Team Sonic Racing Review


Sonic has returned with another racing game! I think that means he now has 7 which is really impressive. (3 Riders, Sonic R, 2 Sonic and Sega racing, then this one) He is all about speed though so in a way it does make sense. While I think the gameplay for the Sega racing titles is a little bit better, I appreciate that this one has a real story and full voice acting. It’s nostalgic seeing all of the old Sonic characters running around here.

The story starts with a new character inviting Sonic and friends into a big racing event he’s hosting. The guy even sent invites to the future and to other dimensions so that Blaze and Silver can compete. Most of the characters think something real funny is going on but Sonic is just interested in the cars. Now he can really test his speed skills so he goes to work on challenging Shadow. Will things end okay or has he underestimated this guy?

The story is surprisingly long for a racing game which is pretty nice. It took me two days to complete but I put in several hours of work on each day. There are 7 chapters so around 7 hours sounds right. There are a bunch of levels to play outside of the main story and they probably all have cutscenes so that’s good for replay value. Basically there are different routes you can take to get to each chapter and so I chose the most direct option each time. I figured that made the most sense right? It’s nice to see that the game has the replay value at the ready though.

There is also the matter of obtaining the PS4 trophies but those looked rather difficult to get so I don’t think that I’ll be spending too much time on that for a while. Maybe I’ll grab a few here and there though just to increase my overall average. The character roster is a little on the small side but we have Sonic, Shadow, Silver, and Metal Sonic so as long as I have my hedgehog squad then we’re set.

The graphics are really nice. The game definitely looks modern and they did not waste the budget here. This has the look of a modern Sonic title even if it doesn’t quite have the detailed story or length you would need to be a big one. Where the game really shines though is the soundtrack. There are a ton of great remixes here. The lyrical song at the beginning also sounds like the BioLizard track just with different lyrics. There are so many great songs to listen to here that you will definitely want to play them on Youtube afterwards. This way you can really listen to them since you don’t have to worry about the track.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s your classic 3D racer. You have to drive as fast as possible in order to get to the end of the stage. If you’re in first then you have probably won but it actually depends on your two teammates. If they finish too far in the back then it brings your average down and you could actually lose. Not much you can do to help them though so just focus on getting to the front. You can throw items forwards and back but one new mechanic is that you can give your items to a teammate.

Doing so increases your final smash gauge and then you can activate that to move at super speeds for a little while. It’s really a great deal so I recommend doing that as often as possible. I would just give all my items away to be honest because it’s not like they were helping me all that much on my end. The item are surprisingly weak so often times they won’t have much of an impact on the battle at hand.

Some levels will be a little different though like you have to smash robots or rings as you go to the end instead of it being a pure race. It’s an interesting way to shake things up I’ll give you that. In general I preferred the races but I understand how this could be seen as a fun change of pace. It does ensure that you are trying out different things. I took the chance to also switch characters a few times. Mainly I stuck to Sonic and Shadow but it was fun hearing the other characters from time to time.

I can’t stress enough how great it was to have full voice acting here. Even just hearing them talk during the races or in the mini cutscenes was fun. Voice acting is always a good way to take a game to the next level and it makes everything feel more grand. The story itself was rather low key but the voice acting made it a lot more fun. If I was the devs I would have made Super Sonic playable in the last level and made the villain a bit bigger but in the end I’m just glad we had a true story like this. We even had a bunch of old characters show up to have fun with the group.

My gameplay tip would be to drift as often as possible. You can get a ton of little boosts that way. Also, give all of your items to your partners so that you build up your meter as soon as possible. From that point, make sure to check where you are in the race. If you have enough time to get a second final attack then use it, but otherwise save it until near the goal. That’s usually the best way to ensure all 3 members of your team make it at good spots in the race.

Overall, Team Sonic Racing is a great racing game. It does get a little overshadowed by Mario Kart as with all racing games at this point but I’d say this one can still hold its own as a side game. I wouldn’t say that it actually beats Mario Kart or anything like that as that game is still way more polished but a good amount of effort was put into this one as well. It doesn’t just feel like some low budget clone or anything like that. The game went all in and I’d like to see more Sonic racing games in the future. In the meanwhile the game is rather cheap now so this is a good chance to pick it up.

Overall 8/10

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Review


This was always one of the most well known Star Wars games. It’s pretty much a living legend and for good reason as it is a very detailed action RPG with a ton of mechanics and a detailed story. I would say it lives up to the hype as I had a blast with it. Get ready for a very difficult final level though, the more you train the better.

The game starts off by introducing us to the main character who has amnesia and is aboard a republic ship that is crashing for some reason. He manages to escape with Carth, a reputable republic soldier. They end up rescuing a Jedi Warrior known as Bastila and the three of them have a very uneasy alliance. The main objective is to stop the Sith and to do that they need to find out how the villains have amassed such an unending army. There has to be foul play at work here but finding the source of that won’t be easy. The only clue they have to go on is something called the Star Forge but what that is remains a mystery.

Right away one of the things I enjoyed about the game is all of the dialogue options. You can constantly act like a jerk, take the nice guy approach, or just go for pure chaos. The dialogue options also have a big impact on the game itself so it’s not like you’re just fluffing out the game length. I ended up not getting to recruit two members to the team because I didn’t say the right things. The ending was also very different because of the route I went. It helps to make the whole experience feel a lot more authentic to me.

The story here is also very long so you can expect to be playing this game for a long while. There is a lot of time for the characters to develop and there are tons of side quests and extra content to play. For the most part I stuck to the main story beats but you could easily add several hours onto the play time if you want to go and explore. It can also be useful for EXP as this is one game where it’s not so easy to grind. Most worlds don’t allow enemies to respawn once you defeat them so you will be stuck after you have defeated them all. I recommend beating as many enemies as you can.

