Lunar: Dragon Song Review


What were they thinking with this one? Dragon Song easily has some of the worst video game mechanics I’ve ever seen. Another issue here is at least most titles stick to just having one awful gimmick that was thrown into the game. This has a bunch of them and we’re definitely going to have to talk about why they are an issue. There is a decent game buried in here somewhere but the game makes it as difficult as possible to try and find it. I can see why the franchise basically died with this one.

The story takes place many years before Lunar Legacy so now we can see why everyone looked up to the Dragon Master and why all of the dragons were in poor shape from the start of the first game. Well, Jian is just your average main character who looks up to the old legends of strong fighters. One day he and Lucia are on a usual delivery job from their guild when they wander into a town and fight some monsters. That’s when they find out that the town general is actually a mad man chasing power. He takes out the dragons and becomes the Dragonmaster. After that he kidnaps Lucia.

Jian has to get her back but the only one who can defeat a Dragonmaster is another Dragonmaster. Jian needs to take down all of the dragons and get some powerful friends by his side if he is to save her but it won’t be easy. Fortunately Jian is the kind of guy who learns really fast and isn’t afraid to mix it up with the enemies. In fact, he does have more character than the first game’s protagonist even if he is unreasonable a lot of the time. Get ready to hear Jian constantly talk about how he has to save Lucia and he will do whatever it takes. He says this a whole lot.

Dragon Song has a fairly weak character cast though. You won’t remember any of the heroes for very long which is a shame. Additionally, the main villain is so unremarkable that the game doesn’t even let you fight him. Yes, you have a main villain who actually goes out without a fight. If that’s not anticlimactic then I don’t know what is. It was such a bad way to go out too. Then for the heroes you have a revolving door here as your party members keep on changing. Maybe that’s part of what makes it hard to really sync up with them. They also don’t level up with you so be prepared for a level 1 guy to join you when you’re past level 10. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

While Jian’s determination to save Lucia is good, he does come across as unreasonable parts of the time. A big moment of this is when the world is at stake and he has deliveries to do but gets baited into joining a tournament to prove that humans are just as cool as the Beastmen. It wasn’t really a good time for that and he ended up being cursed for his efforts. The game has a theme about humans vs beast men similar to Arc the Lad, but it is not handled nearly as well to be honest.

Lets talk gameplay now though. On its surface this is a turn based combat game where you attack enemies and level up to victory. Here’s the first issue..you can’t choose who you attack. Yes, it is completely random by the system so get ready to always be attacking in the worst possible combinations. Enemies who you should defeat easily suddenly become an issue due to this. At least you’re earning EXP the whole time right?

Wrong! You only earn EXP if you switch to EXP mode but then you won’t earn any materials or items. Moreover, the enemies and bosses level up with you. The issue with this is that your efforts are largely wasted as the bosses get a whole lot of extra health for leveling up. Grinding up your levels just isn’t as satisfying as it usually is. Also, you don’t get money from minions no matter which route you choose so earning enough to buy the good equipment takes a long while. The best way is to just farm guild missions which is still quite slow and tedious.

It’s also worth noting that your weapons and equipment can break. Yeah, this has never been a good gimmicku and Lunar Dragon of all games was not going to be the exception here. Did I mention that you can run at your own peril? The game encourages you to walk because if you run then you will rapidly lose health points. If you get too low on health then you have to walk until you can find the nearest healing statue. It’s incredibly inconvenient when you’re at lower levels and don’t have a whole lot of health to speak of.

There is no quick travel system for each town. You can use ports to skip some areas but at the end of the day be prepared to do a lot of running. If you want to open the chests in an area you have to defeat a bunch of minions within an allotted time while in EXP mode. The game really wanted to make sure every aspect of the game was as painful as possible. Now you may be wondering, why isn’t the game a negative score then? Well, the answer is because the game still has enough interesting points where I would say it’s worth a playthrough. Even if just to see how bad these mechanics are.

