5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz Review


It’s time to play a game that relies on 100% complete motion control abilities. As you may suspect this can get a little dicey due to the fact the Wii motion controls can be pretty bad all the time. There’s just no getting around that and since the Monkey Ball games have always been built around having a lot of precision, it makes for a messy experience. Throw in a few poor design choices and this game was ultimately not able to rise to the level of what I would consider “good”

There’s a story mode although it’s incredibly basic. There’s an opening and an ending but that’s really it. The general plot is that a villain has stolen the legendary bananas from the world. It is now up to Aiai and the crew to bring these fruits back. The most difficult part here is going to be the fact that these monkeys aren’t really all that powerful. If we’re being honest here they’re a little out of their leagues. Fortunately the monkeys do have their rolling balls at the ready which should help to bridge the gap here. So long as they roll quickly and with purpose they should be able to claim victory.

There are 8 worlds to navigate through. Each world has 8 levels in addition to a bonus level and a boss stage. The key thing to remember here is that you have to clear all of the levels in one sitting. You can’t quit and then try again later. You do have unlimited lives though is nice. Watch out though, every time you get a game over the game asks if you want to continue. If you hand shakes even slightly then you may end up saying No which will erase your progress. It’s one of those things where it feels like the game just wasn’t play tested enough. Why was something like that not caught earlier? You should be able to quit a different way where you don’t risk the whole world. Additionally there is no way to pause during a level. Yeah…that’s pretty iffy. You can override it by using the Wii home screen at least so that’s a nice workaround. There should be some way to save your progress during a world as well. Otherwise in the final levels you may find yourself stuck for 30-40 minutes and not be able to leave since you don’t want to start over. These are the kinds of quality of life updates that the game desperately needed.

The main gameplay is simple enough. You roll through the levels in hopes of grabbing a big ring at the end. Once you clear it you will have completed the level and moved on to the next one. The first levels are almost insultingly easy while the last ones are criminally hard. I still hold to the stance that the first two games had more difficult levels but the controls here do ultimately make this a lot more challenging. It’s just hard to get the ball where you want it to go at times. Just moving in a straight line while have you shaking from side to side quite a bit. That said, straight lines were never really my specialty. I go with a more custom style of drawing.

The game definitely does get creative with the levels so I will give it credit for the designs. Each world does feel different and the game does take advantage of its unique gameplay style to offer up a lot of different experiences. No two levels are the same here which is definitely a good thing. The most difficult level for me was the large tower in level 8-7. It’s hard to go down the tower and then once you do the final jump is incredibly difficult. You really need to take that at the perfect angle or you ultimately don’t have a shot. Trust me, it’s more difficult than it sounds.

The graphics are solid. This game definitely looks nice with its colorful effects. That may even be the highlight of the game to be honest. The soundtrack is less memorable. It has a few decent themes to be sure but I wouldn’t say that any of them are particularly great or anything like that. They aren’t particularly memorable at the very least. The overall game’s story will probably take you around 5-6 hours give or take. It really depends on difficult you find the controls and levels to be. Technically if you don’t lose much in any of the levels they only tend to be 1-2 minutes long so you can breeze through the game way sooner. I find it pretty unlikely that someone would be able to beat this game without a lot of deaths though so I don’t see it being too short. The game also has a lot of replay value with the minigame modes and general multiplayer here. There’s definitely a lot of content to enjoy as Monkey Ball did not forget that as its core it is a party game that is meant to provide a lot of fun and excitement to everyone.

Overall, Monkey Ball is a franchise that I enjoy quite a bit but this was the weakest installment I’ve completed. Once I get back to Adventure and complete that one it’ll likely reclaim the title but it’s just hard to be weaker than Banana Blitz. This game just really didn’t have a whole lot going for it. the controls just held this game back more than anything else. The story mode goes out of its way to make the bosses not very cool either. Their weakpoints are certainly not very ideal in combat and make things a little on the dicey side. If you like testing your balance then I would sooner recommend playing one of the original Monkey Ball titles. That said, if you see this game on the cheap then it’s not a bad title to snatch up. I think you can get it for under $5 sometimes now.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Metroid II: Return of Samus Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Metroid series. As you may recall I was definitely not a big fan of the first game. The maze system is far too vague and you can get lost in hours. Major props to people who beat this game back in the day without save states or guides. I don’t think I would have been completing that game. This one improves upon the original for sure, but I still wouldn’t say it’s quite at the level where I could give it a positive score either. I like that the game is a bit more direct with the structure and the goals of the game but we don’t yet have a good map system in play.

