Owlboy Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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Tank! Tank! Tank! Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Splatoon Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Rango Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Has-Been Heroes Review


It’s time to look at what is likely my first Rogue game. The genre is definitely pretty interesting since it’s so unique compared to others. Here if you die you lose everything. Forget about keeping things like items, level ups, money, etc. If you die you start from scratch with nothing to show for it. It’s an interesting dynamic. Honestly I think I would prefer it if you got to at least get level ups or something since you would eventually be able to power your way to the end. Still, it’s steady stream of quick levels can be pretty addicting and you’ll find yourself wanting to keep playing “1 more round” over and over again.

The plot is pretty basic. There are a group of heroes who used to be quite impressive back in their day. Unfortunately for them they have grown old and people barely even remember them anymore. Well, they’ve been given one last mission. They have to escort these two princesses over to another kingdom. That should be easy enough but the world is overcome with monsters so maybe this won’t be quite as easy as they thought. Don’t worry about the plot much though as it doesn’t return again until you’ve beaten the game 6-7 times as you get the true ending. The rest of the endings don’t even finish the plot as they just unlock another character.

The gameplay uses a 3 lane system. You have a hero on the top lane, middle, and bottom. Each one can attack when his gauge is full. This is how you drain away at enemy’s stamina and then their health. You have to time it just right so you finish off the stamina and then damage the opponent in order to chip away at the gauge. Otherwise you won’t be making a whole lot of progress in the fights. It’s a very interesting system for sure and a complex one. Throw in the spells and then you’ve really got a lot to think about during the fights. Fortunately you can pause the game to think about your options but pause too often and you’ll just be taking up too much time. That’s the way I see it at least.

One nice thing about the game being so complex is that you can feel yourself improving as you go through the game. I lost my first 10 games before finally reaching one of the endings. From there it took me about 5 more tries to get the 2nd ending and then another 3 or so for the third one. There are 12 endings but if I kept up that pace maybe it wouldn’t have taken much longer. At the same time, it’s like Pac-Man as the more endings you get the longer the game becomes. That’s because the levels stack on top of each other so at first the game is 3 areas long, then 4, then 5, etc until it reaches 8. Naturally you can see why losing when you’re at area 6 or 7 during a late playthrough can be pretty rough. The bosses shuffle each time so you never really know who you are going to be up against.

There is also some luck involved as the shops and chests change each playthrough. On my final victory playthrough I got a good line up as I got the mind control spell, 2 water spells, and 2 little minions who would help me blast the enemies. On other playthroughs I just didn’t have enough money to do much of anything so I ended up falling behind the curve. My best recommendation is to fight as many battles as you can on the way to the boss to stock up on money so you can get as many items as possible. If you run out of money then you’re basically sunk. Always have a plan when going into a boss fight as well and don’t be afraid to pause if necessary. How you start a fight could very well determine how you end it. For my tip of the game I would recommend getting any spell that does direct damage to the opponents like the water blast. It’s incredibly different and can make all the difference in a fight.

The graphics aren’t bad. I like the illustrations we get for each ending. There was a reasonable amount of skill put into the drawings. The actual animations during gameplay aren’t anything amazing, but it looks pretty clear. You can usually tell what is happening. The only exception is the status effects that play whenever you hit a villain. There are way too many words and they go too fast so you can’t really tell what they are saying. That seems to maybe be intentional but certainly worth mentioning. The soundtrack is actually quite solid though. It has a good variety depending on the levels and is soothing enough to enhance the gameplay experience. The later levels seem to decline a bit based on the tracks I heard online, but it’s still quite good all around.

Naturally there is a lot of replay value here. If you want to get all 12 endings prepare to be here for over 20 hours. It depends on how quickly you get used to the gameplay and learn the tricks of the trade of course, but I wouldn’t expect to get the hang of it too soon. I can’t stress enough that this is a pretty difficult game. It’s no walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll learn best through trial and error. There are also bonus modes like Challenge Mode, Seed Mode, etc. Getting through with everything will take a long time. I believe I got this game for around 10 bucks so that’s a lot of value for that price.

Overall, Has-Been Heroes is a pretty fun game. The story certainly takes a back seat as this is the kind of game that barely even has a plot, but the gameplay is the main thing here. The gameplay is smooth and a lot of fun. It may not be the most enjoyable experience at the very beginning if you just don’t get what you have to do, but as soon as you figure it out the sky’s the limit. I’d be up for trying more Rogue games out, but I still believe that they would be more fun with some actual progression. I want to feel like I’m getting closer to the goal with in-game features as opposed to just mastering the style more and more. It makes the whole experience just feel more rewarding.

