FIFA 14 Review


It’s time to look at an old FIFA game. I would say a “modern” one but at this point 2014 feels like a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of experience with FIFA, but I’m a little better at it than I am at MLB. At the very least I keep the games close. It’s definitely a fun title, but certainly one that you will enjoy a whole lot more if you are actually good at it. Knowing how to make the plays that you want to achieve simply makes for a world of difference here.

There are a bunch of different modes. I imagine that you will spend most of your time in Franchise mode ordinarily. After all, that’s where you get to really learn and grow with your team. If you can’t get the hang of the controls for a while you’ll start out with some bad records, but eventually you’ll be able to completely flip that. I don’t really have enough time to do all of that, but it’s always a great mode for any sport. Beyond that you can also run drills, practice, Go online and play, or a bunch of other options. There is no shortage of modes and content here.

As for the gameplay, it seems pretty good. it’s definitely one of those games where it’ll take a while to actually master the controls. There’s a lot to them and you can’t really skate by on just doing the easy controls. You’ll really need to apply yourself here. For example, I played a few games, but couldn’t score a single goal. I just can’t get close enough to take a realistic shot, it’s crazy. On the other side though, I didn’t allow any goals to be scored in most of the games. (They did score on me once) So…either the goal keeper is just OP here or I need more training. I imagine that it’s the latter because otherwise the FIFA games wouldn’t be nearly as big as they are now. I felt more confident than in Baseball since I’m at least not getting blown out, but at the same time you can’t win without scoring right?

The graphics are certainly solid as always. EA doesn’t hold back in that area. As always in the sport games the music isn’t all that memorable, but it seems to be pretty fast and fitting for the sport. On a technical level the game is quite good and the gameplay is solid as well so I have no real complaints. The only thing really hurting the score is the fact that the game won’t be incredibly fun until you get good at it and you also have to love the sport. If you think about it, technically you’re going to be going through the same motions in every match. That’s true for many games of course, but it does emphasize how much you need to like the gameplay in order to go through with it. Otherwise it would just become a chore by the end and you don’t want that.

To date the best Soccer game has definitely been Mario Strikers. It took a more arcade style look at the sport with simplified controls but still hitting all of the right mechanics. It’s a game that holds up well today and I think FIFA could learn a thing or two from it. FIFA is of course going for a Soccer Simulation style as it’s very realistic but I think it could loosen up on the mechanics a bit. Make the ball go in more precise locations instead of just anywhere and that would help with the shooting. Of course, this is something that would help casual FIFA players like me while professional gamers would likely not like having their experience go to waste so it’s definitely a mixed proposal. I’ll definitely still be buying the next FIFA games once the price is reasonable so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, but I do think it would be a way for the series to get to the next step.

Currently from the big EA titles I’d rank them as Madden>NBA>FIFA>NHL>MLB>PGA. If we threw Tennis in there then it would be third after NBA. In general those are the 3 games that are way above the others. Starting with FIFA they just aren’t as interesting. Put it this way, Madden is a 9 star series and NBA/Tennis are 8 stars. FIFA is a 7 and the others range from 6 to 3. There’s probably a strong correlation to how I enjoy the real life sports too I suppose.

Overall, FIFA 14 definitely continues the series off well. I look forward to playing some of the other FIFA games I have in the backlog but haven’t played yet. They’ll all be older, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be even better. The more I play them the better I should get so that could help plus sometimes the older games had simpler controls which is also important to notice. It’s the opposite of fighting games where they’ve gotten a little simpler over the years. (Although in some cases that’s been a good thing like with Super Smash and Street Fighter) Whether you’ve played a previous FIFA game or not you should be able to jump in pretty quick here as long as you know how the sport works. Actually winning a game is a completely different discussion though. For that you’re gonna need to practice your shooting for quite a while and that’s no easy feat.

Overall 7/10

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Super Mario Bros Review


Believe it or not, I actually had not played all the way through this game before. I almost feel like I need to turn in my Nintendo fan card at this point since the game is so iconic. In my defense, I’ve played bits and pieces of the game on a variety of different systems and equipment so maybe I should cut myself some slack. It’s definitely a fun game that holds up well. Naturally it’s nowhere near the level of the modern Mario games for many reasons, but it’s definitely a title that you can go back to at any time.

You’re thrown right into the thick of the action when you start the game. The basic plot is that Princess Peach has been kidnapped and you have to destroy Bowser 8 times in order to free her. There isn’t much of a story beyond that though as the game didn’t really have cutscenes except for brief text at the end of each world. You must now journey through all of the levels to get to the end. Each of the 8 worlds has 4 levels and they’re all a few minutes long so you can get through the game very quickly. There are also some shortcuts which allow you to skip whole worlds.

