Dig Dug II Review

Dig Dug II is a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t say it quite holds up to the first one but it’s hard to say how much of that is just pure levels of quality and how much is nostalgia. If I were put to the ultimate test though I would still say the first just wins on merit. The underground levels worked perfectly for the series and same with how the gameplay was set up. There’s a reason why it became an all time classic after all. The sequel is still good though and it was certainly good enough where I kept going until I beat all 75 levels.

There isn’t really a story here though so just go in and start blasting all of the enemies. Your objectives will be clear from there. Now there is a tip I found out while going through the levels that will help you out. So you know from that start that you just press A to start plugging the enemies full of air so they pop right? Well, you may feel like pressing A as fast as you can is the way to go but that’s not quite right. It’s actually more effective to be pressing A while moving forward. For some reason that speeds everything up really quickly so you can potentially take out several enemies before they get to you.

The reason why this is huge is because in the latter levels you need every second. You have numerous enemies rushing at you and a single touch will mean that you lose a life. So every enemy you can knock out is one less that you will have to worry about later on. To clear a level you have to beat all enemies so it stands to reason that destroying them all as fast as you can is the way to go right? Beyond that you can also use your drill to make little barriers that the enemies will have to navigate around or try to dig under. Both options still buy you some more time as well.

Just play as fast and hard as possible. Your instincts will quickly catch up and then from there you will know what to do without an issue. The game is very intuitive after all. While I didn’t think the levels or gameplay style beat the original, it’s still a fairly high quality game here. There was a lot of dedication put into the title so you know from the start that this one’s a keeper. It is easy to just plug in and play plus it has a lot of replay value in trying to beat your high score. It may be a little more slow paced than some other arcade games so it can take a while to get to your turn if you’re sharing at an arcade but if you’re just trying to beat yourself then it’s perfect.

As for the graphics, they hold up pretty well. The game is nice and colorful with good minion sprites as well. You always know what is happening nd I wouldn’t say anything is blurry. It’s just a solid experience. The soundtrack is less memorable though. While you’re playing you probably won’t notice a thing because you’re just concentrating so hard. Not necessarily a bad thing though, just means that you’re really invested into the game the whole time.

If there’s something I would have liked to have seen in this game, it would be boss fights. I think a solid boss fight would have been really fun and if you spread them out to once every 10 levels or something, it would be a nice way for you to feel like you’re really making progress. I’m not exactly sure how you’d program the boss fights but feel like there is a lot of potential with how the gameplay is. That may have been the thing to help this one beat the original.

Overall, Dig Dug II is a fun game. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it because of how straight forward the game is. You either get it or you don’t but it’s not like there is a lot to learn or describe. It’s really just the same move that you used over and over again to get to the end of the level or to block off the enemies. Once you’ve learned the ropes then it all comes down to your reaction times and planning. I want to say you’ll get pretty far even without using the access points but defeating all 75 levels without restarting or rewinding once would be extremely difficult. Definitely not a challenge for the faint of heart.

Overall 6/10

Mappy-Land review

Mappy-Land is a fun game and one that manages to have a fairly unique gimmick to it. Instead of jumping on all of the enemies or heading to the goal, each stage is a mini collectathon. You have to grab all of the parts in each level to proceed. Some levels even have a second set of collectibles to grab as well so you’re always on the move here. At times the level’s goal can be a bit too vague for my liking but on the whole this is definitely a fun game that you should enjoy. It’ll be over in a breeze but the level designs are all solid and I have to imagine that if this was before the Switch Online version it would have been extremely difficult to complete. I would have died so many times if not for being able to alter my fate.

There’s not much of a story here but what we do have is told through little cutscenes like Pac-Man. It even follows some of the same story beats as we meet the wife and kid. Definitely an emotional kind of moment right there but it’s safe to say that you’ll really be here for the actual gameplay either way. So with that as the main hook you should have a good time. My advice would be to learn the attack items right away since those help when you’re in a pinch. Also, you can actually jump over the minions which is extremely handy.

At first I would just run away from them whenever they showed up so being able to keep going where you wanted was a game changer. Naturally the risk is a lot greater since if your timing is up even by an instant you will lose a whole life there. You definitely gotta be careful about that but otherwise you’re all set. When you’re on the balloon for the aerial levels, just try not to get too close to the enemies. You can blast them from afar and then move forward. Your weapon has a lot of range.

This tricked me a bit at first so once you get the usual collectables you need to go inside of the Church. That’s where you will find the key item that will let you go further. Without it you will end up being essentially stuck in place so you definitely want to keep that in mind. I remember wasting a bunch of time on the train in one level because I wasn’t sure what to do next.

When you wait too long, an unbeatable enemy will appear. It’s like a floating plate that keeps going after you and any contact means defeat. Of course, that is true of any enemy in this game since Mappy has 0 durability but this thing is extremely fast and can fly so jumping won’t cut it. If you see this enemy in a level it’s fair to say that it may already be over for you. Dodging it or staying our of the way are both incredibly difficult and nearly impossible to actually pull off.