The graphics are decent even if I would definitely not call them very good. I would have liked actual cutscenes or at least some illustrations instead of the hard to read text that is spammed at you. The soundtrack is pretty forgettable though so you won’t remember it for long. The game took me around 20 hours to complete which is really not all that bad. It definitely could have been a lot worse that’s for sure. There isn’t really any post game to speak of though so forget about having any replay value.

Overall, Lunar: Dragon Song is definitely what I would call a soulless RPG. A lot of the decisions are completely baffling as to why you would ever even want to add them in. They straight up take a lot of the enjoyment out of the experience. This game should have been an easy 7 and yet I couldn’t give it a positive score. The gameplay is just slowed down far too much. To run away you even have to blow into the microphone which is also horrible. There are probably even more mechanics I could mention but you get the general picture. Dragon Song was just never going to be all that good because the gameplay is a huge part of any RPG. Same with the story and that was just pretty bland.

Overall 5/10

Subnautica Review


Time to check out another one of the PS Home free titles. Subnautica is a survival game and I haven’t played a whole lot of those. Unfortunately…that’s probably for good reason. Now, you can absolutely churn out some great titles for this genre, but this was not one of them. I think there is an ambitious game to be found here but it does leave you to your own devices a lot and it is maybe trying to be a little too realistic. More on that in a minute.

Your spaceship has crashed and now you are stuck in an escape pod. You are able to bust out but the main ship is infected with radiation so going there isn’t exactly an option. Additionally, you don’t have a lot of equipment. If you don’t rustle up some food and water soon then you will eventually die. Can you manage to survive in such a remote ocean or is it game over for you? There isn’t much of a plot beyond that but you’re not supposed to be playing the game for the story to be honest.

The gameplay is pretty smooth so that’s good. I was able to make a knife and a power up that let me swim faster so that was a good way to kick things off. I felt like I would do anything as I scooped up a bunch of mushrooms and equipment. The problem is that soon after I ran out of item space and couldn’t figure out how to clear my inventory. I put as much as I could in storage but even that filled up so then I was sunk. I needed to try and make some things to fix up a radiation suit or to at least fix my tech but I couldn’t find the elusive ingredients.

One thing is due to how large the game is, it can be very hard to find a specific item. It’s like digging for a needle in a haystack as they say. Along the way you can also meet a lot of fish and even some monsters. Watch out as some of the monsters can blast you out of existence with their spores or just eat you straight up. I wanted to see how far the ocean would stretch out so I made it a great distance before being eaten. I’m sure there is a limit to how far away you can go but it would take a while to get there.

The farther you go the more dangerous the Ocean gets as well which makes a lot of sense. That’s exactly how you would expect it to be right? Meanwhile you can’t go underwater for very long as you will drown so keep that in mind as well. In a way you have 4 different health meters now as you have to watch out for radiation, hunger, oxygen, and water. Fail to keep one of those meters up and you’ll die. As I mentioned the game goes very in depth. I could have done without some of that though like food which is probably the most annoying one. Dying of hunger’s kind of sad but at the same time I won’t want to waste item space on getting a lot of fruits or fish.

You’ll need to do it anyway but still, I think that’s where the game is getting a little too realistic. I’d be good with just hanging out in the ocean. The graphics are definitely really good though. The game’s visuals are sharp like the waves and the backdrops. It’s part of why you can be okay just swimming around for an hour or two. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though so don’t expect to hear any big tunes like that. This isn’t exactly that kind of game after all.

Ultimately what keeps the game from going higher is that it’s just not a whole lot of fun outside of short spurts for me. It’s not really a very active game where you are doing a lot of things. You do have to plan things out and someone like Senku from Dr. Stone would probably appreciate the attention to detail. Outside of a scientific basis though, I wouldn’t be likely to go back to this game without some kind of extra story being added in or some cutscenes. Now that would be a lot of fun.

