Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes Review

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After watching the anime, I was ready to go back and finish up the Sengoku Basara game I got a very long while ago. I’m a pretty big fan of beat em ups and it’s just very satisfying to blast away whole armies. Hyrule Warriors and Gundam have done the best with the genre because the over the top special effects just make it that much more intense. Still, Sengoku knows something about that as well and its predecessor Devil Kings for the PS2 was one of the most well crafted titles in the genre. This one follows suit and is a must buy for all fans.

As with most beat em up games, you can pick whoever you want and start the story. Each story has 7 battles and there are over 10 characters to play through. I chose Yukimura’s story of course. In his story, Yukimura is now the head of the Sanada clan while his boss is injured and he decides to follow his leader’s last request and take down Ieyasu’s army. Throughout the story he wonders if this is the right call though and if he should start to make his own decisions. He has dreams as a result and does a lot of crying. He even loses to Date Masamune once again. Yukimura eventually finds his resolve though and decides to keep going straight ahead to wherever this path will take him.

I’m not sure about the rest of the stories as I just did one, but Yukimura’s doesn’t have much of an ending. We end up having a draw with Ieyasu and both fighters just walk away. It wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. That being said, the actual story was pretty well done as we got some nice cutscenes throughout. I think the developers put a reasonable amount of effort into it. It’s also nostalgic to see the characters in the style of the anime. It’s too bad they couldn’t get all of the voice actors back, but they got most of them which is pretty impressive.

The gameplay is what you’d expect as you plunge ahead and take down hundreds of opponents. You have your standard attacks as well as your supers. The first levels are pretty difficult since you’re at a low level, but level ups come very quickly in this game so it’s not a problem for too long. It also makes you fight with strategy as sometimes you actually will have to retreat and get some health before going back to the boss. It’s always tough to retreat, but you gotta do what you gotta do right? The levels had a perfect amount of health items and size without it being too much. The attacks are also nice and flashy although they are a big step down from Gundam and Hyrule. The attacks don’t have the same widespread devastation that the others had, but I’ll take it over nothing. It is still trying to be semi realistic I suppose.

This game does also have trophies to collect, but good luck getting them all. It would certainly be a bit of a grind so I don’t plan on getting many more anytime soon. I should try to grab some to boost my rank up, but the Platinum is a little out of reach. This title certainly does have a bunch of replay value though. Playing through each story should take you around 3 hours a piece and then maxing everyone out and getting all of the equipment is another huge hurdle. The game’s going rate nowadays isn’t even all that expensive so it’s a bargain.

The soundtrack is all right. It’s rather forgettable, but it works reasonably well. I can’t recall a single tune but you’ll be so busy vanquishing the enemies in front of you that you won’t really care by the end. The graphics are pretty good as well. I’d definitely say that they’re PS3 level although they can’t shine as much as they could if it took place in a city. Why have we never had a beat em up in NYC? You have to admit that it’d be pretty awesome.

There’s not really much more to say about the game. It’s one of those titles that really just sells itself. The gameplay is really polished so fighting through the levels is a blast. I guess if I had one critique it would be that the story is a little weaker. Devil Kings was a lot more hype because he really felt like a big villain who was behind everything, but I guess you can’t have someone like that every time. Having the main antagonist be someone who’s also trying for world peace is definitely an interesting dynamic after all.

There’s also a lot of depth to the game’s gameplay that I didn’t even get to tinker with much. Not only can you equip better weapons as you go on, but you can equip accessories to them. I believe some give you extra EXP while others are more standard like more attack and such. You can have fun with a lot of experimenting there. It’s probably also a good idea to try out all of the characters to see which one you like the most. I believe Nohime was my favorite in the last one because using two guns in a game that’s usually all about swords is pretty fun. That being said, I always had to go back to my swords at some point.

Overall, This was a really fun game. It really captured the essence of what a beat em up is all about. You pretty much always had a choice of going straight for the boss or sticking around and helping your army take on the generals. I decided to savor the experience and took down all of the generals in each level before going for the boss. What made this possible was how quickly the enemies went down and that the levels weren’t too huge. I think it was a perfect blend in both cases. I played the game on Normal so it wasn’t a walk in the park but it wasn’t a brutal grind either. The map size was also good based on how fast you can fun. A bigger map would still work well as long as you can dash a little faster. Naturally there is also a co-op mode so if you really want to lay devastating damage to the armies with a friend, it’ll make the game that much better. Co-Op was basically made for beat em up titles like this one. If you don’t own this game yet, you should definitely fix that.

Overall 8/10

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Mario vs Donkey Kong Review

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After many years, I have finally been able to play the legendary Mario vs DK game. I actually always thought that it was in the same style as the original Donkey Kong and was surprised to see whole levels and puzzles in this one. The final boss is the only level that is just like the old game. It was cool to see such variety though and it’s a pretty fun game. There is also quite a bit of bonus content to be found here as well. I have one issue with how you obtain stars in this game, but beyond that it’s a solid experience.

The plot is that DK has decided to steal all of the toys for himself. Mario doesn’t take too kindly to this and calls DK a big monkey as an insult several times. Seeing as how this doesn’t work, Mario decides to beat DK down until the monkey finally gives in. Will DK let go of his toys or will Mario have to hit him with a clean uppercut? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the Mario toys are fairly advanced and seem to have some rudimentary A.I. going for them.

There are 6 main worlds to the game and each one has 8 levels. This makes for a decently long campaign. It should take you a few hours to complete the game in total and add a few depending on how difficult the puzzles can get. There is an extensive amount of replay value to be found as well since beating the game unlocks 6 Plus worlds. After this you unlock the X levels. Once you complete those, then you can face the true final boss and unlock the ultimately true ending. I believe you need to get all of the Stars to make it this far so that should really take a while. The game has an unbelievable amount of bonus content in it so you’ll b getting your moneys worth.

Now, I originally thought that to get a star for a level you just had to complete it while holding onto the three bags in the level. It turns out that you actually have to beat the level’s high score to do it which is a little annoying. It’s hard to know how to do such a thing so repetition is your best bet. Just keep playing until you can really ace the level. It’s a little harder than I’d like and I still think grabbing the bags will be enough. It does help raise the difficulty once again though.