The gameplay is pretty much that of an auto battler where you keep changing the moves as they fight. Think of it like you’re the head coach and the fighters have to do whatever you tell them. I would have liked to actually do the battling myself so that part of the gameplay can be a little weak. The whole “Let the A.I. decide what to do” angle usually isn’t really my thing. That said, I would say the game has a good amount of polish to it so it works out well enough. There is definitely a whole lot of depth to this system as well.

Whenever you level up you get to decide which stats and skills to increase. It’s a bit overwhelming with the amount of options so usually I would do the auto level and just let the computer decide. This can make the end of the game even more difficult so it may be worth researching what the optimal build is. Of course it can be fun to just go with your gut so choose the option that seems like it will be the most enjoyable and you can’t go wrong there.

The graphics really hold up here. I like the designs of the levels and characters. Then the actual combat looks good too and it’s all got a very distinctive style to it. It really holds up while playing this port. I also liked the soundtrack well enough although it doesn’t stand out as it’s mainly the kind of Star Wars themes you’d expect to hear. Perhaps they are iconic but at this point you’ve really heard them all before.

The character cast is one of the biggest strengths here. The main character gets a lot of development and of course because you can decide how he develops then that makes the whole game more interesting too. In fact, your choices even determine how you will fight the final boss which is massive. I had to break out all of the cheese strategies for him including using some rather villainous tactics. Look, this guy was going to keep regenerating all of his health over and over so I had to put a top to that. I succeeded and then ran away a while to regain my strength. The final boss ended up being really long but I won in the end so that’s what counts right?

The game also has some quality of life features that I would highly recommend using. For starters you can save the game anywhere. I highly advise having several backup slots at different points so you don’t get stuck. There is one game breaking bug after all which I got trapped in but fortunately I had a backup save just a few minutes away. In one of the final temples just save a lot because the glitch room is the one where there are two light towers. I can’t say I remember the exact planet though so just keep your guard up.

Then for the final boss, don’t be afraid to just run a lot. It may take a while but you’ll win in the end and that’s what counts. The Star Forge itself is incredibly difficult but one thing you should know is that the enemies actually aren’t endless. After a bunch of waves they do finish so just heal up and save between waves. Eventually you will beat them and can move forward. It had to be one of the most challenging final areas I’ve played through in a long while so it felt nice knocking that one out.

As for the other characters, Carth was one of the big ones. I like how he can’t really trust anyone and always seems like he’s about to pick a fight. The guy may not use the Force but he can defend himself and knows how to fight. He was responsible for a lot of the great banter along with Bastila. Bastila is a Jedi who is very by the books so naturally she tends to have a lot of disagreements with the main character since I tend to be more on the impulsive side. I would say the script was always at its best when these 3 were fighting.

Then you also had characters like Canderous the Mandalorian who naturally didn’t get along with Carth due to their respective backstories. Malak also made for a good villain. He perhaps gets a little overshadowed by some of the heroes but he was a very imposing presence all the same. There are a lot of other characters who get big roles here so you’ll want to play the game to see them. The game is also long enough where you really feel like you’ve gone on a full adventure by the end of it.

Overall, This is a great Star Wars game that you don’t want to miss out on. You feel like you were watching a movie here and this could really be adapted for the big screen. It was definitely a lot of fun playing it on the Switch and I can also confirm that it’s the hardest one that I’ve played. An RPG with limited leveling up functionality is definitely not something to take lightly. That said, just fight smart and have a lot of backup saves. You’ll be just fine by the end of it and if you absolutely need to, you’ll be able to go back and level up. Just don’t use up all your saves in the final dungeon because then there really is no way out!

Overall 8/10

MultiVersus Review


This game got a whole lot of hype when it was first announced. Finally someone was trying to make a true competitor to Super Smash Bros and it was a company that could actually keep up in terms of the big names. Lets face it, no platform fighter will ever beat Super Smash Bros but if you can get a game that’s at least at a high level on the PS4 and Xbox, then you can now get the money from those guys who don’t have a Switch. A lot of attempts have been made in the past but it’s fair to say that this is the best competitor.

So the game is in the free to play style which means that there will be a lot of updates as this will just keep on going from season to season. It can be tough to make time for a free to play game at times because you know in the back of your head that it never ends but this one is very user friendly. You can actually just pop in for 2-3 minutes a day to get your initial win bonus and then head out. You don’t have to spend any money to get all of the characters right now so it’s also a very good currency system.

How it works is you earn gold for leveling up your characters, your player level, and also for playing games. Every day you get 100 coins for your first win and after that it drops to more like 20. You can also give people toast after a match to grant them 20 coins and they can do the same for you. Each character is typically 2500-3000 coins with a rare exception being 1500 sometimes. At the time of this review I’ve unlocked around 5-6 characters but I’ve gotten to play as even more because they switch the character rotation every week. I thought that was a nice touch since it’s like you get a demo as the characters.

Additionally your progression saves which is really cool. So when you do unlock the character someday, you don’t have to start back at level 1 again. That would have been pretty annoying. There are several modes here like 1 on 1, 2 v 2, and free for all. I spend most of my time in 2 v 2 but I do a quick match against a bot to get my 100 coins for the first round. Right now I mainly just do the first match and call it a day but occasionally I’ll play a longer batch.

As this is a fighting game there is really no end to the replay value. There isn’t a real story mode or anything like that yet so this is all about the fighting. That’s why it’s good to have such big characters here because otherwise I think it’s difficult to survive only on the gameplay. The gameplay is really good of course but seeing the characters mix it up online is definitely where the real fun comes in.

The graphics aren’t quite at AAA level like Super Smash Bros but look pretty good for a free to play title. I don’t think the graphics here were really the main focus of the game and that makes sense because the gameplay is absolutely what you need to have on point if you want this to be the next big thing. The soundtrack is really fun though. I love hearing the DCAU Batman theme on his stage when it plays. I’m less familiar with some of the other series on here but having everyone bring in their respective tracks was a superb idea. The only stage that’s annoying is the music stage because they made the speakers so loud. I always have to lower the volume a few dials when this stage gets picked up.