Overall, Subnautica is a game where you can tell they did put a lot of work into it. It didn’t quite click with me but if you’re really into the genre I can see how it could potentially work. The level is certainly huge so you can spend a lot of time in the game. The loading time may be a little long to start the game but considering how much has to be generated I can see why that is the case. It basically saves at any time as well so that’s cool. There are also some automatic events that play out the longer you play so that’s pretty neat. It’s free so you may as well give it a shot.

Overall 5/10

The Witness Review


Next up from the PS Home Catalogue is The Witness. This one’s more of a full on puzzle game but also with the potential lore on the back-end. As the title would suggest you are witnessing something but you don’t know what it is. You wander around a large world as you see stone statues of people and a world that seems to have been thrown into disarray. What has happened here and why is everything so empty? You may get emotional while playing the game or you may just be waiting for some action. This is the kind of game where you know deep down that there won’t be any big fight scene but it would work really well because of how ominous the atmosphere is the whole time.

So as mentioned earlier, you start the game off in the middle of nowhere. You wake up in a chamber similar to Breath of the Wild and get to start solving some puzzles. My only gripe with this is that the game never gives you a hint at how to solve the puzzle or even explain what the objective is. You just have to figure it out on the fly which isn’t easy. Since a lot of the puzzles are in sets at least if you solve one puzzle then you will know how to solve the next 5-6. It’s still not a big help when you encounter a new kind of puzzle though. It’s a big quality of life issue that the game missed. If it did have such a feature then I’m confident that the game’s score would have been quite a bit more impressive. Instead as it stands you feel like the game is really lacking something.

I went around and solved a bunch of puzzles but with no visual indicator of how many are left, hints on how to solve the puzzle, or an accessible map outside of the boat; there are too many uncertainties. As I mentioned in a recent game review I like to see my progression. At least something general telling me that I’m making some headway into the tunnel as I try to crawl to the end. If there is no way to see any of that then it feels like you may be going towards something that is endless. What if it’s like No Man’s Sky where there is an infinite number of planets? This game doesn’t seem like it would do that to be honest but I would still like a ballpark number.

That said, with no true start to the game there probably isn’t much of an end either. As a result you can just play this one as long as you want and complete a bunch of puzzles but then call it a day and head home after that. Effectively that’s how it went for this game. It was reasonably fun solving the puzzles and walking around but then it was time to go. I don’t really think I would be going back to this one.

At least I did enjoy this style of puzzle. It reminds me of Professor Layton and while these aren’t quite as polished, those are the kinds of puzzles that I like solving. You just have to go through a lot of trial and error to get to the right spot but once you do, then you are really well set up for what is to come.

As for the graphics, the game looks decent. I wouldn’t say it looks quite as good as many PS1 or PS2 games that I’ve played but it’s not going for a really detailed look. There aren’t many colorful backgrounds or anything and since the place is basically deserted, it’s all rather empty. It’s not quite as visually impressive as the other Home games. I wouldn’t say the graphics are bad though, they’re just decent. There really isn’t a soundtrack though which is a shame. That would have been really good so you could listen to something as you conquer the puzzles. Without knowing the set length it’s hard to say how much replay value there is, but needless to say this should take you a while.

Overall, The Witness is a decent experience but one that won’t last you for very long. It is missing far too many important pieces for me to really call this a truly good game. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick update though but in the meanwhile this is definitely a middle tier option. You may sit down with it for an hour or two but it won’t hold your attention. It just needs an extra push and incorporating a story mode would be a nice addition.

Overall 5/10

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review


Harry Potter has had a very interesting history over the years when it comes to video games. On one hand, most of the original games were actually pretty decent. You had some fun gameplay and a good assortment of levels. On the other hand, we then got the Goblet of Fire which was a very weak game. How does this one stack up? Well, I wouldn’t say it stacks up super well. My main issue here is that at times it feels less like a game and more like you’re watching a bunch of cutscenes. The final boss is effectively just about moving your wand a bit to try and psych out the opponent. That doesn’t feel like a real boss battle.

