FIFA 09 Review


My FIFA backlog is finally near the end. It’s been a long journey but a hype one nonetheless. I can’t really say that my skills have evolved much over this period of time but what I can say is that the older FIFA titles do seem to be more fun than the new ones. At this point they start to become really similar though as there is really nothing separating 09 from 10.

When you boot up the game you’re given a whole lot of options. You’ve got the usual play now, franchise, online matches, training, etc. There’s always a lot of options in these sport games and so long as you enjoy the gameplay then the replay value is basically limitless. So as it all boils down to the gameplay lets talk about it. I feel more confident with my kicks and passes now and the arcade style gameplay definitely makes it more solid.

As it’s a team based game you always want to keep track of everyone on the field. Your passes and kicks must always take them into account or you’ll get the ball stolen. At low difficulties you can definitely get by on quick passes and then shooting the easy goal, but on higher difficulties that’s just not going to cover it. You’ve got to pull off a lot of maneuvers. I definitely still think that FIFA is one of the toughest sport games out there. NBA and Madden I can handle a lot of the difficulty levels, but on FIFA it’s just so hard to land a goal. Playing defense is easy, but on the attack side I can easily go a whole game without scoring.

So, this isn’t a “pick up and play” kind of title. You will need to put in the work and learn the mechanics quite well if you really want to succeed. In a way this is pretty nice I suppose. At the very least it doesn’t feel hopeless like in some of the other FIFA titles. You always feel like you’ve got a shot at the very least. After all, since you’ll be holding the opponent to only 1 goal at most you can always try to bring it back. Plus I do feel like I can always fire off a shot even if I don’t get close enough for it to matter. In the newer FIFA titles you also have to account for direction and power more which makes it very difficult to get the goal.

As with FIFA 10 I do enjoy the 1 on 1 practice mode that plays during the loading screens. I really do think that a 1 on 1 mode would have a whole lot of potential. It makes the whole thing pretty high stakes since if the opponent gets past you it’s a free goal. Sort of like the 1 on 1 NBA drills which are cool. FIFA’s probably couldn’t be a full game, but it would at least make for a pretty sound minigame.

Graphically the game holds up just as well as all of the other FIFA titles. There’s a lot of solid animations and victory dances here. They’re programmed to work for every character and the soccer ball is as realistic as you can reasonably expect it to be. There isn’t much of a soundtrack so I can’t speak to the music. It’s definitely not nearly as expansive as NBA or Madden.

There are a lot of different customizations for the games so you can choose the time, difficulty, arena, team, etc. You can recreate whatever kind of situation you need and that’s definitely nice. It’s easy to take that for granted, but EA does give you all the tools you’ll need to succeed. As long as you enjoy the game of soccer (and hopefully you do if you bought this game) then there’s really nothing to dislike here. It’s a very solid all around FIFA experience. While there may not be much reason to play it so long as the newer ones exist, it’s not as if the quality declines just by existing. It’s as solid as it ever was.

One last tip I’ll leave you with is that it’s very easy to cheese the game once you have the lead. Just stay in your territory and keep on passing to your teammates once you have the lead. It’s very easy to confirm the win this way but there is a good reason why most people don’t do it. The simple answer is that it’s very boring and you almost may as well not be playing the game at that point. If that’s your strategy for winning tourneys and all that’s fine, but cheesing against a computer like this? I wouldn’t be able to last for many games doing that. It becomes a running simulator at that point. Might as well go for gold even if it ends up forcing the loss.

Overall, FIFA 09 is definitely a soccer game that you will want to add to your roster. It brings a significant amount of content for only around 2 bucks at this point. I suppose I should add the disclaimer that the online modes do not currently work as the game is too old so you shouldn’t count that in the replay value section. Either way with local multiplayer and franchise options there is enough content where you can fairly say that the game is basically infinite with how long you can play it. I don’t imagine anyone will be buying 09 this late in the game, but if you are tempted to do so then know that I do recommend it as a quality purchase.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One Review


It’s time to look at the final Ratchet & Clank game. (Not counting the movie adaption) All 4 One is definitely a very different game in the series as it focuses on the multiplayer aspect and naturally had to switch the gameplay a bit to set this up. I think they probably could have still pulled it off with the normal gameplay if you ask me, but I don’t know the full details of how that would work so it’s just speculation. Either way, while the gameplay is a bit weaker it’s still a solid all around game with a fun plot and good fundamentals.

