Ninjala Review

It sure took me a while to play this game but it definitely lived up to the hype. This may be a hot take but pure gameplay wise I actually prefer this to Splatoon. Of course a big part of that is the fact that you’re on your own here and don’t need to fight as part of a team. Then you’ve also got the close combat gameplay which is even better than the ink shooting.

The game even looks a lot like Splatoon which I have to assume is intentional. The game has a lot of modes but naturally you’ll be most interested in jumping online to get right into the battle royale. There are around 8 players in a given match and you have to try and get the most points. You obtain points by grabbing orbs around the stage, more points by breaking these little sandbags all around, and a ton of points by knocking out other players. The gap in points is rather large: 20-100-400 so knocking out players is your best bet. They’ll be trying to get in your way regardless so it makes sense to try and take them out right off the bat.

The controls are fairly simple here. You can run along the ground and up the walls as well as jump. You have a dash attack which lets you get up close and from there you have your standard attacks and a super attack once your meter gets high enough. It seems like characters have different moves so you’ll want to learn them but your main method of attack will be with classic attacks. Land a good combo and you’ll take your opponent out in an instant. It’s definitely the way to go if you want to be the one wearing the championship belt.

The thing I don’t like about the gameplay is that it has a rock paper scissors mechanic going like in Pokken. So when you clash you both have to choose a direction and hope it’s the right one. I never cared for this kind of mechanic and don’t get why it tends to pop up every now and again. Why would you want to throw some random variables into a fighting game? That seems like the last genre to add such a thing since you want it to all be about your individual skill right? Seems to me like throwing this in just muddies the waters.

It’s also pretty much inevitable that you will have several clashes in every fight so get ready to see this mechanic a lot. Personally I’d say the game should drop it and then it would feel a lot more balanced. It would really make you have to focus on when you want to attack and try to stay cautious so nobody ambushes you. Yes that would definitely be the best way to do it and I think that would work out for everyone.

Well, even with that I did manage to win my first few rounds but I suspect the game threw in some bots. I can’t prove it, but I was fighting several opponents with very generic names like Paul and Chris. No extra letters or numbers so I find the odds of them getting those names to be rather slim. I was also dominating throughout and sure I’m great at picking up on a game’s mechanics right away but I was a little suspicious. It was almost too easy which started to tip me off. Maybe I’m overanalyzing this, it’s possible but I’m not buying it.

After a few wins then I started seeing a lot of fancy names and the games quickly grew harder. Ninjala is certainly a game that is easy to start but hard to master. Don’t expect that you can just walk in and start claiming wins. This game isn’t quite so easy as all of that. There are quite a few mechanics to master and that makes sense since the tutorial seemed really large. I quit out of it after the first lesson but you’d want to study it all if you intend on playing for a long while.

I should also mention that there are some bonus stars. You’re scored by total points at the end of the round but you then gain some for doing the most damage, most KOs, etc. So keep that in mind, just because you have the most points when entering the results screen doesn’t mean that you will win in the end. That actually bumped me down from 1st to 2nd once. It’s an interesting idea but I think the game should go by base points. If you win then you win, no worrying about extra factors or any of that.

The graphics are solid. This definitely looks like a very modern game and it’s also very colorful. There’s a lot to look at and the levels have a lot of detail to them. I definitely have no issues there and the soundtrack is good as well. This really is a solid all around title and if you ever threw in a big cinematic story mode then this could be a great game even without online. The gameplay is certainly polished enough to make it work.

Overall, Ninjala is a fun game. I don’t really see people talking about it anymore so its window of fame may have already ended but the fundamentals are sound. I like that you don’t have to enter in teams like a lot of the similar online titles. You can just jump in and take names. While the battle royale results being based on points does mean that you can lose even while playing super well, it won’t be too likely. Beating opponents gets you the most points so as long as you do that well then you should be in high spirits. I would definitely recommend checking this game out for a fun blast.

Overall 7/10

Fall Guys Review

It’s great to finally have Fall Guys as a free to play game. I remember that one got a ton of hype along with Among Us and really broke out into the mainstream. Well, I can say that Fall Guys lives up to the hype and is definitely a fun title. There is a lot of downtime both between and during matches so you’ll want to have something with you to read or play in those moments but the actual gameplay is a lot of fun.

The controls are extremely simple here. You can move, jump, dive jump, and grab things. That’s it, the idea is to survive until the end and have everyone else be eliminated. This is done over the course of a few different events that will test your platforming skills. At the end of the day the big thing here is definitely being able to react quickly and get to the end. The really fun part of course is that you’re up against a bunch of fellow players who are presumably good at platformers too. So it’s not like you’re styling on a bunch of A.I. or anything like that. You’re going up against potential world champs.

It’s also not easy to win because the levels themselves are also reasonably challenging. So between that and the other players then you’ve got quite a lot to balance out. I managed to get 1 win during my first day of playing but it still did take quite a few rounds before I got there. Don’t expect to get a win right away. No matter how good you are at platforming, it’s still going to take a little bit to get used to exactly how this works. Also, there are quite a few different levels and they randomly alternate so eventually you just want to be really good at all of them. Otherwise all it takes is one tough minigame to knock you out of the event.

