Gunpey DS Review

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It’s time to look at one of those random puzzle games that I’ve had in the backlog for quite a while. I’m a pretty big Professor Layton fan so I was ready for some more puzzles. The problem is that Gunpey’s design seems to be a little too based on luck. Of course, the more you play the better you will get at recognizing the patterns and it isn’t all luck based, but it does play a factor. This game also has no way to delete previous save data so if you get a copy where part of the game has already been completed, you won’t get any kind of tutorial. That’s probably the roughest part since you have to learn on the fly. It took some time, but eventually I was able to get good enough to conquer the game. There’s some good entertainment lost in this game, but finding it is too much of a hassle.

The game’s main mode is essentially it’s story. It works like an Arcade Mode as you fight 5 opponents in a row at the ladders. If you beat them all then the credits role and you will unlock a new character. Rinse and repeat if you like to get them all. You are able to use the continue feature as much as necessary (I presume…I only died once during my big victory round) so no pressure. The story will take you around 15-20 minutes since there are no cutscenes and reach round is around 3-4 minutes. Since this game is about being the last man standing it all depends on when the A.I. loses.

Lets talk about the gameplay. So both players have a field with 5 columns and a bunch of rows. The screen moves upwards as the match goes on and you can also speed it up although I recommend never doing this in story mode since it just accelerates your own demise. It’s only good to do that to get a higher score if you’re doing the Score Attack mode or Endless. You have various shapes appear in your board as it rises. There seem to be 3-4 kind of pieces. The idea is to get them to connect across the entire board. Once 5 pieces are connected they all explode and you keep on doing that. Whoever lets a piece make it to the top of the board first loses. Adding to the strategy is the fact that you can’t move pieces horizontally, only vertically. That’s where the luck part comes in as sometimes the right piece won’t show up in the final column until it’s too late. If you want to beat the main campaign the best way is to simply go as slowly as possible.

You can control the board in a few different ways, but using the stylus is easily the quickest and most efficient way if you ask me. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Once you understand the purpose of the game then the rest will quickly fall into place. You better enjoy the gameplay though because there isn’t really anything else to it. Of course that can be said for many games, but this one just feels like it’s lacking in content. Once you beat all of the stories I suppose you can go back and try to get high scores in the other modes, but that’s about it. You also can’t see your high scores in any of the modes right away. The only way to re-view them is to enter the level again and die on purpose. It’s a pretty lazy set up since showing scores should not be a hard thing to do at all.

As far as the graphics go, they aren’t bad. They’re not particularly good either, but you certainly won’t be able to make an excuse like you weren’t able to see them or anything like that. The game’s certainly bright enough. The soundtrack is super bland though. Of course, I’d expect nothing less. Now, I don’t want to say that Gunpey is a bad game. That’s still a rare distinction that only some games really deserve. That being said, it doesn’t do enough to be a good game either. It just comes across as being lazy. Not being able to delete the save data is really a bad thing since you never want to have to start with a game already in progress. Fortunately since Story Mode is basically Arcade mode it didn’t matter in that respect, but it’s the principle of the thing. Furthermore, no effort was put into the modes. There’s no sense of style with the records not being able to be seen.

Overall, Gunpey DS could have been a lot better. The gameplay isn’t bad, but since the rest of the game had no real effort behind it you just can’t be entertained for as long as you would have liked. Even though you can buy this game for a dollar or two it just isn’t worth it. I’m sure you could find a similar game for free on the phone or computer. It just plays a lot like a free to play game, but with even less effort and excitement. Still, I suppose you aren’t liable to forget Gunpey for quite a while since the gameplay is rather unique.

Overall 5/10

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Digimon World Championship Review

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It’s time to look at a Digimon game that I’ve kept on the backburner for quite a while. This one sounded pretty interesting at first since you could have the Digimon fight each other in real time combat. The problem was that this isn’t the case at all. It’s actually a computer fighting game. By that I mean that the A.I. control the Digimon in combat and all you do is look out for them. It’s a similar mechanic to the Digimon World series, but to a much harsher extent. It’s a game that gets better as you play it, but ultimately you just feel like it’s a bit of a waste. It’s a game that could have been significantly better.

There is no plot here so we can get right to the meat of the game. Naturally that is the tournaments. The game runs on a calendar system (Which is always a terrible idea) so as you play the in game timer moves on. Each hour seems to pass by in about a minute or less. You’ll be running through the days which have no end. There are 4 seasons in the year and they keep on repeating. The first thing you need to do is catch some Digimon. You do this by going into the hunting ground and using your rope to catch them. It’s similar to the Pokemon Ranger system, but a little more tedious and annoying. This is because the Digimon tend to break free of the rope and run away. The screen isn’t always very responsive either so good luck chasing them. Still, eventually you’ll get the Digimon you want. If you want to catch stronger ones then you’ll need a better rope, but for that you need money. You get money by winning fights. These can either be Title Fights, Free Fights, or Championship bouts. Don’t worry about the final category since you need a team of Megas to even attempt such a thing. Title Fights is where I spent 90% of my time but Free Battles is a great way to get started.

Once you finally get your Digimon you have to realize that this is quite the responsibility. Your Digimon need food to eat and they need it at least once a day. They also do their business all over your cages so you have to keep cleaning them or the Digimon feel bad. They catch colds if you don’t put them in the Medical corner too often and they can’t handle 2 attributes at once. This means that if you are increasing their attack power you are weakening their defense and vice versa. The game is made so that there is always a catch which makes training take forever. Whenever you actually have a spare moment you’re expected to run to the store and buy more food and bandages since the Digimon go through them so quickly. They also get depressed for no reason and if they get scared in combat they will refuse to attack. This is always terrible since your Digimon may be strong enough to win, but doesn’t feel like he can so he won’t even try. It’s just such a terrible mechanic and it’s why I rarely like to leave it all in the hands of the A.I.

