Toejam & Earl Back in The Groove Review


It’s time to look at a sequel to a game that came out quite a long time ago. I know the name of Toe Jam & Earl because of how crazy a title that sounds. Beyond that I can’t say that I know almost anything else about the franchise. You don’t really need to know much else though because the plot isn’t all that expansive. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not you played the other games as you’ll quickly understand what is happening anyway. The gameplay is definitely pretty unique, I wouldn’t say that it’s all that good, but I suppose I can see the appeal if you’re playing with friends or something.

The basic plot of the game is that Jam and Earl are on a spaceship with the two heroines. They’re ready to finally head back to Earth, but by mistake they press the black hole button and end up sending themselves and the planet into another dimension. They must now recover all of their rocket parts in order to head back home, but that will not be an easy ordeal. No, if anything it may just be the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do, but the toughest choices require the strongest wills. They will have to be careful as the humans would like nothing better than to destroy the aliens who messed up Earth.

Now I’ll describe the gameplay so follow along as best you can. The game starts you off on a level with an overhead view. On the level you have a bunch of interact-able objects which include humans, demons, creatures, bushes, trees, houses, phones, etc. To get off of the level and onto the next one you have to hop in an elevator. It will take you to the next level. Also, keep in mind that the levels are used much like in the real world so by “Level 2” I’m saying that you are one floor higher. The game has 25 levels and the goal is to reach the end while obtaining 10 rocket parts. If you don’t have the 10 rocket parts by the time you reach the top then you have to go back down to find them. To get back to an earlier level just keep jumping off the level and one by one you’ll get down. You can also take an evil elevator to go down by one, but that’ll hurt your health a lot. Keep in mind that villains can also knock you back down floors so then you have to run to the elevators again.

The levels each have a map which automatically appears when you start, but it is all covered in fog until you move around. Every square of the map that you explore will give you 50 XP. When you level up you randomly get an increase to 3 of your stats from the local wiseman. These stats include speed, (Easily the most important stat) health, luck, present skill, and a few others. You get 300 XP every time you open a present, but they are always risky. One present is a bomb that will cause you to instantly lose a life. Another one is a thunder cloud that will follow you around for a long period of time until you lose a life, etc. Others are good as they give you a speed boost or some health back.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the gameplay mechanics. It’s a lot easier to understand once you’re actually playing compared to when you hear about it. Basically the goal is to go through all of these levels and dodge the enemies. You can’t fight back except for when you have certain items so really it’s like a stealth game. Just dodge everyone and try not to get hit. Problem is that you’re slower than just about all of the enemies so you need to always be prepared to jump into the water to avoid them. Don’t drown though as your air meter goes down real quick.

There’s not a whole lot to do here though which is the big issue for the game. As I mentioned there are 25 levels, but that’s it. Some levels can take you seconds to beat while others are significantly longer. I managed to beat all of the levels in what’s considered the tutorial arrangement, made it to 13 in Fixed Mode and 15 in Random. Still, even as the names switch it is the same levels each time. It has the feel of an arcade game as you just play it over and over to get a high score. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the game feels a lot more like a free to play than a modern PS4 title that you would pay for. You can potentially finish this game in around an hour.

There’s no real replay value unless you really love the gameplay style. Your progress is always deleted once you get a game over so aside from remembering your level or how quickly you beat them all there isn’t even a record to try and break. That’s one of the things you would at least expect to have when you’re playing the same campaign over and over. After the opening cinematic the plot is also over so you won’t see anything else until you beat the game. You also won’t see the ending unless you beat the game in Fixed or Random mode. Basically, it would be fair to say that the game doesn’t really have a story.

Based on the trophies it does seem like the game is mostly geared for multiplayer though. You can play the levels online which allows randoms to join your game. That should make the levels a lot easier to beat even if it will make things more chaotic. I wonder how the screens would work there like if the 4 players have to stay on the same level or if you can divide and conquer. I’m sure that would add a little more flavor to the game, but multiplayer can theoretically do that with any game.

