8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The World Ends With You Review


It’s time to look at a game that I’ve had on the backburner for a very long time. The Worlds Ends With You has been patiently waiting its turn for many years. Well, it was time to finally get on with it. The game was a lot of fun back in the day but I decided to replay the whole game despite going through the first loop back in the day. The reason for this is that it has been so long. I want to make sure I really know what’s going on and with an RPG like this it’s usually best to make sure you have the complete context for everything that’s going on. The game definitely does not disappoint and is as fun now as it was back in the day.

The title starts with a kid named Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memories. He doesn’t know what’s going on but a girl named Shiki shows up and makes a pact with him. Basically what’s going on here is that the characters are trapped in a 7 day death game. The way the game works is that the villains send a message every day to the characters’ phones. Someone has to complete the mission before the time limit runs out. If you survive for 7 days you win and get to leave the game. The problem is that Neku doesn’t like people. He finds them to be too loud and annoying the whole time. Neku’s a loner who is also pretty smart so it feels like he has to wait for everyone to catch up. You can’t win this game without a partner though as that’s the only way to use pins with different elemental attacks to fight off the creatures known as Noise. Neku will have to learn to be friends with Shiki or this could get pretty ugly for him.

Right away you’ll see that the gameplay here is pretty unique. It relies heavily on the stylus so get ready for that. You’ve got two screens here. On the top you’ve got your partner and you control her by using the main buttons like A, B, Y, and X. If you follow your partner’s logic attacks on the top you can get energy towards a super attack which does a lot of damage of course. On the bottom screen you have Neku and he attacks by using the pins. Each pin has a different control setup which ranges from tapping the screen to swiping or doing something else like that. The main thing to keep in mind is to read the instructions each time. You’ve also got a hub world where you can buy items or food at shops.

In this game level ups aren’t nearly as important as your stats so keep that in mind. One thing that I didn’t do was eat a lot of food and that’s a mistake. It’s the best way to get stronger. The only way to eat is to challenge more than one enemy at a time. The more stack battles you do at once (Tapping on more than one villain icon in the hub world) the more bites you take out of your food. You don’t eat much per day so try to hit the limit every time. Do that and the final bosses will be considerably easier than if you had decided to forego this. The final boss in particular is a huge step up from the rest. Make sure you equip the final pin that gets tossed at you or you’re in for a pretty rough time.

The World Ends With You is definitely a pretty high end DS game. For starters you have a very unique soundtrack that has quite a few vocal themes. Now the one catch is that there aren’t a lot of themes so you’ll be hearing the same ones over and over again. The positive here is that they’re all pretty solid so it works out pretty well. The game also has very solid graphics with full cutscenes that play comic style as the game goes on. There’s one particular one involving a gun that maybe gets spammed a little too much but it’s a solid scene. Expect a lot of twists and turns as the game goes on. There’s certainly some nice room for a sequel here.

One thing that helps this game out as well are the solid characters. It’s almost inevitable that an RPG would have a solid cast by the end but it’s still important to note in all of these. Neku is the lead and he’s very solid. He has a big character arc since initially he doesn’t get along with anybody and by the end of the game he’s mellowed out quite a bit. He’s still not cheesy or anything though as he still has some pretty harsh thoughts about everyone and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Then you’ve got Shiki who’s a solid heroine. She’s definitely quite lively and makes for a good foil to Neku’s character. She’s always trying her best to see the bright side of things.

Beet is another one of the main heroes but he goes through some rough patches. While he gets a lot of development I can’t really side with him after what he did at the end of Act 1. He tries to walk it back later but it was a little too late for him. Meanwhile Joshua was actually my favorite character in the game. Like Neku he always had a comeback ready and he was really handling the villains pretty well. He gets the most memorable scenes in the game. Whenever he appears you knew something fun was going to happen.

For the villains you’ve got quite a few here. My favorite one was the Grim Heaper. He had a lot of good math puns and a solid design. he wasn’t afraid to get things done his way which is always important. You’ve also go the elusive conductor although he mainly just gets mentioned a lot. You’ve got two villains who are like a serious version of Team Rocket. While they try to be nice and relatable near the end you can’t forget the fact that they’re mass murderers either way. One thing you don’t want to lose sight of is the fact that this is a murder game. Keep that in mind when all of the twists are happening. No matter how you slice it that means all of these guys are knowingly complicit in these actions.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty great RPG. It’s got a solid set of characters and really nice technicals on its side. There’s a good amount of replay value since you can warp to any of the previous days to do any missions you skipped. It’s a game that gives you a lot of options for what you want to do next and the length is pretty good as well. With news of the anime coming up the series is definitely staying relevant. As long as you like a good story then this is a game I recommend to any gamer. It’ll definitely hook you on the interesting premise and solid characters.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Review


It’s time to look at a fun action RPG. This game was on my radar for a very long time even though I ultimately did not end up picking it out when the game first came out on the Wii U. I just ended up waiting until finally it came out for the Switch and I knew I needed to pick it up. Cut to my video game backlog going under 70 for the first time and to celebrate I got this game along with a few others. The game is definitely a blast and I always love playing a big RPG adventure like this one. It’s definitely a very fun game that is also quite difficult. Without the Bloom Palace and it’s super grinding areas I dare say that I could still be playing this game right now.

The game starts by introducing us to the mass disappearance event. A show was being conducted by two mega famous idols but then suddenly everyone vanished. Cut to 5 years later and people still don’t know what happened. Our main character Itsuki is waiting at the mall for his friend when he bumps into a childhood friend of his, Tsubasa. She is trying to be an idol herself and is pretty close in the auditions to finally hitting it big. Unfortunately, that’s when tragedy strikes. The director is actually being controlled by a mirage and kidnaps her. Itsuki heads in as well and ends up harnessing the power of the mirages to save her. He is bonded with Chrome and Tsubasa also gets a Mirage of her own. They find out that there is a larger war between humans and mirages at play right now and they all have a role in it. Can the heroes find out why everyone at the concert vanished 5 years ago and stop any future threats? In the meantime they also have to work hard because they now work for an actual Idol company so Tsubasa’s dream of being a professional is almost complete.

