Transformers Battlegrounds Review


When this Transformers game came out there definitely was not a whole lot of fanfare and hype. For the most part people just kept going about their business and that was the end of that. I probably wasn’t going to get it myself for a while but the price was right so why not? It’s a pretty solid strategy game that you just wish was a little longer. It really ends up flying by so you’ll have it completed within a few days. The game isn’t exactly built for replay value either so there isn’t a ton to do afterwards.

The general plot of the game has the Autobots on the run once more. The Decepticons have taken an overwhelming advantage in numbers and are getting closer to finding the All Spark. The Autobots have split up as Prime focuses on finding it first while Bumblebee defends the city. The Autobots realize that they will need to reunite in order to stop Megatron’s ambitions though and will have to fight their way past the other Decepticons in order to do it. Can they pull this off!?

The gameplay is your classic XCom style as each character gets a turn as you move them around the board. You have to decide what action to have them take, whether it’s an attack, hiding for cover, or doing something else. Each character has 3 “actions” they can take per turn so spending them wisely is important. If you don’t have to spend one moving then you can fire off a level 3 attack right away. Alternately you might be too far and will have to waste all of your points on moving.

It’s important to keep in mind your next turn as well since if you move 3 spots and just barely don’t reach the opponent, that’s basically tell him to take a free shot. You don’t want to go too aggressive in these things or it could really end up backfiring on you quite a bit. The game’s difficulty is not that high so you should be fine either way but you don’t want to pick up any bad habits for when you’re challenging more difficult games. At that point you’ll be glad to have picked up some legitimate tactics.

I’ll give the game credit for making each character feel different. These guys aren’t clones and all have very unique abilities and special moves at their disposal. Even their power level ranges quite a lot as Grimlock and Prime can deal 3 damage with even their weakest attacks while the others are stuck at 2. The health points also vary as some characters might have around 7 while others have 20+.

Each character is also customizable. You can use the points you accumulate from your victories in order to buy new weapons/abilities to make your characters real threats out on the field. By the time you beat the game you won’t have nearly enough points to buy all the upgrades but you can buy most. Within 2 paythroughs you will have them all. That being said, I actually preferred the default blasters to a lot of the more unique weapons. The blasters just did the trick, after all with those you can hit someone from long range while a lot of the other attacks require you to be up close and personal. I can’t stress enough how useful long range options are.

For levels where you have a healer on board, definitely keep them to the back. You don’t want them taking too much damage and healing 3-4 points a turn is incredibly valuable. It can turn the tides of any match without a doubt. Then you’ve also got super attacks once you have collected enough energon. You fill up this meter by completing turns and also ending them while still having some action points left. So that’s another thing to consider, sometimes it’s best to leave some turns on the table so to speak because they allow you to fire off more ultimate moves.

Another bonus on that is that the special moves don’t take up any action points. So on the next turn one of your characters will effectively have 4 points. Pretty sweet right? So these are all just things to keep in mind and they’ll eventually help you out if you get yourself into a tough spot.

The graphics are pretty solid. I wouldn’t say they’re anything to write home about but they’re colorful and distinct. The character designs are on point and the levels look good. It’s definitely got a retro look to it and doesn’t appear as detailed at other games but at the same time I never had an issue with it. The colorful atmosphere fits right in with this part of the franchise.

The soundtrack is very uninspired though. You won’t be able to recall any key tunes here as it all feels as generic as possible. The gameplay will have you focusing so hard that you’ll barely hear the music as well. It’s not bad but it doesn’t leave any kind of impact and in some ways that is an issue of its own.

As for replay value, as I mentioned earlier it’s a bit on the small side. You can work on buying the rest of the upgrades I suppose but it’s not like there are extra levels to use them on. You do need to complete the game on hard mode for one of the trophies so I suppose that is a good place to start. Obtaining the Platinum trophy will definitely take a lot of time and adding content is definitely a perk of having trophies.

Overall, Transformers Battleground may not be the most impressive Transformers game but it’s always fun to revisit the XCom gameplay. The title just needed to have a longer story though and give you more things to do. At the end of the day I feel like you would be left very unsatisfied if you bought it at opening price. For $12, it’s not a bad bargain though. The gameplay is strong and the story is fully voice acted which always helps make things feel a lot more grand and official. I’d recommend checking this one out and seeing what you think.

Overall 7/10

Mario Party DS Review


Mario has returned. I’s been a little while since I played my last Mario game so naturally something had to give. I needed to be able to jump back into the Mario groove and really see how the series is doing. Fortunately that was absolutely part of the gameplan. Ebay had a good price on this one so I knew it was time for the plunge.