I think at the very least there are 3 main improvements I would have the game do to really make a difference. One it to get rid of the auto death from the presents. The presents shouldn’t have the risk of destroying you in one hit for using them. Why make the presents that risky? It’s very hard to live without them especially since they are your main source of XP, but completely dying from one seems unfair. (Yeah, I died from one…) Another part that is lacking a bit is the constant loading screens. This may be unavoidable depending on the budget, but every time you go inside the elevator you have to sit through a long loading screen as the elevator goes up and the hero makes some snarky comments about it. These are unskippable and while they aren’t quite Sonic 2006 level, they happen a lot more frequently. Put it this way, every playthrough you are guaranteed at least 25 loading screens minimum. That’s a bit much. For number 3, I would add actual save points. I don’t think dying should erase all of your progress. I understand that this is a game decision though, but it’s one that I would have changed.

As far as the graphics go, they look like the online computer games you would play as McAfee. (Probably spelled a little different) You could easily see these kind of graphics in online computer games form 10-15 years ago and definitely can’t compete with modern ones. To an extent the graphics are likely intentionally old to mirror the retro style the game is going for though. It’s extremely undetailed and looks more like a NES game than a PS4 title, but as an artistic choice it’s not terrible. It won’t take you out of the game or anything. The soundtrack is pretty limited, but the tunes aren’t bad. It definitely gives you the feel of the game right away.

Overall, Toe Jam & Earl is definitely a unique game as I mentioned. The name is still a little hard to actually say with a straight face so I’ll mostly be sticking to calling it Jam & Earl IRL. It feels more like an experience game or one of those really old arcade style titles but without the high scores. The gameplay is fun enough, but there wasn’t a lot of incentive to keep going. At least it’s not really my cup of tea but if you want a shot of nostalgia and grew up with the series then I’m sure you’ll like it. While there isn’t a whole lot of content the game can still last you for quite a long while if you just keep replaying it a lot. I’d sooner recommend Asdivine Hearts and Owlboy though. I’ll wait for the next re imagining of Jam & Earl to see if this franchise can really make its mark on the industry.

Overall 5/10

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Kid Icarus Review


It’s time to look at my next journey into the NES ONLINE collection. This time Kid Icarus was my next conquest and it’s definitely one of those games that is reasonably fun but held back by a lot of dated mechanics. Fortunately the save states do help make up for these aspects.

The basic plot is that Pit has to stop the ultimate evil known as Medusa from destroying his world. Lady Palutena has gifted him with many skills and now it’s up to him to put them to use. The gameplay is pretty basic as you jump from platform to platform as you deal with monsters by shooting your arrows. You can shoot your arrows in a straight line facing forward or up. Typically the levels will ask you to either climb very high or go all the way to the right. Each world has 4 levels and there are 3 full worlds with 1 final level. The 4th level in each world is the boss level which also serves as a huge maze.

The normal levels are pretty fun and will really test your platforming skills. A single misstep can mean the end of you. Your health also depletes quite rapidly so you’ll want to keep an eye on your health bar at all times. You do get a few lives so you won’t go all the way back but these levels are quite difficult so you would be wise not to underestimate them. You obtain hearts by defeating enemies which you can trade for health potions or temporary attack upgrades.

What holds the game back is the 4th level of these worlds. The mazes are quite frankly way too large. You’ll be lost with no end in sight here. It works like Metroid where if you don’t have a guide you will need to draw a map of your own. I can definitely acknowledge the time and dedication you would have had to spend to do such a thing back then. Games are really tricky back then…maybe too tricky. After all, this is more tedious than challenging after a point. You can easily waste hours going through this just as I used up a bunch of hours in Metroid. Some games just really haven’t aged well to be honest. Others have continued to excel though so that’s a good thing. Kid Icarus is kind of in the middle. It’s not bad, but this does prevent it from being truly good.

The final level is a nice look at what the game could have been like though. It’s an aerial level where you blast away at enemies in a level where the camera is constantly scrolling. It takes a lot of skill to blast your way to the end but it also doesn’t feel tedious. The final boss is also quite inventive as you have to blast at the enemy while blocking her attacks. You can only pick one option at a time so you have to constantly time your attacks just right. Mess up and then it’s all over for you. Definitely not a final boss to be taken lightly either. This whole game is one that is more challenging than it may appear at first glance.

As for the graphics, those are pretty good. The game uses the classic sprites as were the norm back then. The sprites do a good job of giving the characters clear designs. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty basic but effective. The main theme has certainly become iconic over the years. I can’t say that I really recall any of the other themes off the top of my head, but it’s pretty soothing and fits in with the levels. After all, this game is a pretty calm platformer in the sense that there is no timer. You can take as long as you need to in order to fully process the enemy movement patterns. Slow and steady will win the race here.

