Kingdom Hearts III Review


It’s time to look at a game that fans has kept fans waiting over 10 years. There have been a lot of spinoffs and such after KH2 which were all pretty solid but everyone was ready for 3. After all, this one was going to end the arc and wrap up the organization plot. It’s definitely a fantastic game and an excellent end to the trilogy.

Following the events of KH2 Sora and Riku took the mark of mastery exam so that they would be strong enough to stop the mastermind Xehanort now that he has returned from the grave. Unfortunately Sora failed and lost all of his powers. To reclaim them he must go to a bunch of Disney worlds and reaffirm his reason for fighting. Riku and King Mickey head to the world of shadows to save Aqua and to begin gathering the 7 Keyblade masters. Will that be enough to stop the newly resurrected Organization XIII?

As always the gameplay here is a blast. I always enjoy a good 3D action game and the combat is very well done here. There are a bunch of different mechanics to learn and utilize as well so you always feel like you have a lot of options. It’s all very fast paced and one big change is instead of forms like Master, Final, you have temporary super attacks or weapon changes. It’s effectively pretty similar although I liked the outfit changes that the forms had. The super moves range from things like boats to cars, tanks, etc. They’re all pretty handy although their damage output never seems to get any better so towards the end of the game I’d like to have turned them off as the would take up space in my combat zone. (I’m sure there’s a way to select a different super attack when you have more than one option but I was not able to find that out.

To make the worlds a little more special in this game, each of them have their own unique gameplay element. In Toy Story you can control a robot, in pirates a ship, etc. It’s pretty cool that they developed so many game modes for this title. It does help to make the whole experience feel even more polished. While playing through the game everything is really sharp. I don’t think you’ll have any gameplay complaints. It’s pretty much perfect and all that you could expect here.

Naturally the graphics are quite good as well. The opening is extremely sharp (Although 0.2’s intro is probably still the best animated one) and the graphics in game are also still very impressive. Square is always at the forefront when it comes to graphics and this game does not disappoint. It’s all very detailed and bright throughout. Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is also very solid. The new intro may not be quite as good as the older ones but it’s almost impossible to top those. We still get quite a few solid battle themes here and the final boss theme is pretty intense.

The story mode lasted a little over 20 hours, but typically is seems like it usually lasts around 30. III does feel shorter than the first two games and was one of our least played KH titles, but I have to factor in the fact that I was dashing through the game for the most part. I haven’t gone back and done all of the bonus content. Once you do that the game will definitely get very long. The Platinum trophy could take as long as 60-90 hours which is crazy. There’s no shortage of content here, that’s for sure. You’ll also want to make sure that you unlock the secret ending or at least watch it on Youtube since there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

While III is a near perfect game, it still does have some issues which keep it from beating KH 2. I’d also say that in terms of the plot it’s the third strongest behind Chain of Memories as well although as a complete package I would put it as the second best KH title. As I mentioned, the game does feel a bit short. This isn’t really a complaint because once a game is 20+ hours it is certainly long enough. I just feel that given how long this game took to come out it could have been longer. If anything it feels like they probably just had this game on hold for most of that time because development wise it doesn’t feel like it should have taken much longer than the usual 3 years for a new game. It took so long that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the code got outdated for the older gen and they had to restart development at times.

The story also doesn’t always go in the direction I’d have wanted it to go. I think adding the dolls was maybe not a good move although this technically started a few games back. By creating a life like doll, a soul can go into it and the character is effectively reborn. As such, you’ll see a bunch of old characters in this game. For the villains it can feel a little redundant because we already dealt with these guys a while back. Do we really need to deal with all of them again? Even more than that though, the villains all seem way too strong. The heroes never seem to even stand a chance against them.

You know that things are getting dicey when one enemy is able to take out all 7 Keyblade masters. How can they beat 13 Organization members then? The power levels definitely seem more than a bit wonky here. Going back to the plot, I also thought Aqua’s plot was a little off. It seems to me like she could and should have left the dark realm a long time ago. There wasn’t much of a reason for her to stay and doing so almost backfired. Finally, I didn’t care for the ending. Granted, the after credits scene certainly saves it, but otherwise the normal ending will definitely be very unfulfilling when you see it. It makes the whole journey less satisfying because try as he might, one character couldn’t outrun his destiny which sort of proves the villains right from the start.

That’s enough of that though. This is still the climax of the arc so we’ve got a bunch of hype moments throughout. If anything you’ll be blasting through the Disney worlds extra fast here because you just want to get to the plot stuff. Typically something plot related happens whenever you leave a world. Naturally the climax is pretty intense as it’s fight after fight. We finally get to see Roxas again which is one of the best scenes in the game. Dark Aqua was also cool and Riku gets his moments even if he does get wrecked quite a bit here. You’ll quickly see why the Heartless tornado is probably the strongest character in the franchise. You’ll be engaged from start to finish during this game. The Frozen section was also impressive as we got the full Let It Go song. I wasn’t expecting that.

Lets talk about some of the characters. Sora’s come a long way from the old days and is mostly past his shaken confidence. Still, he has lost most of his powers and has to train up once again. He does begin to lose his way towards the end of the game, but stays strong when it counts. I do think he was right to suggest trying to save Aqua sooner. Without him the others were definitely doomed. Goofy gets a lot of hype in this game as he’s constantly making the most sense. I think the writers were going for some irony here as Goofy appears to be the smartest of the heroes despite the character not usually having that rep. Then we have Donald who is a good ally as always. He gets slightly less to do but his flare spell near the end was definitely hype.

King Mickey is solid as usual but he has been heavily nerfed. Roxas is a scene stealer and whenever he shows up you can feel the hype. The guy can dual wield Keyblades so you know that he is serious. If anything it’s too bad that he couldn’t appear more, but I do like the possibilities of him being more of a main character in future games. Axel gets quite a bit of screen time here, but at the same time he doesn’t really do anything. He sort of gets hit by the hero curse where now that he is a hero it seems like he can’t really fight all that well. I think he should go back to using his twin discs instead of a Keyblade.

Kairi fans will probably be pretty disappointed with her role. She doesn’t do much of anything and is mainly just a liability. Meanwhile it is nice to see Aqua and the gang also showing up. Aqua definitely looks solid here and Terra has his key moment. Ventus doesn’t do quite as much but he’s always eager to help out, even if everyone tries to stop him. For the villains, most of them don’t get to do a whole lot. They basically just follow orders or pay the price. Two of them start talking about possibly betraying Xemnas, but they never get around to it. Ansem from game 1 doesn’t do much but he’s always a cool villain regardless. Just showing up is neat. Xemnas’ voice feels even deeper than usual and he always makes for an epic boss. Then we have Xehanort who may not be as cool as the first two Ansem versions but he makes for a good final boss as well. I do think there is some plot hax with Sora being able to take him on, but maybe Xehanort underestimated the kid’s potential.

Either way, with the organization gone now that means that new villains will be showing up. The game’s ending does give us a glimpse at who these guys will be. I think the heroes can probably school them if it’s a fair fight, but this is Kingdom Hearts so that is unlikely. There will probably be a bunch of mental battles as well as emotional ones. I also get the feeling that we won’t see the 7 Keyblade masters teaming up for quite a while. The villains will probably separate the team and without Sora they’ll all be lost. Sora, Roxas, and Aqua are probably the 3 strongest Keyblade masters at the moment so the rest could all be in danger.

Overall, Sora takes the line “My heart’s a battleground” to the next level. Things are constantly happening to him and his friends and their battles aren’t always limited to traditional planets. One of the big bosses is literally fought inside of a heart. It’s definitely refreshing to play a Kingdom Hearts game again and hopefully the wait for 4 isn’t nearly as long this time. I’m ready to continue the saga and hopefully this time we’ll get some actual Final Fantasy representation like Cloud or Lightning to show up and help out.