Well, somehow or other you will finally get around to getting involved in Title Fights. At first your Tamer Rank is 1, but the more medals you earn from these Titles, the more your rank increases. As your rank increases you’ll be able to buy a lot of extra items to make everything easier. It’s made to be one of those games that really encourages you to just keep playing. Get over the initial hump and you’ll really be ready for success. The first few battles are tough, the middle ones are easy, and then the last ones are tough again. I made it all the way to Tamer Rank 5 and won about 20 Titles so I figured that was good enough for the review. Towards the end the tournaments started having a lot of unnecessary conditions like “Only Rookies allowed” or only Holy Digimon allowed. If you don’t have one then you’re sunk since it means training one from scratch or catching it in the wild. Often times these fights are 3 v 3 so you would need to get 3 more. The problem is that you can’t keep too many Digimon in the cage with you or you’ll run out of space. You can see why the game is so frustrating.

Naturally the game also brings back the concept of your Digimon dying. When that happens they are turned back into an egg and you have to start the training back from scratch. Why even put something like that in the game right? It’s a big thing that is in a lot of Digimon games and ultimately ends up holding them back. I just don’t think that it’s a good idea and it makes you not want to invest too much time into any partner. From the start I decided I would stop either when I got enough titles or when my Digimon died. The former happened first, but I was definitely getting close with my guy since he’s been with me for around 3 years I believe.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re fairly zoomed out though and don’t look as good as the average mobile game. It takes a lot for me to say that a game looks bad, but I will concede that it is well below average. You could easily make a game that looks better than this one with just about any company’s budget. The looks aren’t that important, but it doesn’t set a good first impression. As for the soundtrack, it’s as bland as can be. There are only a few themes and none of them are particularly noteworthy. At least they’re not bad though.

As for replay value, the game technically has a lot there. With your Digimon constantly dying or needing your attention, you could play this game for many hours. That being said, I don’t imagine that you would have a ton of fun with this so I wonder how long you would last. This is probably the weakest Digimon game yet which is unfortunate. Hopefully the Digimon World series is basically over or gets an overhaul since it just doesn’t seem to hit the right notes. Only Digimon World 4 seems to have been really well made and that one was a radical change from the others.

Overall, Digimon World Championship will test your baby sitting skills. It’s basically the only way to keep the Digimon in line. I’ve ranted about the game long enough though. It still isn’t a bad game and I did have fun grabbing the titles once I got more powerful Digimon. The problem is that in order to get all of the titles you would have to repeat this process many times over which is just something that I wouldn’t plan on doing. Even when you have a strong enough team to win, a large part of the battle depends on luck and the whims of the A.I. I just don’t think that would work for me. If this sounds like your cup of tea then by all means go for it. It’s definitely a fairly unique game I suppose.

Overall 5/10

Paper Mario Color Splash Review

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It’s time to look at a big Mario game from back in the day. This was the finale for the Paper Mario franchise and Nintendo wanted to end it with a bang. Crossovers and the like would still happen but we weren’t going to get another Paper Mario game for a long time. Supposedly the ending was so sad that you would be crying in the end. Well, I knew that this wouldn’t be the case, but I was hopeful that this meant we would be getting a super crazy awesome story. Unfortunately that was not the case and the game started off better than it ended.

The story begins with Mario and Peach deciding to take a vacation since their last outing in Mario Sunshine did not go so well. Unfortunately Bowser shows up and kidnaps Peach. He also steals all of the paint from the world. Mario meets up with a Paint Can named Huey who explains that the only way to bring the color back into the world is to grab the 6 legendary Paint Stars. Once they do that they can worry about saving Peach. Mario isn’t thrilled about putting off his quest to save Peach, but he quickly gets on board just in time!

As you can see this game probably has the weakest plot among the Paper Mario games. The 3DS game gives it some competition but considering that this game basically ripped the plot from it, I’ll have to give the original the edge. The thing is, Paper Mario’s usually been solid because it could have ambitious plots and threw in things that you would never see in the main series. It’s just a shame that this has been taken away from it and now it’s just like the main games, but with the gameplay not being as good.

Yes, this game decided to follow Sticker Star’s example. The only difference is that instead of using stickers you have stamps in this game. For all intents and purposes they are quite similar but the main difference is that obtaining the stamps is a lot easier here which is good. We even have the “Things” back from the 3DS game which are large objects that you use to interact with the levels. You better grab them all since the game forces you to put them to use right away.

What wrecks the boss fights in this game is that they each have a moment where it is impossible to hurt them. The only way to clear each boss fight is to have a very specific thing in your hand to overcome the villain. If you don’t have it then you are doomed to lose and the game will never tell you that you need it until you are near the end of the fight. That can be a little annoying since by then you’ve already spent quite a lot of time on it. The levels suffer from this as well since the same thing happens a lot. You spend a great deal of time in the game just travelling back and forth among the old levels when you just want to proceed. Some also force you to redo obstacles whenever you go back which throws you into a bunch of extra fights.

The core gameplay isn’t bad, it’s just that these puzzle aspects really hold it back. Running around the levels is fun enough as it’s just like a traditional 3D Mario game. The turn based combat also works as well as ever. The paint is what’s unnecessary along with the stamps. I just want to be able to fight like the good ole days of the Thousand Year Door. There are too many limitations in the newer Paper Mario game and the puzzles punish you for moving too quickly and not finding every possible Thing in each level.

