Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review


This Star Wars game was pretty much out of print for a very long time. Trying to get a copy for Gamecube is pretty tough since you’d need to spend around 100+ usually. Well, it finally got a re-release through Limited Run Games. This was a game I’d wanted to play for a very long time because it just looked pretty excellent. Well, now that I’ve played it, I have to say that unfortunately it was not nearly as good as I thought it would be. This title just ended up falling short of where it could have gone, mainly thanks to a lot of questionable level design choices.

The game follows a bounty hunter named Kyle. He used to be a Jedi but decided to step away from that world. He now relies purely on his gun skills to help him win the day. Unfortunately he runs into a Dark Jedi before long who murders his partner and runs off. Kyle must now avenge her and to do that he will have to relearn the Jedi arts. It’s time to take up the blade once more but will it be enough to defeat a Dark Jedi who possesses this much raw power?

Clearly even with the Empire gone there are still a lot of big problems plaguing the universe. The fact that a Jedi turned to the dark side so quickly is disheartening, particularly as he was even able to murder a few trainees. It feels like no matter what the Jedi do, the Sith are never too far behind. Luke actually gets to appear and even fight a bit during the game which was pretty cool. I will admit that it may not have been his best moment as he doesn’t look amazing here but I suppose he may have been a little out of touch. The actual story was a lot of fun though. It feels pretty cinematic and gives you a complete experience.

Unfortunately the gameplay is where the game falters quite hard. Initially this game plays out like a first person shooter. You try to blast your enemies but the aiming is crazy. Even if you and the opponent are not moving it can be really hard to land any kind of quality hit. As a result you’ll eat a lot of bullet fire. You can switch the camera to third person but until you have a Lightsaber I wouldn’t recommend that as it gets pretty tricky. Moving around can also be risky as you’ll run too fast and just fall to your doom. Every time you lose a life prepare to hear a pretty loud yell as Kyle goes to his doom.

Once you have a lightsaber at least the gameplay gets a step up there. It’s always fun to wield the blade and you do feel the power behind the blade. Even just grazing into someone while your lightsaber is active ends up doing damage which is a nice touch. That thing is as hot as fire so it should hurt you no matter how you make contact. Of course the game does take this a bit literal with even the final boss going down to a blow or two. It had to be one of the shortest final bosses I’ve played in a long time. There are also a number of glitches in the game like pausing too quickly which forces your character to run in circles or something like that. Another time I beat the guard too fast so he didn’t drop his security key and I had to restart the whole level from scratch. Let me tell you, that wasn’t a blast.

If the gameplay just being rather difficult and unfocused was all then this game would still end in the green. Unfortunately that was not the case. The biggest issue with the game is all the random puzzles it throws everywhere. Most of the time you won’t know where to go next at all. You’ll be stuck wandering around for ages and ages in each level until you eventually have to find out what is next the old fashioned away. One of the biggest examples of this is when you’re in the swamp level. You have to actually go underwater into a cave at one point. Good luck figuring out that you’re supposed to do that. Especially when in that same level there is a whole fake passageway leading to a new area that ultimately turns out to be a dead end. The game seems to be intentionally trying to mislead you. This happens in almost every level so the game took way longer than it should have. It was an easy 10+ hour experience but if you take away the wandering in circles phase then this would be several hours shorter.

So at the end of the day the game’s biggest failing here is that it’s just not fun most of the time. It’s an example of a game where you are purely playing for the plot. The hope is that the plot will be enough to overshadow the gameplay. It’s too bad because the lightsaber stuff is fun. A bit glitchy as well but at least enjoyable. I liked using the Force abilities like super speed and lightning as well. Once you fight like a Jedi it’s hard to go back to the gun techniques. So if you take the combat gameplay and put it into a more linear game or one that simply had better level designs, then you would really be set here.