The graphics are pretty solid for the GBA. It’s certainly a AAA title as the competitors wouldn’t really be able to match this. It’s that golden era in Nintendo where all of the character models are right. There was only one boss level where I couldn’t even see the ladder so I died a few times. It was more of an optical illusion than an issue with the graphics though. As you’d expect from a Mario game, the soundtrack is quite solid. I particularly like the Fire Mountain themes, but the game has a good variety to it. Most of the level themes are quite good and it certainly amplifies the quality of the game. You’re able to play the level over and over again because you have good beats to listen too. It helps that the loading times here are great so you never have to wait for long.

Even the story felt like it had more effort to it than you’d expect. Mario talks quite a bit here, certainly more than I expected. He may be a bit meaner than usual as he calls DK a big monkey at times, but this is the plumber who calls you stinky in Mario Party. It’s easy to forget that Mario wasn’t always the very chipper guy that he is today. Even the Mini Marios rub the loss in DK’s face as they laugh at him quite a bit. You end up almost feeling bad for the monkey by the end. He certainly didn’t ask for this. Of course, DK is a robber so he ultimately did bring this upon himself. You gotta just live with the consequences. I only got the first ending, but at least it gives DK a fighting chance as he grabs more toys and runs. Mario’s going to need to hire more security even if it hurts the whole budget cuts angle.

The gameplay is sort of like a 2D Mario adventure, but you’re stuck in a limited space. There are two acts to each level. The first act has you hit a bunch of switches and get past obstacles to bring a key over to the door. In the second act you just need to get to the Mini Mario. The gameplay is actually quite spread out and diverse. You have an array of many different jumps to use. I personally liked spamming the dash dance jump as it would give you a lot of height and you could cheese many levels with this. I’m sure that the developers really thought the level designs through but with this many different options it makes sense that you would be able to cheese parts of it. They just can’t expect to cover for every contingency.

There are also the Mini Mario levels. There is one of them in every world and they’re a nice change of pace. The little guys get lost rather easily so you have to make sure not to go too fast or you’ll leave them behind. I enjoyed the levels in this format that I played and while the main ones were certainly more fun, it’s always satisfying to lead the little guys to the goal. The Mini Marios have heart.

It’s relatively simple gameplay which is likely what makes it so fun. It’s only half brain teaser while the other half of the puzzle is having the ability to physically get through the obstacles. It’s a great blend and a lot of fun to play. The game does a good job of bringing in many different enemies and obstacles so that the levels don’t feel the same. It would have been nice to have seen classic characters like Luigi and Peach, but I suppose even Mario has to work alone sometimes. It’s probably nostalgic for him to be the lone hero like in the original Donkey Kong game.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this title. It’s easy to see why it became so popular. The game’s just a lot of fun and it even has some cutscenes. It’s pretty impressive since the game is so old. The graphics and soundtrack are both on point as well as the level designs. There is a lot of replay value here and my only complaint is that getting the stars in the levels to unlock the final bonus ones is maybe a little too tedious. I’d like to have a clear metric so I know exactly what I have to do in order to clear the level. That seems a little more fair if you ask me. Maybe they’ll implement that in the sequel. I’ll certainly buy that one although it could be a little while until I do. In the mean time, buy this one and let me know what you thought of it.

Overall 8/10

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review

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I’ve been waiting to play this Star Wars game for quite a while. It got a lot of hype when it first came out and I’ve owned it for quite a few years but was blasting through the older games first. While the gameplay may not have aged incredibly well since it first came out, I quickly got into the swing of things and enjoyed the game quite a lot. Ironically the beginning of the game was more difficult than the second half of it since the upgrades really helped to change the course of battle. I just wish I had realized that I wasn’t logged in to my PSN because of some network issues as I missed out on the trophies. I’m still a little salty about that. With this review done, I’m also ready to begin the sequel to see how it improved upon the original!

The plot focuses on a young padawan named Starkiller. Darth Vader decided to train him as an apprentice in the hopes that the two of them could team up to destroy Palpatine. To this end he has Starkiller go around hunting Jedi to improve his abilities until he is ready. The problem is that Palpatine becomes aware of the plot so Vader has to take some drastic measures, but this ends up being a fatal mistake by the end. Honestly, Vader should have just taken the opportunity and fought right there. That definitely would have been his best chance.

The gameplay is 3D where you have total freedom to use The Force, Shoot Lightning, or attack with your Lightsaber. It’s one of the best gameplay styles out there and it was cool to play it. A lot of games like this I don’t really get to play like Infamous or Grand Theft Auto. You can level up the skills and get a lot stronger during the game. By the end you can really feel the difference in your abilities which was handled really well. The boss you had trouble with at the beginning is nothing more than a minion by the end. Now that’s what I call character progression.

One issue that I do have with the title is the lock on feature though. It’s really not helpful as it always locks on the wrong thing. You tend to miss with your attacks as a result at times which can really be annoying. You learn to work around that by the end, but the gameplay just could have been a little more polished in this angle if you ask me. I shouldn’t have to work around it. I’m sure this will be fixed by the end though.

The game is reasonably challenging, but it’s not unfair. You get to keep your EXP from the minions so just keep retrying the level until you win. Use strategy and try different tactics, you’ll get through eventually. I had some trouble with the first mini boss but it all went well after that. Once I had mastered the controls, it was on to the races. At only 9 levels the game is a little on the short side, but it should still last you about 4-5 hours. There is also some good replay value in finding all of the collectibles and obtaining your shiny Platinum Trophy. It seems like a bit of a grind as well as being reasonably difficult so it should take you quite a while to grab them all.

The graphics are really good and the game spared no expense with its cinematic cutscenes. The game feels like a big movie at times without limiting the gameplay. You have a good amount of quick time events for all of the bosses which always adds a thematic element into the mix. This is really the definition of a AAA game and we need more Star Wars games like this one. The soundtrack is also on point with most of the iconic film themes making it into the game. I can’t say much for the original music in the game as the film ones are the only themes to really stick out.

