1943: The Battle of Midway Review


1943 is a rather basic airplane type game. There may be a plot but you wouldn’t really know it from playing the game. I don’t tend to count booklet plots all that much. So you have to enjoy the gameplay as that’s really the focus of this game. I wasn’t particularly impressed with any one element but the game itself is solid enough. It’s a game built on its fundamentals and there are quite a few weapons and mechanics to learn. Ultimately they may not stand out but this is a really difficult game so good luck trying to beat it without using any of the advanced features like rewinding and such. This one is going to take all of your abilities to get through to the end.

The main gameplay here is an overhead style as you watch your plane go forward and land major damage. You are attacked by all kinds of ships and other enemies as they overload the screen. Your task is to take them out as they come through and survive until the end. Typically there will be a boss at the end although not every level has one. Sometimes you will just keep on going until the level ends.

Now when I said the game was tough, I definitely meant it all the way. A few hits can take your plane down for the count. Additionally your plane keeps changing weapons when you touch the power ups. Some are better than others so avoid these when you have one that you like. On the other hand, you can shoot a power up to turn it into a health item but you have to do that carefully. Shoot too much and it’ll be a power up item again, shoot too little and the same thing could happen. It’s all a battle of reaction times and you have to make sure that you are on point the whole time.

You’ve also got some kind of bomb/thunderstrike ability. This is really handy as it affects the whole screen but surprisingly it won’t necessarily defeat all of the minions that it hits. It’s strong but not a one hit KO move the way that most of these attacks tend to be. I was certainly surprised when some of the villains endured the attack. I guess it helps as per game balance but I’m used to it being a one hit KO in all other games so it took me by surprise.

It’s not worth using anyway though as it cost your health to use this attack. It takes a solid chunk out of your health bar so even if you land a lot of hits with it, it’ll rarely be worth it. I’d say at best, use it if you’re completely surrounded and are about to be shot down. Then you have nothing to lose and may as well give it a shot. Moves that take up health are just rarely worth it to me in any game.

The graphics are decent here. Nothing too special but the game itself is clear and you always know what’s going on so that’s worth something. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side but it’s not bad. In general the game just doesn’t have a whole lot of personality. From a screenshot you could easily mistake this for any other aerial fighter. I think they should have done a better job of standing out. Even if this is trying to be fairly realistic, you could still pull it off if you thought about it hard enough. It’s an old game so I’m not expecting anything out of this world but I think it could have done more.

There also just isn’t much of an ending or a sense of accomplishment when you make it to the end. It just starts looping as if this is a super old NES game. I would have liked there to have been some kind of end cutscene or something. That would have done a lot of good if you ask me. Well, it’s not a bad game either way but you probably won’t see me picking it up again. This is very much a one and done kind of game. You play it through and then move on to the net thing.

Overall, 1943 is a decent game to play for a little while. Blackhawk Striker/Shooter is a much better plane game though. If you want a game with a lot of personality and energy then that is the one to check out. Without a doubt that one tends to blow everything out of the water in the genre. This one feels more like a dime a dozen and hey, that’s still not a bad deal for 40 minutes of free fun. It’s just not enough to take it to the next level so I’d recommend giving this one a try and then looking for something more long term.

Overall 5/10

Fighting EX Layer Another Dash Review


Whenever there is a free fighting game to check out, it’s definitely worth a play. Fighting Ex Layer is much like Street Fighter X Tekken in that you can see the full game content right out of the gate in the menus but you just can’t interact with them unless you pay the full price. I went into this one with the freemium version of course so I stuck to my selection. The game’s modes aren’t too extensive anyhow.

The modes here are vs mode (Online and Offline), Arcade mode, and Training. There isn’t a story mode here and Arcade only has one block of text as a character ending of sorts. So this is really a game that is focused purely on the combat. For most that will probably be enough for them to spend money on the full version so they can play the online vs mode. Battling against people online really throws in the replay value after all. If you stay strong on that though then your best bet is playing through the Arcade mode.

You get 4 fighters to play with and each one has their own special techniques and attack options. Mastering each character is your best way to win. I was able to complete the Arcade mode on normal and easy and they were reasonably tough so I imagine going on hard mode would really be a tough ordeal. Definitely not something to do unless you’re really confident in your own abilities. You have to have absolute confidence in yourself or it’s all over. I recommend going for the leg sweep, they seem to have a hard time blocking that move.

Mix in a few aerials and just keep swinging buttons. I can’t say I had an easy time finding out which attack combo’s into another so just find a 2 hit combo and you’re set. You can at least launch a flying kick and then go for a sweep which should work for any character. Pull that off and then you’re in a really good spot. You can also use an unblockable attack by pressing the A and X buttons at the same time. It’s super slow but gets the job done in a pinch.

Another benefit to jumping a lot is that if the opponent counters you will be just out of range. A final tip I should mention is grabbing is really good here. Just throw the opponent all over the field and you won’t have a problem. It’s a great way to keep the momentum at all times. It also deals quite a bit of damage so the game reminded me of Street Fighter V in that sense. Man I used to throw all the time there and it would just work. That’s how good the throws were.