The graphics have aged well to this day. As you’re running around the various levels you get to see some pretty nice lightsaber moves. The bullets from the minions are solid and the cutscenes are good. Some of the areas aren’t very well lit though. If you run out of energy for your night goggles then you may be in trouble though. Additionally you may run across a level like the swamp every now and again which doesn’t look very good. So I guess for level design it’s a case by case basis. The soundtrack is a little on the subdued side. Occasionally you will get one of the classic Star Wars movie themes which is always fun to see though.

In terms of replay value I wouldn’t say there is much to be found here. Once you beat the game that is basically it. Fortunately you can try to get the Platinum in this game which will mean beating the game at least twice unless you try to beat it in that mode the first time. I will say that the game is impressively difficult though so don’t expect this to be a walk in the park. I ended up playing the game on Padawan mode and even then I must have died hundreds of times. One thing you’ll want to keep an eye out for is using the access points. If you try to rely on the game’s checkpoints then you are going to be in for a tough time. With the access points though you can ensure that you are on the right path from start to finish. Just be careful where you save of course but it’ll save you a ton of time in back tracking. Sometimes there is no checkpoint for 10-15 minutes so if you die that can be pretty tough.

Overall, Star Wars tried some good gameplay elements here but in the end it just didn’t quite pan out. There are many levels here where you just feel completely doomed and will be lost for ages. The story was really solid though which keeps the game at the middle. It’s always nice seeing the universe after the trilogy. There’s just a lot you can do in that era and it’s one of the best parts of the Star Wars lore. I’m expecting the next Star Wars title to beat this one pretty quick. In theory as long as you take away the mazes and focus on combat then you should be good to go.

Overall 5/10

The Ignition Factor Review


When the SNES Online added a firefighter game I figured that it had some potential but unfortunately this game’s not very good. I will applaud the fact that it has a lot of different gameplay mechanics going on at once and tried a bunch of things. It’s definitely not your average classic game. There’s a ton of different items to worry about as well and so it ends up being a complex game but one that forgot the fun factor.

The general premise is that you’re a firefighter getting ready to go into burning buildings to save a bunch of people. In order to do this you are going to need to check each floor. In each level there are around 5-6 people to save and you have to decide at the beginning of the level which items to bring with you. You can bring all of them but then you’ll be super heavy and barely able to move at all so that can be a bit of a trade off. Typically I would choose to just bring the axe and the main fire spray. If during a level you find that you cannot progress without more items you need to locate another firefighter and ask him for the extra gear. With that then you’ll be able to go forward.

Of course this will take some time so you’ll need to keep that in mind as well. If you don’t get out of the burning building in time then you lose. Of course, if you escape with less than the required amount of people then you also lose. It’s worth noting that there are extra people in the building as well so you can also save more than the minimum amount of people for extra points. You can also grab objects that are important to the people you save for extra money but break or lose them and the points are deducted from your score. Once you’ve cleared the level then you get to do it all over again.

The levels do seem to have different layouts though so at least you won’t be replaying the same one each time. There’s also a bit of a basic plot going on as at the end of one level we recruited a new firefighter who’s known as more of a hot head. I’m sure he’ll definitely cause some drama depending on how many cutscenes we get. I don’t expect there would be a whole lot of them but you never know I suppose. So why wasn’t this game a lot of fun? Well, constantly having to switch out gear felt more tedious than interesting. Finding the fireman could also take some time.

You want to be able to just go in and save people but with the system set up this way it isn’t possible. Seeing some green fire or a window around just meant that your game would be delayed as opposed to it being a lot of fun. Extra gameplay mechanics can be good when utilized correctly but when they’re more of a burden like this then you know that something went wrong. The game has a lot of depth to it but in the end I guess I’d say that it had too much depth. More of a simple arcade firefighter game where you put out fires would have worked out better.