A unique gimmick this game also has is the fact that a certain enemy can transform you into an eggplant. If you are hit with this curse then you need to try and find a healing station to cure you. Until that happens you can’t attack anymore which puts you in a very vulnerable spot. It can definitely be annoying when it hits you since that’s most likely it for that life, but it’s a fun little feature that’s just so random that it really works.

Overall, Kid Icarus has its fun moments, but its downsides as well. You gotta take the game as a mixed package and likewise I gave it a pretty mixed review. Honestly there isn’t much reason to play it as this point though. If you want to experience the Pit adventures then just check out Uprising. It’s an improvement in literally every way and is a very satisfying experience. The original Kid Icarus is a good title to play for the novelty, but you won’t be missing out on much by skipping it. I’m sure it was fun for its time, but there are just better platformers to play nowadays like CupHead or something like that. Of course if you already have the online Nintendo Switch membership then you may as well check the game out since it’s free. It’s only a few hours long and you can use the save states as much as needed in order to secure your win.

Overall 5/10

MLB 14: The Show Review


It’s time to look at a new MLB game I got recently. It’s one of the few sport titles from EA that I didn’t grow up. I always used to play Football and Basketball and even played a few FIFA titles along the way. However, even though I did own one Baseball game for Gamecube, I just never really played it. As a result, it can be tough to get the controls to this one. Sport games have some of the highest learning curves and this one is no exception. The end result is that the game feels as slow as the real life sport does to me so it doesn’t end up being a very entertaining experience.

Naturally there are quite a few modes here. The main one is the Franchise mode where you go through the entire Baseball season. You’ve really got to love the game to do that though as there are many games to go through. You can do this online as well as you go up against other teams and hope that the players don’t disconnect just as you’re about to win. There are also minigame modes here like the Home Run Contest which I had fun checking out. It’s a bit long though so I recommend shortening the duration in the settings before starting. Fortunately the game does let you fast forward through the mode if you start to get bored.

I hit a ton of Home Runs, but after a while you just want to get back to the game. The problem is that in a normal game I was having a hard time getting any hits. I think I only got a real hit twice. Every other time they would just catch the ball or tag me before I hit the base. Something didn’t feel right about all of that. Baseball is a hard game to adapt for sure and I think EA just doesn’t do it all that well. I enjoy the Mario Baseball games. They may be overly simplified but you quickly know how to hit and pitch. In this game both gameplay modes are so advanced that you’ll need big tutorials on both. I couldn’t find a tutorial mode within the game though, just normal practice.

I just couldn’t pitch a straight ball to save my life. I’d click the pitching button without moving the stick and it would still go out of left field. It seems like you have to take the wind into consideration or something like that, but that’s definitely making things more complicated than they ought to be. Then you’ve got batting where part of it feels luck based. A large part is skill like when to hit the ball, angling, and stuff like that. However, once you hit the ball all bets are off. In Basketball or Football you are largely in control of the game for at least 90% of what happens. RNG is always still around of course, but it won’t be trying to get in your way all that much. As I said, I couldn’t get any hits past the infield. It was crazy!

As always EA does deliver on a technical level though. The graphics are very nice and everything looks quite sharp. You feel like you’re in a real Baseball game. It may not be quite as exciting as their other titles, but Baseball is rarely meant to be a “flashy” game. They just tried to emulate the real thing as best they could and as per usual they succeeded. There are some tunes here, but like their other sport games I rarely notice them as I get caught up in the excitement of the whole thing. Still a nice touch for those who want a little music involved of course.

Also, you can’t deny that the game has a ton of replay value for those who enjoy the sport. You can play the actual games over and over again as you rise to the top. This is especially true since there is an online element here. The title never has to end as every game is fresh. That’s definitely a good thing and I can’t think of any other big Baseball game so EA has really cornered the market here. If you want to play you’ve got to play their way.

Overall, I won’t say that this is a bad game. It’s too technically impressive for that. Still, it’s not my kind of game. At the end of the day it wasn’t all that fun and that holds it back quite a bit. Still, if you like Baseball then you should definitely check it out. I think you’ll probably be impressed with how in-depth it is. Hopefully next time the controls are a little more intuitive though. I’d like to be able to just pop it in and play at a reasonable level. At the very least, hopefully I could give the CPU players a run for their money. Until then I need to git gud.

