Sonic Forces Review

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There has been a lot of hype and negativity surrounding this game ever since the first trailer. Some thought the idea of a dark Sonic game would mark the return of Sonic 06 (Great game btw) while others thought it could finally be the next big Sonic Adventure title. For me, this was a good sign because the plot heavy Sonic games of the GameCube era were amazing. While Sonic Forces is a great game, it’s not quite as downright amazing as I had expected. A few areas hold it back from that.

The story starts off with a bang as Sonic heads to the city to help the others take down Eggman as per usual. Instead, he is greeted by all of his old foes and a new one known as Infinite. They defeat and presumably destroy him. A level or two later you find out that Sonic is alive and has been kept prisoner for the last few months. Classic Sonic also shows up from a portal to help out. Meanwhile, Terry (The name of my avatar) has decided to realize his potential as the ultimate life form. He frees Sonic and basically leads the charge against Infinite. Can the heroes defeat this opponent who effectively seems unbeatable?

Aside from the main story we also have a 3 level Shadow The Hedgehog prologue. It’s pretty fun as we see Shadow head off to help Omega fight Infinite. We also learn Infinite’s origin story. It’s very short since there are only 3 levels and they are pretty fun since playing as Shadow is always great. That being said, after playing the main game it can seem a little lazy. They reuse at least one of the levels from the main story as well as the final cutscene. There also aren’t any boss battles to be found here. It’s extra content and context for the story so I can’t complain about it too much but the story aspect also doesn’t make sense.

Many spoilers on the story will follow from here so skip the next 7 paragraphs if you haven’t played the game yet. Shadow is talking to Rouge towards the end of hiss prologue and she tells him not to bother going to help Sonic since he has the situation under control. That’s fine. Then she tells him to forget that because the situation has changed and Sonic is up against a squadron of lethal foes. The cutscene ends here and presumably Shadow dashed off to help. Despite this, in the main story he doesn’t show up until months after this event as he helps Sonic against a fake Shadow. Why did he not make it in time with his speed? At the very least he should have been informing the team about Infinite and had a more active role in the story. I feel like with his prologue they created it after the story so they were stuck by that point.

The main story is also a little…strange. It’s not like there are a bunch of plot holes or anything but the random time skips have you feel like the game is on fast forward. For example, Sonic loses and suddenly 3 months past. Why does everyone immediately assume he is dead? Why did it take 3 months for anyone to do something about it? The characters act like Tails has gone crazy or cracked since Sonic left but he seems perfectly okay to me. Classic Sonic popping up was also one of the most random moments in the game. He doesn’t have any real reason to be here and while I don’t mind crossovers for the sake of crossovers, I feel like he doesn’t even look that good. He clearly has no idea what is even happening and just goes after Eggman like it’s the good ole days. If they could have squeezed in a fight with Infinite that would have been awesome. Otherwise it’s really just a waste.

A cool part of the story was when Silver fought Infinite. Now that was a really cool battle and it’s a fight that was always fun to think about. Silver got wrecked of course but it was a cool visual. Of course for every positive, there is another limitation that pops up. The fights in the game are all made up of a singe homing attack of a bump. At the end of the game we get to see everyone taking on the army of Sonic villains and Shadow is just swerving from side to side and somehow he is knocking his opponents out with his hips or something. Keep in mind that these clones are supposed to be as strong as the real ones and yet, Shadow beat his clone in a single hit. I think the writers just added that line to add some drama and suspense but it didn’t make sense.

I think the first moment I knew something was wrong was when Chaos got one shotted by classic Sonic. Not only is this disgraceful to Sonic DX fans, but it was a perfect chance for a boss fight. The fact that they didn’t do so was rather alarming. Then the same thing happened with Shadow as mentioned above. It gets to the heart of the issue which is that Sonic Forces’ story feels like clickbait at times. You’re waiting for something really awesome to happen and then it never does. The only clone who really got a good role was Zavok since at least he got some hype lines and talked a good game. I would have been pretty upset if he had actually defeated Sonic though. I just wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around that. Another example of this is at the end when you beat Infinite. He starts yelling about how he can’t be defeated and flies off….never to be seen again. Yes, there could be a post game mission to solve that, but I wanted him to show up in the main story. Why did we not get Super Sonic? He should be a staple in the series and yet he hasn’t made the cut lately. I thought for sure that he would show up here since Infinite was so powerful.

Another very odd moment was when they said that Eggman had been torturing Sonic for months. That came out of nowhere and was there purely for edge. Sonic still makes one liners and walks out of his cell like it was nothing. It’s cool that Sonic never lets things get to him, but the torturing reference should have been cut out, especially since the game barely acknowledges that it even happened. Another weird moment is when Eggman has Infinite hit Sonic with a new Null weapon which will trap him inside of an indestructible void. Sonic…then breaks out so fast that it’s not even a level. It’s practically back to back cutscenes where he’s out instantly. It hints even further that a big chunk of the game was simply cut out. I feel fairly confident that this isn’t the original Sonic Forces that we were supposed to be getting.

Lets talk about the Avatar. Terry is legitimately amazing. I gave him a really cool design so he looks like an evil Sonic. He takes charge of the situation and even holds his own against Infinite. The cutscene where he stands his ground is handled excellently as well as his quick save towards the end of the game. He’s a great character and while it may be a little cheesy with how he is the chosen one and all…I could get behind it. Pro tip, don’t switch away from his flamethrower. You can beat levels really quickly with that one although the whip isn’t bad.

Infinite is also really cool, but admittedly not as great as he could have been. I felt like his origin story was actually made after people started making fun of him. He basically gets wrecked by Shadow and starts trembling. He tries to psych himself up by yelling about the whole thing, but it doesn’t work and Eggman kidnaps him later on to give him the new power. With it Infinite talks a good game and has a great voice so I can get behind that. All of his lines are quite awesome as well. The origin story could just have been better, but I’m glad we got to see a glimpse of his old self. Surprisingly we didn’t see that in the main story, but budget cuts and all that. I hope he appears again someday because the character has a lot of potential. We just should have seen a fight between him and the Super Hedgehogs. Maybe the Shadow vs Infinite battle since they teased it in the prologue and the two have a history. It makes no sense why Infinite wouldn’t fight him. Of course, it makes no sense why he would let Sonic live every time aside from plot convenience as well.

