Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

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Neopets Puzzle Adventure Review


It’s time to look at one of the most intense puzzle games I’ve ever played. At the very least, it’s the best Othello game out there. I haven’t played much Othello over the years, but I knew the concept and figured that I could flex my latent skills on the poor computers. It took a little bit of getting used too and I had to unlock 2 OP abilities, but then I was ready to rock and roll.

The plot follows a young dragon who has decided to save the planet from destruction. He does the laundry, helps people find plants and stuff, etc. He just likes helping people out and always accepts a good game of Othello. His peaceful life is forever changed when a meteor crashes into Earth and giant monsters run out. They all want to play Othello, but this dragon is just one guy. Can he really defeat them all and stop them from crushing the planet just because they can?

I feel like it’s a parody of Yugioh at times since the villains just really want an Othello match. It’s like how every villain decides to rule the world through trading cards in Yugioh. So at first I was having a tough time in the Othello matches and they certainly did take a while for each round. Since there are a lot of Othello matches in the game, I knew that I would need a better way than button mashing. (To be fair, button mashing paid off quite well for a while there) So I bought a special ability that allows me to steal an opponent token and keep my turn. Then I also got a Skeith scepter which lets me steal another piece and use it for combos. With this pair of items I became unstoppable. 9 times out of 10 you’re fighting on the same stage and the opponent would do the exact same thing. I found a way to beat just about all computers in around a minute which saved me a great deal of time. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that this made the overall game a lot more fun as well. No more waiting or trouble winning, it was all just smooth sailing.

The graphics are decently good. I like the character designs at any rate. The actual Othello board is simple, but effective. The overworld is a little bland though and nothing is very detailed. I suppose you could say that the graphics are average at best. They aren’t anything to write home about, but they put up a pretty good effort and that’s what I like to see. The soundtrack isn’t much though. There aren’t really any good themes. I suppose there may have been one good theme near the end of the game, but I can’t really even remember it anymore so could it have really been that good? I have my doubts about this.

Othello makes up about 95% of the game, but there are two other gameplay styles. One is cooking which I had to do exactly once. The other is matching cards which you use to train your Neopets. I decided that instead of catching them all I’d just pick one so I grabbed the top tier and maxed him out in about 2-3 minutes. I really like the matching cards minigame so I kind of wish that this had been the main gameplay. I suppose it would have been too easy, but I definitely could have gotten behind such a move.

There’s a reasonable amount of replay value here. There are a lot of Neopets to capture and a bunch of side quests as you help townsfolk with their chores. As tempting as this all sounded, I decided to just blast through with the plot. The story mode is reasonably long though so even without all of the other stuff the game will last you for a bit. Content is one area where this game was absolutely not lacking.

The plot may not have been the most engaging out there, but it wasn’t bad. It started out really slow, but the climax really hit it home as we got traitors and end the world plots. There are some rather vague endings like the one girl who jumped into a pool of lava, but the narrarator sounds hopeful that the villain could survive so I’ll just have to take that at face value. The game just ends rather suddenly, but I am glad that they didn’t try to stretch the game out just to inflate the numbers. That just wouldn’t have been the right strategy if you ask me.

Overall, I have finally completed a Neopets game and it feels good. I still have one on the PS2 and one on the PSP that I need to work towards completing. Those two are quite a bit longer and more heavily plot based though so I’ll have to bring my A game for those. I expect that they’ll probably beat this game since the gameplay styles are a little better, but at the same time I’m going to miss my Othello. Who knows, I may never see another Othello game again. I definitely recommend checking this game out and I’d advise you to pick up the Skeith staff and pick a good Neopet buddy. It makes the battles a lot more manageable so then you can enjoy the plot without worrying about the fights. Don’t worry about the lag either, it’s not too extreme for the most part. Although I guess in the end what will determine whether you like the game or not is Othello. The gameplay is pretty faithful to the actual game although there are some special abilities. Make sure you learn how to use them and the board to your advantage.

Overall 6/10

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes Review

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It’s time for another title set in the Clone Wars. Republic Heroes may be the first Star Wars game that I’ve played on the PS3, but it ended up being the weakest installment in this saga. I don’t know why, but it just couldn’t hang with the others. I blame it on the game’s poor gameplay mechanics and lackluster plot. It’s still a solid game that will last you for a reasonable amount of time, but I was expecting a little more since we are now in the modern era.

