Cave Story 3D Review

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Cave Story is a retro side scroller that was a pretty big deal when it came out for the 3DS. I remember seeing it all the time back in the day. After all these many years I finally got to play it and it is definitely a pretty solid title. It has a good amount of difficulty which should challenge and frustrate even the most skilled players of the genre.

The game starts off with two “kids” (seemingly) chatting through their computers. One of them is locked up in a hut while the other one has managed to escape from the villain organization. Their predicament still isn’t great though as the villains are looking to kidnap Sue again. (The one who escaped) Fortunately, a Robotic soldier from the surface has shown up and decides to help these guys out. He will stop the nefarious organization and save the world. This soldier may be brave but is he up to the challenge?

One thing you’ll notice right away as you play the game is that the title is very cryptic. You are kept on a need to know basis as everyone makes references to past events or tell you parts of stories that you have to fill in on your own. As you talk to more and more NPCs you will likely have more and more questions. The game is definitely trying to set up a lot of lore and I’m sure it was fun for some people to decipher it all and put it in a wiki. I’ve always been content to figure stuff out in my own as well and don’t think the game/any form of media should spoon feed you all of the info. Let us figure out most of it on our own and only give the really crucial parts.

The gameplay is like the classic Mega Man games. It’s primarily run and gun as you go through the levels. It is part RPG though so it’s not as simple as merely running to the goal each time. You will have to talk to people and go back and forth to get the necessary items to carry on. The backtracking isn’t all that extensive though so I wouldn’t really worry about that part. You start out with a classic beam gun and quickly get missiles. How the game works is each gun starts out at level 1 and can be upgraded to level 3. Enemies drop the energy that you use to power up the weapon. Taking any damage will then cause you to lose the energy. Thus, the game highly rewards a patient approach as you try to clear the game without really getting hit. You gather energy quickly so it’s not as if you can’t afford to get hit but I like to see how long I can last. One thing to note is that level 3 of the upgraded machine gun you get later on allows you to fly by shooting at the ground. Unlike the jet pack, you can fly forever this way once you also get the quick ammo reload power up. There is apparently also a powered up Jetpack you can obtain which may do the same thing but I never found it so this is a great alternative. As you play you will have to decide which weapons you really want to level up. You can level them all up of course but there is rarely a need too. Some abilities like the sword slash feel like weaker alternatives to your regular weapons anyway.

Each boss has patterns that you can learn and exploit through experience and quick reactions like the Mega Man games. There doesn’t seem to be much RNG (if any) in this title which is good since it comes down to skill. Even then I was glad that we got consistent save points throughout or it would have been a tough trek. As it stands, there are two parts of the game where you go a long stretch without a save point and those parts was tough. In particular, the triple final boss is really difficult and I definitely had to retry that one a few times. Find each boss’ weaknesses and learn how to win while taking minimal damage. It’s a considerable challenge, but I’m sure you can get it done.

The main character is a nice enough guy but of course he doesn’t have any actual personality. Sue seems reasonable enough but she basically spends most of the game getting kidnapped so it wasn’t her best role. The guy who was on the computer turned out to be a rather old guy and one who wasn’t very brave. When push came to shove he was ready to abandon ship and even offered us a ride home. I wasn’t having any of that and stayed in to fight. The bad ending was tempting to watch though, but I was on a mission. Either way, that guy is ally that you don’t want or need to have on your side. The villains were pretty interesting and charismatic though. Not really the main villain though, but his partners. The scientist comes off as rather generic. His plans aren’t bad I suppose and he had a good super form but he just didn’t look as cool as the others.

One big villain who kept showing up was this sentient Toaster. Perhaps the game meant for him to be a boom box or an oven but he looked like a Toaster to me so I’m sticking with that. He even had his own theme music which was really fun to listen too. While the Toaster’s redemption arc may be rather cheesy and hard to buy into considering just how mean he is, it could have been dragged out a whole lot more. He is the best character in the game for sure and you have to admire his drive and persistence. No matter how many times you defeat him he will come right back. Another villain who was cool was this evil fire mage/fairy creature who is bound to serve the one in control of the temple. As a result she works for the Scientist. She’s a good fighter and her abilities seem similar to that of Infinite’s. She doesn’t get to do a lot in the game but at least we do fight her once so that was neat.

The soundtrack is limited but fairly good. As I mentioned, the Toaster got the best theme in the game. It’s just excellent and really makes you enjoy the fights. The rest of the themes aren’t bad, but you will hear them a lot so get used to it or it’ll be a tough time. The graphics aren’t quite as good as the music though. The levels are all fairly dark and the sprites are small. This makes it rather easy to get hit by stage hazards and the like even when you would have dodged them otherwise. This happened to me a few times in the final level with the stone spires. The graphics aren’t bad, it’s just that the lighting was dark which hurts the overall look. It’s still bearable though and just make sure you play in a well lit area. I also wonder if it might just be my 3DS since screenshots of the game look fine. In my playthrough you wouldn’t have even known how the main character looks if not for the cover. It’s like it was zoomed out too much or my 3DS is getting ready to kick the bucket.

The game is reasonably long and took me 8 hours. I can’t say that there is much replay value beyond beating the game but there is enough. You can keep on chatting with everyone to find out more about this war torn world. You can also grab new weapons and I believe you do unlock a new level so that would be pretty fun. All in all, it’s definitely enough content to justify the price. The game will last you for a satisfactory amount of time and the level of difficulty will ensure you don’t beat the final levels too quickly. I died quite a lot in this game so I can definitely vouch for the game’s difficulty.

Overall, Cave Story 3D is a fun game. The gameplay is on point and I did like how the weapon levels worked. It’s a very unique take on the leveling system in general and one that I’d say works. The plot may be vague and even by the end you don’t know what the full situation is, but the mystery aspect can be enjoyable in its own way. You don’t always need all of the answers. I’d recommend checking this game out. It’s a very solid side scrolling adventure with a lot of options on his to play the levels thanks to your array of weapons. When in doubt, just fly. That’s my motto in this title.