Overall 5/10

Yoshi Review


It’s time to look at a very old Nintendo game. This one is so old that I’ve actually never heard of it before. If you told me that Yoshi got a game which was just called…Yoshi, I never would have believed you. I probably would have laughed and quickly explained that we already had Dr. Mario and Wario’s Woods. Surely Nintendo wouldn’t do a third Tetris type game right? Well…apparently they did! This Nintendo Switch Online virtual console has definitely been helpful for finding out about Nintendo games that I never played before. It’s actually reasonably fun, but there’s next to no content here so you’ll be done after about an hour or so.

The gameplay is pretty simple. You play as Mario who is holding two plates. There are roughly 6 different columns where you can put the plates and various Mario enemies fall down from the sky. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to quickly match these falling objects. For example, if you catch a Goomba on Column 3 and you see another one falling in Column 6, then you want to carry the one from 3 to 6. They will cancel each other out and you’ll have some free room. If you miss, then now both columns have a Goomba in them. The ultimate goal here is to survive as long as possible by making matches so that you can catch Yoshi eggs and hatch the little guys. It’s a tough job but someone has got to do it right?

It’s a fun enough game. It’s the kind of title that you would probably expect to see on the App Store. If anything, the only aspect of the title which holds it back is the lack of replay value. The game only has one level that keeps on going forever until you lose. There are 3 music tracks and you have now heard the extent of the game. After you’ve played it for a few rounds you will be ready to move on. For what it’s worth, it is a fun title, but it’s just one that has been easily surpassed by games like Dr. Mario. There isn’t much reason to play Yoshi at this point. So, it’s not a bad game, but it’s not a particularly impressive one either.

The graphics look pretty good all things considered. The colors pop and it actually was pretty ahead of its time. The music selection may have been severely limited, but they were all good tunes. The game also does help you practice quick decision making as you have to try and remember where you’ve got each minion. You don’t have time to sit down and deliberate so you have to get into action immediately. I could feel myself getting better by the end and I did make it to level 12 which I found pretty satisfying.

Overall, If you haven’t played Yoshi yet then you should give it a whirl. If you have the Nintendo Switch and are paying for online then you may as well try the game out right? It won’t cost you a thing and it’s a fun way to spend 30-60 minutes. After that, you realistically won’t be playing it again. Still, you can say that you’ve played the original Yoshi game and I don’t think that there are a whole lot of people who can say that. You should be proud.

Overall 5/10

Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse Review


It’s time to look at a retro Mickey Mouse game. The moment you boot it
up the game has a nostalgic feeling to it as the graphics are the kind
that you could only find on GameCube. It just looks really hype, alas
there isn’t much gameplay to support that.

The game starts with Mickey going to sleep but then his ghost wakes up
before his body does. Seizing the opportunity, Mickey jumps out of bed
and heads to the world of the ghosts. Unfortunately, the mirror that
he used to leave his human world had been broken by some tricky
ghosts. He will now have to find all of the pieces before he can
leave…or will he?

This game actually had two endings which is pretty interesting. There
are 12 mirror fragments scattered throughout the mansion. Your
mission, should you choose to accept it is to find them all. That will
unlock the good ending. Alternatively you can find most of them,
enough to piece the part of the mirror together with a gap big enough
to jump through. Then you unlock the “bad” ending.

Naturally when I saw that the portal was open after getting most of
the pieces I jumped through. Keep in mind of course that at this point
you aren’t given any indication that the game will end if you do this.
The cutscene starts and you quickly realize that there is no turning
back. The ending is actually a little tragic, almost dark. As you head
through the portal, the ghost begs you not to go but you decide to
leave anyway, all the while wondering if maybe the ghost wasn’t so bad
and just wanted a friend. Either way it’s too late now as there is no
way back.

There isn’t much of a story but what we do get is pretty emotional I
suppose. The whole world is definitely creative as the house has a lot
personality. Think of any classic room you’d expect to have in a
mansion and this place has got it. The levels are fairly large. The
game is very short but the time can be extended a bit if you try to
100% the title. There isn’t much replay value though as beating the
game locks you out of it as a lot of older games used to do.

As I mentioned earlier the graphics are very solid. The art style is
on point and the game just pops out at you. It’s the kind of title
that you just can’t forget. There isn’t much of a soundtrack though so
the graphics have to hold the game up on its own but it is more than
ready to do so.