While this is partially a Fire Emblem game to the loosest extent, it’s totally a stand alone adventure. It’s also a very character driven game so the main story takes a backseat for the most part. Each chapter will have someone get possessed and then the heroes head in to save the victim from going over to the dark side. In the final chapter or two we find out about the real main villain and that starts the climax. In between each chapter is an intermission where you get some dancing instructions and it’s also a chance for you to hang out and complete some side quests. The story may not be the deepest, but it’s still pretty fun. I’m always up for seeing the Fire Emblem characters even if they’re basically just ghosts here.

The game also shines with how it throws in fully animated cutscenes at times. It’s pretty epic when the transitions happen. The normal cutscenes are also pretty solid though as they go for more of a cell shaded look. There are quite a few cutscenes here to be sure so this really feels like a AAA title. The soundtrack is also pretty good I’d say. There are a wide range of themes here and they all work rather well. One of the things I like about RPGs is they are long enough where you get to really know all of the characters and enjoy the wide range of activities in the world. There is a ton of replay value to enjoy here after all and the main campaign is over 20 hours long. If you don’t take advantage of the Bloom Palace then it’ll probably be even longer.

So the main gameplay is that of a classic turn based RPG. When it’s your turn you can choose to use one of your skills or an item. The game has an elemental system so some attacks will be super effective on different kinds of enemies. A pretty fun thing the game does is make those elements secret until you use an attack. So if it’s an enemy you haven’t fought before then all of his elemental resistances will show a question mark. Once you beat him then for all future occurrences you will see the strengths and weaknesses. It’s something that could work well in Pokemon if you ask me since it would give more reason to actually fill out the Pokedex.

You can use 3 characters in a party and when you use a super effective attack then the others can jump in and get an extra attack if they have an applicable skill. As you level characters up and gather materials you can also unlock passive abilities for the cast. These can be quite helpful. For example, there is one passive skill that allows every character in the back row to get a turn as well. What this ultimately means is that you can have 7 attacks in a single turn every turn. You can see how much of an advantage this would be right? Ultimately I only unlocked one of these skills before beating the game though. You need a high bond level to unlock them and that requires fighting with the character for a while or working on their side quests. You also need materials and since I did all of my grinding in the dungeon I didn’t really have almost any materials.

It’s actually something that caught up to me by the end of the game. I got all of my characters to level 99 but without materials it meant that my characters still had really weak weapons. Surprisingly those make such a difference that even being level 99 didn’t help to balance things back out. So if you do decide to train up there then be sure to still go in and fight some real minions. Those materials are absolutely essential and I can confirm that you will be really glad to have them on hand. I really love how in depth the complex the game goes with the mechanics though. Each of your weapons also have passive effects you can unlock which encourages you to fight with the sub weapons as well. Then you can use dust to increase your stats. There are a ton of ways to beat each boss so the strategy is entire up to you. Choose wisely.

The cast also isn’t bad although they’re fairly weak compared to most RPG titles. Itsuki for example is a reasonable main character, but he’s borderline an avatar character because the guy has no real character. He’s a nice guy who’s super humble and always does the right thing. That’s nice and all but he never really shows much personality. Tsubasa is also a fun heroine but shows a similar level of energy. Her thing is that she tends to mispronounce words. It’s a reasonably solid gimmick I’d say. The best character here is probably the rival who shows up a few times to get in your way. He’s definitely not someone to be trifled with.

Overall, Tokyo Mirages is a game that lived up to the hype. The story may not have been the greatest compared to other big RPGs, but I was still entertained the whole way through. The most important thing is the gameplay of course and that was definitely on point from start to finish. I’d certainly be up for a sequel at some point. I’ve definitely got more RPG titles to work on as well so I’ll be ready for another big adventure soon. In the meantime if you haven’t picked this game up yet then you should. Just don’t go in expecting a whole lot of Fire Emblem characters. They help a bit with the lore but that’s about it, no Roy or Ike or anything like that. If you remember your Fire Emblem elemental types for the weapons that should help you quite a bit with guessing what attacks to use off the bat though.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Mystery Dungeon game. It’s been a pretty fun ride getting to experience all of these games. It had to come to an end at some point though. This one definitely ends things on a high note. Not only is it the longest game in the series (or at least it took me the longest amount of time to complete) but it adds a bunch of new features that are pretty cool. This is definitely a game with a ton of replay value as well so it’s really a win-win when you think about it.

The game starts off with the main character getting transported into the Pokemon world. He used to be a human but he has lost all of his memories which is pretty unfortunate. He is attacked by some Beeheeyem and fortunately gets saved by Nuzleaf. Nuzleaf takes Terry (main character) home to his village where he meets up with Snaz (main partner) and they become quick friends. There are some bullies in the village but for the most part it’s a pretty nice place. Snaz hopes to one day become an Expedition member but kids aren’t allowed so he will keep training in the meantime. Terry does his best to fit in and has lots of adventures. Meanwhile in the main plot, someone or something has been turning Pokemon to stone. It is targeting all of the legendary and mythical Pokemon. Whoever this villain is, it’s definitely someone powerful. If the Pokemon don’t watch out they will all be conquered before they have a chance to fight back.

I definitely like the idea of someone trying to get all of the legendaries. We haven’t really seen a plot like that and it’s also a good chance for all of these Pokemon to appear. It’s definitely a cool premise and while I would have liked to have seen some of these fights on screen, I suppose that would have been difficult. Still, in terms of plot this is definitely pretty high tier and probably the game with the highest stakes. Explorers of Darkness has the best plot to me though with all of the time travel but this threat is more high tier. We even get to see the heavyweights like Mewtwo and Rayquaza. Who’d have thought that all of these guys would have had to team up? A movie based on this would be pretty cool.