I’ve seen some speed runs where a guy beats it in a matter of minutes so the shortcuts in this game are certainly quite legit. I found one by chance during my playthrough which I did use. It’s definitely cool and a nice little Easter Egg for fans who play through the game. The gameplay is pretty straightforward as you run through the level and try to make it to the flag at the end. (Or you touch the axe at the end if it’s a boss level) The controls may feel a bit slippery if you haven’t played it in a while. Mario tends to keep his momentum during the jumps so you can very quickly find yourself flying away.

The graphics are fairly basic, but look nice. The game has a solid aesthetic. There is a good variety in the levels and there was clearly a good amount of effort put into the game. The soundtrack is also pretty nice. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here though as once you beat the game I don’t see why you’d go through it a second time. At the very least, you probably wouldn’t do that right away. So this game will probably provide you with about an hour or two of entertainment. Of course, you can play this game for free almost anywhere so that’s not bad.

Naturally there isn’t much more to be said about the game since there isn’t a lot of content. I will say that I’m glad for the NES access points as they do come in handy for the retro games like this. My gameplay style is all about running in first and jumping later so I tend to get hit by the enemies quite a lot. Usually I die in cheesy ways, but in my defense I just can’t wait for the enemies to move. I got to go go go!

Overall, Super Mario Bros is definitely good. It reminds you of how much quality Nintendo always puts into their products. It’s easy to see why Mario did so well. I’m sure the game probably amazed everyone back in the day. If you’re a big Nintendo fan then I’d certainly urge you to play this at least once. You’ve really got to experience Super Mario Bros to see why it’s such a big deal for everyone. It’s a good moment for gaming history in general.

Overall 7/10

Tetris 99 Review


With Nintendo finally having a new direct after such an extended absence of not having one, I was definitely ready to see what they would announce. They did not disappoint with their big title being Tetris 99. Right now we are in the era of the freemium games. Why pay 60 for something like Call of Duty when you can play Fortnite for free and still get all of the features? I think we will keep seeing a rise in these kind of games and that’s a good thing. Of course, that does mean that the shovel ware may start to come soon but we’ll tackle that issue when it arises.

The game is pretty simple fundamentally. You have a large board of columns and rows and blocks start to fall into it one at a time. Your goal is to keep the blocks from filling it up which means that you have to destroy the blocks. The way that you do that is by filling up a full row. Sounds easy enough right? There are only about 5 different kinds of blocks so you’ll want to memorize how they go.

It’s definitely a lot harder than it sounds though. The game assumes that you are already quite proficient with Tetris so there is no tutorial to be found or anything like that. You’re just tossed into the action and from there you have to learn these things. One thing that takes some time to get used to is the fact that even if a block looks like it should fit, you can’t put a block under a space that is filled. This is the single trickiest part that will mess you up over and over again until you finally master how that works.

By that point you will want to work on your speed. You’re able to cause the piece to fall immediately to the ground or you can go slow and take your time. The latter is only when you are unsure of what to do as the former is always better. Taking your time is just asking other players to attack you and cause the screen to fill right up. Of course, going fast when you’re not sure what to do will just cause you to lose so it’s definitely a tough choice. Right now I’ve only reached top 50 a few times and haven’t come close to winning yet so I still need some practice.

That’s all about Tetris though so let’s talk about the 99 part. This is a battle royale after all. There are 98 other players also trying to keep their jars empty. When you clear a row you get to send a piece of junk to the opponent. They can clear it away by also clearing a row. However, if they fail to do so on time then a bunch of blocks will fill up a few rows. With less rows to use you can see how this would make things difficult. You can choose who to attack for quick KOs, but it takes some time and in a fast paced game like this it’s risky.

The graphics are pretty nice I’d say. The levels are bright and everything is well defined. It may not be the next Kingdom Hearts, but you’ll always know what you’re doing with minimal confusion. (Well, not counting the mechanics as you’ll need to look those up) There isn’t much of a soundtrack that I noticed but the tunes that you hear in the background are all pretty fitting. There was clearly some good effort put into this game. I also hear that it’ll be getting some ongoing updates so that should make the game even better.

The replay value here is pretty self explanatory. You can just keep playing to get a lot better and more proficient at everything. The game keeps detailed stats including your Play Time and Wins. Your user level also goes up. I got up to around level 5-6 and I saw some people as high as 21. It’s the little things like that which help take this game to the next level.

Overall, Tetris 99 is definitely fun. The matches are quick so it’s easy to just keep on going. The loading times between battles are a bit long admittedly but I guess that makes sense considering how many people are playing in each battle. The aesthetic is nice and as the game is free there isn’t really a drawback to buying it. I’d definitely recommend getting this game ASAP as it will naturally be a lot more fun when everyone is playing it. It’s the kind of game where you want to have a full lobby to fully appreciate what the game should be like. There isn’t a whole lot of other stuff to say about this game due to the very nature of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a title you should play.