Overall 7/10

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Mario & Sonic at The Olympic Games Review

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I got Mario and Sonic at The Olympic Games a long while ago so it’s cool to finally get to play it. I did dabble around with the game briefly before now but the intense difficulty and length of the games temporarily caused me to retreat. Going back to the game, it’s still quite difficult but fun nonetheless. It’s just made solely for multiplayer as the 1 player option just won’t have a great deal of entertainment value in comparison.

There’s no plot of course as you are here for the games. There is a reasonable amount of variety with the games although there isn’t quite as much as the game will have you think. You unlock a game after each tournament but these are effectively just longer versions of the games you already have. Of course I’m still glad to have more options so it’s not as if this is a bad thing. For the first game in the series it’s a rather solid start. You’ll be spending most of your time in this game in the Circuits. There are 5-6 tournaments in each difficulty level. Progress as far as you can in order to beat them all and unlock all of the games. The tournaments tend to have 4-5 games inside. You are given a token which you can use to double your points for claiming victory in one event per tournament, but use it wisely. If you don’t come in the top 3 at the event where you’ve bet your chip, it will be lost. If you use it right, you can afford to bomb one event as long as you do well in the other ones.

Another mode is Mission Mode. There you play one event at a time and accomplish the objective. Finish in 2nd place is one for example. It’s a pretty nice little mode although I didn’t play it too much. I completed Shadow’s missions and called it a day. It’s a nice way to add in some replay value though. At the very least you can’t say that this game was lacking in content. It’s got enough to keep you busy for a very long time and then some. You can unlock emblems, music, and of course the games. Completing all of the tournaments should also take a while. I’d say we’re looking at a game that’s at least 10 hours which is really solid for a Sports title. Although I guess sport titles usually last a while if you think about it. Lets talk about the games.

The first one is the Swimming event. This one’s pretty fun as you just push and pull the Wii Remote/Nunchuk as fast as you can while pressing whatever the screen tells you too. It takes fast reactions to complete, but is certainly a game of skill. There is no luck to be found here and it’s pretty satisfying. I was able to wrap my head around this one pretty quickly. Next up is Archery which isn’t nearly as good. The instructions were unclear and it felt heavily luck based with the wind factor and all. I may just not be properly appreciating the nuance of this event though, but it was one of the weaker ones for me.

The sprinting event is the best one. It’s very simple, just shake your remotes as fast as you can and get to the goal. You’ll get a real workout here, especially in the longer versions. You also have to jump over obstacles in some versions, throw a baton to a teammate, or even use items to slow the others down. I enjoyed these levels quite a bit and wouldn’t have minded seeing more of them in the tournaments. It’s just an event that you can get behind really quickly and we never did get that Track and Field Mario game that I always wanted.

There are also the jumping/spear throwing minigames. Essentially you have to make a throwing/jumping motion as you approach goal. The problem is that the game is incredibly unclear and misleading on when you have to time your jump so you have to do it quite early in order to get it right. Otherwise the game penalizes you. I figured it out the hard way after several shots, but with something like this you should be able to tell where you have to jump on the spot.

There’s also sword fighting which is pretty decent. I’d enjoy it more against a human opponent, but any kind of combat is always hype in my book. It plays out like a Pirates of the Caribbean game as there is a lot of parrying and feints. There’s also a Trampoline minigame which is handled really well as you press a lot of buttons and go for a high score before you finally land. I feel like this was my best minigame as I always beat the computers here. Finally we can’t forget about Ping Pong. That game is a classic and certainly one of the best ones. The computers don’t just roll over either so you really have to earn your win here. Watch out for their slams.

There are quite a lot of games here and for the most part they were all solid. There were a few lackluster ones, but they were in the minority. While these are all of the main minigames, there are also several variations of each one so the gameplay stays fresh. I do have to question what Nintendo was thinking when they made the A.I. though. I seriously can’t imagine a kid being able to beat most of the tournaments. The computers are simply too merciless and you have to really compete to take them down. I beat all of the tournaments under Beginner and Advanced, but Master Class is really something else. Even Beginner was really tough at first and I lost a few times there. Having a practice run before doing the real minigames would help a lot since I didn’t understand quite a few of them.

The graphics are really good and certainly hold up well. It’s definitely nice to see Mario and Sonic racing side by side. I feel like Sonic was still faster, but Mario did a good job of keeping up. The music is also on point to be sure. The technical aspects of the game were certainly on point and as a result this is a very complete game. You’ll have a lot of fun playing it for sure and at this point you can get the game at a good price. I will say that the game is a lot more fun when you’re playing with someone else though. As with most party games, the minigames are made for multiple people. With the emotionless computers, it’ll feel a little repetitive after a while. They’re also surprisingly good as I mentioned earlier so while you may post a score that you feel would have won the bout in multiplayer, that may not be the case here.

Overall, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is a lot of fun. If the game didn’t have a multiplayer mode, then I would take off one star so keep that in mind if you’re buying it to play by yourself. I’ve played a lot of party games over the years so I can definitely confirm that this is one of the better ones. Actual effort is put behind it and there were no glitches that I could see. I already own the next game in the series so I’ll definitely be playing that one pretty soon. I remember thinking it was a significant upgrade so I’m excited to check it out.

Overall 7/10

Big Hero 6 Battle in the Bay Review

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It’s time to look at another side scroller in the form of Big Hero 6. Most movies may not get tie-in games anymore but Big Hero 6 dared to go against that trend. It’s a game that definitely plays it by the books and feels relatively low budget like what you would expect from the genre. It’s short and straightforward but it is also fun. I’ve always enjoyed these cash in games quite a bit. They may not be AAA titles like Mario Odyssey or Sonic 2006, but in their simplicity it brings you back to an older, more nostalgic era of gaming.

So the plot is that someone has stolen yet another one of Hiro’s inventions. I forgot which one but it’s now in the wrong hands so that makes the villain very dangerous. The team decides to locate the villain at all costs and quickly head over to take him down. The plot is pretty self explanatory as the heroes do exactly that. They find and defeat the villain rather easily and Baymax didn’t even have to do a whole lot this time as he still tries to be a pacifist. That being said, he is thrown into the conflict by the end.