Overall 7/10

Ridge Racer 7 Review


It’s time to take a look at a racing game that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. Ridge Racer always looked like a lot of fun and to already have 7 games it must be quite successful. As soon as I put the game in I was impressed because the graphics are out of this world. It might not be a stretch to say that this is the best looking racing game that I’ve played although F-Zero is naturally up there as well. It’s a really fun racing game although I think it could have done a better job of explaining the confusing layout of the menu and advanced mechanics.

The main mode here is naturally the Grand Prix. When you step inside a bot gives you your current stats. This happens every time you enter the mode which may be excessive but I do like the fact that the game keeps track of everything. That even includes play time which is nice as I now know that I played this game for about 4 hours. That’s a pretty reasonable amount of time considering that a lot of big games tend to be that length nowadays like Sonic Forces and Black Clover. Of course there is a lot more to do here that will take you over 4 hours. There are 14 Grand Prixs to deal with. Aside from that you also have a bunch of corporate companies who will challenge you to single races and exhibitions. Clear them all to get your completion % to 100%.

Aside from this mode you also have the shop, event mode, and some kind of super event mode. I usually cover replay value at the end, but since I’m talking about content already I may as well address that. This is the kind of racing game that you can play for a very long time. It also has online support to back it up and local multiplayer. Think of any kind of content that a racing game would typically provide and this game has you covered. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. Now, whether you will have enough driving skills to tackle all of that content is another thing.

That brings me to the cars aspect. I was only able to clear the first 5 GPs in this time frame because of how this part works. So, you have cars for various categories 1-4 and you use them to clear the events. You start with 1 car for each category and gradually work on obtaining more. The problem is that the ways in which you unlock cars are rather vague. Is it from the corporate sponsorships or should I be doing a different mode for that? The layouts aren’t very user friendly so if you want to find the right car you’ll have to cycle through a bunch of them. All of the cars can also have upgrades and modifications done to them but you can’t see how the stats change for the car. I guess you gotta find that out the hard way? It’s little things like this that will make you wonder if it couldn’t have been done a little better. Personally I found it to be a little hard to understand.

Perhaps there is a better way of upgrading your car but I couldn’t find one. Then everything is also super expensive. Buying 2 cars and 2 packs of boost were enough to make my character bankrupt. I guess I would need to keep replaying the old events to get more money or something, but that seems like it would take a lot of time. Towards the second half of the game the cars just got way too fast and my little car just couldn’t keep up. I prefer when the cars don’t change speeds like in F-Zero or Mario Kart. Have the tracks get harder and the A.I. more intricate but don’t mess with the cars. That just seems like an unfair advantage to me. Also, the game quickly started to re-use tracks which I found to be a bit dubious. I think the grand prixs should not reuse tracks unless it’s the final one or an “All Star” cup of sorts. Otherwise the game is just attempting to pad out the time.

As mentioned the graphics are extremely good. The cars look very lifelike and the tracks are polished to perfection. Whether you’re playing a daylight stage or driving through the night the levels are very well made. There’s one level where you drive next to a waterfall which was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s a little limited compared to other racing games but the tracks are very fast paced and filled with energy. It really allows you to cut loose and jump into the fray.

We also can’t forget the actual gameplay of course. This game is all about drifting which makes it a little different from the average car game. There are a lot of turns and the only way to get through them is to drift. To properly drift you have to stop accelerating by either braking or simply letting go of the ignition. Once your car starts to turn then you have to gun it once more to correct your path. It takes practice for sure, but after a few levels you will likely be able to handle it. You’ll need to be self taught though as the game isn’t too helpful in this regard. Beyond the boosting it is a pretty straight forward racing game that isn’t too out there. I’ve always been a big fan of the racing genre so it was definitely a lot of fun. This genre is one that can get old if played for too long though so I do recommend taking a few breaks. Don’t try to clear everything in one shot.

Overall, Ridge Racer 7 was quite good. It lives up to its reputation and I was certainly satisfied with the game. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting any other installments in the near future but if I do it would certainly be the Gamecube spinoff. After all, that one actually has a story mode which is really impressive for a racing game. I don’t think I need to tell you readers that this is quite rare. Need For Speed is really the only big racing series I can think of that has consistent plots at this point. If you like racing games then I definitely recommend picking up Ridge Racer. It’s a very by the books title that polished all of the technicals to a T. Its only failing is that the game can be a little too ambitious without letting you know what is going on so prepare to learn everything on your own.

