Mario Hoops 3 on 3 Review

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It’s time to look at a relatively obscure Mario game known as Hoops 3 on 3. Basketball and Football are the two big sports that never got a home console game to themselves and at this point I’m wondering if they ever will. Nintendo has been moving away from sport titles after all and maybe they just didn’t know how to pull it off in a satisfying way. Ah well, at least when I get Sports Mix, I’ll get a taste of what a basketballl game would have been like. Hoops does do a good job on the DS though and is a lot of fun so I’ll take what I can get.

The game really focuses on tournament mode and vs mode. I believe that there may be a mini game mode as well but I didn’t end up trying that one. There are 4 tournaments to play through and each of them have 3 rounds except for the final tournament which is 4 rounds. This is less than most Mario sport games which tend to have 6 tournaments but I suppose it’s because the developers wanted to make sure it didn’t get tedious. 4 tournaments is a fine number I suppose.

The game is definitely meant for those who are right handed as you use the control stick/pad to move and then you use the stylus to shoot or pass. You can also dribble faster by tapping the screen a lot which I did for fun a lot, but never in a way that was particularly useful. It was just a lot of fun to tap away. You are able to use super attacks which can’t miss and can’t be blocked, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I chalked it up to cheesy A.I. game mechanics and called it a day. There are a bunch of techniques that I didn’t learn here and I suppose I could have finished the tutorial, but why bother right? I can beat these guys using pure fundamentals!

Each game is 5 minutes long which is divided into two halves. For the first 2 tournaments you will probably want to consider just holding onto the hall and not scoring after you take the lead to make the game go quicker. After all, scoring just prolongs the game so if you have a safe lead then you don’t need to go further. Do make sure that it’s a safe lead though as a normal shot is worth 20 points and any coins that have been accumulated by the enemy are added to the total. You can easily see a 40 point lead get wiped away with a single shot. For my gameplay tip, I would recommend running to the bottom side of the court and just running back and forth. The computers usually can’t catch you and if they get bold and try to undercut you, just head up. This strategy is close to full proof for 50% of the game.

The game definitely went all out when it comes to the visuals and the sound. The graphics are on point and have aged really well for the DS. The character models are sound and a nice amount of effort went to the gameplay elements like the actual basketball and the courts. Everything is very vibrant which is nice to see. Same goes for the soundtrack. It’s fun to hear all of the iconic Mario themes like Bowser’s Airship. We even get a brand new song which talks about how they are all heroes. It’s definitely catchy and I hadn’t been expecting a lyrical song like this one to pop up. I’m certainly glad that it did though as the song gives the game more personality. Then we’ve also got Mario’s sound effects. He talks a little more than usual here like even speaking during the song. Most impressive for the usually silent main character.

As far as the length goes, that is naturally less impressive. The tournaments will take you a little less than 2 hours. This means that the game will live or die on its replay value. You do unlock the tournaments for a second time which you can try clearing on hard mode. I’m sure that would be a reasonably fun challenge. Then the rest of the replay value is in fighting other players in vs mode. Definitely a longer experience back when the DS servers were still functional. Still it will be a fun 2 hours so if you can get the game for a good price then you will be set. 25$ is certainly pushing it though so I’d recommend thinking long and hard about it. I suppose it beats most other 25$ purchases if you look away from the medium though.

Overall Mario Hoops 3 on 3 may be a very short title but it is quite polished. A good amount of effort was put into the game. The basketball gameplay is on point and it could be used exactly how it was here in a new Switch game at some point. I do like how they made longer shots a little more realistic to score as you can shoot a ball from very far away and then jump after it go force the ball in. It wouldn’t have gone in without your intervention so that’s why jumping after it is extremely important. Against a real opponent you will definitely have to huddle since they will have the same idea. In this game you feel powerful on both offense and defense which is important. There are also quite a few advanced gameplay mechanics that will help you out once you take the time to learn them. When you buy the game, prepare yourself for the intense secret final boss!

Overall 7/10

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The King of Fighters 2006 Review

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It’s time to look at a King of Fighters title! I actually haven’t played too many of the games in this series, but enough at this point where I have a good grasp of the series. Aside from the new PS4 one I played the first Maximum Impact and 2 of the GBA titles. This one is probably the most plot heavy game that I’ve played and that’s not saying a whole lot since it’s just a bunch of Arcade modes like most of the old fighters. The plots do get pretty out there though and I hope that they actually got to finish.

The general plot is that the King of Fighters tournament has been revived. However, this time Geese and Duke aren’t the ones pulling the strings. Instead, an alien warrior is the one who has devised this tournament and he wants to take over the body of whoever wins it. Many fighters enter for various reasons. Terry and Rock decide to check it out because they figure a villain is probably running it so they can make sure that nobody gets hurt. K’ and two other operatives check it out because they figure it might give them a lead as to who has been kidnapping famous scientists from around the world. Another alien warrior has entered so she can put a stop to his plans. One android was payed by the alien to eliminate everyone while another has entered for ice cream. Almost every character has a reason to enter while others have absolutely none so the writers stick them in arcade mode without an actual story. That is incredibly lazy if you ask me though so for the future everyone better have a role.