Now, what I will give the game a lot of praise for is its stellar soundtrack. This is easily the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a Mario game and it can hold its own against any title. The boss themes are a lot of fun and so are the various remixes like the one Bowser gets as well as a certain Kaiju one. The music is always very fast paced and works well for what is happening on screen. It’s just very lively and is really what you want to see in such a game. The graphics are also fairly good. They’re not great since the game is made to look like paper so everything is slightly worse than it could be, but it’s intentional. The character models as well as the stages are still quite clear.

Huey is the game’s original character, but he’s definitely no good. He’s essentially given the personality of a very little kid and is Nintendo’s way of trying to play to the audience. He always exaggerates every emotion and seems to be feeling what you are supposed to feel during the game. When something bad happens he gets super upset or he’ll start crying when it’s something sad. He’s just unrealistically emotional and is just annoying the whole time. He can’t even be straight with everyone at the end of the game. Huey is super dramatic and not in a good way.

How about that super sad ending Nintendo talked about? I wouldn’t say that it was very sad at all. Again, it’s ripped off from the 3DS game, but not even handled as well. Sticker Star’s ending was more emotional but also a lot better and still kept in the sad element while not being overly tragic. This one was just less emotional and also came across as rather forced. It also makes Peach look pretty bad because she doesn’t care at all and Mario’s the only one who shows any emotion the whole time. The ending should have just been the gang inviting Bowser over for tea and biscuits.

At least the dialogue can still be pretty fun like in the other Paper Mario titles. There are a lot of parodies or homages to old Mario titles throughout. The characters all have more personality than normal and the writing can be clever. As I mentioned some of the writing is just a little too obvious with Huey but everyone else seems pretty reasonable in comparison.

After completing the game there is still a bunch of stuff to do. There is one more star you can obtain and there are also the 8 Roshambo temples. Since those temples are purely luck by the end you’ll need a lot of tries to complete them. You can also build up your paint meter in the meantime as well. Actually, I guess the replay value isn’t amazing when you think about it, but it’s a start and since the main story is so long you don’t need much of a post game.

Overall, Paper Mario is really just held back by its gimmick. If you take away the Things and the paint then this would be a very solid title. As it stands, those aspects make it very hard to enjoy the game. Every time you have to go back to an old level to find something it completely destroys any momentum you may have had. The game is over 20 hours long which is usually great, but instead the game seriously starts to drag on in the second half. You’re just ready for the gang to claim the win already. I’d recommend checking out the Thousand Year Door before this one. That game will be more fulfilling in the end.

Overall 5/10

City Connection Review

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I realized that I had a ton of coins on MyNintendo Rewards and they were all about to go to waste so it was time to make a move. I don’t buy digital games all that often, but when I do you can bet that they will be quality titles. Well, City Connection isn’t all that good to be honest and it’s not very well known for a good reason, but the actual gameplay is fairly unique. With modern tech it probably could have even been very good. As it stands, the game is very forgettable and won’t be remembered as well as something like Mario or Legend of Zelda.

The game starts you off right away as you drive through town. The levels are all on what is essentially 3 screens worth of ground to cover. You have to drive on everything to make the stage all white which clears the level. The stages typically have 3-4 levels of height to go through and you will have to dodge the cops and an evil cat as you do this. All you can do is drive back and forth as well as jumping. Once you master the controls you will also find that jumping and then changing directions is incredibly handy. The game is rather fast so it is very difficult not to bump into anything. One bump costs a life though so be careful as 3 bumps means that you are out.

The game has roughly 5 levels before it starts looping back to the beginning forever and ever. There is no story or ending to be found so watch out or you’ll be playing old levels. I was nearly done with beating the game a second time before I realized this. It’s rather disheartening since it means that the game was really slapped together without a care in the world. I only made it through the game because of the save points that you can exploit with the Wii U. Prepare to save it every other second here as cars will teleport out of nowhere and the cat likes to move around as well. The cat is invincible so just don’t mess with him. He will chase you if you stay on any layer of the stage too long so do a lot of jumping. Of course, when you jump you are vulnerable as a car can easily jump out of nowhere to intercept you so watch out for that.

You only counter to the cars is that you can fire back with some oil bullets. This won’t work on cars that teleport though so watch out for that as they aren’t fully materialized into this plane of existence. Again, I like the concept of having to paint a whole town. It’s sort of like De Blob, the execution just wasn’t on point. The Police Cars just seem unfair with how they teleport around and there is almost no way you can win without the extra save points. There isn’t any incentive to win either since the game has absolutely no replay value or even a real ending to congratulate you on a job well done.

There isn’t much to say about the graphics either. They are just really old and I suppose you can’t fault the game for that. It’s all right I guess, but probably one of the worst animated games that I have seen in a while. The little screencaps after each level are okay if not for the fact that they reuse them very quickly. Those couldn’t have been very expensive so I think the game could have added many more of them. There is really only one theme in the game so you better enjoy it or that will hurt the game as well. It’s not bad, but there isn’t any real personality to the theme either so it’s just there. It’s kind of like elevator music in that respect. This game needs a modern reboot to help restart the franchise.

Overall, I can’t say that the game is very fun. It’s unique and is good to play for a few minutes, but it’s not a game that I would recommend spending money on. It just isn’t worth that kind of attention and I’ve seen free games that had a lot more heart and depth to them. If you really want a good challenge then I guess this could be the ticket for you, but there are better options out there like Ninja Gaiden. I’d never heard of this game before I bought it and I can now see why.

Overall 5/10

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Review

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It’s time to take a look at the Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy has had a lot of different game lines over the years and they all seem to perform fairly well. You’ve got Tactics, Chocobo, Crystal Chronicles, The Rhythym music games, and the main line. By completing this game I have finally been introduced to another segment of the series but it certainly pales in comparison to the classic style.