Meanwhile the graphics are pretty fun here. I thought they were nice and colorful and the art style really holds up even to the modern day which I find impressive. It’s not easy for a game to hold up over decades but it is absolutely possible if you play your cards right. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side though. Not bad…just good luck actually remembering any of the tunes. It’s not as iconic as Pac Man or as energetic as Mario which leaves it in a bad spot. It just doesn’t excel the way that it could have.

The game is reasonably short so you’ll probably beat it in a day or 2 if you’re focused up. Either way there is some replay value. This game keeps going on loop after you beat it so you can still try to work on your high score as you go through. That’s at least something to aspire to right? I don’t see you sticking around for too long on this one as there are just so many other big titles to check out but all in all it’s just a well balanced title.

Overall, Mappyland is definitely a game that I can recommend. It’s just a fun little experience and one of those games that is extremely easy to plug and play at any time. I certainly had fun with it at the very least. A modern remake of this game could be a lot of fun and it’s also a good way to show people how to do a collectathon. A proper one should have the collectibles built into each level so you can’t proceed without them. That way you aren’t suddenly blindsided by having to go back and grab them later. I feel like this series is so forgotten that a remake is unlikely but never say never right?

Overall 6/10

Driver 2 Advance Review

I don’t recall how old I was when I was first told that I was the Wheelman but it was definitely a while ago. The original Driver game was a blast as you drove around town in the huge open world environment. It was fun to work on the story but it was also neat to just have fun in free roam. I’d spend hours following the law there and then hours running from the police. It was really an ambitious game with a really intense final level involving the president. This game is a lot more low key and a step down in all areas but still a good title in the end.

Tanner is still as involved in the underworld and mafia business as ever. It’s definitely not the safest job and you’ll see a lot of people getting shot all the time. Well, some big gangsters have run off with more money than their fair share so Tanner is going to take them down. It won’t be easy since these guys have a lot of connections but that isn’t scaring the lead here. He’ll still jump right into action and take down anyone who stands in his way. He has the skills to back it up so the villains better be worried.

There are around 30 levels here and most of them are pretty short. You can easily beat this game in around 2 hours if you don’t lose but I think it’s safe to expect that you will lose sometimes. I wouldn’t say the game is super hard or anything like that but it’s not a cake walk either. You will occasionally get defeated by RNG a few times as well.

See, the gameplay initially starts off like your average driving game. You have to get to the destination located on your map to beat the level. Other levels will have you trying to take down an enemy car instead of running to a different car. The levels where you have to go out on foot are few but they do happen. It’s a mechanic that doesn’t seem to have had any point being here by the end though. You could take it out and things wouldn’t really change.

Now where does the RNG come into play? Well, the police cars will randomly appear at times to get in your way. If they happen to teleport right in front of you then you’re doomed from the jump. Sometimes they would appear as soon as the level started and I had to quickly restart because there was no chance of making it through. I wouldn’t say this is an issue too often but you always feel a little fear when turning the corner because a car may suddenly be there. It’s clear that this one did not have a whole lot of processing power. Things would disappear right when they are out of sight and a lot of times what you see isn’t really there. There are countless times you will see the ocean ahead before the buildings load.

The game is also quite glitchy in general. I lost 2-3 levels because of glitches. One involved the computer being unable to move and since it was one of those “Tail the villain” missions, that meant I couldn’t win. In another one the enemy fell into the ocean which counted as a loss for me since I was supposed to take down all of the health points myself. Those glitches would always be quite unfortunate. The game’s fairly short so at least even with all of that I didn’t have to replay too much of the game but there should have been more polish here.

On a technical level the game just isn’t very impressive. The GBA graphics are some of the weakest ones I’ve seen in quite some time. Definitely on the weaker side for the console, no doubt about that. The way the story cutscenes go is also not very inspired. The text is very slow as it auto scrolls and it just follows still images which aren’t stylized at all. The story isn’t super engaging but the way they put this in did not help matters at all. The only thing I could say that’s really good about the game from a production perspective is the soundtrack. I actually thought that was really catchy the whole time. I had a good time with it at the very least and while they tend to replay the same tunes a lot, they still really get to you.

The gameplay is also pretty good. It’s nowhere near the level of the first game but it does still manage to capture the essence of what this is all about. The game is short so you won’t get to enjoy this for long but while you’re playing you will have a good time. So in the end what does this really mean? Well, Driver 2 is a game that I can recommend if you really like driving around but there’s no real good reason to pick this one up in particular. There are countless amounts of better titles in the genre to pick up after all so no reason to stick it through here. In a vacuum it can hold its own but it won’t be winning any awards.

Overall, I think Driver 2 could and should have been a little better. At the very least the story should have been more engaging since the first game had its fun moments. There is absolutely no replay value in this game which is unfortunate. That could have at least been a way to spice things up and keep you here for the long-haul. Instead that also shows how this game will be one that you complete and then forget forever. I’m hoping Driver 3 will be the game that really takes things up to the next level because I know the potential is here for the franchise. It just needs to live up to it and soon.