The graphics are pretty solid though. The level designs all appear to be on point and the character models are solid. I would say that the mannequins look too much like people but based on the hints provided in the level that was actually intentional so that’s a pretty neat diversion. I’d like to see what the in universe reason for this would be but maybe we’re actually in the future where the mannequins are all super realistic. The soundtrack is also decent even if a little forgettable. I don’t expect you will remember it at all by the time you complete the game.

There isn’t a whole lot of replay value but with the different stage variations I suppose you can keep playing through those. I expect there has to be an ending of some kind by the end unless it’s an infinite loop like Pac-Man. For now I would assume that is not the case so playing until you get there makes sense. That should buy you some time especially since the game is actually rather difficult. The people you are trying to save always end up running around the place and if you don’t move fast enough than they burn up so you really can’t afford to take your time.

Overall, The Ignition Factor is a pretty unique game. You don’t get a lot of firefighter type games around after all and for being back on the SNES it was actually rather sophisticated. I just think it’s an example of a game that was overdeveloped and it’s really any fun. For that reason alone I would not recommend this game. You can find tons of better SNES games to play on the Online service so I would recommend checking those out instead. This one is best left forgotten to history. Now I’ll be eager to see if the HELP Wanted game for the Wii does a better job with the firefighting gear. It could be a while before I get that one though.

Overall 5/10

Armored Core 2 Review


This is a game that I’ve owned for an incredibly long time. I made it pretty deep into the game a while around 10 years ago but I could never make it to the end. The game was just so difficult and the way it always moves forward added another wrinkle to the whole thing. Well, I finally started the game over and managed to conquer the game in the last instant. That final level is crazy tough. I think the game had a lot of promise but the gameplay mechanics end up really holding it back in the long term.

The plot involves a group of bounty hunters known as Ravens. You are one of these guys and your suit is pretty powerful. You accomplish missions on behalf of your benefactors and it is a pretty good gig to be honest with money coming in like crazy. Still, there’s something shady about the group and you become less and less sure about your goals as the game goes on. Perhaps its time to just get out of this job while you still can? Only time will tell if you are able to make the right move in time or if it will be game over by then.

The gameplay is that of a 3D Shooter. You can equip your robot with all kinds of weaponry and supporting weapons as well. Money doesn’t grow on trees here and there is no way to go back and earn money so that means you have to decide what to buy very carefully. You’ll want to have good weapons of course but also fundamental parts that will let your robot jump and move around without consuming too much energy. Naturally it can be difficult to balance all of this together so that’s definitely something to keep in mind. If you buy the wrong item then you’re definitely going to end up regretting it. The toughest thing to get used to is probably aiming. You have to use the L2 and R2 buttons to do this instead of looking around as you usually would. There is also no lock on feature which is unfortunate. Only missiles will lock on by themselves. Everything else requires you to do the ground work.

There are a decent amount of levels here so the game should take you 7-10 hours I would expect. There is also the Arena Mode you can play to have fun with. The objective there is to take down robots in 1 on 1 battles. Each win moves you up a spot and it also helps you unlock new weapons and such. Now this would have been a great way to earn money but you only get money the first time you complete a level. That part’s definitely unfortunate but I will admit that it’s a fun bonus mode.

I’ve already referenced this, but my main issue with the game is how restricted you are. As you lose you will end up in the final stretch of levels. The issue is that you will also be out of money so there is no real way to earn more. If you’ve got a bad loadout then that means you are basically stuck with nowhere to go. There should always be a way to earn money or replay old levels to continue improving. Locking that mechanic away just strikes me as being a bad idea right from the jump. It makes the game feel a lot more like a grind since you can’t even lose in peace. You have to quickly load the old file up again since otherwise you’re stuck in a worse position. The one thing you never want a game to do is lose the fun factor and unfortunately that’s something that Armored Core 2 is definitely guilty of.