Ratchet has retired from the hero gig and Qwark is now the President so everyone has achieved their goals. This is all thrown out the window though when the planet is invaded by an army of robots. Ratchet & Clank must get back out there in order to save the universe and Qwark tags around to help give his approval ratings a boost. They are even joined by their old enemy Dr. Nefarious who is only working with them for now. He warns the heroes not to get the wrong idea. Who can possibly stop this group of all stars?

The gameplay is your classic 3D blasting platformer. You are given an array of guns and other weapons to use as you rampage through the various levels. You’ll gain many weapons through the game by going to the shop and purchasing them. There aren’t a whole lot of weapons this time so you should have enough money to buy em all well before the final level. It also won’t take a whole lot of grinding post game to get the rest of the upgrades to be honest. The main difference here compared to usual is the team gimmick as I mentioned. There are a bunch of obstacles in the level that you can’t get by without a partner. If you’re playing by yourself then the A.I. will help you but it’s probably one of the worst A.I. I have seen in a very long time. Clank will literally jump off the stage to intentionally die just to make sure you lose.

You don’t actually lose a life unless both characters die, but with a computer ally more times than not that means both of you will die if you do. The game isn’t all that difficult and there are save points constantly so that’s not a big deal, but it will get annoying when you’re counting on your partner. Some parts of the gameplay are also just a little less polished than usual as well. For example, switching between weapons can be pretty rough as you need to cycle through 2-3 screens to get to the one you want. Sometimes it will result in you picking the wrong weapon as well. Then you’ve got the target aiming which will actively switch targets on you if there are a bunch of enemies. Small things like that keep it from being quite a solid as some of the others. It feels a bit more like a cash-in.

That being said, making the game multiplayer is no small feat. It’s definitely always a great idea to have that as a feature and in this title’s case you can team up with people online or offline. Your character also gains levels throughout the game so for example I got Ratchet to level 7. I’m actually not sure what the levels do, but they must have some kind of benefit I’d imagine. There are 9 chapters in the game and each one can take close to an hour or so. It’s a pretty good length for the title and nowadays you can get the game for cheap so you’re getting good value for your purchase here. Only thing to watch out for are glitches. They happened to be twice where I had to die to get the boss to appear again after he vanished. Definitely an odd one.

I also definitely did enjoy the story. The series never fails to deliver on that front with a lot of crispy dialogue. It’s one of those games where characters are constantly talking. There are big cutscenes after every chapter, but with all of the mini ones thrown in there the game stays very cinematic like the rest of the series always is. The plot may not be quite as long or deep as previous games (particularly the time travel trilogy which got real serious) but it still brings across the ole charm of the series. Seeing Qwark and the gang is always fun. Nefarious is probably the weakest member of the group when it comes to the humor, but he rarely gets to be part of the team so it was nice to see him. Ratchet also finally remembered why he became a hero in the first place so I expect that development will probably stick for the sequel. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the story goes in that one. The only boring part of the story would be the main doctor villain and his good counterpart. They don’t add a whole lot to the story although the twist about who the real main villain was definitely worked really well.

The soundtrack isn’t all that memorable, but I did like the credits theme. That one definitely worked really well to wrap the game up. The graphics also look real good, especially the cutscenes. It holds up really well over the years and I think it will continue to look good many years from now. While the gameplay may not be the sharpest in the series that isn’t to say that it isn’t good either. It’s still very good and I love this style of gaming. Mixing 3D platforming with gun skills is always a recipe for success. Just look at Fortnite or Star Fox Assault!

