but I’ll take what I can get. This was probably the best game out of the 6 and it shows that racing games are still the foundation upon which everything tries to get built. It’s just easy to at least give you the impression of being in control here.

Next is Baseball and this one has the same issues as the Football game. It doesn’t feel much like Baseball because so much of the game is completely out of your control. There’s just no fun to be had here which is a real problem. Pitching feels pretty OP while batting isn’t satisfying. This leads to a poor balance for sure. Finally we have Soccer. Admittedly this one isn’t too bad. It’s up there with the Kart game for at least being entertaining. The controls are simple and you can actually score. It feels like soccer which is the important thing. So, all in all the game got 2/6 of the games right. I can’t really give it a ton of praise for that, but I’ll at least give it some credit.

Not enough to recommend the game though. When you see the name ESPN slapped onto something you expect a certain level of quality. This game did not fulfill that at all. It just went through the motions and ultimately gave you a title that you can’t really be all that proud of. The graphics are okay, but nothing special. They’re going for an art style like Backyard Football, but with less of a budget. It’s all colorful, but not very impressive. The soundtrack and presentation are basically nonexistent here so that isn’t doing the game any favors here either.

There is some replay value through the achievements that the game gives out. Each sport has 40 achievements and there are 28 social ones. Completing all of these achievements will be very difficult unless you have another player to cheese them with. I got a reasonable amount of achievements, but since they don’t unlock anything there really isn’t much point to them either. There isn’t even a mode to play all of the sports at once. It’s like playing Mario Party but without the party mode and knocking the dozens of minigames down to 6. Even if these minigames were amazing (which they aren’t) it would be tough to hold my attention for very long with such a limited selection.

Overall, ESPN Sports Connection is not a good game. It’s probably the most disappointing game since Star Fox Zero. There just should have been so much more to this title but it could not deliver on anything. Even the karting, while okay ends up making Mario Kart Tour look good. You could just buy a game that specializes in one of these 6 sports instead of buying the mini version. It can be done well like Wii Sports, but for the most part I tend to see a pattern of these kind of games being low quality. The game is only 2-3 dollars so it’s not a big loss if you buy it, but I would recommend going for something else instead. This one just won’t last you very long at all.

Overall 3/10

Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade Review


It’s been quite a while since I’ve played a low budget party game but it was time to finally do so again with this title. 30 Great Games is actually a series that also had an installment on the Wii. That one was not particularly good and the same can be said for this one. There are some decent mini games thrown in of course, but they’re surrounded by poor game design and odd decisions on how they are structured. You won’t be sticking with this game for very long.

As the title suggests there are 30 different mini games to choose from here. Some of them are pretty solid while others leave much to be desired. If you just look at the games you would probably expect this game to actually be pretty decent. They aren’t as overly long as in other party games and there are actually good ideas here that I would like to see Mario Party incorporate. If the game could have just put a little more effort into the other parts then it could have been good.

Where the game messes up is in every other area. For starters the only modes in the game are the free play mode and the main campaign option where you unlock all of the mini games. Free play is self explanatory and works well. The main campaign has issues though. There are 6 worlds and each one has 5 levels. That would have been straightforward enough but then you have to get through the 5 Gamepad levels as well and there aren’t many of those so prepare to face the same mini games over and over again. This is definitely a case of quick padding to extend the game despite the lack of content. Think about it, for every world to have 10 levels we would need 50, but since there are only 30 that means you need to keep on replaying quite a lot. Throwing away the Gamepad levels or simply including them once would have been much better. It would have been a proper campaign even if it was rather short.

As for the controls, they aren’t particularly good. Part of the point of the Wii U was to finally get rid of the motion controls so we could go back to proper gaming. Unfortunately this game didn’t get the memo. Wii Remotes are actually mandatory and you very rarely get to use the Gamepad. The game can’t even decide on what control scheme it really wants so you are forced to keep on changing depending on the minigame that has been queued up next. This means that you have to have the Wii Remote and Gamepad on the entire time which is a huge waste of battery power.

I wouldn’t say that the graphics are anything to write home about either. It looks pretty standard and I’ve seen some N64 games with more heart. Forget about a soundtrack as well. There are unlockables here and it is a party game so I suppose we do have replay value. It’s not done in a very organic way though. You can’t even play the final 2 worlds unless you beat the first 3 multiple times. I don’t really get the purpose of this except to annoy the players. Why lock the final levels behind this extra grind? It just isn’t right.

I guess we should talk about some of the minigames though. One of the ones that I did enjoy is where you have to walk around a log that is constantly shaking. While you attempt to do so the other 3 players will try to hit you with cannonballs. You can block with your shield, but you can’t move while you are blocking with is definitely a tough tradeoff. You have to go slowly but surely as you wrestle your way through the stage and it is not easy. Then you’ve got a level where you try to run over 3 players who are hiding in the dark. The 1 vs 3 games were just the most fun even if they didn’t always feel very balanced. The 3 have the edge in most of them.

There’s a free for all minigame where you have to jump over hurdles and sprint to the end. This one’s pretty fun and doesn’t really have any gimmicks. It’s just about going fast. Then there are various reaction games where you have to press the combo on screen before anyone else does. You do this for a few rounds and then the points will determine who won the battle. These are all solid and I can’t say that there were any minigames that were bad. The worst ones are really just hurt because of the motion controls. For example there was a jumping one where I couldn’t get the remote to let me jump sideways. Likewise there was another one about moving sideways and my guy wouldn’t budge. Take that away and those games would be a lot of fun.

Overall, This is not a party game that I would recommend. I would consider it to be one of the worst ones. At least the Wii party games have a good excuse since they were forced onto the console and needed to use the motion controls. This one just chose to do so for some reason and that was not the best decision. I’ll always stand by the fact that motion controls will always be worse than the standard ones and so I’m glad that they’ve been phased out. If you want a good party game to play through then I’d suggest picking something a lot more mainstream like Mario Party. You want a game like that which will last a while as well as give you a good journey along the way.

Overall 3/10