Of course you’ve been waiting for the gameplay part. So right off the bat I can say that it is great, however it is still a full tier below Super Smash Bros. There are no grabs or blocking here so everyone is always attacking 100% of the time. It reminds me of Super Smash Bros 64 where the hit stun is really big so you can land a ton of really crazy combos. There is a ton of lag online so at times you feel like you are warping around. It’s super rare to see lag on any game that isn’t Nintendo so that took me by surprise.

There isn’t a lot of talking in the 2 v2 battles but in 1 vs 1 it’s great to hear the characters banter and say their signature lines. There are even some character specific dialogue options that appear when two characters fight each other like Superman and Batman. The combos feel very satisfying to land and the hit stun for each blow is a big reason as to why. A lot of the other Smash clones couldn’t quite get this across which is why they didn’t work as well if you ask me. You want to feel the power behind each hit and that’s exactly what this game pulls off.

They can probably improve the game even further without changing any of the actual gameplay elements by finetuning some of the hitboxes. Overall I’m very satisfied though. Each match is a lot of fun and it’s great to see all of these character here. I’m sure there are still limits on who they can add but if the game can just get a few more big shot guest stars then that would be fantastic. In the meantime I’ll keep building my coins up. As a free to play player it’s going to be a very long time before I have all of the characters anyway so I’ll be ready.

I like all of the customizations here like putting on your own badge for people to see and the stats that it tracks. I think it’s a big mistake not to capture total play time though. I’m always curious to see that but the stats here are a bit limited. Maybe later on they’ll add some more but I’d be really curious to see how long I’ve been playing by the end. I know it’s definitely been many hours by this point.

Overall, MultiVersus really succeeds at being a true platform fighter that’s unique and does its own thing. There are no items, no final smashes, and not even any real stage hazards. The character roster is strong in its own right and should continue to get even better as the seasons go on. With the amount of players it has I’m sure that it won’t be in any danger any time soon of going away. Makes it easier to spend a lot of time on it since you feel like you’re in a good place doing so. Likewise if you do want to spend some money on the game. The beginner’s pack is not a bad deal as it unlocks all of the characters for you. It’s $40 so it really feels like you’re buying the game at that point and then you go free to play from there. It’s really a tempting offer but in the end I didn’t go for it yet. Meanwhile you should get the Platinum trophy for this one naturally after playing a lot of rounds. None of the trophies are unreasonable, they’re just meant to be a little time consuming.

Overall 8/10

Dusk Diver 2 Review


It’s good to have Dusk Diver back in action. I thought the first Dusk Diver was quite a bit of fun even if it was real short. Well this game continues with that action while also being longer so that’s a good thing. In some areas the budget does begin to show itself and I think the game could have masked that more but either way you’ll have a fun time here.

The game starts by explaining that Yang has somehow kept her abilities after the first adventure. Additionally her teammates can still turn into animals at times so clearly some ties to the gates have stayed in place. The heroes have to look into this but in the meantime a mysterious kid has appeared in the other world and the government is starting to act really shady as they create a lot of barriers. When you throw in another faction that wants nothing more than to destroy the world, the heroes know that they are going to be in for a tough time here.

I wouldn’t say the plot itself is amazing compared to the average RPG but there’s enough in here to keep you engaged. It has a bit of a slow start but once the dark diver shows up then the game really starts to cook. I’d say that it also went all out in the climax with the big villains and fights there. You can see all of the potential here and how this would make for a great anime. Throw a solid budget at it and there will be no looking back. There’s still a lot of comparisons you could make here between Yang and Yang from RWBY. Their personalities are different but the similar power set and character design will always be fun to note.

The gameplay is your classic beat em up style. You control one character and try to destroy all of the monsters. Beating all of them allows you to then proceed to the next area so you keep on repeating those steps. You can buy new moves as you earn ability points and you also upgrade your weapons. You can even control how you level up by personally picking the attributes that you want to increase. The max level is higher than 100 so you can expect to go very far here. I made it to around level 100 before beating the game.

My only critique on the gameplay style would be that the enemies have a lot of health so it can feel like they are damage sponges at time. You aren’t in any real danger but beating them can take quite a bit of time. The combat system is rather basic too so you’ll really spend most of your time spamming the same moves over and over again. Not exactly the most explosive gameplay style. I always like beating enemies so it works out well enough but they probably could have done more with this.

The graphics are definitely solid. There aren’t a lot of cinematics here but the ones that we do get are fun. I like the lyrical song that plays when you unleash your final smash during some of the big bosses too and overall I’d say the soundtrack is good. The game succeeds on those technical areas. One odd thing is how the text boxes can’t keep up with the game is in the middle of a cutscene. You have to turn auto off and manually click through or it’ll be as if the characters are constantly cutting each other off.

Throw in a typo or two as well and those are the kind of cracks you don’t see as much in a AAA game. There is a lot of content to go through here though so they didn’t skip out on all the bonus content. I even beat the game without getting a significant amount of the trophies here. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is a level select and a lot of the trophies are miscible so I would have to go back to the start anyway. I’m hoping New Game+ at least lets you keep the collectibles so you aren’t completely starting from scratch but I’m not sure exactly how that works.

It does add to the replay value though so you can bet that you will be here for quite a while. This is no longer a game that you can just pick up and complete in a batch or two. My advice when playing is to max out your power right away so you end the battles easier and then save your gems so that you can quickly level up your weapon as soon as you have beaten the chapter. It’s always a good idea to do this since the boost is big. Additionally, make sure you eat food as often as you can and always buy something different. I bought every food dish I could find in the city and it paid off with a ton of extra EXP.

You also get passive stat boosts so there are really no downsides to doing this. You want every advantage that you can get in a fight after all. While the game isn’t super difficult, you can still be given a good run for your money if you aren’t careful. There was a boss or two where I just won with barely any health left. It’s very cheap to buy items though so don’t be afraid to buy a ton of potions and revives. Those always come in handy.