Once you lose you can choose to stay and watch the others or leave. I personally recommend leaving so you can start the next event a little sooner. On the flip side if you win a level early then you have to keep on watching until the rest of the players make it. This is the downtime I was talking about before and so you’ll probably want to have a plan for that. Otherwise it probably can drag a little which could hurt the experience for you. It is necessary as I don’t see how the game can get around this though. So just stay ready and then you go up against all the rest in the next minigame as well. Rinse and repeat until you are the single champion

Naturally the game does have a level up system and lots of quests so you can work on those as you play the game normally. It’s always fun to have some kind of progression system and I dare say that any free to play game which is lacking in this will probably end up having a rough time. You need some kind of way to keep people coming back after all and this is a very tried and true way of doing it. The replay value never ends that way and the devs will just need to hit that sweet spot of getting new levels from time to time without removing all of the classics too quickly. I feel like they will be able to pull this off though.

It’s a rather simple formula that is hard to mess up. Who doesn’t like platforming anyway right? So long as the rest of the levels are fun like this one then I think you should be in a really good position going forward. The graphics are nice and while the little characters themselves may not be super stylish yet, you’ll unlock different wardrobe items to fully customize them. I expect within a year or so you’ll have countless items with which to make them hit the next level.

How long you stay with this game will probably depend on wat else you’re playing at the moment. After all, picture playing a Mario level for a while. It’s a lot of fun but how long will you keep playing until you decide to call it quits? A progression system in and of itself is probably not enough to keep you on the title forever. That said, one of its strengths is certainly how easy it is to pick up and play at any time. You don’t need to actually remember the game at all to quickly remember how to jump and move around. So as long as you have it downloaded you can easily feel like just playing it on a whim at some point.

Overall, I had a good time with Fall Guys. The developers were really smart in deciding to make a game like this. It’s one of those things that feels obvious afterwards since this is just a really great gimmick to go with. Who wouldn’t want to just be playing a lot of platforming levels and having a blast like this? It was satisfying to get the 1st place that one time after all and no matter what happens you always feel like you won or lost by your own efforts. At least right you never feel like the level RNG elements override your abilities. That’s probably the main thing the game needs to watch out for. Keep on experimenting and bringing in new things but be careful not to go too crazy. I’m confident this game can pull off the balance though.

Overall 7/10

Knockout City Review

Knockout City is one of those free to play games that looks like a lot of fun but I wouldn’t say that it was marketed too heavily. It was certainly possible to just end up missing out on it. Well, I got to play it and it’s quite a bit of fun. Its main weakness is that it does rely on a team format meaning you can only do as well as your teammates. That is sure to get a little dicey for a while unless you can find a squad to join up with but it’s a solid all around title.

The games really follow the ole Dodgeball rules. It’s not instant elimination when you’re hit though and instead you respawn somewhere on the map. A typical match is a 3 vs 3 battle and the first team to 10 points wins. Getting hit by a car or falling off of the map will award the other team a point as well so you really have to stay vigilant at all times. Otherwise you could wind up giving the other team some instant points.

The controls are fairly easy to get the hang of. You can shoot the ball, pass, jump, double jump, and glide. The most important mechanic of course is catching a ball when someone throws it at you. You don’t actually knock them out by doing that but you prevent them from taking any points and can then fire your ball back at them right away. A good defense is a good offense right? This is the best chance to put that into practice and really dish out the damage. It take a little practice but before long you should be able to pull this off without too many issues.

There are different balls which all have different abilities so you’ll want to keep an eye out for them. The level has a little info section about the ball so you always have a heads up though. There’s only one kind of gimmick ball per level so you won’t be seeing a ton of them just show up. That said, it’s hard to beat the classic ball since it just feels really good when you’re able to secure the win there.

There are other modes too like a super hero one where everyone has powers and a 2 v 2 v 2 mode. Unfortunately there is no free for all or survival kind of mode. It would be nice to have at least one mode where you were on your own and I think the game should look into getting that mode available right away. There’s a whole lot of potential there right out of the gate and not using it just feels like a pretty big mistake.

So the game is fun but here are my brief issues with it. I already went into the lack of a solo mode. The other one is that the wait between matches can feel a little long. The announcer is trying to be very engaging with how he yells between the rounds but it’s more on the grating side. I would say you don’t need an announcer here and the game could just use that time in silence or putting you in a practice field like what Fortnite does. It would make the matches a little more seamless.

I also think the game could show where the dodgeballs are a little better. Sometimes it feels like you’re running around for a while trying to find them and I suspect this was not intentional. It just doesn’t seem to me like the game would want to make it hard for you to find the Dodgeballs so I suspect this wasn’t intentional. Perhaps there is a way to locate them easier and the game’s tutorial just didn’t cover it. That’s certainly possible so I don’t want to rule it out.