Starkiller is the protagonist here and he starts out as an evil follower and eventually becomes a hero. He even makes the tough call at the end to spare Palpatine instead of destroying him. Same for Darth Vader. He may not be quite as intense as I thought he’d be, but he’s pretty solid. I like him more than Luke Skywalker and some of the other Jedi. He probably is one of the best Star War Jedi either way though if that’s any consolation. He reminded me a lot of Cole from the Infamous series. I definitely also think that he’s one of the most powerful Jedi as he was able to hold his own against Vader and Palpatine, no easy feat.

The rest of the supporting cast was all right. The main heroine was good and took the plot twists in stride. The only character who was annoying was the blind Jedi. I believe Rogue One’s character was basically taken from this one. While he technically gave some good advice like telling Starkiller not to destroy his opponents, he was incredibly weak for a Jedi. He spent the entire story getting beaten up and being a liability. Starkiller actually could have made it through this game if not for him.

Still, it was an epic story no doubt about that. This could easily be adapted into a movie and I think it would be a really epic one. The cutscenes are movie quality as it is and the story could easily fit into the universe. Vader’s whole plan maybe felt a little extra convoluted and training Starkiller so well may not have been a good idea, but it made for a good excuse to have a character be so strong. I imagine Vader would be a pretty good teacher since he is so ruthless.

Overall, The Force Unleashed absolutely lived up to the hype. The only thing holding it back from a 9 is that the camera work/lock on feature is a little too unreliable and the game is perhaps a bit too short. There aren’t any real negatives, but to get to the 9 Star rating you just need something extra. Perhaps the sequel will be able to make it all the way up there, but at an 8 it is still a great title that you should get at all costs. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll be able to appreciate the game all the more. It lets you utilize every Jedi/Sith power seamlessly in the gameplay. You’ll feel like The Force is with you.

Overall 8/10

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

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I don’t buy games on Day 1 too often. When I do it’s typically for a big franchise that I follow like Super Smash or Dragon Ball Z. If you asked me a few months ago if I’d buy Crash day 1, I probably would have chuckled. Crash always seemed fun enough, but I’ve never played any of his games so I couldn’t call myself a big fan. That being said, the collection got a lot of hype and just about everyone I talked too had also pre ordered it. I decided that I needed to see what the hype was all about. It’s not the greatest game of all time as I’ve heard some say, but it is definitely a very solid title. The fact that it is 3 games in 1 just makes this even more of a bargain!

Lets start with the first game. There isn’t much of a plot, but Cortex has decided to destroy the world. Crash must stop this mad scientist’s quest for power while he can. The problem is that Crash isn’t very smart so he just mindlessly runs around and beating people up. He’s a force of nature and fortunately he is acting on the side of the heroes. The 3 games have some similarities as they all have around 25 levels and in the same format. You have 5 worlds and each world has 5-6 levels. That’s where the similarities start to end. The first game is easily the hardest of the 3 and relies less on gimmicks than the others. All of the levels in the first game are classic platforming challenges in 2D and 3D.

One of the level styles is the overhead water ones. They were my favorite levels but they were admittedly the easiest as well. I found them to be pretty bearable as I jumped from platform to platform. There were also the boulder chase levels where you have to rely on your reaction times to jump when a pit appeared since you couldn’t see them. (You’re running towards the screen) Surprisingly, this is the one aspect where the sequels were a bit tougher..or maybe my reaction time just slowed down.

The meat and potatoes of this game are the sky levels where you have to get past crumbling bridges. Apparently you can cheese parts of the level by running on the rope, but I didn’t notice that so I had to beat them the old fashioned way. I must have gotten 30-40 game overs on this level style because I just couldn’t get past some of the obstacles. Finally completing them was always a very satisfying experience. There were quite a few levels that I just barely completed and can’t imagine going back anytime soon. The game is merciless with the difficulty and it’s no walk in the park. I usually would only beat 1 world every time I turned the game on because it wasn’t easy to beat them in large batches like the sequels.

The gameplay is simple as you just run, jump, and spin. It’s easy to know the controls, but the levels are still tricky because you have to be very precise. If you don’t time your jumps perfectly, then it’s game over for you. I have to give the game credit for never being unfair though. The challenges were tough, but they weren’t luck based or anything like that. The more you played the levels, the more you got used to the obstacles. Also, you would only have to restart the level so the penalty for dying wasn’t absolutely terrible or anything. It was an intense way to start the collection.

The sequel adds some more plot and cutscenes into the mix. Cortex has asked Crash for help because an asteroid is going to crash or some other villain is messing around. Anyway, he demands that Crash find all of the gems once again and gives them to him. Crash’s sister consistently warns Crash that the guy is lying, but Crash doesn’t seem to understand and after being threatened, gives them to Cortex. I may as well say it now, I don’t like Crash. He’s not smart and not endearing. He makes all of the wrong decisions time and time again. He’s just lucky that Cortex isn’t much of a villain either. He’s certainly no Eggman or dare I say even Bowser? At least Bowser was threatening for a time. Cortex is just a second rate Wily.

This game is noticeably easier than the first. I only got the game over screen a handful of times and in particular the first level of the final world. Part of why the game is easier is because they added a new dash mechanic similar to DK Tropical Freeze. You don’t have to be as precise with your jumps anymore because the dash grab can cheese almost any obstacle. All of the villains are slower now so it is easier to time when you should spin. The final boss takes this low difficulty to the extreme as you can beat him in about a minute. He literally can’t attack you so you just chase him down 3 times which is incredibly simple. I was shocked at how fast he went down. There was no final form though so I guess that was that.

The second title experiments with the game a little more as you get airship levels and other gameplay styles. This meant there was a little less time for the traditional Crash levels which plays a big part in why the game was easier. Although, the normal Crash levels have also been nerfed from the first game so it’s probably a moot point. While the first game may be more satisfying, I can safely say that the second one is better since it had more of an actual plot and I did like the gameplay variety.