Overall, Dusk Diver was a lot of fun. In some ways I absolutely think they could have done more with it and I really zoom in on this because my expectations for the series are quite high. The concept is just so good and I always like this kind of gameplay after all and the characters are fun so right off the bat that’s a lot of advantages for this title. With more of a budget I think they can take this to the next level but we’ll see if they do that for a 3rd game. The new concepts and characters were all fun to see. There’s a lot more you can do with this world as well now that it has gotten so much development and build up. Especially since you could say this game ends on an even more open note than the first. There’s no reason why the series would have to end when you take that into consideration. If you want to play through an action title with a lot of combat then this should be right up your alley.

Overall 8/10

Odin Sphere Review


Now this is the kind of game I’m talking about when thinking about hidden gems on the PS2. This one is similar to Oni and Eve of Extinction in that I hadn’t heard of the game before randomly seeing it at a video game store. Then after playing it, the game turned out to be great. This title has a superb cinematic story with several different focuses and then a final chapter that brings all of the characters together. It’s something you don’t see too often and it works quite well here. I don’t have very many complaints at all.

In general the plot here involves the Demon King Odin who is trying to use the Cauldron for his own evil ambitions. He’s not the only one though, every faction on the planet wants this from the Underworld, to the Fairies, and even the fire demons. There are 5 main stories so you really see the POVs from just about every side. The fire team is the only one who doesn’t have a champion to represent them. Each character is ultimately fighting for different things, honor, love, revenge, etc. At the end of the day they will have to decide whether their mission is more important than saving the world as a whole. It won’t be an easy decision.

The gameplay is a 2D beat em up. An interesting angle here is that all of the levels are in the shape of a full circle. So for example if you run to the right then eventually you’ll be back where you started. Each area has a bunch of enemies to defeat or one mini boss. After beating them you can go to the next area. You have shop areas where you can buy food and other items, and then a big boss at the end. Defeating the big boss will end the chapter and move you to the next stage. If a boss is too difficult you can click to go home where you start the chapter again but you keep your EXP and items.

You’ll find yourself needing to do this quite a few times. This is one game with a heavy amount of grinding so definitely be prepared for that. This is a very hard game and the level ups are absolutely needed in order to move forward. There are two kinds of levels that you have to increase too. First is your health level and then you have your psypher level. The latter increases your attack while the health one is fairly obvious. You increase health by eating food and the psypher by absorbing energy from villains. That energy is what grows the food though so you always have to decide which area to level up.

For the final bosses you want to have each character close to level 40 in psypher and 30+ in health. You will have to use every character in the end by the way so make sure you level them up and have a lot of food before beating their story. This leads to the only annoying part which is that if you did end up beating the game with a character (And why wouldn’t you right? That’s the whole point of playing in theory) then you are penalized by being sent all the way back to the first chapter. So if you aren’t strong enough at the end then you have to beat the game again with each character. I had to go to the end with all 5 again in order to train which took a lot of time.

In the end this bumped the play time almost all the way up to 40 hours which is really long. Most of that time is earned but it did feel a bit iffy to have to replay so much of the game. They should have had a stage select or something. So if you know this ahead of time maybe you’ll at least be able to plan or something. Also, be warned that the game has multiple endings. If you beat the final chapter in the wrong order then it won’t work out and you’ll need to try all over again. It’s not as long a replay as the others but with how difficult the bosses are, it could be a bit annoying.

So in the end what this game is missing are some quick quality of life updates. With those then this game would be even better without a doubt. The graphics are really nice and fit the game’s style. Each design is memorable and the world designs are cool. I also thought the soundtrack was pretty good. You will hear a lot of the tunes repeat themselves as it isn’t a huge amount but they’re solid which is what counts. There is full voice acting here as well and a lot of cutscenes which is a winning combination here.

It’s got a true RPG plot and a lot of the characters are great. Gwendolyn and Oswald tend to steal the show here. You’ll definitely be drawn in to the story right away so no matter how hard the grinding is, you’ll want to see it through to the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a really fun game with a great story. The game is just very impressive and you’ll be glad that you played it.

Overall, Odin Sphere is a great game that you should check out. Just be warned that it is no walk in the park. This is a game that will test your focus and combat gameplay skills throughout the whole adventure. You won’t be able to just coast by here as you’ll die very quickly. Using your abilities at the right time and carefully approaching your opponents is absolutely crucial. Once you’ve got that down then you will really be ready. Use the first character story to get the hang of things are there are a lot more to the mechanics than what I’ve mentioned above.

Overall 8/10

Madden 22 Review


It feels good to finally be caught up with the Madden series. Long have I waited to play the big modern game to see just how the series has evolved. Well, it feels nice and modern but it is hard to say that much has changed since Madden 21. There are more pop up ads but beyond that the glitches are still around and there is a lot to do. Madden will always be a spectacular series with incredible peaks but you do feel like EA could and should do a little more with it. Putting Madden 23 on the Switch would have been a great start, but I guess that won’t be happening this time.

What I always do to really test out the Madden experience is to play a full season. I don’t have online so I did an offline version of it and just went through all of the matches. I tend to just play offense and sim the defense side but I did the full experience for the Super Bowl. Ultimately you’ll be glad to know that I won the whole thing. I even did it on All Pro difficulty level this time as I usually just play through the pro experience. I feel like the game was a bit easier than usual though as I even tried out one match on All Madden and was able to complete it without any real trouble.

I thought that was a bit surprising because usually that mode is really crazy but it could also just be that I’ve been playing so much Madden lately that I’ve pretty much adapted to it. After all, you’ve always got a chance when pulling out a pass play, you’ve just gotta have the reaction times to make the throw before the defense catches on to you. If you don’t then it’s truly game over.