There isn’t much of a plot in this game but I’ll give you the general premise. You start out by picking what kind of job you want to have and in turn what kind of creature you are. After that you travel with a little circus troupe as you purify the world of Miasma. To do this you must go to each area and take a drop from the Legendary tree. You get to the tree automatically by clearing the level and beating the boss. Eventually you will be able to reach the final stage where you must successfully defeat numerous phases of a final boss until you save the world. There are a bunch of subplots and lore that you will run across over the course of the game as you meet with new people. It’s luck based on when you encounter them so just keep running back and forth in the overworld until this happens. One such plot is a black knight who is going around beating people up. From what I could gather, the big boss known as Raem has been eating his memories which is making him go crazy. There’s also a mysterious little fellow who is always lying and stealing whenever he is around. Most of this is filler as you can guess. You never even get to fight the Black Knight even though he is mentioned and hyped up quite a lot.

The gameplay is that of a 3D action title. You hit opponents with your sword/staff or fire off some magic bolts at them in real time. This also means that you can dodge their counter attacks. By all accounts this should be a real good decision on the game’s part since who doesn’t like fighting in real time? Well, it is good but not all that great. Your hits never feel like they have a lot of weight behind them. It’s a more limited version of the .Hack style. Still, it works well enough in the game and nothing is more satisfying than walking into a room with a bunch of enemies and still managing to pick them all off. Divide and Conquer is crucial here.

I think what really hurts this game at times is how much the multiplayer aspect of the game is stressed. You’re meant to play this with a few others as everyone takes a different occupation and you go through the world. You can do this on your own but then it’s like playing the game 4 times over. You also better make sure your allies are as strong as you since the game stacks the difficulty up accordingly for each player. I played solo and can assure you that it took a lot of grinding to get through the final boss. I had to bear virtually every level twice and a few levels for a 3rd time before I finally got strong enough win. Part of the reason why it takes so long is because it doesn’t go by a traditional level up system like most Final Fantasy titles. Instead you obtain artifacts at the end of each level and you choose which one to keep. This will give you a +1,+3 for one specific stat. There are 3 stats in the game, Attack, Defense, and Magic. Alternately sometimes you can choose to get another heart or another command slot which is essentially a quick select for spells and Phoenix Downs. I highly recommend the latter 2 so unless it’s vs a +5 or something then it’s the best bet. You can’t get any artifact twice so only replay each level a few times. Eventually there will be no artifacts left so you’ll be wasting your time. You only get a new memory from each area once every 3 years so you could replay it for equipment, but it’s usually best to do both in one shot so switch up the areas as best you can.

Also, the equipment is very important here aside from the artifacts so try to get yourself a master class weapon and at least a Mythril level Defense & Belt. That’s like getting multiple upgrades so it will save you a lot of time. Getting to the final boss only took around 10 hours, but it took around 5 more hours to get to a level where I could beat him. As it so happens with many RPG games like this one, by the time I grinded high enough to beat him it seems like I went overboard so I didn’t even have to use any of my Phoenix Downs. I ended with about 20 extra, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry right? The bosses can be tricky so you just want to figure out what the best approach is. The game isn’t very straight forward so sometimes it will be handy to look online to see what you need to do. For example you need to use Cure on the memories in the final level to unlock your super attacks and the minions only respawn in the second last phase if you beat both so just take down one of them. Be warned in the final phase that you can accidentally heal the boss with your cures so definitely try to avoid that.

I dare say that the game’s biggest weakness here is the plot. You can make a case for the terrible level up system as well of course, but you really expect a dynamic plot from Final Fantasy. Sure, we get little cutscenes before each level as a narrator talks about how great the places used to be, but it’s just all very dull and boring. The actual characters have no personality and everyone is just going through the motions. There is never a sense of danger at all and the game simply isn’t cinematic, but at the same time it isn’t colorful like a Nintendo game either. It’s like playing a game full of exposition with nothing ever coming out of it. If you look really hard at the mini cutscenes and optional side quests then sure you’ll probably understand the lore, but there’s still nothing epic about it. I want a real plot, whether it be a slice of life one like in Sword Art Online or an end of the world adventure like Sonic The Hedgehog 2006. At least give me something.

There is a good amount of content here so I can’t really critique the game on that aspect. You can keep playing this game for a very long time if you want to get all of the artifacts. Especially since you won’t know what the level’s mission is until you beat it and that affects which artifacts you get. If you want to see the mission then you need to get your GBA ready and connect to the game. Again, they put too much of an emphasis on this connection part if you ask me. If the game had decided to be a little more self contained then I really think that it would have ended up being a whole lot better. Instead it just limits itself. I can’t see myself going back to the game for any of this, but if you really enjoyed the experience then go for it.

The graphics aren’t very good, but it’s mainly because of the artistic direction that the game went in than with the actual effort. The character designs are on the chibi design and none of the creatures look particularly threatening aside from the final boss. At least that guy seems pretty intense and it’s a monster design that is memorable. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t particularly good either. I can’t think of a single good theme in the game and that’s really a bad sign. Final Fantasy is known for its stellar soundtracks so I was actually rather surprised that this one didn’t hold up so well.

Overall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles really wasn’t for me. The gameplay isn’t bad, but I did have an issue with the level up system and the sheer amount of grinding to beat the game. I’m not usually opposed to grinding, but when your upgrades depend on luck and the game doesn’t tell you much then it can be rather annoying. It becomes a bit of a chore to play the game once you enter the end game as even the old levels get buffed to the point where the enemies are stronger than the ones in the final dungeon. Throw in the fact that the plot was so weak and there isn’t much reason to play this RPG. If you want a good action game then check out Legend of Zelda. If you want a big plot experience then play a main Final Fantasy title. There’s just no room for the Crystal Chronicles and I’m hoping that the Wii game is a little more fun.