So this is all well and good, but what about the gameplay? Well,
that’s the part that sinks the game. It’s effectively an I-Spy game.
As a result you aren’t doing a whole lot of actual playing here. In
fact you can’t even move. You click on parts of the screen to try and
move there. Then you click on objects to interact with them. You get
trick points for scaring Mickey which you can then use to attack the
ghost and get a fragment. There are a few issues with this. The first
is that while at the start you will be able to remember which objects
you’ve already tried out, that will be very difficult by the end of
the game where there are a ton of them. This is a problem because the
object interactions never go away so each time is treated as the
first. Some objects have more than one resolution as well. Some need
specific items to activate but you don’t know which item or how to
find them.

The game has a lot of rooms to explore which is good as it shows that
the developers put some effort into making the game as big as
possible. On the other hand, this makes the game feel a lot slower
than it should have been. There is no way to quickly go from room to
room and you better memorize where each of the rooms are because if
you go through the wrong one there is a chance that you won’t be able
to turn back. Some doors only work one way which is definitely not
what you want to see.

I think ultimately what this game was lacking was quality of life
enhancements. 2 simple things that would have increased the game quite
a lot would have been to have added a map so you know where you’re
going and to remove interactions from items you’ve already done. That
way you know which items you’ve done already because they won’t give
you an option to click them. Put these two in and I think I’d give the
game another star. It’d be a lot easier to complete the game that’s
for sure. Difficulty isn’t a problem, but this is really more of a
developmental flaw than a difficulty issue. After all, you can
eventually beat the game, it’ll just take longer. Even if you have to
see the sad ending you’ll probably think it’s worth it to escape the
house of mirrors.

Overall, Mickey’s Mirrors is a pretty nice game. It’s definitely
something that would be easy to have a kid pick up and play. The
concept of I-Spy isn’t that hard after all. I do think kids would get
lost after a while though. I-Spy type gameplay can work pretty well,
but typically it would need to be for a horror esque game or something
like that. Likewise, visual novels work because it’s like you’re going
through a movie. However, you can’t go with this strategy if there
isn’t much of a story to follow. It’s not a bad game, but you can
barely call this a “game” because there is no movement or actions to
take. All you do is click a button and hope for the occasional mini
game to show up. If you can get a good price then go for it, but
otherwise this isn’t the platformer that you might have been
expecting.

Overall 5/10

F1 2002 Review


It’s time to look at a more modern video game in the form of F1. I tried out this game a bit a very long time ago but I quickly fell behind the curve. I believe this is because of the gameplay and after playing it again I am more confident of this fact. It just doesn’t play like a racing game really should. The controls are way too stiff and without the core racing aspect of this title it just feels rather empty.

So when you start the game you have to run to the training room. That’s because most of the other modes such as Tournament mode are locked until you get a lot of medals in training. The more medals you get, the more proficiency points you obtain. If you try to go for a perfect 100 you will certainly be here for a while. The good news though is that if you do this you will definitely have mastered the game since the training is incredibly thorough. It does do a good job of prepping you for the tournies but the irony is that by then you may not even see that point and you will put the game down. It’s like having to play a 5 hour tutorial before playing Sonic Racing. After 5 hours you’ll be burned out and ready to leave. Especially if the training is an accurate showing of what the gameplay will be like.

In F1 if you touch the outside of the track at all then you take a hard loss and have to repeat the level. If you accidentally drive on the right side during a certain portion of the map then you will be taken to the pit where you will lose almost a minute of time and it will effectively be impossible to win the race. I also think the gimmick of having to stop in for repairs is going way too far in trying to be realistic. This game does cross the line into being a race car simulator which I was not a fan of.

Simulators can be fun but they aren’t generally my cup of tea. I want to play a simplified version of the activity, not perform all of the steps. Another example of this mechanic is that as you drive through the stage your turning abilities will gradually get worse and worse until you can no longer pull off these maneuvers. This also makes it hard to learn the game because the gameplay won’t stay the same. If even that is constantly shifting then it’s yet another thing that you are going to have to worry about in the end. The game was too technical for its own good.

The graphics aren’t bad at least. EA has always been consistent in that area and so I’m not particularly surprised. The levels pop out at you and when blasting through the course at 100 miles an hour you are reminded that sometimes you need to just embrace the speed and head for the goal. Unfortunately the soundtrack is far less impressive and you will forget it almost immediately after hearing it. This is the opposite of the graphics as EA rarely has a good soundtrack going. The only one that is typically solid is Madden’s and that’s only because it uses iconic themes from the outside world for the games. I could go for a good Madden game right now, but lets stay focused.