Overall 7/10

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon Review


It’s time to look at a recent Final Fantasy spinoff I got to play. This game has been sitting on the back burner for a very long time at this point. It always looked pretty fun, but I figured it would be pretty long so shorter games kept jumping it in line. Well, no more! I finally took the plunge and it’s definitely a fun game. While I’m not a fan of all the mechanics, I can say that the game was pretty well made. It certainly does the Chocobo character justice.

The game starts with Chocobo and Cid trying to grab the Timeless Power stone from some kind of ruins. Unfortunately Cid’s rival shows up and nabs it first. Before she can gloat, the whole group is transported to another dimension and the rival vanishes. This town is a little odd as nobody remembers anything including what their names are. A bell rings every few hours which makes the memory loss even worse. Fortunately, Chocobo seems to have the ability to go inside someone’s mind which allows him to restore their memories. There is also a baby named Rafaello who seems to have something to do with it. Chocobo starts on his mission to get everyone’s memories back, but everyone keeps telling him that this is a bad idea. Even the gods of the world tell him that he will only bring despair. Is this really the right thing to do?

Chocobo’s Dungeon is the kind of game where a large part of the story doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot. You go around restoring memories, but beyond that nothing much happens. Still, it’s a pleasant enough game. Right away you can see how much content is here as there are a bunch of side missions and sub quests to fulfill. The towns people seem nice enough as well. Still, you get the sense that something isn’t right since as I mentioned everyone is against Chocobo. The bosses you have to defeat in order to save the memories are also characters like the guardians of Light and Flame. Are they really villains or are you the villain?

All of these questions are answered in the climax which is definitely intense. It’s a climax that wouldn’t feel out of place in a main installment like Final Fantasy VII. The Destroyer, who is the final boss even looks a little like Sephiroth. We get a nice cutscene towards the end where this character even takes on Chroma and I wasn’t expecting such a fight. It was cool and I’d be up for seeing this game get a remake or be turned into a movie. I know there is a sequel for the DS so maybe I’ll get that one pretty soon.

Now lets talk about the gameplay as that is the bulk of the game. It’s a 3D turn based dungeon explorer type game where you have to navigate through the many floors until you get to the boss. Each step you take counts as a turn so you will have to quickly decide whether you want to move, attack, or use an item. I do really enjoy the strategy here. Most dungeons are only 8-10 floors while the larger ones are around 20. The final dungeon is 50 floors so get ready for that. Fortunately there is a check point every 10 floors so you don’t have to worry about starting all the way from the beginning. That would have been annoying.

The game does add in some stakes here though. For one, if you die you lose all of your money and all non equipped items. This encourages you not to take unrealistic risks. Make sure you have an exit strategy in mind or at least store your money in the bank before going on a tough quest. You’ll definitely want to do some leveling up before you get to the end of the game since the final bosses see a considerable increase in difficulty. Don’t underestimate them or your items will be sorry. When going into a dungeon you also have to choose what class you want to play as. Each new dungeon unlocks a new form for you. I highly recommend the Knight and White Mage forms. The Knight has great special attacks and gives you extra defense which is always good. I used him for the first 3 and a half chapters. However, eventually he simply wasn’t cutting it so I switched to the White Mage and never looked back. This form has a lot of great healing abilities so you no longer have to worry about carrying potions. Then he also has the best ability in the game which is the fact that he can cast a revive on himself. You can also use the escape ability to just get out of the dungeon if things look impossible. The Dark Knight is typically considered to be the best, but by the time I unlocked him the game was almost over so I couldn’t really verify that.

Now, I mentioned that not all of the mechanics were my favorite. In particular I am referring to the fact that enemies can rot your weapons. It works like in Breath of the Wild where your weapons just get weaker as you use them. They don’t actually break in this version but they do get weaker which is annoying since the only way to power them up further is to spend more money. What you want to do is find a weapon with an anti rust upgrade and then fuse that to your main weapon to ensure that nobody can weaken it. At that point you are all set. There are others for extra EXP and money, but I never found the former. It would have certainly come in handy though.