There are 4 playable characters who each have a distinctive fighting style. The main character can shoot out force fields which blow the enemies away. He is fun to play as and the levels go by quickly since he is so skilled. The next character is the Roller Blades character. Unfortunately they made her the worst character in combat as her attacks are the weakest. This is supposed to be balanced by the fact that she is the fastest fighter in the game but that doesn’t matter a whole lot since it’s not by a great deal and most areas force you to stop and fight the villains anyway. The third character is the power hitter of the group who wields a sword. He is easily the best character to play as since even the strongest enemies tend to lose in a single combo. Finally we have Fredzilla. He is in the middle of the gang. Not particularly strong but not downright weak either. His super jumps are fun since you just skip a lot of enemies that way.

Aside from their signature abilities the gameplay is that of a normal side scroller. You walk and jump through the level until you reach the end. There will be a few encounters with the enemy where you quickly dispatch them and keep it moving. Each level will only take a few minutes. There are 21 levels and the game lasted around 2 and a half hours. So I guess each level was around 6 minutes or so. It’s not quite Powerpuff Girls length but still a pretty short game overall. That being said, it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable due to both the level designs and the core gameplay. It’s more polished and the boss battles are all unique as opposed to simply punching them all into submission. Some of these bosses may even take multiple tries as you try to figure out how to hurt them. The game’s a little vague on that part but simply studying their movements and all should help you figure out the weaknesses.

As far as the graphics go, the game looks good. It’s still in the 3DS era so despite not being a big budget game it does hold up well. As long as a game looks clear and I get what’s going on, I typically give it a passing grade and this game earns that. The soundtrack is pretty uninspired though. No memorable tunes are to be found here. You’ll forget the ost the instant you put the game down although I can’t say I was expecting anything different to be honest.

There is some minimal replay value here. You can find the four Hero letters in each level to do something, I believe it may unlock artwork. You can also snag the 5 Health pieces in each level to level up your characters’ health bar. These things are fine but you’re unlikely to get them naturally unless you intentionally go for them and once you’ve beaten the game you don’t really have a need for the extra health if you really think about it. It’s still better than nothing of course but the overall message you should be getting from this is that the game is quite short. Aim to have fun while completing it but don’t expect the game to last.

One easy way to help the game a bit would have been to make the plot a bit better or the dialogue more passable. All of the characters just sound really annoying, Fred in particular. It’s hard to really feel like you should be rooting for these characters and instead you just want the level to start. The “cutscenes” are all very short so they don’t drag or anything though. They really just don’t add anything to the game and that’s always a little sad for the writers when you think about it. Letting Baymax be playable with some kind of unique gameplay like a flying level would have been nice as well. That’s effectively what Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer did for the DS a while back and it worked reasonably well.

Overall, Big Hero 6 is a fun game. You’ll enjoy each level and going for the collectibles along the way is a good tactic to make the game a more complete experience. The characters and story may be rather weak but the gameplay is the important part and it works well enough. It would be nice if the game was longer or had more modes to enjoy though. Regardless, this is basically the definition of a weekend rental although it’s unlikely to last you for the full weekend. It’ll at least buy you some time and you’ll have fun along the way. An easy fix would be to add a Multiplayer mode and then the game would certainly have a lot more replay value.

Overall 7/10

Pac Man and The Ghostly Adventures Review

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PAC Man is a legendary icon and one of the most recognized characters in all of media. It’s no exaggeration to say that more people know about him than heavy weights like Luke Benson or even the great Parappa The Rapper. Surprisingly he hasn’t had dozens of games to exploit this fact and at one point he went for such a long time without a game that it felt like the franchise was cancelled. This led to this game, a reboot in which PAC Man the Family Man was transformed into PAC Teen, a revel who breaks the rules and can’t control his urges for food. Would it be a success?

The plot is pretty light as the game prefers to let its gameplay do the talking. An evil ghost from the Netherworld named Betrayus has kidnapped PAC Man’s two friends and also threatens the entire world with a new weapon that he had developed. Our young hero decides to stop him but he will have fun along the way because he never recognizes Betrayus as a legitimate threat. Honestly that is probably pretty humiliating for the guy and I’m tempted to feel bad for him. That’s the plot in a nutshell and trust me when I say that the game never wants you to take it seriously either. It’s pretty much all played for laughs.

Fortunately the gameplay actually is pretty smooth. Each stage will typically have an assortment of objects to jump or walk around as you progress. You can eat ghosts or even cause objects to open so you can eat the power pellets that come from them. Along the way you will obtain various Super forms like fire and ice which each have their own special ability. Defeating the ghosts is easy no matter what form you use so I recommend making the most of them since most of the forms come with Silver trophies for eating 100 ghosts. You will get the hang of the controls pretty quickly since they are fairly limited while the levels vary in design and difficulty, the basics carry over. It is funny how some skills don’t pop up until near the very end of the game but I suppose it had to end at some point so it’s nice that they gave us more powers.

The game’s length is reasonable although definitely erring on the short side. You’ll have it beat in a matter of hours. Part of why it is so fast is because it is so easy. You likely won’t lose many lives during the game unless you get hit by glitches or try to rush a little too much. The bosses are easy and even a novice to the platforming genre should pick up on what to do before the levels get difficult. There is some replay value in the game though like obtaining all of the trophies. This will require you to complete the game twice which automatically doubles the play time. The rest of the trophies will take some time as well like clearing all of the arcade games you unlocked but they aren’t too difficult either. It’s a very achievable Platinum and one that I would recommend going for in consideration of that.

Graphically the game holds up quite nicely. The colors are vibrant and the level designs are solid. PAC Man’s design will certainly cause you to take a step back though as you wonder what the animators were thinking. His eyes are always half closed as he gives a nervous smile. Everyone else has a decent design so PAC sticks out. The rest of him is good though so it’s a relatively minor detail. There isn’t a wide variety for the music but the main theme is always fun and certainly holds up well. It’s fast paced and is a good remix of the classic theme. You definitely won’t be bored as you play through the game with the fun levels to look at and listen to.

Now the game does have some issues. Uninspired plot aside, the game can be rather glitchy. You will suddenly be stuck and unable to move at some points and you will fall through objects as you plummet to your doom. I’ve certainly seen and played glitchier games but considering that this is for the PS3 it is definitely noticeable enough to mention. It was the cause of a few deaths for me and the moral is always to slow down a little to let the game catch up to you.