Naturally this can get repetitive if you decide to beat the game with every character though. There are over 30 after all and for the most part they only get 2-3 cutscenes each so you aren’t going to gain a whole lot compared to the 14 battles that you have to win as each character. You get the opening cutscene, an ending cutscene, and then 2-3 mini cutscenes for the final fight. These can definitely be pretty interesting though and I didn’t expect all of this talk about aliens. The game hints at an impending invasion from the rest of the aliens. I somehow get the feeling that this hasn’t happened yet in the games as it probably would have been a big deal, but it did make this game feel a lot more epic. I prefer a general story mode to character stories whenever possible but at least these were pretty interesting. I’d say that over half of the characters have a good reason to continue on with the tournament.

There was once a time where I would try to beat the game as every single character, but now I just beat it with enough characters to unlock everyone. In this case that number was 14 so it was a decently long campaign. There is still a lot of replay value here though like unlocking all of the stages and costume colors. I don’t care too much about the colors, but the stages would be fun to go for. Collecting them all involves completing all of the missions though which would certainly be very difficult to accomplish. That would buy the game a lot of time as well and it’s not as if the price is too high at this point so it’s a good purchase.

The graphics are pretty solid. The character models are on point. I’m not sure what system they use for it, but it seems like a similar style to the old PS2 Naruto games as the actual models are thrown right into the cutscenes which makes them run smoothly. I also imagine that it makes it easier to add a bunch of cutscenes than if they had to animate them all individually. It works pretty well. Then the soundtrack is also good. It’s a little limited since I don’t have too many of the stages, but the ones that we do have sound pretty good to me. On a technical level this game is on point.

Naturally this is the kind of game that is at its peak when you play multiplayer. Going up against a computer is fun enough of course, but fighting another person really lets you see how far you’ve come. Can you land those easy bake combos on someone who knows how to block? That’s the real question. Each character has a good array of normal attacks and special abilities. I believe each character may have around 5 special attacks or maybe even more. There are a lot of control options here so I wouldn’t be surprised if the game has a really high skill ceiling. You can move up and down the map to an extent to dodge attacks and also use a super speed roll. Button mashing doesn’t work as well as in Street Fighter because not every attack is meant to lead into a combo so sometimes you’ll just trap yourself in lag if you use a slow attack. It does make you think about your best course of action though. By the way, since I didn’t really mention the gameplay style earlier, it’s a 2D fighter like Street Fighter. I’m sure you picked that up by now, but just a heads up in case it wasn’t clear.

Overall, This is a pretty fun fighting game. King of Fighters is still a step behind Tekken and Street Fighter for me as far as the actual game series and story goes, but it’s solid in its own right. Perhaps it would move higher if I actually played more of the games. I am pretty interested in the PS3 titles that came to America and I think I’m missing 2-3 PS2 ones as well. I still don’t think it will ever rise to be the top fighting game series or anything, but I am glad that the series was recently revived on the PS4 and hopefully it will continue strong. The more fighting games the better after all. It’s a rather somber thought, but among by 114 video games on the backburner I don’t think I have any fighting games left. That’s actually pretty scary, but shows how that genre is slowing down compared to the others. It’s probably because one game can last a while so there’s no need for sequels. Just look at Street Fighter V or even FighterZ now. I doubt either of those will get a sequel because they will probably last for a long while.

Overall 7/10

Tekken Review

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Tekken has always been a fun franchise. The gameplay is a lot more simplistic than Street Fighter at a glance and every blow you land is satisfying because of the loud sound as well as the splash of color. While I probably remember Tekken 5 the most and played it quite a big back in the day, the whole franchise is pretty hype. I knew that I had to dive into the mobile game once it came out.

Unlike most mobile games, Tekken has a real story mode with an actual ending as opposed to most mobile titles that keep on going forever. It was a nice change of pace and I think it’s a good thing that the game came out with the full story right from the start. Granted, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if some kind of dlc expansion came up at some point. So the plot of the game is that a mysterious foe known as Remnant has surfaced. He has begun mind controlling some of our friends in his quest to possibly destroy the world. Kazuya decides to take this guy down but he realizes that just having himself and Nina likely would not be enough to do much of anything. As such he must start recruiting more fighters to his cause and along the way they will beat Remnant’s mind controlled lackeys to free them. It will be a tough fight, but Kazuya is always ready.

The story mode will take you a couple of days at most so it’s not very long. There are 3 main chapters and each one has 5 acts. Each act has around 5-12 fights in them and each fight can end in about a minute or so. The difficulty rises slightly as you go through but not by much since if you want a challenge you can just try fighting the story on a higher level. A couple of days is actually generous since this is about 2 hours, but you may not be playing the game that much at home when you have home console games to play instead.

The gameplay is a classic tap title like the various Marvel and DC fighting games. As far as I know it may be that all of the fighting games use this as the default control scheme. Perhaps it just makes the most sense when it comes to how the phone is set up. Regardless, tap to attack, hold your finger on your character to block, and tap on your cards for super attacks. You can string together combos with your cards and deal a whole lot of damage. You’ll have the gameplay basically mastered before very long.