The graphics are definitely really solid here. The game looks new and has a fairly sci-fi kind of feel to it. You feel like it’s a modern title and I would like to see the characters show up in a game with a story mode someday. Now that would absolutely have a ton of potential behind it. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. No real bad tunes or anything but none that you’ll remember once you finish the game. It could really use one rock solid rock theme if you ask me.

In general the game is just lacking in content kind of like Super Mario Run’s free version. It would be good to have added some more things to do here or maybe we could get a story mode at some point. The best thing to do if you ask me would have been to have added some text before each opponent so the arcade mode feels like a story. I think that would have hit the best balance by far and it’s a relatively low impact way to enhance the game as a whole. I’m surprised more titles don’t quickly slap a little story together like that. Would be a perfect way to pull it off.

At the end of the day the game is still good because the gameplay is solid though. It may not be the fastest paced fighting title but the moves make sense and you always feel like you have a chance. It’s got a higher bar to really learn the controls than a lot of the other fighting games so you can’t expect to just pick it up and start landing combos. This is one of those games where actually learning the moves will be absolutely mandatory.

Overall, Fighting Ex Layer is a game that I’d recommend giving a download. After all, it’s free so there’s no reason not to. Way I see it, downloading a free game is always worth the effort. Even if it doesn’t light your world on fire, you’ll have still gotten to play a nice game and it won’t have cost you anything. I don’t think you’ll be playing this game for very long as there isn’t much to do on your own but you can enjoy the nice gameplay and characters. Slap on some more content for this without having to purchase it and you’ll definitely have a winner here. It just has to be done soon before people have forgotten about the game. Honestly the marketing wasn’t that intense so you very easily could have missed hearing about it even from the start.

Overall 5/10

Rival Turf! Review


Rival Turf! is a fairly intense beat em up, but it’s the kind that forces you to start all the way from the beginning when you lose all of your lives. This is not completely unheard of within the genre but I have to say that I never liked this approach. To me, there should always be a way to continue until you get to the end of the game. There have to be checkpoints or some place to return to. Not including that feels like an unnecessary hurdle and it’ what keeps this game back.

It’s hard to say what the plot is here at all since there isn’t even an opening cutscene. You beat a lot of dudes up as you go through the game though so I’ll assume it’s your classic gangster story where a bunch of gangs have taken over the city and you have to stop them all. Either way the focus here is definitely just on beating everyone up and it’s fair to say that the villains made a huge mistake in going after the main character’s town. That’s going to come back to haunt them.

Each stage has you beat up a ton of enemies until you get to the end. At that point there is a boss that will show up to fight you in deadly combat. Don’t give the opponent an inch, just keep on going. Now this will be easier said than done though as each of the enemies do have some fairly good attacks to hit you with. One of the toughest kind of enemies to deal with is one that always approaches you with a big flying kick. The only way to effectively get around that is often to try and land the kick first or just stay out of the way.

Typically in games like this what I like to do is wait a little higher or lower than the opponent so when they walk over I get the first hit. In a one on one scenario this does tend to work but it’s hard to set up when there are a bunch of enemies rushing you at the same time. At that point you just have to fight hard and try hitting as many of them as possible. In a lot of ways it feels like a button masher so you just have to get in there and keep on landing blows as quickly as possible. If you get lucky or do really well then you may be able to beat the level without losing too many lives.

There are 6 levels here and I died in the 5th one. You get 6 lives and can continue 5 times so in a way you’ve got 30 lives. Typically I would lose 6 lives in each stage but that number kept increasing as I made it through the game. Ultimately that’s what got me here. The enemies were just too vicious and they really showed me what was going on. This is where I say there should be a way to continue the game from the 5th level. To me that makes sense so you could hat least see how it ends and go from there. This is the kind of game where even rewinding and restarting doesn’t help a lot because of how crazy strong the opponents are. Sure, with enough patience you could probably pull it off but it would take a long while which is probably not worth the hassle for this game. You would need something a lot more high end which should already have that feature anyway.

Aside from that one big feature not being here, the gameplay is solid. 2D beat em ups don’t tend to be my favorites until you reach the 90s and later on where they added a bunch of depth to it. Like I really enjoyed the X-Men GBA beat em up game because of how it incorporated all of the X-Men special techniques and powers into the combat. It wasn’t just any ole beat em up, it felt like a real X-Men game. For a game like this I know powers are off the table, but giving the characters more to do would really help it stand out. Of course this game is fairly old so that critique doesn’t apply as much but this game just doesn’t stand out.

I thought Double Dragon did a much better job of executing on this concept, not to mention it also had more of a plot. Considering that this game is for the SNES, I don’t think there is an excuse not to have some kind of story included in the game. At least if you ask me that seems like a reasonable request. Ah well, at least the graphics are solid, I do think the game still looks good all the way through. There are a good amount of level designs and they all look different so it’s not just reusing them.