Usually this game would be an instant 9 just because the gameplay is so amazing but EA has really made sure that the offline experience has deteriorated which takes one star away. For example I was minding my own business and playing franchise mode when all of a sudden I noticed that my record wasn’t right. I actually lost my first game which you could probably account to nerves but then all of a sudden I was undefeated. That’s right, the game actually flipped one of the outcomes to my favor. I would have not been happy with it if it was the opposite way as well. You want your record to be proof of what you’ve done in the game so having it change like that is incredibly suspect.

I definitely had to shake my head at that. I checked up on this online and apparently it’s fairly common. That’s something that should have been fixed by now tbh. Ah well, at least the gameplay is still top notch. I always enjoy playing on offense and getting the job done. I’ve tried playing it more like a real Football game so I run on the first and second downs a lot of times and then open up the passing game. Some times I would barely even need to pass because the defense just couldn’t stop the run.

The animations seem to favor the running back more than usual as he always seems to fall forward for an extra few yards. Definitely handy for having some real manageable third downs at the best times. Passing will always be the best though because win or lose, it always feels like you’re in control. Just be careful with the deep balls as they are rarely worth it. That’s one area where the game still needs to improve a bit because cornerbacks are way too athletic compared to the receivers.

Naturally the graphics are really good here. EA spares no expense on that front and the whole thing just looks and sounds good. The presentation is good and each game feels new and different. There is a lot of content to keep you going aside from the main franchise mode as well like ranked battles, training, story mode, etc. Madden has never had a lack of content and that hasn’t changed here. You’ll be able to keep yourself busy at all times and it will definitely last until the next one.

The only catch of course is that a considerable amount of content really depends on you having the ability to play online. If you can’t play online then you still have a lot to do but I wouldn’t call the content quite as unlimited. So keep that in mind but the price always drops right away anyway so you can get a good deal on this at any point. The trick is to just never buy the Madden games immediately. I think the only exception would probably be if you do have the online and want to get in on the hype. Then I totally understand in that case.

Overall, There’s not a ton to talk about here in part because of how similar all of the Madden games are. You’ve seen all of this a million times already so it’s not really trying anything new or breaking the boundaries. At the end of the day it’s just the same experience that you’ve always had. Of course I’ve always enjoyed this experience so that’s not necessarily a bad thing even if it does just make EA look super greedy. Surely they could do more with the Madden franchise than they have been. Some obvious items are things like the glitches that people have been reporting for years and allowing you to skip cutscenes in the story mode. Just working on those two things would do a world of good. So if you like Football then you should definitely buy this one but otherwise you can just buy an older year for a cheaper price while having the same experience.

Overall 8/10

Yu-Gi-Oh Nightmare Troubadour Review


Feels like quite a while since I completed a Yugioh game. They definitely tend to be on the long side so you always get a whole lot of content and satisfaction from them. This one even has a full story along with the usual duels. It has a day and night system that I don’t particularly care for but ultimately it’s still a great game. One that would be nearly impossible to complete without the internet though as everything is so secretive. I suppose eventually you could pull out the win but the play time would certainly skyrocket.

The story is sort of an adaption of Battle City but extremely loose along with minor adaptions of the Noah and Rebecca filler arcs. You play as a new character who I called Terry and you have to try and be the best duelist of all time. To do that you will need to become the World Champion and crush every opponent who tries to get near you. It won’t be easy but this wouldn’t be satisfying if it was a cakewalk right? Will Terry really be able to adapt and take out the villains or will he be wishing that he could just duel for fun?

Lets jump right into what works about the game. First off, there are a lot of cards here so you can customize your deck really well. Initially it’ll take time to build up enough funds to get the cards that you really want but gradually this won’t be an issue. Eventually you will have all that you need to make a deck. So far I have never made 2 decks that were really similar. My deck ends up being really different in every Yugioh game and I think I know why. See, the cards that you get at the beginning of the game are super important because subconsciously you start to build around them. For example, even after I had a lot of really good cards, I kept in a ton of my originals.

I’d already been dueling with them for so long so why remove the right? My deck was more trap oriented so I could block opponent moves and then win with my 5-6 star monsters. I always have a hard time condensing my deck to 40 cards though so I tend to have around 60 or so. It does mean that sometimes you won’t get one of your cards in time but it also means that you will never be timed out. That has happened in the past and sure enough in this game I did have to win at least one match that way. Always make sure that your deck is larger than your opponent’s to be ready for such an attack.

The duels themselves can be a bit long and to this day no game has optimized the speed more than World Championship 2007. Still, it’s way better than the older GBA games which just couldn’t load the screens as quickly. Some of the menus in this game aren’t great so deck construction can be long but the duels themselves are very polished and work well. Ultimately I don’t have any real issues there. The gameplay is solid and in general I like Yugioh a lot so it’s a blast to be able to play through the duels.

The soundtrack is also good. A little repetitive though to be honest. Given how long you’re going to be playing the game, I think they should try to have a larger soundtrack just to keep things fresh. Usually there are only a few themes and it works like in Tag Force when all of the themes are amazing, but when they’re fairly ordinary you just feel like you’d like to see something else. The graphics are okay but the series is not really known for its visuals and I would say this game is in line with that. There’s nothing that jumps out at you.

I already mentioned the game’s length before but don’t expect to beat this game in under 35 hours. It’s an extremely long game due in part to how many duels you have to go through. I played over 100 duels in the game and there are story events you have to go through to get to the ending. These events are dependent on your dueling various people so it really adds up. You also can’t see who you are dueling ahead of time until you beat them a bunch and become friends with them. Hypothetically if you didn’t know what to do, the way to get through the game would be to keep challenging everyone over and over until you registered everyone as a friend. Some seem quite resistant though, like I beat Rex over 20 times and he wouldn’t become my friend.