The graphics are solid here. They may not be cutting edge or anything as this is still a free to play game but it does well enough for itself. You should have a good time here. Then there is the soundtrack which is more on the forgettable side. You’re here for the gameplay either way though and that’s where the title excels. It does well with the Dodgeball mechanics and now we really know that the sport is possible to make into a video game. I’m surprised more titles don’t adapt this sport. I feel like there is a lot of potential here.

There’s naturally a ton of replay value as this game should go on for many years. You’ll have different modes popping in and out, new items, outfits, etc. As you progress through the levels you’ll unlock more things as well and one of the main advantages of a game like this is that the content never has to end. So if you like Dodgeball then this is a solid one to check out.

Overall, Knockout City does well in what it’s trying to accomplish. I had fun playing some rounds here and there. Ultimately it’s not quite as good as the big free to play title on the market in Fortnite though so it will be hard for this one to break out. It may end up getting a strong core fanbase but ultimately you need a lot of people if you want to become the next big thing and I’m not convinced that this one will make it in the long run. Guess we’ll see how it plays out.

Overall 7/10

New Super Lucky’s Tale Review

This is a platformer that got a whole lot of hype back in the day. It looked very polished but also retro in a sense as it would be a simple platformer filled with a lot of fun and no real gimmicks. I’d say it delivers on that too, you’ve got a solid amount of level variety. Each level is rather short but they all feel different and are very fast paced. You shouldn’t have any problems playing through it and there is also a good amount of replay value.

Lucky has to try and get the chapters of the legendary book back before it’s too late. There’s a dark overlord scheming to use this for evil and the whole world is pretty much in jeopardy. This is perhaps an oversimplification of the plot to be fair but it’s a classic story that will get you right into the mix to try and save the world. Most of the other characters can’t talk in English voice acting at least so it’s going to be up to you to confront the villains and save the day.

Lucky’s a fun lead. There isn’t a whole lot to his personality as I couldn’t tell you much beyond him being a nice guy but he gets the job done. He has two jumps and can do a spin in the air. I always like when platformers let you spin in the air because it really helps you work on your timing as you try to dodge enemy attacks. Every game that has this feature has really benefited from it. There is also some combat in the game as you can attack with a tail swipe but aside from one boss fight you won’t really need to use this very much. It’s nice to have but never feels super necessary. A lot of enemies you can just stomp on anyway.

There are also puzzles here but this is one of the rare games that actually gets them right. The puzzles tend to be about pushing statues into the right spots. It takes a bit of work but you’ll find out the right answer if you keep at it. It reminds me of something out of Professor Layton and has that very calm appeal to it. You can reset the puzzle at any point to try it again from the beginning as well.

Most of the levels are traditional style but then you also have a few auto runner type levels where you just start running and have to try and be at the right place at the right time. These levels fit in well with the normal ones I’d say. I tend to enjoy that kind of gameplay as well. There’s a good amount of variety here and each of the styles control rather well which is important too. I would say the strongest part of the game is just how smooth it is. I doubt you’ll encounter any true glitches or issues that make you do a double take. It’s as smooth as butte and that’s what you like to see in a platformer like this. It’s critically important you could say.

Now if the game has any issue it’s that it can be a bit short. Yes, platformers are often short but this one feels even shorter than usual. I believe it’s because of how the worlds are set up. In a lot of platformers you have to complete every level to get to the end but in this one you don’t have to do that. In fact, a ton of the levels are optional. The reason for this is each world has a boss level at the end and you have to get a certain number of leaves in order to access it. Typically this number is 10 while each world has about 22. Each level has 3-4 leaves in it. So for example if you get all 4 leaves in the level then you only need to complete 3 levels instead of completing more like 7 or so.

It puts you in the driver seat of how quickly you want to complete each of the worlds. I quickly got the hang of how to obtain all 4 in a level and once I did that was it. I was getting 4 on each one so I was blasting through the worlds. Typically you get one leaf for beating the level, 1 for 300 coins, 1 secret page somewhere in the level, and one for getting all 5 letter of the word Lucky. Getting the coins and the letters are real easy once you start paying attention to them so at the very least you should get 3 each time but eve the secret one’s usually not super hidden or anything. That’s your chance to grab it as soon as possible.

Of course the good part about this is even if you complete the game quickly, you can always go back to try and get the leaves that you didn’t get. It’ll certainly take a while to nab them all and to get the Platinum trophy for this game so that would be worth a shot. It definitely looks very achievable after all so you’ll just have to hunker down and try to knock it out. Pull that off and you’ll have another nice achievement to your name.

The graphics are really solid here. It all feels like true HD and goes hand in hand with how good the levels look. As for the soundtrack, that is a bit more forgettable. I wouldn’t say that it particularly stood out to me. It’s absolutely not bad in any way but there wasn’t a single tune that I found to be really catchy. This is something that I think they could improve upon in the sequel. Get some really fast paced tuned and maybe even a rock theme or two. You really can’t go wrong there.