There are 3 gameplay styles in the game. Lets start with the best one, Modern Sonic. The levels are really awesome and you’re always moving at a high speed. I actually really like the boost mechanic since it feels good to actually enjoy using the speed that Sonic is famous for. The levels are unfortunately a little on the short side as a result and you can finish basically all of them in under 2 minutes. There are some annoying traps where a hole will suddenly pop up thanks to spotty level design but it’s not enough to really hurt the style. That’s why we need another fast Sonic game without a gimmick. No Werehog, No Wisps, No Classic Sonic. I just want a 3D Sonic game where you can zoom from start to finish the whole time and enjoy yourself along the way.

Then there is the Avatar levels. They’re actually quite good and are basically what people would have wanted Sonic Boom’s gameplay to be like. He still feels like you’re playing as Modern Sonic half the time, but you also get a weapon now. The controls are pretty smooth unless you’re using the thunder wisp in which case you’re doomed. Using your grappling hook is always very satisfying and it’s just handled great all around. It’s another reason why I am ultimately glad the character made it into the game. If his inclusion is the reason why the rest of the game suffered then I’ll take that back, but otherwise I am all for it.

Unfortunately there was one gameplay style which did not work. That would be Classic Sonic and he is the only character where I would actually get disappointed if I saw his level coming up. Whoever added on his gameplay style did so at the last second as it isn’t polished at all. The controls are slippery and the levels aren’t all that fun. You can’t go fast because you’ll just fall and you’re left wondering for the 100th time why he is in this game. He just should not have been here and you can tell that the developers didn’t care by this point.

To point out some more laziness on the game’s part…they reuse boss battles. Yes, you heard that right. One big example that is impossible not to notice is Metal Sonic and Infinite. Both of them are the same boss fight and they simply recolored Metal Sonic to make him look like Infinite. It’s why Infinite also looks huge during the whole boss fight for no real reason. The game also reuses level designs throughout under the guise of Classic and Modern as well as the Avatar. Honestly this just doesn’t feel like a AAA game would would be double at the most. It explains the reduced price, but I fully expected and wanted my Sonic game to be as high budget as it can get.

As expected the graphics are really solid. The colors may not be as striking as Adventure 2 Battle but it has some pretty solid moments. Any scene with Infinite usually has a pretty good color palette. I don’t think the game looks as good as it could have, but I still can’t really complain about it either. It’s at a high enough level where I am definitely still satisfied.

The soundtrack is also really solid as we get a bunch of remixes and lyrical songs. Not all of the lyrical songs are a hit, but most of them are. There are definitely a lot of up beat ones in there and the intense Infinite theme also shows up. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of the sound didn’t really do a great job as the effects will often drown out the actual music. This can be pretty unfortunate when you want to hear the tune but can’t focus on it with all the background noise.

Well, the main area that does hurt the game somewhat is it’s lack of replay value. The main story isn’t very long as it is so not having a multiplayer mode doesn’t do it any favors either. You can get all of the S ranks and clothes for your avatar but if you actually try that shouldn’t take very long either. That’s because there is a new system involving daily missions. Essentially you clear the mission and unlock a score boost which makes it easier to get S ranks. I don’t even know what you get for obtaining them all but hopefully it’s something epic. Grab your Platinum Trophy on the way back of course.

I could go on for quite a while, but lets get this into perspective. Sonic Forces is still a great game of course. The gameplay is tight and the technical aspects are on point. The story is awesome and epic even if it feels like someone cut out 80% of the game to speed things up. There are a number of weaknesses, but many of them are only so large because I’m a big Sonic fan. It also couldn’t have had many of these negatives if it had chosen to go with a retro plot of Sonic simply stopping Eggman with no real cutscenes throughout and then we wouldn’t have expected so much out of it. The main menu interfaces are really clean and sleek. They’re some of the best out there and Sonic always sets a high bar for this. The game feels modern in many ways like that. You just won’t be playing it for a long time compared to the average game.

Overall, Sonic Forces is better in concept than in the execution. It’s just a little too short and you can’t help but think that it got rushed out of the gate or was given low priority for some reason. There were so many reasons why this game should have been just about perfect which is why it is disappointing that the game didn’t live up to its potential. It’s still a great game so at least it’s not like Star Fox Zero or anything. It’s a small consolation at least. Infinite and the Avatar were good additions to the cast. Maybe Sega will take another shot at this game in the future and get it perfect this time around. I’ll still hold out a lot of hope for the next Sonic game and I eagerly await seeing what Sega will do from here with the 3D titles.

Overall 8/10

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Naruto Ultimate Ninja 4 Review

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It feels like such a long time since I’ve played one of the Naruto Ultimate Ninja games. It’s a pretty nostalgic series for me because I remember playing Ultimate Ninja Heroes nonstop on the PSP back in the day and also sank a ton of hours into Ultimate Ninja 2. The games just had an excellent amount of replay value with tight gameplay to boot. It was almost sad to see how far my skills have deteriorated from those days. In time I could get them back, but it would take a while. Ultimate Ninja 4 is a fun sequel. I wouldn’t say it is strictly better than 2 because some aspects as a bit weaker, but it’s still a great game all the same.

The main story mode is called Master Mode this time around. Basically there are two chapters in the game. The first is an original story about Naruto helping a girl avoid her path to self sacrifice. You have to fight a giant monster and it’s pretty fun. I was surprised when it ended so fast though. Then the game adapts a little less than half of Arc 1 of Shippuden as you get to meet up with the fake Itachi. The main gimmick for this story mode is that unlike the main gameplay of the other modes, you fight in 3D here. It’s like a beta for the Ultimate Ninja Storm games. It’s pretty fun, but you’ll quickly realize that you’re just using the same combo a lot. It’s the only one worth using because it does so much damage. The game is fairly easy so you shouldn’t have any problem clearing it. It’s only around 3-4 hours long and probably a lot shorter if you really blast through it. I appreciated the experiment and it seems to be a popular thing to do as Tekken 6 also had a main story mode which was in 3D while the rest was in 2D.

There’s a backup story mode where you relive the original series. Most of it is told through flashbacks while you get a few fights. It’s not the most engaging way to re learn the story, but it does allow you to unlock new fighters so it’s worth going over. Aside from that you have the multiplayer mode and the shop where you can buy a lot of things. There is a ton to purchase and earning money takes a while at first so this definitely helps to add a bunch of replay value for a while. Either way, the multiplayer has you covered in that regard. One thing to always remember is that for fighting games, the story is the cherry on top, but not the cake. As long as the gameplay is really good, the rest will all fall into place.

The gameplay is different from many other 2D fighters. You can jump between the background and the foreground. You can launch opponents with up to 4 different directions per hit which results in numerous combos. Once you launch an opponent in the skty and gives chase, it becomes a matter of timing. You have to press the substitution button at just the right instant and it keeps on getting faster and faster. Hesitate too much and it’s over or press too quickly and you’ll meet the same fate. It’s pretty interesting and this is one game where it’ll get pretty advanced as you learn more and more.You’ll definitely be very engaged with the gameplay style right from the start and my favorite part of it is probably that every character has a homing attack. It’s always a lot of fun to use.