Aside from the story there are quite a few other modes. This is one of those mobile games that does have a lot of post story content to keep you going at least. There are daily events which happen….every day and they give you a chance to get tokens and characters. The game has around 70 characters I believe although many of them are clones. There are also a bunch of made up characters, but that’s still preferable to clones I guess. Do we need 3-4 different Nina Williams? They all have the same attire and fighting skills, the only difference is their star rank. I believe I got around 12-15 of the characters which isn’t too shabby.

You can also fight other players of course. Not really in real time though, but you fight their Dojo and try to get points that way. The rewards seem pretty reasonable to be honest. Then there is the shop where you spend your coins and tokens. Bandai has a lot of experience with creating apps so it makes sense that they were able to set up so much for this game. In a world without Pokemon Go perhaps I would play this game more, but seeing as how it does exist I won’t really be playing this one now that the story is over. It’ll join the ranks of Sonic Forces, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Ingress as I just log in every day to get the daily bonus. If they add in a story update then I’ll check that out of course. I wouldn’t be surprised as the Marvel Contest of Champions game that I mentioned earlier is very similar, but it had hundreds of levels. That amount is pretty daunting to be honest and I didn’t bother even going through a quarter of it. It’s not like the plot ever seemed to move. That’s an issue here as well, but since the story is so short it’s okay that it only has a short cutscene at the beginning and ending.

As far as the graphics go, the game does a good job of looking like the mainstream titles. The character models are on point and the attack animations are good. I couldn’t really ask for much more than that and the simple fact that you could mistake this for a home console game shows how solid it is. The soundtrack is rather limited, but the tune has a lot of replay value. You won’t mind hearing it over and over again which is certainly a very good thing.

The only real negative to the game is that the servers are still wonky at the moment. Sometimes you’ll beat an opponent but then the game won’t count it and you have to keep beating them until it does. The best thing to do in this case is typically to log out and then go back in. The game does have an interesting health mechanic though as when your fighter loses you must heal them with an item. If you are out of items then you must use another one. I guess Pokemon Go has a feature like this, but getting health items here can be a little trickier. It’s a problem you may have down the road, but at the very least you’ll definitely have enough to get through the main campaign.

Overall, Tekken doesn’t do anything new in the mobile genre, but it still manages to be a solid game. Naturally if you’re a big Tekken fan then this game already has many reasons for you to play this. It will depend on how many fighting game apps of this type you’ve played before and if you want to go with this one or not. There are some server issues but as the game gets older and people leave that shouldn’t be much of a problem. I’d recommend the game, it’s a solid title that will have a continuous stream of content for at least a year and likely longer. Running out of things to do won’t be an issue.

Overall 7/10

Mario Tennis Open Review

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It’s time to take a look at a Mario Tennis game that was pretty much overshadowed the instant it came out. That’s because it’s basically the same as playing the Gamecube game except with no cutscenes and less games. As a result, there is little reason to buy this game unless you desperately want to play it on the go. Nonetheless, it was only 10 dollars so I figured..why not? It was basically free thanks to a coupon and I’m glad I got it. The game doesn’t do anything unique, but it still has good tennis fundamentals.

There is no story mode of course and so the closest thing is the traditional Tournaments. There are 8 tournaments and each tournament has 3 rounds. Complete the first 4 to unlock the star version of the character you are playing. The battles never actually get too tough. One thing I noticed about the AI is that if you let them get to the ball then you are unlikely to win a rally against them. Fortunately they can’t seem to handle your serve on any level so you can easily score with your return. If you don’t then you will most likely have lost the point. That adds a little extra tension to the rounds I would say.

You can complete all of the tournaments in a little under 2 hours. To help with the replay value, you can do that with every character in order to get all of their Star Forms and some more items for the shop. Every time you win a match a random item is unlocked for purchase. The annoying thing is that the tournaments don’t get you any money though. To earn money you have to play the minigames. They are surprisingly difficult though so clearing all of them could take some time. This way at least you are earning money and accomplishing at the same time. That’s a plus right? Before talking about the minigames, I suppose I should mention that we also have Doubles tournaments. I was never the biggest fan of doubles and didn’t really go into that mode, but it’s sure to add more length to the game. As per always with sport games, the true replay value occurs if you have someone to play with. Otherwise you likely won’t end up sticking with the game for very long. I find it telling that the game is only 10 dollars when Nintendo games rarely go down in price until a very long time has passed.

There are 4 minigames. One has you relive some of the old 2D Mario levels as you try to keep a rally going while going through the level. It’s a fun concept, but a little too slow for my liking. The level goes by incredibly slowly so it’s more tedious than difficult. Ideally you want to have a good mix of both. It’s probably my least favorite minigame. Then we have Coin Mode. You have to shoot through the rings and gain as many coins as possible. This one is probably the most rigged as it will largely depend on your opponent. As a result I actually lost the Silver version of this game. It’s a decent concept, but I don’t care for the execution.