Overall, New Super Lucky’s Tale is certainly a fun game to check out. It’s got the right balance of action, adventure, and puzzles. I definitely didn’t think I’d be complementing puzzles anytime soon but this game just pulls it off. Honestly if all of the games would handle it like this then I dare say we would be in a really good spot but unfortunately I know that this is more of a one time deal. For every game that gets puzzles right, 9 more show up with really annoying gimmicks that don’t make any sense. You definitely need to play this game if you want to see a platformer that’s solid around the board.

Overall 7/10

Rayman 2: Revolution Review

It’s time for some Rayman hype! The series is always guaranteed to give you a fun platforming adventure but there has yet to be a definitive title in the series for me. I’ve played some good ones of course but none that made me think it had to be the king of the series. Well, this one changes that as I would say Revolution is the best yet. There are no mandatory collectibles or anything like that. No, this is all about just getting through the levels and having a good time. I can definitely respect that.

So the game starts off with the villains taking everyone out including Rayman but fortunately he is able to get out in one piece. He is depowered now and the pirates are taking more and more people as slaves. At one point in the game the ticker shows that they have over 30,000 people captured which is insane. Rayman will have to save them one by one and to do that he will need to get his powers back and also hit some of the installations so he can weaken their forces. He will have some friends to help him along the way but at the same time they can also be liabilities with how they can’t really fight all that well.

With the gameplay you’ve got your classic 3D platformer. You can run and jump to get to the end of a level. Rayman can also punch and his fist goes far which is really handy. He can even glide for a bit so there’s a whole lot that you can do in the levels. Rayman definitely has variety in his move set which is always important. It also means that the levels are able to do a whole lot because more movement options means there are more ways for developers to set up their obstacles.

It works well and the gameplay is always fun. There is a decent amount of difficulty thrown in but I wouldn’t say it’s comparable to Crash or anything like that. It’s more classic in that sense but you still shouldn’t underestimate it. Some segments took me many tries like some of the rocket runs. Those are levels where you have to ride a rocket and zoom around all over the place. That level is really set up so it can be as difficult as possible. Good luck getting the rocket to go where you want it to go! It just seems to have a mind of its own the whole time.

The game has a lot of constant check points though so that’s really appreciated. If you get a game over then you go a little further back but it’s never all that crazy. Odds are that you’ll never feel discouraged as a result and that’s why the game handled this in a very smart way. The only area where the gameplay wasn’t amazing was with the camera angles. Those could definitely be rather brutal but you’ll get the hang of it after a while. It can make some moments a little harder than it should be but ultimately you will be able to press on past that.

As for the graphics, I’d say it’s pretty solid. It’s got that very retro look which still has a good amount of detail and personality to it. You really can’t go wrong with Rayman on this. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable though so it looks like I’m in a bit of a streak on that lately. I need another all star soundtrack soon! After all great tunes are really what gets a game to the next level.

As for the story, well I’d say it’s fun enough. The game’s got a nice sense of humor and so while the game never feels very high stakes, you get to enjoy Rayman as a hero and root for him to save the day. The characters around him are solid and the villain certainly works hard. Technically with that many prisoners you could say the pirates did well. They were one Rayman away from total global conquest.

There is a bit of replay value here in terms of grabbing all collectibles but I’m not sure what you actually unlock with that. It better be something really good because there are a ton of collectibles to grab here. If they had been mandatory that definitely would have been really discouraging but I assume the developers knew that and that’s why they went all out since this would only be for the players serious about 100% completing the game.

Because of this the game can be a bit overwhelming at the start since you feel like maybe you should try grabbing these things. The hub world is also huge with many different areas to it so you can easily get lost or enter a level by mistake. Doing so triggers an unskippable animation and of course it just slows you down so try to learn the place little by little. Once you do then you’ll be all good. The game does have a good amount of quality of life features in it like being able to sense when an orb is nearby after beating the game. You just have to get there so this is very much a game where the more you play it, the easier it gets. It’s not as much of a plug and play title though so you have to be prepared for it.

Overall, Rayman 2: Revolution is a very fun game. It really knows how to get the best out of being a platformer and keeping you wanting more. The game’s fairly straight forward even if it can be a little overwhelming at first. Once you get the hang of it then you’ll be blasting all the way through the end. The dialogue can be fun and so you’ll remember Rayman quite well and even some of his friends. Their names escape me most of the time though so they’re not quite at that tier yet. Soon I’ll get another Rayman game so we can see how he’s doing in more of a modern era. In the meantime I would definitely recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire Review

It’s time for an old school RPG. This one has definitely been around for a while but I just hadn’t had time to give it a shot before. Well, after playing it I can confirm that the game has aged well. The gameplay style is nice and retro with the story being rather solid. You don’t really see a lot of games like this one nowadays, at least not among the AAA companies.

The game starts with everyone in the village being murdered as per usual with just a few survivors making it out. Ryu’s sister decides she will go out to stop the Dark Dragon Clan in their wild quest to destroy the world. A long time passes and she does not return so Ryu is forced to take up the challenge next. He will need to team up with a lot of skilled fighters in order to make a difference but is he really just setting off on an impossible mission?