Overall 9/10

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Madden 16 Review


It’s time to look at a game that I forgot to review a long time ago. That game is Madden 16. I bought it ages ago but somehow I just didn’t write a review for it. Well, better late than never right? The Madden series is one that I’ve always considered to be one of the very best. There’s a ton of detail put into the game and while it may not change much from year to year, you can still see a noticeable difference if you skip a few games so the changes are there.

The gameplay follows the rules of the real life version of the game. It’s the kind of title that is fairly easy to pick up and play but hard to master. The series grew more difficult with each game as new mechanics are added each time. You used to be able to just throw the ball where you wanted and then tackle other players. Now you have multiple ways to throw and tackle to the point where you often are not sure which one to use. They all have their weaknesses and strengths. Personally I think the simpler style controls work better but that’s probably because I’m a casual player. I realize that more times than not, complicated controls are the way to go because it leads to a higher skill ceiling. There’s just a lot to take in.

As always, being on offense is the best part. You’re just really in control of the game when you’re playing quarterback. You throw it where you want and it’s not like the computer can force you to toss it. Sometimes a defender will make a crazy play to get at the ball but for the most part any play that goes badly is likely your fault. You’ll realize as soon as you threw the ball that it was a bad idea. Small things like that are what makes this such a legitimate experience. Running the ball seems a little harder than in the old days, particularly in breaking away for super long runs. However you will often pick up at least a few yard which makes for more realistic football.

There is one more realistic thing added although I could have done without this. There are a lot of flags in this game. At one point I thought I was watching the NFL because there were flags on almost every play. It always feels pretty iffy when it’s on your team. I had a long touchdown taken back because of a flag like that. Seemed rigged and I wasn’t playing in Cowboys stadium this time so maybe the developers added some extra Home Field Advantage in this one.

Playing defense isn’t my favorite thing in the world because you often feel helpless against the computer. It’s mitigated a little by the new mechanics of being on the line and trying to shake the offensive player but at he end of the day it still isn’t quite as exciting. I don’t think it’s an issue with the game though, it’s just a personal preference. At least I appreciate that it is easier to try and make a play on the b-ball instead of jumping helplessly like in previous games. Also you can use super sim to just skip all defensive drives completely. It’d be nice if you could have that feature as a saveable option. Meanwhile special teams is probably the least changed from all of the sections but there really isn’t much to change here.

As always the graphics in Madden are very impressive. There’s a lot of detail in every play and the facial expressions are on point. There’s even a nice pre game show and a lot of nice moments throughout that may slow the game a bit but ultimately make the experience that much more realistic. It all feels like a big production and I can say that you will be satisfied when you finally get to jump in.

The soundtrack is not very noticeable since the majority of the time you’ll be in the middle of a game where there really isn’t any music. What’s there is the typical EA mash. The tunes are very catchy and all but the lyrics aren’t always the best. It’s pretty much a non factor in the game but better to have it than not I suppose.

There are many ways to enjoy this game aside from normal matches. You can go through franchise mode and re-enact a bunch of seasons. You can also go online and prove yourself against a plethora of opponents. There are some rage quitters here which can get a bit iffy though. Sometimes it seems like you don’t get the points that you should have. There are also modes to practice and buy trading cards. The replay value here is basically endless.

Overall, Madden 16 continues the series on an elite level. There have been many great Football titles over the years but none have come all that close to Madden as the definitive Football product. It feels like an insurmountable hurdle for any company to hope to achieve. Of course that works out quite well for the players since it’s just such a complete product.

Overall 9/10

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Review


It’s time to look at a game that could go down in history as the greatest of them all. That may sound like hyperbole, but at the moment the Super Smash Bros Wii U title currently holds that spot so it’s not unreasonable to imagine a world where this one surpasses it. I’ve been hyped for this game for many months now. A new Super Smash Bros title always brings with it a certain level of expectations like that and even more so for this one since it was touted as being the ultimate Smash title. It’s effectively an upgraded port of the Wii U game while bringing in all of the previous characters and most of the stages. I’ve already put in close to 50 hours here and that number’s only going to keep on rising.

First off lets talk about the gameplay even though by now it is fairly iconic. The goal of the game is to get the opponent’s damage% up. The higher it is the farther they will be launched when you attack them. Once you’ve knocked the opponent off the stage entirely they lose a life. Once you’ve taken all of their lives away the match is over and you will have claimed victory. While the goal is simple, it’s still a fairly complicated game. I imagine that if this is your first Smash title that you’ll have a pretty steep learning curve at first. Nevertheless you’ll definitely get the hang of it.

Multiplayer is definitely where you’ll spend the most time in this game. The battles are legendary here and with over 70 playable characters and 100+ stages you can keep the matches feeling fresh the whole time. Online definitely helps the replay value even further if you have no friends. Fortunately even just fighting the computers can present a really nice challenge. There are certainly some online issues you will want to be aware of though. Currently the match settings allow you a preference but you can still be sent into types that you did not ask for. If that happens watch out because it will still affect your GSP which is effectively your online rank. I wouldn’t get too attached to it though because that may make you afraid to keep on playing when you see your score go down. It’ll definitely go up and down as you go through more matches, but the important thing is watching your skills improve which won’t happen if you are too nervous the whole time. What you should be most excited about is the fact that this will ensure you fight tougher and tougher opponents as you get better.

Meanwhile there are a ton of other modes to play. While we sadly don’t see the return of a story mode like what Brawl had, we do get a new adventure mode which is similar to Melee’s in the sense that there is a basic story but not too many cutscenes. You are placed in a large overhead map where you have to get to the end. You do this by freeing all of the fighters who have been possessed by the cosmic being. Each fight you go through has some kind of gimmick or element that makes it unique. These can be quite challenging for a new player so I recommend taking a look at the spirits. They will help you overcome these battles but they can be a little overwhelming at times so take it slow.

There’s also the Spirit Board mode which lets you get new spirits by completing more event battles. It’s basically the same as Adventure Mode but without the story behind it. There are over 1200 spirits in the game so this should definitely help you get a lot of play time in. The actual story is around 10-11 hours if you rush it and to 100% the story you’ll probably need more like 20 hours. There are also a few other single player modes like All Star and 100 Man Brawl. You fight hordes of enemies in this mode and see how quickly you are able to finish them off. The single player options are a little more limited than in past options, but compared to the average game it is still a ton of content. As mentioned, most of your time will probably be spent in multiplayer mode anyway.

As expected the graphics are absolutely top notch here. Everything looks really clear and pristine. It’s all so colorful and amazing. A lot of things are always happening on screen at once but you’ll never feel lost. Super Smash always shows up as the best looking Nintendo game on each console and the Switch looks like it won’t be an exception. You’ll be hard pressed to find any game that looks better than this one. The soundtrack is also extremely impressive as there are over 800 songs to be found. I think its safe to say that this game easily has the best ost of all time. There are just so many songs to choose from. You’ll start out with most of them and then you get to unlock the last few hundred. I will add that I think the developers did a good job of letting you start out with all the stages and most of the music while leaving all the characters to be unlocked. The challenger approaching screen has always been one of the most enjoyable parts of the game after all.

Between all the spirits and gameplay this title has unlimited replay value. At the time of writing this review I currently have 4 challenges left to complete. I expect to have those done by the end of the week. I’ll certainly still keep on playing this title daily but I guess it may be time to tag in another title. It won’t have much time before the Christmas batch gets in though which is why I’m still pretty undecided on how to go about that. Ah well, I’ll have time.

I guess the question you may be asking now is..why hasn’t this game passed the Wii U one yet? We can ignore all of the modes and just get to the gameplay because that’s the deciding factor when it comes to Smash. This game series is in a league of its own to the point where all modes are thrown to the wayside in favor of the gameplay. Whoever has the best gameplay wins, it’s that simple. Smash 4 prioritized combos over everything else. Once you learned each character’s combos you would try to get in place to land them. It made you have to learn how to study everything and get into position. In comparison, Smash Ultimate is all about the neutral game. Attacking is now prioritized over defense, but most hits don’t combo into other moves so you simply have to keep out thinking your opponent until you land enough hits for the win.