Overall 7/10

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge Review


I’m not too familiar with Banjo-Kazooie despite hearing the name a whole lot. The problem is that most of the games never came out for a console that I’ve owned. This is the first installment that I get to play. The lead duo seem fun enough and I’m always up for more platformers. I may have joined this franchise late, but better late than never right? It’s a fun title and one that you won’t want to miss on for the GBA. You don’t have to worry about playing previous games to understand what is going on here.

The plot starts with Gruntilda escaping her rocky grave to enact her revenge on Banjo and Kazooie. She succeeds in kidnapping Kazooie so now Banjo must do whatever he can to get his pal back. Fortunately his friends are around to give him useful tips and transformation techniques so he can succeed at this goal. Once the duo is together again, they vow to put an end to Gruntilda’s plans once and for all. Let the villains try to stop them, nobody can mess with their teamwork!!

The plot is fairly direct as you’d expect. There are 6 worlds and each one has a certain amount of objects to obtain. Grab enough and you can head to the next world. You’ll need 50/60 of them in order to fight the final boss so you can effectively skip a world if you collected them all. I don’t think it is possible to skip the entire world since some orbs can’t be obtained until after you get some other power ups but you can skip a reasonable chunk of them. Each world is connected through a door so by the end of the game the hub world is quite huge. You’ll probably get lost a few times, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and then it’ll all be cake for you.

The levels use an overhead camera and you move as you would expect. You start the game only being able to jump and roll but by the end you can glide, use super jumps, and have an array of other abilities at your disposal. You better make sure your L and R buttons work well because if they’re damaged like mine then the latter levels could be a little tougher than you might expect. Always keep your guard up. None of the levels feel cheesy and there aren’t any bugs that I came across so the game is designed well.

Graphically the game has aged quite well. The character models are on point and the level layouts are nice. There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack, but the themes aren’t bad. On a technical level the game succeeds. I also naturally have to mention that the sound effects used for whenever a character would talk are naturally a blast as well. It reminds me of Yooka Laylee which is likely a homage to this title. Everyone sounds like they’re gargling under water and over the top effects like that are always fun. The only area where the game does get a bit iffy with the replay value though. You’ll be able to easily 100% the game in under 10 hours. At that point there won’t be anything more to do. Still, it’s a fun play through and if anyone ever asks you what a platformer is you can redirect them to this game. It contains everything you would expect to be in a title of this genre. It’s a solid all around title.

I also appreciate how Banjo and Kazzoie both have unique personalities. It feels like some platforming protagonists don’t have a whole lot to say or express during the game. These guys are not like that. Kazooie is the kind of guy who is constantly throwing insults around and he keeps everyone on edge. While getting kidnapped may prevent you from taking his tough talk seriously, it’s always good to have a character like that. Without him the villains would probably walk all over Banjo. In comparison, Banjo’s a very nice guy who is always doing his best. He stays polite through it all and I suppose that this is admirable although he isn’t nearly as much fun as Kazooie.

Aside from the main platforming levels you also have a few minigames which are always fun. One of them is a fishing game where you have to reel in some fish. The timing of it can definitely get tricky and you’ll need to grab a lot of them but it’s a satisfying side mission to grab your attention. Then you also have the slides, there seems to be 1 per world. These are easy but also a nice detour as you try to grab a lot of energy pieces. I’d be game for more little side events like that.

As for the villains, we have two of them in this title. The main villain is Gruntilda who is a witch with a lot of hype. She seems reasonably tough and I do like her confidence. She is a lot better than her sidekick who is a very smart King K Rool type foe, but one who doesn’t command her level of respect. I can see them returning for most if not all of the games in the series.

Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game. I can see why the series was well liked in the past. The levels are well designed and the gameplay is pretty smooth. It has some unique gimmicks to complement the adventure and you’ll get to use all of your skills as the game goes on. It’s a little on the short side, but I imagine that the main games would have had a lot more content to wrap things up. If you get this game for a good price then it’s certainly worth it. I don’t think this series will be ready for the big hitters quite yet, but I look forward to a modern remake some day.

Overall 7/10

Owlboy Review


It’s time to look at another one of the Christmas titles. Owlboy is a classic side scroller that you may or may not have heard of. It’s an indie title that managed to make a pretty good name for itself. In this era of nostalgia it’s easy to see how this game could succeed, but even without that element it’s just a sound game through and through. The gameplay is solid and the plot is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients in making a solid video game.