Overall 5/10

Domino’s Piece of the Pie Pursuit Review

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After a lot of procrastinating I finally got around to playing the new Domino’s game. After all if it’s something that will help you earn Pizza points how could I refuse? It’s definitely got a little effort put into it but I wouldn’t say that the game is all that amusing. I don’t see myself ever replaying it after all. Still, if you’re looking for a motion game where you have to move carefully through the obstacles then this will be right up your alley.

There are 6 levels here and each one is a little different. For example one of them plays out like a Monkey Ball level as you try to avoid the holes in the ground and roll to the goal. It’s probably the most well thought out level. I’ve always liked that game series as it can get quite difficult but never unfair. Some points in this level are incredibly difficult but fortunately there are constant checkpoints so you never have to go too far back. That’s something that I definitely appreciated from the game. Without the checkpoint I’m sure that the game wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

Another level has you controlling a balloon as you glide from place to place. It’s a pretty interesting concept as you use the fans to keep it on course. It seems difficult to win this level without dying though as the balloon has a tendency to get into bad angles but fortunately the checkpoint fixes that.

Next to we have a level where you manipulate really small balls to try and go down the tunnel. You have to get 10 balls into the correct hole in multiple phases. It’s a pretty fun level although it’s also rather easy as you appear to have an infinite amount of balls. The level is less interesting than the last 2.

The most bland level in the game is probably one where you have to roll sideways from platform to platform. You’ll certainly get there eventually, you just gotta keep going. There’s also a 3D roller where you move from side to side. It’s pretty similar to the Monkey Ball level but with less control so it’s not quite as good. Still not a bad level though.

As far as the graphics go the game looks okay. It’s like what you would expect from a tech demo or something. The colors are clear and everything looks as it should but the actual objects are super basic. Nothing wrong with that but of course it does make it fairly easy for the graphics to look good so don’t go thinking that it’s because this is a AAA game or anything.

There isn’t really a soundtrack here. There is one static theme that keeps showing up a lot but that’s about it. It’s fairly calm and peaceful though so it fit the levels well. Let’s talk about the real trouble here though. There is basically no replay value to be found here. That’s because the 6 levels is all the content in the game. You can’t earn any extra rewards either so the only possible reason to play the games again is to increase your star rank. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that is a good enough incentive to keep me playing. The game is free so it’s not like you lose any money but make no mistake, you’ll only be playing around for about 10 minutes and then after that the game will be over.

Overall, It’s cool that Domino’s made their own game. All things considered I think that they put a decent amount of effort into it. As most people will be playing it for the coupon I’m glad that it doesn’t take too much effort to get it. It’s not a game that I expect I will ever play again but I’d recommend downloading it. Pizza doesn’t get much better than Domino’s so this coupon is definitely pretty handy.

Overall 5/10

Donkey Kong Barrel Blast Review

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It’s time to look at Nintendo’s biggest mistake when it comes to the racing genre. A DK racer practically writes itself and just has a ton of potential. It’s a shame that the game squandered this so readily. Motion controls are what hold this game back and while it was an attempt by Nintendo it completely backfired. Sometimes just because an idea makes sense in concept doesn’t mean that it should be implemented. This is most certainly one of those times.

There is no story mode of course but we do have a few different tournaments at the ready. There are 4 main tournaments and 2 bonus ones. The bonus tournaments allow you to pick your own stages to have a tournament with friends and another one allows you to randomize the stages. Both are handy when playing with friends but you don’t get a trophy for clearing them so there is no single player incentive. The main tournaments start out at 3 races and eventually go to 5. There are multiple difficulty levels but you are forced to start with Rookie so I just stayed at that level. Even then the game is surprisingly difficult. You have to stay at top speed and use a lot of boosts if you want to come out on top here. Of course, the Mario Party luck factor is around here so sometimes you’ll just get blasted by other racers behind you which is out of your control. Not much can be done about that.

Each racer is using a pair of drums instead of a car. It is for this reason that instead of accelerating like normal you must beat the drums to keep going fast. You have to make the motion of hitting the drums constantly to stay at peak levels and just hit one drum to turn. Hit both at the same time to jump and hold down on the Nunchuk to activate your boost. Your boost is the most important skill that you have here. It can change a whole race and just know that you can extend your boost by hitting enemies or normal barrels. If you time the boost right you can keep it going for a very long time. Just focus on the combo and don’t use your boost unless you see something to bump into.

There are a lot of games that can be called painful while you are playing them, but there aren’t many which you can say that in a literal sense. Your wrists will be absolutely exhausted after playing this game and I am convinced that it wouldn’t be healthy if you played this game long term. You can even expect some neck and back pain if you were straining a lot and too rigid while playing. Naturally the trick is to simply not play too hard but that’s easy to say until one of the computers passes you. Then it’s back to hitting the drums as quickly as you can.

When it comes to the graphics then this game finally gets to shine. The character models are definitely on point and are appropriately high quality. The levels all look great and there is a lot of variety to be found here. Whether it be Jungles, Volcanoes, or even Space DK has you covered. The final level in the game is the hype space one and it is as cool as you may expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how much effort Nintendo put into some parts of this game, but maybe I shouldn’t be. In theory this was supposed to be their next big racer. The stage themes are pretty solid as well even if they aren’t all that memorable. I suppose you can’t have every game be quite as legendary as Mario right?

Aside from the tournaments which won’t keep you busy for very long, the game has other modes at its disposal as well. One of those is the challenge mode where you attack various missions and see if you can accomplish them. The missions are actually reasonably difficult as you can easily lose a stage if you’re not entirely sure how to approach it. Take one wrong shortcut and it’s time to retry. Between the various unlockables and the main tournaments, I think you’ll find that the game has a reasonable amount of content to back the pricing.