Finally, we make it to the third game. This one ramps up the gameplay variety even more as you get racing levels, water racing, underwater submarine combat, Star Fox simulator, and then the occasional Crash level. This game easily has the fewest Crash levels which may be a little sad for gamers who had to wait until it came out back in the day but since this collection already had a bunch of those I was pretty content. This game is even easier and I only saw the Game Over screen once. Admittedly that was kind of my fault for underestimating the game. It got so easy that I allowed myself to get a bit sloppy for a while there.

The plot for this game is that Uka Uka has returned and is commanding Cortex to destroy Crash. They also halfheartedly try to trick Crash again, but don’t seem too committed to that as they flip flop around the issue. I doubt Crash figured that out anyway though. Despite the hype, I can’t say that I care much for the mask. I can’t really take him seriously and his design isn’t all that good. Honestly the Crash series needs a better supporting cast. Who knows, maybe I’ll like them more as I play more games though. There are definitely a bunch of others to get at some point right?

There is a lot of replay value here and that’s an understatement. Even after beating the three games, there are many collectibles to get in each. Obtaining the 3 Platinum Trophies in the game will also take a considerable amount of time. Games 2 and 3 are easy enough, but part of getting the Platinum in the first game involves completing all of the levels…without dying. That sounds pretty insane to me and I just can’t picture pulling that off without an incredible amount of work. I don’t think I want to spend quite that much time since the deaths will really get to me, but this is certainly great news for Crash fans. You’ll have a shiny trophy to prove that you’ve overcome all of the odds.

The graphics are pretty good and it is nice that the game completely redid them from the ground up. They have certainly modernized Crash and friends with the new designs. The soundtrack is also surprisingly catchy. Some of the themes are pretty memorable like the final boss tunes and some of the factory ones. Crash 1 certainly has the best array of songs, but they’re all pretty good in their own right.

I do have one big criticism with the game though…the unskippable cutscenes. You can’t skip the Gameover screen which is the saltiest part of the whole losing experience. You have to watch the Mask laugh at you a few times and there isn’t anything you can do about it. The cutscene isn’t incredibly long, but it is definitely long enough to make you wince and take a step back. It feels quite bad. You also can’t skip the opening credits to the game. Every time you boot it up you have to watch all of the logos fly by and the narrator try to hype the game up. I can understand doing that the first time, but I don’t want to have to watch it every time. That’s just a little too much product placement.

There are no other real negatives to the game, but I did find a glitch during one of the boss fights. If you hit the scientist who throws the bottles at you too soon, he’ll forget to drop the bottle and just stay in a permanent electrocuted position. You then have to get out of the game and retry. It’s a mild thing as you can easily beat the boss another way, but it felt like I was being punished for being too fast. Did the quality testers never see this because they weren’t fast enough to beat him that way? Not to toot my own horn or anything. I do like the fact that there is an auto save for the game active and that you can save at any time as well. It’s just a nice quality of life addition that makes the whole package better.

As for the bosses, most of them were pretty easy. The only challenging ones were in Game 1 as you’d expect. It took me a little to realize that I could jump on the first boss so that took a bit. Any boss that involved aerial combat was a breeze. The final boss in Game 1 was reasonably difficult since dodging the energy bolts was tricky. Game 2’s was easy as I mentioned and Game 3’s was also very simple. It wasn’t all that hard to dodge his attacks. There was a lot of variety in the bosses so the game did good on that front. Very rarely was a boss similar to a previous one.

So, how does Crash stand up next to the all time greats? Clearly he is no match for Mario or Sonic, that one’s a given. I’d also give Ratchet and Clank as well as Jak the edge. Crash does surpass Sly and Klonoa though. I think that’s roughly all of the main platformers. I’d mention Rayman, but I haven’t actually gotten to start that one yet. One of these days though, it’s just around the bend.

How do the 3 games stack up? Well, as I said Crash 2 is the best, then 3, and then 1. I do appreciate Crash 1’s challenge and difficulty of course, but you can see how the games got a little more polished after that. As I mentioned, I like how they shifted the gameplay a lot in the sequels. The first will always be a classic, but the addition of a plot is just too big of an advantage to miss either. I will say that the first does give you the most bang for your buck since you’ll be there a while.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend picking this game up. It’s quite a bargain considering that you’re getting 3 full games for the price of 1. They are all classics as well so it’s not like you’re getting Flip’s Twisted World or anything like that. They have a seal of quality on them with solid level designs. It’s an all around pleasant experience. The 2nd and 3rd games are great for relaxing as you can breeze through the levels with minimal effort which lets you enjoy the scenery more. Then the first game helps wake you up every day as you have to bring your A game to conquer it. I suppose I may buy the next collection day 1, (After all, the 3rd game does end with a cliffhanger!…even if you can’t take it seriously) but it likely won’t be an issue because I plan to buy the sequels way before such a collection comes out. Gamecube/PS2, here I come!

Overall 8/10

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

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Luigi’s Mansion was one of the first video games that I ever played. It came along with the Gamecube and while I did play on the Super Nintendo/N64/Game Boy, this was one of the first games that I really remember playing with my full gamer skills intact. It was a tough game and had a lot of replay value as I went through it many times. This sequel can’t fully match the original’s true greatness in part because of the nostalgia and also the fact that the Gamecube really made the most of the game. The original had more features and took greater advantage of the concept. That being said, this is still a great sequel and everyone’s favorite Mario villain finally gets to take center stage once again after a rather disappointing appearance in Super Mario Sunshine. (The one time Mario really took it to the guy)

The game starts off with Mr. Luigi “I do it” Luigi resting at his summer cottage. Unfortunately, E Gadd kidnaps him and tells Luigi that he has to liberate the city since all of the ghosts have turned evil after King Boo blasted it into multiple pieces. Luigi barely got away with his life the last time so he isn’t thrilled about getting a rematch, but he doesn’t really have any way of getting out of this. Luigi grabs his flashlight and prepares himself, but King Boo isn’t playing around this time. He has already kidnapped Mario and a bunch of the toads…Luigi may be next!