The plot starts with an owl named Otus. He’s had a pretty rough time of it as his mentor constantly puts him down with insults. Otus tries hard, but he just can’t seem to get anything right. He is put on watch duty one day but leaves his post and then invaders show up. The kingdom is quickly taken down and naturally Otus is blamed. To be fair, he does deserve some blame here, but based on how quickly the kingdom went down it would not have mattered much anyway. Now Otus must try to secure the 4 relics before the villains do or the entire planet may suffer the consequences. Otus isn’t really a go getter but fortunately his best friend is here to help. Together, along with a few more allies along the way, Otus is ready to finally make a name for himself and prove that anyone can make a difference.

The gameplay is sort of like your typical 2D platformer, but with a twist. The twist is quite massive as you can fly. As Otus, you can zoom across the stage and your main attack is a spin move. You can also carry your partner around which will give you a new attack based on who you are carrying. Whether you obtain a gun, fire, or another attack it definitely increases your options. You can quickly switch from one partner to the next throughout a level based on who will be the most effective to use. The controls when flying are quite smooth and you definitely won’t hear any complaints from me. I will say that the town is a little hard to navigate with how huge it is though. I couldn’t find the shop to get my health upgrade after the tutorial so I had to fight the final boss with the default stats. I still won of course, but the health would have been nice. My game ended up freezing at the end, but fortunately it was after winning so I could end without any doubts.

As the game is named Owlboy you’d probably assume that it is referring to Otus right? Well, that ends up not being the case and it’s interesting to see who the Owlboy really is. With a limited number of characters you’ll probably be able to guess before long, but it’s a good twist nonetheless. The cast is reasonably solid. The best character for me was certainly the main villain. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that you never get to take him on. He ends up getting his plot resolved through a cutscene so the final boss is someone else who isn’t quite as cool. The main villain’s design was just so solid so maybe he’ll show up again in a sequel or something.

I was less impressed with Otus though. As you may know, I’ve never been a big fan of the more timid characters. I like the aggressive fighters who rush into danger constantly and are always ready for some big fights. That just doesn’t describe Otus even if he does get his big moments at the end. His best friend is also a bit sketchy since he was quick to ditch the cause and tends to panic a lot. I won’t go as far as to say I was rooting for the villains, but I do admit that they were the more interesting characters. Nonetheless, the game will keep you entertained with its story.

Owlboy is fairly short so the plot starts up very quickly. The enemies waste no time in attacking and the plot is always moving. The main game will take you 4-7 hours I’d say but if you try to get all of the gems and such along the way you can extend the time a bit. As a result, there isn’t a whole lot of replay value though. Grabbing all of the trophies in the game will naturally help though and grabbing all of the gems will take a good amount of patience. The game doesn’t sell for $60 though so the reduced price helps complete the package and make it worth the purchase. A good, but quick game is better than a long, but tedious one.

The graphics look pretty nice. The sprites are very clean and polished while the level designs are varied and original. It’s easy to keep up with what’s happening on screen. I thought the soundtrack was decent as well, perhaps not the most memorable but it worked well enough. Owlboy succeeds in its technical merits and as I mentioned the character designs could be quite good. Some nice lighting techniques were used for the main villain to really show how intimidating he was.

Overall, Owlboy is definitely a fun game. While it may not be quite as loud and energetic as something like Shantae, it has its own charm. It’s a very peaceful game to have fun with and the gameplay is pretty unique. Being able to fly almost indefinitely is always tough for the level designers and I think they did a good job of not letting it become too OP. They definitely deserve some kudos there. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. This is a solid game that I could recommend to anyone.

Overall 7/10

Tank! Tank! Tank! Review


It’s time to look at a game I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. The cover and screenshots looked pretty good and it has a 3D multiplayer option. You can’t really beat that. Alas, there’s a reason why this game isn’t getting the critical acclaim that you might expect. The reason is that the game is quite limited in content and won’t last for very long. At full price this would be quite dicey.

The basic plot is that you are fighting off an alien invasion. We don’t know why all of these Kaiju and robots are attacking but it’s up to you and your tanks to fight them back. Show these guys that Earth is not on the menu. Defeat is not an option so fortunately you will have quite a few tanks to choose from by the end. The story is also co-op enabled or you can have an A.I. jump in.

The basic gameplay is probably just as you would have imagined it to be. You control the tank and drive around 3D environments as you take it to the monsters. You have your main weapon and you can also grab 2 other temporary ones during the level from enemies you defeat. You will naturally be driving around during this as well to try and dodge as many shots as possible but be warned that some tanks have a very hard time moving. Sometimes it’s best to just find a good spot and hold your ground. It definitely looks and feels like the arcade game that it is which adds a nostalgic twist to the title. The gameplay may not be quite as smooth as you would like but it feels natural.