The story is definitely a lot of fun. It gives you time to get introduced to all of the characters and make connections. Once the climax hits then you also get to have a lot of big battles and plot twists galore. The series also has fun flipping the script near the end as all of the games tend to have the same beginning and ending. This one throws a little wrinkle into that which I thought was pretty cool. It felt like the game was being pretty self aware there.

The gameplay is your classic dungeon exploration like the others. The goal is to reach the exit of each floor and this goes on until you end the dungeon. Each Pokemon has 4 attacks and you should use them carefully because it’s easy to run out of PP. As you go through the dungeon you’ll pick up items. A new addition here is a ring that lets you attach little items onto it in order to boost your stats or inflict status changes on the opponents. These are incredibly handy and it’ll be nearly impossible to beat some levels without it unless you do some hard grinding. There are a ton of mechanics in this game like the Alliance moves which allow you to use more than one attack at a time. I’d advise you to learn them all and fortunately the game does bring them up so you can’t really miss em.

Another new addition is if you die during a dungeon, you can rescue yourself by sending another team in. This may not be so handy at first but later on in the game you will have tons of Pokemon ready to help you out. As soon as I got my Level 50 Dragonite I was ready for business. You can only rescue yourself 5 times per dungeon though so don’t use it as an excuse to die all the time. Also, you can’t rescue yourself during a boss battle of course so play those very carefully. Leveling up in this game takes a super long time so the emphasis is really on using items. I beat this game in the 20s which is pretty unheard of for an RPG so don’t underestimate the power of items. They are extremely handy.

Another good tactic in this game is to hide behind your partner Pokemon. Let them take all of the risks while you take the rewards. Trust me, this is a tactic that will really take you far. You can use various commands to try and manipulate them but the easiest way is to walk close to an enemy and then hide behind your teammate which forces them into battle. As you battle your attacks will also gain level ups which makes them more powerful and more accurate. This is really handy if you tend to always use the same attack over and over.

Super Mystery Dungeon does a fine job of mixing elements from previous games together. I feel like they knew this was the last one because of how much this feels like the final entry. You take a quiz to determine your Pokemon like in the first games, but if you don’t like the selected one you can override the choice by just picking like in the recent 3DS title. I stayed with the results of the Exam for mine because it felt more fun that way. I ended up being Fennekin. You’ve also got your classic quest system although it has been greatly improved. It’s no longer endless so each mission feels a lot more real now. You also have all 720 Pokemon in the game so you’ve got a ton of quests since many of them want your help. There are also a lot of playable Pokemon, I unlocked around 50 of them and so I’m sure if you were to play it to 100% completion you would unlock a lot more. It’s really cool to play as everybody.

This game really takes all of the mechanics to their absolute best. While we do lose some items from previous games like the farming and building aspects, I can’t really say that they are missed. As long as we have the quests I feel pretty good about it personally. This game can be very difficult because of how low leveled your Pokemon are though. As I mentioned, obtaining EXP takes forever so you’re going to just want to plunge ahead. Use the items carefully and as the game goes on you’ll get a good feel for when to use each one. It’ll come to you. The game also does something fun with the final boss so don’t worry about losing there. Even if it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere, just keep fighting and you’ll be okay. Don’t make the mistake of quitting to try again later.

The graphics here are definitely real solid. It’s still going for that nice 3D approach and we get some fun cutscenes. A really cool visual is when we see two Pokemon firing off a giant energy blast together. It’s a fun team up and the attack is like a Kamehameha. The soundtrack is also fun. It brings back some classic tunes while adding in new ones. There aren’t really any standout themes but what we get is pretty fitting and flows pretty well together with the scenes. At this point some of the tunes will be pretty nostalgic if you’ve been following the series. The story is pretty long at around 17 hours and the post game is enormous since you have to try and find all of the Pokemon/Complete all of the quests. You won’t be completing this game very quickly that’s for sure.

Overall, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is pretty great. It really ends the series off on a high note. Ultimately I would rank the series as follows: 1. Pokemon Explorers of Darkness 2. Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon 3. Pokemon Gates to Infinity 4. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon the original. This one really ranks up there and it’s just hard not to get sucked into it. There’s so much to do here and every part of the game really feels like a lot of time and money was put into it. You will definitely not be disappointed in the slightest. If you don’t have this game yet then I recommend changing that. It’s a really solid Pokemon RPG.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game. This one actually ended up being the longest one yet so it definitely gave you time to be attached to the characters. It’s a great game and definitely one that I would recommend. While it is not quite able to top the last one, it really has no weaknesses. The mechanics are easy to pick up on and we get some pretty cool cinematics. Now there is only one Mystery Dungeon game left so I am definitely going to miss them when they’re gone.

The game starts off with Terry arriving from the human world and turning into a Pokemon. He meets up with Tepig who is trying to build a Pokemon guild so they can share paradise with him. “Paradise” is the name of the town that Tepig is creating but it’s been tough since Pokemon in this world don’t like each other which makes things pretty tricky. Terry agrees to help Tepig and initially they start by befriending local Pokemon and getting materials to build the house. We get more of a plot soon as a mysterious pair of Pokemon show up and explain that the world as we know it is about to end. The heroes will now have to buckle up and head out to protect the present, but doing so may involve destroying the future. Can Terry and Tepig really pull the trigger and make such a call?

While the plot does get pretty high tier as you would expect, it does have a longer opening act than the last title to allow you to get used to the village and the members. Since part of the plot deals with Pokemon not liking each other the game wants to really make sure you know what’s going on here before you get into the meat of the story. It’s a fun opening act though and part of why it’s solid is because Terry is solid. He talks quite a bit more than the other main characters from previous games which I think is definitely a good move. He feels like a natural leader and doesn’t rely on thought bubbles. One particularly impressive scene is when he takes down 3 bosses at once and later holds his own against another 5 before being saved. Terry is portrayed as a real fighter here and it was really a lot of fun to play as him.

