Genji: Days of the Blade Review

ps3_genji_days_blade-110214
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

Advertisements

Percy Jackson and the The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review

81a9otRn2RL._AC_SL1500_
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

Gormiti: Lords of Nature Review

wii_gormiti_the_lords_of_nature_p_hsvxr8
I’ve never heard of Gormiti before, but I’m a sucker for this kind of Wii game. When I saw it in the 5 dollar bin I knew I had to snag it fast. The cover promised me an action game and it did deliver. The game isn’t high budget or anything, but it is a solid step above some of the recent cash in titles that I’ve been playing. It’ll hold your attention a little while as you power your way through the game.

The title follows 4 kids who are your normal citizens by day. What is different about them though is that these kids can teleport to a mystical world where they are actually Lords of Nature. Everyone respects them in the other world and they get a lot of hype. They have to stop the evil monsters because the things they do there affect the real world as well. The villains are trying to merge several amulets so they can open up a portal to Earth in order to destroy it. The heroes must stop them at every turn, but the villains have the numbers advantage and always seem to get back up no matter how many times they are defeated. The heroes are going to want to be careful in this round.

The gameplay is pretty similar to the Legos. It’s mostly overhead but the camera is low enough where it can give the illusion of a 3D game at times. Each character can activate different gimmicks. Blue gets water, Green gets grass, etc. You have to activate various switches and break all of the flashlight statues to get through a level. Interestingly enough, beating the enemies is never mandatory aside from boss fights. As a result, I figured I’d cheese my way through the game and it worked pretty well. Why stop to fight the minions when you don’t really get anything out of it? There are no level ups so it’s not as if I’d miss out on EXP. You can just jump over them.

Honestly, I beat the game in probably half the time I was supposed too since I skipped all confrontations. I would just run to each obstacle, activate it, and then dash to the exit. It was pretty fun even if it was a little insensitive to the hard work that the developers may have put into the level designs. I just couldn’t help myself. You also get infinite lives and you respawn right where you died so the game isn’t really challenging either. For all boss battles you can just keep attacking because even if they knock you out a few times, it doesn’t matter. Just spamming the hit button is the fastest way to win.

You only have two attack options anyway. You can fire a projectile, or throw a punch. Those are your only options so make the most of them. It’s basic and it’s fairly low budget, but at the very least you can’t say that the gameplay isn’t tried and true. I’ll take this kind of gameplay any day over low budget minigames. It’s still action after all and I’m all for combat. Just keep it coming is my motto.

The graphics are okay. It’s sort of like a really old cell shaded style or its CGI. The game’s one or the other, but it’s hard to place. I can roll with it and the character models aren’t bad, but the level designs need some work. There’s just too much orange the whole time. Surprisingly, the soundtrack is actually pretty decent. The boss theme that plays over and over again is nice as it’s very fast paced and gets all of the right beats in. I can’t remember any other tunes, but that was the main one so it did good.

There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here though. The actual game you can likely complete in about 3 hours or so. I guess you can try to get all of the collectibles so you can unlock a bunch of puzzles, but that is honestly one of the worst incentives I’ve seen in a while. You can keep your puzzles man, I’ll just move onto a Layton title if I want to challenge my mind. There isn’t a multiplayer vs mode either so after beating the game there really isn’t much point to playing it again. At the most you may want to tackle some of the tournaments but I don’t see why.

As for the plot, it’s a little too formulaic and generic for its own good. The stock footage of everyone yelling to the chair is easily the most annoying part. Beyond that, the kids are okay. They all seem like classic 80’s-90’s kids with their contrasting personalities and at least all of the villains have designs as well. They’re all fire villains which limits the variety a bit, but I guess I can live with that. The ending is a little rushed though and I wonder why the game chose to have the final boss be one of the older bosses. Not just that, but they chose the easiest one as you just keep hitting him til he dies. At least the others force the fight to be tedious by retreating for a few minutes every time you shave off 1/3 of his health bar. This guy just stays there, but that works for me I guess.

I will give the game some serious credit for having a bunch of animated cutscenes though. You unlock them all after beating the game and it’s a pretty significant amount. It at least shows me that the game had some amount of budget put into it and separates it from the more generic titles. It’s still not exactly Street Fighter, but after the game I feel like I know the Gormiti cast well enough.

Overall, Another Wii 5 dollar bin game has been conquered. I probably would have played this one a lot sooner if I’d known how short and easy it was. For some reason I just never thought of it before. If you can find it for the same price that I did, then it’s worth checking out. It is a fun game, but its biggest problem is that it is incredibly short. It’s hard to justify any game for around 20 dollars if it’s only 2 hours right? Even 10 dollars get to be a stretch, but you can make a reasonable argument with that one. One last tip, use the Blue Gormiti for all boss fights, he has an infinite combo where he just keeps punching forever. Watch out for glitches though.