Overall 6/10

Claymates Review

Claymates is the next platformer in line and this one always looked like fun. You get to turn into different animals and run through a variety of levels. Who wouldn’t enjoy that for a while right? Well, it’s a good game but one that is limited by some questionable decisions like a whole bunch of puzzles that you have to play through. Cut those out and this would be even better if you ask me. I guess we do have to roll with it in the end though and it’s still not bad. You should be able to have some fun with this one for a few hours.

The game starts with the main character being turned into clay by the villain who kidnaps his father. The lead must now master his abilities before it’s too late. The gameplay here is your classic 2D adventure as you have to run through and take names. You get to the end of the level and then you’re taken to the hub world where you have to clear a puzzle and then start the next level. There are 4-5 worlds to conquer here and each one has a few levels. It’s not a particularly long game but I would say that some of the levels can be a bit longer than what you might be used to. They aren’t always linear too so sometimes you will have to go backwards.

It’s not one of those games where you can hold right and go all the way until you beat it. You will actually have to change directions at times and the game won’t hold your hand so bring your best. Any big mistakes can definitely cost you some time like some teleporters that take you back to the beginning of the level. Now those are really hard to deal with so make sure you dodge them as best you can. The 10 minute timer for each level is generous but you still want to try and minimize how often you have to go back and replay portions of the level right?

Each animal form has a different attack/ability although all of the offensive moves tend to work the same way. One of them has a projectile instead of a close range attack which is good. The others mainly alternate between bites and scratches so you’ll have the same effect. You can also run really fast in these forms. 9 times out of 10 this will cause you to get hit but it’s still fun to just run all out real quickly. It temporarily feels like a Sonic game that way.

So the gameplay is a lot of fun and I don’t really have any issues there. The platforming parts are handled well and with care. The plot is also pretty good and the cutscenes we do get help to show their personalities better than the titles with no cutscenes. It’s not a lot or anything like that but every bit helps. So that’s taken care of but the biggest tricky thing here are the puzzles between levels. Basically you have to help navigate 2 robots over to the end where they can use a bomb or a hammer to get rid of the obstacles. You can’t move the robots directly so you have to move obstacles to guide them there. At first they are fun enough but as this goes on you end up needing more and more complicated ways to move them which can be a bit tedious.

You’ll make it through eventually but once the puzzles start taking longer than the actual levels you feel like it’s gone too far. It just doesn’t make sense since the main gameplay is presumably why you are here in the first place. Also, I seemed to get caught up in a glitch near the end of the game where one of the cars vanished so I couldn’t use it to manipulate the robots. That felt really cheesy especially since I was so close to the end of the game. Sure, there’s probably a way to fix the glitch like going into an old level and completing it again but I didn’t know that for a fact and wasn’t sure I wanted to go back and replay anything.

So instead I figured that would be where I ended things. At least I did save the father so I ended up beating most of the game. Perhaps it wasn’t 100% but it was close enough. Glitches just take the fight right out of you. I want to assume it’s a fairly rare one though so hopefully you shouldn’t be affected by it if you decide to play the game through. Then you can really enjoy it.

As for the soundtrack and graphics, those are good enough. The game’s got a good amount of energy going for it and you can tell they put some effort here. Visually the game holds up quite well and the music was catchy enough from what I remember. So in the end this is one I could recommend as long as you have the Switch Online. It’s free that way so you may as well right? While the puzzles take away from the fun, the actual levels are crafted well and the length also isn’t bad for the SNES. The transformation gimmick works well. Between Kirby and Jelly Boy it seems like I’ve been running into that a whole lot lately.

Overall, Claymates is an interesting game with a fun premise. A modern remake with some more dialogue and cutscenes would absolutely be a full win if you ask me. Just keep those puzzles out of this and focus on it being a platformer. Let me speed through the levels like I did here but maybe give some opportunities for me to run without being hit. It’s not like Sonic has the exclusive copyright on going fast so lets get this job done. Bring back the big villains and boss fights to make the whole thing feel authentic. We’ll see if the next SNES game can beat this one but ultimately I would say this was still a good title. It gets the job done, glitch or not.

Overall 6/10

Vexx Review

Vexx is one of those platformers from a million years ago that nobody has really heard of. It should have become the next big thing but ultimately just couldn’t make it that far. While the gameplay can be really fun at times, there are some clear issues here and I suppose those were just big enough to keep this from being rated higher and selling more. Having more cutscenes would have also done wonders for the game if you ask me.

The game starts off strong as we see the villains show up and take over the world real quick. Vexx being forced to work in this cruel world where the villains currently rule. He ends up revolting after the villains murder Vexx’s grandfather. Vexx will need to uncover a bunch of demon hearts in order to put an end to this but will it really be so straight forward? Why does he have these incredible powers, why is there a witch who seems to be in the way and why is this old man so eager to help Vexx? All of these questions will have to remain on your side for a while as the game only has a few cutscenes in the whole game. For example, after that intro there is not another cutscene until very deep into the game and then you get some for the ending.