The graphics are nice and bright with colorful designs for the monsters and the levels. It all looks pretty solid even if not groundbreaking. It’s a game that is very nice to look at visually. The soundtrack is less impressive as the game has a very small amount of tunes which keep on looping. The tunes aren’t bad but more of a selection would have been good. You can only hear the same tune so many times before it loses some impact.

Now lets talk about what hurt the game quite a bit. It’s the fact that the title really tries to artificially extend its length. There are around 35 levels in the game but at first you can only play around 8. How do you unlock the next batch? You have to beat all of the levels again with a different tank. The game runs on a star system. You get 1 star every time you beat a level. To complete the game you need dozens and dozens of stars so you have to complete each of the levels over and over again. It’s done to a very tedious degree.

I understand that the game wants you to play it a little extra, but you can’t lock the main story behind such a thing. What that shows is that the developers were nervous and thought people wouldn’t willingly replay the levels purely for the tanks. They have to trust in their game or put some good unlockables in. I played their game for a while and did the replays, but when I saw that I had to replay the 20 levels again deep into the game I just put it down. There’s just no way I was going to do that many levels just to play a few more reskins.

Yes, towards the end of the game you started fighting the same bosses and opponents over and over again. The stage limit is limited and same with the character models. As a result you can tell that this should be a short game. It just didn’t have the production values to be extended so much by just reusing the levels. The game could have been clever with shifting the levels or the goals a bit to make it more unique, but didn’t do any of that.

So, Tank Tank Tank is a fun game, but it is stretched out to the point where it loses some brownie points with you. It does have a good amount of replay value though I suppose. Beating all of the levels with all of the tanks will take quite a while. Each level is fairly short at only 1-2 minutes, but beating it over and over again just isn’t the most enjoyable experience. You also have to take into account the short cutscenes that play before each level which cannot be skipped. They’re short, but it’s the little things like this which hurt a bit. Fortunately the game does have a multiplayer option which is where most of the real replay value will come in. Now that’s a mode where you can play for a long time without getting bored.

Overall, I would still recommend this game. It goes for bargain prices nowadays so that will help with the lack of content issue. It’s a good low price option for getting in some multiplayer fun. You also have to give it some credit for the cool monster designs. The whole thing feels like a big Kaiju homage at times. You have characters like Ghidorah and King Kong running around and again, the core gameplay is fun. That’s still the most important part of any game and this one nails down that part so you’re still going to have fun. It’s best in short batches and if you follow that you’ll be entertained for quite a while.

Overall 7/10

Splatoon Review


It’s time to look at one of the biggest new Nintendo IPs. When this game first came out it was getting a lot of buzz. After all, it seems like Nintendo hadn’t had a new IP in a while as typically we just got more games for the established series. This would also be a shooter which is very different from what they usually churn out. After playing it I can see why this game was such a big hit. The multiplayer is definitely the big appeal for this title but it does have some single player content to keep you busy as well.

The basic plot of the game is that the big electric fish has been stolen. The main character is quickly brought into a secret task force in order to combat this threat. He has to find out who is responsible and put a stop to this madness. The kid is up to the task and is equipped with an ink gun. As he is part squid, he can use this to his advantage. The actual story isn’t particularly long. It’s a little under 3 hours so you’ll breeze through it. Still, it works as a pretty good tutorial. You’ll learn all the basics in terms of shooting and movement. The levels aren’t too hard, but are challenging enough where you will need to use some strategy. Prepare to get destroyed when you first go online, but you’ll pick up on the controls right away.

The gameplay is that of a third person shooter. You use your ink gun to blast away at the enemies. The objective of the match is to paint the stage in your color as much as possible in multiplayer and to simply make it to the end of the level in story mode. As the game is very team based how you perform will depend on your teammates. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a single player option for online, but I guess the point of the game overall is about teamwork. If you decide to try and do everything on your own then it simply won’t work. That being said, I was able to get a lot of players in my second round when I tried that tactic. I still wouldn’t officially advise it.

Of course, this game has been out for several years and the sequel is already in stores as well. As a result, finding a match can be pretty hard now. It took a little while for the game to put me in a fight and the first time it actually kicked us out since we only had 7/8 of the players needed. Once you do get in it’s a blast but this is definitely the kind of game that loses a bit of its appeal as it gets older. You’re better off just jumping right into the second game which is certainly very active and will stay like that for a very long time.

The multiplayer automatically adds a bunch of replay value and there’s more stuff to do in single player mode as well. Try to grab as many orbs as possible in order to level up your equipment and continue on your goal of being maxed out. In Multiplayer each match gives you coins which you can then use to buy new clothes and such. It’s a nice incentive system and Nintendo clearly put in a lot of work here. Nothing about the game feels like it was given anything but their best effort. It’s a shooter that is easy to pick up but there are enough mechanics where training will feel like it pays off.