One thing you’ll notice straight away in the game is that the format is a little different. It’s not the free roam environment that you may be used to from the first game. Instead it is divided into linear levels among the various worlds. Each level will tell you to do something and then you’re beamed home afterwards. It’s different, but I’ll take it since we’ve been getting a lot of big free roam games lately like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey lately so it’s good to keep things varied. The game is still reasonably long as some levels can take upwards of 40 minutes. Others are finished in under 10 though so it varies quite intensely. You should expect the game to last you at least around 10-13 hours.

The game’s difficulty is pretty low so you shouldn’t have much trouble against the actual ghosts. The power ups that you get during the game make this even easier. I only lost twice if I recall correctly. Once was to the Giant suit of armor and I also lost to the boss where you had to slide a few times. Beyond that, it didn’t feel like a cakewalk or anything, but you won’t feel too threatened. You are given a lot of health and it’s always easy to find more hearts.

There is some replay value here as you can go back to all of the old levels and grab all of the Boos/Gems. It may not be a whole lot, but it’s something to do and it won’t take an insane amount of time to do it. Hopefully you get something cool like an extra ending or picture. I think the first game let you upgrade your mansions based on how much money you had so that was a nice incentive. I thought there would be more power ups so I could list that under the replay value, but we maxed out before the final chapter even started. Between the solid length of the story and getting all of the collectibles, there is certainly a lot of content here.

The graphics are pretty good. Some elements are pretty stunning like the energy blasts, King Boo’s design, and one of the final cinematics as Luigi’s destination is forcibly changed. The game really put in a lot of effort towards the final levels with all of the cool designs. The soundtrack is mostly forgettable to be honest, but I did enjoy the final boss theme for King Boo. That one sounded really good and worked quite well to build up the tension. One good theme can always go a long way.

I do have to call the game out for being a little lazy with the sound effects and cutscenes though. We get the same recycled scene of Luigi being transported, landing, using his vacuum, and picking up the DS throughout the game. Adding insult to injury is the fact that we also get the same sound effects in the same order. Luigi grunts 4-5 times every time he lands which starts out as rather painful gasps to tired ones. After a while you sort of hope that Luigi will just get his game on and save the world. He also randomly utters one of the phrases that they recorded once in a while like “I do it” even if they aren’t totally relevant at the moment. I think Nintendo did phone it in to an extent in this department and could have certainly recorded more lines. That or they could use text like with what they did for King Boo. It just felt like someone was always talking throughout the game, but not in a fun Spider-Man kind of way, but in a forced “Lets play another grunt” way.

I was a little surprised that we didn’t get back some classic features like shooting fire or ice in this one, but we got a black light flashlight so that was neat. It lets you see invisible things and is immensely useful once you obtain it. The controls are simple so you’ll get used to them right away. You have your flashlight and your Vacuum Cleaner. Those are really the main 2 weapons that you’ll be using during the game.

Naturally we can’t end the game without talking about King Boo. He’s easily one of the strongest Mario villains even if he isn’t talked about quite as often as you’d expect. He defeated Mario even when the hero was aided by the Power Star and in this game he has done it again. He seems to have some reasonable reality warping abilities or at the very least advanced telekinetic abilities. His power lasers are great as well and he’s just a pretty intimidating villain. I actually feel kind of bad for him since his arch nemesis isn’t quite as intense. It was nice to see King Boo and I’m glad that the first game was mentioned so as to keep the continuity straight. It does kind of hint further that the Sunshine King Boo was different since he went straight from the first game’s painting to here, but I still think the Sunshine appearance needs to be looked into a little further.

The game really doesn’t have many negatives to talk about. The actual gameplay is simple, but well constructed. You won’t be running into random glitches here or poor level designs. One thing about the various mansions is it allows the game to give each one a different design which is nice. My one complaint is probably that Luigi’s a little too scared the whole time even if that is the point. I always imagine a game where Luigi is actually really hardcore and eagerly fights the villains, but maybe you could make the case that it wouldn’t be the same character. I still think it’s worth the risk and maybe it’s about time they announce a Luigi’s Mansion 3. Honestly, I’ve love to see a big budget one with a long campaign. (Think equivalent length to a big Mario platformer) It could have an array of side characters, maybe even a level or two where you play as Mario and physically try to fight King Boo. Of course, King Boo would need to be in it or the fans would riot.

Overall, I put off getting this game for many years as it kept sinking below other games that would come out. Well, I finally got to nab it and it was certainly a really fun game. I’d definitely recommend buying it, especially since it goes for only about 15-20 dollars now. That’s a really great deal and it’s why the Nintendo Selects tag is always a welcome addition to any game. Be prepared though as the game may be more intense than you’d expect and you’ll have to make some tough calls.

Overall 8/10

Split Second Review

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It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review

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Lets look at a game by Cashcom…I mean Capcom. Ghost Trick is one of those games that I never heard of and probably would never have found if I wasn’t looking around Amazon. Fortunately, I like to browse Amazon’s game selection quite a lot to find these hidden gems. Ghost Trick is one of those and I can safely say that it was worth the Swagbucks money. It’s one of the best mystery games on the block. Come to think of it, it may be the first pure mystery game that I’ve played. Sure, there’s Layton, but it’s usually a “fun” mystery where there isn’t any real danger. This one plays out like a mystery novel with plenty of twists and lethal stakes all around.

The plot follows a man named Sissel. He is mysteriously murdered one night and wakes up as a ghost. A mysterious lamp tells him that he is now a spirit who will fade away once dawn strikes. Sissel wants to find out how he died before that happens so the lamp advises him to save a young detective who is about to be murdered with his Ghost Tricks. Sissel has the ability to manipulate non living objects which is quite handy. He can also use telephone wires to travel from place to place. Finally, Sissel’s most important ability revolves around time. If he comes across a dead body, he can time travel to 5 minutes before his/her death so that he can prevent it. Naturally this doesn’t work on his own body and not every death can be prevented simply by manipulating objects. There’s only so much Sissel can do. Still, he needs to figure out what happened since he lost all of his memories by dying. Can he solve the mystery?