This was a bit of a missed opportunity as the intro hinted as a grand plot. It was going to be daring, emotional, and dramatic. Instead you are left to quietly play through the various levels until you get to the end. There are some good levels here and I’ll get into that in a second but the story ends up being more of a bust. There is a cool cliffhanger for the sequel at least but that’s probably never going to show up anyway. I mean, we have been getting a lot of revivals lately but I feel like Vexx would not be at the top of the list.

Gameplay is the most important part of a platformer though right? So lets get into that. The game is modeled after the Mario style, I would even say Mario 64 in particular. You have the various portals that lead into different worlds. Each one has between 8-10 hearts in it and when you get one, you are immediately taken out of the level. (Mario Odyssey did well to change that) You then go back in to get another one.

The tasks for the hearts are all different. Some come from beating a minigame, others are for finding collectibles, and then others are just scattered around the world. Ideally you want to grab around 7 of the hearts in each world so that you don’t have to backtrack later on. You only need 60 out of the possible 81 hearts in the game to reach the final boss so if there is a heart that you are having a lot of trouble with, I would say not to worry about it too much. Just keep on going to the next one and you’ll be just fine. I thought this was a good way to handle the collectathon part since you never feel too stressed as a result.

My favorite parts of the game were the minigames as they felt like something out of Mario Party. You could have made a good multiplayer mode out of that without a doubt. There aren’t many in the game so you should saver them. For the actual platforming, the jumping and combat are both good. Combat could be a little more balanced but you can cheese it in a lot of ways that save you time so it’s something I don’t mind overlooking a bit. The camera angles are certainly the weakest part here. It will sometimes just randomly change so you end up falling to your doom.

I think the game is a bit stingy with how it kicks you out of the levels the whole time. It’s rough to have earned 80/100 of the eggs only to be thrown out of the level because you cleared another mission. It’d be nice if you could just stay in the world after you got a heart and keep on going because some of these levels are long so getting 100 eggs can take a long while.

As long as you go with the hearts you find easiest for your particular style then I expect you will be progressing through the game at a fast rate. The toughest part of the game by far is the final boss. You have to beat 3 phases of the boss in one shot as losing at any point sends you to the beginning. The boss plays out like a beat em up as you have to fight numerous opponents and it seems partially luck based with how RNG the super fast fireballs are. That boss took forever to beat and I wouldn’t love to have to fight him again. My biggest tip is to defeat the hordes by doing constant jumps and striking the ground below you. Don’t try to fight them head on. For the second phase, don’t move. Let the boss circle you and only jump when he’s about to attack. You have to strike the head and then go to the back and flip him over and then strike from the top. You have to do this several times so good luck. I don’t expect you will be completing this battle on the first try, far from it.

Either way you can see the potential behind this game. Mix in a better camera and some quality of life updates and this really could be like Mario 64 or Mario Sunshine. The game’s really going for that angle with with a wide range of levels to choose from, I would say it succeeds for the most part. What holds it back is that some of the hearts are more annoying than fun and losing sets you back so long in some of these. Mario always ensured that every level was fun even if it took a while. SO if we get the level designs a bit more polished then this would be ready for the next level.

The graphics are also good here. I liked the designs and the worlds had a lot of uniqueness to each one. The attacks look good and the game just holds up well here. Then you have the soundtrack which is solid. There are quite a few solid tunes within the game and they have that old school rock feel to them. Something that I always like to see in any game.

In terms of replay value I guess there’s a bit. You can try to get the two bonus suits in the game which give you fire and thunder abilities. They are even needed for grabbing some of the hearts. I just couldn’t figure out where to find either one of them so I was glad that I could skip those missions. Apparently the fire suit is somewhere in level 1 but I ran around that place for ages and never saw it so I wonder where it is. As you play through the game the hearts get a bit easier since you know what to expect so maybe the same would have been true of the suits if I could have found at least one of them.

Overall, Vexx has good gameplay but it could have been better with just a little more polish. Throw in more of a story mode as well and that would have really been a winning combination. It’s a shame that it couldn’t be better but in that case I probably would have played it years ago. The platforming genre is one that always has a lot of competition so if you aren’t first then you might end up being last. You can get this game for a fairly cheap price so I would say you should make a play on it. It’s still worth the price and I had fun with it. The game is fairly short at well under 10 hours long but that’ll do the job.

Overall 6/10

Zapper: One Wicked Cricket! Review

Zapper is one of those games that I happened to see randomly and thought it would be interesting. I was in the market for platformer ripoffs of popular mascots and this guy had some spunk. The game was also dirt cheap online so I couldn’t refuse. It definitely doesn’t mind playing out exactly like a Frogger type game with a minimal story. The adventure is over before you know it but the gameplay is certainly fun.