There is a lot of replay value here technically since there is so much extra content. After doing all of the tutorials and beating the tournaments you’ll likely have spent over 10-20 hours in the game easily. The only question is really if you want to do that or if it’s time to take a step back. I do think you’ll be heavily burned out by this game very quickly but maybe I’m underestimating how many sport car fans there are. If you really like these extra mechanics to appear in the game then by all means you should try this game. Perhaps it will end up being your cup of tea.

Overall, F1 2002 is definitely not a game that I would recommend. It simply isn’t particularly good as a racer and I just don’t need a car simulator at the moment. I can see why the game series died while others like FIFA, NBA, and Madden are still going. That’s definitely a sign that something went wrong here. It’s a shame because the game has potential. If you want a good race car game that is built similarly to this one just look at Speed for the Wii. That game tries to have a similar approach but you don’t lose the race for going off the track and there certainly isn’t a pit where you can perform repairs. To this day I will still go on record to say that Speed did the best job of illustrating how fast you can go. No other racing game has ever matched that or even come close to be honest. It’s just a fun feeling when you’re playing Speed so go check that one out.

Overall 5/10

Max Hoffman’s Pro BMX Review


So I got to play another PS1 game. This one is a bike title that plays like a skateboarding one and I actually haven’t played a lot of those. I’m pretty good with the Basketball and Football ones but then some of the other sports like soccer and golf get tricky. After playing this one I can definitely say that skateboarding is likely not my forte. (Yes, this game doesn’t feel like a bike one so I may as well call it a skateboarding title) It’s a pretty interesting game though and I’m sure fans of the sport would have fun with it. At the end of the day it just wasn’t my cup of tea though.

The main mode is about getting covers. A cover is essentially an achievement and there are 5 per level. If you get enough covers then you can move on. The challenges are tasks like “Break the lights”, “Get a High Score”, “Grab the letters”, etc. I was able to get a pair of covers in the first level after quite a bit of effort but in the second one I only got 1. Either way I wasn’t particularly close though as I still needed 4 more to unlock the third level. It’s definitely a game that’s harder than it looks.

Again, this will probably be easier for people who are used to skateboarding games though. I even have a hard time landing with the car in Fortnite without taking damage. The controls themselves sound basic on paper here as you just move, jump, and perform aerial tricks. However it still manages to be tricky since if you go for a trick that is too ambitious you will likely wipe out and lose a lot of previous time. Mastering the tricks will likely take time.

Also, the game just feels very isolated and empty. At least in the first two levels as you are all alone in an abandoned factory and then an outdoor building. Nobody is around so it’s just your character driving around and breaking things. Are we actually playing as the villain here or is he just a bit of a rebel. It’d be nice to see some other boarders or something. That’s not to take away from the graphics though. A good amount of effort was put into this one. It could possibly pass for a PS2 game. In particular I enjoyed the second level’s design. It almost looked a little sci-fi with how isolated and glowy it was.

It would be nice if there was more to it for this title though. Freestyle racing through a big city would be a lot of fun. There would probably be quite a few routes and shortcuts in such a level. Performing tricks just doesn’t have the same kind of appeal after a while. There are only so many tricks that you can perform after all. As such, I would say that the replay value here isn’t particularly high. It’s not a game that I can see myself going back to and there are probably better alternatives within the genre. It just hasn’t aged particularly well and there’s nothing that this game has over the others. Those games have the wow factor while this one does not.

Overall, This is a game where I will give it a thumbs up. I won’t say that it’s a bad game and it holds onto the middle spot. It just doesn’t have enough of an impact to really make a name for itself. I’ve already forgotten its name twice during the course of this review as it is. I think the idea of an open world skateboarding game could be cool even if that doesn’t perfectly describe what this game even is. It gives you glimpses of what that could look like, you just need to get rid of the timer. With the timer being as short as it is you don’t have any time to have fun getting the covers. A single mistake means that you will likely have to start the level again from scratch and who really wants to do that. So, instead of recommending this game I’d say that you should probably just play F-Zero instead or something like that.

Overall 5/10

Gunpey DS Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Digimon World Championship Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Paper Mario Color Splash Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10