Overall 7/10

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet Review

Super
It’s always a little unfortunate when having a story mode isn’t a positive for a game. It’s not as if it’s bad enough to lower the score (Although it was close) but the game doesn’t benefit at all from having it. That being said, this is Super Hero Squad so you have to enter the game with reasonable expectations I suppose. I didn’t mind the show too much when I watched it although it is certainly one of Marvel’s weakest titles. I played the first game a while back so it was about time that I got to try out the sequel. It’s about as good, maybe slightly better. The gameplay is more diverse, but it doesn’t really do a whole lot to make a name for itself.

The plot is about how the Infinity Stones have surfaced. Iron-Man tells the Sqauddies that they cannot let the villains take them so they decide to collect them all. Unfortunately for them, Dr Doom and his army of henchmen are after them along with Loki and his cabal and even Thanos and the Skrulls. With 3 different factions after the stones, the heroes will have to keep their guard up at all time. They’re not too good at that though.

I mean, it is a comedy storyline since it’s in the Super Hero Squad universe so I never expected anything serious. That being said, the characters talk a lot during the game. I don’t mind this when it’s witty banter like in Spider-Man or Sonic, but when it’s these characters it just isn’t quite as fun. They all only seem to have 2-3 phrases as well so they end up repeating them over and over again. I think some more variety could have helped them out. The comedy is also pretty weak so the game won’t be getting any laughs out of you. The only scene that I actually thought was pretty fun was the final one where Thor puts on dancing boots and is forced to dance for everyone’s amusement. It was pretty mean of the others to just let that happen, but it is what it is.

The gameplay is your standard Ultimate Alliance/Lego style where it is mostly overhead as you dish out the pain. Each character has their standard punch and projectile. You can charge up these attacks and also use Ultimate Attacks when you have enough meter. The meter builds rather quickly so you can use the super attacks constantly. Button mashing your standard attack will work for just about the whole game as well since the enemies will just run into your attacks. It’s a pretty simple, but repetitive style since all of the enemies start to be the same after a while. I don’t really mind that per say as I love beat em ups and button mashing is one of my strengths.

What is annoying is that all of the bosses and big enemies have super armor so they hit you as you hit them. When your character is launched it takes a few seconds to get back up and the bosses also deal a lot of damage. You can expect to die a lot if you’re rushing through the bosses but it doesn’t count as actually losing unless both characters die at the same time. The A.I. is terrible so this may occur once in a while, but usually it’s not a big deal. So I like the actual combat for the minions, but the bosses weren’t really a lot of fun to beat up. I did enjoy getting a chance to spam my projectiles for such a long time though.

The game was clearly developed with co-op mode in mind. When playing single player there are some levels that just don’t work well. The ones where you have to shoot at objects approaching from the skies comes to mind. The A.I. couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn so you end up having to hit both sides on your own which gets really tricky. It made these levels tougher than they should have been. Same with parts where you have to use both character’s skills as the A.I. will follow you and forget what they’re supposed to do. It’s not really a problem if you choose to play co-op, but be warned if you’re a solo fighter.

The graphics aren’t bad even if they don’t look quite up to par with what you’d expect from a PS3 game. The character models look good enough and the level designs aren’t bad. It looks like a mobile game if I had to make a comparison so take that as you may. It’s acceptable while not being impressive. The soundtrack is less impressive as we get the classic theme song, but not much else. I wasn’t expecting much in this category to begin with though.

One part of the game that is pretty mild but annoying is that if a character is blocking your way, you can’t move. The A.I. has a habit of cornering you if you go into a tunnel so if you want to back out the only way is to switch to the other character and move him out of the way. It’s such a random little thing that you may have to do a double take at some points. Just one of those things that they probably should have picked up in quality control if they had been playing the game more.

The main campaign is 11 levels long and they vary in length. It’s not a very long game so I think you could reasonably complete it in around 5 hours or so. Perhaps a little less but the cutscenes do make a difference. The replay value here are the Challenges you can tackle and the large array of trophies available. I don’t imagine that this would be a very difficult game to Platinum if you were ever so inclined. There is certainly enough here to give the game some reasonable replay value.