The story here is fairly basic as you’re likely here for the minigames anyway. Bowser tricks Mario and friends into heading over to his place for some food. They are all desperately hungry so they show up but promptly get cursed into being tiny by Bowser. Bowser’s just in a whole different league thanks to his magical abilities. The only way for the heroes to make a comeback is to find the legendary shards and become large again. It won’t be easy though as Bowser is up to something.

It’s reasonably short as the game only has around 5-6 worlds total. Each world is effectively a mini party mode that lasts for 10 turns. Your goal is to complete the game and come in first place by having the most Power Stars. If you come in second or later then you lose and have to start from scratch. Naturally that is the toughest part here. Mario Party has a lot of luck thrown into the mix after all in addition to skill. You may win a bunch of minigames or even all of them but you can still lose a match due to how that all works out. The computers put me through the wringer here.

So that should help extend the game’s play time a bit. I would say the game is only a few hours long otherwise. Of course one way that can help you with this a bit is the fact that you can reset the game if you have a bad turn. This will help nullify part of the luck factor as you can keep on spinning until things go well. From minigame results to power stars, the power is in your hand now.

Outside of the story you have a lot of other modes of course like minigame mode and local multiplayer. There isn’t really a lack of content here which isn’t surprising since Nintendo always gives you a lot of bang for your buck. In this case all of these extra modes and impressive array of minigames will ensure that you can keep on playing for a long while. At 10 bucks it was quite the steal.

The best minigames here might be the hide and seek one or some of the combat types. For Hide and Seek I like the idea of running around and looking for someone even if it feels like it is heavily favored against the one person who is alone. Dodging everyone for the duration of the match sounds crazy. Of course then you have minigames like with the coins falling where if anything it is really easy for the player to get most of the coins. I’d say it balances out in the end.

As expected the soundtrack is also pretty good. Don’t expect the same level of intensity as in the mainline Mario games but it still has a high energy feel to it. This is all AAA music. The you have the graphics which have aged well on the DS. All of the characters are on point and the backgrounds are good. It would be nice if you could taunt like in the other games but it’s really not a big deal. It’s the kind of thing you notice for a few minutes and then forget about entirely.

Mario Party DS is a rather simple game which is executed well. You could even say that the title would live or die based on the quality of its minigames. A game like this can’t work nearly as well if you don’t have fun games to play. If they were to drag on then that would take the fun away right then and there. A good minigame should be short and to the point which this game really nails down.

Overall, I would say this game is a big step up from the Mario Party for GBA. It’s not quite touching any of the big console ones yet though. There are still a few more portable Mario party games I don’t have yet though so we’ll see if they continue to improve. If you like the Mario Party series then you should definitely get this one. There’s no reason you wouldn’t like the hand held version. Additionally while it may be old, I wouldn’t say it’s out dated or anything like that. You can easily plug and play at any time. Just work on grabbing those unlockables to really fill the game up.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Kage 2 Review


This is a game I bought at Gamestop a long time ago but I hadn’t gotten around to playing the original so I just kept it on the backburner. Well, I finally got around to beating the original (Review coming soon) and the sequel does a good job of really improving upon the original in every way. We now have a real story and more streamlined gameplay.

The game starts with Kage being given a new mission. He is to protect the princess who turns out to be his childhood friend. It’s really not a bad gig but unfortunately he does not know the true dangers that are around him. A group of villains want to kidnap the princess because she has latent abilities that could allow them to conquer the world. Clearly the stakes have been raised but will Kage be able to raise his skill level to match?

Right away I liked the visual style of the game. It handles the energy effects well from how the blue and red blades look to how the whole game’s atmosphere is. Ultimately this game looks very good. The boss designs are on point as well and if the game ever got an anime, I’d want them to use the designs from this game rather than the original.

The gameplay is pretty simple and to the point. You can jump extremely high and swing away at enemies with your blade. A new addition to the series is that you actually have special abilities now. You can increase your attack, defense, or even shoot out projectiles. Personally I recommend sticking to the attack and defense options since those are really the best bets. The difference is actually noticeable here.

Now the main knock against the game is the length. It’s around 3 hours which is pretty bad. The original game was only about an hour or even less but it could get away with it more since this was the original title. For a big sequel that’s a little harder to overlook because you just expect a certain amount of length. Imagine buying this day 1? That would probably get pretty dicey and you would feel cheated out of your cash.

There is some replay value I suppose in that you can try to grab more collectibles in the level. If you grab everything then you’ll be really powerful but the main issue is that there would be nothing to do with it. There are no bonus levels or anything so you would just be flexing on minions. Certainly that’s cool and all if you are having a blast with the gameplay but it’s not enough for me to say the game truly has real replay value.