This results in both players throwing out quite a lot of attacks as most of them are safe now. As someone who likes playing aggressively this is definitely a lot of fun. It’s really tough to fight against though as it can sometimes feel like there are no openings (Especially when fighting a quick ranged character like Roy) but there will always be one somewhere. It’ll take some getting used to. I do think eventually this game will likely surpass the Wii U one, but I don’t think it’ll happen for a little while. I put in over 2200 hours into Super Smash Bros Wii U so it makes sense that I can’t drop it so quickly. I also just prefer doing a lot of fancy combos to the one hit moves but again, I think that’ll change.

I really have no meaningful negatives about the game at all. As mentioned, the online is definitely lacking at present. You’re thrown into matches that you didn’t want and there is no way to team up with a friend locally against other friends online. Hopefully they will be able to resolve that as well as adding in other features like stage morphing and Squad Strike. The latter is something I had been particularly looking forward to in the game so it was a shame to see that it is offline only. In the meantime I’ve had fun growing my GSP with the characters. I got most of them to over a million with my only elite fighters currently being Bayonetta, Marth, Lucina, and Pac-Man. Naturally they are also my 4 mains at the moment since I figure I’ll let the game help me decide that. Usually I end up maining a bunch of characters so this will help me whittle that list down a bit.

Meanwhile I should also talk a bit about some of the new items and assists. For the items, my favorite new weapon is probably the Death Scythe. I believe if you hit someone with it when they are over 100% they will instantly lose a stock which is cool. Likewise, I like the Rage Blaster for its similar function although in this case it gets stronger as you grow weaker. The banana gun is also a fun weapon that may not be super powerful or anything, but it’s just a great concept. I think unlike the characters and stages we did lose a lot of items over the years, but I guess it makes sense not to make the list too huge or you’ll never see some items.

For the Assists, we finally have Knuckles! Along with the fact that most assist trophies can now be destroyed they feel more like pseudo fighters than ever. Some are incredibly flashy as well like the Moon from Majora’s Mask. I can see how fans get a little upset when their fighters shows up as an assist, but never lose hope. All they need is a patch at some point and the character can be playable at any moment. For the Pokemon we also have Solgaleo who is one of the strongest creatures in the game. It’s very hard to dodge his fire charges while avoiding the other players. In general I think the game has heavily buffed these assists so now most of them are lethal. That’s a good thing as it is a lot more rewarding to grab them. Don’t worry, you’ve still got the trolls like Goldeen.

Finally, lets talk about the newcomers. First off we have echos which is the official term used by the game for the clone characters. This was a great way to bolster the character size with requested characters who are similar to their main counterparts. Two very good ones are Dark Samus and Ken. These echos have some slight differences from their main counterparts while being similar enough where you can easily use both versions. My only regret is that we didn’t get more echos. I think this could be a landmine of cash for the company if they reconsider their stance. Imagine having over 50 echos in the game? I’d certainly break out the cash for them.

Then we have the full blown newcomers. One has gotten a lot of hype and naturally that is Ridley. After Project M was able to get him into the game Sakurai had no more excuses so he relented and allowed him to join the party. His moveset is a blast. He may be pretty heavy so getting stuck in repeated attacks will happen, but his massive power is a good counter to that. The game seemed to like adding heavyweights as we also have King K Rool. He’s an iconic DK villain who also looks pretty good. His moveset is pretty fun and you won’t want to underestimate him in the ring.

Repping the newer Splatoon is Inkling. She’s a speed character who is looking incredibly good, but also very complex. I think once players master her various ink gimmicks she will be even more of a force to be reckoned with. With Bayonetta being severely nerfed it will be tough for any character to stop this squid kid’s reign of terror. As a surprising addition we also have Simon and Richter from Castlevania. They are as annoying to fight as you can imagine with their projectile spam being even tougher to get around than Link’s. They’re fun to play as though. Isabelle feels like an echo but is actually treated as a full character. She’s a nice alternative to Villager and her fishing rod is a fun attack to use. It’s pretty hard to avoid when you’re on the ledge.

Finally we have Incineroar. He’s a pretty tough boxing Pokemon who has a lot of power and a pretty cool revenge mechanic. With it he can deal massive damage with a single blow. All in all, I’m pretty happy with our new characters so far. It’s hard to be upset when we already have so many options to choose from. The characters all have their fans for sure. While I would have liked some other characters to make the cut as well like Isaac and Waluigi, maybe DLC is their chance. The first 2 DLC characters we know of are Piranha Plant and Joker. They will definitely be great additions as well with the latter especially being very exciting. I can’t wait to play as him, I’m thinking that his moveset is going to be amazing. With that said though, while the new characters are super cool for now I’m still going for the wins with my classic Marth.

Overall, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is indeed the ultimate experience for Super Smash fans in terms of content. It’s got just about everything here. While we had to say goodbye to some fan favorite modes like Target Attack and Home Run Contest, I wouldn’t be surprised if those are added in at a later date. With how patches come into play nowadays you wouldn’t want to rule such things out. We also have more characters and stages coming through DLC as well so this game is going to stay active for a very long time. If you’re afraid of getting into the series because of the high learning curve, I’d say not to worry about it. We all have to start somewhere and you’ll definitely be having a blast before long.

Overall 9/10

Pokemon Sun Review


Pokémon has always been a franchise that is stocked full of high quality games. It’s hard to recall a single main game that wasn’t absolutely amazing and that’s probably because one doesn’t exist. These games are 9 star worthy and Sun is no exception. While I do prefer Y, Sun adds a lot of interesting mechanics and even challenges the notion of what a Pokémon is by adding in a bunch of aliens and monsters much like Deoxys.

The game starts off with a bang as we see a girl running away from a group of villains. Just as she is about to be defeated she manages to warp away just in the nick of time. We then cut away to the main character, Terry. He has moves to Alola and has decided to take the Island Challenge which is essentially this game’s version of the Gym Leader system. Nobody ever said the quest would be easy and our young hero knows it, but that has never stopped him before. Along the way he will have to deal with many villains and global threats but Terry is determined to take them down to prove that he is the best.

The gameplay is classic turn based combat at its best. To this day Pokémon is known as the best at this system and it’s easy to see why. The turns are fairly quick with almost nonexistent loading times and the game has a lot of depth even though you only get 4 attack options. A new feature for this game is also the ability to use wild Pokémon to get around instead of using HMs to teach your Pokémon these skills. It’s a pretty nice change since you effectively don’t need to waste a spot anymore.

Let’s talk a bit about the cast. I have to say that Hau is easily the worst rival of the series and possibly the franchise. Purely as a rival at least since this guy never even comes close to getting on Terry’s level. Almost as bad is the fact that he doesn’t care and seems to be content staying in second despite some half hearted dialogue that implies the opposite. As far as I am concerned Hau is just a bit of a miss and may have a shot at being the weakest character in the game. Not physically but in terms of character.

Lillie is a fun heroine and it’s nice to have one that learns about the importance of battling. At first she is certainly not a fan of it but by the end she has decided to start training in this style of combat. With or without the character shift her character already has more personality than many other such characters.

The main villain is also a very solid character and potentially the best villain yet. She has a solid design at the end and her ambitions are pretty decent. She is rather psychotic and doesn’t realize how evil she is but the justifications help make her a fun villain to root against since she is so in denial of what is happening. I do think the anime dropped the ball on this one.

Since Hau couldn’t cut it as a rival the game gives us a second one who is more of a match for Terry. Gladion has a pretty good theme and his Pokémon is interesting since it looks very unique. It definitely appears to be man made right from the start so of course you will start to wonder how this kid got one. He gets a big role in the climax and was one of the low key standouts of the game.