The game starts with Samus landing on another planet. It’s time to exterminate all of the Metroids on this planet and there are quite a few of them so it won’t be easy. You’ve got a Metroid counter on the screen letting you know how many enemies are still on the planet. Gradually you have to take them all down. After you’ve beaten a good number of the metroids you unlock new paths to find the rest. Needless to say, without a map you could be here for a very long time. Another tricky thing is when you run out of missiles. Without missiles you can’t defeat the Metroids so you will have to backtrack and find a refill machine or beat a ton of enemies. The drop rate on the enemies isn’t too great though.

It’s always interesting playing a game in black and white. I haven’t played may of those at all so it’s really very different. Kind of cool in a nostalgia sense although I definitely miss the color. The graphics are okay but I can’t say they are particularly good in this state. The soundtrack is also pretty limited, the series didn’t hit the next level until Super Metroid. At that point is when we got an incredible soundtrack with all of the iconic tunes. This is right before that hype era.

The campaign is fairly short, but again that’s not considering that you should get lost quite a few times. It took me close to 6 hours to beat the game and that’s considering that I had a map with me. The game does have a real ending which ties into Super Metroid which is cool though. I like how the game is structured even if it is ultimately held back by how the game mechanics work. If this game had a real map then I dare say it would have been pretty good right off the bat.

It’s very challenging though so gamers who like to really work for their wins will definitely appreciate that. Some of the Metroids take numerous hits to take down. You’ll really have to be strategic here as even with a lot of life tanks you may quickly end up getting overwhelmed. You can’t really just run in and start swinging. Admittedly that’s usually how I like to roll but you gotta roll with the game sometimes and this is definitely one of those times. You either fight strategic or you lose.

There’s no real replay value to be found here. Once you beat the game that’s it. There’s no true post game. I suppose you can try to beat the game with a quicker clear time to get a different ending but that’s about it. It’s not personally enough incentive for me to go back in but if you really like the gameplay style then it’s a nice way to challenge yourself.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s a very similar game to the original Metroid except it’s less of a maze adventure as you’ve got more of a solid goal to achieve. You know from the start that you have to beat all of the Metroids so you find and blast them. Metroid is one of those series that I like a lot but mainly thanks to the later games. I’m still not impressed with these early titles. I’ll try out Super Metroid soon though and that one should be a big improvement. If you really like Metroid then maybe check this one out, but I’d recommend getting the 3DS remake instead. I imagine that the enhancements should help fix some of this title’s issues.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Boris and the Dark Survival Review


I’ve had this game downloaded for quite a while but it took me a bit to have enough time to really play through it. It’s a pretty fun game and definitely worth a shot if you got it while it’s free. I wouldn’t recommend paying money for it though as the gameplay is a bit on the limited side. It’s good to see Bendy expanding its horizons though and with at least 2 mobile games that’s more than most franchises have. At this point in time I don’t think there’s any reason for a franchise to not have a mobile game. It just makes so much sense to pop out a couple of them in.

The gameplay is effectively an overhead version of the classic Bendy game. You have to move through the rooms of the floor to find 6 objects. After you find around 4 you run the risk of Bendy showing up. Grabbing all 6 guarantees an appearance so you need to run to the elevator as quickly as possible in order to escape. There are a few charge terminals across the floor that you can hide in but they’re pretty much pointless once you have all 6 objects. If you didn’t make it to the elevator in time then there is no way to win. Bendy waits right outside the door for you and you’re basically soft locked out and just need to let him finish you off. Win or lose then you repeat the game from the elevator.

Each time you start the game there seems to be a different room loaded up so that’s pretty neat. There isn’t really much of n ending as far as I can gather as collecting the 6 items just gets you ready for another round. It’s possible that collecting the items of every room will get you some kind of cutscene but I’m not so sure about that because the rooms are generated randomly. Perhaps a room you’ve completed won’t appear anymore but that seems rather sophisticated for a mobile title. So if my gut it right, then the game is really more about seeing how many runs you can do in one shot or something like that. It’s all about beating your previous score.