Additionally, I would say that the soundtrack is solid as well. So the game does have some things going for it. There’s no real replay value but the game is difficult enough where that shouldn’t be a problem. Even though you theoretically can beat the game within an hour, the odds of you doing that are slim to none with how hard the game is. You really have to learn all of the villain patterns and movements to take them down efficiently. Additionally it’s hard to plan when so many of them are rushing you at once so good luck with that. A lot of it will come down to instinct.

Overall, Rival Turf is a game that has a good combat system but other areas of the game hurt it like the whole thing about not having a way to restart at a specific level. Going back to level 1 is something I never enjoy, it just feels way too harsh of a punishment if you ask me. You should be able to beat the game normally and if needed just have the extra continues destroy your score at the end or void it. Seeing the cutscene as the game ends is the important thing. Either way there are other titles you should check out within the genre for a better all around experience.

Overall 5/10

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Review


Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has to be one of the oldest games that I’ve had on the back burner for many years. It’s been patiently waiting it’d turn and now it was time to see what this game was all about. It definitely goes all in on the tactical gameplay and there’s a lot of customization here but other parts of the game have not aged well which ends up holding the experience back.

The game starts with our hero Marche having a snowball fight with all of the other kids at the school. At first glance it seems to be going okay but everyone is actually dealing with something. The kids are actually targeting his friend Mewt a lot. Marche’s brother can’t walk so he isn’t able to have fun with the gang and the main heroine Riza is very self conscious about her hair being white so she dyes it every day. There’s quite a lot of unhappiness in the air and for Marche the main point is that he’s a pushover and doesn’t stick up for himself.

Well, one day Marche wakes up only to find himself in a fantastic kingdom ruled by Mewt. It’s effectively a palace like in Persona as it is created by his wishes. Marche figures it isn’t healthy to life in a made up reality like this and he decides he has to destroy the world. The other kids are not in agreement though and will do everything they can to stop him. Can Marche finally find his inner confidence and take the win here?

Interestingly Marche can almost feel like the main villain here in some respects. Think about it, to the creatures living in this world, the place is very real. All of a sudden you have this guy showing up to try and destroy the world because he says its fake. You’d assume this guy is insane and I can see why they were all fighting against him. You also have to ask yourself on whether these guys have become sentient and in a way is Marche actually destroying everyone? If all of the monsters will revert to townfolk similar to how everyone here is a distortion then that helps with making it okay in the end but it’s definitely an interesting concept.

Not really one that the game goes into all that much but it does make you double think what you are doing the whole time. The main focus on the story though is Marche trying to convince everyone that this world isn’t better. Sure they have super powers and live a life of wealth and prosperity here but Marche says that since they know it isn’t real, it’s like they’re running away from the real thing. I thought the game did a good job of not having all of the kids suddenly agree with him or anything like that. It was handled as more of a slow burn which was good so the kids had a chance to explain their side. All in all it may not have been constant end of the world stakes or anything like that but things do get cosmic in the end and the story was fun.

As for the gameplay, it’s your classic tactics style with a few changes here. So if you know tactics gameplay then you remember that it’s all about getting the right angles. You want to attack from the sides of behind an enemy for better damage as well as a better percentage chance of hitting the opponent. You can attack, guard, use a special move, or an item. You can control up to 6 fighters here and the enemy team will typically have around as many. It’s fun to think out your moves and try to get to the win as efficiently as possible. If this was played straight with no gimmicks then there would be no issue.

The gameplay can be a little slow with all of the animations and everything being unskippable but it would still work pretty well. The main issue comes with the law system that is unique to this game. Basically when you start a level there will be a random law that says you cannot do something during the battle. Sometimes it will be that you can’t attack, can’t heal, can’t use fire, etc. As the game goes on there will be 2 laws at once and then three. The big issue with adding RNG into the mix like this is that you can’t just make a plan and stick to it. You have to adjust your combat based on the law for the battle and there is no way to see it before starting the level. What that means is that if it’s a law you can’t hope to overcome then you have to reset the game.

After that you can walk around a bit (Since each step counts as a day and switches the law) and then head back. It’s quite a few extra steps that aren’t needed. Additionally there are random minions running around all the time and if you bump into one then you have to start another long fight. The level up system is also a bit different than the others as each action gets you some XP rather than a total at the end of a level. This is fairly unique for RPG titles but for tactical fighters I’ve seen this in the past so it makes sense. It’s not my favorite style but it is what it is.

There’s also perma death which is active on any desert level. If any of your members dies here and you don’t revive them before the match is up, the member is lost forever. There goes your equipment and level ups. I’m not a fan of perma death in any game. It’s way too harsh and just serves as a big punishment if you end up losing. There’s also a jail system here in case you break the laws in a level. Two strikes takes you to jail while one acts a a fine and your character suffers a penalty. To remove the card you have to play a few battles without the character but at the speed in which the battles are, that’s a fairly long commitment so it’s often better to just reset the game whenever you do that by mistake.