Then we have the leader of team Skull who never really gets to do a whole lot. Guzma could have been cut out of the game and not much would have changed. His team in general just wasn’t that good. I suppose it makes some sense that they would seem rather directionless since they were more of a red herring than anything else but it would have been nice if they could have been at least a little formidable. Instead they were a joke right from the start.

Going back to the man made Pokémon, this game definitely toyed around with the idea of different kinds of a Pokémon more than any of the other games. We had monsters who looked like Digimon from space and that helped to mix things up a bit. The Alola forms of the old Pokémon are nice but only when they are supplementary like in this game. I wouldn’t want them to take the place of a new generation or anything like that.

The graphics are the best that we’ve seen from Pokémon or at least the most cinematic. Now we can get full cutscenes throughout the game to ramp up the intensity. It does make the reused character animations a little more noticeable though as each character can only pull off one real animation and then keeps on doing it for a while. Our rival Hau likes to just grin for ages and ages. That’s definitely in character though.

Unfortunately this game probably has the weakest soundtrack among the main Pokémon games. In particular team Skull’s theme is just terrible and the main Alola theme is well below average as well. After seeing the incredible soundtrack of Pokémon Y it really feels like a step back. Most of the themes are still reasonable remixes but they are brought down by the first two themes.

The game will probably last you at least 30 hours and then you still have the post game to deal with. It’s one of the longer Pokémon post games in the franchise with a lot of new Pokémon to catch in the form of the aliens that escaped. It even acts like an extra story in a sense and then you can go to the battle tower and challenge all kinds of opponents. Assuming you also want to collect all of the Pokémon, you are certainly going to be here for quite a while.

Overall, Pokemon Sun is definitely a blast. While the new style of taking on Island challenges isn’t quite as fun as the normal gym leader system, it works well enough. It’s a decent gimmick but naturally not one that you would want to repeat for the next big installment. At the end of the day the gameplay is as great as always and that’s the most important thing. The game has a ton of content to get through and feels like a AAA game all the way through. I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Overall 9/10

Fortnite Battle Royale Review


It’s time to look at what could end up being known as the greatest shooting game of them all. The best part is that the game didn’t even need a huge budget or a AAA company backing it up. It’s a very simple shooter but one that adds in a very unique mechanic to separate it from the rest. Fortnite’s building gimmick is awesome. You’ll find yourself coming back to the game for another round constantly because you simply don’t want to stay away. That’s how you know that the game is rock solid.

There is no story here and no tutorial so you are thrown into the action right away. You fight against other players in 100 man free for alls, 50 teams of 2, 50 vs 50, and squads of 4. You can also form a solo squad to really test your mettle. The map is huge though so you will have plenty of time to practice at the start of each match as long as you aim for the edge of the map. Getting used to the mechanics will happen pretty quickly, mastering them is another bowl of potatoes entirely.

The gameplay is that of a 3rd person shooter with the Hunger Games backdrop. You land on the field with no gear besides your axe. As you traverse through the stage you can break just about anything for material and you will find a lot of weapons and ammo lying around. You definitely want to have a gun for later. The material will all be good for making forts, stairs, and other such constructs. You can use them as a shield or to give yourself the high ground in a fire fight. The possibilities are endless there but just be warned that what you build really stands out and may alert others to your position. The controls are customizable as you can mess with which button does what. The 2 main divisions are Builder Pro and Combat Pro. The main difference is in how you build objects with the former giving each type its own button while the latter has you shift through them. Both have their benefits.

To prevent players from simply hiding for the duration of the map, the stage slowly starts to cave in. You’ll see a large storm approaching from all sides and you have to stay in the safe part of the map. You can use the map to see where the storm is coming from and where it will stop. The storm will move for about a minute and then stop. The game always gives clear indicators of what the status of the storm is here so there is no guess work. It is still very easy to underestimate the storm though so be careful. As you run around you will also have to choose what your strategy is going to be here. Will you run to the circle and start fighting or head to the outskirts and only approach when necessary? I typically like doing the latter as you have time to pick up a great arsenal and are almost guaranteed to place in the top 30. The downsides to this strategy are the facts that you will likely get less kills this way and you will have given up control of the inner forts to other players. I think those are reasonable drawbacks so I stick to this plan but if that sounds bad then simply adopt a more aggressive approach.

It’s very satisfying to see a player approach and then snipe them from afar or jump over to them and start blasting. While playing the game you will quickly learn where everyone’s blindspots are. It’s also not like you’re fighting A.I. who will randomly know where you are. With other humans it’s just a lot more fun because they are actual players and will react as such. It’s all in real time so you have to try and put yourself in their position as you prepare to launch an attack. If the odds aren’t in your favor then you can also fall back and plan a retreat for a while. I can’t stress enough just how massive these levels are.

This also isn’t the kind of game that you can do justice to in a review. It’s just very well crafted. Even the fact that your characters will make a little noise if you step on the grass or run as opposed to crouching. If you crouch then you are basically silent but naturally the trek will last longer. As a result there is no soundtrack as that would make it difficult to hear these details. It does seem like you can use music as a weapon though or perhaps a taunt. Definitely a bold one since you are letting the world know where you are. On the flip side, you can also shoot in a random direction from time to time to keep the other players guessing. It can also work as a bluff if they think that you are in a firefight with someone. Getting the enemy to overthink everything will certainly help you in some way or another.

The graphics look pretty good. It’s fairly plain but looks weren’t the main focus of this title. Everything is quite clear though and that’s important for a game like this one. I like the animation for the terrain. At first it can be daunting to try and create a fort, but eventually you will get it down pat. The more you play the game the better you will get at it and the title never loses its charm. On average I always make top 20 in Solo and top 5 in Duo. It’s pretty nice, but at the end of the day you will want to grab the top spot. There’s just nothing like being able to say that out of 100 players you came in first.

Overall, Fortnite is a blast and has certainly earned its reputation of a legendary game. It’s taken the world by storm and rightfully so. It’s a rather basic game on the surface, but a creative one and that’s why it succeeds. As a result there isn’t much to say about it and yet you could talk for hours about why it is so fun. There is a deeper side to the game as well if you start analyzing the guns and memorizing the map. The more you think about the game the more you will want to play the game even more to test out your theories. The matches can be long or quick and you can leave at any time once you lose or watch through the eyes of another player to get more ideas. All the game is missing is a way to jump into a 100 man free for all with a friend but of course it’s easy to see how that might be exploited. It would be a blast though and I wonder if there is a way to do a 1 v 1.

Overall 9/10

Pokemon Y Review


Pokemon is one of those franchises that is consistently excellent! The games always deliver with a ton of content and it’s just a lot of fun. One can always debate which series handles the turn based combat the best, Pokemon or Final Fantasy. I personally tend to think that Pokemon has it perfected, but it’s a close battle. This is the kind of game where grinding is fun and trying to catch em all feels like a real accomplishment. Especially since the game has hundreds upon hundreds of Pokemon to capture. I’m still waiting for the game that has every single Pokemon in it. Ideally that’s what will happen for the upcoming Switch game.

The game follows a kid named Terry who is determined to be the very best trainer that there ever was. He is so good that he gets two starters. Naturally I went with both fire starters to kick things off since you really can’t go wrong there. If you weren’t afraid of fire before then you soon will be! Of course it does make the team a little less balanced, but that’s just how it has to be sometimes. Rounding out the team that ended up beating the Elite 4 was Yveltal, Steelix, Pelipper, and Lucario. (The two fire starters were Charizard and Delphox) A pretty solid lineup I’d say and one that works wonders.