Overall, All 4 One is definitely a title that I would recommend. Naturally you’ll enjoy it the most if you’re actually playing as a full group, but you’ll still be able to progress through the game very smoothly on your own. The fact that there are save points every minute or so is always good since you won’t feel like you lost a lot of progress when you die. I’m pretty surprised that we haven’t gotten an announcement for another game in the series by now. I thought they always sold really well so Sony would want to have it back soon. Maybe they’re just waiting and are going to unveil a huge sequel one of these days. Either way, I can definitely say that the series had a great run.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 10 Review


It’s time for yet another FIFA game. You’d think that by now I’d really have the controls down, but it’s still a pretty tough game I have to admit. Scoring goals is really tough although I found out near the end of the game that I had actually been using the wrong button to shoot the ball the whole time. That explains a lot. Once I figured it out I still only scored one goal, but that was an improvement and I did end up winning the game so that was cool. I ended up winning another round in a penalty shootout as well. I think I will one day be able to start really winning here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here. You’ve got your franchise mode, quick matches, exhibition, minigames, and online battles. Naturally all of these modes have quite a lot of content in them so you don’t need to worry about a lack of replay value. The replay value here is endless and you don’t have to ever stop playing unless you don’t want to. Of course, with newer FIFA games out there you probably won’t want to stick with this one for long, but at the end of the day the gameplay is pretty similar for all of them anyway.

I would have a hard time telling you what is different between this one and FIFA 11 for example. Like with that one you get to play in 3D practice mode while waiting for the screens to load. The gameplay is still fairly simple which works out for me. I still think the goalkeeper is pretty overpowered and you’ll be lucky to land any real shots here, but at least you’ll know what you’re doing. The defenders give you a lot of space so you’re free to run in and try to dominate the pace of the game. Playing defense is a lot easier. So long as you don’t go for many slides you likely won’t attract any fouls. With no fouls to worry about you can just go ahead and crush your competition until they hand over to the ball. It may result in a lot of 0-0 games, but it’s worth it.

As always the graphics are definitely quite sharp here. EA spares no expense on its sport titles. It’s all very lifelike which is pretty neat. Naturally you can’t compare it to the really new ones, but this game did come out quite a while ago. When it came out the graphics were definitely very high end. The soundtrack is a lot less noticeable like in most sport games since the actual sound effects and such end up completely dominating the music. That works for me though since EA’s music is rarely all that great. The tempo tends to fit for the game you’re playing but I can’t really speak to the lyrics much.

There’s really nothing bad to say about FIFA 10. There were no glitches or bugs that I encountered. There are quite a lot of modes to choose from so it’s not as if the game was made in a rush either. It’s just a very direct game. What you see is what you’ll get. It’s got you covered with whatever kind of soccer modes you want to try. The gameplay may be hard to get into, but once you do learn it fully you’ll definitely be ready to dominate your competition quite easily. It’s definitely a very rewarding game in that sense since once you learn it you will completely dominate your competition.

Overall, FIFA 10 is another solid game. Ultimately there really isn’t much reason to play it now though. You can play FIFA 14 for about 5 bucks nowadays and you’ll have much better luck finding opponents online. I get the feeling there even if the servers are still up for 10 (and they probably aren’t) it’ll be a while before you find a match. There just won’t be many people still playing a FIFA game from that far back. It’s just not going to happen if you ask me. Still, just because there are better versions of the game doesn’t mean it takes away from this one’s score. You have to judge the game on its own and in that case I’d say that this one is still fundamentally sound.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 11 Review


I definitely don’t play a lot of FIFA so most of the gameplay mechanics start to go over my head. You could probably tell that from my earlier FIFA review. Well, the marathon must continue and now I’m going at FIFA 11. I am proud to say that this one is actually an improvement. If anything that could actually be a bit of a negative of course since that means the games got worse as they went along, but that’s mainly because I’m a casual. FIFA 11 is a lot more arcade based so the controls are just simpler. I was actually able to score this time.

As always there are quite a few standard sport modes here. You can quickly pick up and play a normal game, do some minigames and challenges or you can run through a franchise. A cool part of the loading screen here is while waiting for the game to start you can head to the field and practice your shots 1 on 1. I enjoyed these quite a bit and while it would definitely be a very different kind of soccer game I think it would make for a fun one. Some 1 on 1 battles would definitely be a good way to practice fundamentals.