This is the kind of title you are really playing as a one and done experience. It is a fun experience at least for the reasons I stated above. The main rival makes for a really good antagonist. He’s quite skilled but also has an honor code. The fact that he fought to the end while remaining as a human as an impressive twist. It shows Kage that you can become truly strong even without becoming a monster. The other characters didn’t always seem to have such fortitude.

Hanzo was also very interesting. He spends the entire game getting beaten up left and right but then you see that he is actually a whole lot more skilled than we may expect. Personally I still think Kage and the blue rival are too powerful for him but maybe he would be third in the verse. A third game seems unlikely but I would definitely be really hyped to see that at some point.

My main gameplay tip here is to just experiment. When you die you can always continue again so see what went wrong the first time and adapt. There is no penalty for trying a lot as you get your health and magic meter restored to the sky’s really the limit. The only chance of failure is if you give up. Additionally, the bosses have very set movement patterns so once you memorize them then you really should not have any problems here.

I wouldn’t say the soundtrack is super memorable but the tunes aren’t bad. You have a pretty good idea of what is going on and it fits with the ninja theme. I’d love some more rock based music themes of course but it’s hard not to be satisfied with what we did get. The boss battles are also intense as you would expect.

Overall, Legend of Kage 2 was a lot of fun. The only thing keeping me from calling it a great game is how short it is. No matter how polished the gameplay or interesting the story, there is only so much you can do in 3 hours. Maybe the developers weren’t given enough time but still wanted to make a high quality game so instead of sacrificing that, they cut off the length. If they were forced to make such a choice then I definitely have to say that I agreed with the call. Better to have a short high quality title than a long one that’s not very good. Better luck next time for Kage but if you find this game for $5 like I did then it is definitely worth it.

Overall 7/10

Dark Cloud Review


Dark Cloud is one of those games I’ve had on the backburner for many years now. It’s just always around but never made it to the top of the pile. Well, with less than 20 games left to get through it makes sense that it would finally step up to the plate. It’s a very intricate RPG that will take some getting used to but it is crafted rather well. The weapons breaking mechanic was also a lot better than I dared hope.

The basic plot of the game is that a Dark Genie has awoken and intends to eradicate humanity. Toan, our brave hero steps up to the plate….but doesn’t make it in time. Humanity has been destroyed and the planet is an empty wasteland. The only survive is a mysterious old man who tells Toan that he will help the lad save the world. See, the people aren’t dead but merely trapped in capsules outside of time. Toan will need to free them all while finding some way to stop the genie. He can’t possibly do it on his own so he’s going to need help.

For the gameplay, this is a 3D hack and slash. Think of it similar to .Hack where you run around in dungeons and take out the monsters. Some characters have projectile type weapons which are fun to use but for the vast majority of the game I used Toan’s classic sword. Part of the reason for this is you can only really work on powering up one weapon at a time. So naturally I focused on his since he’s always around.

That said, it did come back to bite me during the final boss since you can’t use Toan for a whole section of the fight. You have to switch to a projectile user and both of mine were extremely weak. I spent a few hours grinding up the cat girl to a level where she could fight and then the rest of the boss was pretty easy. Still, it was a tense moment so to avoid that you will want to spread your attention between two characters for a while. Make sure you have a strong ranged fighter as well as a close quarters combat user.

The final boss is also intense just because his attacks can’t be dodged. Yes you heard that right. His clap attack releases a sonic wave that is impossible to dodge or block. Your only options are to eat the attack and use a health item right after or use a stamina drink which gives you temporary invincibility. If you do that then you should be just fine.

The rest of the game isn’t nearly as difficult which is why the final boss took me by surprise. Let me get back to the gameplay though, there’s a lot to unpack here. So every time you use your weapon, part of its stamina goes down. If it hits 0 then the weapon breaks and you lose every upgrade you’ve ever put into it. To stop this, always carry an auto repair in your quick item inventory. It’s expensive but if you ever forget to heal a weapon in time this will ensure that it isn’t completely shattered.

There’s also a water mechanic here so you will die of thirst if you don’t drink enough water. It’s a good reminder to go and grab some water irl too of course. At first this will be a little tedious since they get thirsty very quickly so make sure to find as many water upgrades as possible. These are scattered around town and usually pop up after you help out a villager.

The formula for the game is pretty straight forward. You enter a dungeon and complete all of the floors you can. After a while you will be stopped which is when you need to build the village. It’s pretty easy to build but hard to make all of the villagers happy. I wasn’t able to get 100% satisfaction in any area but you don’t really need to do that in order to get the items you need. The only tricky one is the robot on the moon. I was building him upside down which got tricky.