Overall, Super Hero Squad was a little glitchy and the story wasn’t particularly engaging, but not everything can be Sonic Adventure 2 Battle right? I think the game could have used some more quality control, but it worked well enough. It had its issues, but I’d still say that it was a good game in the end. If it had dragged on too long that may have been an issue, but it didn’t happen. The gameplay is good and I did enjoy throwing everyone around with my special abilities. I think what makes this game seem a little worse than it is at times is how good most other games are. Comparatively speaking this game isn’t great, but if you look at the game on its own then it works pretty well. That’s a win in my book. So, buy this game if you want some classic Marvel action, but you should probably just grab Ultimate Alliance instead.

Overall 7/10

Star Trek Encounters Review

Star-Trek-Encounters_ps2_sleeve-front
It’s time to look at a game that I got a very long time ago. I found this one at an obscure Gamestop on a random day and thought it looked interesting enough. It’s not exactly what I expected and had a bit of a slow start due to the game not explaining things very well, but it picked up quite a bit as the game went on. It’s not the ideal Star Trek game but if you’re really just interested in the space aspect then this is certainly the game for you.

The story mode features 3-5 levels from each of the Star Trek shows. Classic, Enterprise, Voyager, Star Trek, Next Generation, and probably some others. There are also two final levels which crossover the whole franchise. Maybe more like 1 to be honest as the first one just sets the stage for the event. There’s not much of an actual plot as each mission or series of missions are essentially stand alone adventures. You get some text at the very beginning which tells you what is happening and mini cutscenes during the level. Only very small parts of the game have any real voice acting.

You figure out early on that you need to be playing this game for the gameplay and not the plot. You never get to see a single character as the ships are then only things on the screen. As I mentioned, the gameplay isn’t explained too well as it’s actually fairly complex and intricate. It’s an overhead airplane shooter. Of course you’re a spaceship and not a plane. You explore the universe, fight aliens, and help people out. You have your primary weapon which you can switch from two different options and your sub weapon. The sub weapon has around 6 options and some of them are not actually meant for combat like your tractor or energy fuel. They all serve a purpose though so you’ll want to know what they are when tackling a level. You can use R2 to target an enemy so that you can transport some of your crew aboard or to shut down their engine without destroying the ship. You can alter your ship’s stats during the level as well by putting more power into shields at the expense of weapons or vice versa. Throughout the game I always kept weapons and engines on maximum with shields and scanners on minimum. It’s just the best call for me as otherwise the weapons take a really long time to load up.

After you get the hang of the controls, the levels start to feel a lot easier. There is also the occasional race level which is a nice change of pace. When the Borg Queen attacks you are not strong enough to stop her so racing through a bunch of portals is your only way out. The races can be reasonably difficult as missing more than a few portals can be fatal and crashing into enemy ships is just as lethal. They were some of the most fun levels in the game as I do like racing quite a bit. The most tedious levels where the ones where you’d have to do the same thing multiple times like transporting bombs. Plus, I just don’t like having to protect things (Like the bomb) as I prefer to just fight and knock everyone out. It lets me just go all out.

So the difficulty is pretty reasonable and the game’s length isn’t bad. I could usually only complete 4-5 levels in one sitting and there were around 20 if I’m not mistaken. It should last you around 6-7 hours if I had to make a ballpark estimate. There are a lot of checkpoints throughout the levels and you have infinite lives so you don’t have to worry about replaying a large segment or anything like that. One unfortunate thing is that you cannot skip cutscenes. If you lost in a place where the cutscene is particularly long, you have to watch it over and over again.

The graphics for the game are pretty nice. They may not pop out at you quite as much as in the cover, but it’s aged really well for the PS2. The colorful levels towards the end like being in the pink monster were really intense and I liked the last level’s design as everything would keep spazzing out to show you that you were in a time loop. The soundtrack is quite bland though. I feel like there were only 2-3 songs that just kept repeating over and over again. None of them were catchy either so that’s a little disappointing.

There’s a little replay value here, but not much. You can try to find all of the collectibles which honestly weren’t that hard to find. I grabbed about 80-90% of them without even trying during the normal play through. Hopefully it tells you which levels have the rest though since it would take a while to go through all of the levels. I can’t imagine that the reward is really worth the time to be honest so it’s not something I would pursue. There is also Skirmish mode which sounds like endless fighting and multiplayer so that definitely helps the replay value quite a bit. It’s no Star Fox, but I can see you having some fun here.

On a final note I do have to say that the final level was a little anticlimactic. There wasn’t a final boss or anything which was a little disappointing and the level just ends. We were actually losing against the legion of enemy ships, but the time stream just ends up warping them away so everything is happy again. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that a full win would have been a lot more satisfying than the villains simply being whisked away. The only true boss in the game was probably the Borg Queen which was handled well. The final level should have absolutely done the same thing.