Still, the main part is naturally the actual games and in those I do feel like I improved. At first I couldn’t score a single goal, but then I played some more games and was getting some good shots in. I was able to defeat the opponent on the two easiest difficulties and then after that I started getting blown up again. It’s inevitable, but at least I felt like I was playing as opposed to just staying strong. I got my wins and losses and this just felt like the definitive version of the game.

Everything about FIFA 11 just feels right. The gameplay mechanics and visuals are on point. As always EA really delivers on how the game looks and plays. Then you’ve also got the way the shots work. In the later FIFA games you have to be hitting multiple buttons at once to get the shots where you want. In this one you just hit the shoot button and you’ve got the general direction down. From there it’s all about just keeping on until you get to the end.

Naturally there is also online battles to increase your replay value. Fighting other players online is just a great way to really start testing your skills beyond a local level. At this point it’s hard to imagine going back to just having local multiplayer. For some games that works of course, but especially with sports having online access makes it feel a lot more lifelike. You can go through a complete season with 15 other real teams (Well, that’s Football but you get the idea) and then you’re okay even if you don’t have a friend who plays FIFA.

One gameplay tip for all aspiring FIFA players is you definitely want to pass quite a bit. Get close enough to the goal and one player will always leave his man to try and get to you. That’s when you want to quickly pass the ball and get yourself into a prime position to make the goal. Even then it’s going to be pretty tough of course since the goal keeper is incredibly OP no matter what FIFA game you’re playing. You just gotta keep going and you’ll score. There are less tips to give to the defensive side since it’s pretty easy to stop the goals from being scored so long as you keep tackling the other players. Don’t bother with the slides since you’ll usually get penalized for them. Just go for basic shoves and the other players will never be able to get past you. That’s one thing I’ve been consistent about in both FIFA games, the opponent just doesn’t score.

I did try one game at the highest difficulty level though. It didn’t really follow the same path though as this time I couldn’t stop them from scoring. In my defense, the highest level in any sport game is typically insane. Even in Madden, which is my best series, I have a hard time keeping up at this level. The other team inevitably ends up winning the game by the end even if I can keep it close. So keeping it close in FIFA at this level? Nah…..I can’t do that.

Overall, FIFA 11 is definitely a very solid game. Soccer still isn’t really my sport, but I do think this one is more beginner friendly and the controls are more straight forward. I can see how veterans may not like this, but at the moment I consider this to be the definitive FIFA. I do have other FIFA games to go play (At least 3 more) so we’ll see if those can match up. Considering the trend they just might end up getting even better.

Overall 7/10

FIFA 14 Review


It’s time to look at an old FIFA game. I would say a “modern” one but at this point 2014 feels like a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of experience with FIFA, but I’m a little better at it than I am at MLB. At the very least I keep the games close. It’s definitely a fun title, but certainly one that you will enjoy a whole lot more if you are actually good at it. Knowing how to make the plays that you want to achieve simply makes for a world of difference here.

There are a bunch of different modes. I imagine that you will spend most of your time in Franchise mode ordinarily. After all, that’s where you get to really learn and grow with your team. If you can’t get the hang of the controls for a while you’ll start out with some bad records, but eventually you’ll be able to completely flip that. I don’t really have enough time to do all of that, but it’s always a great mode for any sport. Beyond that you can also run drills, practice, Go online and play, or a bunch of other options. There is no shortage of modes and content here.

As for the gameplay, it seems pretty good. it’s definitely one of those games where it’ll take a while to actually master the controls. There’s a lot to them and you can’t really skate by on just doing the easy controls. You’ll really need to apply yourself here. For example, I played a few games, but couldn’t score a single goal. I just can’t get close enough to take a realistic shot, it’s crazy. On the other side though, I didn’t allow any goals to be scored in most of the games. (They did score on me once) So…either the goal keeper is just OP here or I need more training. I imagine that it’s the latter because otherwise the FIFA games wouldn’t be nearly as big as they are now. I felt more confident than in Baseball since I’m at least not getting blown out, but at the same time you can’t win without scoring right?