Now, was PAC Man himself as bad as they say? Well, the burping gimmick does get old very quickly. He burps at the end of every single levels. Sometimes he is proud of it and other times he does seem to regret his actions. He does this in the show as well, but with no remorse and burps several times each episode. That’s his worst quality but beyond that we don’t see his other negative traits from the show so he comes off as at least a decent main character. At the end of the day he just wants to eat a lot and save the day along the way. He may not be as heroic or selfless as the original PAC Man but as far as edgy redesigns go it wasn’t half bad.

Overall, PAC Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a fun title. The plot may not be particularly good, but the gameplay is surprisingly solid and that makes quite the difference. PAC Man can move really fast which makes the platforming fun and the game did a good job with his powers. You always feel very powerful against the ghosts which should always be the case when you’re playing a PAC Man game. The soundtrack and graphics are good so that makes for a very complete package. The cover and the idea of a reboot for PAC man may put you off the title but you’d be missing out on what is actually a really good game. I’m definitely hyped for the sequel since I’ve heard it’s even better and can be compared to the legendary Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

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There are a few games that you see as a kid but simply weren’t able to get because they were too pricey or simply lost out to other games at the moment. This is one of them and I decided that it had simply been enough time of not owning the game. It’s a solid Pokémon adventure but one that keeps the negatives of Colosseum without embracing its positives making this a rather lackluster title compared to the others in the franchise. It’s a relatively weak Pokémon installment but certainly still a solid entry overall.

The game takes place 5 years after Colosseum. Terry has seemingly retired or something as he is nowhere to be found. However a new protagonist has arrived, Terry. I’ll put the older version in bold to differentiate them. Terry is a nice kid who helps out a professor when performing his crazy experiments. This Professor has hit the jackpot though as he has figured out a way to purify Pokémon through your PC. It takes a little longer but this way you don’t have to personally fight alongside each Shadow Pokémon for a while. Of course, buying Perfume is still the easiest way to go about it but it’s only viable if you have a lot of money. The villains over at Cipher hear about this and steal the device. The organization had seemingly been destroyed in the last game but they have regrouped and are stronger than ever. They now want to make the ultimate Shadow Pokémon who cannot be purified. Terry decides to stop them but as the professionals would say, “What can some kid do!”

Terry is a good main character. He gets the job done and is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately he also doesn’t have a shred of character personality. I’m serious here, he doesn’t do anything. He saves the day and beats all of his opponents but he doesn’t really have any expressions beyond his neutral face so it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. Ah well, he’s still a good lead who doesn’t mess around so I’ll roll with it. You just can’t compare him to Terry as that guy really stole the show with his cool motorcycle and trench coat. The character was more of a rebel and was always making the tough calls.

The blame may also lie in part with how low key this story is compared to the last one. It’s fairly short as it ends in only 13 hours so you feel like they could have done more with it. It’s mostly just a matter of showing up to each location and winning. Their big plan of creating a bunch of Shadow Pokémon to take over the world is solid I suppose. It just never felt like as big of an adventure as it really should have. More like a sequel dlc than anything else. It’s not as if it’s a slice of life adventure or anything as it’s still about action but it just doesn’t come across as all that dramatic.

Further supporting this is the fact that the game feels rather low budget. Almost all of the stages in the game are taken straight from Colosseum. I somehow doubt that they were rebuilt from the ground up either. The budget just begins to show itself. Just about every character has the same fall animation and even the length is artificial. If you didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again in battles that are basically 10 minutes long each time, it would be a lot shorter. Honestly if we just look at the plot moments then the game would probably be half its length.

Now Colosseum has this problem as well so it’s not XD exclusive but the long loading times for each battle need to be mentioned as it’s an issue that has plagued the home console Pokémon games for a long time. Even Battle Revolution has this to an extent and Yugioh is another offender. On the portable consoles the battles go by very quickly which is why they’re fun. On the big consoles I guess they want to show off the graphics as every Pokémon gets a big animation for attacking and getting hit. There is no way to turn this off which is why every battle takes forever. I actually ended up marathoning Detective Conan while playing this game. Just pick the two attacks you want to use and read in the meantime. You’ll be surprised (Or not really) at how many chapters you are able to read while waiting.

As a result, I knew from the start that leveling all of my 6 Pokemon was not going to be a good idea. Instead what I did was I just picked two of them and focused on them exclusively. I basically didn’t even use the other Pokemon and if my main 2 died I just knew that it was game over. It was a risky strategy sure, but it saved me a lot of time. I’m definitely glad that I started out with Espeon as well since Psychic attacks are good against just about everyone and Espeon even knows Bite so he can shut down other Psychic types. It’s the perfect starter and I highly recommend using that strategy if you ever play this game.

The soundtrack is decent. A lot of classic themes are in here so those are nostalgic, but not much in the way of new ones. I believe the final boss theme may have been new but since it appears whenever the trio of villains shows up it may have been in the first game as well. Hard to say, but if so then it loses some points for originality. The graphics are pretty good. They haven’t really changed at all since the first one, but I guess in this case you don’t really need to change things up. As long as it looks clear enough where I can tell what I’m doing and enjoy the backgrounds, then it’s all good. The game definitely gets a passing score there.

As far as replay value goes, there is certainly a lot of it. The main game is around 13 hours so that’s already a good length and throwing in all of the Shadow Pokemon that you can catch just makes it all the more impressive. You could stick with this game for a Very long time and still have more to do. With how long the Pokemon battles take I wonder how long it would be to complete the Tower of 100 Pokemon battles. I think the most devastating part would be making it into the 90s and then losing though. Now that would just be tragic and I don’t plan on tackling that challenge. After all, I’d have to level up all 6 of my Pokemon to stand a chance and we know that would take a while. Still, for those who really enjoy this game there’s definitely a bunch to do.