Ghost Trick is impressively long. There are 18 chapters in the game and most of them are of a good length. You’ll be playing this tale for quite a while and it’s engaging from start to finish. The story goes in many directions that I didn’t expect. Some of these additions are real game changers. I won’t even really go into the plot at all since the mystery is what makes the game so much fun. The cast gradually gets larger and larger even though it was initially quite small. Everyone that you meet during the game serves as pieces of the puzzle so there are no one shot characters. The credits even take time to show them all off with various epilogues. Most importantly, the cast is likable.

Sissel’s a heroic lead even if he can never admit to it. He always claims that he is just helping out so that he can remember his past, but he really can’t watch anyone die on his watch. He insists on saving everybody and gradually develops a bond with the people that he helps. In particular, he gets along best with Lynne and Missile. Lynne is a young detective who is always very cheerful and energetic. She dies multiple times during the game, but always takes it in stride and doesn’t mind being dead so much. Of course, dying isn’t as scary when you know that someone’s there to bring you back to life each time. Some of the ways that she dies can be a little funny like being squashed by a giant chicken. Hey, it happens to all of us I suppose.

Another big character is Jowd. He’s an example of a second half character as he doesn’t really do much until you’re at least at chapter 10, but quickly becomes a massive character. All I can really say about him is that he supposedly murdered his wife, but Lynne doesn’t believe this. She is working to prove his innocence, but it is tough since he keeps claiming that he is guilty. He’s a pretty good character even if I didn’t like him for most of the first half of the his screen time. He made a lot of the wrong decisions. There’s also Inspector Cabanela who had a pretty spiffy entrance whenever he’d appear. The guy was consistent, I’ll give him that. He never forget any part of the routine and used it every single time he appeared. He’s definitely a fun guy and he makes for a good rival. It’s always hard to guess what he’s thinking and he definitely dances to the beat of his own drum. That being said, he’s certainly very clever and someone you should keep an eye on.

Finally, there’s Missile. Missile is a dog who wanted to help her owner but couldn’t do much in her physical form. Sissel does get to talk to her once the place is ransacked and Missile is a casualty though. Missile is always upbeat and very helpful throughout the game. Missile even makes the hard call of staying dead a little longer so she can help out. She also has special abilities, one of which is that she can swap objects that look the same, at least from the direction she is viewing it from. It’s a pretty handy ability even if it is one that’s a little more specific than Sissel’s.

Yeah, that’s definitely all I’m going to touch upon with the characters and plot details. You’ll have to play the game to find out more. Meanwhile, I have to give the game a lot of props for the graphics. The sprites that the game uses were crafted very well. The characters appear to be very expressive throughout and the pictures are just at a very high quality. Just as impressive is the game’s soundtrack. There are a bunch of really catchy themes here and I dare say that it may have the best soundtrack in a DS game. That’s very bold so I’ll have to think about it a bit, but it may have earned that title. It’s just way ahead of its time and has good variety as well. It’s difficult to overcome such a combo.

I can’t forget to talk about the gameplay! Each level is effectively a puzzle and it’s sort of a point and click game. As I mentioned, you move around by possessing objects in ghost mode. From there, you go to normal mode and activate the object if you want too. That is the crux of the gameplay. Each level has several objects to possess though and the villains will do all they can to keep the murder going. You have to use strategy to know when and how to use your ghost abilities. This gets more complicated as the levels go on and you have to use new abilities. The game does give you hints though and you can keep rewinding time as often as you need too until you figure out what to do. It’s not a hard game in that sense since you can just try everything out until it works, but you do need to pay attention so you can understand the timing. After all, you could pick the right option but do it too soon or too late. The gameplay’s not super thrilling or anything, but this is one of those times where the plot picks up the slack. Furthermore, it is very unique so that’s certainly a positive.

Overall, Ghost Trick is a fantastic game. It’s a pure mystery through and through. There is no replay value here as completing the game leaves nothing more to do. Still, it’s a long game and one that will grab your attention. With the solid soundtrack and graphics behind it, the story can really shine through. The story never really dropped the ball either. I was maybe not too impressed with the final revelations on who the men in blue were, but it was worth it for other twists. Either way, their design was awesome. Also, watch out for the comet cutscene, it’s easily one of the most impressive moments that I’ve seen in the DS. I highly recommend buying this game ASAP, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Overall 8/10

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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It’s time to review the final DK Country game and possibly the final main DK game of them all. The Country series has been pretty solid for all of the installments so it’s nice to see what the Wii U can bring to the table. The game is a little shorter than Returns and noticeably easier as well, but it’s still a quality platformer. One nice mechanic that they added was the dash and now I can’t imagine playing a DK game without it. It makes the characters so much more versatile and deadly in the levels.I certainly had a blast spamming it and it’ll remind you of the 3D Sonic games.

The plot involves a group of ice creatures deciding to take over a mountain. This angers DK and his pals because they want more bananas and they don’t grow in frigid temperatures. Thus, DK and friends decide to beat people up along the way and eat what they can. Still, can they defeat this Bowser impostor or will the trials be too much for them? The story definitely pales in comparison to the last game though for one key reason…the first 4 worlds are filler. They have nothing to do with the plot and there aren’t even any ice levels in them. For a game that’s called Tropical Freeze, this was a little odd. Once you enter the final 2 worlds then the ice levels start to show up so that was neat. Either way, the level variety is always fun, but I wish the plot could have worked with that a little.

The gameplay is the 2D platforming that you would expect. That being said, as mentioned earlier we now have a dash mechanic. It is incredibly handy as you can cross large distances with the move. It’s also not too automatic or easy so it feels like a legitimate technique that you’ll want to master. If you learn it just right, you’ll find yourself blasting through the levels. The gameplay is very smooth and you can definitely know that this is a AAA game right off the bat. I was very happy to trade in the Wii remote controls for a more proper All Pro and Gamepad setup as well. It’s night and day comparing the two styles for this platformer.