I don’t care for the new rock paper scissors gimmick they added though. Occasionally you’ll see this happen and the computer happened to win it virtually every time. You can’t really beat a computer in a “luck” game unless they allow it after all. As a result, the whole thing feels sadly futile at times, but you won’t lose much health even if you lose the round. I also don’t like the fact that they got rid of the triple final smash. In the older games you had 3 different levels of a final smash like in the Marvel vs Capcom games. Unless they just got rid of it for story levels, you are down to only one in this game and you either switch it in the main menu or you have to play a different version of the character to have another attack. Either way it is a bit of a downgrade.

Really, that’s why this game can be a bit of a downgrade from Ultimate Ninja 2 at times. The story definitely isn’t as good as 2’s which was a cool original plot and the new gameplay mechanics just don’t help. It’s still a very solid game as it kept most of what made the originals a lot of fun, but there probably isn’t much reason to play 4 when you can play 2. Unless you really like the Shippuden cast more than the regular one I suppose. It’s a shame that Ultimate Ninja 5 never came to America, I would have been curious to see how that one would have been.

The graphics look pretty good. They’re not amazing and the style doesn’t pop out as much as the Clash of Ninja series since they’re going for a more drawn look, but it works well. The final smashes are still flashy when they need to be and the game has held up well. The music selection is also pretty good. It reuses some themes from the older games, but I’m assuming that some of them are new as well. There is a pretty good amount of variety here so you don’t have to be worried about getting spammed by the same song too often. As far as difficulty goes, Ultimate Ninja 4 definitely isn’t too hard. Like I said it can get pretty difficult if you turn the computer all the way up or fight an opponent who knows what he is doing, but at the very least you’ll breeze through the story.

Most fighting games have at least one broken character and at least from my casual perspective I feel like that would be Itachi here. When he activates his slow mode attack, you can barely move. It also lasts forever so he can get a bunch of different combos in the meantime. Even if you jump overboard and re spawn, his attack will still be active. That was the only fight where I almost lost in story mode and had to quickly cheese him out with final smash attacks. The computers don’t seem to dodge it very often. They either block or get hit, there’s never an alternative.

Overall, Naruto Ultimate Ninja 4 is a solid game. I think they should have gone a more traditional route as far as the story is concerned, but it worked out all right. I’m sure they learned from this after all. The character cast is fairly decent even if it doesn’t look too impressive because of the wheel they set up. I think a character roster should always let you see all of the characters at once like in Super Smash. That one is basically the ultimate template for a fighting game. I am now one step closer to owning all of the Naruto games which is pretty impressive. I’d definitely recommend checking this game out. It’s old enough where it’s retro, but modern enough where the gameplay still feels pretty intense.

Overall 8/10

Asdivine Hearts Review

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It’s time for another installment from Limited Run games. It’s had a pretty good run so far and this is probably the best game they’ve ported yet. It’s a classic RPG with all of the old elements in tact. It started out as a mobile game which explains why they didn’t mess around with the formula too much. Maybe it’s just me, but I think you only need the core aspects of an RPG to do well. A solid leveling up system, a map, and a convenient way to heal/save. As long as you have that then you’re okay. Modern RPGs sometimes get lost in all of the extra features that take away from this basic concept. This title pulls it off flawlessly.

The game starts off with the Light and Dark gods fighting it out. (Okay, a little cliche, but who doesn’t like a classic Good vs Evil theme?) The Light god is defeated and falls to Earth where she possesses a cat. This takes us to our heroes Zack and Stella. They grew up in an orphanage and are now getting ready to head to the outside world so they can earn money and support the other orphans. As they traverse the forest, they notice their cat change. It wasn’t very subtle since the Light goddess loves to talk. They call her Felix since that was the cat’s name. They also don’t believe her story about being all powerful after all, but I don’t blame them since Felix basically has no power for most of the game due to possessing such a small animal. The fate of the world now rests with these two teenagers and their pet cat goddess. Can they really stop the Dark god from destroying the world?

There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot, but I’m trying to avoid them to you can see for yourself. In short, the Dark god has his reasons for doing this even though the two gods used to be best friends. I don’t agree with them at all though as even being sympathetic is a stretch. It’s one of those cases where the whole game would have been averted if there had been a little more communication between the characters. I’d also say that he went off the deep end either way so you just can’t defend him. Felix was surprisingly shady as well, but she finally learned the values of friendship.

The gameplay is your classic turn based combat. You can use physical skill attacks or magic against foes. I used magic for the first 70% of the game until I found out that skills are actually far more powerful. I recommend focusing on those but always have a magic stone equipped so you can learn new spells. Uriel and Stella’s are especially helpful since they weaken a boss’ defense and attack. It’s a simple gameplay style but you always learn new things. I had been using Stella’s final smash throughout the game since it restores everyone’s HP and MP, as well as increasing all of their stats to the max, but little did I know that Uriel’s is even better. I used it against the Final Boss and he was frozen for almost 20 turns. It was crazy and that Final boss was definitely unforgettable. He had a similar move where he’s paralyze you for the whole fight so it was merely a question of who used the ability first.

Be warned that whenever you flee a monster encounter you lose some final smash meter. (9% to be exact) My strategy was to run until I made it to the end of the dungeon. There is always a save point near the end which tells you that a boss is up ahead. Then I’d quickly fight a bunch of monsters to get my full meter back and then fight. The save point heals your HP and MP as well so this way you don’t have to waste any items on the way. You will almost definitely need to do some serious grinding before you finish the game, but it goes by pretty quickly here. The enemies give you a lot of EXP.

Also, make sure you break any rocks that you see by the enemies. They have a chance to have 3 AHP points within them. You can save up to 20 of those to buy a 20% up EXP item for a character or save up to 100 points so you can have a full team revive during a boss fight. I went the whole game without getting 100 so I’m glad I just went for the EXP right away, but it depends on how you play. I’m sure there is a way to find more rocks, but you can’t find out much from the game online. It’s just trial and error so these are the paths that worked for me. As you can see, the gameplay was simple, but pretty detailed. I could spend a while just talking about that aspect, but you get the idea.

Zack is a solid main character. He’s your classic adventurer who rushes into danger and is always confident in his skills. He’s a nice guy but doesn’t tend to be very formal so all of the characters call him out on this. I’d think that formalities wouldn’t matter much when the planet is at stake, but evidently it is still a priority. He has to make some tough calls at the end, but chooses the right ones. I definitely have no qualms with Zack and he was an engaging protagonist to follow.