Overall, Star Trek Encounters is a fun game. I really think it could have used more of a plot but at least the gameplay was solid. The final level was pretty epic as it was great to see all of the Starships from the Star Trek franchise team up. We may have only been all together for the final part of the level but it felt like a really good payoff. Since this was a crossover Star Trek game, I would have felt a little cheated if this didn’t happen. The game did a good job of including all of the iconic Star Trek enemies like the Klingons and the Borg as well so it had a nice attention to detail. I’d recommend checking the game out, I think you’ll like it more than you’d expect. You should play it straight through though as forgetting the controls can be fatal in a title like this one.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes Review

Star-Wars-Clone-Wars-Republic-Heroes_ESRB_PS3_front
It’s time for another title set in the Clone Wars. Republic Heroes may be the first Star Wars game that I’ve played on the PS3, but it ended up being the weakest installment in this saga. I don’t know why, but it just couldn’t hang with the others. I blame it on the game’s poor gameplay mechanics and lackluster plot. It’s still a solid game that will last you for a reasonable amount of time, but I was expecting a little more since we are now in the modern era.

The game has you split up into several groups. It appears that Count Dooku is up to something again and he sends Ventress off to cause some havoc. Cad and Kul are also fighting over a weapon of mass destruction. I don’t think we ever actually learn what it does to be honest. Well, Anakin and Ahsoka go to check things out while Obi Wan and a Jedi master I’m not familiar with head to a space station. Two other Jedi Mastered investigate the canyons and along the way the Clone soldiers do their best to help out as well. The heroes have spread themselves rather thin, but they’re always ready for danger. Hopefully they are prepared!

Here’s why the plot sags behind the others…there are no hype moments. The original Wii game was a blast because of the stellar soundtrack and the tough talk between all of the characters. It worked really well as a result. The DS game worked because of the fun gameplay and I really enjoyed the Shadow sisters as villains. The problem with this game is that none of the villains are particularly interesting. They don’t feel like threats either. Cad is a guy with a gun…so he shouldn’t last long. Kul is a robot who has a lot of weapons, but it seems like it’d be an easy matter for the Jedi to swing him around. That just leaves Ventress and Dooku but since they lose in all of the games I don’t think we’re meant to take them too seriously anymore. The banter between the characters can still be pretty fun and the characters aren’t bad, but the plot could use a little work.

The gameplay is 3D hack and slash. You have to fight your way through large armies of droids as you try to keep your wits about you. There is a lot of variety as you will play as both Jedi and Clones as well as ride hovercraft and large robots. You can also jump onto any enemy to control it and force others to try and oppose it. You can use your Force abilities or go in close for the lightsaber. The Force is incredibly overpowered here so the game got that part down pat. To make up for this, it doesn’t give you all that much money so if you want to buy a lot of stuff in the shop you should stick to close quarters combat. I was able to buy everything anyway at the end and I used a lot of The Force so money isn’t a huge issue. Even if you don’t have enough by the end you can probably just replay a level and you’ll be good to go.

It’s fun to mow down legions of enemies with your blade. The game can feel like a mini beat em up at times due to this. That’s also why the Force waves are fun as you can send about 6-10 enemies flying with a single hit. Unfortunately the gameplay can also be a weakness. The title uses an odd auto jump system where your character will lock on to an object and try to land in a controlled arc when you jump. The problem is that the character can’t decide what to do right away so a lot of times he unlocks right as you jump and you plunge to your death. You always have to wait a second before jumping to make sure that you don’t flal. It feels rather odd and it’s a weird part of the game. I had a ton of deaths that way.

Fortunately, there are no real deaths here. Each character has infinite lives and even if both die at the same time, you’re still fine. I am playing on the first difficulty though so maybe that changes later. I wasn’t about to start the campaign on hard after all. It’s pretty useful I admit even if it maybe does make the game a little too easy. I did die over 140 times according to the stats though so I probably got sloppy thanks to it as well. The game just doesn’t explain things too well at times like how to defeat the large droids. That kind of messed me up at times and those bosses would take ages. Just remember to jump on the enemy when in doubt since it automatically destroys most of them.

The main campaign has around 35-40 levels and each of them is about 5-10 minutes long. That will last you for a good amount of time and getting all of the PS3 trophies will add in some replay value as well. There are a lot of collectibles to grab so keep a sharp eye while in the levels. The more that you grab now, the less that you’ll have to worry about in the future right? I grabbed as many as I could, but I believe that I may still be missing around 30 or so.