At least the graphics are really good. The cutscenes are really ahead of their time. The story also seems pretty engaging. The final bosses were really intense as the final guy even had more than one form. It made for a very intense boss battle. Some of the levels could be a bit too ambiguous on what you were supposed to do and ironically the best option is sometimes to skip the enemies and just rush to the goal. Not really something you would expect from this game but battling minions only depletes your health and there is no way to gain any back during a level so why bother with them in the first place right? This is definitely a game where you learn as you play.

Overall, Armored Core 2 has a nice premise but really ended up underperforming in every area. While the gameplay is okay, it’s definitely weaker than all of the other big mech series if you ask me. Then you’ve got the level mechanics where they keep going even if you lose and there’s no way to earn money. That’s the part that really bites. At least in most games you could play older levels to get better but in this one you’re just stuck. That just seems like such a bad mechanic to me. I don’t understand what’s going on there. It’s a mechanic that has never worked and I really don’t expect that to change anytime soon. It’s unfortunately just the way that it is. If the game could have fixed this and given you a way to grind it would have easily jumped 2 stars. In a way that’s the most tragic thing about this one. If you’re looking for a fun PS2 game to play then I would recommend almost anything else. You’re bound to have a better time rolling with a different title like the Transformers PS2 game or one of the many Gundam adventures.

Overall 5/10

Marshawn Lynch Pro Football Review


Time for another mobile game but unfortunately this one isn’t much better than Pac-Man Geo but for completely different reasons. This time we do get a nice sense of progression in each level with scores being tracked and your level improving. That’s all well and good but my main issue here is really just the fact that there are so many advertisements. That’s one thing that utterly ruins a game. I don’t want a full video ad suddenly playing after I complete a level. It was at that moment that I knew this game was doomed.

The plot of the game is that you’re a new recruit trying to make a splash in the NFL. To get there you first need to win a College tournament then head to the Practice Squad and work your way to being a starter. You are a running back in this game which is definitely a bit of a change of pace from most Football games where you do a little of everything. That’s just not the case in this title. So as a running back the objective in each level is to score. You do this by running straight forward and using two techniques as needed. One is the Bulldoze technique that lets you break through walls. Then you have the Accelerate which lets you go really fast. You also use the two juke buttons to dodge incoming defenders. The gameplay’s pretty simple but it works quite nicely.

You’ll need pretty good reaction times though. If you move too quickly then you’re gonna get slammed and if you’re too slow out of the gate then you also get hit. It’s all about really reading the defenders and moving once they are about to make the lunge. Of course it’s definitely not an easy task by any means. There are well over 200 levels in this game so get ready for a whole lot of juking and moving around. I like the fact that there is a lot of content to be had here though. A lot of the levels do seem to be pretty similar so you do need to enjoy the gameplay a lot. It’s the kind of game that would feel really repetitive otherwise. That said, there are a healthy amount of cutscenes here so it does feel like you have a real story. That’s something I would not have expected here.

The graphics are pretty solid. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of but at least the game looks really good which is always important. It’s definitely got a modern feel to it and I’d say there was a good amount of effort put into the game. Really what it all boils down are the advertisements here. I enjoy the gameplay and the game’s visuals look nice but it definitely takes you out of the immersion with advertisements playing after every level. Even clicking around on the main menu can trigger ads as well. You are not able to skip them until after a good portion of the ad has already run through. That’s definitely not a good thing. It really encourages you not to play the game for long or even to not look at all the features of the game because clicking on the wrong one will waste a lot of time. This has got to be one of the greediest games I’ve seen in a while with all of this going on.

Overall, I definitely did not expect that Marshawn Lynch would have his own game. It’s definitely pretty impressive that out of all the players he was one of the first to get one. At least when surfing the app store I didn’t see any other individual player games. There are cool concepts here and the gameplay is executed well but at the end of the day what really hurts here are the advertisements. It’s just not a trend that you want to see appearing in games going forward and is the only thing holding this back from being a positive review. No matter how much content and polish a game may have, it is ultimately wasted here. You can do much better with other Football games so I would definitely advise giving this one a skip.