While the levels are significantly easier than DK Country Returns, it’s not really fair to say that it’s too drastic. The main reason for this is that I just got done completing the former so it’s possible that I’m just more prepared for whatever the DK series throws at me right now. It’s like playing Dark Souls 1 and 2 back to back. 2 will probably feel a lot easier than 1 did initially. I do think that Tropical Freeze probably had the tougher bosses though. It’s a close one, but the last boss for example would certainly be rather difficult to defeat in one player mode. He has a lot of health and it’s hard to predict his horn attack. It almost feels purely random. I don’t think any of the bosses are inherently unfair though. They’re tough, but you just need to keep on going at them until you win.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There are no super hype themes like the Returns villain jingle, but they’ll get you through the stages. The boss theme that plays when a boss first shows up is similar to Mighty No 9’s main boss theme which is pretty interesting. There’s a good guitar/drum solo that works well for that. I don’t really recall any of the stage themes, but they were pleasant enough. The graphics also look pretty sharp for the title. It brought back the Shadow levels and the elements all look really sharp. The characters also look good in the cutscenes. Nintendo never disappoints when it comes to the technical aspects and they rarely do with the gameplay either.

There’s a good amount of replay value here as you’d expect. Collecting all of the puzzle pieces in the levels will certainly take a good amount of time. There are quite a few of them in each level after all. Most of the levels require repetition to really get them down so it’s more about the time than the difficulty. I believe you unlock an extra world if you do that so that’s a nice incentive. It’ll certainly give hardcore DK players a few extra hours to have fun with. The main game will only take you a handful of hours as well. 6-8 I’d imagine, but that’s a pretty decent length for a platformer. Having 8 worlds helps a lot, but 6 will do.

Overall, Donkey Kong has brought us another pretty solid game. If you want to really experience the difficulty as the true DK experience, make sure you choose to play as DK. If you want to coast through the levels a little easier, make sure to pick Diddy Kong or Dixie. They can cheese you through just about any obstacle. I look forward to seeing another Donkey Kong country game rise to the surface. Hopefully the plot will be a little better even though I know that is rarely Nintendo’s goal. As long as the gameplay is good, I suppose the rest doesn’t matter quite as much and Nintendo certainly knows how to handle gameplay. I never got to play as Cranky, but that’s fine. I get the feeling that his special ability wouldn’t have been all that great.

Overall 8/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

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It’s time to finally go to one of Nintendo’s most classic franchises. DK even started before Mario which is pretty impressive. I got to play most of the old games so it’s cool to see the Country series return. I never really played the music games for the GC, but they are barely even referenced here so I’m confident that they won’t be missed. I ended up getting Tropical Freeze shortly after this one so it’ll be cool to see how it stacks up. I can safely say that Country Returns is a fun game and it’s easy to see that it’s another AAA title from Nintendo.

The plot is that a mysterious being made of wood has shown up to take over the world. It mind controls all of the nearby animals and forces them to start stealing all of the bananas in the area. That’s diabolical if you ask me! They try to control DK, but it apparently doesn’t work on him. This may be a subtle shot at DK’s intelligence since he really looks…not too smart the whole time. Ah well, whatever works right? DK must stop these guys since they are insulting the bananas with their cruel schemes!

There are 8 main worlds. There is also a 9th, but to get to that one you’ll need a lot of collectibles. That’s good for the replay value though. There are puzzle pieces and 4 Letters to grab in every level. Obtaining them all will require you to master all of the levels and show the world that you are a DK pro. Even without this, the main game should take you a reasonable amount of hours. If you beat every world in an hour, then that’s around 8 which is pretty good. Even if it’s a little less than that, it’s much better than Star Fox Zero’s <4 hour play time or Into The Nexus 3 hours.

The game is reasonably difficult as well. I don't think I would say that it is quite as tough as Super Mario World, but it's been ages since I played that game so it's possible that it would be a lot easier nowadays. The gameplay is divided into a few different segments. You have the traditional platforming levels where you jump and dodge obstacles to get to the end. Where DK differs from Mario and the others is that you can roll into opponents to deal damage and you can shatter objects by slapping the floor. You'll grab onto vines to swing around and there are just many more elements than a traditional Mario game. It's made to be more complex and you have to consider a lot of variables.

A great deal of the level is interactive as well with most bushes and other suspicious objects containing bananas and golden coins for you to grab. Some of them are just trolls, but you should check them all out. Gold coins in particular are very valuable in the game. Other parts of the level will see you head into a mining cart. One hit will destroy you so you have to jump with great precision. There's also a blue cart which only appears twice in the whole game. It's slightly different as when you jump, you actually leave the cart. Thus, you have to jump and keep moving to fall into the cart again since it will speed ahead of you afterwards. It's a little easier in co-op since you effectively have two chances to survive this way. There is even a whole boss battle modeled after this style. Surprisingly I don't think there were any under water levels. No worries, Tropical Freeze fixed that.

The soundtrack isn't very lively or memorable for the most part, but I really like the villain jingle. Whenever their theme plays, you know that things are about to get real. It's a little cheesy/corny, but it's catchy and that's what counts. It is even used as the final boss theme which is pretty surreal. I can certainly say that I wasn't really expecting it when it occurred. The graphics are pretty solid. They're not amazing, but the character designs look sharp. It's fun to see a modern DK and there is something novel about seeing any Nintendo character on the big screen. Mario, Link, Kirby, DK, the games never look outright spectacular in the cutscenes despite the gameplay being super crisp, but just seeing them is really cool. Maybe it's because their series don't tend to have a lot of cutscenes, but it is more satisfying than seeing another franchise appear fully animated.

When it comes to 2D side scrollers, Mario's still got the edge over everyone. He's just impossible to beat. I'd probably give Sonic 2nd place although I mainly like it for the boss battles. The actual platforming can be a little tricky at times. Kirby would probably be third because I love cheesing levels. If we just talk about pure gameplay, Kirby even beats Sonic. Then I'd put in DK. It feels like Mario, but the extra complexities do slow it down a bit. If you count one shot games that had side scrolling like Klonoa then the list can get quite long so lets stick to Nintendo for now. I'll merge Yoshi with Mario since they're so similar. DK may be the lowest on this chart, but that just goes to show how tough the competition is. Plus, Nintendo owns 90% of those series which is equally impressive.