As you complete each area you get more and more allies to fight by your side until you’ve got a rather solid roster. It’s all done very methodically which works rather well. While the game may not be very original in some ways like the story and all, the fundamentals are just really strong which is what makes this game a lot of fun. For example the gameplay is just really smooth and in some ways it beats out some of the more modern versions. When you don’t want to fight enemies you can actually use up an item that prevents any random encounters for a little while. I thought that was a really handy item and there were no strings attached. Sure, you do have to spend money to get the item but it’s rather cheap and you’ll be swimming in money later on.

You get a map along the way and the ability to fly so going through the map isn’t super crazy. I will say that on occasion the game isn’t very clear on what you need to do next though. Because of how the game lets you mess around with the order of things a bit, sometimes you’ll miss out on an item or event that you need in order to go forward. When that happens it can be a bit annoying. It doesn’t happen often but in those moments it would be nice if there was a way to ship the item to a newer location so you didn’t have to run all the way back. Now that would have been ideal.

So it’s not like it’s all perfect here but at the end of the day it’s a very peaceful game. It’s one that you can just sit down and have a good time with at any point. IN general I feel that way about the retro RPG titles because I like the turn based system quite a bit. Beating up on enemies over and over again is a great way to build up your XP but it can also be very soothing at the same time.

For the graphics, I’d say they’ve aged well. The level designs are on point and I like how the characters look. The soundtrack is also decent although I wouldn’t say that any of the themes are very memorable. It could have used a little more energy to the tracks but either way it’s not something where I would give it a thumbs down for that. There isn’t much replay value after beating the game but the campaign’s fairly long so that won’t be much of an issue here.

As to the story, I thought it really took off once Goda and the group of villains showed up. It starts off a little slow as you beat up a bunch of forgettable villains for a while but then once the big villains show up, the game really raises its level. It also made you feel like the game had a good chunk of content left since for a little while there it felt like you were going to end it before a whole lot happened.

Your allies are a bit forgettable though. None of them really stood out for me. They weren’t bad but if you asked me to tell you their personalities I wouldn’t be able to say much more than the one sentence premise of their characters. It felt like they didn’t get to do a whole lot despite being around. The main character was the most interesting and even then he is fairly standard. The villains are definitely the more interesting characters here and the game has some twists and turns at the end of it.

As with just about any RPG you can expect that the final boss here is rather difficult. Make sure you’ve trained a lot and have the best attacks and equipment ready or you will be in for a rough time. If you lose you can always just go back to train of course but it’s always ideal to train first so you don’t have to backtrack for a long while. Particularly for the final boss where you would have to go trough the dungeon all over again.

Overall, I’m definitely ready to check out Breath of Fire 2. If you like a good RPG then you’ll definitely be a fan of this one. You’ve got all of the classic RPG elements here and they’re executed well. While some areas could have been better, I’d say it shines as a bright example of why the genre is so good. It would absolutely be worthy of being someone’s first RPG too as it would get them used to the mechanics. There really aren’t any downsides to this one so just go in and have fun.

Overall 7/10

Earthworm Jim 2 Review

This is one of those games where I can’t say that I knew a whole lot about it but I definitely knew the name. Earthworm Jim is one of those names that just sticks around in your mind from start to finish. You can’t forget it because it’s just way too intense. The game lives up to the hype and is definitely a blast even if the ending starts to get a little on the crazy side. Certainly a very difficult game as well.

The game starts off with Jim on another adventure to save the princess or at least I think she’s a princess. Along the way he has to fight with a lot of different creatures. Get ready for some big plot twists by the end too. This is not a game that spells everything out for you. At times you will really have to connect the dots on your own and also decide how real the ending is. Personally I like to think the whole ending is completely real and just how it appears to be. It’s an ambitious way to end the game and I can definitely approve of that.

As for the gameplay, it’s Fairley standard for a shooter. You blast away at your enemies and keep on moving. Your ammo may not always be great but you slowly recover some if you’re ever totally out. I recommend not wasting your ammo though as it is extremely useful for every part of the game. You don’t want to be running low against a boss or you’re really in trouble. You have different kinds of guns around here too so try and learn how each one looks and feels. The best one is the machine gun style but all of the guns are useful for something or another. Mainly you also just can’t to be good at jumping and dodging so you don’t just eat every attack. Do that and then you’ll really be in a jam.

One level that gave me a lot of trouble is the final level so here’s something to keep in mind about that. You have to stay ahead of your opponent at all times here or you lose. If you make it to the end of the level but he was first then the level just ends with you being stuck until you run out of health. So you have to move really quickly here and it cost me a ton of tries to get that far. Trust me, it definitely was not easy at all especially because you’re never given any indication that the rules around this level were different than the rest. Seriously it just comes out of nowhere which makes the whole thing a bit surprising.

Aside from the gameplay, the soundtrack and graphics are all solid. This is what I would call the complete package because it looks and sounds good while also being a very satisfying play. It’s hard to go wrong here. It’s aged incredibly well for the SNES, you could probably get away with thinking this could even look like an N64 title. Throw in the fact that it had more of a real story than the others and it really seemed to be ahead of its time.