Stella is the main heroine and she’s pretty nice. Her unfortunate tendency to try whipping the main character when he’s being nice is a little suspect, but she actively tries to control herself as the game goes on. She’s a little more timid than the other main characters which is another part of her character arc. Based on her design in the sequel, she has learned to be more independent so it’ll be cool to see how she is there. She’s a good character even if she’s not a great one.

Celine is a high priestess who ends up joining the cast and becoming a main character. The fact that she knows hand to hand combat is certainly helpful. She also objects to Zack being nice to everyone all the time but gradually learns that he doesn’t mean it as an insult. I’d probably rank her last among the main heroines, but they’re all rather close. She just didn’t seem to bring as much to the table as the others and her subplot about lacking confidence didn’t really help matters.

Uriel is a mysterious girl who claims to know Zack from the past even though he doesn’t remember her. To pay Zack back for saving her life, she will now help him save the world. Her dark magic is incredibly useful in combat and she is the most loyal of the allies. She was my favorite member of the team and I relied on her Final Smash attack for the final boss. If I’d known it was so good, I would have used it sooner.

Felix is an intriguing character since she acts nothing like what you’d expect based on her role in the universe and character design. Instead of being a wise old lady who brings peace, she’s always insulting the humans and picking fights. She talks quite a lot and doesn’t follow any orders even if they’ll save a lot of trouble. It’s all about her pride here. She’s a fun character to have around since this results in a lot of banter. It was unexpected, but certainly in a good way. I already talked about the Dark god. He comes across as very whiny and completely unsympathetic so you’ll just think of him as another obstacle in the road. I preferred his two Legion generals.

Finally we also have the Dark Copies. The heroes end up travelling to a Mirror World towards the second half of the game where they meet evil copies of Zack and Stella. They were definitely interesting characters. I don’t like either of them, but they make for really good villains. It always ups the stakes when you find an evil version of yourself. They were also quite powerful and had some of the more challenging boss fights in the game. They were a great addition to the cast. You need human opponents like that once in a while because just having monsters isn’t as personal. Throwing in the humans shows that you can’t trust anyone in the mirror world.

There are a few supporting characters like the Queen, Lars, Luna, etc. They are fairly good. They add to the plot and come in handy, but aren’t really main characters. There are 3 different levels of characters here. The main characters who appear frequently and go on the missions. The supporting characters, these still have full character portraits like the main ones, but don’t get on the front lines. Finally, the non characters, the ones with names, but no accompanying picture. It was a pretty good way of knowing who was important and who wasn’t right off the bat.

The graphics look really clear and smooth. One positive for mobile games in general is that they don’t have the budget to add in the fancy stuff so they make the fields clear so the sprites that they do have look great. Throw in the PS4 resolution and this game really looks modern. There is absolutely nothing dated about the graphics and the character portraits are also high budget as opposed to the interesting Street Fighter V ones. I enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s noticeably limited as there are only 3-4 themes in the game for the most part, but fortunately they are catchy. I really enjoyed the main battle theme which plays for virtually all of the bosses. The game also did throw in a unique theme for the final boss which was definitely appreciated. I have no qualms with this area of the game.

There is a good amount of replay value here as you can try to get all of the PS4 trophies. During that process you can try to hit Level 600 with all of the characters and unlock the various endings. I got the normal ending, which I’m pretty satisfied with, but it would have been nice to have gotten the others. I thought I had enough of a trust level to get one of the bonus endings, but apparently not. The main game will last you over 25 hours as well so it’s not like the game even needed bonus content at all. It’s well worth the price.

Overall, Asdivine Hearts was a really fun game. The plot starts right away and even the intro which is probably the slowest part as you get the feel for the game was fun. A lot of that is due to the smooth gameplay, but the characters and story deserve a nod here as well. I definitely love RPGs since turn based combat/grinding is fun and you spend so much time in the story that you’re almost guaranteed to get to like the cast. The map in this game is also perfect so you’ll never get lost which is huge. I’m not going to say that this was one of the best RPGs ever, but it actually is pretty high up there. I hope the sequel ends up getting a PS4 release as well.

Overall 8/10

Yugioh Ultimate Masters World Championship 2007 Review

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It’s been a long while, but now I can finally jump onto the next installment in the Yugioh World Championships. I believe I am only missing around 4 of them now. The games lasted for quite a while back then and it’s a shame that they’ve stopped. Imagine how many cards a World Championship 2017 would have had. I suppose that with Duel Links the franchise may be wondering how they can top that, but I’d still like to see an attempt. While I prefer humanoid opponents to monsters in the WC series, this game holds up as well as any of the others. It’s pretty well optimized and the load times are nonexistent so that’s a win-win.

The main mode you’ll be playing here is the campaign. Essentially you start off at Level 1 where there are 6 opponents. To unlock the next level you must defeat each opponent 5 times. Fortunately this is now the only requirement to unlock the next level as previous games forced you to achieve a specific victory ratio. That required you to keep on resetting the game right before defeat which was tedious so this is a big improvement. There were opponents in this game that I had a losing record against so I am definitely glad that I don’t have to worry about that now. It makes gathering money a little easier since you actually get to keep it even through defeat.

There are 5-6 levels in the game, but only the first 4 are accessible without having to enter other modes so that’s where I stopped. My final record at the end was 96 wins and 88 losses which isn’t so bad if you ask me. I was just glad to stay above a 50% win ratio so that was satisfying enough. This main mode will likely take you at least 10 hours, but it’ll certainly depend on the deck that you create. Naturally there is a large amount of luck involved on which cards you get and such, but mitigating the risk is part of what makes you a good deck builder. Try to build a lot of combos into your deck so that no matter what you draw it’ll be a good one.

I focused my deck on Elemental Heroes. Sure, it may be borrowed from Jaden, but that’s exactly why I went with the deck. If it was good enough for him to wreck everybody then it’s good enough for me. I added in some extra spells and traps to make the deck a lot easier to counter with so at times it did backfire. Let me say that getting a hand with all traps and no monsters is no good. You always want to have a monster ready to summon or you’re really going to be in a pickle. At the same time, the final opponents all have very cheesy summons and combos so having a trap that automatically destroys the monster and wastes the last 5 minutes of their effort is a must.