The game explains everything pretty well though so even though it sounds like a lot of mechanics to keep track of, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It certainly does take a while so the game is around 30 hours as it promises. It took me a little over 28 so that was right up there next to the estimate. The sequel is apparently over 50 hours which sounds insane to me. I wonder how many dungeons are in that game.

There is some replay value here as well. Apparently there is a bonus world at the end which you can try to beat. I imagine that world must be super tough. You can also go back to all of the old villages to try and make the villagers happy which will get you some good items and equipment. So all in all there is definitely a lot to do here.

If I have any real issues with the game it can be that the game can become almost too formulaic without throwing in any wrinkles. For example, the first world has a cool boss fight as Seda showed up and the story started to get intense. Then there are almost no truly relevant story cutscenes with him or the Dark Genie until we approach the final world. I have to admit that I was expecting them to have more of a focus. It’s almost like the story itself went on break for around 20 hours during the game. You still do get cutscenes, but nothing big for a while.

Also, the dungeon exploring can be a bit repetitive. You will need to cross around 100 floors in order to get to the end of the game and each floor is fundamentally the same. You beat a bunch of enemies and then get to head out. I enjoy the gameplay so it wasn’t that bad but if the sequel is double the length because they doubled the floors…that could get painful.

Overall, Dark Cloud is a pretty good RPG. I’m glad that you at least have the opportunity to keep your weapons from ever breaking. That mechanic could have easily gone sideways otherwise. As it stands, I was pretty cool with it. I definitely would have liked to have had more of a focus on the story though. For smaller items I would remove the water mechanic and special levels where you are forced to play as 1 character too. A lot of thought was put into this title though and it shows. If you like RPGs, particularly dungeon crawlers then you should enjoy this one quite a bit.

Overall 7/10

Magical Drop 2 Review


I was impressed by this game. Magical Drop 2 really ups the stakes both in quality and in general gameplay enjoyment compared to the first. I do want to say the first game was solid too of course but this one feels like it has more of a story. The graphics have noticeably improved as well and the character roster is impressive. You really can’t go wrong here.

I ended up choosing what appears to be one of the main villains as my character. In fairness I started with a different character but was losing a lot so it was time for a change of pace. As the game goes on you fight every other playable character in the series. After taking them down you go up against the true villain of the game and then get a character ending specific to the character you just beat the game with. Not a bad deal right? After all, this means that each character will have an ending now.

The game’s difficulty level is as high as ever though. Good luck even trying to beat the game on normal difficulty. I made it past a few levels to around 4-5 but then the opponent starts matching the gems quicker than you can even blink. Even using the rewind feature and trying tons of different paths is not enough to overwhelm the opponent. Trust me, you’ll be spinning your wheels in circles at that point.

The only possible way to get around the opponents is to lower the difficulty back a bit. It’s more accessible than the first game with the difficulty level which is nice. Even with this the final levels are crazy but you should be able to pull through if you try it enough times. There is naturally a ton of replay value here since you can try to beat the game with each character.

Additionally the gameplay is just fun. No matter how crazy strong the opponents are, it’s always satisfying to be building the blocks on your end. It’s essentially reverse Tetris as you grab blocks and fling them upwards as opposed to trying to get them to the ground. There are some interesting combos you can pull off like grabbing multiple blocks to pull off larger combos. It comes with a certain level of risk of course but a risk that seems to be worth it in this case. At least it always seemed to turn out for the best.

The graphics are pretty good. In fact, I would say they are considerably ahead of their time. The illustrations are on point and the stages are very vivid. The game does allow for a bit of fanservice though with one character jumping up and down the entire time you’re fighting her but fortunately that’s the only match that’s a bit suspect. The soundtrack is good too and you feel a sense of danger throughout. You know that any second now could be your last.

Overall, Magical Drop 2 is a good way to handle a sequel. Effectively it improved on all of the first game’s strong points while improving any weaknesses. I thought the gameplay was much more effective now and the fact that it has a real story is cool as well. There’s a whole lot you can do with this series so I’d like to see it return some day. The sky’s the limit for this and I would certainly like to be along for the ride. If you have the Switch Online service then definitely give this a download. The difficulty level is crazy but at the same time it just makes you want to keep on going for rematches.

Overall 7/10

Joe & Mac Review


It’s time for another platforming adventure. Joe & Mac is essentially the bargain bin version of Mario and Luigi but it actually holds up a little better than expected. I’ve played my share of caveman type adventures over the years and this one is a lot smoother than the competition. It’s fairly short and never really threatened the bigger players but it makes for a fun little playthrough.

The general plot is that a bunch of giant animals and a wizard have kidnapped all the cavewomen in the tribe. Joe and Mac must now head out to save them. Each level has you defeat a giant dinosaur/creature at the end and you save one person at a time. There are 10-13 levels in the game so it’s fairly quick since each level is around the length of your average platformer. Watch out also as you don’t get unlimited game overs. Lose all your lives too many times and there is no way back. Instead you will just have to endure your defeat.