The soundtrack is very lively and energetic. I don’t think I would put it in the same conversation as something like Mario of course, but it’s reasonable to say that it will age fairly well. I look forward to seeing what tunes are in the sequel although they may start to blend together. The lore around the universe is a little less interesting to be honest. I don’t really care much for the setting and the plot could be a bit dull. This is a game that lives or dies on its multiplayer so make sure that you have a good connection before playing.

The graphics definitely look really good. The sharp colors have aged very well and this is the kind of Wii U game that can try to pass for a Switch title. You won’t have any complaints with the technical merits of the game. Again, if I had gotten this game a little sooner I think it would have had a very strong case for being an 8 star title. Alas, I have to dock a point since there aren’t nearly as many people playing it now and that will only grow more apparent as the days go by.

Overall, Splatoon is a fun game. I’m glad that I finally got to experience this title to see what all the hype was all about. It’s certainly deserved and I’m sure that I’ll probably grab Splatoon 2 a little sooner than it took me to get the first one. Maybe now this will give me more of an incentive to play the Inklings in Smash. Regardless as I mentioned several times, while I recommend this game you should probably just go and get the 2nd one. This game will probably be dead before you know it. The fan base is loyal enough where I’m sure some will stay with this one for years, but not enough to consistently get a match whenever you want. That won’t be a problem with the sequel.

Overall 7/10

Rango Review


It’s time to look at a cash-in for a movie that I haven’t even seen yet. Rango is one of those games that I wasn’t initially planning to buy, but Gamestop had a B2 G1 Free sale and I needed a third game. The gameplay seemed reasonably fun and these titles are typically short so what’s the harm right? It’s a fun game even if there isn’t a whole lot to it. You can feel right away that this isn’t a AAA title and while the premise for the gameplay is good, it just isn’t very polished. It makes for a fun game for a one time playthrough.

The story involves a lizard who is the Sheriff of a village. One day, one of his friends runs into his bar and gets vaporized as he takes out a mysterious stone. Everyone at the tavern is shocked, but Rango calmly explains what has been going on. His story takes up most of the game as each level is a different experience that he had in the previous week. He doesn’t remember everything too well and likes to throw in some hyperbole so the viewers have to keep things real for him at times. Still, with aliens involved it does seem as if Rango is their best chance for survival. Can he do it?

The gameplay is pretty simple. It’s a 3D platformer game. You move and jump across the obstacles. You also have a gun on hand which you use to blast away at the enemies. Alternately you can engage them in hand to hand combat, but there is little reason to do that since the gun is simply better at all times. You’ll get the hang of the controls in mere moments. Jumping is important while shooting at all times to keep your counter combo up by not letting your opponents strike. You want the counter high because you get extra money that way and that’s how you get upgrades to all of your skills. The gun upgrades are definitely good to have. By the end you’ll be shooting so fast and the reload will be nonexistent. Of course, this game isn’t meant to be challenging anyway, but you’ll progress through the levels quicker which is always good.

There are around 9-10 levels in the game and most of them are quite short. You’ll be done with the game in 2-3 hours I’d say. It’s a pretty short amount of time, but at least there are trophies to obtain which helps a bit with the replay value. You’ll also be buying the game for a pretty cheap price at least which helps. I do have to still give it a thumbs down in the replay value department though. This is the kind of game that you play once, but typically won’t go back to. That’s just the way it’s built.

Naturally there isn’t all that much to say about the graphics either. It’s not as if they are downright bad or anything like that, but they just don’t stand out. They are as average as the graphics can get. Still, as long as the levels are clear that’s what counts. Likewise the soundtrack isn’t anything special either. It’s around, but you won’t remember any of the tunes once you have finished. Again, this is just a very average game, but I’ll take average over bad.

This review isn’t exactly all that positive, but you have to understand that I enjoy the average game. As long as a video game doesn’t make any big mistakes I’ll probably have fun with it. That’s the case with this game. Rango provides some fun levels with good gameplay. We also get a few racing levels and the fact that we get an actual story with cutscenes helps the game as well. It’ll keep you entertained throughout. One thing I have to warn you about is how often you shoot though. R2 is the trigger button which is normal but your finger will probably be sore by the end with how much you have to spam it. It’s because this is like in the Wild West so you have to keep pressing instead of holding the button down. I was ready for the game to be over by the end so my hand could get a break.