The gameplay is pretty smooth although moving the character is difficult. This is where it would have been good to have that mobile controller people always talk about or maybe even the PS4 one since it apparently works with a lot of games now. Whenever I would move the control stick it just wouldn’t stick with me so I would end up freezing. The levels are pretty short at least which definitely helps a lot but otherwise that could have been pretty tricky. I think expanding the control stick on the menu would have helped a great deal to make the moving process a bit more smooth.

The graphics are fine. It’s going for a bit of a dark aesthetic so they won’t particularly standout or anything like that. It does a good job of keeping the main game’s look and feel though which is good. It shows that mobile games have really come a long way and you can turn just about anything into a mobile creation if you really want too. The soundtrack is more on the nonexistent side though. You won’t really recall any themes afterwards.

Overall, Boris and the Dark Survival is a fun little game to check out. It’s definitely a bit limited though which is what ultimately holds the score back. You’re just not going to be sticking with this game for very long which is unfortunate. I think throwing us a bone with some story details or a few cutscenes would have really gone a long way. Right now it just feels like there is no real replay value. Still, if you’re a big Bendy fan then it’s probably worth checking it out. I was able to check it out while the game was still free so it was definitely worth it. If you have to pay a price to play the game now then I would definitely double think it a bit. You may just want to wait for the next full Bendy game which should be coming out fairly soon at this point.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need For Speed ProStreet Review


It’s time to look at a recent Need for Speed title I completed. Unfortunately this may end up being the weakest title in the series. It’s hard to get into this one and there’s not even much of a story. I don’t know about you but I always need a compelling story to really throw the Need For Speed games into the next level. Not having one just doesn’t feel right because the whole time you’re waiting for something to happen and it just doesn’t. Additionally there are some other gimmicks that didn’t work well but more on that later.

The general premise is that you want to become the number one racer in town. To do that you will have to win a lot of races and tournaments. After clearing a bunch of tournaments you get to a showdown level where you get to beat a boss. Then rinse and repeat until you beat all of the showdowns which will earn you a match against one of the legendary Kings. Beat him and the game is over but after that you can take down the rest of the kings in the post game to become the grand king. At that point you are the best there ever was so what else would you really want to do?

There’s a lot of content here so I’ll certainly grant the game that. The campaign itself is incredibly long due to the sheer volume of races and tournaments here. I don’t see you completing the game in under 10 hours and it’ll probably take more like 15. Aside from that it’ll take a lot of time and money to unlock all of the cars or to break enough records to take on all of the kings. Earning money takes a lot of time in this game and that’s unfortunate because you need money to get the better cars. Your starter just won’t cut it. I’m cool with upgrading, but this game tries to go a little too realistic with that. There are some cars where even if you max them out they will never be fast enough to win the race. You also have to compete in “Wheelie” competitions near the end of the game and none of my cars could pull it off. Had to get a brand new one which was a colossal waste of money since it was just good for that and the drag races.

Ultimately I made it to the King at the end and took him down in the first 4 races, but the 5th one stumped me. I really only beat the first race because he ended up crashing so I crawled to the end. His car was simply worlds ahead of mine so no matter how well I raced through the level there was no way I was going to win. I needed a completely different car if I wanted to deal any damage and going all the way back didn’t seem like a great option. So that’s where my journey ended. I really don’t think the idea of having to get new cars all the time is a good one. I like just having one good car that you can upgrade. Make the courses tougher but don’t mess with the cars.

Maybe this wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if the game had a real story. This just didn’t really even feel like a Need For Speed. There is no free roam in the game which is absolutely crazy. That’s basically the core of the NFS franchise. Gone are the underground races and trying to zip away with your car intact. It’s admirable that the game was going for something new but if you ask me it just didn’t work. The core gameplay is still good of course so I’m happy about that but that’s really all I can say about this game. There are several different kinds of racing modes, but the classic Circuit is the best one. I suppose my second favorite would be Speed since the whole idea behind that mode is going full throttle from the start in 1 long lap. One mistake will mean the end for you here so you can’t afford to slip up.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re pretty standard as far as the series goes. I wouldn’t really say that it’s improved much at all since the last one. As long as I can see the track I’m good though. The soundtrack’s pretty limited, I can’t recall any good tunes. One element that further holds the game back is the announcer. He talks constantly as you’re going through the menus so you feel like you have to hurry and make your selections. His lines aren’t witty, they’re just annoying and super loud. Additionally the game throws in a lot more fanservice than these games typically have. You’re also forced to experience this before every single race. You know how some of these levels are so difficult you have to retry them over and over again? Well, get ready for these unskippable intros before the race because they really eat up a lot of time by the time they’re all over.