Definitely don’t get the wrong idea, Pokemon XD is a solid game. It may not fare well against the original in any category, but it’s a good game when standing on its own. The plot is decent, there are a variety of levels, and there are a bunch of fights. The gameplay is slow, but it’s smooth and it looks/sounds good as well. The game will breeze by as long as you have something to do during the fights, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Purifying a Shadow Pokemon may seem tedious at first, but once you buy perfume and unlock the second way to purify them then it gets very easy. I’m not sure about some of the extra features like leaving Pokemon some food to try and capture them since it adds luck to the equation and stretches the game out even further, but maybe it’s handy to have around. All I know is that I’m really glad I stopped to read the email and went back to the lab to grab my Master Ball. Without it the Lugia fight could have actually been difficult as opposed to just catching him on my first turn.

Overall, I have finally gotten to play the sequel to one of my favorite Pokemon games of all time. I definitely recommend the game. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you haven’t played Colosseum and if you played it when you were a kid then you’ll also enjoy this game for all of the nostalgia. Just don’t play both games back to back as that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Sequels can’t always beat the original and I’ll have to accept that, but this is one big game that I can check off my list. My Gamecube collection is one step closer to being completed as well as I have just about every interesting game for the console. More are still on the way for someday though, but the next game I review will be a newer title. It involves the iconic Pac-Man in one of his startling adventures!

Ducktales: Remastered Review

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It’s time to look at a retro game from the good ole days. It’s pretty nostalgic when you start the game up as you still hear the classic Capcom logo and all of the sound effects are very retro. It’s like getting that arcade feeling while still having the polished graphics from a modern game. Ducktales is a solid adventure for fans of the series as well as fans of the genre and is reasonably challenging as well.

The game starts off with Uncle Scrooge’s home being broken into by the Beagle Boys. They capture Scrooge’s 3 nephews, but the old Uncle is more than a match for the thugs. Scrooge then comes across a painting which works as a map and points to some legendary treasures. He decides to go and snag all of them, but the convenience of this map does make you wonder. Is Scrooge merely dancing to the tune of an unseen manipulator or is he simply leading the charge and got a lucky break? Our fearless main character is about to find out one way or the other!

When it comes to the gameplay, Ducktales has a very simple control scheme that is easy to pick up and play, but rather difficult to master. You move and jump as you go from one stage to the other. The main gimmick that Scrooge has is his cane which you can use to jump on enemies or even on spikes. You hold the O button to take out the pogo stick while in the air, but if you decide to play on Extreme Mode then it’s a two button combination of Down and O. You typically have to find a few objects which are labeled on the map. Once you find them, then you can head to the end of the stage and face the boss. I should mention now that I’m glad the objects are clearly labeled. It would just add unnecessary duration if I had to actually search for them all and get lost a few times. It’s not as if the levels are huge, but I think that this is a reasonable accommodation for the player.

There are 6-7 stages I believe. You can choose any of them to start out with first after the tutorial level and not counting the actual final. I went in order from top to bottom but the difficulty will really depend on which boss you find the most intimidating. They are all pretty tough the first time around, but gradually you’ll learn the patterns and do better the next time. Quite a few of the bosses took me two tries. It’s hard to sit back and memorize the patterns without getting hit, but this way it’s a life well spent. Surprisingly the final boss is one of the easier ones as out of Dracula’s 3 special abilities, one is really easy to dodge and the other two are pretty manageable. He does have more health than the other bosses which helps to balance that though. It’s a good amount of difficulty that tests your strategic thinking without being overly grindy. It’s a good balance.

You start the game with 3 hearts, but there are 5 upgrades that you can find in the levels. Grab all of them and your health will really be ready for the boss fights. Upgrades are really key in this game and the last parts would have been a lot tougher without them. I found 3 on my way to the goal, but I’ll look for the other two someday. The toughest part of the game actually isn’t a boss though, but the running challenge after it. In a scene much like a Mario game, you have to outrun the lava that is quickly creeping up on you. I died quite a few times during this part as the level is quite difficult. Make one mistake and you’re done. Even if you don’t make any mistakes you can still lose if you weren’t quite moving fast enough. Just keep on doing the level and eventually you will be able to clear it.

The main campaign is pretty short so you’ll have it beat in around 3 hours or so. Add in a bit of time depending on how often you die. There is replay value as you can keep clearing levels to buy all of the collectibles and earn trophies. The trophy collecting may lose some incentive since there are no Gold or Platinum trophies in the game. It’s a little surprising. Also, you have to beat the Game on Extreme, which means beating the whole game in one siting with only 3 lives. That sounds crazy hard so I already know that I won’t be getting all of the trophies in this game. Still, I got most of them so I’m still pretty satisfied in the long run. This is really a game that you complete once or twice and move away from it so it’s just important that you enjoy the initial run.

Fortunately I can say that I did enjoy the game. The story is quite solid and the writing is great as Scrooge has a lot of witty dialogue. He’s certainly a quick talker and always has a quip for the situation. His rival also made for a good antagonist. His constant insults during the last level are enjoyable for sure although Scrooge still gets the last laugh. The witch was a good villain, but a little overpowered. Since she can just stop time whenever she likes, I don’t see how the heroes can ever truly defeat her without plot hax. She just seems to be way stronger than the rest of the cast since everyone else is powerless. They’re just ducks. Count Dracula had a nice appearance even if he was completely used as a pawn here. He didn’t even get any lines in defiance!

The soundtrack is pretty solid. The level themes are memorable and in particular the final level has a great theme. It’s definitely a soundtrack where you can tell that a lot of effort was put into it. I do miss these retro soundtracks from back in the day and Ducktales definitely hit all of the right notes. The animation also looks really good as it’s about as HD as you can get for an old side scroller. The levels all look very clear whether they are in the light or in a dark cave.

Overall, Ducktales Remastered is definitely a very fun game. It’s a short one, but an enjoyable game nonetheless. You’ll have fun mastering all of the levels and making your way to the end. It’s a game that rewards your effort and each death will only lead you closer to victory. I’d love to see another game with Uncle Scrooge since he’s such a lead. The game’s ending just proves that point all the more as he’s just a nice uncle. He helped the nephews feel like the celebration was their own as well. Just don’t ask him for any money and you’re all set!