The graphics are pretty clean. It’s not as if they’re doing anything too special but it’s easy to look at. The duel field isn’t cluttered and it’s always easy to see what is going on. As for the soundtrack, it’s okay. I think Tag Force has spoiled me a little as the themes there were just super awesome throughout, but the peaceful World Championship score isn’t bad. Honestly I’m usually way too focused on playing my trap cards and going through memes in my mind to actually notice it all that much.

It goes without saying that there is a ton of replay value in this game. After beating all of the main opponents you can go to the other modes that I referenced earlier. One such mode is the Limited Duel. Essentially you have to beat an opponent while adhering to certain limitations. Another one is the Duel Puzzle. You’ll be thrown in the middle of a duel and have to figure out how to win it in one turn. Despite the fact that there are only so many ways you can play your turn, this can actually be extremely difficult. Seriously, don’t underestimate just how tough this is. It’s pretty entertaining though so while it’ll take a while, you’ll have fun trying it out. Honestly it could probably take you as long as an RPG’s game length to tackle everything in this game. I won’t even count collecting all of the hundreds of cards since that would be even crazier. I have around 400 cards and I don’t think I’m even halfway there yet. Not to mention that you buy them lottery style so there is some luck at play there.

You couldn’t really ask for a better Yugioh simulator. Since the game even has mini animations for the big monsters, you really feel like you’re in the duel. The music will also change if you destroy your opponent’s ace monster. As I mentioned, the controls are really smooth so you’re not going to attack the wrong person by mistake. The turns are pretty quick so it’s not as if the long loading times exist to deter you. The amount of cards at play is also pretty good and earning money is quick so you are always ready to buy your next pack. As such I don’t really have any complaints for this game. A minor nitpick would be that I’d prefer to have fought some of Jaden’s opponents from the show instead of generic monsters. The classic Yugioh games all had you fight with iconic characters like Kaiba and Pegasus. There weren’t cutscenes or anything, but at least it would feel more like you were fighting an actual opponent. As you went up the levels you would fight stronger/more popular fighters. Here…I guess having Cyber End Dragon in World 4 makes a lot of sense, but I didn’t even know a bunch of the other monsters. It was just an odd change although the last Yugioh GX game did that as well so maybe it’s just GX’s gimmick or something.

One of these days I’m definitely going to have to make a list where I place all of the Yugioh Games from best to worst. Such a list would be super hype and perhaps I should make that an article. Keep your eyes out for that even if it may not have the clickbait headline that I usually try to have accompanying it. The highest game for Yugioh on my backburner is Duelist of the Rose, which will likely come up pretty soon. It technically is pretty short since there are only about 7-8 duels as opposed to close to 200 in this one, but I’ve heard they are super tough to compensate for that.

Pro tip for when you fight the opponents. Stalling them usually won’t work. I was able to really take advantage of that in the Wii game, but here they always have some kind of fancy combo to wipe the field so they can usually outlast you. If you have the edge in battle, just throw out an attack. Odds are that it will succeed and you’ll be glad that you did. Surprisingly most opponents don’t have a trap card to punish your attack in the later levels as mostly it’s just the intro opponents who will do that.

Overall, If you’re into Yugioh, then this is a solid game to get. My personal favorite World Championship game may still be 2006 because I felt the gameplay was the best from all of them, but I also may be bias because that game had my favorite deck. I went through all of the options for hours in that game and finally came out with a really hype fire deck. Every card had a lot of power behind it and I cruised through the game. Still, I made a pretty solid deck in the end through this game as well and it would be fun if I could fight myself with it. 2010 is also a pretty great title since that one did actually have a main story as well. I’m not sure which WC game I’ll get next, but 2005 is definitely the cheapest one which sounds good to me. I believe it is the final classic Yu-Gi-Oh title that I have not purchased yet.

Overall 8/10

Trinity Souls of Zill O’II Review

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Be warned, there are quite a lot of spoilers in this review. This game has been on the backlog for me since as long as I can remember. I always winced as I saw the low 2% trophy collection hurt my overall average. Well, I decided to finally take the plunge and finish the game. It was as great as I could have hoped although it did have an issue or two that prevented it from getting a 9. There are some artificial means that the game uses to extend the campaign, but I’ll expand more on that in a second. Lets go over the plot first.

Areus is a half elf who has a tragic past. His father was murdered and his grand father is the King of evil, Balor. Areus now lives with his mother and step brother at an abandoned cabin. He earns money by fighting in the Colosseum and he has lived out his life solely to get revenge. He figures that the best way to get revenge is to pretend to join Balor’s army and rise in rank until he has an opportunity to meet with him in person. Then Areus will take him down. Complicating matters is the fact that Areus meets up with Selene and Dagda. Both of these figures have secrets of their own, but teaming up with them will let Areus achieve his goal quicker. Areus’ best friend Dorado is also around and he’s thrilled about Areus joining the army because he’s a big fan of Balor. Areus decides to keep secrets from everyone in the meantime.

Lets start with the positives here first. The graphics are pretty solid. This game is definitely a big budget PS3 game. It spares no expense with the big cutscenes as they even have fight scenes included. It was always a lot of fun to look forward to the cinematics. The in game graphics may not be as impressive, but they are still at PS3 level. The soundtrack is also very good. It can be a little limited as the same fight theme plays for just about every boss. Fortunately it is a catchy one. We also get a lyrical song that plays during a lot of the emotional moments and that one was also handled pretty well.

The gameplay is also a lot of fun. It’s simple, but addicting as you can use many different attacks. Essentially, each move is treated like a special ability. There is no magic meter to worry about so you can use them whenever you want. You can only have 3 abilities equipped onto one menu and you can equip two menus that you shift through with R2. The actual spells you can learn are closer to 15 so you’ll have to make some choices. I played as Areus for about 90% of the game and mainly relied on his sword combos. They seemed like the best bet if you ask me, but I also really liked the fireball ability as well as the Dark Meteor. Find out which attack is best against the enemy you’re facing and then put it to good use.

It feels like a beat em up most of the time as you enter large areas and try to get to the goal while smashing as many minions as possible. I would typically avoid most of them to be honest as I dashed to the exit. If there’s a cheese strategy to be found, I’ll find it. Fighting them is pretty fun though. I just love the 3D action genre so it never gets old. That’s a good thing since the campaign is quite long. It’s a little over 20 hours and the post game content will last you for even longer than that. Getting all of the trophies should bump this up to close to 50 hours unless the grinding gets a whole lot easier all of a sudden.

You can also unleash team attacks. I recommend doing that whenever you want free hits as it doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it’ll temporarily stun the opponent. The only exception to this is the final phase of the final boss so use the tactic as much as possible until then. I’ve covered the basics of the gameplay, but play the game to really get the full picture. The characters are fairly reasonable and the plot is solid. Throw in the replay value and you can see why this game is easily 8 stars. However, it’s time to talk about the game’s limitations.