The plot of the game is a little crazy when you think about it because of how random everything is. So everyone knows that Voldemort is coming but the school doesn’t allow people to practice their magic spells anymore. Harry decides to start teaching people subtlety but to do that he will have to recruit everyone into the army. Over half of the game is about assembling the team as you complete a lot of missions and get used to the place. Let me tell you, I did not expect this to be such a big focus in the game. It’s a unique development choice I suppose.

This is a 3D adventure kind of game as far as the gameplay is concerned. There is a pretty big hub world to explore but I’m not sure you’ll really be planning to do a whole lot of that anyway. Most of the time you was wondering from place to place. Fortunately you do have a map to help you locate students and locations, however it doesn’t help for a few missions like where you have to find a bunch of stone gargoyles on the premises. That was easily the toughest mission in the game because of how big the hub world is. In a sense you have to hope you get lucky and you can probably see straight up why this would not be a good idea.

To break up the monotony you can engage in some minigames though. Honestly they are probably better than the main game. One of these games is one of those memory match titles where you have to recall what cards were flipped over and then select them. I always tended to enjoy these back in the day. There are other minigames like Chess and such here that I didn’t really try out but look pretty fun from what I’ve seen. The issue is that the main gameplay style isn’t great. If I had to make a comparison, it’s like a second rate Telltale Game but those have the fun gimmick of making choices during the game. This one has none of that.

The graphics definitely aren’t great. It doesn’t quite look PS3 level that’s for sure. You can tell that any effort that was put into the game was not put into the graphics department. Those guys were really left by their lonesome. The soundtrack is good though. It’s still got that very regal style to it which works very well. It’s memorable which is good and can at least make you feel like you’re about to play something hype…for a little while anyway.

The game isn’t too long. I beat it in around 5 hours. You can definitely bump that up a bit if you do the side missions and knock out the minigames too though. I don’t think you would bump up the playtime a ton though since it’s not like there were a lot of bonus missions. When I beat the game there were only 3-4 left and I can tell you that I did not go out of my way to do any of them.

In a sense I would say Order of the Phoenix feels like a very unfinished game. It’s almost like an extended demo in some ways. After playing Half Blood Prince you’ll see what the completed version is like. I would say this game had a great setup going but it just didn’t. The wand mechanics for moving things around and firing off energy blasts wasn’t even close to being streamlined. Additionally, the walking around took forever. Occasionally the kids would ask you to climb up somewhere to grab something so you’d have to very slowly climb up to the top and then back down.

At the end of the day, what this game is missing are qualify of life upgrades. Something to make the game more fun. Faster run speeds, a smaller hub world, things of that nature. All of those would result in a significantly better game that would run well and would also just be fun. That is the absolute best case scenario. So while the game isn’t as bad as the last one and I wouldn’t even call it a bad game upfront, it’s just not a lot of fun to play. There isn’t any compelling reason to play this game while other, better options exist. It’s for those reasons that I would say it is best to just skip this one entirely.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had potential but the game just didn’t live up to it. It’s impressive how big they made the castle here but they should have added more shortcuts or something. Not having any Quidditch was pretty bad too since that used to be a lot of fun. You get the idea that they just phoned this game in. Honestly it’s not really all that uncommon for movie based games which is a shame. They deserve a better reputation but instances like this absolutely don’t help their case. I already beat the next game though so I’ll have a review for that one pretty soon. Good news is that it’s a lot better and starts to get us back to how this game series should be.

Overall 5/10

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review


After playing the first game in the Dragon series I was expecting pretty big things here. Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. The sequel really ended up fumbling the ball here. The main issue is that the gameplay has been completely changed so now you’re riding a dragon in a very limited environment over and over again with no story. So this feels like more of a free to play minigame than an actual title. If they had only kept the cool action combat from the first game then this could have had potential.