Overall, Need For Speed ProStreet really fell pretty hard compared to most of the Need for Speed games. This one barely even feels like it’s a part of the same series as the others. It only shares the name with the rest of the games but otherwise may as well be a completely different title. The gameplay is good, but that’s not really enough to save the game. If I at least got my free roaming mode I’d be okay but without that this game just couldn’t work. If you’re going to get into the Need For Speed series then I recommend starting out with just about any other game compared to this one. ProStreet just does a disservice to the series.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Rygar Review


It’s time for the newest addition to the NES Online selection. Rygar had an interesting look to it. You don’t really play a lot of games where the main character uses a weapon like this. It’s sort of like a spiked shield. You do get other weapons as the game goes on though. This title had a lot of potential but does falter early on. As with some old games the main issue here was the lack of a map and how you had to solve puzzles to get through. That’s a bad combo because solving puzzles is difficult enough so throw in the fact that you’ll be lost and it gets even trickier.

This is one of those games where there isn’t much of a plot unless you check the booklet. You are thrown into the action and must now try to complete each level. Each level has a ton of enemies chasing after you so you have to beat them back and keep it moving. It’ll be tough but your attacks move very quickly so as long as your reaction times are on point you should be fine. Additionally you can jump on all of the enemies as well which helps a lot since that’ll stun them for a little while. I highly recommend jumping if the enemy numbers start to get a little too crazy.

What ended up stumping me is that I eventually reached a point where the mystical statue told me that I could not get any farther without some new weapons. The problem is that I could not find any new weapons. I back tracked my steps and ran all around but no dice. Without a map this ended up being a pretty futile mission. The game wasn’t quite big enough where I was about to check online and see where I should go. I searched for a long time and after I found no results I called it a day. It definitely was not the most impressive way for things to start on my end.

It’s a shame because the actual platforming is pretty fun. It’s very smooth both in how fast you move as well as in how strong your attacks are. It’s a pretty good blend. I could see myself really enjoying the bosses that would appear. It’s almost like a beat em up to the extent of how well you can fight while keeping in the platforming elements. I don’t understand why so many games want to throw in some puzzles anyway. This game just didn’t need them and would have been better off without these weapon limits.

The graphics are pretty solid. Everything looks to be on point which is certainly good. I like the enemy designs as well as the weapon. It’s all very clear and I didn’t notice any lag either. The music is okay from what I recall. The length is pretty hard to say but it’s likely around an hour or longer depending on how often you get lost. I believe that will end up impacting the replay value of this game but ultimately it will last you for a little while which is definitely a good thing.

Overall, Rygar has solid gameplay. It’s really some of the smoothest that I’ve seen on the NES. That said, it’s ultimately hindered by needing to switch weapons at certain points and not knowing where to switch the weapon. That really did the game a disservice. If you like that sort of thing then I’d recommend checking this game out. Otherwise this is a title that you should skip. Other games are on the NES that are just better platformers. In fact, one game coming up is a good example of that. When you just focus on platforming and ignore the gimmicks and extra stuff then you can ultimately end up having a terrific game on your hands.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts Review


It’s time to look at another NES game as I get one step closer to conquering them all. This one is definitely pretty well known. I enjoyed the second one but the original hasn’t aged nearly as well. The platforming can be a little clunky with the controls and the weapons dynamic also hurts. See, there’s a chance you will chose the wrong weapon and then in the final level you are really in trouble. There’s just not much that you can do if anything. I made it up to the boss but my axe wouldn’t deal any damage. It seems like I should have kept more of an elemental weapon or something. If there is a way to beat the boss with the axe then that’s good, but I have my doubts. I tried hitting him many times to no avail.

The gameplay is pretty classic though in the style. Effectively your task is to keep on running til you get to the end of the level. On the way you will pass by a ton of minions and obstacles. Two hits is enough to take down your life so you really need to try and win as quickly as possible. If you don’t then it’ll be all over. I definitely had to rewind quite a lot in this game because the title really doesn’t hold back. Right from the start this game is very difficult. The difficulty level really isn’t a problem if you ask me. It’s very tough but the enemies are still fair and since I can rewind it’s fun enough. The main problem I have with the game is the weapon system.