First is how long it takes for the story to really get going. I mean, it’s a bit of a staple for many RPGs to have a slow start as you get used to the characters and all. I get that, although it is possible to have a much quicker start like The Last Story, KH Chain of Memories, or World of Final Fantasy. The problem is that it feels like almost nothing has happened for the first 15 hours of the game. That’s over half of the campaign feeling like filler. It’s also not particularly good filler. The point is that you’re supposed to really get used to all of the characters and just enjoy seeing them hang out but it didn’t work well. The dreary landscape of the olden days doesn’t help with that and it’s also that the characters aren’t quite that amazing. Areus makes a ton of mistakes all of the time, Dagda’s constant laughter is incredibly annoying and Selene’s plot was basically dropped for no reason. The amount of times you have to do random quests and beat the exact same recycled boss is a bit much. Once the story actually get going it is quite engaging, but it could have sped things up a bit.

Another issue is that because of this, we didn’t get to explore the lore as much as we should have. The final act of the game actually felt a little rushed if anything. We were introduced to some of the big villains quite abruptly, like the mad scientist. He was one of the big legends, but we just walked in and destroyed him in the span of 2-3 cutscenes. Balor went down pretty quick as well. Did we need to fight Sheelah’s group 3 times when we could have fought the others more? Not dissing the Sheelah fights though as they were actually the highlights of the game. Not sure if that’s unintentionally sad though.

Selene had a big subplot where she was looking for someone and would mysteriously vanish a lot. Well, that plot was probably the most anticlimactic as it turns out her sister was a miniboss with a recycled design. You destroy her and Selene gets over it. The plot had a ton of build up and ends in an instant. Dagda is afraid of going to the arena so we take him to the arena. That plot was just boring. Finally, we have Areus and his quest for vengeance. This one confused me a bit as usually the moral is that you ultimately let go of that right? You forget about getting revenge and just think about justice. Well, the story decided not to go down that path for whatever reason. Instead, Areus went through with his revenge and paid a high price. He never had any regrets and I felt like the narrative never even tried to paint this as a bad thing. It was just a “Good for him” kind of vibe I got from the game.

There’s also the mysterious cloaked Angels who have made a pact with Balor. It’s hard to tell if they’re a fanatical group (Most likely) or actual supernatural beings who would have done something in a sequel. (This game’s actually a prequel by the way. I did not know that) Either way we will never know because they appear as minions in one brief level and then never appear again. Granted, the level was awesome and very atmospheric as we break into a church and start beating people up, but that plot line felt like it had so much potential. The story as a whole had a ton of potential and it completely squandered it.

Back to Areus, he’s an okay character but you can see why he’s not great. He talks an incredibly good game and is always overconfident, but then he ends up losing. Sheelah beat him in a fair fight multiple times which is uncanny. She just kept getting him into choke holds. She even had to save him towards the end because he has no reflexes. Areus is a bit of an embarrassment to the caricature that he is supposed to be. You can’t be the strong, hot headed rival character if you’re always losing. Don’t even get me started on his plan. As if giving Balor the strongest sword of all time that would give him immortality was ever a good idea. I don’t know what that guy is thinking sometimes.

Selene was a good main heroine. She likes insulting Areus constantly and reminding the other two that she is way older than them. One cutscene that was fun was where she woke up from her nap just to insult Areus for no good reason and then go back to sleep. Her mysterious personality also works well even if it never leads anywhere. Dagda is the strong member of the group so naturally he’s not quite as clever as the other two. My only problem with him is that he laughs nonstop and is always trying to boss Areus around even though he’s not the leader. I’m never a fan of insubordination unless the character is doing it for heroic reasons (Wolverine, Superman, Huntress) or to go all the way and become leader. (Sting) Dagda’s has no purpose. (I’m seeing a pattern here)

Dorado is the best friend of Areus, but you’d be hard pressed to guess why. Areus is always being very mean to him and lies to his face throughout the whole game. He also ends up murdering Dorado to which Dorado points out that Areus should have just told him. I do think Dorado would have teamed up with him and Areus was just being short sighted. Instead Areus waited until a point where Dorado could not refuse a fight. Is it any wonder why I don’t like Areus much? Honestly, I’m disliking him more and more as I write this review. Taking down Dorado absolutely did not need to happen.

Sheelah is one of the main supporting characters. She’s a bounty hunter who just wants to get rich, but during the game you learn more about her backstory. I don’t know if it was optional or not since during the game I had a hard time telling the sub quests apart from the main ones which is also why the game took a while. Either way she got more personality than most of the gang and I dare say that she may have been a better character than either of Areus’ companions. Her partners never really got to do anything though.

Balor is the big boss, but he barely ever gets to appear during the game. All we know is that he is smarter than Areus but that isn’t even a feat at this point. He has a pretty good design and makes for a good villain. What he lacks in dialogue he makes up for with a good boss fight. The bosses in general were a little unimaginative with the designs so Balor ranks pretty high up by default. The dragon that showed up near the end was the real hero though. He kept on saving the day and ended up being more productive than the heroes. My favorite villain though may have been the first Dark Knight. (Actually she may have been the only one since the rest couldn’t be squeezed into the game I guess) Her armored form was pretty hardcore. The crazy dual personality may have been more weird than hype, but it wasn’t all that bad.

Come to think of it, maybe the reason the game didn’t delve into almost anything was because it was a prequel. I’m still not going to let that go so easily, but at least it’s a reason. Lets talk more about the terrible plan that Areus has though. He is going to capture the heroes (We meet a legendary golden hero by the way who comes out of nowhere. I was expecting him to be a traitor right from the start but surprisingly nothing came of it. He was just a noble hero right up til the end so not bad I guess? He seems not to mind murder as his team tries to destroy us without warning when we first meet, but I’ll let that slide) Areus brings in the group and is going to stab Balor as he gives him the medal. The plan itself is pretty bad as I never like having to essentially trap your allies just for a chance, but it’s not downright terrible.

The ceremony goes as planned and then a villain runs through the doors yelling about how Areus and the others are traitors. Areus seems to go deaf and just turns to the side. I guess he figures that if he ignores the villain then it’ll all go away. Balor just tells the guy to get out and the guards grab him. Unfortunately, he breaks free from the guards multiple times and keeps on spelling things out for Balor. Areus still does nothing so Balor trolls him by taking unsheathing Areus’ sword for him. Areus seems stunned as he has basically given Balor an extra weapon now. Then they are all locked up and the dragon has to save the team again. Why is Areus such an inept main character? He just keeps outdoing himself throughout the game with this moment taking the cake.