The game starts with Zapper deciding to use his brother as a living battery to power his TV. That’s when a notorious bird shows up and kidnaps the insect. Zapper must now go on a journey to save his bro from this villain but to do so he will have to travel across many dangerous lands. Can he pull this off or is it going to be game over right from the start? It’s hard to say but what he does know is that losing is not an option this time!

There is an opening cutscene and an ending one so don’t expect more of a story outside of that because this is all that you’ll get. From what we see, Zapper isn’t a particularly nice guy. He gets the job done and travels across the distant lands but he isn’t someone that you would want to have to trust. The villain seems interesting enough but it’s just hard to get a real feel for the personality and skills that he might have here. I’d definitely like to see a sequel so we could follow the cast around more.

The game is considerably easier than any of the Frogger titles though. So if you’ve played the Frogger games before then you will have absolutely no trouble getting past this one. The controls are simple, you can move in any direction which causes Zapper to move one square. Press the A button to move 2 squares t once which is how you jump over pitfalls and such. You can also use your thunder blast to wipe out small enemies. The goal of each level is to grab 6 eggs which automatically ends things. That’s the trick to each level aside from the first and only boss in the game.

That one’s actually really creative. You have to touch a bunch of orbs in the proper order and then inch closer to the villain. You can’t touch the wrong one or you’re sent back and the ground is crumbling as you’re doing this. You need to have quick reaction times and really think about what is going on the whole time. I rather enjoyed this part, it was just a nice gimmick and a good way to make the boss memorable. Because of that I really wish we could have gotten more bosses. It’s clear that the game was up to the challenge at any rate so why not right?

There are a lot of collectibles to get as well. Each level has 100 orbs and I can only imagine that getting them all will unlock something cool. I’m not actually sure about that though so you should look it up before attempting such a thing. None of the orbs are really hidden though so you should be able to grab them without a lot of effot. There aren’t too many levels in the game as it is. I cleared the game in under 3 hours and if you aim to get all of the orbs from the start then you could probably increase that to around 5-6. There isn’t any other replay value beyond that though so make the time count.

The graphics are nice enough. It’s got a very classic look to everything from the characters to the levels. The thunder effects are good and it’s always easy to see where you are going. The soundtrack is less memorable though as you probably won’t recall any theme in particular. On a technical level the developers seemed to be focusing on the gameplay above all else and that’s not a bad idea. After all the key is always to make sure that the game runs smoothly and that is true here. No matter what else you can say about the game, poor gameplay is not one of those things.

Still, the lack of content is enough for me to take off one point. I’m hesitant to call this a very good game when you can complete it so quickly and there isn’t much else to do. If there were more cutscenes or more of a story in general then that could have been different. As it stands, this is a game you should definitely pick up and have some fun with if you see it for a good price. It’s not the kind of game that will be a big investment or anything like that though.

Usually I might throw in a few gameplay tips around here but there isn’t much to say on that because the game is straight forward. The best word of advice is to just plunge ahead without hesitating. Due to the nature of the game, you want to always be moving so that you don’t get run over by an enemy. A single hit means that you will lose a life after all so just stay one step ahead of them. You get a lot of free lives in each level so don’t even worry about getting a game over.

Overall, Zapper delivers on what you came here for. You bought the game hoping to get that classic Frogger experience right? Well, you definitely get that in full here. You just don’t get any of the extra features or content that could have been used to amp up the game even more. It would have been nice to have had that as well but it’s what separates the big AAA titles from these knock offs. I can see why the game never got a sequel but hopefully that changes some day.

Overall 6/10

SpyHunter Review

SpyHunter is a game that always looked pretty interesting. When I saw it, I figured this would be something kind of like Pursuit Force. Well, it plays out a little differently from that one. See, this game never lets you leave the car and you’ve got to perform the objectives while driving to the end of the level. It’s a different take on the usual kind of car game. It’s a decent enough title and yet it trips itself up with the need to force you to grab every collectible. I thought that was a pretty bad idea personally.

The game starts with a villain organization talking about how they are going to take out the world. They have their weapons at the ready and the only one who can stop them is the mysterious agent you are playing as. Unfortunately that’s effectively where the story ends. The rest of the game has you tackling a bunch of missions that have some text for context but that’s pretty much it. If you were looking for a big story here then you have come to the wrong place. The gameplay will have to be enough.

So how does the game play out? Well, it’s a 3D driving title where you are given 5-7 missions to complete. One of those is the primary mission so you have to complete that in order to beat the level and then you have a ton of secondary missions to try and complete. They’ll range from things like “Avoid civilian casualties” to “Blow up 8 trucks”. As you’re driving in the level you will usually see the objectives flagged in little circles. The color of the circle will help to remind you if you’re to blow up the object or stop it with an EMP. If you really forget you can also pause the screen which will quickly show you all of the missions.

The term “secondary” may make you think that these are optional but most of them are not. The game has 14 levels and each one is protected by a points requirement. Each mission gives you a point per mission so you have to complete a lot of them. The game as a whole has around 65 possible points and you need 57 to unlock the last level. If you discount the 4 objectives in that level, that means you need 57 out of 61 possible points prior to the final level so you can’t allow for many mistakes. This means you will be replaying each level a whole bunch of times.