I wouldn’t say that the graphics are all that good. They look like a Wii game rather than a PS3 one. They haven’t really aged well I’ll admit. It’s not like they’re awful or anything though, they’re still good enough. The blasters and attacks look good at any rate. The soundtrack is rather limited. It uses a lot of the same themes from the other two games. Surprisingly, the only good theme in the game was the end credits tune. That one was surprisingly amazing so I’m a little sad that they saved it for the credits. It should have been used for the actual game if you ask me.

I’ll give the game credit for handling the Force well though. This game probably had the best application of it from all the games that I’ve played so far. It was actually very useful the whole time and didn’t feel like a tacked on feature. There were also no artificial moments made to make the game longer. Every level was direct and to the point. I can definitely appreciate the game’s honesty there. I’ll take a 6 hour game with no repeating levels than a 30 hour one where it is just the same level over and over again.

Overall, Star Wars Republic Heroes is a good game. It could have easily been a great game if the gameplay was smoother and the story was more interesting, but it tripped up there. There’s no way I’d die 140+ times if the gameplay had been smooth. It feels a bit like a cash in at times, but you can tell that some effort was still put into the game. It at least feels like a real game and the levels go by fairly quick. The developers certainly had a bunch of ideas as the game introduces new features even near the end of the game. It’s interesting to see a tutorial message pop up when you’re in the final act. It may not have all worked and they should have used some more time to refine the actual platforming element of the game, but it’s a nice package overall. I’d recommend getting it. It’s not the best Star Wars game on the market, but it’ll introduce you to all of the core concepts.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Jedi Alliance Review

TCW_Jedi_Alliance_DS
After a long break, it’s finally time to take a look at the next Star Wars game. This title keeps us in the Clone Wars which is the best era in the Star Wars mythos. I know what you’re thinking…how can the prequels have the best timeline? I’ve thought about that myself and it all boils down to the fact that it felt more like a cool Sci-Fi franchise back then. There were a ton of Sith and Jedi fighting it out along with a bunch of other factions who could use light sabers. In Episode IV and beyond, there aren’t really Jedi or Sith anymore so we don’t get a bunch of fights. There are less variables and pieces on the board. That’s why I like this part of the series. Starting from when Anakin became a Jedi to when Darth Vader was in his early days. That’s the best period in the series even if it wasn’t handled too well in the movies.

The Nightsisters have stolen important cargo from the Jedi. It’s a power source that uses the Force and they are going to put it in a weapon that can destroy entire worlds. The Jedi council decides to do something about it so they send in Anakin and Obi Wan. Moreover, they bring in a few other Jedi to assist them when they learn that Count Dooku and other Sith members are involved. It’s a decently large cast and each of the 3 main villains are a serious threat. The leader of the Nightsisters ends up being the most formidable threat as she decides to blow up the planet on her own. Dooku gets some hype since he stays standing after her attack, but he did run off rather quickly.

The game’s cutscenes are a little cheesy when the narrator explains what’s happening. I could have done without him so be honest since he has absolutely no enthusiasm for the game. The actual cutscenes were pretty good though. It’s impressive that the game had voice acting and it helped make the story feel more real. I also thought the actual plot was a lot of fun. Whether these Nightsisters are created for the game or exist in the comics/TV show as well, they were great antagonists. Their designs were really cool and they got a lot of solid lines. Their leader is probably one of my favorite Star Wars villains. I guess I’d put her 4th behind Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Jango Fett. It’ll be hard to defeat those 3. She gained my respect when even Anakin and Mace didn’t want to risk a confrontation with her.

The graphics aren’t amazing, but few DS games are. To this day, Mario 64 DS, One of the Kingdom Heart titles, or Ghost Trick probably leads in this category. Still, it looks reasonable and the game excels during the actual combat. The sword swings are handled pretty well when you engage opponents and the level designs aren’t bad either. This title shines even more with the soundtrack. It has some recycled themes from the other Star Wars Clone Wars games, but also some original one. The cool rock theme that plays when you infiltrate the Nightsister base is really good and gave the level an epic feel. It was my favorite level for that reason and it certainly one of the most hype moments in a Star Wars game.

What hurts the game a bit is the gameplay. The actual platforming can be a little boring since the characters move very slowly. Imagine walking in a Mario game without being allowed to run. That’s their max walking speed in this game and you can’t go any faster. This makes going from place to place a little tedious or at least more than it should have been. There are little minigames that you play to deactivate computers and such like connecting the symbols and connect the circles. They were all right. I don’t think the game needed them, but they were short enough to not really get in the way.