You have a childhood friend who also wants to be the best and she has plenty of fights with you as the game goes on. You can’t help but feel bad for her as she tries everything but simply can’t catch up to Terry. Surprisingly she isn’t even the champion at the end as a different character gets that role this time. I think a good way of subverting the trope in this game would have been for Terry to sit down after beating the Elite Four when she walks in and challenges him. Sort of the reverse of the original Pokemon games. Then the credits roll and after that it is heavily implied that you lost but vow to challenge her again someday. Still, whether she won or not the main heroine was pretty solid. Probably one of the better ones from the games and maybe even The best. I was glad that she was always eager to fight.

The main plot involves Team Flare who are trying to destroy the world. They plan to use a machine to wipe out all of the Pokemon and over 99% of humanity. Terry quickly shows up to stop them but the villain organization is massive so this task won’t be as easy as it sounds. I think the villain plot got a little less screen time than in some of the other games, but it was enough to be satisfying I suppose. Lysandre makes for a good main villain. His final form was super cool and naturally his theme music was really good as well. Ultimately the group may not have been much of a threat to Terry but then again who is?

One area where this game really excelled is in the music. It may not be a stretch to say that this game has the best soundtrack in all of Pokemon and that’s saying something since all of the games are already so good. In particular, I enjoyed the main Gym Leader theme and the one that plays when you fight the successor in the Lucario battle. Most of the battle themes were quite solid though. Til now the best soundtrack would probably go to Omega Ruby but I have to give this one the edge even though Omega has the single best track in all of Pokemon.

The graphics are really nice as well. I haven’t played a Pokemon game since Diamond so the series has certainly come quite a long way since then. Soon I’ll be playing Pokemon Sun so we’ll see if that game steps it up even more. The characters are 3D animated now instead of sprites, but it’s in a style that should still feel familiar for long time fans. It’s all very easy to look at. From a gameplay perspective the game also shines here as you won’t get lost very easily since the towns all look rather distinct. The map is really helpful with how detailed it is and your normal walking speed is quite fast. There really aren’t any inconveniences to be found here which is great.

Going back to the gameplay, it’s already been perfected so there’s not much more that this game needed to do. It brings you the classic type system as launching attacks that have a superior element to the opposing Pokemon will result in massive damage. Meanwhile you can now Mega Evolve which was a big feature for this game. I wouldn’t say that it seems to affect your stats all that much, but it does come attached with a really cool visual that makes the game that much more hype. The gameplay is fast and you are even able to turn off the attack animations to streamline the process even further. I definitely don’t see how they can improve on the gameplay even more, it’s just so good. Sometimes the simpler battle styles end up being the way to go. Make no mistake though, while it’s easy to play it’s hard to master.

The Elite Four also do seem to be quite a few pegs above the Gym Leaders which is good. In the final battle they got me down to my final Pokemon and he was nearly out. Steelix had to handle 4 opponents all by himself and that’s considering that my whole team was stronger than the champion’s by a range of 5-10 per Pokemon. These Pokemon were no joke and yet the Champion was able to one shot a few of them. I also did like how we got a bonus fight at the very end of the game right when you think the credits are about to roll. This game did a nice job of throwing in surprise fights around every corner. Of course, I wonder what would have happened if you lost to that guy. I feel like it’s unlikely since he is a little weaker than the Champion and only has 3 Pokemon so it’s a fight that you are definitely meant to win.

The base game should take you around 30 hours. That’s already a really sizable chunk of time and after that you’ve got a ton of bonus content to get through. Catching Mewtwo and Zygarde will likely be your first steps, but then what? Well, you can go after the 3 Birds, head to the Battle Tower, and catch the 200+ Pokemon that are still out there. It’s the game that keeps on giving so if you end up trying to do it all then it’ll likely take at least 50 hours or maybe more. It’s easy to see why I spent about 100 hours on most of the Pokemon games back in the day. These really feel like AAA titles.

I’ve been going on and on about how great the game is, but that’s because there really isn’t anything wrong with it at all. The game is pretty much as perfect as you can get. I also did like the EXP system in place here where everyone in your party gets some. It’s a great addition to the game, especially since you will want a strong party of 6 by the end. This prevents you from just powering up the top 2 for a while and then having to power the others up later. You can turn it off at any time as well so it’s not like it ever forces you to use it.

Overall, Pokemon Y is an excellent game. I think I would probably say that it is the 3rd best Pokemon RPG game behind Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Fire Red. I’d put it above Pokemon Diamond as well as the various spinoff games and big console versions. I’d highly recommend checking it out whether you are a Pokemon veteran or a newcomer to the franchise. Just be warned that once you start the game up you won’t be able to bring yourself to leave it very easily. It’s a real page turner from start to finish.

Overall 9/10

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review


This game certainly got quite a lot of hype back in the day and I put in the pre-order for it right away. Fighting games are typically excellent and this one was going to be by ArcSys so it already had the seal of quality on it. While we had the Dragon Ball Budokai games back in the day, we never had a really fast paced 2D fighter for the series until now. It lives up to the hype and I’d definitely say that the company put a lot of effort into this title. There are many easter eggs and the dialogue between the fighters for each match is perfect. There’s a lot to praise here so lets start the review.

The game has 3 Story Modes, which are all slight variations of each other. What differs is who Terry, the spirit of unimaginable power, inhabits to start the game. The main story has him go with Goku so I’ll mostly talk about that plot. The world has been overrun by dark copies of all Earth’s greatest fighters and unfortunately the heroes are unable to access their power. This is because someone has activated a machine which is disrupting their Ki. Until they can find a way to fix this problem, the heroes need Terry to possess them and fight on their behalf. Terry is glad to do it, but will he be strong enough to save the world? The mysterious Android 21 is on the loose and she won’t make it easy. Her abilities put her on a whole other level of power.

I enjoyed the story and it definitely had a lot of potential. I do think that adding Terry was unnecessary. I like having an original character that you play as when they actually appear like in Sonic Forces. When you never actually see them like in this game then it just feels a little tacked on. It’s not as if taking him out of the game would have actually changed anything. I also do have to criticize the fact that we effectively end up playing the same story 3 times. Each story has around 40 battles so they’re decently long and that could have given the title more time for What Ifs or maybe an adaption of the show. While each story has different details and the last one is implied to be the true story, they all contradict each other so I guess you can decide which story you want to be canon.

Whether there was potential lost there or not, it was a fun story to get through. I only have 2 other gripes with it and they’re relatively minor. One is that the cutscenes are constructed in an odd way where some will auto play and others you have to press X to move on. There’s no way to distinguish between most of them so you either have to wait a second to see if it keeps on going or just hit X and risk missing a line. It’s just a rather odd design choice. Especially since some cutscenes take away the X symbol so you know they’ll auto play. Others just keep it in. Finally, they get rid of the cool fighter quotes before each battle in Story Mode which is unfortunate since they’re so fun. I spent most of my time in Story Mode so I didn’t get to see the quotes until later.

The gameplay is naturally excellent as it pulls off the 3 on 3 team mechanics rather well. Like most team games, they make sure to scale the damage so you don’t have to worry about getting hit with an endless combo that takes away all your health. You can land combos that last for around 10-15 seconds, but the more hits you do in a row, the less damage they’ll do. An 80 hit combo can potentially deal less damage than a 10 hit one so you want to choose your moves carefully. It’s typically better to mix in a level 1 special attack after a combo than a level 3 as it will actually deal more damage. Of course, it’s always good to keep a Level 3 in the pocket since it grants you temporary invincibility and can be used to block an attack.

It’ll be tough for newcomers since there are a lot of cheesy tactics you can pull off like spamming the Kamehameha. It can be difficult to get around that, especially if the opponent knows what he’s doing. Still, there are numerous options and combos at your disposal so as long as you really practice and learn your character you will be fine. Unfortunately the online has been having significant problems so you’ll have too practice as lot against computers as they fix that up. The characters all feel rather unique in their playstyles. Due to the nature of the game a lot of the standard combos may feel the same, but the diversification happens once you start using the specials or learning advanced combos.