I never like it when you can find a weapon on the map that is a lot worse than the one you have. When you touch the weapon it swaps out your current one for the new tool. The problem is you can’t switch back so then you are stuck. Particularly on a first playthrough where you don’t know which is the best weapon. It’s just a bit of odd game design if you ask me. I’m guessing there is a purpose to each weapon but some are just so much better than the others that I don’t see any reason to switch. Give me the fireball over the axe any day for example.

Then when it comes to the graphics the game is pretty reasonable. I don’t think it’ll be turning heads or anything like that but at least you always know what is happening which is the important part. The game’s levels go by pretty quickly too so the pacing isn’t an issue. The game seems to be around an hour long I’d say which is short, but average length for a NES title. The difficulty also helps keep the game as a little longer than it would otherwise be. The soundtrack is also pretty decent. Nothing super memorable or anything but it’s fast paced enough to mix in with the gameplay pretty well.

Overall, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a fun title that is hampered by some of its design choices. It’s a NES game that has earned its reputation. Ultimately it is still one of the weaker NES titles if you ask me though. The other platformers I’ve played tend to handle the platforming aspects a little better. The SNES version of this game is also a lot better so if anything I would recommend checking that one out instead. It takes the best elements from the first game and then improves them in the second. This is the kind of game that could easily work well in a modern remake as well. With updated graphics and more of a story this could easily sell a ton of units.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Panel de Pon Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure SNES game. I was pretty surprised they got this one for the latest update but it’s always nice to have more games to check out. The menus aren’t translated but it’s easy enough to figure out where you have to go. I started the equivalent of what arcade mode would likely be and ended up beating the first 3 chapters and a boss which was nice progress. The gameplay takes a little bit of getting used too after doing a lot of Tetris but I eventually got the hang of it. You certainly have to move fast or you’ll be buried in blocks.

There seems to be a bit of a plot. I assume that a demon lord is trying to invade the world and now the magical girls are asking you for help to stop this impending crisis. Along the way they’re teaching you how to play to see if you’re really worthy. I don’t know Japanese though so that’s my best interpretation of what’s going on. The game has blocks coming from the ground rather than the sky so think of it as a reverse Tetris. You have to match 3 blocks together in order to eliminate them. The key is to keep the blocks from reaching the top or you will lose. Once you have blown up enough blocks then the level will end and you’ll be safe. Boss battles work in a similar fashion except you keep matching blocks until the boss’ health goes all the way down. At that point you will have concluded the battle.

How you play is you move the icon over the blocks and then click to flip them. Your icon has 2 slots so you can leave one slot empty to move the block to it. Alternately you flip them horizontally so that you will be able to make more matches. It’ll take some trial and error at first but gradually you’ll start seeing patterns a lot quicker. That’s good because the levels get really difficult. I had quite a few deaths on the third level and a ton on the boss. It’s just hard to keep on matching when everything is going so fast.

One thing I’d recommend doing is to sometimes just randomly move pieces along in the bottom of the screen to get things moving. I found that I would make matches that I didn’t even know were there. I don’t think it’s the most efficient method in the longrun since you want to actually find the real pieces soon but if you’re in an absolute pinch then go for it. The worst thing to do in this game is hesitate or do nothing so just moving things around can really help you get a fresh perspective. It’s a pure desperation move but it did save me a few times. Well….that and the rewind feature of course.

The graphics are pretty solid here. The colors are very vibrant and it’s aged really well. This game could pass for being a bit newer than it actually is. At worst it may seem a little blurry at times but at best it’s all very smooth like an N64 title. The soundtrack is less memorable to me but it’s handled pretty well I’d say. It fits in with the game. It’s all pretty peaceful and serene.