Overall 5/10

Pac-Man Geo Review


PAC Man has had a lot of games over the years but it’s been a while since he had anything fresh and different. While this app game may not be the homerun hit fans have been waiting for I would say that it’s not terrible or anything. It’s got a lot of missed opportunities and flaws inside of the package of course but at the end of the day it has some interesting ideas. With a little polish this can be a really good game in the future. Unfortunately for Pac that day isn’t now.

The idea of the game is that you can have a lot of custom Pac-Man maps based on real world locations. You can zoom around New York or London. Eventually I imagine they’ll want to grab all of the levels although right now it’s just a limited amount that cycle through. You eat up the ghosts and prove to the other players that you have what it takes. There are also limited tournaments that are run from time to time where you can get a higher score. They all boil down to the same issue that I have with the game in general though. I’ll get to that in a minute but I have to say that the game has some deep flaws if you ask me.

The gameplay is the same as your classic Pac-Man experience. The goal here is to collect all of the pellets. By absorbing the larger ones you can quickly eat up the ghosts that get in your way and prevent them from launching a counter attack. It’s a pretty good strategy if you ask me and it’s a fun gameplay style. There’s a reason why the original game is so iconic after all. Lets talk about why this game lacks compared to that original: Progression. In the original game a lot of the fun is in seeing your high score and trying to top it. Unfortunately you don’t have that here. There is no high score that the game saves. Worse, you can’t tell which levels you have already completed after exiting. That to me is a huge problem with the game. I absolutely need to know what levels I have beaten because nobody wants to play the game levels more than once if they don’t know it.

I’d like to beat old levels again to improve my score of course but right now there is really no benefit to doing so. If you don’t know what your score is then there’s no point. I’m just puzzled as to how the game would launch without this. It’s such a core concept to any game like this where you are trying to complete levels and improve your standings. Without a sense of progression then it’s like you’re just spinning your wheels and not going anywhere. I expected better out of Pac-Man Geo. I’m hoping it’ll add some new content soon but this is something they really should have had at launch. Due to that I’m certainly not keeping this game around.

The graphics aren’t bad, but they’re definitely nothing special either. It’s basically standard fare of what you would expect and the game doesn’t feel particularly high budget. It’s basically Pac-Man just in mobile format and for that you can play the normal game. The soundtrack is okay, the theme is pretty true to form for the series and fairly catchy. At least on a technical level I wouldn’t take any credit away from the game. That’s good since poor visuals and music would have definitely done some extra damage.

Overall, Pac-Man Geo is not a game that I would recommend. I’d give it a middle score because at the end of the day I don’t think it’s a bad title. It’s just lacking in a whole lot of content and I don’t see the point in really playing through it. That being said, if you’ve never played Pac-Man before then you may get drawn in simply for the gameplay. The gameplay style itself is fun, I just need more of a reason to play. Hopefully they’ll give Pac-Man a more impressive title the next time one of his big anniversary milestones rolls around.

Overall 5/10

The Operative: No One Lives Forever Review


This is another game from my past that has finally re-emerged. One of the benefits of finally getting my video game backlog down from 100+ to under 50 is that these games are finally crawling out of the woodwork. I had made it decently far in with this game but got stuck on a stealth mission (Man of Influence) for an incredibly long time. Well, I finally made it out. The rest of the game was still surprisingly difficult. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is easily the most difficult stealth type game I’ve played and I would put it up there as one of the most challenging ones in general. The story is good but I didn’t care for how the stealth was incorporated.

The game follows an organization by the name of UNITY which keeps the world safe and secure from the shadows. They have been doing this for a long time to great success but now they have a new threat on the horizon. The name of this terrorist organization is HARM and they have already taken down most of our operatives. They have some big plans for the world and we can’t wait to find out what they are. This forces us to mobilize our fairly new recruit by the name of Cate Archer. She used to be a thief but has since turned into a dependable field agent. One of the higher ups is pretty convinced that she will fail so we have to prove him wrong. This leads to a whole lot of missions across the globe as we get closer to finding out the truth behind this organization.