The supporting cast is also pretty solid. Tepig’s a nice guy and he’s a lot more reasonable than your partner from the last game. Tepig at least always tries to do the right thing and doesn’t keep hounding on the other characters over mild matters. Emolga and Dunsparce have a good bond between them. I like that Emolga was always ready to step up for his friend and make the hard calls. If anything Dunsparce was just less impressive because he was a bit too gullible and obsessed with Virizion. Virizion was solid as one of the wise characters and while she didn’t really believe in friends, I couldn’t really blame her for that. She certainly did not have the best prior experiences with them. I also loved having her on the party because of how powerful she was.

Umbreon and Espeon are pretty solid. They are definitely very business oriented so they don’t mess around as much as the others. The Voice of Life made for a pretty interesting character. Just from the name you can tell that this guy has quite a lot of power. Unfortunately I have to give him a thumbs down here because at the end of the day he keeps saying that he has no choice and can’t really do anything about anything but you gotta be able to do more than that when you have cosmic powers. What’s the point if at the end of the day you’re not going to use them? Kyurem was definitely cool though. All of his scenes were definitely pretty hype and he had a menacing air about him. His goal also wasn’t all that bad. It was actually very reasonable which made him a compelling antagonist.

One subplot in the game that I don’t think was really needed though was Keldeo. The plot wouldn’t have really changed almost any part of the story so if you cut him out it all works out quite nicely. He tries to talk a bit tough by the end but nobody’s buying that. As for Kyurem’s position that I mentioned earlier, it’s basically that you shouldn’t change the future just because you don’t like it. The whole concept of the game is that we’re going to change the future because it turns out to be an apocalyptic one while Kyurem’s saying that it has to be preserved. I’ve always been for changing the timestream so I’m not objective in the slightest but I’m with the heroes here. If it’s a bad future then you’ve got to change it.

Additionally, it’s Kyurem’s view that we’re changing the future. Last I checked, the whole game takes place in the present so his argument loses a lot of steam. So long as we did not build a time machine or something it’s all fair game if you ask me. So in effect by trying to stop us he’s changing the future just as much. No future is certain unless you’re actively moving through time. Thanos for example has a stronger case since the Avengers got salty that they lost and started playing with time. That’s not what the heroes are doing here.

The gameplay is your traditional overhead turn based combat. It plays out a bit like a Fire Emblem game only you are moving through a dungeon. You recover health as you move and the goal is always to get to the final dungeon where you may or may not fight a boss. You have 4 different attacks and can have up to 3 partners with you. Be careful, your main partner will count as a second life so if one of you dies then the whole mission is a fail. Just something to watch out for because your partners tend to take really big risks for some reason.

Also, make sure you have a good amount of items before tackling the final boss. I had saved up a ton of them throughout the game so I was ready for it. Otherwise, you could be in for a pickle because the game saves after the first form of the final boss so if you’re not ready to fight the real one then you could end up being stuck in a loop. Hopefully there’s a way out of that but I didn’t intend on risking everything to find out. That’s why I always keep items in the bank for tricky situations like that. I was really glad I had the stash when I walked into the fight. One tip I have is to use the orbs you get during the levels. You get some that will put every Pokemon to sleep for example and they are incredibly handy.

The main campaign should definitely last you a clean 15 hours at the least. Aside from that the game has a ton of content to explore. You can get materials and money to build up the town and make a lot of gardens. I didn’t really play around with this feature, but there’s a lot you can do here. Additionally there are a bunch of extra dungeons and Pokemon to recruit to your cause. You can also work on maxing your guild’s rank up. If you do all of this the game should really last you for quite a long time. Then we get to the graphics and soundtrack which are both quite solid. The soundtrack has some catchy tunes even if none of them are all stars. The graphics are particularly impressive with each of the characters having a 3D model now. That’s not something we’ve really seen a whole lot so it was pretty fun.

Overall, Gates to Infinity is definitely a great game. The gameplay is tight and naturally the graphics/soundtrack are good as well. You’ll have a lot of fun here and aside from a pretty solidly long story you’ve also got a whole lot of post game content to work with. I expect you’ll definitely be kept busy with this game for quite some time. I doubt the price would be too crazy nowadays and either way this game has enough content to really make it worth your while. We really need more Pokemon spinoffs to come out soon because they’ve been pretty dynamite. Pokemon lends itself well to the RPG format.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 5 Review


It’s time to take a look at another Dynasty Warriors game. With this title out of the way I have now finished playing through all of the installments that I own. It’s been a pretty fun ride to be sure. This one definitely has the biggest change between entries in the series. It’s really like playing an entire new game which is cool. I definitely like all of the changes made here and he game still gets quite difficult by the end of its run. It’s certainly not a game to underestimate.

The basic plot of the game seems to be the same as all of the other ones. Your goal is to unite China under the same flag as the army you are fighting for. Once you do that, then you will have restored honor and balance to the kingdom. I went with Wu as always. The army’s armor always looked pretty cool and it was nostalgic to play as the same guy from the third game. From there I just went on to clear the campaign which was certainly a lot quicker than the last two games. There are only 5 levels here compared to the usual 7-8 you would have expected. Couple that with the game’s less difficult nature and it was a breeze.

I’d heard about this before but the difficulty in 5 is definitely a lot lower than in the previous two games. You really just mow the enemies down and they don’t fight back quite as much. I would say that the whole game was a cakewalk except that the final level was actually very difficult and felt like one of the installments from the earlier titles. It took me a lot of attempts to clear that one. I did my best to try and complete it the “normal” way but my army would lose morale way too quickly so it would never work out. Finally I just had to try and run straight up to the main villain and then I was able to clear it. This certainly took a good amount of effort.

Most likely the reason for the spike was because my level just wasn’t high enough. Due in part to how easily I would complete the other levels, I hadn’t needed to fight nearly as well as I should have. If I had been a higher level then I’d be beating enemies a lot quicker and naturally that would make a difference with the army morale. That wasn’t how things went down though but it does add to the replay value of the game. You can easily beat the game in under 3 hours if you blast through. However, after that you can also work on getting all of the other characters leveled up and completing their stories as well. In this game each characters gets their own story so that is definitely a lot of stories to run through. It’s definitely not something that will be an easy task nor will it be one that you can do quickly.