Overall 7/10

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

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It’s time for the latest app game that I decided to check out. Given that Sonic Forces was basically hype confirmed I was thrilled to hear about the mobile app. On the surface Sonic Forces is just another free runner so there’s nothing really special about it. Sonic already does have a free runner game when you think about it and that one has many more levels and characters. At the same time, I’ve never played any of those before so it all felt fresh to me. It’s definitely a fun game but one with diminishing returns unlike Pokémon Go which only gets more enjoyable as you level up. It’s a fun game but one that won’t last for very long.

There is only one mode, free run. If you were hoping for 1V1 battles or mini games/a story then you’re out of luck. Every race brings 4 random racers together and you race for the goal. 1st Place will give you around 10 trophies and it typically takes 500 to level up. As you can see it takes a lot of races to level up towards the end and especially when you are fighting tougher opponents who won’t let you take 1st. You start out with 2 stages to play on and as you level up you unlock better stages and better rewards. The rewards are the points you get towards unlocking a specific character. It’s randomized and the characters are divided into rarity tiers so you’ll see how eventually you will have far more cards for characters like Sonic than Metal Sonic for example. Since this is the only mode in the game you will want to really enjoy it.

The game suffered from bad connection errors for a little while but eventually it was able to fix itself. Now there are no issues with the gameplay which is certainly good since that is the entire game in a nutshell. There is definitely a lot of skill involved as you jump over obstacles and slide under others. You want to optimize your run and figure out the fastest way to clear a level. Given that you will be playing the stages very often, that shouldn’t be hard at all.

There are three different levels in the game. The first is your user level. Upgrading this will help you with rings and your special attacks will be stronger. You get the exp for it by leveling upyour characters. Second is your online level, this is what gets you the better loot boxes and allows you to play more stages. You level this up by winning battles online. Finally there are the individual character levels. You beef these up by getting their cards from treasure chests. They amplify the character’s abilities by a small amount but it’s enough to rip the scales your way. As far as I can tell each character has 16 levels total. I can’t confirm that of course as I don’t have anyone who is over level 8 but it’s based on a little guide they have in the game on what you unlock with each level. I’m sure the exp requirement skyrockets by the end so only the most serious of players, or the ones who pay a bunch will reach that point.

The graphics are really sharp. The character models are really well done and the backgrounds are a blast. It at least does feel like a lot of effort went into the graphics. I also enjoy the music but it’s just the one theme which can be a bit repetitive at times. It’s the inspirational version of the main Sonic Forces theme so it’s fitting for any fast paced race I’d say. They should definitely add more themes in as you level up though. Each stage should honestly have its own theme and I can’t even see how that would be tough to implement. Shouldn’t they just grab the songs they need from Sega and put it in?

There’s definitely a lot of replay value to the point where it’s infinite but how fun is this replay value? After all, there’s no point if you’re not going to try and collect everything. As I alluded to in the intro, the game slowly loses the joy that it had from the start. I think the biggest detractor is how you will actually lose points once you level up if you get 3rd or 4th which is unfortunate since the competition does get a lot stronger do it will be tough to get in the top 2 after a while. The sheer repetition of playing the same level over and over again will get to you. If you think about it, most mobile games effectively have you doing the same things over and over again but they cleverly mask this or the gameplay is so fun that it doesn’t even matter. You can say that Pokémon Go is incredibly repetitive but at least it is also a blast at the same time. That’s not to say that this game isn’t fun though. I think it’s the kind of game that is best in small doses. Just play a few races every day and you’re set. I’ll give it some props for being lenient on how long you can play as well. Some games have an energy meter so you can only play a certain amount each day. Fire Emblem has that but it’s so lenient that it barely ever matters. Forces limits how many chests you can get in a day, but that’s all. You can keep playing to your heart’s content.

Overall, Speed Battle is a good app. I think it’s definitely a title that you can have fun with for a little while. I don’t think you will enjoy it quite as much if you’ve played any other free runner though as then this one won’t even feel fresh from the start. Even aside from the fact that there isn’t much variety in the gameplay, I’d at least like for the rewards to be more reasonable. You’d have to win hundreds of races to get to one of the higher levels and I just can’t see myself doing that. It would be such a large time commitment and at the end of the day these apps are fun for playing a little here and there. Not for big play sessions. I’d recommend checking this game out as it is free and all so there’s really nothing to lose but don’t expect the game to hold you over for very long. That’s just the kind of game it is and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot of missed opportunities here though. (No Infinite?)

Overall 7/10

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Review

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Telltale has always churned out a lot of pretty cool titles. The idea of having your choices affect the ending has always been really cool. It brings me back to the “How to Choose Your Own Endings” books from back in the day. I’d die in most of them, but I’d always enjoy the experience. Well, this is what they do for video games and it’s certainly fun. As a result, there’s not really much gameplay so it’s more of an interactive movie where you get to put your own influence on the characters. I got the physical edition when it first came out so then each chapter of the game would come out gradually. It helped extend the game and make you wonder what would happen next. Some games certainly do a better job of making the decisions count than others. An infamous example is X-Men Destiny where the choices that you make really don’t matter.

The basic plot is that the Guardians have destroyed Thanos once and for all. They now have a mysterious artifact that looks like a cup and it may be all powerful. The team has to decide if they want to keep it or not while Starlord just uses it for beer. It turns out that this artifact may have the power to bring back the dead so naturally the whole team wants it for themselves while Hala wants it for her own purposes. Can the team get it together in time to stop this madness or will the Guardians finally end up disbanding? The ball is in their court now.

You play as Star Lord for the most part although occasionally the others have a choice to make as well. When you’re not making decisions you can walk around a bit to inspect things. Sometimes you get to fly around and investigate other layers as well. I actually got mildly lost with that during one of the earlier episodes but just keep inspecting everything. Eventually you will find the clues. The gameplay isn’t the smoothest, but that’s because the main focus is on the choices. It’s not as if the gameplay is all that extensive anyway. The main parts are handled through quick time events which I’m always game for. No matter how many different games use them, they are always just as awesome as the first time they popped up. I’m certainly convinced that quick time events are a good thing and should basically be in every game to be honest.