Of course as this is on the Switch Online you are able to rewind as needed so you should never be in any true danger. Just be ready to back out at any given moment. Some of the bosses can be rather intense although at the same time I would also call them easy to exploit. Just hide under the head a lot of times and they just can’t reach you. Pretty good deal right? Occasionally they will mix things up a bit so you just need to be able to react and get out of there as soon as possible.

When it comes to the graphics the game certainly looks good as you would expect. The stages look solid and there’s a lot of variety throughout the game. The enemy bosses look good but they do tend to reuse the same bosses a few times. Since the game is so short this is very noticeable. The game probably won’t last you much longer than an hour so when you see the same boss it’s impossible to miss.

Now when it comes to the main characters I wouldn’t say they are very likable but this is the kind of game that’s not really character driven anyway. You should be able to just completely ignore them as it is. The gameplay is what you’re here for. Come to think of it, I haven’t really gone into the gameplay yet so I should do that now.

It’s a classic platformer where you have to jump and smash your way to the end. You have a club by default but you can unlock various power ups based on the items you pick up from a box. This includes boomerangs, stone discs, and even fire balls. The best item here is definitely the throwing stones. You can spam these and they deal a lot of damage. I highly recommend holding onto these as long as possible. That makes things tricky if anything because you will want to actively try to avoid the other power ups which is a little different compared to the other games.

It’s an odd feeling when you are trying to not allow yourself to get power ups. It’s not too hard to avoid them though so you should be good. As for the minions, it can be difficult to hit them without taking any damage so keep that in mind. Try to stay from afar or even skip them if needed. They don’t drop food all that often after all so a lot of times hitting them is really just putting unnecessary risk on yourself the whole time.

This is really why the game stands out. The gameplay actually feels like a big Nintendo game. The controls are very responsive. The only thing that takes some getting used to is how the characters keep their momentum when jumping. It can be a little difficult to stop on a dime or change direction. It’s not a bad thing per say, it’s just not quite what you’re used to in a platforming title. Once you get the hang of this then you are definitely set for the rest of the way.

Due to the straight forward nature of the game there isn’t a whole lot more to talk about with it. It would be nice to see this game get a sequel I suppose but at the same time since Nintendo can easily make a high quality game they may as well make a whole new franchise with this style of gameplay. The caveman era never really made for the most interesting saga if you ask me so changing things up would definitely be for the best.

Overall, Joe & Mac is definitely a game you don’t want to miss out on if you have the Switch Online. It’s a well balanced platformer that should keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It’s definitely a short title so it won’t take you very long to beat it but you’ll have a good time. Considering that it’s free if you have the Switch Online, it’s a pretty good deal.

Overall 7/10

Spanky’s Quest Review


Spanky’s Quest is one of the new SNES games that have finally arrived through the Switch Online. It’s a really solid start to the new wave I must say because it’s actually pretty fun. You go around fighting fruits with a really unique gameplay style. It could have easily ended up being gimmicky in a bad way but instead you can tell that the developers put a lot of heart and passion into the project. When that happens you always know that you are going to be in for a good time.

The plot is more on the interpretive side as the opening cutscene gets really cray but there are 6 monsters that are now ruling the world. Spanky will have to head out and take all of these guys down in order to save his home. Each boss represents a different fruit that must be stopped and they are also protected by a bunch of mini fruits. Spanky isn’t worried though.

The gameplay involves you throwing out little marbles. You throw the marble into the air and then you can press the action button again to break it into a little baseball. If the baseball hits an enemy then that enemy will be defeated so long as you time the explosion to occur on the enemy. If you do this too soon you will only stun them. Additionally you can bounce the ball on your head and it will get bigger. There are 4 stages to the ball and after that you can keep bouncing but it won’t get any bigger.

Level 2 is a Soccer Ball, Level 3 is Volleyballs, and Level 4 are Basketballs. The longer you wait, the more powerful the weapon and it makes sense that Basketballs would hurt more than the others. For bosses I always recommend using the Basketballs but of course it does take longer to charge up than the others so just be careful. Better to land a level 2 than to get hit after all.

Much like in Frogger, a single hit will cause you to lose a life so you want to make sure to stay at a safe distance at all times. As this is on the Switch Online you can rewind as needed though which should take some of the stress out of the equation. You can also jump which is handy when dealing with some enemies. After all, landing the baseball can be difficult so if you miss then you will want to jump out of there.