The game has you split up into several groups. It appears that Count Dooku is up to something again and he sends Ventress off to cause some havoc. Cad and Kul are also fighting over a weapon of mass destruction. I don’t think we ever actually learn what it does to be honest. Well, Anakin and Ahsoka go to check things out while Obi Wan and a Jedi master I’m not familiar with head to a space station. Two other Jedi Mastered investigate the canyons and along the way the Clone soldiers do their best to help out as well. The heroes have spread themselves rather thin, but they’re always ready for danger. Hopefully they are prepared!

Here’s why the plot sags behind the others…there are no hype moments. The original Wii game was a blast because of the stellar soundtrack and the tough talk between all of the characters. It worked really well as a result. The DS game worked because of the fun gameplay and I really enjoyed the Shadow sisters as villains. The problem with this game is that none of the villains are particularly interesting. They don’t feel like threats either. Cad is a guy with a gun…so he shouldn’t last long. Kul is a robot who has a lot of weapons, but it seems like it’d be an easy matter for the Jedi to swing him around. That just leaves Ventress and Dooku but since they lose in all of the games I don’t think we’re meant to take them too seriously anymore. The banter between the characters can still be pretty fun and the characters aren’t bad, but the plot could use a little work.

The gameplay is 3D hack and slash. You have to fight your way through large armies of droids as you try to keep your wits about you. There is a lot of variety as you will play as both Jedi and Clones as well as ride hovercraft and large robots. You can also jump onto any enemy to control it and force others to try and oppose it. You can use your Force abilities or go in close for the lightsaber. The Force is incredibly overpowered here so the game got that part down pat. To make up for this, it doesn’t give you all that much money so if you want to buy a lot of stuff in the shop you should stick to close quarters combat. I was able to buy everything anyway at the end and I used a lot of The Force so money isn’t a huge issue. Even if you don’t have enough by the end you can probably just replay a level and you’ll be good to go.

It’s fun to mow down legions of enemies with your blade. The game can feel like a mini beat em up at times due to this. That’s also why the Force waves are fun as you can send about 6-10 enemies flying with a single hit. Unfortunately the gameplay can also be a weakness. The title uses an odd auto jump system where your character will lock on to an object and try to land in a controlled arc when you jump. The problem is that the character can’t decide what to do right away so a lot of times he unlocks right as you jump and you plunge to your death. You always have to wait a second before jumping to make sure that you don’t flal. It feels rather odd and it’s a weird part of the game. I had a ton of deaths that way.

Fortunately, there are no real deaths here. Each character has infinite lives and even if both die at the same time, you’re still fine. I am playing on the first difficulty though so maybe that changes later. I wasn’t about to start the campaign on hard after all. It’s pretty useful I admit even if it maybe does make the game a little too easy. I did die over 140 times according to the stats though so I probably got sloppy thanks to it as well. The game just doesn’t explain things too well at times like how to defeat the large droids. That kind of messed me up at times and those bosses would take ages. Just remember to jump on the enemy when in doubt since it automatically destroys most of them.

The main campaign has around 35-40 levels and each of them is about 5-10 minutes long. That will last you for a good amount of time and getting all of the PS3 trophies will add in some replay value as well. There are a lot of collectibles to grab so keep a sharp eye while in the levels. The more that you grab now, the less that you’ll have to worry about in the future right? I grabbed as many as I could, but I believe that I may still be missing around 30 or so.

I wouldn’t say that the graphics are all that good. They look like a Wii game rather than a PS3 one. They haven’t really aged well I’ll admit. It’s not like they’re awful or anything though, they’re still good enough. The blasters and attacks look good at any rate. The soundtrack is rather limited. It uses a lot of the same themes from the other two games. Surprisingly, the only good theme in the game was the end credits tune. That one was surprisingly amazing so I’m a little sad that they saved it for the credits. It should have been used for the actual game if you ask me.

I’ll give the game credit for handling the Force well though. This game probably had the best application of it from all the games that I’ve played so far. It was actually very useful the whole time and didn’t feel like a tacked on feature. There were also no artificial moments made to make the game longer. Every level was direct and to the point. I can definitely appreciate the game’s honesty there. I’ll take a 6 hour game with no repeating levels than a 30 hour one where it is just the same level over and over again.

Overall, Star Wars Republic Heroes is a good game. It could have easily been a great game if the gameplay was smoother and the story was more interesting, but it tripped up there. There’s no way I’d die 140+ times if the gameplay had been smooth. It feels a bit like a cash in at times, but you can tell that some effort was still put into the game. It at least feels like a real game and the levels go by fairly quick. The developers certainly had a bunch of ideas as the game introduces new features even near the end of the game. It’s interesting to see a tutorial message pop up when you’re in the final act. It may not have all worked and they should have used some more time to refine the actual platforming element of the game, but it’s a nice package overall. I’d recommend getting it. It’s not the best Star Wars game on the market, but it’ll introduce you to all of the core concepts.