Time for the 2 best minigames. One is a Rally where you have to keep returning the ball without letting the computer touch it. This one’s actually pretty fun and it’ll definitely test your reaction times as the plants fire the ball at you. You won’t know which one is shooting until the very end. Finally, the best minigame is the rally one. You have to keep hitting a ball back and forth as parts of the stage vanish. This game is taken directly from the Gamecube one and so you can probably see why it is the best. It was just thought through very well and is the right blend of challenging and length. The time goes by slowly at first, but by the end you’ll barely notice. These minigames may not be much, but at least they give the game a little more content.

I haven’t talked much about the actual gameplay, but that’s mainly because there isn’t a lot to be said. It’s a very standard tennis game. You feel the power behind each hit and have different options on how to strike the ball. You fire off a high one, a low one, or a standard shot. You do seem to have special attacks, but I couldn’t figure out how to use them and didn’t even need them in the end so that’s why I didn’t try very hard. Perhaps I would have needed it against Ace level opponents at some point. The game has a dynamic camera view option, but I recommend turning it off. It’s distracting to suddenly have the game zoom in when you head to the net. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea, but it was probably the same person who doesn’t give the game the option to remember your choice. As such, you have to turn it off again after each match. It seemed really random though so at least you don’t have to worry about it happening after every match. Otherwise, I have no qualms with the actual gameplay, it’s what you would expect from a Tennis title.

The graphics look really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the effort went here although perhaps the character models were just grabbed from somewhere. As there aren’t any real cutscenes it probably wasn’t too hard to just focus on the models. Every character looks to be on point and the stages look sharp as well. The game delivers on this front. When it comes to the soundtrack, it’s fairly decent but forgettable as far as Mario games go. You likely won’t remember it all that well by the time you finish the game.

Overall, Mario Tennis Open is a good game. The Tennis gameplay is solid and that’s really what counts. There just isn’t any extra content to keep you busy. Your attention will only stay on this game for as long as you enjoy playing tennis. I suppose collecting all of the items could help if you’re really a serious collector, but there isn’t a whole lot of point to getting it all otherwise. If you see it in stores for a fair price then I recommend checking it out. I can’t imagine grabbing it at full price though. No matter how fun Tennis is, it just wouldn’t have been worth it.

Overall 7/10

Captain America: Super Soldier Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the final Superhero titles that I had yet to play in the modern era. A character like Captain America certainly comes with a unique fighting style and one that the game handled well. I didn’t expect to find it for around 5 dollars at Gamestop, but it just goes to show that you never know what kind of gem you’ll find there. As a loyal Gamestop supporter I must urge you to go there, but don’t get conned into going for Elite Reward Status unless you seriously shop there a lot or desperately want the Buy 2 Get 1 Free coupon.

The plot of the game is that Captain America has infiltrated another Hydra base. At this location, Zola is experimenting to create his own version of the super soldier serum and if he succeeds then it could turn the tide of the whole war. Cap has to stop this weapon at all costs, but he can’t do it alone. That’s where the Invaders come in. They’ve got heavy artillery backing then up so maybe, just maybe the heroes have a chance.

At its core this game is a classic 3D brawler like most of the other superheroes. You will do some platforming as you jump from place to place but most of the time you will be beating up on Hydra agents. The platforming is also pretty easy because your jumps automatically link to where you will want to go and an arrow will show if you can make it or not. If you fall anyway then you simply were not paying attention. If you’ve played pretty much any 3D game like this then you should also be prepared to break some switches and handle miscellaneous tasks.

Now the combat is where the game gets a little more creative. This is Captain America after all, you will be going in expecting to use his shield quite a bit right? Well the game doesn’t disappoint. You can throw the shield around to stun multiple enemies. The more you upgrade the shield skill, the more enemies you can target at once. It’s really handy for when you’re surrounded. Of course, sometimes you want to test your mettle in close range combat and that is always a viable option. When fighting off enemies with your fists you can feel the satisfying sound effect behind each blow. Furthermore, your reaction times are important here as you will have to press the Z button when you are about to be attacked to parry the hit and keep on beating them down. The timing isn’t quite as strict as in some other games and it is hard to miss the visual cue. As a result, you can basically fight off armies by the end of the game and it feels awesome. You can be surrounded and then begin delivering your haymakers until the fight is over. The fight style the game uses is very cinematic which lines up well with the films. You won’t even notice the Wii Remote much since you are focusing on just hitting everything. The motion controls only come into play when you start throwing your shield around, but time slows to a crawl at this point so that compensates for the extra time it takes to move the shield around. You will likely still get tagged once or twice in Cap Mode since when you’re surrounded even slowing down time isn’t always enough. To prevent the game from getting too easy, berserk enemies don’t trigger your Cap Sense so you can’t parry them and the same goes for all of the villains with guns.

Unfortunately the graphics aren’t great. It’s not so much the effects or the backgrounds, but it is the character models that just don’t seem right. Captain America’s proportions just don’t seem right. His top half is just too huge and the rest of him looks too small. I guess maybe he just skipped leg day. One good thing about this style though is that it lets the game go all out with giving us mini cutscenes here and there. The scene where a minion shows up and grabs the shield was pretty hype. He quickly learned that I was still more than a match for him though. The music wasn’t especially memorable or anything like that but I did like the main menu theme. It was a nice rock theme that got you hyped for what the game was about to bring in.