So the game starts off with showing you how to fly. You fly around the world in 3D. You can go up, left, right, and down. You can fire off fireballs as well and during the races you can use items to boost or throw things at people. That’s the extent of the gameplay. So what’s the goal of the game? Presumably it’s to play all of the tournaments and events but they just keep on spawning. There are trophies for getting golds in everything though so eventually they should end. Honestly what the game could have done right off the bat to make things more interesting would have been to just have added a little story here. Maybe a cutscene where the bully is teasing us for not being able to fly so well so the main character wants to prove him wrong. At least that gives you a reason to keep on playing since you have to show them what’s up. Without that in the mix, it just doesn’t feel the same.

There are 4 main kinds of minigames. The first is the classic ring challenge. You have to fly through a bunch of rings within a certain time frame. Fly through them all to get a perfect score or at least go through most of them in order to pass the challenge. It’s a very basic game and while it’s not bad, there’s just nothing to it. So having to do this over and over again isn’t exactly thrilling when you think about it. Next up is..more rings. This time you have to get to the goal at the end of the level and you fly through rings to extend the timer. You’ll want to fly through as many rings as possible so the timer doesn’t run out too quickly. I mean…it’s a different variation at least but I wouldn’t say there is too much to it.

Next up is a minigame where you have to try and blast cardboard cutouts of villains. You have to make sure not to blast heroic ones by mistake. The idea is to blast them all very quickly before the time runs out. This one is a little tricky with how many points they want you to grab. A few mistakes will definitely be too much for you to come back from so you will want to keep that in mind. Finally we have my least favorite minigame which is one where you have to pick up Sheep and deposit them either at the finish line or in their pen. It’s really hard to land to grab the Sheep without crashing. The game is quite sensitive about the crashes so when it happens the pilot is completely thrown off of the dragon and ends up crashing somewhere after a full cutscene. It’s certainly not something that you want to see happen but it’ll probably happen quite a bit by the time you’re done with this minigame.

Aside from the challenges then you will also encounter occasional tournaments. These basically just fuse the minigames together only now you are playing against computers. The A.I. is actually pretty good in these. Mix that in with all of the luck factors in the game such as items, and sheep spawning in the wrong places and you are going to have a tough time winning. Not that winning seems to matter though. Whether you come in first or last you progress to the next challenge on the list. At least that means the game is relatively low pressure right? It also means that each level feels like it doesn’t matter though which is an issue. The tournaments also feel a little too long. They may only have 5 events but they feel like they end up dragging on quite a lot.

For the first time since Ninjabread Man also expect to hear the same voice clips repeated forever and ever. The main character just can’t stop talking while you are flying on the dragon. He’s constantly yelling and panicking. If you’re in first then he’ll be bragging the whole time. Either way the actor seemed to only want to record around 5 lines or so which means that he has to keep running them on loop the whole time. Not the best way to handle things, in that cast the developers should have turned down the voices a bit. He shouldn’t need to talk all the time unless you can record a ton of lines.

As for the graphics, they’re okay I suppose. They haven’t really changed since the first game but at the same time it’s a bit hard to judge because there isn’t a lot to animate in general. Pretty much all of the levels take place in the exact same environment to the point where I feel like they started reusing backgrounds almost immediately. The hub world is rather small as well. At least that helps if you want to find all of the collectibles although without a map or anything that sounds a bit tedious at best. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of either so the film couldn’t even try to save itself that way.

It’s hard to say how long the game is since it just keeps on going and going. I played it for a few hours and I think that’s a reasonable point to stop. Of course if you do enjoy the game I suppose there is a decent amount of replay value to be found. For starters you can try to grab all of the PS3 trophies. Earning that Platinum seems like it won’t be too tough but that it will take some decent time so prepare for that. Beyond that I guess that’s about it.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon 2 definitely just wasn’t on the same level as the first one. Gone are the fun dragon battles and all of the excitement that the first game left on the table. This title feels like the developers just didn’t know what to do with it. As a result the whole product suffered quite a bit. If they made a third game or if they ever make one, I hope it goes back to the combat gameplay of the first. If not, at least it should involve platforming and have some kind of story. Just being a minigame title without much variety with gameplay is a losing strategy.