The actual combat is all right although it’s a little repetitive. You keep tapping the screen to hit your opponent and you tap high or low depending where you want to hit. The computer will block everything 100% of the time so you just have to swing until he/she gets tired. Then you actually land some damage and repeat the process. It makes for a fun visual with the constant attacks and I found it to be reasonably enjoyable. It’s just very limited. You have Force abilities but don’t actually use them in combat except for certain bosses who are impervious to any other attack. That was a bit of a missed opportunity since I love wielding the light sabers.

I should mention that you always control the characters through the touch screen. I prefer moving with the control pad myself. This only becomes a problem during the quick time events. Yes, the game actually has a bunch of quick time events which is extremely impressive. I can’t think of any other game that implemented them. Unfortunately, the screen doesn’t always work well. I think this was more on my console than the game as the screen is likely pretty bruised by now. Still, having to repeat an entire section a bunch of times because of that can be a little annoying.

There is some very mild replay value here but not much. You can replay the levels to earn medals, but I don’t really know how you even get the medals. They’re related to challenges in the level I suppose like defeating a certain amount of enemies or something. I can’t say that I’m too interested in trying that. The game’s story was of a reasonable length though. It’ll last you a few good hours and the price is low so it’s not a bad buy.

Overall, The game was pretty fun. It was ahead of its time in some ways, but that also meant that the gameplay styles could be a little rusty like the Quick Time Events. The sword clashing was interesting and while it may not have been the best, it was fun for a while. The game likely benefits from not being too long or the repetition could have begun to really show. I’d definitely recommend buying this Star Wars game. It has likely flown under the radar compared to the more popular titles, but it can hold its own with the solid story it presents and the fun soundtrack that accompanies it. It’s a well made game.

Overall 7/10

Spongebob Boating Bash Review

SBBB.WII.BOX.CMYK_highres
It’s time to finally delve into the world of Spongebob! I must admit that I actually haven’t played a great deal of Spongebob games before. This is one of the first ones for me, but it’s a pretty good way to get back into the franchise. This title is a racing game mixed in with a little vehicular warfare. It makes for a good dynamic and the game even has a plot which is an added bonus. Especially considering that this game goes for only a few dollars, you do not want to miss it!

The game starts off with Spongebob failing to get his license once again. It’s a pretty emotional moment since he had been doing so well in the training, but he randomly decided to accelerate and hit every obstacle. I feel like his short term memory had just ended when the exam started so he forgot everything that he learned. He feels bad about it, but then a shark comes along and offers Spongebob a chance to get a license through…other channels. He simply has to complete the Shark’s D.R.I.V.E. school which teaches you how to be a bad driver, that way you know what not to do on the real exam. Spongebob figures that this is easy enough and decides to pay the high entry fee to join. The rest of the characters get in on the action as well.

After you finish singing the Spongebob theme song to yourself and get back into the game, you’ll see that the DRIVE chapters have now opened. There are 5 chapters in the game along with a final chapter where you must use everything that you have learned. It’s graded report card style, but fortunately you don’t need all As. The levels are mostly pretty easy. A few of them may have taken me 2-3 tries, but ultimately you’ll have it down pat. The controls are easy enough as you just accelerate, turn, and brake. That’s it. You get to choose which vehicle you want as the game goes on and once you unlock the big boat, there’s no turning back. One good hit from that car can total just about any other. It’s only drawback is that it’s slow, but that’s not a problem in bumper cars. Just don’t pick it for the races.

The different game modes are: “Smash The Cars” “Race The Cars” “Smash The Cars and pick up the pieces.” My favorite is certainly the first mode, but they’re all reasonably solid in their own right. I haven’t played a great deal of car games with this gimmick so that was definitely a lot of fun. The gameplay is actually pretty smooth and I’d say that the game got a pretty decent budget for a title based on a TV show. There are even a lot of sound effects as you’re driving where the characters hurl some pretty personal insults at each other. Lets just say that their friendships will be a little strained after this event is all over. It’s the price that they have to pay for victory!

Graphically, Spongebob delivers. It may not look great, but the levels are very clear. If anything, the only part that bothered me was the loading screen as Spongebob would get a very weird facial expression. They also added too much color to his cheeks which was odd as well. So when you ignore the loading screen, then the whole thing comes together quite nicely. I should also mention that the game has fully animated cutscenes with voice acting which was a really good bonus to have along. The music is also pretty good. The main theme is very catchy and I still remember it which is a very good thing.

There is a little replay value to be found here. Once you obtain all A ranks in the game, you’ll unlock the final vehicles and game options. It probably wouldn’t take long to get the rest of them. I got a bunch of A ranks without even trying so it’s not like you’d have to redo all of the lessons. Still, I can’t say that I’m too tempted to get the rest of the cars since the ones that I already have are pretty good. I suppose it still does help to make the overall game longer and more worth your dollar though.