Now on the downsides to the game, the biggest one is how the story is presented. Without a guide I really would not have been able to figure out where to go next. The randomness of the story is not a strength but a liability. Additionally, I don’t like how duelists randomly attack you at night and if you lose then it’s a game over. At least make it take you back home but don’t threaten me with losing a bunch of save data. I had to save constantly when it was night time just in case. Same with all shadow duels, if you lose then it’s all over. So if a shadow duelist sneaks up on you then it’s really going to end up being messy.

My deck was great but not unbeatable. I would still lose from time to time and sometimes I would get a bad draw. Part of the fun in Yugioh is how many different variations of the same duel you can have based on what you draw. So in that sense I thought the game was a little too merciless with this. There’s also a leveling up system but it seems almost pointless to an extent. You unlock decks by leveling up but that just seems like a way to really keep you from getting good cards for a while. It takes a lot of duels to level up too so I think that could have been really reduced.

Overall, I had my issues with some of the mechanics like the day and night system which keep this from being an elite Yugioh title. The core gameplay still ensures that it is great though and I did appreciate that we got a full story mode. Some of the decisions may have been a bit odd and it certainly aims to be one of the loosest adaptions that I’ve seen but I’ll take that over not having a story mode. If you want to check out a Yugioh game with a lot of content then this is definitely one to check out. You’re not going to regret picking this one up even if it doesn’t quite beat the top tier Yugioh games.

Overall 8/10

Breath of Fire II Review


I was really satisfied with the first Breath of Fire and I can safely say that this one is a really good sequel as well. I wouldn’t quite say that it beats the first as it loses out on at least one big quality of life feature but it’s still a really solid game all around. To compensate for that it does have the better story here. Either way if you like RPGs then you will definitely like this game.

It actually starts off with some Undertale type vibes as the main character and his pal enter a dark cave and things get rather trippy. You have an evil eye that it always running around, a giant monster that murders them, and things like that happen. Finally, a few years pass by and Tery’s (That’s what I called the lead) best friend Bow decided to become a bit of a thief. He is going to help this one guy who was already stolen from so in a way it’s like payback but it backfires and now everybody thinks he is a thief. Tery must quickly come to his aid and prove Bow’s innocence. Additionally Tery must find out why nobody remembers him and why his whole family is gone. Does it have something to do with the main villain?

There are a ton of monsters in this world so naturally it is not quite the kind of place that you want to be when things get tough. Tery got to meet one of the more powerful creatures in the tutorial after all even if he isn’t sure whether it was a dream or not. There’s this whole emotional system too where talking to people will light up or darken your crystal but there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it. Perhaps it alters your ending but I would have liked it to have made a bigger difference throughout the game. I appreciated how the game would get rather spooky at some points but ultimately it’s more for show than anything else.

The game is fairly long and you can certainly expect to take many hours to conquer it. Unfortunately the game doesn’t track your play time but it has to at least be 25-30+ hours. There’s a whole lot to do here, villages to help and party members to recruit. Additionally there is no easy way to bypass minions. So in the first game you could buy an item that stopped them from appearing for about a minute or so. I would stock up on as many of those as possible and it was a great deal but that’s not the case here. There is an item that (barely) reduces how often they spawn but it can’t prevent it.

Half the time it feels like the item didn’t do anything to be honest so it was a bit of a waste. It’s too bad they didn’t bring the item from the first game back because it’s just so much more peaceful when you’re able to run around and don’t have to worry about minions attacking. You can explore to get treasure and all kinds of things like that. Trying to run is usually not going to work so you have to keep rewinding until it does or you could just fight every minion in your way.

It is good for grinding I suppose. Speaking of which, be prepared to grind a whole lot here because the final bosses suddenly jump up a bunch of levels. They were not playing around but I would expect nothing less from an RPG final boss. Those are the kind of opponents that you want to go all out. Show us why you are the demon king or whoever the final boss is. The final battles are really an endurance test so buy as many potions, revives, and MP items as possible. I had over 100 items when you add in the amounts for each and I still barely made it. That was definitely not easy in the slightest.

The game’s ending isn’t super satisfying though. You can’t help but feel that Tery made the wrong choice unless there is some kind of true ending here. He overthought things but it did work as an intense twist of sorts. The game always has that uneasy feeling thanks to the prologue which shows just how effective it was even if the rest of the game plays it straight for the most part. The story is really engaging so you should be having a blast from start to finish. Tery’s companions were definitely really good as well and if anything the toughest part is deciding who to keep home.

Each ally has their own special ability which you’ll need on the hub world. One can fly, one can swim, one can jump, etc. So there will be times when you have to switch companions and you just can’t worry about it. Additionally some characters have a 1 on 1 story fight that can’t be skipped so if they are at a low level then that’s game over. You obtain shamans to power up your fighters but one if missable which can be disappointing if you didn’t get him. So if you see a chance to donate some money later in the game, make sure you click donate 20 times. If you don’t do that then you won’t get him at the end.

That’s really my main tips here, you should be able to get through the game with no real issues. The graphics are real good here and some aspects of the game have aged extremely well with the visual style. For example there’s one boss fight where you’re falling off a tower and then there’s a scene where Tery is running through the flames. You don’t see a whole lot of cutscenes using the sprites like this outside of combat so I thought that was pretty cool. The soundtrack is also good although as far as RPGs go I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton.

This is the kind of game that just freezes once you beat it so that means there is no replay value. Fortunately the main campaign is so long that this really is not an issue in the slightest. You’ll get to have your full barrel of fun here. The cast is fairly solid and of course Tery steals the show even if he’s the silent kind of protagonist so you won’t really see him talk here. You just know that he has what it takes to win.

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a great follow up to the original. I would probably still learn towards the first game as a whole even though this one had the better story. Breath of Fire is certainly one of those games that could do well with a modern sequel or remake. After all stories about dragons are always cool and this one has plenty of them. It’s a very challenging game so you do need to keep your guard up but then making it to the ending is that much more satisfying.