There are 9 levels in the game with the average length being about 20 minutes per level. The game isn’t all that long as a result, but it didn’t feel too short either. It’s a fairly standard length for a movie tie-in which admittedly isn’t saying much. You can get the game for a few dollars though so the price helps to counter this. There is a little replay value to be found here as you can go back to the levels and try to grab the collectibles to unlock some more costumes. Not a great incentive for me, but it’s definitely better than nothing. At the end of the day, this is a very basic game with no extra frills. The main campaign has to be enough to sell you on the product and it worked well enough for me.

Overall, Captain America is a pretty fun superhero title. It may not be as high budget as you’d like, but does a good job of depicting what you would expect from Cap’s fighting style into a great gameplay experience. Throwing around the shield just feels right and can really be used to extend combos. Naturally, bouncing it off walls and such won’t work quite like in the movies, but Sega did a good job all things considered. This is a considerable step up from the recent Batman game that I played and I can certainly recommend checking it out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Overall 7/10

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis Review

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It’s been a little while since I played the original Mario vs Donkey Kong so it was finally time to check out the sequel. Unlike the first game which used a mix of Mario and Mini levels, this one double down on the Minis. They’re definitely fun to play around with so while you will probably miss the standard levels, the Minis can hold their own game. It’s a fun sequel that gives you what you expect from this series.

The plot is that Mario dolls are selling really well while nobody wants the Donkey Kong ones. Pauline even grabs the Mario one while DK watches to rub it in. In return DK kidnaps Pauline and Mario was so busy antagonizing him that he didn’t have enough time to save her. Instead Mario sends in the Minis, but can they really hope to stop the legendary Donkey Kong? This guy packs a punch so they will have to use their sheer numbers and skill to put a stop to him.

This time around the gameplay uses the stylus the whole time as this is what allows you to control the Minis and to set off stage hazards. You must guide the 2-4 Mini Marios to the door which signals the end of the level. You win as long as one Mario survives, but naturally you get bonus points if you can get multiple Marios to the end. There will also be vines which you have to lure other enemies to destroy, springs to jump on, and many enemies that you can ride. The levels will usually allow you to get used to the hazards before they throw you in. The game never gets all that difficult though so you should have no problem getting through.

There are 8 worlds with each world having 9 normal levels in addition to a Mini level if you found all of the cards and a boss level as well. Then there are 2 final levels if you have gotten enough collectibles. Interestingly enough all of the boss fights except for the final one are the same fight, but with some added twists. You’re always trying to launch the Marios high up in order to either hit DK or cause something to fall on him. It may have been a stylistic choice to have the bosses be the same or a budget one, but it’s a pretty fun boss concept either way. Bouncing the Marios off the walls while trying to avoid the critters is just as tricky as it sounds.

The graphics look nice and colorful as you’d expect from Mario. The levels are all fairly compact and so the game doesn’t really need to go all out. Most of the objects and enemies are fairly similar so it likely wasn’t too hard to get all of the character models polished. As a result I would definitely expect everything to look good and it does so there’s definitely no issue. Nintendo always tends to deliver here. The soundtrack is fairly bland for a Mario game though. There aren’t really any memorable themes to be found here. You’ll likely be too focused on controlling the Marios to really notice this though.

After beating the game you do have some replay value when it comes to unlocking all of the bonus levels. You’ll want to get gold ranks on all of the stages and collect all of the cards for bonus Mini levels. Grabbing the cards is a fairly easy task, but good luck going for the golds. The game really expects you to earn them as nabbing the gold basically means that you have to play the stages perfectly. I actually think that this is the reason why beating the game was surprisingly very easy. Nintendo decided to make it so that you could breeze through the story and see the ending, but getting the gold medals would be the challenge. A lot of the levels start you off with at least one Mario right by the goal so you would be guaranteed to win, but if you wanted the rest of the Marios to survive then you would have to actually play the level and use teamwork to get through. Moving one Mario is easy enough, but coordinating all of them will likely take some practice.

I do have to quickly say that Mario looks rather iffy in this game. I still say that he was really antagonizing DK in the opening cutscene as he grins while Pauline holds his doll. That’s fine since of course he’d be thrilled, but he’s grinning directly at DK as the ape’s doll is completely ignored. He seems fine at the end and Pauline probably goes a little overboard when trying to make DK feel better, but I just can’t forget the opening. Something tells me that Mario is still holding a grudge with DK over some of the things that happened to them back in the day. I wish I didn’t have to put Mario on blast like this, but I can’t come to any other conclusion.

Overall, Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 March of the Minis is a fun sequel to the original. The original game will still take the win due to not having to rely on touch screen controls and having some normal Mario levels as well, but this one does a good job of operating well with the stylus. You will rarely if ever die because the game couldn’t read your swipe and you’ll probably end up grabbing a lot of cards along the way to beating the game normally. By then you may find yourself wanting to grab the final cards just so you will have truly completed the game. If you’re a Mario fan or just like brain teasers then this is the game for you. It’ll force you to always be thinking 3 steps ahead.