You definitely do need to enjoy the gameplay though since the game is very formulaic and can be seen as a little repetitive. There are roughly 35 levels sprinkled into the game and since there are only 3 game modes, you’ll be seeing them quite a lot. I guess you could say that it’s set up like Mario Kart, but with far fewer levels so you’re usually just on the same roads. The game did its best to shift things up a bit, but the level designs was certainly its weakness. There are no colorful levels as they all look the same.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Spongebob’s Boating Bash. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure and one of the only underwater racing games that I can think of. What really gives it an extra boost is the story mode since it’s pretty engaging. Spongebob is definitely a little more naive than I remember, but at least he’s portrayed as a good kid. He’s always acting pretty modest and addresses everyone as Sir. His friends all seem a little more mean spirited though as they all join just to beat up Spongebob. I forgot how much the whole village resents his success. I look forward to trying out one of the Gamecube games at some point, but it’ll likely be a long while before then.

Overall 7/10

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

MuddsD-PS4_grande
It’s time to look at a game that everyone was talking about a while back. Mutant Mudds was the next big thing back in the day, but there was no physical release. Well, now there finally is one and I can safely say that it’s a fun game. It’s pretty short and you can tell that it had a limited budget since there aren’t a lot of levels. That being said, the gameplay is solid and ultimately that’s all you really need to be a good game.

The story follows a young kid as he decides to save the world from mud monsters. There’s not much of a plot as you are just thrown into the action and there are maybe 2-3 text bubbles that pop up. Of course if you were expecting a long story, then you’ve come to the wrong title. The main experience here are the levels. There are 20 levels in the game and each one comes with a 3-5 minute timer. You will have to run and jump to get through them. Fortunately, the main character has a jet pack which lets you hover for a few seconds. It’s a very useful ability and you also have a blaster with can defeat enemies. Furthermore, you unlock 3 power ups as you go through the game although you can only activate one of them at a time. There’s the super hover, (I recommend this one) the vertical boost, (Fun, but only use it when you have too) and the Super Blaster. (No real purpose aside from bonus collectibles)

The toughest parts of the levels are typically when you have to make some real precision jumps. That being said, they aren’t all that hard when you compare them to real extreme titles like Mario Maker or even the DK games. Fortunately, the game does manage to increase the difficulty through the extra levels. Each of the 20 levels has a ghost counterpart where you play the levels again but this time you cannot let yourself get hit. It certainly raises the stakes since your platforming skills are really put to the test now. This works as part of the replay value in the game. It’s a bit of a forced time extender so if the levels had been longer I would have been a little upset. As it stands now, the levels aren’t very long I found it to be fairly reasonable.

Another form of replay value is the fact that all of the levels have 100 gems. You want to get all of the gems to complete the game and also to get closer to getting all of the game’s trophies. There is no Platinum unfortunately, but you can still get 100% completion to show off your true skills. To do that, you’ll have to beat the 40 levels as well as the 20 levels inside of the normal levels. To get to those final 20 levels, you have to use your power ups to get to the secret entrances. The tricky part is that you don’t know which one is in which levels so expect some trial and error here as you figure out what’s up.

The game also operates on a few different layers so you can jump from the front of the screen to the back at certain points. Always be careful that you don’t land right on an enemy. The trickiest parts of this are usually when you can’t tell if an enemy is next to you or on a different layer. It makes for some good mind games as you have to figure out what’s happening before you get slammed. You get 3 hearts and recover full health whenever you make it to a check point. Each level has a check point which is really helpful because even if you lose, you have somewhere to go back to.

This game brings you back to the retro world of sprites when it comes to graphics. That’s always fun to see since sprites really were a lot of fun back in the day. We’ll always be sad to see them go since they were a big part of the gaming world. The graphics aren’t going to look like a modern game’s, but the actual sprite models hold up pretty well. The soundtrack is less inspiring though as the tunes have all already faded at this moment. They weren’t bad tunes, they just didn’t sound as good or unique as they could have been.

If I have any complaint, it’s that I would have liked a boss battle. At least one for the very end to help give the game a grand ending. I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to code one in. Send in a giant version of a minion if necessary and make the battle take place in a room where you can drop things on the monster. It will keep the fight a little difficult while not being insane either. It would be a nice middle ground for the game.