Overall, Panel de Pon is a solid puzzle game so long as you really enjoy the gameplay. While I was starting to get used to it, it’s not quite as fun for me as traditional Tetris. There are less movements you can make due to the nature of the game so while the strategy isn’t any lower, it feels like there is less to do at times. The story probably could have also helped boost it up real quick if I knew what was going on. Still, it’s great that Nintendo is letting us play this game. I’m sure people probably thought the day may never arrive at this rate. If you like this style of gameplay then you should definitely check it out.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

TwinBee Review


I actually played the sequel to this game before the original back when I was blasting through all of the SNES games. So it’s definitely pretty nostalgic to go back to the original here. The cover still looks like it’s saying TwinBoo to me until I look at it closer. I blame it on the fancy way they wrote the boxart. Either way this is a fun shooter game. It’s definitely one of those really quick one that loops almost right away though. It’s got a pretty fun dynamic to it though and some interesting mechanics even if they take a while to figure out.

So the gameplay here is that of a shooter where the screen is always scrolling up. You have to keep up with the screen and blast away at all of the enemies that get in your way. There are enemies on the ground as well which are tough to deal with since your normal blaster only shoots forward. At the beginning of the game you are able to shoot down a bit with the other button (A or B) but I ran out of ammo very quickly and couldn’t figure out how to get more. I’m sure there’s a way though. For the most part you just keep focusing on blasting away and eventually you will reach the top. At the end of each level there is a boss that must be defeated. There are 6 levels so this may take you around 20 minutes give or take a few.

One interesting mechanic here are the bells. They show up when you blast a cloud and change colors as you blast them. I only noticed white and blue, but I believe yellow and red may be present somewhere too. I couldn’t really figure out what they do though. White seemed to just increase your score and Blue would maybe give you a bit of extra speed. Beyond that they didn’t have a noticeable impact. It’s an interesting mechanic to have to blast your power ups as you go through the stage. I can’t think of any other games that really do that and it gives you an extra thing to focus on. It gives the gameplay a little more depth because now you have to decide what to prioritize, getting the power up or blasting the enemies away.

As always the rewind feature will be super helpful here. Without it the game may ultimately prove to be a little too tricky. These games have definitely proven to be extremely difficult in the modern day. I still think I wouldn’t be quite as big a gaming fan back then as I am today with all of the modern conveniences. If anything I probably would have mostly stuck to RPGs once they started coming out since they always had save features at least. RPGs and fighting games, the rest of the genres would have lagged behind a bit.

As for the graphics, I’d say that they hold up pretty well. The levels are nice and bright with a good amount of variety. The enemy designs are good too and I didn’t notice any lag during the game so the system was able to handle all of the models pretty well. The sound is more on the generic side so I don’t think you’ll be remembering much there. Lately quite a few games haven’t exactly wowed me with the soundtrack but they can’t all be winners.

Sometimes I’ll throw in a tip or two for a game like this, but there isn’t a whole lot to say beyond the obvious. Be careful with going too high up in the screen or you’ll be surrounded and will likely be defeated. Always take down as many enemies as possible. If you can’t take down the grounded units then at least beat the aerial ones. I’d also say to keep all of your aerial bullets during the opening levels because they will be incredibly handy later on in the game. That’ll be when you will really wish that you had some at the ready.

Overall, TwinBee is a pretty fun game. Ultimately what holds it back from a higher score is what holds most of the NES games back. It’s just too short. As fun as a game is I can’t totally recommend it when it’s under 30 minutes. This one’s free so you should still check it out but it won’t last long. There is also effectively no replay value here since there is nothing to do after beating the game. I suppose you can work on increasing your score at least.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Gradius Review


It’s time to look at another classic NES game. This one is a retro shooter that you may be familiar with. Gradius definitely has a pretty epic cover. I know you can’t judge a game by its cover but if you ever could then this would be the one. It does have an actual ending with a final boss so I was happy to see that. The last few games didn’t really deliver with an ending on the NES so I take what I can get. It’s still a pretty short game though at only around 20-25 minutes, but it’s a good time. The difficulty level here is pretty crazy though so I wonder how you could beat it without a lot of rewinding and such. I suppose in the end people found a way.

The the gameplay here is that of a 2D shooter. You have a main blaster and when you defeat enemies they drop power ups which upgrades your ship. It seems like the powers stack which is pretty cool. Your speed also starts to get bumped up which is a mixed bag. On one hand greater speed is usually a lot of fun because you can essentially do anything. On the flip side, you move so fast that it is very difficult to just dodge an attack. A lot of the time your dodge will end up bumping you into an energy blast or into the wall. A lot of my deaths came this way rather than actually falling in battle. So to an extent you actually may prefer not to get all of the power ups. The issue is that you can’t avoid the speed if you want better lasers so while it’s a tough call I’d say to just grab them.