It’s too bad that all of the hype scenes are at his expense. As I mentioned earlier, the story can be slow so I always get super hyped when something really happens. The Sheelah fights were always exciting, the brief bout with the gold hero, the dark knight, Balor, etc. It’s just that Areus looked terrible in all of those cutscenes as he apparently can’t beat anyone outside of gameplay mechanics. Even his clash against Balor naturally had him need help from everyone else. He was only able to land the big blow at the end when Balor was weaponless and literally could not move. That’s our hero for you.

I should also mention that Areus failed to save his Mom and brother when they needed him the most. I don’t know why it took him so long since he got there late, but it just reminds you that he should have told Dorado everything. I doubt Dorado would have just went over and murdered his family if he had known. At the very least if he planned to do it anyway, Areus could have taken him down there. The game can be a little overly tragic at times and I think the game could have let them live, but it was all to remind Areus that he couldn’t show mercy at the end. The game was actually kind of edgy if you think about it.

Overall, The last few paragraphs may have sounded really negative, but it’s just that Areus is easy to mock. The guy failed time and time again. I didn’t even realize that I didn’t really like the character until I began writing this review. The game is definitely a complete package of quality though. The grahpics and soundtrack are on point, the gameplay is rock solid, there is a lot of content within this title, the Platinum trophy is also attainable as long as you put in a good amount of time. It’s not an elite title, but it is a great one and I absolutely recommend checking it out. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the story as unintentionally funny as I did at times.

Overall 8/10

Fire Emblem Heroes Review

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It’s time for a new App game! Since I got to Level 40 in Pokemon Go I figured it would be fine to finally check out another free game. This one got a lot of hype back in the day, but I think I got on the gravy train before it completely passed me by. After playing it for a few days I can definitely see why everyone loves it so much. The game is incredibly polished for a free game and it has helped make me a much bigger Fire Emblem fan than I was before. There’s so much to do here that if I took it seriously I would be here a while. It’s going to be more of a side project as new levels come in I’ll complete them and all but I won’t bother going for the more competitive goals.

The game actually has a plot which is already cool. Terry (Your original character protagonist) is summoned into the World of Fire Emblem. The realm is under attack by an evil sorceress with immeasurable power. She has enslaved whole worlds and almost the whole cast is under her power. Terry can tip the balance because he can summon heroes of his own to combat her and he is immune to mind control. You have to team up with the ones who summoned you to stop this foe and rescue everyone who has been enslaved. It’ll be tough though as you’ll have to defeat tough combatants like Lucina, Roy, Ike, and many others. Also, there are so many worlds that as soon as you leave one, the sorceress goes back to reclaim it.

It seems like new levels are added every once in a while, but I don’t expect the game plans to end the campaign anytime soon. The most recent level did end with a big plot twist though. It was one that was certainly expected, but it still counts as progression. There are 12 Story chapters I believe and 10 Protologues, with 2 Xenologues. It’s a pretty good amount of content. I beat the story part of the game in about 2 days, but there is a lot of other content to explore. There are online Arena Battles where you fight other players, Training Stadiums to level up and collect gems, Special Battles where you can fight new matches every day to get more characters and items, Voting Gauntlets, and several other modes.

This game is not lacking in content in the slightest and I probably didn’t even get to try all of the modes for about a week or so. It’s actually very overwhelming at first, but you gradually get used to it as you play more and more. Too much content is never a bad thing after all. If I don’t want to play a mode, then nothing is forcing me to do so. The main currency in the game are Orbs. You get around 5-8 every day for logging in. You can use 20 to purchase a full set of 5 characters. You can also use 1 to replenish your energy each time you run out and you can use 1 during a fight to restore all of your characters and they all get an extra turn. You don’t want to be too frivolous with the Orbs when you start because they get more scarce as you go on.

I mentioned the energy earlier and that determined what you can do every day. Each action costs energy and when you run out you have to use an orb or just stop playing for the day. That’s how they get you as you can purchase extra orbs. I know quite a few people online who’ve spent hundreds on orbs so they could get their favorite character. I definitely won’t be spending any money on this game though. In part it’s because Pokemon Go was my only exception to that rule and also because the game is quite generous with the orbs. I have never been in a spot where I was out of orbs and needed energy or even been in a situation where I was close to that. You would also need to play quite a lot in a single day to approach that limit. It should be a non factor for most players.

Once you’ve beaten the available story chapters in the game, I’d say that the main focus is now to collect all of the Fire Emblem characters. There are currently 168 and I have about 60. The ultimate final goal would be to get all of them to Grade 5 and max them out to Level 40. Of course that increases your time exponentially as doing that is really a long term goal. As such I won’t really be gunning for that. At most I’ll log in every day for my new fighter and eventually maybe I’ll have them all. Even if they’re grade 2 or 3 that’s fine. To improve their grade you have to level back to Level 1 with that character and spend 20,000 Feathers and 20 Shields which are not easy to come by. It can take weeks to obtain that and I personally can’t say it’s worth it unless you’re super competitive in the game.

The gameplay is extremely smooth and highly customizable. It’s classic Fire Emblem gameplay as you position your pieces on the map and attack. All of the characters have special abilities and there are 3 types, Green, Blue, and Red. Each type is good against another one and week to another. There’s also a blank class, but I’m not sure where they fit into all of this. Different characters have different styles of attack like close range or long which you need to take into account. If you want to fight and know that you’ll win anyway, you can set the game to auto fight and let the computer handle the fight while you get a bite to eat or something. I admit that I started doing this quite a lot after I beat the game to save time. You can also turn off the animations for each attack which saves a bunch of time and I wish more games did that. It would be very useful.

Fire Emblem Heroes really shines when it comes to the graphics. They are exceptionally good and easily the best that I’ve ever seen in a mobile game. It spared no expense with the character portraits and attacks. It’s one of the things that really drew me to the game when I first started. It’ll be really cool if they can grab more animated cutscenes by the end of the game, but even if they don’t I’m still pretty satisfied. The soundtrack is also solid. The themes are limited, but memorable. All in all I’m sure a very large amount of money was put into this game and I’m sure that it has made it all back quite easily.