Then you’ve got some quality of life features that aren’t present. One of the big ones is that it’s very difficult to see which equipment is the best one to attach to your character. You can only see the stats for one piece at a time and can’t compare it so you have to remember the numbers as you check each piece one by one. That just seems like something which should have been easier. It’s also odd that you have to actually set the items to your character’s ability slots or you can’t use any at all. I think that’s a bit much and there’s no indication of when they have learned a new ability so you have to manually check everyone every time there’s a level up. Same with ability mastery to learn new classes.

So what I’m saying is the gameplay is held back by a whole ton of features ranging from just about every area you can think of. It’s definitely a problem. The graphics are good though. I thought the character designs were on point and the levels were good. Meanwhile the soundtrack was more on the unimpressive side as none of the tunes were all that good. It was going for a rather calm feel to it but give me rock or metal any day so I can really feel the tunes at all times.

As for the replay value here, there are a ton of missions to complete so that’ll help on that end. There are 300 missions in the game and you’ll probably end up beating around 100 before you finish the game. The missions have several categories including combat and dispatch. Dispatch missions are ones your allies will complete on their own and either take a few days or just some extra battles without you. So choose who you send out on a mission wisely since you never want to be without your best fighter for very long.

Overall, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance would be one of the weaker Final Fantasy games. It has some pretty good ideas and so the story ends up being the strong point here but the gameplay mechanics are what ended up bringing it down. If anything the game’s just trying to be too intricate and having way too many things going on at once. We’ll see if the sequel can dial things back a notch, removing laws entirely would definitely be a great start. If not, maybe there’s a way to just make them better. This is a really long game so make sure you really enjoy the tactics style before picking it up.

Overall 5/10

Jelly Boy Review


Jelly Boy is one of those games that very easily could have been a really good one. Instead it made the big mistake of trying to force collectibles onto you instead. Let me tell you, that was not a good move. By the time you finish the first world you’ll need to turn back and nobody wants to do that. It’s a bit sloppier than other platformers but I wouldn’t call it a bad game. You’re just not likely to go back and finish it.

You play as a little Jelly guy and can go around punching your opponents. Along the way you can turn into a variety of items like a hammer which will certainly keep your opponents on guard. This helps to ensure the gameplay is always adapting since you’re never in any one form for too long. Turning and jumping can be a bit more on the annoying side here but you do have some features like the rewind to help with that. It’s not exactly Mario in terms of how smooth the game is, but few titles are right? It’s not exactly a knock against the game because nothing should be expected to go toe to toe with Mario like that.

As mentioned earlier though, the biggest issue here is really the fact that I could not get into world 2. Seemingly this was because I didn’t have the piece of the puzzle from every level but they’re really hidden. I only happened to come across one of them so the rest are probably buried deep into the levels. This really goes against the concept of a platformer in the first place since it’s supposed to be a very calming experience where you have fun with the levels and keep it moving. By giving you something to look for, the game is no longer than leisurely experience you once craved. Quite a few platformers seem to make this mistake.

Now the graphics are good at least. I thought they did a good job with the artwork for each of the characters and the color schemes as a whole. The game looks good even though it’s so old. The soundtrack is also okay. Nothing super memorable but it is catchy enough and so the game flows rather well. On a technical aspect I do think they did their best here and you can tell that some effort was put in.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s always fun to play the more retro games but in some cases like this one, it just reminds you how far we have come. Nowadays a game like this would probably still be a little bit better because either there would be more of a real story or the gameplay would just be smoother. This one hasn’t aged particularly well and that’s probably why you wouldn’t have heard of it before Nintendo announced that it would be in the next online wave. A title like this just would not have stood out for very long at the toy store. Not when you had bigger titles always coming out to overshadow it.

Now if you could remove the collectibles and tighten up the gameplay a bit, then I think this would have really had some potential. The gimmick of turning into objects and other people is one that would work really well. Right now that’s still a big thing like how Odyssey let you control others with the hat and Kirby would transform in the latest game. People like to have different gameplay styles and that’s where Slime Boy would come in. Who knows, maybe one day they will make a sequel or a full remake. The odds seem slight but you never know.

Overall, Jelly Boy is okay at best. You can see some promise in the game as you go through it but it just made too many mistakes and that’s why this one never hit it big. The biggest thing to remember is you never want collectibles to be mandatory. Perhaps there was another reason I couldn’t get into world 2 but if there was then that’s just as bad because there was no indicator of that. All in all, it just means that accessing the rest of the game is more difficult than it should be. You’ll probably want to avoid this one but if you need a new platformer to check out then I suppose this one will do the trick at least for a little while.

Overall 5/10

Bombuzal Review


It’s been quite a while since I went back to play the old SNES titles so this was certainly nostalgic. Can the new ones possibly beat the classics though? Bombuzal has an interesting concept that reminds me of Bomberman to an extent. It’s an interesting puzzle game but one that ultimately could have benefited big time from actually having more of a story or at least some kind of illustrations between the levels. It would make the whole thing come alive because otherwise you don’t see the point of continuing after a while. There are a ton of levels here so you’re absolutely getting a lot of bang for your buck but it all starts to feel the same after a while.