The graphics definitely look very good here. You’ve got a lot of little improvements like each enemy having a health bar and also their status not vanishing. In the old games you could easily lose track of a general among the mob because the title would flicker in and out. In this game it stays put the whole time which is appreciated. Characters load up a lot quicker and in general it all just looks quite good. Then you have the soundtrack which has a lot of classic rock themes like the last two. I’m still pretty surprised in general that the games have such a great soundtrack but I’m certainly not going to complain.

The gameplay in Dynasty Warriors 5 plays it straight this time around. You don’t have any missions to find a missing box or anything like that. All of the missions are simply about taking down a boss and unlike previous games they never lock the main villain away. You can run up to him in any of the levels and just test your skills. It won’t be super easy to do so as there are a lot of minions in the way, but 5 certainly makes it possible. I imagine that experienced DW fans would be able to easily get in there and take down the boss. It’s ultimately a strategy that will bite you in the end since your level will stay low but if you’re just planning to quickly beat a campaign then it makes sense. If you do this then I recommend the paralyze combo. It’s two week hits and then a power shot. It trigger a 5-7 hit combo with guaranteed stun. It’s really hard to think of any attack option that is superior to this. Spam it as often as you like. As always make sure to keep your final smash on hand until someone attacks you to instantly combo-break the opposing hit.

If you get a horse then I recommend keeping him around. On Easy mode none of the minions can do anything about him so just jump off when you make it to the boss. The horse won’t be going anywhere either so once you’re done you saddle up and move. The humans run a lot slower than the horses and these levels are massive so I definitely recommend keeping him around. In general it is just so handy to have your own horse and they can be rare to find. Another way to get one is to lure your ally who has a horse into a big battle and once the enemies knock him off you grab the horse and run. I hope in one of the future games you are given the ability to tell your ally to leave the horse. It’s a small feature but one that would be very handy.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 5 is about as solid as the last two. If anything I would say that it is even better than them thanks to the graphics improving quite a lot and the gameplay feels smoother. The opening cutscene for example is pretty incredible. 5 feels way more polished than the last two and you would have expected that the game would have come out a lot later than it did. It’ll be interesting to see how 6 tries to stop 5. It definitely won’t be easy but the series seems like it’s on an upwards trend so I won’t say that I’d be surprised either. If Dynasty Warriors wants to keep improving I expect that it will be able to do so. If you like beat em ups then you definitely ought to give this one a try.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Darkness Review


It’s time to take a look at the next installment in the Mystery Dungeon series. I haven’t played one of these in a long while, but the first game was a lot of fun. Also, I own the next two games in the series so now I can start a bit of a marathon. In general the Pokemon spinoffs have all been pretty great. Just look at Pokken and Pokemon Ranger which have been a blast. Well, Mystery Dungeon can definitely hold its own with those big shots as well. This one ups the stakes and brings a pretty cool plot. It’s definitely a great game.

The title starts off with the main character losing his memory and being transformed into a Pokemon. Fortunately Pikachu stops by the Beach and decides to be Terry’s (the main character) friend. Pikachu wants to join the Guild which is where all of the various Dungeon teams go to team up and help out the world. Pikachu isn’t very brave though so Terry decides to help him achieve these dreams. Together the two of them solve many odd jobs and fit in pretty well. Things get serious though when a mysterious Pokemon begins stealing Time Wheels from around the world. If this continues to go on then the whole world will end up being frozen as time will be stopped. Can the heroes stop such a powerful villain?

I always like time travel. It may have a tendency to introduce plot holes into a series or not be utilized well in others, but it offers up so many different possibilities that I feel like you have to at least give it a whirl. This game handles it quite well. We get a few plot twists in the story as well. It’s fair to say that you’ll probably see a lot of them coming, but it doesn’t weaken the impact of these plots. The main campaign’s around 13 hours long so you’re given a lot of time to be introduced to the characters and get attached to them. There’s also a bit of a post game here to look at as well.

Now lets look at the gameplay here. It’s an overhead turn based combat system where you control the actual Pokemon. There can be up to 4 of you in a party although you only control the main character. The others are around to help out on the side. Be warned though that if Pikachu loses in combat then that will apply to you as well. There are certain ways you can at least control what your allies will do via tactics and turning off moves though. For example Pikachu learns an attack called Discharge later on which is incredibly powerful so after that I would turn off the other moves. That effectively forces him to use it until he runs out of PP. The move has 8 PP so you’ll need to switch it out again pretty quick.

The bosses could be pretty tricky here at times. If you don’t take them out fast or just some kind of technique to lower their stats you could really be in trouble here. Then there are the random monster houses that pop up which are probably even tougher than most of the bosses. If you run into one then it’s probably game over. Each dungeon ranges from 8-20 floors. So wherever you last passed a checkpoint is where you would be warped to. You also lose your money and a bunch of items so you are encouraged not to lose too often.

The dungeon system is pretty interesting because you’ve always got a pretty good sense of where you are in the game. They’re also just fun to explore in. The only mechanic I didn’t like here is when sand would randomly show up. It buffets your team members every few steps and if you have a full team of 4 that’s a lot of messages to keep clicking out of. It also seems to effect all dungeons until the effect randomly goes away. I understand that this is probably to add more drama to the dungeon since you’re constantly taking damage but since you heal more health than it can take away while walking it still feels pretty pointless in the end.

One other angle that’s not too interesting is how there are a few recycled animations every time you go to sleep and wake up again. You have to watch the heroes eat dinner every time and sometimes you are randomly chosen to watch out for foot prints which triggers a minigame and ends the whole day. I’d definitely be game with that being removed from the sequels. It’s just not needed and if anything it just wastes time. The post game hints that you won’t have to worry about these things anymore once you beat the hidden boss which hints that the game knew this would be a bit of a hassle as well.