The graphics are pretty decent. It’s certainly a step below most of the other Final Fantasy games, but it still looks pretty good I’d say. It’s just using a different style. It’s sort of like World of Final Fantasy but not quite as polished. It does have each character keep up a motion throughout the game which is cool though like Chocobo’s power squats. He is doing squats during the entire game which is pretty impressive. Then we have the soundtrack which is pretty ordinary for the most part, but I do like the Chrome boss theme. That one’s definitely hype and will pump you up for the actual battle. It’s just that kind of high energy theme. So this game ultimately definitely delivered when it counted.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this game out. It’s a pretty fun RPG and one where you really feel like you got a lot of value for the price. The story took me 18 hours and that’s certainly a good amount of time. As I mentioned, the plot does take a while to get going, but as long as you’re fine with that then this is a slam dunk. With this game gone now I’ll be eagerly awaiting the Spyro trilogy. In the meanwhile I’ll work on Ridge Racer, but those turns are definitely real tough. I need some more training before I can be a master at the game like Chocobo. They always start out tough, but get enough level up and any RPG is cake. Sadly there are no level ups in something like Ridge Racer.

Overall 7/10

Dagedar Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure racing game known as Dagedar. I’ve had this one on the backburner for a very long time because it was just hard to get into the game. I couldn’t even beat the first level for a super long time. It doesn’t help that the only way to clear a level/tournament is to win at least 3/5 races. The game doesn’t really help you out with learning the controls so that’s something you’ll need to figure out on the fly. Interestingly it’s the kind of game that gets easier as you play it since you just need a fast car in order to win. It had a very shaky start, but I suppose it was okay by the end.

So there aren’t too many modes to play in this one. You can jump into the Grand Prix adventures or go to Time Attack. I believe there is also a multiplayer option but good luck finding someone else who has the game. Time Attack can be fun if you want to train and it also helps you unlock Dagedar along the way. I was able to unlock one by beating one of the levels which helped me go back to the Championship. Naturally the championship mode is where you will be spending most of your time as you aim to become the best of the best. There are 7 tournaments which each have 5 races so that’s a lot of track to cover.

Technically each stage is only around 2 minutes long so you could theoretically beat the game in less than 3 hours. However, as I mentioned the game is extremely difficult. It probably took me about 5-7 hours just to beat the first tournament. I had significantly less trouble with the other tournaments. They finally got tough again near the end, but by then I had played enough of the game to have a pretty good idea of what it was all about. I had taken the game to the brink of what it could offer me. The levels also started to become pretty similar by then and the only way it could get tougher was to mess with the tracks. Eventually they would start reversing or you would have to do very precise jumps. Mess one up by hitting the electricity and catching up to the other car would be nearly impossible.

Lets backtrack to the gameplay real quick. You move by moving the control pad of course and you can jump with the B button. You also have access to a boost button which you get from orbs in the road. I recommend using them for the big wheels you have to enter like the song games as the extra speed will make them a breeze. Once you get a fast enough car as long as you play well victory will be guaranteed. That’s where the tight turns and such come in. At the end of the day it will all be about your fundamentals and how good you are at the stage. Just try them out in Time Attack until you’re comfortable enough to win. Since there’s no story mode or anything like that I didn’t feel much pressure to do so, but if you really want to prove yourself then this is a good game to do so.

As far as the graphics are concerned I would say that the game looks pretty decent. It’s nothing award winning or anything or that nature, but it gets the job done. You can typically see what is going on except for when the game is being cheesy and you don’t see a trap until it’s too late. The soundtrack is super generic though and I guarantee that you won’t even remember a single tune by the time you finish. Naturally the budget just didn’t seem to go into the music department at all which is a shame. Perhaps for a sequel. (Heh…as if a sequel would come out)

I suppose the game does have a good amount of replay value though. You could easily get 10+ hours in this game trying to get all of the Dagedar and clearing all of the tournaments. If you take to the gameplay better than I did you could certainly clear the game quicker, but don’t underestimate the difficulty level of this title. It’s not the kind of game that you can just pop in and clear with your eyes closed. It will definitely take a lot of skill and finesse to get the job done here. It’s a good challenge though and one where practice is rewarded.

Overall, Dagedar is one of those racing games that takes a lot of time to really get going. At first your car is simply too slow and the computer goes through the course almost perfectly. In fact, I’d argue that the A.I. plays at the same level for all tournaments. The only difference is that once you get a car that is faster than the A.I.’s it no longer matters quite as much. Don’t worry about the control stat since it doesn’t matter much and just go for pure speed. As long as your reaction times are on point you will then be able to blow your opponents out of the water. You’ll also enjoy the game a lot more. If you can find this game for a few bucks then it’s worth taking the plunge. If not, just buy a better racing game like Mario Kart that also has a lot more replay value.

Overall 6/10