The gameplay has you starting on a field with a bunch of bombs. The idea is to set them all off without being caught up in the explosion. Initially this just means setting them off and walking away. You can only move 1 space after setting off a bomb so you would go in the opposite direction. The levels quickly get more difficult though as you have to set off multiple bombs and stay out of the way. You can even cause a ripple effect where everything blows up except your square.

If you pick the wrong spot then it’s all over though. Additionally some levels will have switches and other gimmicks to help you move the bombs around. There are even teleportation squares and naturally ones that disintegrate so you can’t use the same route to go back. The puzzles are impressive here because the levels are really not that big and the controls are simple so you’re surprised that you don’t find the right answer right away.

With the game being on the simple side, you really feel like the difficulty is earned and nothing about it is cheesy. If there’s a level you aren’t able to beat then that’s on you and not the developers. Yeah some of the controls may not be made apparent at first but you’ll certainly get it after some trial and error. Some bombs even move around so you have to time it carefully on when you want to detonate them. Do it too quickly or too late and it will wreck your chances at clearing the level.

The soundtrack’s okay. The game feels like it has one main theme but it’s a catchy one that works for the levels. I’d also say that the graphics aren’t bad and hold up fairly well for their time. The explosions are nice and the controls are smooth so you don’t feel like you’re just stuck. If you lose it’s because you didn’t interpret the level correctly, not because you slipped or something like that.

With over 100 levels this game will last you quite a while. As mentioned earlier, I just think it could have used more of a story or something to break up the monotony though. Now if a gameplay is good enough then you don’t need anything else. You can play endless levels because it’s just that fun like Lollipop or Fruits Mania. The problem is that Bombuzal just isn’t in that league. If I had to guess on why that is, I would say it’s because the puzzles are a bit longer but less active. You’ll spend a lot of time thinking about what to do as opposed to just doing it. In other puzzle titles you are always moving things around to try and get a clearer picture. So in a way this one has you in the backseat for a bit. It makes all of the levels a bit longer.

There’s not much bad to say about the game except that it’s just very limited. There really isn’t a whole lot to do here and so you’ll probably grow bored of it long before you end up beating all of the levels. I would say it’s one you can just pick up and continue in the future but it’s not an easy one to plug and play since you’ll have to remember how each of the bombs work through the level designs. Otherwise you’re just going to be dying a whole lot.

Overall, Bombuzal is a reasonable game but one where the limitations really show themselves. This is an example of an old game that feels old. It couldn’t pass for more of a modern title and needed some other options to improve its replay value. If you have the Switch Online this is free so you should definitely check it out for a little while. I don’t think you’ll be going back to this one though so it’ll likely end up being forgotten after that.

Overall 5/10

Balan Wonderworld Review


Balan Wonderworld is a game that got fairly infamous right after it came out. People had been expecting the next big thing but instead the game turned out to be a very sloppy production on all sides of the ball. Due to that I was able to find it for a really good price at 6 bucks though so was it really as bad as all that? In a lot of ways it is. There are some areas here where you see some potential but on the whole this just isn’t a good game and I can’t imagine dropping $60 on it. I’d be feeling pretty sad at that point.

The game starts by showing us two kids who are not having a good day. They end up getting taken into Balan’s world and now they have to help various people who are dying or have fallen into the darkness. They can do this by defeating the evil monster personified through the person and collect some statues along the way. Can the kids manage to achieve eternal peace or are they just doomed at this point?

Now the game doesn’t have much dialogue at all so this is my interpretation here but you can probably look at things a bit differently as well. Balan has an archnemesis running around who is causing these nightmares and monsters to appear so we have to take him down for the count as well. Along the way the kids learn what it means to have a good time and enjoy themselves. The game is clearly trying to have a moving story but without voice acting or better cutscenes it is just hard to get that across. At no point will you be particularly interested/engaged in the story. It just never pops out at you.

I really think of the game itself as Ninjabread Man but with a bigger budget. The actual platforming is even a bit weaker than Ninjabread Man, good luck on some of the jumps here! Balan Wonderworld’s main gimmick is that it’s a one button game. At no point in the campaign do you need to do more than press one button. That’s it. Whichever button you press allows you to jump or use whatever ability your costume has. It makes this game rather easy to master of course but there will be less depth within the title as a result so it’s really a true tradeoff.

So in each level the objective is to get to the end but you also have to try and grab some golden statues along the way. Each level has 7 gold statues and you want to average around 3 when you complete a level so that you don’t get stuck. That’s because every world has a statue requirement so if you beat the level without getting enough statues then it will definitely come back to haunt you. I never particularly appreciate having to go and grab collectibles so that didn’t do the game any favors either. The game also does everything it can to slow you down.