Overall, Mutant Mudds is a pretty solid game. It’s short so you shouldn’t spend 60 dollars on it, but for 30 or so it’s not a bad buy. Considering that you have to beat the levels more than once, it has enough content to last you for a few hours. It’s not quite ready to hang with the likes of Shovel Knight, Shantae, or Mighty No 9, but the fact that it got a physical release already helps to put it above many of its rivals. If you’re looking for a good side scroller, then I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s like a Metroid game only without the puzzles and you can’t go wrong there. I can definitely see myself going back and grabbing all of the trophies one of these days and hopefully the next installment gets a Platinum. It’s games like this one that give Indies a good name so hopefully they can keep up the good work. I can also see why people really like retro games like this one. They’re simple, but easy to get invested in as you watch yourself play for long periods of time. I’ll always be more of a big budget AAA gamer myself, but I like to enjoy all the styles.

Overall 7/10

Ratchet and Clank Full Frontal Assault Review

ratchet-clank-q-force-ps3
The Ratchet and Clank marathon continued as I dive into the big anniversary game. Full Frontal Assault decided to take a gamble and completely switch up the game design. It didn’t work if I’m being honest although this is the kind of game that would be perfect for online death matches. A nice Call of Duty kind of mode where you have to breach your opponent’s network of weapons and security could be awesome. After all, Full Frontal Assault is essentially a capture the Flag game and those are always best with a multiplayer option. Still, the game is fun enough.

Someone has finally grown tired of Captain Qwark always betraying the universe and being accepted back so gracefully. This kid decides to do something about it and sneaks out of his basement to hatch his evil plan. He has a wide array of tech at his disposal and also has a lot of resources. None of this makes any sense, but lets roll with it. Qwark asks Ratchet for help and the duo have to quickly defend the universe against this new nemesis. Can they do it!?

So the gameplay is a mix of the usual Ratchet and Clank games with the Locke’s quest dynamic. You start the level in your stronghold. Once you obtain money from nearby crates and enemies, you can set up landmines, cannons, and barriers to protect yourself. You then go out into enemy territory and conquer all of their forts. You’ll want to go back to your base from time to time to keep it strong and prevent enemies from destroying it all. No worries, you are given alerts when enemies are approaching and even a graphic that shows how close they are. Since you have your rocket boots, catching up is never a problem. Still, I wouldn’t cut it too close if I were you. No matter how many defenses you have, the enemies will certainly bust through them at some point. Luckily, taking them down is fairly easy tbh.

Naturally, the 3D shooting is as good as ever. I’d actually say that it’s significantly better than the last game so that part’s fun. The weapons are limited again, but all of the good ones are back. I naturally went for the machine gun weapon right away since it’s so good, but you should definitely check out the rest. Apparently the metal blades are really handy as well. Having the boots from the start is definitely another great asset to have.

The graphics are pretty good as always. Ratchet and Clank has always had a good reputation in that area so I’m glad that they aren’t slacking off. The explosions are a treat to see and while it may not have the best graphics in the series, that just speaks to how good the older ones were. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is fairly mild and I can’t think of any good tunes. Ah well, so it goes.

One problem with the game is that it is very short. I beat the game in around 2.5 hours which is a little sad. The levels weren’t downright easy, but I did clear them without any real difficulty. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to beat the enemies to the base and at that point you’ve as good as won the whole set. They just won’t be able to deal with your skills. Even the wrench is surprisingly powerful in this game although you’d have to be really desperate to take that out. The guns are just so much more effective. I was able to get 2/3 medals in just about all of the stages and all 3 in one of them. I’m definitely going to gun for the Platinum at some point since it really seems achievable. There aren’t many trophies as it is and the Platinum is supposed to only take another 6-8 hours. Probably less since I already have a bunch. The replay value will help justify the current price, but I would have been pretty disappointed if I had bought it at launch.

I think the low content is enough to chop a star off of the score. That in turn with the weak plot and tower system. The Capture the Flag concept was still a good idea. It may need a little fine tuning, but since you got to keep the 3D combat, I was pretty well satisfied. The game could have messed up by making the opponents too durable. As it is, the tank perfectly fulfilled its role as taking that thing down is incredibly difficult. Man, it sure does have a lot of health doesn’t it?

Overall, You have to keep in mind that this is a spinoff game. It’s not nearly as packed with content or as engaging as the others. The main villain is complete comic relief and there’s barely even a plot. Still, it’s a fundamentally sound game when you look at the gameplay and the graphics. I had a blast during the game which is why I was able to beat it all in one playthrough. It’s just that kind of game and it can still hold its own against any platformer…you know…until it ends. I’d recommend checking this game out and since it is only around 10 bucks you won’t be losing a lot of money anyway. They better work on making sure that the next games are longer though. At the very least, I saw that All 4 One is back to a more standard length of 12+ hours so that’s a good thing. I’ll try to play that one soon, but the disc kept freezing on me. Ah well, then it might be time for Jak!

Overall 7/10