All of this is only if you can get past the gameplay though. None of the other stuff will ultimately matter if you wrists simply can’t take the pressure. The items are fun though and if you use them right they will help you take a break. Build up some good boosts and just use it when you know that you’ll be able to keep it going for a while. During this time you don’t need to beat the drums. You have other items like armor and missiles but you have to keep shaking the controllers during this. Interestingly enough, the descriptions in the game say that you can stop shaking once you’re at max speed, but they must have meant that you could stop shaking for a moment because after that the car will immediately start slowing down again. So much for that I suppose.

Overall, Barrel Blast really could have been a good game. It had a lot of the right pieces in place like the animation, soundtrack, and array of content to keep you busy. The one area where it went wrong was with the controls and you’d think that this wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just so drastic that it ends up bringing the whole game down with it and that’s the unfortunate part. You actually feel like the game isn’t healthy to play. If you want some exercise for your wrist and don’t think that it will end up having a detrimental effect instead, then I suppose you may want to give this game a chance. However, if you’re playing this game in the first place because you want to relax while cruising through the levels then this isn’t the right game to add to your collection. There is nothing relaxing about constantly beating the drums.

Overall 5/10

Batman Dark Tomorrow Review

Batman Dark Tomorrow
Batman has had quite a few video games over the years. I’ve yet to play one that was truly spectacular though. The other games were fairly solid but I’m waiting for a game that will be the next big thing. I got Dark Tomorrow in the hopes that this would be it as the comic driven plot and early 2000s aesthetic would be just what the series needed. Unfortunately a truly dreadful opening ends up severely limiting the game’s potential even though the ending is fantastic.

The game starts off by spoiling the final twist as we see very obvious silhouettes of Ra’s Al Ghoul and Talia. They plan to cleanse the world of humanity. To proceed with this goal they free all of the villains in Arkham to distract Batman. Batman also has to deal with a turf war going on in Gotham and the fact that Commissioner Gordon has also gone missing. Robin and Oracle are ready as backup but Batman decides to handle this alone, that’s how dangerous these villains are.

There’s always a debate about which is more important, gameplay or story. Well, gameplay will always be the most important part of a game and it is certainly what holds this game back. The game just doesn’t tell you anything about the controls and puts in so many red herrings that you aren’t sure what to do. You have extra gadgets that are basically pointless like the flashlight. You can barely move while that thing is one and the light it emits is comically small. You’ve got night vision goggles which are good for a small handful of segments when trying to dodge the trip lasers but you don’t even need to bother with them. I ran through all of the lasers for fun and honestly I didn’t notice a big difference in the amount of enemies that popped up. Then you’ve got the bat grapple 2 different times as one lets you swing and the other lets you shoot up. They are also used quite sparingly. This really feels like the game was meant for pure hand to hand combat and the gadgets were only added since someone in development thought Batman should have them. The Batarangs never get useful and the same goes for the smoke bombs which really don’t fool the villains for a second. The health packs are great though.

The game uses an interesting auto save feature. Basically, you have an unlimited amount of lives and typically wake up in the area that you died instead of going all the way back to when you last saved. However, while the game keeps a local record of your progress, you do still have to save on your own if you want to turn the game off. So just don’t make the mistake of thinking that the game is auto saving even if it does seem that way.

So, why is the gameplay so broken? Well for starters, the game has some really bad puzzle sections that just don’t make sense. The first level has most of these. In one section of the burning street you will try going forward but are quickly riddled with bullets. It doesn’t matter what tactic you try, you will never be able to get through there. You have to instead go through a side road and walk through some burning cars. There’s a small gap there that just seems cheesy. In another level, you are stuck next to a fence and your lock pick inexplicably does not work on the door. The lock pick is another negative as it’s called an ultimate something instead and the game doesn’t even tell you what it does. You will just find out that it’s a lock pick once you use it towards the end of the game. Here’s the problem, the game makes a big deal about it during this gate section as if you are supposed to use it, but you never do in this level. Instead you have to jump on a car and then jump on the roof with perfect precision. If you are slightly off or the game glitches again then you will miss the jump. Due to this, you will likely believe that the jump isn’t possible unless you know beforehand that it is.

Even the combat system is hidden from you. You have two attack options, punches and kicks. You use them to knock the enemies down and then you handcuff them. If you don’t handcuff them, then they will simply keep getting up forever. It’s an odd mechanic especially since you can’t skip the long handcuffing cutscene. What the game doesn’t tell you is that if you hold onto the L button you will unleash a series of rapid kicks and punches which deal a considerably higher damage output and make the bosses child’s play in comparison. You can certainly beat the game without this knowledge and sometimes it’s actually better not to go for a combo since it leaves you vulnerable if the opponent blocks it. I do think that information should be somewhere in the game though.

These are the reasons why the game got off to a rough start. The design of the opening levels where you are stuck in a death loop and the jump over the gate mixed in with the rather choppy combat controls if you don’t know how to combo the hits. However, once you get past the level and master the combat system, then things get fun. The second half of the hand feels like a whole different game. The Arkham level in particular is a lot of fun as you go through a marathon of bosses including Mr Freeze, Killer Croc, Szaz , and Poison Ivy. The bosses are a lot of fun. This is one time where the poor camera angles and the overused cutscenes can be quite fun. It’s pretty satisfying to knock the boss down since you get the full cutscene. Of course, it’s also fun when he knocks you over as well. Once you learn the combos the combat system becomes genuinely fun as well. It’s like an old school arcade game.

Some aspects of the game also shined from the start like the graphics. They are way ahead of their time and look considerably better than any of the other GameCube Batman games. It has a certain comic aesthetic that just works really well with the character models. The first cutscene sets the game on a positive note as it just feels very theatrical. You would not be blamed for thinking that it was a clip from a film. I can’t say as much for the soundtrack unfortunately. I suppose they didn’t put in quite as much effort into this section of the game compared to the others.