For example, some statues are only obtainable for a short potion of the level so if you miss it or beat the minions too quickly then it will disappear. Others are locked in areas that you can’t reach without a costume that you would unlock in a future world. As a result the game is really just doing its best to waste your time or at least it feels like that a lot of the time. The collectibles really were regrettable. Then you have eggs and gems you can grab in the level but they don’t do much of anything. I suppose they help you construct the clock tower in the hub world but there’s no benefit to doing so aside from a trophy and that takes a while.

You just sort of stand there and let the minions build the tower which gets old very quickly. It should have been a more active experience where you get to jump in and everything. The levels and bosses may have some annoying parts but ultimately the platforming gameplay is not terrible. It’s basic but you can have a calming experience just running around at some points in the game. The final boss was not developed well though. There is a glitch where if you bump into the final boss you end up losing all of your lives immediately and have to replay the whole climax from the start. Not a great look if you ask me.

Because of that the final boss took me more tries than it should have. Now I will give the game credit for having decent graphics. I thought all of the screens were colorful and the character designs were on point. There were actual cutscenes which is good and the main villain had a great design even if he couldn’t really manage to do anything. At no point do you ever think that he is a threat to Balan. Why would you when Balan humiliates him over 20 times before you reach the end of the game?

Each level has what are called “Balan Bouts” where you get to beat up the villain through some quick time events. Much like the rest of the game this is a section that has potential but is dragged out way too much. You have to go through the whole sequence in every level and you have to get a perfect score to get the gold statue. Mess up the sequence at all and you may as well close your eyes for the rest since it doesn’t matter. Each cutscene sequence is rather long and drawn out which doesn’t help matters either.

That brings me to the cutscene that plays after beating each boss. There are like 3 songs that cycle over and over as you dance with the characters. The character models do the same drawn out dance each time with the only changes being the character models. It feels rather lazy and if you want to do a celebration after each level then you have to make it quick or iconic. Kirby is an example of how you do this really effectively. It’s short enough where you find it fun rather than repetitive. I’ll give the game some credit for having a real soundtrack filled with songs here but the whole time you just know that it could have done better so as not to make you tired of the songs.

As mentioned, there is just a whole lot of things that went wrong here. Ultimately it’s fair to say that one of the biggest problems is how the game just goes about wasting your time. Having to re-enter a level to grab a statue if you messed up the Balan bout is pretty bad. The statues being required to enter each world is unfortunate and so when you beat the game and unlock a bunch of new levels there is no anticipation on you side. There’s no drive to go and complete the levels because you just aren’t interested enough. Obtaining the platinum is very achievable but it’s a time consuming one so I don’t see myself going back for it anytime soon.

Overall, Balan Wonderworld is about what I expected if not a little worse. It’s really known as a bad game and when a title drops in price so drastically you know that you have to pick it up. Ultimately I would say it’s a little better than the reputation. I mean, it’s not good but it’s not all that bad either and so I’d put it in the middle. You can absolutely play this for a while as a way to pass the time but there are countless platforming titles that are better which you should spend your time on instead.

Overall 5/10

Pikmin Bloom Review


Niantic really hit a home run with Pokemon Go. It’s gone on to be one of the greatest selling app games of all time and is still a household name even after so many years. Unfortunately for them, their other projects like Harry Potter have not been quite as successful. Pikmin has the Nintendo brand behind it but I can’t see this one lasting too long either, at least not in its present state.

Pikmin Bloom takes a lot of the mechanics and visuals from Pokemon Go while also removing a lot of the aspects that make it so much fun. Basically when you start the game you are introduced to the concept. The goal of the game is to walk around and you can create memories with your Pikmin as they bring you back snapshots of where you have been. At the end of the day you can even watch a little video showing where you’ve been and how you did in terms of steps and planting flowers. It’s been a few days and this info is still saved on my end so that’s a cool way to look back at things. That also gets to the core of whether you will like the game or not. A big chunk of it is really about creating memories and having a good time so if you’re not into that then this probably won’t hit quite as hard.

To level up you have to walk a certain amount of steps and also complete another task. Typically this is something like raising a Pikmin, completing an expedition, or planting flowers. Each mechanic is completed through walking. Someone called this an official pedometer game online and I would agree with that. The whole intent seems to be to get you to walk and at first the levels are quick. I walked enough in 3 days to get through the first 11 levels so only completing the other tasks is what would take a little longer. I’m not sure how many levels there are but it seems like a game where you should level up pretty fast.

You can also keep the game off and it will track your steps so that part’s convenient. But aside from walking, what can you do? Well, you can plant Pikmin by putting them in the soil but they are raised only by walking so it once again comes down to just taking a good walk. Most Pikmin wake up after 1000 steps so you’ll be hatching them really quick. You need the vase to put them in though and to get those you have to send your Pikmin off on expeditions which takes around 3 minutes on average with the longest ones being 3 hours.