Overall 8/10

Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom Review


Kemco has delivered quite a lot of amazing hits over the years and this one is no different. It’s definitely very different from their other titles in a few ways which I’ll get into, but it nails it. This is really trying to cross the classic RPG style with more of a gathering game you’d think of for mobile or online gaming. It works really well in doing so.

So the game follows a kid named Volker. His father died in an accident a while back and so he had to start running the blacksmithing operation on his own. At the same time he always wanted to be an adventurer though and is at a cross roads. Fortunately his best friend says she will man the shop while he is away and a fairy also shows up to help out. Now Volker can focus on being the best in both fields and along the way he may uncover some conspiracies. At the end of the day he wants to keep his kingdom safe, whether it is through creating equipment for them or by clearing quests. Will he be able to do this?

The game’s hub world has several areas including the shop, mission area, infirmary, food store, the arena, the dungeons, and the workplace. Each area has tasks that you can do once a day. For example you can enter a dungeon once a day and you can eat once a day. When you are ready to go to the next day you can head home and build a lot of equipment to sell which triggers the end of the day. The typical flowchart here is that you will complete a bunch of ordinary missions which involve building things for people until you get a story mission. The first story mission is always to investigate a dungeon which means getting to the final floor. The second story mission will be to fight a boss at the end of it.

The story missions are unlocked by completing a lot of normal missions. There are 296 missions in the game and you need to complete almost all of them in order to unlock the final story mission so prepare yourself. While combat is important, just as important is having a lot of materials at the ready so that you can build things as needed. Each time you complete a dungeon you unlock new materials. Also be sure to stop at every store each day in order to trigger cutscenes that move the story forward.

As you can probably guess, this means you will be moving around a lot. You will also have to spend a lot of time crafting weapons and shifting materials from one form to the next. There isn’t a lot of downtime here, you’re always just pressing on to the next thing. You gotta be ready for that without a doubt. It’s more fun than it sounds though so you’ll like it. At the very least I get a kick out of it. You usually have to do this kind of thing in mobile games and it can take hours sometimes as you have to allocate resources and then just wait it out. If you’re not used to that kind of thing then it may seem tedious. I would go as far as to say that this is the tipping point of the game. Whether you love it or not will depend on how much you enjoy crafting objects.

Trust me, you’ll be crafting a lot too. I nearly completed the 100% secret gallery (Made it to 97%) by the time I beat the game because I had to cook so much. Also, the game is difficult. I had all my guys maxed out at level 99 and I still barely beat the final boss. In a sense this is because I didn’t fully master the different concepts in the game. There are just so many from the prayers you use before battle to the orbs you equip to each piece of your equipment. Each character can choose 2 classes out of 12 in order to build a solid formation and each formation can be altered. There are also active and passive skills that you have to choose.

That sounded like a lot? Well it’s even more imposing while playing. So I did my best and crafted a team strategy that I thought sounded good but if there had been any more bosses then I may have had to rethink that a bit. They really were quite difficult and the final boss took over 30 minutes. It doesn’t help that a lot of the bosses like to heal themselves or summon an infinite amount of minions. You often have to decide whether to go for them or the minion first. Each strategy has its ups and downs in that respect.

Also, they love going for the paralyze option and if that happens then your character can’t attack for 3 turns. Definitely watch out for that since it gets really tricky. The challenge never feels unfair or broken though. You’re always left with the thought that you could have assembled your team better in order to win. So as you can tell I liked this game quite a lot. It’s just a very great all around experience and there’s so much to have fun with. I very nearly got all the trophies along the way.

Now if the game has a weakness it’s that there isn’t much of a story for about 90% of the game. There are hintings at one for a while of course but it never really happens until you’re at about the climax. Then we get a cosmic being and some nice action but it’s all at the very end. It’s clear that the story wasn’t really the focus here. The focus was definitely on the whole harvesting/gathering aspect of the game. It’s a fun aspect of course so I’m glad that they handled it well but a nice story would have been fun to have too. As it is the cast is incredibly small since the rest of your party is made up. Because of that there are just a few characters around the hub world and a villain or two.

Finally, the way the equipment works is a bit too time consuming if you ask me. So here’s how it goes, when you want to change equipment you go to the screen as normal except you can’t see your current weapon’s stats compared to the one you are equipping. As a result you have to switch screens a lot to make sure you’re getting the right one. Upgrading a weapon or transferring effects also takes you to a screen with tons of weapons so you have to make sure that you’re grabbing the right one. The equipment part could be a bit of a pain so in the end I just ended up going for the ones that had the highest stats and called it a day instead of always looking to optimize. It just was not very user friendly.

Naturally the graphics are solid here. I like the illustrations and the levels look good. I wouldn’t say it feels as dynamic or polished as the Asdivine Hero titles but it still looks good enough. Meanwhile the soundtrack is good. There are some solid tunes here although a lot of the battles are so fast that you won’t get to hear it much. I tend to have the team set to auto battle in most fights because manually battling takes forever in this game. If they can’t handle the battle then I take the wheel as needed. Another small thing I like about the game is that there are keyboard shortcuts for everything and you move faster than the villains. So if you don’t want to fight some minions then you don’t have to. It’s the quality of life features like this that always put Kemco at the top.

Overall, Blacksmith of the Sand Village is definitely a great game. The way the very game is developed does mean that it won’t be for everyone though. I just get the feeling that not everyone is going to want to be spending some hours crafting equipment over and over which is understandable. It’s just so smooth and enjoyable though that you don’t even notice. I ended up having a very good time with the game without a doubt and would love to see a sequel. Just give us more of a story next time.

Overall 8/10

Bleach the 3rd Phantom Review


Now this is a game that I’ve owned for generations but never went around to beating it. The game’s just so crazy long and back then I wouldn’t have made it. Well, I finally got to play the game from start to finish now and it’s a lot of fun. Be prepared to be here for a while though as the game definitely takes its time with you. Be prepared to grind out some extra level ups and use some cheese as well. Without that you will be in for a rough time here.