There is a training mode in the game which is pretty helpful. You can learn a lot of basic combos as well as advanced ones that will help you quite a lot. There is also the classic Arcade Mode which is useful for earning trophies and money. The replay value here is essentially infinite which goes without saying. Unfortunately the developers may have taken that literally as one trophy requires you to earn 20 million zenny. To put that in perspective, I haven’t even earned 1 million yet and I’m only close because of a lot of one time bonuses for beating the stories. Getting to 20 million can end up taking you around 180 hours. You’ll probably play that long in no time without getting bored, but you’ll probably want to be playing online, not grinding a specific story battle for that many times. I likely won’t be getting the Platinum here, but it’s not too crazy. It’s just more of a grind than anything else.

The graphics here are top notch. It really does look like an anime as you play through the game. You even adjust the graphics to make the game look like the retro Super Dragon Ball Z. I don’t think I could ever sacrifice the nice HD images though. The final smashes are especially satisfying and likewise with the intros. Goku Black’s is a nice homage to his original appearance in the anime and seeing Goku and Vegeta’s are always classic. This is certainly a game that the developers took a lot of time and patience with to get everything right. I can’t stress enough how every part of the game feels extremely polished. This takes the PS4’s graphics to the limits and will likely hold up well against PS5 games when that console ends up coming out.

I also enjoyed the soundtrack although I can’t offer it the same 10 star praise as the graphics. There are some catchy tunes here and they are memorable but overall the music selection isn’t all that large. I may be spoiled from how many themes are in Super Smash though and since the themes are good it’s not like I’ll mind listening to them too often. I’ll barely even hear the music when I’m in the middle of a really intense fight. I just won’t have time to think about it.

If I had to mention a small negative, it’s that the character roster is rather small. The size may have been necessary in order to have time to make the game without rushing it, but then I have to question some of the choices. Why is Nappa playable? There are many other villains that I would have gone with instead like Broly, Cooler, or even some of the newer characters like Jiren or Toppo? I’m assuming they added Nappa because they wanted more villains so that’s why I only listed villains here. For heroes I could make the same argument. I understand Krillin making it in and I suppose even Tien, but Yamcha absolutely could have been substituted for someone like Android 17. Android 17 is probably the biggest oversight from the heroes and he definitely deserves to be in the game considering his big role in the story. I may not be thrilled with the roster, but at the same time they have enough good characters to keep me happy. I was pleasantly surprised to have Hit and Goku Black in the game so that was really cool. There are some rumors about which characters will be DLC. Broly will definitely be super hype. I can’t be as hyped for base Goku and Vegeta, but then at least I can make a triple Vegeta team as well so that’ll be cool I suppose.

As for the new Android 21, she’s a pretty cool character. While I’m not crazy about her as a hero, her villain side is easily one of the cooler DBZ villains. She has a great design and her abilities are quite intense as well. The villain theme in the game works perfectly with all of her scenes. She’s deranged enough to make for some intense scenes while not going overboard and losing sight of her goals either. Based on how the game stories end you could make the case that she ends up being Hit or Goku Black level by the end but it depends on just how much you believe the heroes got their full power back. Since this arc likely takes place a little before the final arc of Super, everyone should be crazy strong here. If this game gets a sequel, I’d definitely want the evil 21 to show up again.

Overall, Dragon Ball FighterZ lives up to the hype and then some. The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal and this is one of the most polished games I have ever seen. I don’t know how long it was in development but it must have been quite a while to get it to play, sound, and look so good. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is definitely the best fighting game on the PS4 and now I’m even more hyped for the upcoming Cross Tag Battle game. FighterZ is one of those titles that will stay relevant for quite a long time and I look forward to taking on some online opponents at some point in the future. Time to bring out my Triple Goku team!

Overall 9/10

Super Mario Odyssey Review


It’s time for a legendary game. This one got hyped to no end as the big Mario game to end all Mario games. It was in development for ages and the developers were putting a ton of effort into it. That being said, could it live up to the hype? Well, I definitely think Nintendo really outdid themselves this time and it really is one of the best Mario games. It’s probably the third best platformer, after 64 and Sunshine. It has all of the elements that you’d want in a Mario game and even does its best to add in new features.

The plot is fairly basic as Bowser has kidnapped Peach once again and Mario tries to save her. Mario doesn’t act as if it’s an emergency though as he looks rather calm and happy during the cutscenes. Even when he occasionally gets serious, Bowser just one shots him once more and the cycle begins anew. Mario spends a surprising amount of time getting defeated by Bowser in this game. Still, he never gives up so Bowser better prepare for a big confrontation.

There’s a lot to cover here so lets start on the technical side. The graphics look absolutely great. The colors pop out and the level designs are fantastic. There is a little something for everyone here. Whether you want bright, green hills or a more realistic Final Fantasy esque level, this game has got it. There are many worlds and the game makes sure that no 2 worlds look the same. The Switch may not be as strong as some of the other modern consoles, but the game reminds you that you can always make a game look good regardless. A big piece of the puzzle are the character designs and how much time was put into the levels.

The game also has a pretty solid soundtrack. There are many remixes here from the Mario 64 game as well as many of Mario’s older titles. The intense theme for the final Bowser battle was also really good. We can’t forget the big lyrical song during the climax either which was excellent!  There is a lot of music to listen to in this game so make sure you hear it all. While it may not be quite as hardcore or rock based as some other titles, it makes up for this with variety and skill. I’d definitely say that it passes with flying colors in this aspect.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, it plays like your classic Mario platformer. You run, jump, and interact with the level in order to reach the end and get your Stars. (I still call them Moons but all Stars are Moons apparently) One of the big focus for marketing in Odyssey was the cap. With it, Mario can take over anyone, whether it be Yoshi, A T Rex, or a Goomba. Each transformation has a special ability for you to master and they will allow you to get more Stars. It is pretty fun to take control of the enemies which is good since it is often mandatory to complete levels and take down bosses. The game was built around this system and it worked out well. I dare say that as a gimmick it probably does beat Fludd, even if Fludd was the more likable character.

That being said, you will also feel relieved whenever you have a mini level without the cap. It feels nice and retro and you have to rely on your platforming skills. There are also actual retro levels where you turn into your 16 bit version and play through more small levels. They are a nice distraction from the main levels and the different gameplay styles are all handled quite well. I can’t say this enough times but Odyssey was clearly developed with a lot of passion and effort.

The world variety is quite strong. There are a few spooky worlds like the Ruined Kingdom or the one with the Large Dragon. Then you’ve got the amazing Mario 64 homage which does an amazing job of recreating the classic Peach castle. There are also a few post game worlds that I have yet to unlock which are sure to be a blast as well. Start saving up your money from the start because it will really come in handy for buying all of the stars that are at the shop. There are likely hundreds of them to buy there.

There are also fun mini games to play like jumping rope, Volleyball, or connecting a puzzle. Going for a high score and trying to master them is sure to be entertaining. They’re pretty fun games.
Since there are over 900 stars, you’ll want to inspect every part of each world. Stars are basically around every corner and it’s up to you to find them all. Toad is available to give you a hint for 50 coins but I recommend not doing so until you’ve bought all of the stars and not until you’ve gotten as many stars as you could for the world. It would be a shame to waste 50 coins on a game you probably could have found yourself.

I suppose I should reference the ending right? Well, there isn’t a whole lot to say on that end for me. It’s a classic Mario ending although longtime fans may not appreciate it. It’s essentially Nintendo’s way of reassuring fans that they will always get the Mario that they grew up with. It won’t change and get older as they do and in a way that’s what a lot of fans will also want to see. At the very least, Mario got a good shot in at Bowser.