Overall 7/10

RWBY Grimm Eclipse Review

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As a big RWBY fan I knew that it was about time that I finally got to play the official game. Granted, it’s fairly low budget and a first test of sorts rather than being the next big game, but I still shelled out the quick $15. It’s a fun game and definitely one that is a lot more fun if you play with multiplayer so you can actually grab most of the trophies. You need to go online for the rest as well, but more on that later.

The basic plot of the game is that an evil scientist is using Grimm for some very nefarious experiments. Even the shady Ozpin states that this guy is too dangerous and we should avoid him. Unfortunately, team RWBY ends up getting trapped on the island with the guy and they must now stop his plans and survive for as long as they can. Does the team have what it takes to stop this guy?

The plot is fairly basic and you’re only told what is happening via voice over from various characters during the chapters. It’s cool that we got some voice over even if there aren’t any actual cutscenes. You’ll really be focusing on the gameplay here above all else. It’s a classic beat em up where you have to defeat all of the enemies in order to move on. You have 3 main forms of attacking. There are the standard attacks, the power attacks, and the ranged attack. Your projectiles are fairly weak, but can be used to stun enemies which is handy for getting a specific trophy or just for buying yourself some time. The standard attacks are nice and fast which you will find yourself using for most of the time. The power attacks deal a lot of damage and are your best bet. You can mix and match both of them for some really good combos which will really make getting through the levels a breeze.

While the graphics aren’t amazing, they’re fairly good. The visuals on the game’s cover and main menu are off model, but inside the actual gameplay the characters are on point and the Grimm look menacing. The levels are bright and look really solid. I’d also have to give the soundtrack a thumbs up for the impressive collection of osts from the show. It is an odd decision to have all of the tunes be instrumental, but I guess they thought the vocals would be distracting? I don’t agree with the decision, but the tunes are still good whether they have lyrics or not.

One point against the game is how short it is. You can beat the whole game in around 2 hours. There are only 10 levels and you get infinite lives to help you out. You also keep whatever exp you earned so eventually you are sure to be able to complete the game. There are trophies which help to serve as replay value, but you can forget about getting most of them if you don’t have PS+. It broke my streak of nonstop A ranks in the recent games as I’ve got a D rank on PSN for this game now. Still, maxing everyone out and going for the trophies that you can will make this game last quite a while. It’ll help justify the 15 dollar price, but it’ll only work if you have PS+.

The difficulty level here is definitely intense since it doesn’t seem like the game scales down when you’re playing on your own. As a result some of the final levels are rather brutal with the minions because they can drain your aura away with ease and deal massive damage. I had to rely on one of Yang’s excellent combos to get the job done against these guys. They definitely were not easy, I can tell you that. The final boss is also crazy strong as you essentially just have to keep running as you dodge all of the attacks from the many minions and strike back when you get a chance. There’s technically no RNG to worry about here, but with attacks coming from all sides you have to be pretty fortunate not to get hit by anything. Otherwise you will be taken down very quickly.

There is one mechanic that helps against this though. Instead of a traditional health bar system you have a aura level like in the show. As long as you have aura you can’t really get hurt and the only way to die is to let the enemies get your aura all the way down and then taking a hit. If you notice your aura going down then you should run away very quickly so as not to risk getting hit again. Be careful not to underestimate the Grimm attacks since their claws reach a little longer than you’d think. Being cautious is the best strategy here.

Overall, RWBY Grimm Eclipse is a good game, but one that isn’t quite polished yet. It’s definitely not quite as good as it could be, but I did have fun running through the levels with my button mashing skills. I’ve always been a big fan of beat em ups and at the end of the day you have to forget about everything except the gameplay. The gameplay is good so that’s enough to float the game by. Just take my negatives as warnings so you know what you’re getting into when you get the game. If you’re not a particularly huge fan of the series then this game may offer even less for you as another beat em up would give you the superior experience. It’s just a lot of fun being able to actually play as the title characters from the show. You could also buy the JNPR DLC pack, but considering all of this I think I will be passing on that for the time being. Now I just need to wait for Cross Tag Battle to see the characters again.

Overall 7/10

Power Drome Review

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Power Drome is one of those PS2 games that you likely have not heard of before now. If you do know it, then that’s pretty impressive. I got the game because of how the gameplay looked and I definitely am a sucker for futuristic racers. They tend to be a lot of fun and this one is certainly no exception. The single player mode is unrelenting but at least this helps add to the length of the game. The multiplayer is where you will spend the majority of your time though.

There are 3 main modes for you to have fun in. Single Race is just like how it sounds. You pick a track and then test your mettle on it. You have multiplayer mode where you use the racers you have unlocked to have fun on all the tracks. Finally, there is the championship. There’s no real plot unless you count the quick level descriptions. You are trying to rise up the ranks as an up and coming racer so you enter many tournaments and even some 1 on 1 showdowns. Surprisingly the showdowns are the easiest ones and since you unlock racers that way, it definitely works for me. You can earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal based on how well you do.