It’s time to go back and rank all of the mobile games. In 1st is clearly Pokemon Go. The game’s amazing and I’ve put in over 1000 hours by now. You just can’t overestimate just how influential the title is. Truly a legend. 2nd is Fire Emblem Warriors. The immense amount of content and reasons to keep playing speaks for itself. I also like the generous log in bonuses as you really feel like it’s worth it to keep showing up. 3rd is Marvel’s Contest of Champions. It was a fun game, but a big step down from the first two as the gameplay was very repetitive. It also had a very long story mode but it was considerably lower budget and you never felt like you were making any progress. Honestly it’s a very similar style to Fire Emblem Heroes but think of the difference being like Mario Galaxy vs Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. 4th is Ingress. It’s basically just like Pokemon only without the Pokemon and the Gyms. It may go up as some point, but my whole area is owned by the opposing team and I need to reach Level 6-8 in order to actually do anything about it. I dunno, it’s fun enough but I always can’t help but think of how many Pokemon I’d be catching if I had Go open. Finally in 5th is 1010!. It barely counts when placed with the others since it has no plot and it more of a very simple game app. Still, I did play through it so counting it is fair. It’s a lot of fun at first, but actually gets less so the higher your score gets. After all, who wants to spend 30 minutes trying to top your score only to come out short in the end? Definitely not me! That’s 6 App games that I’ve tried out now. It could be a while before another one so we’ll see how that does in the end.

Overall, App games are very addicting. It’s easy to see how this one got so far. For every great title like this one there are probably 100 low budget mobile games that are pretty bad, but I’ve done a good job of avoiding those so far. I hope Nintendo comes out with a Super Smash app at some point as you just know that would be really awesome. I finally got Roy, Ike, and Lucina in this game so I’m definitely very satisfied with my turnout. I’d like to get Marth at some point, but I suppose it could be a while. If you’re interested in the game, I recommend downloading it as soon as possible. Even if you don’t want to play it yet, download the game just so you can start receiving your daily rewards by logging in. That way you’ll be extra prepared with a bunch of extra items and characters by the time you really do start. There are still a bunch of features that I don’t fully understand or have barely scratched the surface of and we’ll see if I ever do. At least it’s nice knowing that they’re there if I ever need them. It may be time to get a real Fire Emblem game, but I’ve heard mixed things on the newer ones and the old ones are so expensive. It’s definitely a tough call.

Overall 8/10

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future Review

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Time for the next Layton game. This is the big one folks. We assemble all of the characters from the first two games and throw in the most fantastic plot yet for epic results. While I don’t really care for some of the final twists in the game, I can’t really go into detail or else it would spoil everything. Needless to say though, the series has always been very grounded in reality which is something to keep in mind for this game. I like to think about what could have been had the twist not occurred, but it is what it is. It’s still a fantastic game and the best Layton title.

The game starts off with the Prime Minister being kidnapped. Layton and Luke head over to investigate when they are told a fantastic story. The Minister has been taken 10 years into the future and they can go over there as well to find him. Layton is skeptical, but he always keeps an open mind about these things so he heads on over. In the future we meet up with Future Luke who is now a genius who can compete with Layton in battles of the mind. He lets them know that Layton has turned evil in the future and rules the city with an iron fist. His gang is in control and the cops are no more. Layton wants to meet his future self and save the Prime Minister, but it will require some brawn as well as brain this time.

It’s just a very ambitious game and the new setting was a lot of fun. All of the usual supporting cast members got to come to the future as well which made for some fun interactions. The cop and his bumbling sidekick are here, Flora is here, the main villain from the first two games is here, etc. Everyone is back which makes the game feel pretty grand and the old villain even gets a backstory. I think the game maybe tried a little too hard to make him a nice guy all of a sudden who Layton treats as a rival, but I can roll with it. The standout character here is definitely future Luke. He had the perfect voice for the character and we just haven’t seen a really overconfident genius until now. They were either all very polite like Layton or not the genius type. Luke was just a nice contrast and any scene he was in was pretty great. It’s no exaggeration to say that he is my favorite character in the series. He was just really awesome.

The rest of the characters are really good as well of course. Layton is still a great lead who always stays calm and collected no matter what happens. He just stays in control of the situation and always has a plan up his sleeve. Honestly, I could have done without his flashbacks, but I suppose this way we finally learned about his past. It wasn’t the most interesting of tales, but I guess it gave him his motivation for why he became a genius. Young Luke is the same as always. He’s pretty eager to help out with the cases and he is actually very smart, but still lags behind the others. He’s nice enough.

I definitely enjoyed the story and it certainly went by quickly. The game is of a pretty decent length as it will last you over 10 hours, but the pacing is just really solid. It’s also still funny how everyone will randomly challenge you with puzzles for everything so you’re always solving. It’s sort of like how everyone duels you in Yu-Gi-Oh. The more forced the situation the better. That being said, I did have some problems with the final twists. I’ll try to go about it in the least spoiler way possible. Just skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to learn about the twists.

So, the big twist is that there is no future and the characters were just taking an elevator which took them to the basement of a building where the main villain created an exact duplicate of London down to every building and street. I get that the whole future thing didn’t work since it wasn’t realistic…but is this any better? I just have a very hard time believing that a duplicate London could be built without anyone knowing about it. You’d need an incredible amount of resources and time to do it. It would take at least a decade and probably more. Not to mention that at least one worker would have likely squealed at some point. I feel like the entire story doesn’t work as a result and I could not wrap my head around the twist. It happened though, so I just gotta hold that L.

The graphics are pretty good as usual. It’s still very impressive how the game has complete animated cutscenes within it. The normal levels also look really good and the puzzles are pretty clear. The soundtrack is actually better than usual and it’s easily the best Layton soundtrack. Again, you can tell that the creators of the game really put their all into this one. It’s just very well done on all accounts.

If I had another minor gripe, it would be that the puzzles can be a little unclear at times. You just don’t know what they want you to do and that can naturally make them difficult to solve. On the other hand, the game is more generous with the hint coins than usual so you should usually have enough to help you out with the tougher ones. A lot of other puzzles you can also guess through as there are a limited number of answers so you’re bound to run into the right one sooner or later. All in all, it was a solid puzzle selection though. To help with replay value, you also have parrot minigames and a car one. I didn’t play around with those much, but they’re not bad. There’s also the extra puzzles that you didn’t solve during the story. If you count all of that, the game will definitely last you a long while.

Overall, This was a really fun game. Everything is smooth, from the interface to the controls in the puzzles. I’ve definitely enjoyed the Layton games a great deal and can’t wait to buy the next one. The next game is apparently the start of the prequel trilogy so for all intents and purposes, this was the big climax of the series. You should really play the first two games to appreciate this one more, but it’s pretty new gamer friendly so you’ll be able to get into it either way. I already own the next game so I’ll certainly be starting it soon after a quick break to play through LBX first. Imagine if all puzzle games were like the Layton series, I’d be playing them a lot more.

Overall 8/10

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

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