The story is quite cinematic and feels like a 007 adventure. Each level introduces more and more characters as well as new gadgets. The villains have quite a few generals at their disposal all of whom get their own levels. There are a lot of twists and turns to the story as well. You even have multiple choice based levels where your answers will determine if you win or lose. There isn’t any gameplay in them aside from answering questions. The gameplay varies rather dramatically from stealth to full on action to dialogue. There were even a handful of levels that were purely cutscenes so it was like watching a mini movie. By the end of the game you’ll really have to re-evaluate everything you’ve seen up to that point. It’s hard to trust anyone but such is the life of being a secret agent.

So the story is absolutely great but as I mentioned I had some problems with the gameplay. Ironically it is in a similar case to Pryzm at times. You gain new gadgets in many levels but the game doesn’t tell you how to use some of them. For example towards the end of the game you needed to use a blowtorch to get through. The way to do this is to take out your lighter and then switch its mode so that you have the more powerful flame item at your disposal. The game ambitiously tackles a lot of different gameplay options such as even adding in levels for driving cars but because of that each mode is less polished than it needs to be.

Take the stealth levels, not only are they extremely difficult to get through but when you die there are no checkpoints in sight so you’ll be sent back as long as 15 minutes. Other times there will be a camera around but you can’t check where it is facing without running out of your cover so if it’s looking at you then it’s game over. The only way to get through these levels is to muscle through them at times after dozens and dozens of attempts. You’ll be tired of the levels after a while. I never like having to wait in a level but in these cases you need to. For example, in some stealth missions you have to wait until the characters are properly arranged for you. That can take a minute though and the minutes add up every time you die. I’d love to have seen what the play time looked like by the end because I imagine it must have been pretty high at the end of this.

It’s not all bad though. When you’re allowed to just go in and start blasting then the game can be quite fun. Make no mistake, the game is still incredibly difficult but it doesn’t feel as bad because you know exactly where you went wrong and how to correct it. Perhaps you tried taking on too many of them at once or something like that. You may die a lot but you don’t have to wait for anyone either. You just dive in. This does lead me to one more issue though. Each level has multiple acts in it so if you turn off the game you can continue from the latest one so long as you remembered that there is no auto save here and manually got it through. The tricky thing is if you win an act with low health then you don’t actually want to continue to the next one or you may be stuck in a loop. For example there was one level I completed with only about 1 health point left and in the next level there were a ton of enemies to defeat. I ultimately had to restart the whole level again from the first act because you can’t just pick an act to start off of. You either go to the latest one or the beginning so take that into consideration when you save.

The graphics are definitely solid though. Everything looks pretty impressive here which is important since there are so many cutscenes all over the place. You need to have a good looking game or these will probably really get to you by the end. The soundtrack isn’t quite as noticeable, I don’t recall any themes outside of the main menu. That one is pretty catchy though so as a whole I’ll give the game some kudos there. I suppose with all of the shooting it would be hard to hear the songs anyway. The length of the game is pretty good and there’s a ton of replay value as you try to assemble all of the Intel. When you put all of that together then you’ve definitely got a complete experience here.

Overall, No One Lives Forever is a mixed bag. At its best the game is quite brilliant and at its worst it can be painful to get through. That’s why at the end of the day I’d give this a score right in the middle. Even if you enjoy playing games that are super difficult you only might enjoy this game based on how it’s handled. It’s always rough having to figure things out on your own especially if you’ve already played the game many times over. After a while the level will just lose its charm. Stealth games always have a hard balance to try and attain but this game could take some notes from Carmen Sandiego or Barbie Secret Agent, both top notch games from back in their days with how they handled the stealth elements.

Overall 5/10

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

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

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

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