That part’s what is really unfortunate about SpyHunter. You should not have to go back and play old levels like this. I always feel that doing something like that should be absolutely optional. Otherwise it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to call it secondary. Just bake it all into the level at that point and at least you now what you’re getting yourself into. I also didn’t like the fact that you have to re-clear the other missions. For example, let’s say you beat 5/7 of the level’s missions on the first try. You’d assume that you could just go in and complete the other 2 right? Unfortunately that’s not the case in this one. You have to actually go in and complete all of the other missions again in order for this to count. It makes the process a little extra tedious so I recommend just trying to complete all of the missions right away and restarting until you do. Otherwise you’ll have to go back anyway and at least this way you will be super familiar with the level.

It’s certainly possible that the developers only did this to buy time because otherwise the game would have been incredibly short. Each level is only 3-5 minutes long so you can easily complete the whole game in about an hour if you didn’t have to go back and replay them each time. As a result there is not a ton of replay value on the single player side since you’ll have had to 100% complete almost every level. There is a multiplayer mode though and since the gameplay itself is solid, I could see that being a lot of fun. Multiplayer is always a good way to keep the player around for a while.

The graphics aren’t bad. I liked what we got in the opening cutscene but at the same time there isn’t a lot else to base it off of. The levels have very distinct designs and I like the various effects for the blasters and explosions so all in all I would give that area a thumbs up. The soundtrack is much more forgettable though. You’ll quickly forget any tune that you heard during the game without a doubt. I can’t say I expected any really good tunes but it definitely would have been a pretty nice bonus. Maybe next time I suppose.

As you play through the game you will unlock more weapons for your car. It’s important to note though that these weapons only work for levels after which you’ve unlocked them which I found a bit odd. For example, when you get the triple missiles, you can’t use them for the first level and you are automatically downgraded there. Usually part of the fun with upgrades is going back and winning with extreme ease now. This seems like one of those times where the game just had a big miss again.

The best weapon in the game is definitely the missile though. Whether you’ve got 1 or 3, it is the best way to have the upper hand against the villains. Relying on your gatling gun is not as good because it takes so many hits to defeat the opposing cars. The only time it is worth it is if there are a lot of civilians around and you want to make sure you don’t hit the. The missiles deal a lot of damage and have large explosions so it is tough not to hit someone when using that kind of weaponry.

Overall, SpyHunter is a good game but is heavily held back by all of the sub missions here. Just let me focus on driving and going through the levels. If the game did that then it absolutely would have been so much better. The concept of a driving game where you are blasting with your weapons and everything is quite sound. I guess the developers didn’t have enough confidence in its overall premise though. If you don’t mind the collectathon type elements here then you should pick this game up. It’s fairly cheap and the gameplay itself is polished very well.

Overall 6/10

Crash: Mind over Mutant Review

At long last it’s time to play the next big Crash game. It keeps the monster hacking from the last title but changes the mechanics of how it works a bit. The gameplay is solid but the game is held back by some questionable design choices like the fact that you can’t actually fast travel between lands. So effectively you have a giant hub world but have to actually walk back and forth between each level. I’m still wondering why they would do that but we’ll go into it in a moment. For now I’ll just say this is certainly the weakest Crash game but still a decent game overall.

The game starts with Cortex coming up with his latest scheme to take over the world. He has these VR goggles that will put you into an environment that is so realistic and top tier that you can’t help but get sucked in. Even Crash’s best friend Crunch and his sister Coco were not able to resist. Crash and Aku must now try to stop Cortex before it’s too late but what can these two do without some kind of backup? It’ll be tough but either way they will aim to give this their very best shot. After all if they can’t win…who can!?

So the gameplay is your average 3D Crash style for the platforming elements. You can run, jump, spin, and even dig in this game. You have to typically get to the end of a level or beat up enemies to proceed. There are quite a few sections for combat here but the battles are never too hard. It’s the kind of game where if you die, you appear close to where you died, so you never have to backtrack a whole lot. I definitely enjoyed that at least. Nothing’s worse than having to redo a large section. For the monster jacking, you can store up to 2 monsters at a time and switch through them at will. The downside to having two monsters is that you can’t play as Crash which makes some of the platforming impossible. So typically you will want to stick to one monster which is the perfect setup. Particularly if you pick the Hedgehog as one of them since he’s so fast.

When you’re going through all of the back tracking, it’s very helpful to have someone like this at the ready. When you defeat an enemy you are given the option to take control of it or keep on going. Don’t worry about not taking the right one, any area that needs a specific ability will warp an enemy to you in those instances. So it’s a fun enough gimmick although it feels like we’ve gone far away from the original Crash structure. It’s fun getting to fire off energy blasts and slow down time so the monster abilities are always fun. The slowing down time aspect is quite powerful so they make sure you don’t get to control those monsters until the end of the game.