In terms of characters, Terry’s pretty great as always. He’s very heroic and is always ready to make the hero call when necessary. He’s someone you can count on. His partner Pikachu isn’t quite as interesting. He’s a little too quick to believe whatever the villains say and has a hard time keeping up with the plot even when it’s not all that difficult. When someone tries to murder you, you should probably connect the dots that this character must be evil. The Guild is fun enough. Their leader Wigglytuff is a bit annoying at first but since he can actually fight I did gain some respect for him. At least that means he can be powerful when the need arises.

Grovile and Dusknoir are both pretty interesting characters. It makes for an interesting dynamic in the game and is also a pretty serious plot that works out well. Finally, we’ve got Dialga who is excellent in this game. We even get a cool time travel scene where Dialga and Celebi square off. Both of them are known for their mastery over time of course although I suspect everyone already knows that Dialga would have the edge in such a confrontation. You just can’t hope to beat one of those guys.

The graphics are pretty solid. There are quite a lot of Pokemon here which are nice to see and occasionally you’ll get a cutscene that is almost animated as the pictures light up and have some special effects. That always helps to add some weight to the moment. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which has some really nice themes in it. In particular one great theme is when Dusknoir grabs the heroes. That theme is always really epic and one of the best that I’ve heard in a spinoff lately. I still can’t go as far as to say that it beats the themes in the main games though because those are pretty phenomenal.

Overall, Explorers of Darkness is a great game. The RPG story can really hold its own and the ending is pretty emotional. Make sure you stick around after the credits because there is an extra scene. This is definitely one of the best stories I’ve seen in a Pokemon title. It’s going to be very difficult for the next Dungeon game to pass this one but it’s always possible since the game is on an upwards trend. The next one also makes the jump to the 3DS system so that should be pretty interesting. If you haven’t checked this game out yet then you should. It really shows you just what the Pokemon series is capable of.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Cardfight Vanguard Zero Review


It’s time to look at a recent app that I downloaded. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Cardfight Vanguard show so I figured playing through an app game would be pretty fun too. It’s got a unique gameplay style that is different from Yugioh and I’ve never gotten to play it in action before. This was my chance to change that and the game is definitely a lot of fun. It’s also very challenging so you can rest assured that it will force you to become a better player as the levels go on. With an active user base and ongoing events there will be enough content to keep you entertained for the long haul.

As with most mobile games there are a ton of options that greet you on the menu. It can all be pretty overwhelming so the game wisely locks a lot of the options behind level ups so you experience them all gradually. You’ll likely be spending most of your time in the story of playing online battles. Aside from that you can also clear daily missions, fight practice battles, customize your deck, and buy more cards. While there are some paid options you can do the game is 100% free to play and you can do quite well without spending any money. It’s the kind of game where you can absolutely hold your own without spending a dime.

The story mode has 11 chapters which consist of around 50 rides. While you might think you can clear those right away, it will take a lot of time. Every 3-4 rides you have to go and do other tasks to unlock the next ones. These range from beating an opponent 5 times to fighting online for 3 battles. There are a lot of different tasks and it is the game’s way of making sure you try everything out. I could be a little annoyed at having to take a break from the story so often but I understand the logic. I don’t approve, but it is what it is and the rest of the modes are all fun as well which helps a lot.

The story mode covers the first season of the show although I expect as more and more levels are added it will eventually cover the entire series. It’s been pretty detailed at trying to grab almost every fight and the game actually plays whole anime scenes which is pretty cool. You don’t see a lot of mobile games do that so it was pretty nice. I made it through around half of the rides before doing this review and they’ve been fun.

I’ll quickly go over the gameplay but it’ll be difficult to go too in depth due to how many rules there are. First off you start with a hand of 5-6 cards and then each player rides a grade 0 Unit. As each turn passes you can ride a card with 1 grade higher until you get to the max of 3. (There are future cards that go higher but I doubt they’ll be added anytime soon) There are 3 columns and 2 rows which you can rill with monsters. Only the 3 monsters in the front row can attack and the one in the middle is your Vanguard. He gets a Drive Check which has the potential to strengthen your team, heal your damage, or do something else. The first player to get to 6 damage loses the match. The only way to deal damage is to attack your opponent’s vanguard with a monster stronger than his own. The attacking player has the advantages of having a support monster to boost attack as well as the drive check so attacking is quite easy.

You’ve also got a bunch of other mechanics like sentinels and intercepts so you’ll want to study a bit. There are a few rules that are simplified here compared to the actual show and I imagine it was to help balance the game as well as make it go quickly. Depending on how many rules were added each round could take forever. As it stands most duels aren’t very long although I can’t say that I’ve actually counted how long any of them took me. I imagine they may be around 10 minutes or so. The deck I went with was Kagero and it served me well. Ultimately the battle I ended up getting stuck on was Aichi on Hard mode. That guy’s pretty hard to deal with and he’s also got a permanent attack boost on all of his monsters which is a little suspect if you ask me.

As for the graphics, the game looks quite good. Aichi’s character model is the only one that looks unfinished but everything else is very polished and holds up quite well. The soundtrack is excellent with the full anime opening being the intro music. I definitely appreciated that nod and in general it’s all very high energy so you’re always right in the thick of the action. It makes every duel even more enjoyable and for a mobile game the key is making the game easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice. This game achieves that because you’ve always got time for a quick duel. I think card games really excel in the card game format and this one is no exception.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard Zero is a great game. You’ll have a lot of fun here and even if you’ve never played before you’ll be fine. The game gives very detailed tutorials and the online community will also be more than willing to help you out. There’s a good amount of support here and a lot to do. I’m definitely confident that you will be engaged for the long haul. Right now I’m pretty busy with Final Fantasy VII Remake but Zero was definitely a whole lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the game grow. As with most mobile games this is where my journey will end, but it was still a pretty fun experience.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs Review


Time to look at the final Pokemon Ranger game and definitely the one with the most ambitious story. I really don’t remember the first game’s plot all that much but I actually enjoyed the second quite a bit. Ultimately I would put this as the best Pokemon Ranger game though. All of the mechanics are at their peak and I enjoyed the whole Signs system. It’s nice to finally be able to have abilities of your own without having to worry about catching Pokemon all of the time. These quality of life updates along with incredible gameplay and a sound story make this a very solid all around Pokemon game.