The game starts off by introducing us to two siblings named Fujimaru and Matsuri. They grew up in the rough part of Soul Society but get taken in by Captain Seigen and his sister Konoka. They decide to look after the kids and eventually they grow up into fine Soul Reapers. Their time together is cut short when they disappear into a time portal through to the future. Now Seigen is on the side of darkness along with Matsuri while Konoka is no more. Can Fujimaru find out exactly what happened? Also…why is Aizen poised to be the greatest threat that the heroes have ever fought?

The game has 25 chapters and each one can take over an hour so you’ve got a lot to do here. I dare say that you may even spend over 50 hours here by the end of its run. The game does not hold back on how long the levels can be and even some of the cutscenes can be on the long side. So this isn’t a game that you can rush through and as a result we also get quite a lot of story to discuss. That’s for sure. A lot happens here across the two time periods.

First we should talk about the gameplay style here. It’s a tactics game so the idea is to maneuver your pieces around the board and attack the enemy when you have a type advantage. Don’t get greedy here and just take what they give you. You will be moving up to 9 characters at a time. Once you have moved everyone once then it is the opponent’s turn so you have to wait as they attack. The idea is to pick your moment so that you can attack and take the opponent down without eating a counter attack.

There’ a whole lot to describe here if I was going to go into detail on how to play a tactics game but I’ll let you look that part up. It’s fairly self descriptive anyway. You just have to find out exactly how to move everyone and what combination of moves to use. Once you have that figured out then you’ve already won half the battle. Each character can move, attack, use a skill, use an item, or raise spirit pressure. Raising your pressure lets you recover spirit energy quicker which is used to activate your skills or bankai. So naturally you want to have a lot of that at all times.

I didn’t take advantage of the items much until the end but I can definitely tell you that they came in handy. One key thing to always remember here is to keep your healer in the back. Healing usually takes up a lot of health if you’re Orihime or isn’t versatile if you’re using someone like Shiho. You have to take all of that into account when playing through the levels.

Additionally, be careful when you have to split up your team. If you put everyone on one side then the other team will end up being in a tough spot. Try to keep it as balanced as possible. Worst case if you forget you can quickly grind by using free battle. You can do this while at the character selection screen through the options. This lets you raise everyone’s level in the bonus stage. Still, you need to be careful because hypothetically you could find yourself in a position where your team is unable to beat the practice level. If that happens then there is no way to train and you’d have to start the game again. I can definitely say that I did get a little nervous during some levels in the game due to this.

Also, one tip for the final boss. The final level is a really long one and the final boss has 8000 health points while more enemies only have about 1000. That means you’re going to be in for 30+ turns of trying to take him out. The thing to know is that he can attack in any row he is facing and can seal your attacks if you get too close. He cannot hit you at a diagonal angle though so that’s how I got him. Slow and steady was my measure as I gradually drained the energy out of him while he couldn’t retaliate. It’s a tough strategy but one that saved my bacon there. I highly recommend having a strong projectile user like Uryu at the ready to pull this off. Also make sure that you upgrade each character between levels.

I’m mixed on if you should upgrade your sword or go with pure stats. I went with the sword but there were a lot of times where it didn’t seem to help much and I wondered if I should have just paid more attention to health and attack points. Those were the 2 main stats I would raise aside from the sword. Personally that’s probably a better deal than the sword so keep that in mind. I could talk more on the gameplay but I do think you get the general idea here.

The graphics are pretty solid. I would have liked some true cutscenes though instead of images all the time. I feel like the DS could have pulled this off. Ah well, the story is a lot of fun either way and I do like the visual effects here. Activating Bankai always feels fancy in a very good way. You can tell that the technique will make a difference in combat. Some Bankai are better than others but they’re all still better than not having one. I didn’t unlock Fujimaru’s though so I ended up playing without it.

The soundtrack is surprisingly good as well. There are some fun tunes here and the game knew how to get that danger feeling across. There’s a good variety of tunes here as well so you don’t have to worry about hearing the game one too often. In terms of replay value, the main campaign is so long that you don’t even need it. Still, there is a lot since you unlock the Bleach Tower where you get to go through all of the floors and take out a bunch of enemies. Apparently the main campaign is short next to the tower so take that as you will. I can’t say I would be too tempted to try my might up there. It would just take too long plus having the story is definitely a good chunk of the fun.

It was nice to see Aizen and friends here to take some names. He definitely gets a lot of respect in the game as you’d expect. Fujimaru is the main character here and I thought he was okay. He’s not really my kind of character as he slacks off/goofs off way too much but he tries his best by the end. Matsuri is way too gullible which hurts her character. She doesn’t have a lot of conviction of her own which ends up putting her in a sticky situation. Seigen suffers from the same issues to an extent. He gets suckered a lot but the guy does have conviction. Unfortunately he just tends to join the wrong side which isn’t a good look. You absolutely understand why he’s so upset but even so, he’s just going to the wrong side here.

Konoka is more on the side of reason. She’s a fun character through and through who tries her best. Finally you have Shiyo who is a bit too clumsy for her own good. This holds her back considerably. I would have liked to have seen Ichigo be the main character here and I suppose he already gets to be the lead all the time but it would have been nice to see him take names. Now he’s got to share the spotlight for a change.

Overall, This is a game that will require a lot of patience because of how long every match is. Tactic type games really are meant to have you focus on every play so it’s hard to go too fast. I would often be reading while playing because of how long every turn takes. I think there should have been a way to turn off attack animations or something like that but it’s not the kind of thing that would end up hurting the game’s score. I would still say this one was great. There is a lot of attention to the Bleach mythos so you really shouldn’t be disappointed here. It did everything it could to be one of the definitive Bleach titles and it was also cool to see the Wii game’s villain return. That guy was always pretty fun even if he couldn’t match up to Aizen. If you want to check out a tactical game, this is the one for you!

Overall 8/10