I’m a little surprised there weren’t more 2D platformer shooters back in the day. I suppose Mega Man cornered the market there but they always tend to be a lot of fun and satisfying. This one just proves that even more. It’s probably the last Switch Online game for a bit but I was definitely thrilled to get a chance to play this one. Hopefully the console keeps on updating with more and more solid games. Who knows what other gems are hiding out there just waiting to be played!

Overall, Earthworm Jim 2 is definitely a solid game. I had a lot of fun with it at least and the title really embraced how crazy the whole thing was. It was definitely not trying to be your average shooter game. I’d really be down with a remake of this game at some point. There’s a whole lot you can do here for the future. Some of the gameplay mechanics should be explained better so you aren’t walking around in circles or anything like that but those are easy fixes to make. (Finding out how to open up the flowers to throw around took me forever!) Pull that off and you’re in a good spot!

Overall 7/10

Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review

I knew as soon as they announced this Kirby game was coming out that I would need to buy it day 1. I’ve been waiting a little while for the next Kirby game and while I may not be caught up yet..I’m close enough. Outside of the first 2 levels, I ended up playing the whole game through in one batch. Not to say that it’s super short (Took around 5 hours) but Kirby games are not usually known for length or difficulty so it wasn’t all that difficult to do. It does speak to the enjoyment levels of the game too.

So the story starts with multiversal Kirby walking around when some kind of hole in reality appears and sucks everyone inside. Kirby’s now in a whole new world filled with vicious beats and monsters. He has to help this little blue creature along the way as he finds out who did this and how he can possibly get home. Will Kirby be able to get out of this in one piece or is it curtains for him?

In a way you almost would think this is still Planet Popstar if you skipped the cutscene because the first world definitely has that classic Kirby feel. It’s a green forest kind of planet that has an upbeat feeling to it. The level designs are all on point and there is a lot of variety here as we have the classic water planet, fire planet, etc. Each world has 4 levels and then the boss at the end except for the second last world which has 5 levels plus the boss and the final world which only has a boss. So you can see how you can go through the levels pretty quick.

I did die twice to one of the last bosses though. That one was deceptively tricky as it’s tough to dodge the ballerinas and the big guy’s spin move. Your best bet here is to rely on your quick dodge which is R2 and then pressing A at the same time. I didn’t even know about that until near the end of the game but it’s quite handy. There is an easy mode too but I recommend sticking to Wild. Having a little bit of a challenge is always a good thing and then you can really appreciate the bosses.

The gameplay is your classic 3D adventure. You can’t really spam Kirby’s flying too much though. The game developers probably figured you might cheesing the whole game so you can’t go too high and still have to use the ladder. You have over 10 copy abilities you can use though and each one can be evolved twice. You can even power them up further beyond that which is handy. Obtaining rare stones can take a little while but you will at least get enough to evolve everything by the time you complete the game.

I highly recommend focusing on the fire blast ability. It causes lasting burns to the villains which means that you are dealing constant damage even when you aren’t attacking. The ability is extremely useful. I would say they all mostly are but I didn’t care for the spike ball much. It tends to lag behind the other abilities in terms of how useful it is but you should still try to get used to it since you will need to use it for treasure road.

So it’s time to talk about the replay value here. Don’t mistake a short campaign for a short game as Kirby has tons of modes to keep you busy. Aside from the main levels you have Treasure Road which are a series of 8-10 challenges in each world. If you complete them then you will be awarded a rare stone and these are how you power up your abilities. You also earn extra gold to buy things with. Completing all of the challenges will buy you some time. Each one’s about a minute or two but there are a lot of them.

Then you have the tournaments. While Meta Knight sadly misses out on the story, you get to fight him here. He was reasonably tough even on the intro level so I imagine the more difficult tournaments could get crazy difficult here. You shouldn’t underestimate them and this could absolutely take a while. Finally you have the collectibles of which there are a ton. There are 300 Waddle Dees here and a ton of trophies. I’m assuming you unlock some kind of bonus content for getting everything so that’s some incentive to keep going for.

There’s also a bonus world for the post game here. It directly continues where the main story ended so you won’t want to miss that. The levels are considerably longer than the normal ones and have more parts so you should go in prepared to really give it your all. At the time of this review I’m still going through the post game so I look forward to seeing how it all goes. Between all of that, this game will take you a long while to achieve 100% completion that’s for sure.

The graphics are naturally top tier here. All of the characters look sharp, the designs are great, and as I mentioned the stage designs are really quite nice. You feel like each world is different and it doesn’t feel like they’re reusing levels. No corners were cut here. The soundtrack is also fun. There’s no theme that quite matches the classic Nightmare theme but it’s hard for anything to top that. There is a lyrical song that plays twice in the game which is fun but it would have been especially good to have had something in the climax too.

Kirby games are known for really getting out there with the climaxes so you’re probably wondering about this one right? Well, I can safely say that it does go high tier. You don’t have to worry about that here. While I was underwhelmed with the big villain’s design initially, the super form makes it all worth it. You’ll certainly raise an eyebrow when you see the villain’s official title. A certain Sega villain will immediately come to mind. There’s always a lot you could do with Kirby lore and while this is not that kind of game, I’m always glad to see any kind of big plot climax like this. It works well and helps to really make sure you don’t forget this one.