The graphics are good. The Telltale games always have a very distinct look to them. Everyone is a little more rugged and battle tired. It may not look shiny but it gets the general atmosphere across. It’s definitely good enough. Unfortunately, the soundtrack isn’t quite as good. When booting up the game you always have to hear this annoying song that pops up and I am absolutely not a fan. You’ll want to put the main menu on mute. Beyond that, the rest of the tunes are pretty good and we do get a better insert song for the end. The game did a good job of giving us a pretty climactic battle as well. Every member got to get their shots in with a lot of teamwork throughout.

There isn’t any replay value though but that comes with the territory. You automatically get the Platinum trophy for completing the game and there are no collectibles or anything. I suppose you could replay each episode to go for different paths and all, but part of the fun is sticking with the route you’ve taken. The only exceptions to that are when you unlock a true ending or something, but otherwise you don’t really want to go back. I’d say that the game is around 8-9 hours long as each of the 6 chapters at least an hour. The final one is certainly longer than that and some of the others were likely a bit longer as well which is why I rounded it up. I believe the game started out at 40 as opposed to 60 which helps, but either way it’s a reasonable length. Not quite the 10 hours but close enough.

For the choices I had fun making Starlord as mean and unlikable as possible. I didn’t become a villain or anything, but I kept it real with the team. I reminded them that I’m the one who took down Thanos and constantly call them out when they’re being dramatic. When threatened I quickly take the opponent down. Peaceful negotiations could wait for later after all. It’s definitely satisfying and there would almost always be a good option to pick. If you don’t like any then you can go with silence, but that’s just usually not my style. I want to say something, whether it be a quick burn or a declaration of war.

It’s hard to say how much my choices impacted the ending without seeing other people play through the game, but I’m satisfied with how it feels like I made a decent enough difference. It can’t get too drastic either since they’d have to program in a bunch of completely separate events otherwise. As long as it does make a tangible difference, then I’m set. It’s also a nice change of pace to essentially be watching the game unfold as opposed to blasting everyone myself. It does remind me that a 3D Guardians action game would be quite awesome though. There’s definitely a lot of potential there.

Overall, This was a fun game. Due to the nature of the Telltale series you can’t call it great because it’s basically a movie game and as such won’t have the thrill of fighting a good boss or platforming through a difficult section, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s basically like watching a Guardians movie. The plot is pretty solid throughout and while I’m not always the biggest fan of the Guardians because Groot and Drax hold them back, Starlord makes for a really good main character. It’s great to take the wheel and just make the characters as intense as you want them to be. If you’ve never played a Telltale game before then I definitely recommend it so you can see what it’s like. If you have, I still recommend it since it’s just fun to make the decisions. Hopefully it does get a season 2 so I can keep the decisions rolling. In case you’re wondering, Yes, I did disagree with the majority on a bunch of decisions. That’s just to be expected though.

Overall 7/10

Genji: Days of the Blade Review

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It’s time to check out an old PS3 beat em up. I got this one at around the same time as Trinity so once I finished that game I knew that it was time to finally pop Genji in. Unfortunately it is nowhere near as good as Trinity. It loses in pretty much every single way. It’s not a bad game, but it does have a bunch of questionable design choices that limit the title. Depending on how the final boss battle had unfolded, this review certainly could have gotten more negative.

There are three main heroes, Yoshitsune, Benkei, and Shizuka. A cosmic entity inhabiting the body of the main villain from the first game also shows up, but he doesn’t really add anything to the story. The land is being overrun by zombies and mystical villains who can turn into vampires and other such monsters. There are even giant Crabs running around and a Kaiju. The heroes have to defend their turf and the whole world as well so they ready their swords and shields. Stopping the villains is as simple as destroying them all, but it won’t be so easy since these villains can certainly fight back. It’s essentially a war against zombies which is an interesting premise, but the characters don’t always seem to act as if they’re fighting anything supernatural. It’s just another day in Feudal Japan. (Or China. I think it’s Japan though)

Right off the bat you can tell that this plot isn’t going to be particularly exciting. The voice acting is pretty iffy and the story is only slightly better than Dynasty Warriors. The characters are as generic as can be, but don’t even have good character designs to save them. Yoshitsune is a poor man’s Sanada Yukimura. Shizuka never actually does much in the story and her health is so low in the game that you never want to actually play as her. Benkei is super powerful in combat, but I just didn’t like him either. There was no reason for the heroes to ditch him during his dramatic moment either as they should have just stayed together and fought off the villains.

While the graphics aren’t as good as Trinity, it’s not as if they’re bad either. It’s still PS3 level, it’s just that the level designs are really bland and there’s not much for the game to work with. There aren’t really even any colors throughout the game so it all appears to be rather lifeless. It doesn’t do anything to immerse you in the game. The soundtrack can also be rather annoying. I like the more atmospheric ninja themes that play during the game, but the one where the guy just keeps yelling over and over again just makes you want to turn the volume off. On a technical level, I’d say that the game was actually bad when you think about it.

Fortunately, the gameplay is what we’re here for and it’s pretty good. For an odd reason the game chose to go for a more cinematic style. This means that you fight in slow motion a lot of the time. Gradually you start to fight a little faster as the game goes on and by the end it feels pretty normal. I suppose you just get that strong by the end. There is no lock on system so sometimes you’ll find yourself randomly missing the enemy but you’ll adapt to this by the time you complete the game. Each character has a final smash attack which stops time and lets you unleash a flurry of attacks. It’s a lengthy quick time event which saves you a lot of time from fighting each opponent individually. It’s immensely helpful for bosses even if it can get rather repetitive.

There isn’t any replay value to be found here. No collectibles, no multiplayer, no trophies…etc. Once you complete the game you’re just going to put it down and you’ll probably never pick it up again. The game is about 10 hours long so at least it’s not too short or anything. It’s a reasonable length considering that you can pick the game up for about 5 dollars. Still, I always like to at least have some replay value at the ready.

Make sure you have some backup saves ready as you approach the end of the game. If you don’t have a lot of items or power ups at the ready for when you fight the final boss it’ll all be over for you. The final boss is basically 5 phases long and in that time there are no minions to fight so forget about getting any more EXP for your weapons. Fortunately I had saved most of my items and power ups til the climax so I was able to barely squeak by, but it does feel like a mean spirited game. The average player would have used the power ups by then since you’d assume that it’s the right move and there is no guarantee that they would save their items either. The 4th phase of the final boss is hard to even hit without the final smash since it’s limbs are so high up and the final, final boss takes a lot of dodging and tedious hit/run strategies to overcome. Ideally you want to have around 10-15 final smashes ready. A pro tip is that leveling up your Magic meter restores it completely so just don’t level it up until you’re at the boss. Then you can use the final smash, upgrade, use it again, and keep on repeating this strategy over and over again. It’s a sound plan and one that worked for me.