The level designs are really large and well thought out. You can be wandering for quite a long time from room to room. Fortunately the game remembers who you have handcuffed until you turn the game off so you don’t have to worry about beating them every time. Unfortunately you aren’t always able to appreciate the levels because of the really bad camera angles. It just keeps on turning whenever you move which really causes you to stop in your tracks or take more hits than you would have liked. It’s pretty distracting and I died a few times thanks to that, but at least there are constant checkpoints.

Then there is the plot which is probably the best plot from any Batman game. We get to see an onslaught of Batman villains throughout and Ra’s can make for a good villain. As par for the course Batman certainly does give him a whole lot of credit but I don’t consider him to be quite as impressive as many of Batman’s other rogues. Oracle did doubt Batman quite a bit in the cutscenes and it was too bad Robin couldn’t help out more, but I suppose the developers really wanted to keep this as a Batman solo game.

There isn’t any real replay value to be had in this game. It’s the kind of title that locks you in next to the final boss so you couldn’t go back and get collectibles even if you wanted too. You could play the whole game again for that, but that’s a little drastic. The value in this game will be in the main story which is really a 50/50 gamble. It’s tough because the climax is so amazing, but I just can’t forget the opening.

I should also mention that the game has around 4-5 endings. I actually ended up with one of the bad endings as I ran into the villains and knocked them all out, but I didn’t deactivate the apocalyptic machine. Apparently that was in the next door over. I also lost to Ra’s once so I actually got to see both endings. Getting to the good ending wouldn’t take very long but I was rather satisfied with the ending I got so I stuck with this one. It’s actually a fairly realistic look at how the situation usually goes if your opponent has a deadman‘s switch.

Overall, Dark Tomorrow is going to have to stay squarely in the middle. The two parts of the game neatly cancel each other out. Dark Tomorrow certainly seems to have divided its team up into various sections and some worked harder than others. If you’re a big Batman fan then I’d recommend checking this game out. Just watch out for the burning level and try to find the truck right away. It’s the best chance you’ve got!

Overall 5/10

Pirate’s Quest: Hunt for Blackbeard’s Booty Review

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It’s time for another Wii party game. It’s actually been quite a while since I got to play one so this was nostalgic. The actual games are better than most in this genre although that is fought back by the limited content in this game. Seriously, the game only has 5-6 minigames which is significantly less than pretty much any other party game. Name a title that has less minigames, I’ll wait. I give the game some kudos for actually getting a story together with actual cutscenes though. It’s not much but it shows that this game has more of a budget than the rest.

So the main mode is story mode of course. You can also just play the minigames freely in multiplayer mode as well which is where you’ll likely spend most of your time after beating the game. After all, there is nothing else to do. The main story mode has 3 worlds which each have the 5-6 minigames. It’s just the same ones that get recycled so this is an obvious ploy to extend the game without actually coming up with new content. It’s a little sloppy and forced if I’m being honest, but at least it’s only 3 worlds so it could have been much worse. The cutscenes explain how Blackbeard found his treasure. They’re fairly low budget, but not half bad. The story should last you for a full 2 hours. Multiplayer can be infinite but considering that you’ll likely switch to Mario Party before long, I doubt you’ll be sticking around. There’s really almost nothing to do in this game so buying it at full price would have been crazy. For only around 2 dollars though, it’s really not a terrible bargain.

The graphics are pretty underwhelming but what else is new right? It’s what I’d expect from a Wii game of this caliber. There isn’t much of a soundtrack either so just focus on the minigames. On a technical level the game does not surpass expectations and merely meets them half heartedly. So far this review has been pretty tough on the game eh? It’s time for the actual games then to see if they can save the title. First off is Poloball which is actually my favorite. It’s like Golf, but actually exciting and with more stakes. Essentially you have to hit a ball through about 10-16 checkpoints. Once you cross them all, then you get a poison ball and want to hit all of the other balls. Whoever gets the poison ball first naturally has a huge advantage over the others. The game can theoretically take a long time if everyone is good though. This is because the gates are narrow and if you bump another ball then you can shoot it far away. As a result, everyone could keep shooting each other’s balls away for a while which would make for a big stalemate. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

The swordfighting game is probably the weakest one. It’s about swinging your Wii remote as the sword so you can see why this didn’t work out too well. The remote just won’t listen to you half of the time and it feels like the computer always has the edge. You’ll just want to keep swinging and hope for the best, but it doesn’t make for a very balanced minigame. It was generic at best. We had the tag team boat racing where one character controls the cannons while the other steers. This one is pretty fun although I don’t like the fact that if you get too far ahead of the opponent he is brought up to where you are. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of the minigame don’t you think? That felt like a big flaw.

Another minigame is treasure hunting. It’s also 2 on 2 which the game seemed to love. You have to dig for chests while the other team tries to whack you on the head. Then you switch placed after a certain amount of time or it happens instantly if they get both of you at the same time. This game has a lot of strategy behind it and I definitely enjoyed the game. You really have to try and stay one step ahead of your opponent throughout the game. Teamwork is also important because if both players go after one person then the other one has free reign. It’s pretty well done for the game. As you can see, in general the minigames are actually pretty good. They’re just really limited and you can only play a minigame for so long before you grow tired of it. I doubt I’d want to play too many games of poloball back to back after all.

Technically there are a bunch of a costumes, weapons, and characters to unlock. You’ll just notice very quickly that they don’t make for much of an incentive to grab them all. I was happy to grab some along the way with the in game currency but they’re way too pricey. I would have to play the game for a very long time to get them all and I’m not willing to make such an investment in time. Not on this game anyway and especially without any trophies for my efforts.