Overall, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a pretty fun game. The story could have been longer but even at 5 hours it’s still a bit longer than Sonic Forces and Star Fox Zero so Nintendo’s still got the lead there. I’d like to see a proper 15 hour Kirby game some day as long as they can get to that length naturally and without forced collectibles. This game had a good amount on that front as you need to get some, but not enough where you feel like you have to go out of your way to grab them. The game’s fun enough where I went back and beat most of the treasure levels and am going through the post game so it succeeds there. I would definitely recommend checking this one out. You may want to wait until there’s a price dip but this is Nintendo so you may be waiting a very long time. In that case, just take the plunge and have fun here. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

Overall 7/10

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory Review

Maximo is a game that I sort of just bought on a whim. It showed up when I was looking at various PS2 platformers and I figured it’d be a good pick. The gameplay is solid and there’s a lot of interesting things here but also some gameplay mechanics which have not aged well. Ultimately I would call this a very good game but you should be warned that it is also a difficult one so this will not be a cakewalk.

The game starts with King Maximo running into the treasure room but he’s too late. Achilles has taken over the kingdom, kidnapped all of the princesses and then murders Maximo. Fortunately the Grim Reaper isn’t a big fan of how this all turned out so he decides to help Maximo. He will prevent the lead’s soul from leaving so he can keep coming back to life. In exchange Maximo has to take Achilles down for the count. Honestly it’s not really a bad deal. Maximo wants revenge either way so now he’s ready for action.

The gameplay here is that of a classic 3D platformer. You can double jump and slash at your enemies. Along the way you’ll get different equipment like a shield that you can throw and elemental additions to your sword so you can fire some energy blasts. The weapons aren’t breakable per say but they run out eventually. For example, you can swing your fire sword 2 times before it turns normal and you can use your shield for around 20 times before it vanishes. SO you have to use your techniques wisely.

Now here’s the first main change to the average formula. You start off in a level and then have to get to the end to clear it. There is no save option within the levels, only when you get back to the hub world or when you defeat a boss. Sometimes that means you will have to defeat several areas in a row before you can save. Also, saving costs 100 coins which can actually be a little difficult to obtain. Throughout the levels there are power ups and equipment you can buy but you should always skip those and just save up for the save points.

Save whenever you can because you never know when you’ll lose. The game is deceptively hard here. Sometimes what looks like a simple jump can take you out of the running. If you fall into a pit or lava it’s an instant death even if you have 3 health bars. This is definitely the worst mechanic here. It just adds a lot of extra stress to the levels when you really just want to calm down and keep it moving. It does force you to get really good at the controls though because replaying areas is always rough. So just go slow.

Most enemies you can outrange so hit them as they approach. I never figured out how to hit the bomb enemy without taking damage unless I have a shield though. Making any kind of contact with him ends up hurting you too so you have to really decide if this is what you have to do. If you can skip the enemy then you probably should. The bosses can be tough to learn to you’ll also want to take your time there. For the final boss you really just have to focus on your reaction times. Don’t try and chase the opponent or you’ll always be behind. Instead wait until the attack is coming through and then quickly counter.

I have to give a special shoutout to the final boss because it’s executed really well. The screen goes dark and all you can hear is your heartbeat as the creature gets closer and closer. It’s the kind of boss you would expect in an Alien or Resident Evil type game. The horror elements worked out quite nicely here. In general the bosses had a good amount of effort put into them.

Another gampelay element I should mention is you will obtain many temporary power ups as you defeat enemies and go through the levels. You keep them until you lose a life. There is an exception to this though and that is that you can put some abilities into a locked slot so they stick with you. For example you may start out with about 4 locked slots and 14 normal ones. As you beat each boss you get a new locked slot. You’ll always be losing some abilities when you lose but make sure you are always transferring the best abilities to the locked slots so that you don’t lose them. It’s really handy to always know that you’ve still got the best tricks at the ready.

The story is pretty solid here. I would have liked some more cutscenes to be honest but we had full voice acting a lot of action going on so I was still engaged. There’s even the solid cliffhanger at the end that gets you hyped for what is to come next. They didn’t really spare anything on the budget here without a doubt. The soundtrack is less memorable since I can’t recall a single tune. I guess it all just blends into the stages but I would consider that to be a knock against the game.

The graphics are really good and those have certainly aged well. Maximo is very much a game that encourages exploration so it’s fortunate that it looks good. It would be sad if you were travelling around and every area looked the same or something like that. It may not have been a massive blow but I’m always glad when the graphics are on point. There isn’t really a lot of replay value to be found here though. Once you beat the game there is really not a lot to do so make sure you have fun on the playthrough. I wouldn’t say the game is very long either but you should be able to get it at a good price. Plus the difficulty will probably make it last a bit longer.