The game starts with Terry and Summer flying to the next region as they chase the Pokemon Poachers. Unfortunately they are defeated by one of the enemy generals known as Red Eyes and crash on the island. Summer has been kidnapped and Terry’s Capture Arm is damaged so he can’t capture Pokemon. The villains have also taken out the comms tower so he can’t alert HQ about this. Terry meets up with the lone ranger on the island and his family who help him fix his tech. Terry must now find Summer and stop this villain group from concocting their evil plans. Can Terry manage to do this or will the Pokemon Poachers stay one step ahead of him? This won’t be an easy task, but someone’s gotta do it.

The fact that the villains actually shoot the heroes down in the opening cutscene is a pretty powerful start for them. It’s not every day that a group is able to beat the heroes like that. Along the course of the game they also beat up the Ranger Boss, Blow up an entire island, and even take down some Legendary Pokemon. There are also quite a few twists about the main villains and who the true boss was. This game did everything it could to make the Pokemon Poachers a legitmite threat and I’d say that they succeeded. Now keep in mind that this is still Pokemon so there are a lot of underlings who are comic relief as well. Not all of them are ready to deal with the rangers. The stakes are here though and all of the main villains were quite solid. I gotta give the game kudos for taking more of a bold approach to the story.

The cast is solid on both sides of the ball. For the villains my favorite member would be Red Eyes. He made for an imposing fighter and he liked a good challenge. Blue Eyes was also solid and got a lot of development. Then you’ve also got the other villains who are neat. The game gives a lot of them fairly open endings which leaves room for a sequel if Nintendo ever wanted to do that. I’m still surprised that we haven’t gotten a new Pokemon Ranger game since this one. It seems to me like there is a lot of potential here for more games.

As for the heroes, Summer is a solid partner. I did expect her to use some more Pokemon or help out in combat a bit more though. In theory she is about as skilled as the main character so having a nice parallel with her taking down some of the villains would have been neat. Instead she usually just watches as you take down the villains. Then you have the local ranger and his family who are around and rooting for you. They help with tech and figuring out the villains plans. It’s all about teamwork in this one.

Then you’ve got the actual gameplay which as I mentioned is pretty great. So instead of traditional Pokemon battles you have an electronic capture net. How it works is you have to draw lines around a Pokemon until his capture meter goes all the way up and you win the battle. Once a Pokemon is captured then you can use him to weaken other Pokemon or use his ability to get past an obstacle on the map. Be warned that once you use a Pokemon’s ability in the map then he leaves your party. The only Pokemon you get to keep around with you the entire time is Pichu as every Ranger game gives you one buddy. It’s a very interesting system that also forces you to time tings well. When you summon a Pokemon in battle don’t let him get hit or you’ll lose him. Additionally when drawing your circles don’t let your line touch an enemy attack or you deal damage. Some Pokemon can be hard to capture because they are always attacking.

When outside of combat you can also level up your Styler so that it has more defense, attack, or other stats. I maxed out power as soon as possible because that lets you capture opponents quicker which is how I roll. I like the glass cannon approach. It really forces you to play the game carefully and then rewards this with how much power you deal. I managed to make it through the whole game without dying so I can tell you that this is a pretty good strategy worth pursuing. As long as you are confident in your passing abilities then there should be no problem here.

As for the graphics, they are definitely really good. The level designs have never been better and the battles look good as well. We do get the occasional cutscene in the background which is good as well. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty catchy. I like the Poacher theme and the boss themes near the end are also pretty good. The themes build up the suspense and ultimately have a nice variety which is always important. The game really delivers when it counts.

The main campaign is around 13 hours long which is pretty good. There’s also a good amount of replay value when it comes to capturing all species of Pokemon and clearing all of the quests. That should take you a pretty good amount of time to achieve. Once you have that all done then I suppose there won’t be much more to do, but you’ll have played enough to justify the purchase if you ask me. It’s not every day that you get to play a Pokemon game like this one.

Overall, Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs is a solid way to end this part of the franchise. I’m sure that someday we will get a new entry but it has been quite a long time since Signs came out so we may have to wait until the game is old enough for a nostalgic revival of the series. In the meantime if you haven’t played these games yet then you definitely should. It’s not likely that it will ever pass the main Pokemon series but this is one of the best spinoff series that I have played. It keeps the top level quality you would expect from the main series and never lets up.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Saint Seiya: Shining Soldiers Review


It’s time to look at a recent mobile game that I downloaded. Saint Seiya always looked like it would be another fun installment and I remember seeing a few articles about it. Mobile games are definitely on the rise as of late and it’s nice to see that the quality has stayed consistently high as well. I think that’s usually a pretty tough trick but with how profitable these games tend to be it makes sense to craft them really well. This is another great mobile game that will only get better with time.

When you launch the game be prepared for around 20 tutorials. It’s hard to keep track of all the information so I would usually head to Reddit if I want to know more. The game does its best not to be too overwhelming and I would say that the menu layouts are pretty solid. For a gatcha game like this you can only simplify it so much after all. You get free items every day which is always cool and it’s like a daily routine to start with. You then have an energy meter so you can play a bunch of matches and modes until you run out. You never have to worry about running out when playing levels for the first time though because they will recharge your meter automatically. This only comes into play when doing re-runs.

There are a ton of modes here of course. One of the big ones is online but I don’t recommend going there until you’ve played offline for a while and leveled up your characters. I’ve done pretty well for myself in most PVP options for these games but in Saint Seiya mine were too low level to bother with it so I skipped out on that part this time. You can also summon new characters with jewels or play through the story mode. As with most mobile games the story will be getting new chapters periodically. Surprisingly the story is very short at the moment. I cleared all of the levels in under 3 hours which is pretty much unheard of for a mobile title. Usually you launch with a ton of them. Just look at Seven Deadly Sins which had over 10 hours of story content at launch. Saint Seiya can learn a thing or two from that one.