Well, unlike some games that are overhyped to no end, I can definitely see why some would call this the greatest game of all time or why they would at least put it into the conversation. I mean, there’s really not much more Nintendo can do with the concept or the genre. It’s basically been taken to its absolute limits here and that’s pretty impressive. While I personally don’t put it in the conversation for best game of all time since Super Smash has that without a doubt, I can definitely say that it should be in the conversation for best platformer of all time. I’m fairly confident that Nintendo also won’t be able to top this for quite a long time. Perhaps not until the next console.

There is a ton of replay value here. While you’ll beat the game with around 200 stars or less if you didn’t travel much, then you still have around 700 to go. It’s an incredible amount of stars to be sure. While a lot of them you have to purchase from the shop, money isn’t an issue. I suppose if you’ve been buying a ton of hints then it’ll be a little difficult for you though. Try not to buy them until you’ve gotten the easy ones first or the hint will essentially be a waste. You can also try to get high scores in the minigames and on the way to getting all of the stars you’ll get a bunch of costumes. I have no doubt that this is a 20+ hour game when you consider all of this and that might be severely low balling the amount.

Now for some miscillanius thoughts. I didn’t care much for the Broodals. They’re not bad I suppose, but they feel like absolute throwaway characters. I dare say that the Deadly Six from Lost World were cooler since at least the leader was good. That’s a start in the right direction. I didn’t talk much about the boss battles but they were all pretty solid. The Mario vs Bowser ones in particular are very satisfying, but another really good boss battle is when you’re zooming through the air with your water powers and stopping the fire octopus. The only missed opportunity in the game is that you can’t play New Donk City at night once you stop the monster. The scenery was awesome in the dark and the rain just amplified this affect. You just can’t win them all though and day-time New Donk is still as hype as it gets.

Overall, Mario Odyssey is certainly a must buy. I’m definitely glad that I ended up grabbing a Switch so I could pick this game up. I know that it might be fighting with Breath of the Wild over the Game of the Year award but personally I think Odyssey destroys it many times over with no real effort. you can’t even compare the two in my mind, but granted I didn’t enjoy Breath of the Wild quite as much as most. I only thought it was a good game while I consider this one to be an elite. If you haven’t checked Odyssey out yet, then you should fix that right away!

Overall 9/10

Fire Emblem Warriors Review


After all these months I finally went and got the Nintendo Switch. Now I’m playing with power! I’m still not a big fan of the console, but it’s not bad or anything. I do like the fact that it’s essentially a portable console that you can stream to the tv. It’s one of those brilliant ideas where you can barely believe that nobody has thought of it before. Mark my words, if Sony ever makes another portable console they are going to borrow this concept. Let’s take a look at my first Switch game.

I became a big Fire Emblem fan pretty recently after downloading Heroes. Its a franchise with a lot of potential and has a fan of sword fighters in general it was right up my alley. The plot focuses on a prince and a princess. Their kingdom is attacked by an army of monsters and everyone is imprisoned within its walls. Only the two main characters and their reliable friend manage to escape. Before they return, the heroes will need to uncover the 5 legendary Hero Gems. Since dimensional rifts are opening up everywhere, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them, but time is of the essence.

It’s a really fun story. I probably would have preferred the game to have focused on characters from the older games since I know the modern characters pretty well, but the crossover aspect still makes it all a blast. There’s also a lot of room for a sequel as a result since they could explore the rest of the universe. The original characters made up for the game may have been rather generic, but they weren’t bad. Monster fans will love the Chaos Dragon and I didn’t mind the guardian of the main characters until he basically cracked. Not much to say about the blond heroes, they’re super heroic and that is their personality in a nutshell. Even with 20+ chapters, the story never feels like it’s stalling for time or going nowhere. It’s pretty well paced.

There is also a History/Legend mode. I forgot the exact name, but essentially the overworld looks like an old 8 bit Fire Emblem game. You have to move across the field and whenever you bump into an enemy it triggers a level. There are challenges like beating 500 enemies in 20 minutes. It seems like a decent mode, but I can’t say it’s too appealing compared to the main story mode. I’d probably use it for grinding level ups and at least it does help the overall replay value.

As expected of a new Switch game, the graphics are quite good. The interface is also cutting edge so everything feels very smooth and streamlined. There’s a lot on the menu at any given time but the game does a good job of not letting it get overwhelming. The final smash attacks are also very satisfying to unleash. The soundtrack is also really good. Longtime fans will remember most of the sound effects. In fact, they are the same as in Heroes so I wonder if it’s just a Fire Emblem staple or they’re aiming for a lot of synergy with the new games. Either way it can feel nice and nostalgic at times.

One of the aspects of the game that was promoted before the game came out was how it was a beat em up, but it was going to incorporate Fire Emblem mechanics. The game does this by bringing in the weapons triangle where Sword Fighters beat Axes, Axes beat Spears, and Spears beat Swords. Unless you play on hard mode though, it won’t make much of a difference. You will have the enemies begging for mercy very quickly regardless. You can also give orders to your allies for retreats, advancing, or just ditching them in the middle of nowhere so they won’t get hurt. It’s definitely useful if you think they are just going to hurt themselves. They typically can’t hold their own against opponent fighters after all.

If you’re familiar with the genre then you’ll definitely know what the gameplay is like. If not, essentially it is a 3D fighter where you destroy hundreds of opponents in each level as you head for a boss somewhere in the map or secure a retreat route. You have quick attacks, power attacks, special moves, a grab, final smash, and an awakening mode. As a result you can see how you have a bunch of options. This means you can have fun mixing up your attacks. Sometimes I even forget to use my awakening since I’m waiting for the right moment and just end up beating the level before it occurs.

I feel like there are 3 kinds of beat em ups. There is the Dynasty Warriors style where you beat a lot of enemies, but it’s not an insanely large amount. It’s slightly more realistic and also the worst of the 3. Next there is the Sengoku Basara/Anime titles like Bleach or One Piece which have a lot of enemies and you take them down. They are essentially the beat em games that come to mind. Finally there are the crazy good beat em ups like Hyrule Warriors and this game. Somehow Nintendo really gets the company to take it to the next level. The amount of enemies around at one time is crazy. I thought Hyrule Warriors was just about perfect and this game manages to improve on it even further. One incredible feature that this game brought to the table is that you can now switch between allies instantly. This makes it much easier to attack and defend. For example, you can order Lucina to attack a base, Marth to stay and guard yours, and you go after the boss. If your ally starts to lose the battle, you can quickly become the ally and fight back while the character you were controlling earlier will continue the mission. It’s brilliant since one of the only annoying aspects of the genre is that protecting all of your bases can be difficult since your A.I. compatriots just hold you back. Now you can really feel like you have complete control of the battlefield. It’s also perfect for when I go maverick and just disobey direct orders. They want me to retreat or protect the base? Nonsense, I’m heading straight for the big boss!

The game also did think up more ways to prevent you from essentially cheesing the level like that though. Sometimes the areas can’t be accessed without using a flying ally to go past the pits and activate portals. Other times the base is simply locked down until you beat all of the bases. I do think it’d be nice to have more levels where you were just able to rush up the middle but I can kind of get why the developers wouldn’t want you to just rush through everything. As it is, I went through the story at a normal pace and I still didn’t get to explore most of the customizing options. It can all seem rather overwhelming since you have crests to level up and actual level ups to buy. I’d definitely be content with the game sticking with Level 100 as the cap and not raising it. It would be quite the grind, but at least I can actually imagine getting everyone to level 100 at this point.

Overall, There is a lot to love here. This game is basically a masterpiece and I’d consider it to be the greatest beat em up out there. It would be very hard to improve on the gameplay at this point. The patch that the Switch got even allowed me to play the game with the greatest controller on Earth, the Gamecube controller. The story was impressively long for a beat em up and a lot happened along the way. Lucina got to look really cool in her debut appearance and the other heroes had their moments as well. There’s a ton of replay value here as you can tell like beating all of the levels on all difficulties and getting everyone to the max level. I think there is actually one possible way that you can top this game within the genre. Imagine this game, but multiplayer where the 2nd player plays as the opposing army. That would be a blast as you both try to take over the map. I do think it’d work best online so that you wouldn’t know who each player is playing as. That would add to the depth as you wonder which base to protect. I can’t imagine that would be an easy game to product since it would probably take a lot of memory and be tough on the A.I., but it’d be awesome. Well, with LoZ and FE done, I’d like a Metroid beat em up next. It’d be cool blasting through waves of Metroids, but the developers will have to get creative about which other heroes to have playable.