Overall, Maximo is a fun game. The title is challenging without being too frustrating. If you try hard enough you can certainly beat any level. I just think that the save feature should be after every level. Additionally it should not cost money. That mechanic doesn’t add anything to the experience and just holds the game back. There are tokens you can get to obtain more continues but even that is more tedious than just doing it normally. So if this game was being used as a test for a new kind of saving system then I can say that it didn’t work for me. I’d stay with the classic saving methods. If you are prepared for a challenge and want to play a solid platformer then I definitely recommend this one.

Overall 7/10

Ruff Trigger: The Vanocore Conspiracy Review

Ruff Trigger is one of those games where you can tell that there wasn’t a lot of playtesting for balance. The controls are fine enough but everything can be cheesed really easily and the difficulty level ends up being very low. The plot will have you scratching your head at times with how random it is. So all in all this doesn’t have that AAA feel but the gameplay itself is pretty fun and the game gets some points for having so many cutscenes.

The game starts with Ruff being put on another mission. He has to round up the Piglots that have been scattered across various planets. These look like little gerbils that will follow you around. Ruff isn’t thrilled at having a mission and complains about it, but the guy complains about everything in this game so the boss wisely ignores him. Can Ruff manage to track these guys down? Meanwhile there’s a mysterious Hulk-like creature who keeps showing up to get absolutely destroyed by Ruff before retreating. What’s his deal?

Wait, what about the Vanocore Conspiracy?? Well, that doesn’t come into play until the final 2 levels and it pretty much meaningless to the plot. There’s no time to process what the two villainesses even want to do so I don’t know why this was included in the game’s title. I guess it sounds cool though and maybe some parts just didn’t end up making it into the final product. There’s enough lore and characters here where this could have been a cool series. Alas, that was just not to be this time.

So the gameplay is your classic 3D shooter but with a little twist. Rather than running to the end of the level, you will periodically be stopped to go and grab some Piglots. You have to transport them to a teleporter which will get them out of the area. Sometimes this will be mandatory and other times it will be optional. It’s usually a good idea to warp all of the ones that you see though because they get you a lot of money which you can use to buy more guns and armor. Money is a resource you will have a whole lot of by the end so don’t be cheap and just buy the maximum armor every time. It’s like having a permanent second health bar.

Your guns are also incredibly powerful to the point where you can beat most bosses in under a minute. The only exceptions are the bosses that you have to beat with Piglots rather than firepower. Those bosses usually have you pick up the piglot and drop them into a teleporter in the middle of the field. As long as you run and jump the whole time then you’ll be one step ahead of the boss so don’t worry about being taken down for the count. The game is really not that hard as I mentioned. Just stick to your guns and you’re good.

Just lock on so you can move from side to side and that will dodge all enemy attacks as all they can do it fire in a straight line. When there are more than pone opponent, just knock them off one at a time. Now, there is a Werewolf mode in the game but you never have to use it. Seriously, I didn’t see any reason to do so. The attacks are very slow and none of them are as efficient as the guns so why bother? This is what I’m thinking of when I’m talking about game balance. The werewolf form is seemingly supposed to be very strong considering that it has a short time limit and you have to look for bottles to replenish this. Then why is it better to be in human form? It doesn’t make any sense.

Also, don’t bother using hand to hand combat. If a bunch of enemies attack you then just jump and do a ground pound. I guarantee that this is the much better way to handle those enemies and the best part is that you will hit them all at once. This way you’re never in any real danger. None of the enemies can hit you when you’re above them like that so I found this to be a good way to get some space. It’s extremely handy in the final level of the game. There are also a handful of racing levels. They aren’t super polished but it was a nice change of pace, I definitely had fun with those.

As for the graphics, I thought those were surprisingly good. Not saying the game looks amazing or anything but it does have quite a few cutscenes and the character models are on point. There are 1-2 levels which are intentionally dark which can be cheesy but the rest of the game looks good. The sound isn’t as good though as there is no decent sound mixing. Some cutscenes are super quiet while others suddenly get loud. That part felt really unpolished. Likewise, the dialogue could use some work. Ruff comes across as a really annoying kind of guy who is constantly complaining without having any good reasons for doing so. It’s hard to even see what the dynamic is between him and the main heroine. I guess they’re kind of together but still like to talk tough the whole time? Naturally she gets kidnapped right away which hurts her hype.

There isn’t really any replay value here. Continuing the game takes you right back to the final level and there’s no stage select. So this is one game where you’ll be putting it down for good after playing through the end. It’s not exactly out of the ordinary but replay value is always a good thing to have. You can get the game for fairly cheap right now though so there’s enough value here to still have a good time.

Overall, Ruff Trigger is a fun game. It’s got solid gameplay and graphics going for it. While the game isn’t super polished and the story isn’t very well thought out, the gameplay is the key thing here. You’ll feel very nostalgic playing through this PS2 experience and I do think that a sequel could have really helped to iron out the rough patches. It’s a shame that this one didn’t do better but I can’t blame people for not buying it. Look at how many years it took me to buy this game right? It serves its purpose as a fun little platformer and you’ll get some humor out of the story cutscenes. At the end of the day it’ll end up being rather memorable thanks to all of this.

Overall 7/10