There are 10 levels in each world and 5 main worlds. After that, you go up against all of the bosses again before facing off with the final boss. I would say the game should last you a little over an hour or close to 2 at most. It’s a fairly decent length for an SNES game and of course since it’s free I can’t complain much about the length. I cut these things a little more slack for old time games but if this was a modern one then I may not be quite so lenient.

The graphics look good and hold up well. It’s an example of why going for a colorful artstyle like this can really work wonders. The fruits have a lot of personality and the stage designs are memorable. I wouldn’t say the soundtrack is exactly top notch but it does fit in with what’s going on screen and has more personality than other games I’ve played. It makes for a pretty complete experience.

There isn’t any real post game content to speak of so the replay value here is basically 0. This is a game where you will be playing to complete the story but won’t really stick around after that. Fortunately the gameplay is very smooth so you will certainly enjoy your main playthrough here. That’s the important part to be sure.

You also aren’t likely to forget this game anytime soon. The gameplay may be a little hard to describe entirely but hopefully you got the gist of it from what I wrote above. It’s just fun to time your throwing so you hit the enemies as you jump your way to the goal. The way to conquer each level is to open the locked door by grabbing keys from various enemies. You get keys either by defeating the enemy holding them or trapping lose keys in a ball and then exploding it.

Strategy is key here since you don’t necessarily have to defeat every enemy. If the enemy isn’t holding a key then you can probably skip him although it could put you in more danger if he is running around a lot. Also, you can’t wait too long in each level or a bird shows up. The bird is completely invincible to all attacks and moves quickly. Touching it for even an instant means instant death so that’s something to consider as well. Keep your guard up or you will surely fall.

Overall, Spanky’s Quest is a fun game. It certainly exceeded my expectations and is a nice way to spend a night. I’d be cool with this series getting a revival someday. If you have the Switch Online service then this is definitely a game you should check out. It sets a high bar for the other new additions so we’ll see if they are able to hold up as well. It won’t be very long until I try those out.

Overall 7/10

Panzer Paladin Review


Limited Run has returned with their next big game. Panzer Paladin is a run adventure that feels a lot like the recent Blaster Master. It has a similar style of letting you control the machine and the human but the actual gameplay I’d say is more similar to Megaman Zero. It’s very smooth and you can really go at the enemies. There are a few other mechanics which also help this game to stand out.

The main character of the game is Flame. She is a robot who wasn’t built for war but is forced to quickly prepare for it as evil forces are running rampant on the world. The villains are all monsters and mythical figures from around the world such as Medusa, an evil Snowman, Baba Yaga, Lilith, and many more. Flame decides to suit up and stop them along with her Paladin machine. Faced with no other alternatives, the government agrees to this and sends her off. The characters all warn her that evil is quickly approaching so she must not be tempted but the heroine realizes there is little chance of that as she has a world to save.

The story here is pretty fun. The visuals are all rather intense and the sprite style is used really well. You have a very apocalyptic vibe to the whole thing and it feels like even if you do win, it will come at a great cost. These machines have ravaged most of the planet at this point. Then you have a mysterious Protoman type figure and he even gets a catchy tune similar to how a tune would play whenever Protoman would show up in the original Mega Man games. This definitely had to be a homage of some kind.

As for the gameplay, it introduces a few new twists as I mentioned. Lets start with the basics which is that this is a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and swing your weapon as you go through the levels. The goal is to get to the end of the level where you will take out the boss. You can also jump out of your mech and into your pilot form. There is a few seconds where you are invincible when doing this so it’s certainly a good way to dodge some enemy attacks. There’s at least one boss where I think this is what you are supposed to do in order to block their attacks.

Then for your blades you can hold 4 of them at once. You can switch depending on what you need for the situations. Some collectibles are hidden behind a specific blade for example while others are under a different one. Then there is also the fact that each blade holds a special ability. For example, one may have “Attack up” as its ability. If you intentionally break your weapon, it will give you a status boost for a while. Additionally if you don’t want to break a sword, be careful how often you use it.

Each weapon has its own health bar which goes down whenever you land a hit on an enemy or destroy a block. When it goes all the way down the weapon will break but you won’t get the special ability that way. So if you want to use the ability then you need to make sure you break the weapon yourself or you’re going to be in some trouble.

A lot of times you will want to strategically switch your weapons out. For example, if you are already holding 4 swords and then pick up a 5th one it will be automatically taken to your inventory. So you want to hold 4 swords as long as possible. The reason is you can fuse swords in your inventory so that they power your mech up to the next level. Additionally once you have it maxed out, you can just store them for their special abilities.

One sword I was saving for the final boss because it would heal all of my health. It was the only sword like that I saw in the whole game. In the end I didn’t need it for the boss but it definitely felt good having it with me. It’s the kind of thing that just brings you a good amount of comfort.