Overall 9/10

LBX: Little Battlers eXperience Review


I’m always up for a good robot game. Mega Man and Custom Robo were always exceptional titles and so naturally LBX looked like a winner from the get go. I actually got to watch the TV show way before the game so if anything this version feels pretty nostalgic while playing through. The anime adapted the game pretty faithfully to be honest and the quality is sharp since it’s by Level 5. Those guys really do a great job of completely building a game around its concept. Layton is the perfect puzzle game and this is the optimal robot experience. You just can’t go wrong with buying this title.

The story follows a kid named Van. He’s really interested in the new game that everyone is playing. It’s called LBX and you buy a mini robot that you can use to fight with other people. Think of it like those classic Rock em Sock Em toys that used to be around, but 1000X cooler as the robots have weapons with live ammo and you control them with your phones. Unfortunately his Mom is against it for reasons unknown and Van’s Dad may have created the LBX franchise, but he died in a plane crash. A mysterious lady gives Van a one of a kind LBX one day though and after he stops some burglars from stealing it, he ends up joining a private faction who is trying to stop the villain organization from using it for their own means. They tell Van that his Dad is actually alive and being held hostage so Van quickly goes on board. His two friends Ami and Kaz agree to help as well. They’ll have to win multiple tournaments, break into enemy territory, and hone their skills. The risk is high, but there are lives on the line so the heroes put on their game faces and get ready for action.

It’s a pretty long game at 15 hours so that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plot. There are 12-13 episodes in the game and the length varies for each one. There is also a lot of replay value as you have many parts to buy and quests to complete. I did a few quests here and there and got a bunch of weapons, but getting them all would take a long while. There are also online battles that you can play so content is certainly not lacking in this title. You can have fun playing the game for a very long time and it’s worth the full price.

The soundtrack is stellar. It was pretty cool hearing the tunes from the anime even if they technically came out in this game first. It was still nostalgic and most of them are quite memorable. LBX spared no expense in this department and the same goes for the graphics. Not only are the in game graphics sharp, but there are a number of fully animated cutscenes at the ready as well. They really help you dive into the game. It used up a bunch of these cutscenes early on and I would have preferred for Jin to get more of them, but it’s how it goes. It’s really impressive that they added so much in and I feel like we got more animations than Layton. It just feels that way so I can’t confirm it, but a quick Youtube search would give you the answer to that.

As you can imagine, the gameplay is really sharp. It’s in full 3D like Custom Robo and you can equip two weapons at a time. I always went with a good Machine Gun and an electric sword. Even if it’s not the strongest, I like the electric sword because it stuns the opponent so you get more hits in. More hits = More damage or at least that’s how I saw it. The gun can be safer, but the opponent can use the downtime between rounds to get in close and take you down. You have to use a lot of strategy here. You can carry health items to help yourself out as well. There are also a number of final smashes that you can equip. You can use a weaker one to try and get some damage in, but the catch is that the enemy might dodge it. You can instead use an ultra attack which is impossible to dodge, but you can’t move for around 5-8 seconds which is a long time and if an opponent deals enough damage during that time you will lose the attack. I was able to use it successfully in the final boss which was helpful. It seems to always happen that the boss gets me to my last bit of health and then I clutch it out. It’s an amazing feeling, but also super stressful. The final bosses were definitely incredibly powerful so I recommend training a lot so you’re prepared for it.

I still think the concept of LBX was borrowed heavily from Megaman Battle Network, but it certainly did a good job of making a name for itself. It had a lot of its own unique features which differentiated itself from Megaman. It’s also a good move to be like Megaman since Capcom isn’t making any new games at the moment so we can get our Megaman fix this way. Imagine a Megaman game that was 3D like this one with a bunch of hype cutscenes. Hopefully Capcom can learn a thing or two from this title and incorporate it into future titles.

The cast is basically the same from the anime, but I’ll briefly mention some of the big ones. Van is a solid hero as you’d expect. He’s always ready for a fight and is very proactive in trying to save his Dad. He has a brief lapse in confidence, but gets over it right away. At times he can almost seem too happy like when they arrive to the toy store to buy things which felt like a contrast to his rather serious self, but at the end of the day he’s still just a kid. It’s hard to say if he beats Lan Hikari or not as they’re both very similar. He’s a lead you can get behind.

His two friends aren’t bad. Kaz is always low on confidence which can be a little grating, but he still helps out when he can. Ami is always supporting Van and doing her best to get in on the action. The school friends are pretty bland and underwhelming though. I can see why they got such tiny roles in the game since they didn’t add anything to the dynamic. Jin is a great rival and his LBX has an excellent design. He’s pretty reasonable throughout and does a good job of balancing this while still acting really confident the whole time. He’s an ideal rival and his team up fights with Van at the end are a blast.

Dak and Gouda are two other characters who help out a bit. They’re a step below Jin and Van when it comes to ability, but the more allies the better right? I thought Dak was an enjoyable supporting character, but Gouda is a little too weak to be taken seriously. He was good as an opening boss though. Mr. Kaido is a solid main villain. The fact that he can actually fight goes a long way since he doesn’t have to hide when the fighting starts. His robot is also really cool and has a great design. One villain that came in towards the very end was Kirito and he was exceptionally good. Taking out almost the whole cast on his own was certainly a hype moment and the fact that his LBX had a Super Form was really cool as well.

I have to say that I liked how the super forms were incorporated in this game. When you get below 25% health you can activate it and heavily boost your attack power. It helped a lot in the final boss and just looked really cool. When an opponent would use it, it would up the stakes as you had to focus on defense a lot more. Since some fights would give them all of their health back, the game really didn’t hold anything back. You need to be pretty good at the game and be at a high level to win. It always feels fair and balanced with just the right amount of difficulty to make things interesting.

Van’s Dad is okay at best here. I still think he tends to run off too often and leave Van behind for no reason. He gets a lot of hype so he’s a good scientist, but seems like a bad father. I wasn’t impressed with the Red Haired guy and his Team Rocket homage members. They’re the only part of the cast/plot that I couldn’t take seriously. I just never liked them for some reason. The true final boss of the game was great though. His origin story was definitely pretty intense and his LBX even more so. It was a pretty nice/explosive way to end the game. It’s great to see Level 5 get to go all out with the ending here as most of their other titles are a lot more down to Earth. Now we know what they can do with a good action title. I didn’t even totally get how the final boss worked and just had to keep on buying time and using hit and run tactics. You can probably see why I just barely defeated him.

Overall, LBX is without a doubt an excellent game. There are absolutely no negatives with it. The gameplay was completely on point. It felt balanced and it was easy to lock on to an opponent. The levels were huge which was a lot of fun but you can move fast so you don’t have to worry about matches dragging out. The plot was really engaging and kept you alert with all of its twists and turns. You felt like you were playing a big RPG and I think this probably would fit in the genre considering that you do have to backtrack to various areas and you explore as you go through the game. The cast of characters was a lot of fun. It’s a little hard to get used to the American names so in this review I mainly used the ones I was familiar with but not all of them were downgrades. The main case where the English name definitely loses is with Justin though. The graphics and audio were definitely well above average and there is a lot of content in this game. It’s the definition of a AAA title and I’m convinced that Level 5 is one of the best studios of all time. It’s hard to see them churning out a game that isn’t great at this point. I highly recommend buying this game. You’ll be glad that you did.

Overall 9/10