Overall, This game ranks up there with Casper as one of the shorter games. Perhaps the campaign is longer than the others since it is 2 hours, but in terms of actual content this one is way shorter than that. The lack of minigames just can’t be ignored. While there are unlockables they seem purely cosmetic so it’s not as if they really add a dimension to the game. If you find this title for 2 dollars then you should probably snag it but otherwise I’d advise getting a better party game instead. There is no shortage of other options to be honest as even the newest Mario Parties are better games than this one. Sorry Blackbeard, but my treasure is in another title.

Overall 5/10

Rabbids Go Home Review

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It’s time to delve back into the world of Rayman. The first game for the GBA didn’t work out so well but I’m still trying to fix it. In the meantime, this spinoff seems like it will do just fine as a little filler. It actually has some pretty tight gameplay but it is limited by the rather lackluster story and certain elements of the game that just weren’t really thought out. Ironically enough, the bad/cartoony graphics actually help the game from sinking any lower. Sword Art Online level graphics for this game would have made it quite disastrous indeed. As it is, the game actively mocks you throughout.

The general plot is that the Rabbids want to get to the Moon. Apparently that may even be their home. They hope to collect enough trash to let them reach it. By their estimation, you’ll need 23000 feet of trash to get that high. This means they’ll have to do things like say “Nothing personal kid” and teleport behind the person to steal their stuff if necessary. More likely, they’ll end up mugging the person. The Rabbids have no inclination to work with local authorities and have decides that they’ll take down anyone who gets in their way. So begins the mission.

Each level is about grabbing a lot of junk and snatching a big object by the end. You may steal a plane, a dying person, a wheel, a boat, etc. It all becomes trash once the Rabbids grab it. You then make it to a dirty toilet and flush your way back to base. The game spares no expense with the crude humor as the toilet is quite dirty each time you use it. Their base is under the toilet which isn’t very sanitary and then you go back to the hub world (It’s like New York City) and find another one to use. It’s pretty formulaic with most of the levels being pretty similar.

The gameplay is like Super Mario Galaxy meets Mario Kart. It’d a 3D adventure and you control a Rabbid who is pulling a Shopping Cart. You put all of the junk in it by making contact with objects. You can swing your Wii remote to attack and you can also use the boost to get through larger jumps. Enemies will attack you so shake the Wii Remote to take them down. The actual gameplay is incredibly simple so you’ll know what to do almost immediately. From there, it’s just a matter of getting through the levels.

Each level has 1000 pieces of junk in it and on average you can expect to get somewhere in the 800s. Do your best to get a lot since you can theoretically hit the 23K mark a lot sooner than way. I got to skip quite a few levels myself using this method. There is some replay value as you can naturally keep collecting junk until you reach the secret ending, but lets be honest…who wants to do that. Since the story is one of the weak parts of the game, that’s the last thing I’d be tempted to do. This is a game where you turn it off as soon as it is completed. The main campaign is reasonably long and should last you a few hours regardless. It’s a pretty easy game and you’ll likely only lose a small handful of lives. By and large there isn’t much of a challenge.

All right, here’s where the game gets iffy. The Rabbids strip anyone who is in their way. You literally snatch their clothes off and leave them in underwater. You do this to absolutely everyone that you pass and it gets pretty tricky. Everyone panics and gets cold after doing this, but the Rabbids don’t seem to care. When you hit an animal, the same thing happens only you take the animal and 2 pieces of meat. It’s rather disturbing. The whole game is pretty disturbing at times if you really think about it. These guys are not heroes either as you see them defying authority and picking fights for no reason at times.

As I mentioned earlier, the game also mocks you with its cutscenes. You get the same recycled animations quite a few times after they initially debut. I suppose the developers couldn’t be bothered to come up with 31 different animations. Several of the levels start to get copied off of each other as well. Maybe the budget was just a little more limited than I thought. There certainly wasn’t much of a soundtrack as the themes started to repeat as well. I will give it some props for actually having lyrical songs though. That was unexpected even if I can’t really remember much about them even though I just beat the game. It’s not a very memorable array of songs.

As I also mentioned, the graphics aren’t good and that’s a good thing. You can probably guess now why having good graphics would have been a problem. The game tries to make everything seem as ugly as possible. While that’s a pretty sad goal, the game is good at achieving it so I suppose I have to give them that much credit. Then the Rabbids start laughing and yelling at you again and you wonder what the game was thinking. You can’t even skip most of the cutscenes so get ready to see them quite a few times.

It’s really a shame since the gameplay actually isn’t that bad. Finally, a 3D Wii game where the controls were actually tested quite a bit. I’m not saying that it’s a AAA game, but the gameplay never glitches or anything. It feels fair throughout and you can turn on a dime. The controls are the highlight of the game and as I always say, the gameplay is the most important facet of the game. The levels went by pretty fast because the gameplay was pretty solid. Even the Hub World is pretty well thought out. The place is laid out pretty well so you can get anywhere with ease. It’s simple, but effective.

Overall, Rabbids Go Home had potential but it’s not like I ever had high expectations for a Rabbids game. They are some of the worst main characters in all of video games. At 2 bucks the game was too cheap to pass up, but it showed its true colors right away. The gameplay could have given this game a 7, but I have to deduct 2 points for the really terrible story. The crude humor and stripping mechanic were both just pretty bad ideas. This is one of those games that would have been better without having any cutscenes or a plot. The game also comes across as a rather mean spirited title at times. The Rabbids end up kidnapping people who are seriously injured after all and hijacking a plane which led dozens to perish. The body count in this game is rather high and while it is cartoony so the game certainly isn’t violent or dark, it just doesn’t work well. There’s nothing likable about the Rabbids and you just end up rooting for the humans even if you know that they are doomed.

Overall 5/10