The graphics are pretty solid. The sprite art style works really well as mentioned before. A good amount of effort was put into the game on this front. Meanwhile the soundtrack is definitely on point with a lot of fast paced Megaman type tunes. They’re catchy enough where you’ll want to look them up after completing the game.

I should mention the game seems to have more than one ending based on what decision you take. I wasn’t totally sure there was a decision at the time so I kept going as normal but in the end I still think the move makes sense. As long as you have a strong will, then taking this would only be an asset. I won’t spoil what the decision is though so you can have fun choosing your ending. That also should give some replay value in case you want to see what the other ending is like.

Overall, Panzer Paladin is definitely a fun game. It’s a platformer that holds up really well and has an engaging story. It’s a bit of a short title that you should complete in under 4 hours. There are a decent amount of levels after completing all of the story ones though. The various extra modes will help in terms of replay value. Gathering all of the awards definitely won’t be easy and will keep you going back to the levels. If you want a fun platformer to play through then this is the one to pick.

Overall 7/10

Frogger’s Adventures: The Rescue Review


Frogger is back in action for yet another whirl at trying to be the best platformer in town. It’s a pretty solid title and I would say it’s probably the best Frogger yet. There are no gimmicks or anything crazy. It’s really just a solid game of Frogger even if some of the bosses occasionally seem to have a bit of a luck factor going in for them. As always the game does feel incredibly short though. It would be nice if they could bump that up just a bit next time.

The game starts with Frogger relaxing at home when he is suddenly startled by the arrival of a spaceship. The game’s intro really jumps but effectively the villains have kidnapped Frogger’s girlfriend, injured his uncle, and they’re threatening to blow up the world. Only Frogger stands in his way since the rescue team isn’t all that skilled. In fact, they quickly ask for Frogger’s help and essentially please with him to do all of the work. Well, no matter. Frogger is used to doing the heavy lifting and he will do whatever he can to save the world.

At the very least you have to give the game credit for trying to establish Frogger as more of a hero this time around. Usually he’s the more reluctant character type who grumbles about having to save the world the whole time. He doesn’t do it out of justice but out of obligation. Here he’s definitely more all in on being a hero. That said, don’t expect a huge plot either. We have more cutscenes than the average game as there is one after each world but the plot’s pretty direct. Save the girlfriend and stop Bowser the enemy.

The gameplay is as you would expect it to be. You can move one space at a time in any direction. Press the A button to go 2 spaces which is useful for jumping over pit falls. The goal of each level is to make it to the end safely. A single hit from any enemy will cause you to lose a stock so make sure you take that into account. This is a game all about dodging so you need quick reflexes. Patience is key here since there is no time limit.

I wouldn’t say the game is particularly hard although at this point this is around the 4th Frogger game I’ve played in a row so I’m pretty used to the gameplay style as it is. The bosses on the other hand will give you some trouble. Part of the problem with these guys is it is very hard to read their movements. Keep in mind that a single touch will cause you to lose your life so there isn’t a whole lot of room for error. They do tend to follow the exact same attack patterns though so if you lose enough times then you will have it memorized. It’s just more fun to win right away of course. Each of the bosses are different and have to be fought in a different way so a good amount of effort was put in here.

In terms of length each world has 3 levels and then a boss arena. There are 7 worlds so you should have this completed in a matter of hours. There isn’t any post game content in single player mode, however this game does have a multiplayer option which will definitely come in handy. That’s something to certainly give this game some staying power so it’s greatly appreciated. Yet another thing this Frogger game has over some of the other ones.

That said, I still think the story mode needs to be longer. Not saying you should drag the game out for more reason, but maybe add in another 2 worlds so we have more levels or something. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this style of gameplay but it’s just over so fast. I’ll give the graphics a thumbs up though. The cutscenes are fun to watch and it gives the story a lot more depth than it would have otherwise.

For example the villain actually looks pretty cool. The girlfriend doesn’t get to do anything though so hopefully she will in the next game. We’ll see if the whole group returns for the next title or if they’ll all fade away as with most Frogger casts. The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable though, I couldn’t really tell you of any specific tunes that left me nodding my head. It’s mostly going for a lot of free domain kind of themes. The only exception is the final boss theme which is absolutely the Ridley theme just completely ripped and put into this one. It was quite bold.

Overall, Frogger still has more games in the future that I need to check out but it could be a little while before I get there. It was definitely a fun ride though and if you like the concept of Frogger or the franchise in general then you should definitely check this one out. The gameplay’s a lot of fun and it’s why I applaud when the developers don’t just add random gameplay styles for kicks. Make a whole game with this style like Rescue did and then you’re all set. It’s quite fitting that the Gamecube would be the place to check out the definitive game in the series so far. Hopefully the next game is able to keep up the momentum.