So lets talk about the backtracking since this mechanic did not work. Basically the island is so huge that it connects to around 6 areas. I want to say in real time if you had to travel the whole island it would probably take you around an hour or so. Fortunately you never have to do that in one time but say you beat the desert world, you’ll be told to go back home. From there you have to head to the school then home, then back to the desert, etc. Most games would have a teleporter or something which would be incredibly useful here. Unfortunately this was not included for a gag. At the very end of the game one of the villains mocks Crash for running around the whole game and quickly whips up some teleporters.

Yes, you gain the ability to fast travel to any point at the final level in the game. By this point it’s so late that it doesn’t actually help out a lot. I suppose if there are some good post game content to play through then it would be nice but this should have been around for the base game. Trust me when I say this would have been incredibly useful to have had a lot sooner. It’s just tedious to run back and forth as well as being very time consuming. You’ll spend more time running around than actually playing the game which is really an issue here. The decision just doesn’t make sense to me.

There’s also a level up system built into the game which doesn’t seem to have much of a point. You get a little stronger and unlock new moves but I never noticed the difference and it takes a while to get level ups. So by the time you are stronger you’ll have beaten the game. I forget at what level I completed Crash but I think it was around 5-7. The game is easy enough where it won’t make a difference and so the whole mechanic may as well not even be here. As they say, if a mechanic doesn’t actually affect anything then you may as well have not had it in the first place.

Well, the graphics are good. During gameplay it all looks solid at least. The levels are colorful and everything is on point. My only issue is with the cutscenes that are going for a more experimental look this time around. Sometimes the cutscenes look like drawings where everything is as low budget as possible. Others use designs like something out of Jacob Two Two. The designs are always changing from cutscene to cutscene, Crash even looks like a Super Saiyan warrior at one point. Now that was definitely something that was a different experience. I’m not really into the experimental techniques myself so personally I think the best thing to do would have been to go with more traditional artwork. It would have just looked better.

At least you can say it does match the crazy plot though. The whole game is rather bonkers with how everyone falls for these goggles. A lot of the dialogue is so self aware it almost threatens to break the 4th wall. The characters aren’t very smart here and even the villains get humiliated by Cortex. The evil mask is certainly on the backfoot here. The scene where he is literally being milked by a machine while Cortex gloats and laughs is rather intense for the guy’s fans. Cortex is really the only villain who keeps his hype here. Perhaps this will even solidify him as the ultimate Crash villain for most. At this point, none of the others seem like they can keep up with him.

Overall, Mind over Mutants is a step down from the other Crash games but I would still call it a good game. Beyond the lack of fast travel, the rest of the gameplay is good and that’s the important thing. The soundtrack may not be too memorable but it works well enough. While the graphics aren’t very good, the story still has a good amount of funny moments and a lot happening at all times. I may not like Crash as a main character but Cortex has enough good lines for the both of them. If you need to complete your Crash experience then this is a good entry to check out. Otherwise you’re not really missing a whole lot though.

Overall 6/10

NHL 19 Review

It’s been quite a while since I played one of the hockey games. Well, no better time than the present right? I got to play this one a bit more than the others as I went deep into the game for the trophies. One of them was for completing all tutorials so as a result I finally developed some fundamental skills here. I wouldn’t call myself a Hockey pro or anything yet…but I wouldn’t bet against myself either at this point. It’s a decently solid game that should please Hockey fans.

There are a lot of modes here, so many in fact that you can pick a few to pin to the quick access menu at the top in case you don’t want to have to navigate through all of them so often. It’s a solid quality of life feature although I think some modes could have really been bundled together. I mainly stuck to the quick matches but also played some levels in Be A Pro and the World Career mode. They all essentially lead to the same gameplay although the main difference is that in Be A Pro you can only play as one character (Yourself) in the matches while in the other modes you can switch between players at all. It’s a key difference.

Personally I like controlling all of the players. When I’m only one person it just feels like I’m not really controlling the flow of the game as much as I’d like. Also, there’s more dead time as a result since you have to wait to get the puck back while in the other mode you are always with it. I’ll give the game props for having a choice though. More choices is always a good thing since everyone will want to be able to play the game in their own way. I think that makes a lot of sense and is just practical. Shouldn’t be hard to implement either so it’s worth going the extra mile here.

The graphics are really solid as expected. You definitely don’t have to worry about anything not being very clear here or anything like that. Everything is fairly HD and if EA knows how to do one thing exceptionally well, it’s how to make a game look visually appealing. You also have to give them credit for the smooth gameplay. They may not change it almost at all from year to year but it works pretty well and they are the ones who set that up initially. The soundtrack isn’t very good but it’s rare to have a sport game with a very memorable one.

Going more into the gameplay, the main idea here is you want to shoot the puck into the opponent’s goal. This scores you a point and whoever has the most points at the end of the game claims victory. You want to prevent your opponent from doing the same to your goal. You move throughout the hockey field and on offense you can pass to other players or take a shot. On defense you can openly body slam opponents but be careful about tripping them. The latter counts as a penalty but if you can shoot your stick out with good timing you can prevent a shot from soaring into the goal.