The best power up is definitely when you get a little energy disc who will follow you around and shoot blasts of its own. By the end I had two of them which was pretty cool. They really had my back. There’s one level in particular that is tough to move in because the ceiling is small and you have little robots running along it. If they get behind you then it is really tricky to land a good hit on them. That’s where your little assistants come in. They have no trouble shooting behind you and catching all of these blasts.

In a sense this game plays out like one of those bullet timer games where there are energy blasts everywhere. A single shot can take out your ship so you really have to keep blasting. There are 7 main levels and there is a boss at the end of each one. The bosses are actually the easiest part though. I only lost a few times to them until the final boss but the others go down in a cinch. You just gotta keep working at it but their attacks are very slow. The final boss seems like a homage to the Mother Brain. It can’t really move or fight back much though so you’ll beat it with ease. That’s the problem with these bosses who don’t have arms or legs, they just can’t really fight back and it gets them into all kinds of trouble.

The graphics are pretty good. It’s aged pretty well in that respect and the game is also pretty good about not lagging. Only near the end of the game where there are scores and scores of enemies will the game start to freeze up. Otherwise you’re good on that front. The soundtrack is also pretty solid with a good tune or two here. It really gets that sci-fi feel across.

Overall, Gradius is a pretty fun game. I’d rate it higher but 20 minutes is still a very short amount of time to keep yourself busy. The levels keep on looping across various cycles which get harder and harder so I suppose it would last you a while if you want to beat all the cycles. It’s still the same levels though so I can’t really say that I would really be working on that for very long. There are still quite a lot of NES titles left to play after all so I can’t forget about them. Still, if you have the NES Online then this is a fun one to check out. There was definitely more effort put into it than some of the others that I’ve played.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Excitebike Review


It’s time to look at another classic NES game. This one’s very retro, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. Excitebike is one of those racing games that you just tend to see everywhere despite not getting a lot of sequels. Excitetrucks for the Wii is the game in the franchise that I know the most about by far. That was a really fun game. This one has some pretty solid gameplay at its disposal but there isn’t much content even for a NES game so you won’t be here for very long.

There are 5 levels in the game, 10 if you count the reverse levels. Each level is around 1.5 minutes long so you can beat the game in about 7 minutes or 14 if you play them all. That’s really not a lot of time and there are no more modes to play. The only other option is a level that goes on forever which is neat I suppose, but there’s no real replay value to it because it doesn’t keep track of a score or anything. You can’t die, you just keep on driving forever. So if you spent any coins on this in the Arcade I get the feeling that you would be disappointed. Likewise if you bought a physical copy on the NES. You just need something more to do if you ask me.

The graphics are pleasant enough. It’s a colorful game and I especially like when the other racers get involved. It’s always more fun when you’re racing with actual opponents. You can knock them down if you bump into them while you are mostly ahead. Otherwise if you bump into them then you will just be knocking yourself over so it’s all about timing. Only knock them off balance when you have the lead. Beyond that just drive while going between lanes to dodge obstacles. Jumps can be tricky and if you don’t balance yourself right then you go into a tumble animation and can’t move for a few seconds.

In general I do think 3D racing beats 2D though. I always like to see where I’m going to better anticipate the obstacles. In that sense I would consider 2D racing to be the hardest form of the genre. It can also be tough when you’re running towards the screen since you really have to react quickly. If you don’t then be prepared to suffer defeat although in this game there is no such thing as defeat so you don’t really have to worry about that. Considering when the game came out I’d say they did a good job with the gameplay. I personally found it fun enough, I just don’t think I would be playing it for very long. After even 20 minutes you’ll have played every level twice already so you’ll be ready for the next conquest.

Overall, Excitebike is a game with solid gameplay and animation for its time. It’s reasonably fun, but there is just nothing to it. Even for a NES game this is pretty low on content. I’d like to see a modern reboot of the game because I think you could do a whole lot with this on the Switch. In the meantime if you have the Switch Online then this is a pretty good pickup. It’s free anyway so you may as well play it for a few minutes right? I see that there is another Excitebike type game on the list so I look forward to checking that one out pretty soon.

Overall 5/10