Overall, Rango is a good PS3 game. It is exactly what you would expect it to be like. These movie tie-ins rarely try to mislead you into thinking that they are something that they are not. This is a very basic 3D platformer game. It’s no Mario or Sonic nor is it trying to be. It’s just trying to earn some extra cash while giving you some good levels. If you tend to like these movie tie-ins then I would recommend checking it out. If you need something more from your gaming experiences then you can safely skip this one since it won’t give you any of that. At least we do get a retro arcade type level as a nice homage to the old days of gaming by the end.

Overall 7/10

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Review


It’s time to look at one of the new Christmas games! I’ve always been a really huge fan of Mario Power Tennis for Gamecube and in many ways it was incredibly ahead of its time. The gameplay was exceptional and there was a good array of characters to choose from. There were many modes and the replay value was off the charts. Since then the series has struggled and unfortunately Ultra Tennis does nothing to escape from this. It ends up being a vastly inferior version of Power Tennis.

Right from the start you will realize that something is off as there is no Tournament Mode. You really only have 3 options here. Vs battles with the CPU, Mega Rally, and Online battles. There are some nuances here like Simple Tennis, Standard Tennis, Mega, etc. These are just different versions of the battles though. Gone are the minigames and such. You’ll just be playing a lot of Tennis so get ready.

This game really tries to get you to play around with the new Mega options. So much so in fact that this is the default Tennis game and is used in the survival mode rumble. Get ready for this to extend every match as it is hard to lose when you are big. The only real way to stop the computers is to also turn huge and at that point it’s just a lot of back and forth. I can tell you now that I am not a fan of this mechanic. It’s a very forced gimmick. I don’t mind having it as an option, but certainly not as the default. You just can’t get around it for most of the game.

The actual gameplay aside from that is unfortunately a step down from the last game as well. You now have a bunch of different shots that you can use based on the color of the circle next to the ball. I guess this is a way to let newer players know when the proper time is to use each one. The main problem with this is that it makes the game easier and makes those shots more effective. You’re now letting the game tell you what to do. Power Tennis had it perfect so why change the setup? Nintendo really went overboard with all of the extra gimmicks during this era. I would say that the new Mario Tennis for Switch could fix it, but I played a bit of that one and it seems like a step below Ultra so that’s worrisome.

Again, if you want to have fun you should go to the Simple Tennis mode. That one plays the most similar to Power Tennis and is just a far more rewarding experience. The matches are quicker without the turning huge part and it just feels a lot more natural. Still, if you like the new additions then you’ll be able to experience that everywhere else. Not for very long though as the game is quite short.

So I mentioned that there is no tournament mode so why are you playing anyway? Well, there are 25 achievements in the game. All of them are meant to grind the experience even further. You have to beat 15 opponents in a row with a bunch of different characters to get their Star form. You also have to play 10 games of each mode, get to 100 in the Rally mode, and make it to round 40 in survival. They’re mostly fairly easy or at least achievable with time, but you can tell that they just take a really long time to do. That’s easily well over 100 games if you want to do them all. Fortunately you can buy the achievements with money that you earn from the matches. It still takes a long time and I lost count of how many matches I completed, but buying them all is definitely the best way to go about it. I finished the game with 3 hours and 39 minutes of play time so it is considerably short. That is 100% of the single player content done. At that point all there is to do is online and local multiplayer. A good multiplayer game can last with just that, but this isn’t exactly Super Smash and there is virtually no reason to play it if you still have Power Tennis. As a result, I have to give this game the thumbs down there.

Still, to give it a bad score just because it isn’t as good as a previous installment just isn’t enough of a justification for me. If Power Tennis did not exist then this game would probably be more fun. I’ll acknowledge that the game could and should have been a lot better, but at its core it is a reasonable tennis game. The gameplay is still fairly entertaining and you’ll be able to play it for a few hours at least. The price isn’t that bad nowadays either. I recommend playing the Mega Ball rally a bit just because it’s at least a slightly different way to play here. It’s the only minigame that survived but what wrecks this one as well is the fact that you can lose if you beat your opponent. You have to keep the ball going back and forth so if you or the CPU loses then it’s all over.

Then there are the graphics which are quite good. The game still does look very modern. The colors are vibrant and the character designs are on point. That’s certainly what I like to see in a big Nintendo game. I’ll also give the soundtrack a thumbs up even if it isn’t the most original one out there. It sounds nice while you’re playing and that’s the important part. Even if the replay value isn’t high, the technicals are on point. It’ll be a fun game for a while even if the time is limited.