Overall 7/10

Arc the Lad: End of Darkness Review


End of Darkness continues the story of Arc the Lad which is always fun since it gives you a chance to meet some of the old characters. Surprisingly, none of the Deimos get to appear though and the leader of the heroes from the last game is a no show as well. The decisions there were a bit questionable but the characters we did get to see were pretty cool. The game is ultimately a step down from the first one but still makes for a fun adventure.

This game starts with introducing us to the world’s new status quo. Deimos and Humans seem to still live apart for the most part but there’s no war going on. They still visit each other at least and deliberate even though there are some tensions. The main character here is Edda. He’s grown up in one of the Deimos towns all his life and uses his exorcism skills to help the town. See, there is a new form of monster which keeps on regenerating whenever it is destroyed. The only way to destroy it for good is with exorcism. The island is pretty safe thanks to Edda but the rest of the world isn’t so lucky. Edda decides to embark on a journey with his friend Hemo. He’ll become a hunter and will use his exorcism skills to bring humanity to an era of peace.

Meanwhile, there is a mysterious lady named Kirika who has stolen an ominous book. It’s hard to say what she wants from it but Edda can’t take any chances. He needs to find her. Perhaps she knows why more and more monsters have been appearing lately. The hunter guild is trying to get to the bottom of this as well but they haven’t made a whole lot of progress yet. All of these plots will eventually intersect.

The story is fun although there’s not as much of it as you would expect. A lot of times the chapters won’t have any story development as you just help people out and continue on your day. the game has a set structure of how you progress through chapters as well. Each chapter is tied to your hero rank. You start out as a beginner of course. To advance to the next level you must complete 5 side missions which are fairly basic like defeating a few minions. The side missions keep on rotating so when you find an easy one, just remember the name so you can beat it again. You need to have 10 stars for side missions.

Then there are 2 story missions as well for each chapter. Once you complete those you can take the promotional exam. If you complete that, you enter the next chapter. Rinse and repeat until you get to the end of the game. I would say the final 2-3 chapters are where the story really gets going. The rest is mainly to introduce the characters and set things up. Interestingly there is no EXP system here so you can feel free to avoid all the enemies this time around. Unless you are doing a mission to defeat enemies there is no real benefit to fighting them.

You can’t leave a room if any of them are chasing you though so sometimes it is quickest to take them down. This means equipment is even more important now. You want to make sure you buy the best gear possible. You can actually buy the best gear rather early on in the story. Still, you might notice that the final boss is still very difficult to conquer. It feels like the game massively spiked up the difficulty just for that final boss which was certainly very intense.

So to deal with him you’re going to have to use the magic synthesizer. Make sure you save before doing so. You want to get a triple S rank spell and that will help you complete the game. Without it, you’re in for an extremely long fight at the very least but possibly a futile one. You really want to have those spells on hand.

Meanwhile the graphics look pretty good. It’s fun getting to recognize all of the areas from the first game. A lot of the levels seem to have been directly grabbed from the last one for maximum nostalgia. The soundtrack is also mainly made up of tunes from the first game so all in all, it’s a sequel that feels a lot like the first game except for the gameplay changes.

While I do like real time action, between the lack of an exp system, the dungeons being far away so if you lose then you have to start over, and your items all being confiscated if you lose a side mission, the other game had the stronger gameplay system. You do have a few other playable characters here which you can unlock through cards but I never really tried them out since I had Edda all maxed out anyway.

As for the characters, Edda isn’t bad. He doesn’t have as much personality and charisma as Kharg but he does well enough for himself. As an exorcist he is always trying to do the right thing. His friend Hemo is never particularly entertaining though. He never helps out when Edda is in a pinch so there’s not much reason for him to even be here. He holds the main character back without a doubt. Finally you have the mysterious Kirika. She’s a fun character although even she realizes by the end that her plan was not very good. If she had done things a little differently the game would probably be massively shorter.

As for the length, the game is pretty solid. It’s over 10 hours which is always the important part. I’d say it’s around 15. Additionally there are some more chapters you can play after the final boss which will serve as the post game. Perhaps we will see more guest stars there. So all in all there is a good amount of content to enjoy here without a doubt. It’s got replay value to keep you going.

Overall, End of Darkness is a nice way to see all of the old faces again. It tried a lot of experimental gameplay mechanics which is always ambitious even if it didn’t work out. Make sure you focus on getting some good spells pretty quickly because you will absolutely need them for the final boss. They will probably make the rest of the game a little easier as well. Until the final boss I really had just stuck with Cure since health is super important and a thunder blast of sorts. The spirit moves at the end would have certainly made the bosses quicker.

Overall 7/10