Defense is really difficult which is no surprise since that’s often the toughest part of any sport game. Even in Football I have a hard time with that. I will say that the body slaming is really satisfying though. I don’t understand all of the rules in NHL so occasionally I’ll draw a flag for being on the wrong side but on the whole you don’t need to know a lot of technicals. Being able to maneuver around the arena is really the most important skill to have so if you can do that then you’ll be good.

Now on offense, the main thing I would recommend you learn how to do is pass effectively. It’s almost impossible to get a straight shot past the goalie so what I found is the most efficient way to score is to have one ally near you. Have both characters sprint at the goalie and then immediately pass to the other player and shoot. If you do this in one quick motion the goalie is usually not fast enough to stop this attack and then it’s off to the races. I found this to be the most reliable way to score at least and I even blew out one of my opponents using this trick.

A fun thing about hockey is that even the computer has a very hard time scoring. So if you can score just 2 goals in a game you should win over 90% of your matches. I’m sure if you bump the difficulty level up then this will change but for the most part it really is an excellent way to make sure you come out on top. I don’t have any other gameplay advice other than that. In terms of movement it’s really all just about making sure that you’re at the right place at the right time. Don’t let the computers surround you or put too much pressure on. Keep them at a distance and you’ll be just fine. Although the field is limited so just do your best.

Overall, NHL 19 may be the best of the NHL games I’ve played or at least it’s definitely one of the better ones. It helps a lot that the tutorial mode was very comprehensive so I felt like I actually could play the game instead of button mashing. Parts of the game feel a little overly complex but I suppose watching high level NHL battles would likely be really fun as a result. If you like hockey then you’ll enjoy this game and if not then you won’t. At least that makes it extremely easy when thinking about recommending this one or not. There aren’t a whole lot of extra thoughts you’ll need to put into that aspect. I’ll probably get NHL 20 in a year or two once I can find it for $5 like this one. I’m not a big Hockey guy so I only play the games until I get a C rank in terms of trophies but it’s worth it to at least get that far for me and for that price you can’t go wrong.

Overall 6/10

Taito Legends Power-Up Review

This is a game that I sort of got out of the blue because I wanted to finally check out the original Legend of Kage. Not only did this collection have the original but it also had the remade version that had a more 3D look to it. There’s a pretty solid collection of games here as well so it’s got some pretty decent value. At the end of the day it’s hard to really deny that this title has a lot of replay value. Surely you should be able to enjoy most if not all of the titles here.

None of the games really have much of a story mode of course since these are really arcade titles. Mainly the point of the game is to play all of these titles out and get your high scores in there. You’ve got sci-fi games, ninja titles, and even a game that’s sort of like Monkey Ball. The amount of variety here is impressive and while you may not put these games up against the true classics like Mario and Pac-Man, they hold up well enough.

Super old games are usually not really my thing since I can only play them so long before I need a break. That being said, I’ll still have fun while I’m along for the ride. Since Legend of Kage is the reason I was buying the game in the first place lets lead off with that. The game involves you throwing stars and slashing away at the enemies. The goal is to make it to the end of the game before they take you down. It’s a rather difficult game but with enough tries you should be able to conquer it. When you lose you can restart as many times as needed so you don’t need to worry about getting a game over. That would have definitely hurt the momentum.

You’ve got games that feature skiing, monkey ball, a bunch of sci-fi shooters, and a game that works a lot like Pac-Man. Basically you have to race around the stage and get all of the pellets before these opposing airships tag you. It’s very difficult because they are much faster than you. I don’t want to say that the game is luck based…but it sure feels that way at times. Escaping these guys is really hard to be sure.

As a collection Taito Legends accomplished what it set out to do. None of the games may stand out on their own but when together they make for a decent game. The graphics are pretty solid here so the quality of the old sprites is on point. The soundtracks are good too. I wouldn’t say they are particularly notable but they do have a lot of energy so they fit right in while you’re playing through the game. You probably won’t even notice the tracks a lot of the time. Maybe if there was some extra rock or something.

Since a few of the games have the original version as well as the enhanced remake it’ll be interesting to see if any of the originals can beat their powered up versions. I find it is usually very difficult to beat a newer version but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Sometimes the new version may try too hard in trying to be better and miss something that gave the original its charm. This title allows you to try both versions back to back to see how it really stands up.

There isn’t a whole lot more to say about the collection due to the nature of the game. Really this will either be your style or it won’t be but you should know right away based on the kinds of games you enjoy. That is really the deciding factor here. I’m not sure I would buy a future Taito collection but if they ever decided to bundle up a lot of very new games that could have a lot of potential.

Overall, Taito Legends Power-Up is a good game. I’d recommend checking it out if you like playing the classic Arcade Games. Naturally you would want to skip it if you’re more into the modern titles with story and cinematics. That’s mainly where I’m at but at the same time it can be fun to relive how the games used to be. After all, for their time I’m sure these were considered to be top notch.

Overall 6/10