Really one of the best things about the game is how much content it has and how fun the levels are. It's a very high quality title that you can play for hours without getting tired. The plot may not be amazing, but the gameplay is sharp and that's really what you're looking for in a title like this. I didn't get to play the Gold Pyramid world since you need to do a lot of bonus stuff for that, but perhaps someday. It's really good to have DK finally return to the home console and maybe we'll get a game for the Switch at some point.

I don't really have any negatives with the game either. The levels all have a check point or sometimes multiple ones. If you die, you can always respawn close by. You can buy extra lives with the medals that you collect and the medals keep replenishing so getting them isn't an issue. The levels are challenging, but not unfair the way that Mario and the Lost Levels was or Mighty No 9. The levels are made to be difficult, but balanced. You'll get the hang of them with practice since the levels themselves never actually change. It's just really good game design.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely a fun game. I can see why DK fans were so thrilled when it finally came back. The title does a good job of bringing back all of the classic DK elements that fans were expecting. It may have had less barrel launching than I was expecting, but I don't mind since the actual platforming is really the fun part for the game. You can get the game for a pretty good price nowadays so I'd highly recommend it. There is a lot to do here after all and the level variety is excellent. You also won't be forgetting the main jingle of the game anytime soon either. It's simply too awesome and catchy. Now, it's time to check out Tropical Freeze! So far, I'd actually say that it's easier than Returns, but I've only conquered 2 worlds so far. There's still plenty of adventure left!

Overall 8/10

Ratchet & Clank Into The Nexus Review

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It’s been a while since I really got to enjoy a Ratchet and Clank game. I tried playing All 4 One a while back, but the game kept freezing on me. I suppose it’s bound to happen when you buy as many games as I do, but that one along with Rayman advance not working definitely stung a little. I get the chills just thinking about those games. Into The Nexus was always notable for being very short and I can see why. You really breeze through the game. Considering that I took it down in a few hours while managing to die at least once in every level…it’s very short. I mainly just kept dying because I would forget about certain gimmicks. There were a lot of controls and no manual in the game so if you forgot how to do something…it becomes button mashing time. Still, it is a very solid game despite the length and there is a reasonable amount of replay value to be found here as well.

Ratchet and Clank are serving as escorts for a pair of dangerous villains that need to be brought to jail. Unfortunately, they break free and murder two of Ratchet and Clank’s friends as they head off to destroy the universe. Ratchet decides to disobey orders to retreat back to home base and pursues the villains. This time it’s personal and Ratchet isn’t playing games. He’s armed to the teeth and is ready to make the hard calls. With the whole universe in the balance, Ratchet may learn that sometimes you need to have a backup weapon at the ready. Luckily, Ratchet always has a bunch of guns.

While the gameplay appears to be the same as always on the surface, it’s less polished. You’ll quickly get used to the 3D shooting style as it’s made to be easy to pick up and play. I love 3D games and Ratchet & Clank has always nailed it. That being said, this one is missing a lock-on feature. You can use L1 to “focus” which is like locking on, but it won’t follow the enemy. You always have to manually aim while fighting. It’s not a big deal, but it can be a little inconvenient if you’re used to having a lock-on at the ready. Due to the size of the game, the weapon selection is also a lot more limited. You have less than half of the weapons that an average Ratchet & Clank game has along with half the gadgets. They each only have 3 base levels as well so you’ll max out the weapons quite easily. It seems like there are an extra 3 levels that pop up later on though so that helps. This makes the Platinum Trophy easier I suppose, but it still sounds reasonably difficult.

The weapons that we do get are pretty good though. They’ll all old I believe so don’t expect anything new, but all of the good weapons made it back. All you’ll really need are the bombs and machine gun, but I do recommend buying the missiles and metal discs once you are able to as well. Earning money certainly isn’t hard in this game and just enter a few tournaments if you want some quick cash. It’s definitely worth the trouble. There are 5-6 worlds in the game and each one can be completed in under an hour. The tournament planet was probably the shortest plot-wise, but since there are bonus tournaments, it ends up lasting a little longer.

As always, the graphics were definitely on point here. The animations were very smooth and the character designs were as sharp as you could expect. The energy attacks all look really good and I enjoyed the level designs as well. The game did a good job of grabbing the classic stage traits like a City level and a forest one as well. That’s definitely a good thing since every Ratchet game should have at least one City world. Those always look fantastic. The soundtrack never really stood out to me though and I couldn’t recall a single tune afterwards. Music is probably one of the only areas that isn’t a strength for this series.

As mentioned, there is some decent replay value. Getting all of the trophies will take some time and that helps make the game worth the price. Even without the replay value, I think the game goes for around 10 dollars now. That’s certainly not a lot of money for an AAA title. The plot may not be as grandiose as the others, but it’s still engaging. As far as the platformers go, it destroys most of the competition. Only Jak can really keep up with it consistently and I’d still give Ratchet and Clank the edge.

One thing that I can definitely get behind for this game is that the level up system is so smooth. Aside from your weapons, you can also level Ratchet up. It’s not particularly long or time consuming to power up, but you still don’t have to unless you want too. The bosses are definitely beatable if you want to go straight for them. There are also constant check points so even if you lose, you never have a long way to go. I think the phrase that I’m looking for is “Quality of Life” mechanics for this game. You never get lost for hours and hours like LoZ and you never have to go back through a long area with unskippable cutscenes like Orphen. Into The Nexus is a game that’s made with the gamer’s needs as top priority and it’s something that I’d like to see more games achieve. It’s easy to see why the series is known as one of the all time greats.

Overall, This felt like a little treat for Ratchet & Clank fans to hold them over until the next full installment. I’d think of this as more of a spinoff than a full fledged game. Think of it as the mini adventure to keep you ready for the next big title like what Kingdom Hearts does. Of course, KH spinoffs are still typically at least 20 hours long, but we’ll let that slide for now. It’s short, but that doesn’t mean that Into The Nexus is any less of a good game than you’d expect. While it’s not as polished and complete as the others, I still had a blast playing it. The time really flies when you’re blasting the opponents. I’m definitely looking forward to playing the next game although I hear that it switches up the format a little. Hopefully it keeps in the fun and intensity of this game.

Overall 8/10