The part I was stuck at for the longest time was definitely a long tower level within a boat. You had to climb and jump through a bunch of obstacles. The problem is that the camera kept changing angles which made your journey that much more difficult and then falling would send you way back. You won’t fall for the same trick too many times as you’ll eventually manage to get through, but I feel like the developers just did a really bad job with the stage design and a lot of the game’s fundamentals. This game could have been so much better than it actually was. I’ll give it some kudos for the amount of cutscenes that it had though. I may not have particularly enjoyed the story, but at least it actually did have one. That’s better than nothing.

Overall, The gameplay may not have sounded great from how I described it, but it’s still a 3D beat em up. It’s fun to take on the legions of enemies and prove that you are the best fighter. The game can be rather difficult so you can’t just run into every pile of enemies and attack until they’re down. Sometimes you’ll need to lead them into traps or cross-fire between enemies. Other times you may have to retreat for a while. Be careful because save parts can be far apart so you can lose close to 20 minutes at times. The platforming in the game is also pretty rough so watch out for those sections. I think you’ll enjoy the game more if you know the tricks behind it since the game doesn’t explain it very well. Otherwise you’re in for a brutal time. Believe it or not, I recommend the game, but just be sure to take every precaution by having the backup files at the ready. It’s never too early to start saving your items either.

Overall 7/10

Percy Jackson and the The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review

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Time to look at a movie tie in that came out for the DS. I actually miss these games. For a while (The Gamecube era) just about every movie got a video game adaption almost instantly. They were usually short and fairly low budget, but there were some really good ones like the Spider-Man games and the Matrix. Typically none of them were downright terrible or anything either so it fun to have them around. Lightning Thief is one of the last movie games left or at least comparatively so. It’s naturally not a AAA title, but it is pretty fun and I enjoyed playing through it.

The plot starts off with a bang as Percy is chased by a Minotaur. It ends up destroying his Mom and Percy is taken to a school for demi gods like himself. Percy doesn’t care about fitting in with the other kids and doing his studies though as he wants to go to the under world and save his Mom. The problem is that he has been framed by someone for stealing the Master Bolt. If he doesn’t find it within 24 hours to clear his name, Zeus will start a huge war among the gods and millions will perish. Percy decides this is important enough to make a sub goal on the way, but saving his Mom is the priority. Mission start!

The gameplay is a pretty simple turn based system. You have to tap on the screen at the right time to reduce damage from enemy attacks so that makes it a little interactive. If you land a critical attack then you draw on the screen to increase the damage. Each character can have 3 different attacks equipped and instead of everyone getting a turn, each party gets a turn. This means that you can just stick to using one character and the other 2 can act as shields in the meantime. Interestingly, Grover was the strongest character in the game so I rarely ever used Percy. I’m assuming that was an accidental game design choice.

To progress through the story, you go from level to level via a map. There are no random encounters like in a traditional RPG as you see each circle before you cross it. You’ll only be forced intro a non story encounter once in a blue moon so for the most part you’re always progressing through the story. That being said, the game does add a lot of henchmen and random bosses for you to fight in the story to pad the game out a little. It’s still not a terribly long story and you’ll probably end up beating it in around 10 hours or so. It feels a little artificial when you’re fighting the same enemies over and over again, but fortunately I like turn based combat so it wasn’t too bad.

There’s not much in the way of replay value though. You can level yourself up to 99 I suppose. There’s not much point to doing so, but I suppose it’ll feel good. There are post game bosses that you can track down as well and eventually you can clear the map. It doesn’t personally interest me, but it’s better than not having any post game stuff to do.

The soundtrack is rather limited, but it isn’t bad. I liked the main theme well enough. It may not have been quite as high effort as the average title, but I like to think it tried its best. The graphics are also rather underwhelming as the sprites can be really blurry. It looks slightly worse than the average PS1 game, but I like to think that it would have looked better if the developers had been given a few more months to work with.

One thing to keep in mind during the game is that items are extremely valuable. They usually don’t count as a turn so you can still attack afterwards and they also deal as much, if not more damage than your best attacks. I ended up saving all of the items I had earned until the final 3 bosses and I’m really glad that I did. I was able to beat them extremely fast thanks to this strategy as I just spammed the items. The final boss was only able to get in one shot thanks to my item spam. You get items with each level up so just follow that strategy. In the meantime, use your upgrade points to improve strength and accuracy.

My favorite combo that I used for the whole game was Percy’s Accuracy increase ability on Grover and then I’d use his heavy slash to take out the opponents. It’s full proof and will work without exception for the first 80% of the game. After that you may need other strategies at the ready since the villains really love to spam status effects against you. They’ll blind you, burn you, etc. You just gotta press on or use the overpowered healing ability which cures you of everything and also restores a bunch of health. Clearly this game wasn’t balanced all that well.

The game did a good job of making Percy a really likable main character in this game. He doesn’t back down from a fight and is always making the right calls. He goes to save his Mom even when everyone else tells him to back off and he handles the traitor twist pretty calmly. He’s pretty much the ideal main character and while in part that may be due to the game’s limited level of story telling it worked out well so I can’t complain. The other characters were around, but none of them were as likable or charismatic as Percy.

Overall, The Lightning Thief was a fun game. It’s not a masterpiece and the story is stretched out a little too much at times, but you won’t get bored. It’s repetitive, but after catching over 50000 Pokemon in Go, I chuckle at the average game’s repetition. It’s pretty easy so it’s not much of a challenge, but it doesn’t feel insulting either. I wish the game would chill a bit with the status effects as they barely hurt you and just stretch the battle out. At the end of the day though, it’s a solid portable game to keep you entertained for a few hours. I’d recommend checking it out and maybe it’ll inspire you to watch the movie.

Overall 7/10