Interestingly rather than go chronologically the game starts every arc with a few battles. The Golden Saints arc goes up to Ikki vs Shaka while the others all just have the opening fights. The Hades arc is another exception as it jumps right to Kanon vs the 3 Generals. It’s an interesting approach but there should have been way more story levels if you ask me. Then you have the temporary specials so you want to play those levels before they’re gone. There is one for Cassios and one for Mu. Most Gatcha games follow the same trends and this one is no exception. Since I played a lot of Dragon Ball Legends back in the day it was all pretty formidable.

The gameplay is a 3 vs 3 battle with 1 v 1 fights at a time. It’s similar to Pokemon so you want to switch out if you’re in a bad match up. You then choose your attack and the last team standing wins. The gameplay is very smooth and the attacks look quite solid. The graphics in general are definitely top tier here. The armors really stand out and everything feels high end and fresh. You couldn’t tell that this is a mobile game and that’s been true for so many lately that there almost isn’t even a point in saying so anymore. It’s just how it is at this point and that’s a good state for the games to be in.

The soundtrack is very limited, but effective. The opening theme is the old theme song which is really good because that one has aged quite well. During the cutscenes we have a nice danger theme and the music during the gameplay is solid. You won’t hear a lot more than that, but each theme is quite solid so the limited variety doesn’t really end up hurting you. You’re having too much fun with the gameplay to worry about it.

So my only issue with the game is the length, but unlike ARMS we have a lot of different modes to enjoy here. You can jump online as I mentioned or play in one of the many events. You will need to spend a lot of time upgrading your characters as well and grabbing materials. It can get very time consuming to build the perfect team and with new characters being added constantly you can’t really take a break. One thing about these kinds of games is that they are long term commitments if you want to be the best online. If the offline content is all you care about then you don’t need to worry so much as those battles rarely get all that difficult. In DB Legends it took a long time and tons of chapters to get to the point where you really needed to try.

Overall, Shining Soldiers is a great title. If you’ve got some time and want a good action packed mobile title then this is the one for you. It looks like it’ll be doing a good job of adapting the whole Saint Seiya series and it’s always nice to see Aiolos show up since the guy never got much of a role in the actual series. You’ll best enjoy the game if you’re not playing another Gatcha title right now. I’ve noticed that it’s always tough to balance more than one of them in part because they all tend to be the same game just repackaged a bit. Shining Soldiers can hold its own blow for blow with any of the others though.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross Review


It’s time to take a look at a fairly recent mobile game that came out. The Seven Deadly Sins game got quite a lot of hype because it looked to be very high budget for a mobile title. We have seen a trend of companies actually putting a lot of effort into these games because the free to play model works so well. I hope this game ends up succeeding because it really is quite impressive. I played through around half of the game and it was definitely very fun.

The game’s story follows that of the manga. It’s hard to say how far along the game is right now, but I’d expect it is still early on. Typically mobile games like this want to go very slowly, especially since in this case the manga actually ended so there is a tangible goal in sight. Most mobile games want to survive for 5-10 years so expect them to drip feed content soon. That being said, it’s important to launch with a lot of content and this game did exactly that. You’ve probably got 15-20 hours of content here already and that’s a very conservative estimate. That’s also only counting the story and there are countless other things to do here. I didn’t even make it to the more exciting parts of the story and I was hooked. The presentation and interface in the game are quite seamless. Grand Cross has a lot of energy throughout and it really brings out the best of the adventures.

Mobile games can almost be a bit overwhelming with how much content there is to absorb. First of all you’ve got the online battles you can jump into. Then there are the limited time events. You will also want to replay old levels to farm equipments and materials to level your characters up. There is no need to ever run out of things to do in this game with all that you’ve got going on. That’s why the key here is if the gameplay is fun and fortunately I can confirm that it is. The gameplay is your typical turn based mobile style. You get a few cards in your hand during every turn and you play them to trigger different attack animations.

The game’s pretty easy at the start and it’s built in a way where your level will rise with the opponent’s so you should rarely be in trouble. That being said, you can have fun experimenting with attacks. It’s easy to learn the controls, but significantly more difficult to master them. Using proper strategy will help you a lot in the competitive aspects of the game. The gameplay is very flashy with a lot of really cool animations. Fortunately you can skip them though. As nice as they are to look at you won’t want to see the same thing 1000 times. You can also turn on auto battle so the A.I. takes care of things for you. I understand why some people are hesitant to use such a feature since it’s like you’re not playing but it helps with grinding. The A.I. isn’t that good either so for the more difficult levels you’ll need to beat them yourself anyway. It’s just a nice quality of life feature.

As mentioned the graphics are stunning. We get a lot of solid cutscenes with actual fight scenes in them. It’s a similar cell shaded style to something like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and then you get a lot of great screen grabs from the show. The soundtrack is a lot more limited with the same tune showing up over and over but it’s a great theme so I can see why it was selected. For a mobile game you want a catchy track so it was selected quite well.

So far this review’s been super positive so you can tell that I’m a pretty big fan of it. If I had less games on the backlog I’d probably stick around with this one long term. It’s definitely one of the best mobile games I’ve played. The only boring part in comparison is maintaining the inn and wandering around town on side quests. Making a beer and the food dishes is easy but you don’t really feel engaged. I suppose it adds to the realism but I’m always ready to jump right back into the combat. Fortunately these tasks don’t last long so as long as the game doesn’t go down that route in the future I don’t expect that it will be a problem.

Overall, Grand Cross really does a great job of taking the Seven Deadly Sins into video game format. It takes the best aspects of the series while dropping the weakest elements. If you’re looking for a fun mobile game to play then this is one I would recommend. It’s free so it’s not like you have to worry about spending money. You can spend money to get items and such, but the game is quite generous so you never feel like you need to do so. You’ll be able to clear the game just fine without doing anything like that. I look forward to seeing mobile games continue to improve. At this rate they will really feel like AAA console games before long. This one for example could easily be ported to PS4 or the Switch and pass itself off as a home console game from the start.

Overall 8/10