You can feed your Pikmin honey and then have them send you flower petals to plant flowers in the world around you. You can see the flowers go up as well which is fun. That’s really the extent of the game though. As you can see, there isn’t a whole lot of gameplay. It’s really just a fun way to encourage people to walk and I’ll give a thumbs up to the game for doing that but it’s hard to truly call this a game. It’s more like an activity to do. Niantic is trying to really be at the forefront in terms of locational data and AR so this should help them get a lot more capture data. It’s a good way to help the company out while also having fun. That said, I only really have time for one main walking game in Pokemon Go

The graphics are good though. The game is very bright and vibrant. It’s clear that Niantic didn’t spare any expense here. It looks almost identical to Pokemon Go so I wouldn’t be surprised if they reused those assets here. If it’s not broken why fix it right? Pokemon Go has always looked really good so it makes perfect sense as a template for other titles. The soundtrack is more on the nonexistent side but Pikmin’s always been more of an experience title so usually it doesn’t have any really eye catching tunes like that. You play it to enjoy nature after all.

There is a lot of replay value here for people that are hoping to get their steps up though. While most phones do have built in sensors that track your steps, this is a fun way to get rewards for doing so. If you’re a big Pikmin fan then this will be a must have. That said, I do think Niantic is going to have to add some new features quick to keep people engaged. I just don’t know how long you would go on with this without some other kind of features. Maybe bonuses that you can transfer to Pokemon Go? Something like that would be huge but otherwise just like how you may set a Summer goal to walk more, it’ll usually be gone with the season. Likewise I don’t see this game staying big for very long although it’s certainly getting a ton of promotion everywhere.

Overall, Pikmin Bloom is a calming experience but I wouldn’t call it a very fun one. It’s made to be relatively low effort to play which is nice since you can just keep the app off all day and just open it for 5 minutes to plant a Pikmin. That said, for that I may as well just keep on with Pokemon Go where the gameplay options are truly endless. At least to me that seems like the way to go but I’ll certainly stay on the lookout for the next Niantic adventure. Now if they finally come out with the Shonen Jump Go game, that would be a blast.

Overall 5/10

The Prince of Tennis II Rising Beat Review


This was definitely a pretty random app game that’s for sure. Who’d have thought that Prince of Tennis would be coming out with a rhythm game right? This is really the first one I’ve played. I can see the appeal but I think there’s room to improve on the execution. Ultimately this isn’t a game that I stuck with for very long as you’ll see based on the various brief stats page I’ll be uploading. It just doesn’t feel as interactive as I’d like although the songs are cool.

The plot seems to basically be handling the early parts of the New Prince of Tennis series. It’s been so long since I read those parts that this really feels brand new at this point. That also means no Ryoma at least in the levels that I played so you’ll miss him a bit. The game is still relatively early on so there aren’t a lot of story levels yet but I imagine that will change as the game continues to update.

Aside from the story mode there are a lot of other things to do like playing through normal battles or customizing your characters. In fact you have to play through some of these normal levels in order to progress through the story or you’ll get stuck very quickly. After two story levels is when you have to play your first side mission. I’d rather the game let you just play through the story without having to go on a side tangent. I suppose the gameplay is all the same so it shouldn’t make a big difference but I want to just see what happens next in the story.

The graphics are pretty good. The art style is colorful and I like the gameplay effects. On the other hand, it’s all fairly repetitive. Every stage looks very similar and the characters are chibi style which can be fun in short doses but I don’t think it works for the whole game. It’s fun and looks nice though which is the important part. The soundtrack is definitely impressive with all of the lyrical songs. That makes sense of course since you can’t have a musical game without the songs to accompany it right?

As for the gameplay itself, the goal of the game is to tap precision. It’s effectively like Dance Dance Revolution except instead of dancing to the beat you are tapping to it. If you click the circle when it’s in the right spot then you can either hit the ball or even return it. It’s not very hard to get the hang of it either. At times you will hold onto the icon in order to complete the action and other times you will just need to tap it really quickly.

A lot of mobile games have a heavy emphasis on tapping so this isn’t anything new but at the same time it just doesn’t feel very interactive. Maybe it’s because the animations are set and your actions don’t change it. Usually at least the animations change like in a fighting game or something. Here you will be seeing the exact same animation back and forth as the two characters hit the tennis ball around no matter what you do. There’s not really any variety either.

I think that’s really what hurt the game for me. It’s just not all that interesting after a while and I wouldn’t say the story is enough of a legend to hold the whole game up. For that you could probably just read the manga or watch some of the shows and movies. I wouldn’t call this a bad game but it doesn’t really have enough strong points for me to call it a really good one either. As a result it ends up lagging behind the other apps.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. In terms of replay value there is certainly a lot as long as you enjoy the game. Customization alone is already quite extensive and then you have the level up system and wide array of characters to work with too. The game will likely continue updating as long as it gets support so you shouldn’t have to worry about content drying up anytime soon either. Just keep on chugging along and you shouldn’t have any issues. The game is free too so it’s not like you’re spending any money here.

Overall, I’m glad Prince of Tennis got a game even if this one didn’t really hit it off for me. I’m still surprised it came out since the title doesn’t seem too huge anymore, particularly the sequel. It was hard to find on the app store initially due to the way it appears in the search results too. Hopefully it does well enough for them to consider another game in the series but with a different gameplay style. A tennis focused game would absolutely have a lot of potential if you ask me. You can definitely achieve that with mobile. Now for mobile I’m really just waiting on Megaman X Dive to show up. That’s a title I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.