Overall, Mario Ultra Tennis is not the game changer that you would hope it could be, but it’s not a bad title. I do think the developers spent a reasonable amount of time with it. They just tried to be too inventive with the controls. It’s a Tennis game, they really don’t need to be doing anything too fancy with it. Just nail the fundamentals and the rest would come into place just fine. If you haven’t played the other Tennis games then this is a reasonable pick. If you still have a Gamecube/Wii though then I would recommend picking up Power Tennis instead. Trust me, I’ve put in over 100 hours on that game and it is legendary. You would not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 7/10

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review


I remember pre-ordering Spyro a long time ago. I’ve played most of the games in the series and they were a lot of fun so why not right? After this trilogy I’m only missing one other trilogy and then I’ll be caught up with the franchise. The only real catch is that Spyro games are typically best when played one at a time. When you play all of them back to back like this then the issues start to show a little more. Still, this is a trilogy that has a lot of content for you to explore and it looks/plays pretty well. Certainly a must have for any big platformer fan.

The first game has all of the dragons get turned into stone. It makes for an intense start since if everyone else was taken down how does Spyro have a chance? Also you have to keep in mind the fact that Spyro’s basically just a kid and the villain beat everyone with ease. Still, Spyro never backs down from a fight and prepared to win right away. It’s part of what makes him such a quality character. Enjoy the intro though as this game’s plot takes a back seat for most of the game.

Spyro 1 has aged pretty well. Unlike Spyro 2 and 3 you won’t really need to back track in order to beat the game as long as you did a good job grabbing a lot of dragons and Gems. It didn’t feel like much of a grind at least. The 3D gameplay is quite solid and the level designs are on point. As this is the first game it got to experiment quite a bit and the sequels would tweak it all. The gameplay is pretty similar across all 3 games so I’ll mainly be tackling it here. You can glide for short distances and also shoot fire at enemies. Finally you have a ramming attack which can take down any enemy who has armor. Learn these combos well and you’ll be ready for the big time.

Spyro 2 ramps up the plot as our hero finds himself in a new world when his portal generator didn’t work as expected. Here we have Ripto who has decided to conquer this planet since no dragons are around to save it. Well, Spyro won’t be having any of that and he quickly gets ready for action. Compared to the first game the dragons get a lot more respect here. Spyro alone is able to turn the tides of a planet wide invasion. How’s that for power? We also get introduced to a slew of supporting characters who will stay important for the rest of the franchise like the Cheetah and a new heroine.

Spyro 2 is very similar to the first game in just about every thing from the level designs to the gameplay. It’s a fundamentally sound game, but the forced repetition starts to show up a bit here. If you want to beat the game you’ll probably have to go back to old levels to get a few more orbs. I like collecting things and earning trophies, but I always think that this should be a voluntary thing. When you start forcing players to go back and get various collectibles just to see the ending then the game starts to go a little too far. Still, there’s a good amount of content here and the controls are a little more streamlined.

Then we have the third game. Spyro is back once more, but now a mysterious villain named Bianca has appeared along with her master. They rule the original Dragon World and Spyro has to stop them to show that justice always prevails. This game has a full story that has even more cutscenes than the first two. It easily has the most enjoyable plot and the gameplay is at its tightest. Unfortunately it has the most forced grinding in the game. You’re going to have to grab a whole lot of collectibles if you want to see the ending here. Not necessarily the kind of thing you want to hear in a platformer to be honest. You won’t be able to enjoy the levels as much as you would like since you have to be focused on grabbing all the gems and eggs.

Throughout all 3 games the graphics are on point. Everything looks very sharp and modern. The developers did a great job modernizing the game without altering what makes it a classic. The soundtrack is less memorable, but it has some reasonable tunes thrown in. You’ll probably just forget almost all of them by the time you get through the game. On a technical level the game is good, but not amazing. As this is a collection is goes without saying that there is a lot of replay value though. The price is quite solid and it took me close to 13 hours to complete the game. If you go for all of the Platinum Trophies across the trilogy I expect you’ll be playing this game for close to 30 hours. The collecting will also be a lot more fun once you are doing it intentionally.

Again, the trilogy does suffer from a lot of repetition. All 3 games are basically the same game in many respects. Unless you’re a really big fan of the game this could easily impact the score for you. However, if you take a break between games that should help considerably. I doubt I would even notice the repetition much if I had played them individually when they first came out. It’s not enough to lower the score or anything, but I still hold my position that being able to just blast through to the ending would have been pretty nice.

Overall, The Spyro Trilogy is pretty fun. The game ultimately holds itself back from being great due to not being ambitious enough, but ultimately does what it sets out to do. The level designs are on point and you’ll be introduced to all of the big characters. I don’t think you’ll be able to find anything wrong with the level designs and the controls are quite easy to master. At the end of the day you may leave this trilogy feeling a little empty, but satisfied nonetheless. I still look forward to getting the final trilogy for Spyro one day, but it’ll probably be a little while. It was close between this game and the Crash trilogy, but I have to say that Crash ultimately did win the day. What it lacked in plot it made up for in gameplay.

Overall 7/10