The graphics are certainly solid as always. EA doesn’t hold back in that area. As always in the sport games the music isn’t all that memorable, but it seems to be pretty fast and fitting for the sport. On a technical level the game is quite good and the gameplay is solid as well so I have no real complaints. The only thing really hurting the score is the fact that the game won’t be incredibly fun until you get good at it and you also have to love the sport. If you think about it, technically you’re going to be going through the same motions in every match. That’s true for many games of course, but it does emphasize how much you need to like the gameplay in order to go through with it. Otherwise it would just become a chore by the end and you don’t want that.

To date the best Soccer game has definitely been Mario Strikers. It took a more arcade style look at the sport with simplified controls but still hitting all of the right mechanics. It’s a game that holds up well today and I think FIFA could learn a thing or two from it. FIFA is of course going for a Soccer Simulation style as it’s very realistic but I think it could loosen up on the mechanics a bit. Make the ball go in more precise locations instead of just anywhere and that would help with the shooting. Of course, this is something that would help casual FIFA players like me while professional gamers would likely not like having their experience go to waste so it’s definitely a mixed proposal. I’ll definitely still be buying the next FIFA games once the price is reasonable so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, but I do think it would be a way for the series to get to the next step.

Currently from the big EA titles I’d rank them as Madden>NBA>FIFA>NHL>MLB>PGA. If we threw Tennis in there then it would be third after NBA. In general those are the 3 games that are way above the others. Starting with FIFA they just aren’t as interesting. Put it this way, Madden is a 9 star series and NBA/Tennis are 8 stars. FIFA is a 7 and the others range from 6 to 3. There’s probably a strong correlation to how I enjoy the real life sports too I suppose.

Overall, FIFA 14 definitely continues the series off well. I look forward to playing some of the other FIFA games I have in the backlog but haven’t played yet. They’ll all be older, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be even better. The more I play them the better I should get so that could help plus sometimes the older games had simpler controls which is also important to notice. It’s the opposite of fighting games where they’ve gotten a little simpler over the years. (Although in some cases that’s been a good thing like with Super Smash and Street Fighter) Whether you’ve played a previous FIFA game or not you should be able to jump in pretty quick here as long as you know how the sport works. Actually winning a game is a completely different discussion though. For that you’re gonna need to practice your shooting for quite a while and that’s no easy feat.

Overall 7/10

Super Mario Bros Review


Believe it or not, I actually had not played all the way through this game before. I almost feel like I need to turn in my Nintendo fan card at this point since the game is so iconic. In my defense, I’ve played bits and pieces of the game on a variety of different systems and equipment so maybe I should cut myself some slack. It’s definitely a fun game that holds up well. Naturally it’s nowhere near the level of the modern Mario games for many reasons, but it’s definitely a title that you can go back to at any time.

You’re thrown right into the thick of the action when you start the game. The basic plot is that Princess Peach has been kidnapped and you have to destroy Bowser 8 times in order to free her. There isn’t much of a story beyond that though as the game didn’t really have cutscenes except for brief text at the end of each world. You must now journey through all of the levels to get to the end. Each of the 8 worlds has 4 levels and they’re all a few minutes long so you can get through the game very quickly. There are also some shortcuts which allow you to skip whole worlds.

I’ve seen some speed runs where a guy beats it in a matter of minutes so the shortcuts in this game are certainly quite legit. I found one by chance during my playthrough which I did use. It’s definitely cool and a nice little Easter Egg for fans who play through the game. The gameplay is pretty straightforward as you run through the level and try to make it to the flag at the end. (Or you touch the axe at the end if it’s a boss level) The controls may feel a bit slippery if you haven’t played it in a while. Mario tends to keep his momentum during the jumps so you can very quickly find yourself flying away.

The graphics are fairly basic, but look nice. The game has a solid aesthetic. There is a good variety in the levels and there was clearly a good amount of effort put into the game. The soundtrack is also pretty nice. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here though as once you beat the game I don’t see why you’d go through it a second time. At the very least, you probably wouldn’t do that right away. So this game will probably provide you with about an hour or two of entertainment. Of course, you can play this game for free almost anywhere so that’s not bad.