The difficulty continues to accelerate more and more as you play through the championship. I beat around half of it with the main character before I had to switch to one of my unlocked fighters. Even then the final tournaments proved to be a little too much when it came down to speed. My opponents were just so much faster than me that it was scary. They would leave me in the dust as soon as the race began. The final stages also had a lot of turns so it was difficult to actually gain any ground on the opponents. You can drift in the game, but I found it hard to do reliably and without crashing so I ended up bumping into the walls either way. If I could turn better then defeating these later levels would be considerably easier.

Aside from accelerating and braking, you have two more gameplay additions. You can boost your way through the race by using up some meter. You do get a nice burst of speed, but it’s rather minimal and usually isn’t quite enough to let you get past the opponent. Alternately, you can use your meter to heal your car to prevent yourself from blowing up. This is extremely handy although your speed will take a nosedive temporarily.

The graphics look reasonably sharp. The level designs are good and the cars look high tech as they should be. I wouldn’t say that the graphics are anything to write home about, but they are bright and fairly colorful. You can always tell where you are on the track which is crucial. You do move at really high speeds which can make it tough to start turning on time, but they do have constant signs to let you know where you have to stop so it really comes down to your reaction times.

I’d say that the soundtrack was reasonably solid. Again, you probably won’t write home about it as there’s nothing amazing about it, but the music selection works well as background noise to the races. It’s certainly not slow music so it won’t force you to slam on the brakes.

This game does have some voice acting but it’s mostly just to show off how edgy all of the characters are. Perhaps they aren’t all edgy as I only played as two characters, but as part of their taunts they give the birdy. One guy slams his head on his car repeatedly and the girl shakes her fist at the other racers. I suppose this does seem to take place on more of an underground racing circuit so of course they don’t get along, but it’s almost funny to be doing this during a race. I guess they can drive these incredibly fast machines with one hand. That’s got to take a lot of talent.

There is a good amount of replay value to be found here. Unlocking all of the racers of course, but also clearing Career mode. Both should take a considerable amount of time unless you are a master at this genre. Even then you will still have to get used to this game’s gameplay in particular. Then multiplayer also unlocks a huge amount of replay value. Racing with A.I can be fun but it isn’t quite the same as racing against an actual person.

Playing this game reminds me of why we need more F Zero titles. GX still ranks as one of the greatest racers out there and the futuristic racing genre is just a lot of fun. I’d say that Wipeout does a better job of capturing F Zero’s essence than Power Drome, but as Drome only features a boost and no items, the actual gameplay is a little more similar. You can even boost ram into other cars to try and take them down for the count. Unfortunately it isn’t permanent though. I prefer when you are only given one life in a race. It increases the stakes and really reminds you not to get hit. It’s why F Zero is one of the only racers where I would actively target the other racers as I tried to take them out of commission.

Overall, Power Drome is a fun game. It does have a little more personality than other racing games with the characters being distinct and at least having some kind of career mode. The difficulty is a lot higher than you might expect, but with enough practice I’m sure you will be able to clear the game. At the very least, you will want to do it to unlock the extremely fast racer. If this game got a sequel with more of an actual plot behind it, then I’d be all for it. That would definitely have potential.

Overall 7/10

Lollipop Review

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Time to look at the first connect 4 app title I’ve ever played. It’s pretty impressive how much the genre has exploded. There are hundreds of apps on the market just like these. Candy Crush is really what started this segment of the market and it has since grown into something pretty impressive. It is definitely a really fun genre but just playing one or two of them is enough for you to have your fill. Taking on more would just be overwhelming. For me Lollipop was the first and also the best.

You probably already remember the gameplay from my Fruits Mania review so I shall be brief. The goal of the game is typically to match a lot of candy. You can do this in pairs of 3 or greater. The longer the match, the better the reward. A match of 5 will get you the rainbow orb which can destroy all candy of a single color which is extremely handy. Other levels have you trying to match near cookies or getting a cake from the top to the bottom. There are certainly quite a few variations for the levels. I’d say that the best kind is when you have to break a large number of crackers. Those are just the most satisfying to play. You still need strategy but you can just jump in and start marching.

The worst levels are the ones that pop up really late in the game where there will be prisons outside the level and the only way to hit them is to detonate a row bomb in just the right row. It just feels like you need a lot of luck to clear a level like this and the game is basically just telling you to buy the item that you want. This is the kind of game that is definitely pay to win as buying an item like this will really come in handy.

The main game mode is the only mode in the game as you would expect. The replay value is in the sheer number of levels that are included as getting through all 1000+ will be considerably tough. Not to mention that the game is still going as well. You’ll burn out if you try to go through them too quickly so it’s important to just go through a few at a time. Naturally if you are a huge fan and don’t think this will happen to you then you should go ahead and play to your heart’s content.

There isn’t much to say about the graphics or the soundtrack since it is all the most generic themes you can think of. They certainly feel like they are all free domain themes and there isn’t any real variety. It would be nice to have something more than that, but it isn’t entirely unexpected considering that this is a pretty low budget game anyway. The company must have a huge profit margin here because they have 10 games of more that are exactly the same as the others, only they are slightly altered visually. A unique mechanic here or there, but it’s likely not hard to maintain compared to other games. I do think the game looks a lot better than Fruits Mania though because of the color scheme. Blue just pops out and the island esque theme just looks more impressive. It’s definitely quite subjective though.