Overall 5/10

Prehistorik Man Review


With Prehistorik Man out of the way I am once again caught up on the new SNES games to hit the service. Hopefully Nintendo speeds things up a bit because I want more games to check out. Well, this one’s definitely not as good as you would have expected given the platforming nature of the game. I’ve always considered the platforming genre to be one of the safer ones out there due in part to the fact that as long as you can move and jump the gameplay should continue to work from there. Unfortunately the issue here is that it decides to add some exploration elements to the game which really backfire. You don’t want to do that, trust me.

The basic plot of the game is that the local village is running out of food. Additionally one of the cavewomen has been kidnapped as well. The main character will now have to search the land to save her and while he is on the journey he is also tasked with bringing back a lot of food so that the village can thrive. It’s a big mission but one that he is absolutely ready to conquer. The world definitely does not realize that it is about to witness the birth of an ultimate hero. This guy doesn’t have a lot of personality though. He’s very similar to Crash. The hero is always grinning but he doesn’t actually seem to understand what is going on. It may be for the best since the chief is always insulting him.

On its surface the game has pretty pleasant gameplay and solid levels. You have to jump around until you reach the goal and you can also attack enemies with your club or even with projectiles at times. The levels are quite large so expect to be moving around a lot. Now this is where the game fumbles the ball at the end. In some levels instead of making it to the end you have to find a pair of keys or a firefly. Doing so takes a long time as you navigate the level only to realize they cannot be found. That’s when you do several laps around the place until you finally find the little corner the objective was hiding in. If you ask me the game should not have had the collection element in. It would ultimately just end up being rather tedious the whole time. Then you’ve also got some levels where the design isn’t very good.

For example there’s a fire level where you have to keep moving forward but eventually there is nowhere left to go. Well, the answer was you had to use the club to strike at a specific part of the tree which could be broken. This was definitely something that came out of nowhere and would have been difficult to realize on your own. Additionally there are invisible platforms which don’t appear until you strike at the air itself. Now that just comes across as rather cheesy.

So when you add all of those elements up it definitely had an immediate effect on the game’s quality itself. Instead of being a solid 7 and going on its way the game managed to lose 2 stars just like that. Definitely not a good look for the game in the slightest. It’s just not designed very well and a platformer is so hard to mess up ordinarily that it becomes quite noticeable. It’s not as if the story is especially strong to hold it up either. It’s rather plain but standard for a platformer.

As for the graphics, those are pretty good. The game feels a whole lot like the Donkey Kong Country titles. It has a very similar graphical style, sound effects, and even text boxes. I feel like perhaps this was originally being developed as a DK game and then at some point they had to scrap the process but they kept it around just in case as a whole new game. It makes a good amount of sense at the very least even though it was never confirmed. The soundtrack has a similar energy to that as well and works with the stages. On a technical level I definitely have no complaints with the game.

The game’s length is a bit more impressive than a lot of the other SNES games. This should last you close to 3 hours I would expect. Particularly since you should get lost at least once while playing through the game. I wouldn’t say there is any replay value here though. Once you complete the game then that’s basically it. Don’t expect you will be coming back for more. Considering that it’s free with the Switch Online though that’s not too bad.

Overall, Prehistorik Man could have been a lot better than it was. It got too tricky for its own good with how the game was handled. Having to go and find things is just not a very useful way of getting the level objectives across. It slows down the flow of the title and works completely against everything the game was trying to accomplish. If you want to make a platformer then you design solid levels and let the player jump to the end. If you want to do a puzzle game then you can do that but mixing the two is not something I would recommend. Definitely give this one a skip as almost any other platformer surpasses this one.

Overall 5/10

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

The Ignition Factor Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Armored Core 2 Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Marshawn Lynch Pro Football Review


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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10