Naturally there isn’t much more to be said about the game since there isn’t a lot of content. I will say that I’m glad for the NES access points as they do come in handy for the retro games like this. My gameplay style is all about running in first and jumping later so I tend to get hit by the enemies quite a lot. Usually I die in cheesy ways, but in my defense I just can’t wait for the enemies to move. I got to go go go!

Overall, Super Mario Bros is definitely good. It reminds you of how much quality Nintendo always puts into their products. It’s easy to see why Mario did so well. I’m sure the game probably amazed everyone back in the day. If you’re a big Nintendo fan then I’d certainly urge you to play this at least once. You’ve really got to experience Super Mario Bros to see why it’s such a big deal for everyone. It’s a good moment for gaming history in general.

Overall 7/10

Tetris 99 Review


With Nintendo finally having a new direct after such an extended absence of not having one, I was definitely ready to see what they would announce. They did not disappoint with their big title being Tetris 99. Right now we are in the era of the freemium games. Why pay 60 for something like Call of Duty when you can play Fortnite for free and still get all of the features? I think we will keep seeing a rise in these kind of games and that’s a good thing. Of course, that does mean that the shovel ware may start to come soon but we’ll tackle that issue when it arises.

The game is pretty simple fundamentally. You have a large board of columns and rows and blocks start to fall into it one at a time. Your goal is to keep the blocks from filling it up which means that you have to destroy the blocks. The way that you do that is by filling up a full row. Sounds easy enough right? There are only about 5 different kinds of blocks so you’ll want to memorize how they go.

It’s definitely a lot harder than it sounds though. The game assumes that you are already quite proficient with Tetris so there is no tutorial to be found or anything like that. You’re just tossed into the action and from there you have to learn these things. One thing that takes some time to get used to is the fact that even if a block looks like it should fit, you can’t put a block under a space that is filled. This is the single trickiest part that will mess you up over and over again until you finally master how that works.

By that point you will want to work on your speed. You’re able to cause the piece to fall immediately to the ground or you can go slow and take your time. The latter is only when you are unsure of what to do as the former is always better. Taking your time is just asking other players to attack you and cause the screen to fill right up. Of course, going fast when you’re not sure what to do will just cause you to lose so it’s definitely a tough choice. Right now I’ve only reached top 50 a few times and haven’t come close to winning yet so I still need some practice.

That’s all about Tetris though so let’s talk about the 99 part. This is a battle royale after all. There are 98 other players also trying to keep their jars empty. When you clear a row you get to send a piece of junk to the opponent. They can clear it away by also clearing a row. However, if they fail to do so on time then a bunch of blocks will fill up a few rows. With less rows to use you can see how this would make things difficult. You can choose who to attack for quick KOs, but it takes some time and in a fast paced game like this it’s risky.

The graphics are pretty nice I’d say. The levels are bright and everything is well defined. It may not be the next Kingdom Hearts, but you’ll always know what you’re doing with minimal confusion. (Well, not counting the mechanics as you’ll need to look those up) There isn’t much of a soundtrack that I noticed but the tunes that you hear in the background are all pretty fitting. There was clearly some good effort put into this game. I also hear that it’ll be getting some ongoing updates so that should make the game even better.

The replay value here is pretty self explanatory. You can just keep playing to get a lot better and more proficient at everything. The game keeps detailed stats including your Play Time and Wins. Your user level also goes up. I got up to around level 5-6 and I saw some people as high as 21. It’s the little things like that which help take this game to the next level.

Overall, Tetris 99 is definitely fun. The matches are quick so it’s easy to just keep on going. The loading times between battles are a bit long admittedly but I guess that makes sense considering how many people are playing in each battle. The aesthetic is nice and as the game is free there isn’t really a drawback to buying it. I’d definitely recommend getting this game ASAP as it will naturally be a lot more fun when everyone is playing it. It’s the kind of game where you want to have a full lobby to fully appreciate what the game should be like. There isn’t a whole lot of other stuff to say about this game due to the very nature of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a title you should play.