Overall 5/10

Final Fantasy II Review


This game has certainly been sitting on the backburner for many years. After beating the original Final Fantasy I tried to get in on the action with the sequel but I just couldn’t pull it off. The gameplay didn’t click. Well, I finally played it from start to finish and I have to say that my view hasn’t changed a whole lot. The story is the strongest part of the game even if it doesn’t touch the newer ones.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by the Emperor. He has decided to rule over everything just because he can. The heroes are in a rough spot so the queen will now rely on a talented swordsman named Firian, a mage known as Maria, and a strong axe user named Guy. The three of them will need to travel the world and get strong enough to defeat the Emperor. Do they actually have enough strength to do so though? The Emperor has many powerful allies as well as pretty impressive tech at his disposal as well.

This is one of the first games where it took me way longer to complete than the estimated time on the “How long to beat” site. My time nearly doubled it I think at around 20 hours. It’s pretty difficult and that’s due in large part to how the level up system works. See, you don’t have straight level ups like 1, 2, 3. Instead you level up your proficiencies and stats in battle one by one.

Lets say you defeat a minion but you took a hit in the process. You have the potential to increase your max health, speed, defense, and attack power. If you used magic during the battle you may increase that as well. You passively level up your weapon skill as well depending on which kind you have equipped. You can already see how a lot of this is luck based. You increase the chance of increasing your proficiency but it’s not guaranteed. There are a lot of other factors here as well like the strength of your opponents and the duration of the match.

It’s not a very satisfying way to level up though because it’s hard to see when you’re really getting better. You also need to make sure you choose the right spells and weapons or you’ll be wasting your time leveling up something that you’ll never need. Your 4th member of the team also tends to change every other chapter so don’t get too attached. Often times when they leave they will never return so say good bye to any level ups you got.

The weapons also don’t seem very balanced to the point where I discarded them entirely by around the halfway point of the game. Instead I focused on using the barehanded techniques for the climax and honestly they seemed better than weapons anyway. I would always deal heavy damage while the weapons would falter at the worst moments. I have little doubt that the weapons would ultimately be better than bare handed but at least to the point where I was up to this did not seem to be the case.

The final boss was very difficult to defeat like this though. RNG is partially what got me through. See, his attacks were strong enough to not only finish me in a single hit but also replenish almost all of his health. Of course, that was only with physical attacks. On one of my runs I got lucky because he kept spamming magical spells which deal far less damage. I was able to buy just enough time to defeat him before he healed. Even now I think I would have a very hard time trying to defeat him again. It’s rare for things to work out in quite the same way they did here.

I don’t understand why the game went so far as to also make the equipment work against you. Wearing heavier items makes it harder to dodge but you can’t see how heavy something is without going to your character status page and leaving the item screen. Everything just did not feel very intuitive at all. Perhaps there was an easier way and I just didn’t find it. It seems like Final Fantasy II was meant to be very experimental but in this case I felt like it just back fired completely.

FF II’s spawn rate is also extremely high. Enemies are constantly attacking you every few steps. I was able to get in a lot of good reading during every dungeon. I would just keep spamming the attack button as I read through the God of High School chapters. I finished over 100 chapters as I played through this game because the battles took forever and there were so many of them. It was also uniquely useful to multi task in this game since I didn’t need spells and could just use normal attacks for every minion encounter. If I had nothing to distract myself with that would have hurt though.

Final Fantasy II also suffers from being unclear at times. You just don’t know where to go or what to do in order to advance the plot. The worst is when you’re supposed to talk to someone again and forgot to do so. So you go to the next temple but it’s still closed so you have to travel the world again in order to open it. You don’t get to fly until the very end of the game so prepare for a ton of walking. The game doesn’t give you any real shortcuts either so you really feel like an explorer. Just not in a fun way this time.

I could go on, but as you can tell pretty much none of the gameplay elements worked for me. It’s just a title that offered no qualify of life features. The graphics are good though. The character portraits are on point and I did like the minion designs. The game has a very retro sprite look which works well enough. The soundtrack is also very classic Final Fantasy with how each tune sounds. It’s all got a lot of energy and works really well.

As for replay value, by beating the game it seems like you do unlock some kind of new game+. I’m sure that will take you quite a while. Considering that the game is 20 hours long to defeat once, this is probably a 40 hour game or so. I’m not sure what the price is nowadays but it was pretty cheap before so I doubt it would set you back all that much.

Overall, Final Fantasy II is one of the weakest Final Fantasy games for me. In fact, I would have to say it loses to Final Fantasy VII and is my least favorite title. VII has the better gameplay, characters, and stories so II loses around the board to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fun and all but it just doesn’t make up for the game’s weaknesses. I don’t really see myself recommending this title to others as well. I’m glad that it helped continue the franchise into its current state but this is an entry you can skip.

Overall 5/10