The app market has really taken off and after laying some of these games I can see why. They certainly are no replacement for console games and if given the option I would choose the latter every time. However, it’s the times where a console game isn’t available that these really shine. Since the levels are quick it is ready to be played at any time. The levels are quite fun as well so it will always remain a tempting option. I could easily see a more dedicated app player beating all of the levels and moving on to one of the other versions just to get more levels.

Naturally as this is a very mainstream app game there are a bunch of pay to win mechanics. You can buy whatever items you want with real world currency. They are fairly cheap but once you’ve bought enough the total will definitely start to spike. Any level can become a cake walk if you buy enough items. It’s one thing Pokémon Go has always done well. You can’t buy candy, stardust, exp, or Pokémon. Without the option to do those things, it effectively prevents the P2W strategy. You will still have an edge if you spend money but it’s not quite as immediate or obvious as in other games. Sonic Forces is unfortunately like this one in that regard as you can just keep buying more loot boxes until you are maxed out with your level.

Overall, your enjoyment of Lollipop will likely depend on how many of the other clones you’ve already played. If this is your first one, then that’s perfect. It will feel really fresh and you’ll be absolutely engaged with the game. If you’ve played others, then this will just seem like more of the same. There aren’t any bells and whistles here. It’s just the gameplay, take it or leave it. At the very least, I know it’s an app that I can easily use to pass the time by, but more often than not, I have other options for that.

Overall 7/10

Fruits Mania: Elly’s Travel Review

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a mobile game. This time it’s one that isn’t a franchise title so you may be wondering why I picked it up. Well, the game was recommended by a few colleagues and so I quickly made it my mission to get reasonably far in it. After completing over 150 levels, I can definitely say that I have achieved my goal. I actually started this one after Lollipop so I will make some references to it but that review will be coming after this one.

The gameplay is very basic but there are a few advanced rules that you have to find out on your own as the game keeps them from you. The objective of each level varies but typically you have to destroy a certain amount of blocks in various colors or the crackers underneath them. Sometimes you will have to escort candy to the bottom of the level. You do all of this by matching colors in groups of 3 or greater. Groups of 4 will allow you to destroy a whole row or column while 5 will let you destroy a whole color on the board. Use these combos strategically in order to clear the level. Luck does play a large role in this game, but there is still the skill aspect as well. You can’t just blindly blow up blocks and expect to win. Some advanced techniques you can do are to merge explosion blocks or any kind of special block really for intense results. Hit a line block with a rainbow and it will cause a very large chain reaction. This resulting explosion can really change the landscape of the entire level and grant you a swift victory. Of course, it is incredibly difficult to accomplish such a feat.

There is nothing else to do here except the main levels so you really have to enjoy the gameplay if you want to keep playing. There are over 1000 levels though so you don’t really need to worry about running out for a very long time. I don’t care how good you are at this game, clearing it will take time. I’m fairly close to level 200 but the game is getting to be quite difficult now so my pace has slowed considerably. You do get special items every now and then, but it seems to be based on your play time so it doesn’t come as frequently as in Lollipop. Use your items wisely as you will certainly miss them once they are gone.

One thing that is unique to Fruits Mania over Lollipop is that it has actual boss fights. You attack them with your blocks. It’s really just like a normal level, but don’t underestimate it. The toughest levels are still when you have to escort fruits to the bottom of the screen as you have to either plan out your moves and their effects to a very high degree or just depend on RNG.

There isn’t really a soundtrack of course. There are some decent sound effects, but that’s really it. As far as the graphics go, it’s nice and clear. The art style isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t give it much praise since it’s not like it has much to do anyway. It’s just the same fruits in each level so I doubt it takes too much time to set it up. The game is a brilliant idea from the developers because they can just keep on generating new levels which are just the old ones, but switched out a little. It’s most impressive if you ask me. From the gamer side you won’t even mind this much because the core gameplay is what’s fun. It’s not like there is a whole lot more they can do with the game without possibly damaging the formula. They do add new mechanics from time to time, but they have to be careful not to overdo it.

The replay value goes without saying here since 1000+ levels will take forever. Each world has 50 levels and I’m only on World 4 I believe. This app succeeds in what apps are intended to do, make the time pass by quickly. It doesn’t need the internet so you can play the game while in the subway and if you’re stuck in a level you don’t have to worry as the game will give you powerful items before you know it. The best items are the capsules that take out whole rows and columns. They are just so overpowered. .

Overall, Fruits Mania is certainly an addicting mobile title. It’s a step under Lollipop but that could very well be because I played the other game first. As the levels are quick it is easy to pick up and play at any time. I doubt I’ll ever complete all of the levels, but it’s a fun game. I’d recommend checking this out if it’s up your alley but if you already have a game that you like to go too in this category, then there isn’t much point to switching.

Overall 7/10