Overall 7/10

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge Review


I’m not too familiar with Banjo-Kazooie despite hearing the name a whole lot. The problem is that most of the games never came out for a console that I’ve owned. This is the first installment that I get to play. The lead duo seem fun enough and I’m always up for more platformers. I may have joined this franchise late, but better late than never right? It’s a fun title and one that you won’t want to miss on for the GBA. You don’t have to worry about playing previous games to understand what is going on here.

The plot starts with Gruntilda escaping her rocky grave to enact her revenge on Banjo and Kazooie. She succeeds in kidnapping Kazooie so now Banjo must do whatever he can to get his pal back. Fortunately his friends are around to give him useful tips and transformation techniques so he can succeed at this goal. Once the duo is together again, they vow to put an end to Gruntilda’s plans once and for all. Let the villains try to stop them, nobody can mess with their teamwork!!

The plot is fairly direct as you’d expect. There are 6 worlds and each one has a certain amount of objects to obtain. Grab enough and you can head to the next world. You’ll need 50/60 of them in order to fight the final boss so you can effectively skip a world if you collected them all. I don’t think it is possible to skip the entire world since some orbs can’t be obtained until after you get some other power ups but you can skip a reasonable chunk of them. Each world is connected through a door so by the end of the game the hub world is quite huge. You’ll probably get lost a few times, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and then it’ll all be cake for you.

The levels use an overhead camera and you move as you would expect. You start the game only being able to jump and roll but by the end you can glide, use super jumps, and have an array of other abilities at your disposal. You better make sure your L and R buttons work well because if they’re damaged like mine then the latter levels could be a little tougher than you might expect. Always keep your guard up. None of the levels feel cheesy and there aren’t any bugs that I came across so the game is designed well.

Graphically the game has aged quite well. The character models are on point and the level layouts are nice. There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack, but the themes aren’t bad. On a technical level the game succeeds. I also naturally have to mention that the sound effects used for whenever a character would talk are naturally a blast as well. It reminds me of Yooka Laylee which is likely a homage to this title. Everyone sounds like they’re gargling under water and over the top effects like that are always fun. The only area where the game does get a bit iffy with the replay value though. You’ll be able to easily 100% the game in under 10 hours. At that point there won’t be anything more to do. Still, it’s a fun play through and if anyone ever asks you what a platformer is you can redirect them to this game. It contains everything you would expect to be in a title of this genre. It’s a solid all around title.

I also appreciate how Banjo and Kazzoie both have unique personalities. It feels like some platforming protagonists don’t have a whole lot to say or express during the game. These guys are not like that. Kazooie is the kind of guy who is constantly throwing insults around and he keeps everyone on edge. While getting kidnapped may prevent you from taking his tough talk seriously, it’s always good to have a character like that. Without him the villains would probably walk all over Banjo. In comparison, Banjo’s a very nice guy who is always doing his best. He stays polite through it all and I suppose that this is admirable although he isn’t nearly as much fun as Kazooie.

Aside from the main platforming levels you also have a few minigames which are always fun. One of them is a fishing game where you have to reel in some fish. The timing of it can definitely get tricky and you’ll need to grab a lot of them but it’s a satisfying side mission to grab your attention. Then you also have the slides, there seems to be 1 per world. These are easy but also a nice detour as you try to grab a lot of energy pieces. I’d be game for more little side events like that.

As for the villains, we have two of them in this title. The main villain is Gruntilda who is a witch with a lot of hype. She seems reasonably tough and I do like her confidence. She is a lot better than her sidekick who is a very smart King K Rool type foe, but one who doesn’t command her level of respect. I can see them returning for most if not all of the games in the series.

Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game. I can see why the series was well liked in the past. The levels are well designed and the gameplay is pretty smooth. It has some unique gimmicks to complement the adventure and you’ll get to use all of your skills as the game goes on. It’s a little on the short side, but I imagine that the main games would have had a lot more content to wrap things up. If you get this game for a good price then it’s certainly worth it. I don’t think this series will be ready for the big hitters quite yet, but I look forward to a modern remake some day.

Overall 7/10

Owlboy Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Tank! Tank! Tank! Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10