Overall 7/10

M&M’s Adventure Review

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It’s time for another game in the M&Ms saga. The previous ones weren’t all that bad. The DS game’s gameplay was pretty interesting and you can’t really mess up a racing game. This was the first one to be a full platformer though so that naturally came with some considerable risks. It has quite a few glitches and plays out like a slightly higher budget version of Ninjabread Man at times. The game definitely makes some mistakes and I’d have to call it a bad game. It’s not on the same level as some of the other disaster titles, but it makes enough of the wrong moves to sabotage itself like having to replay a whole chapter if you lose. Lets dive in!

The game starts on Christmas Eve as the M&Ms are getting ready to lock up for the night. Unfortunately, a security breach occurs and all of the M&Ms are stolen. The heroes have to quickly re grab all 120 of them before leaving, but they are now being guarded by a Snowman who likes to yell “Its hot”, The Easter Bunny who is very hungry, The Nutcracker who wants to blow everyone up, and the Halloween Man who is trying to scare everyone. Fortunately our brave heroes won’t back down when candy is on the line.

The gameplay is very straight forward. It’s a 3D adventure that “should” play out like a Mario game. You move and jump as you cross the level. Getting to the end is your destination, but not the goal. You must find all of the M&Ms in each level or else you’ll have to replay it anyway. Each level has 3-4 areas which can be as large as an average level in another game. You must beat them all without losing all of your lives or you’re sent back to the beginning and you’ll need to grab the M&Ms again. That is definitely the most annoying part of the game. Most of the levels aren’t all that difficult, but the last 2 are tough. There is a huge jump in difficulty between levels 2 and 3.

Level 3 has you go through many jumps with metal birds trying to peck you along the way. It seems like you can possibly step on them or lure them to a bomb, but it’s much harder than it looks. With enough repetition you’ll get through it, but the levels can be long so you don’t want to have to replay them too much. Fortunately to counter this, the bosses are incredibly easy. The only one that is even a little difficult is the final boss which is also very generous with health bits everywhere. For the Cupid you just have to hit a bunch of switches. Taking down the Bunny just means luring him to candy and you lure the soldier to poison smoke. You lure the Lantern to bombs and take out the Snowman by hitting a lot of switches. Either the developers didn’t put too much thought into the bosses or they just didn’t want to make them too difficult. Imagine having to go all the way back at that point.

There is one part of the game that is just unfair though. In Green’s last level there comes a point where you have to board a boat as cannons shoot at you. The problem is that you die instantly for no reason. It’s possible an unintentional glitch in the game or something, but that’s it..you’re done. The only way around this that I found was to just jump in the ice cream and swim to shore. It takes up a lot of health, but at least I lived. I wasted a lot of lives trying to figure out why I was dying though. It would be like an invisible energy blast hit me or something.

Fortunately the game has so many glitches that you can exploit them as well. You can jump on air to skip parts of levels by just mashing jump and you can also achieve infinite lives. The way to doing the latter is getting a lot of coins like 98 for example. Then you reach a checkpoint. After that you grab the final 2 and keep on going. You get the extra life from this and then even if you die, you’re brought back to 98 coins at the check point. Since the coins reset despite the life sticking around, you can keep on getting lives forever. Figure out what section it the toughest for you and do the coin trick at the nearest checkpoint. This helped me a lot in the Snowman level. Hey, if the game is going to pull out cheesy tricks to stop me from winning…then two can play at that game!

The graphics are nothing special, but they get the job done. You can always tell what is happening and the level designs are pretty clever. The Christmas levels have the best designs for sure, but the Halloween level is surprisingly spooky as well. There are creepy portraits everywhere and even the music feels rather dire for the heroes. I think they put more effort into the soundtrack and levels than the gameplay so their priorities may have been a little mixed up. It was fun hearing Jingle Bells and Sleigh Bells ring at the end. It helped show that the developers cared about this game at least a little.

There isn’t any replay value here though. Once you gain the 120 M&Ms you are completely done with the game. That’s the end of your adventure and it’ll be time to put the game back in the drawer. The campaign isn’t all that long, but it is artificially lengthened by having to play the same levels as all 3 characters each time. If you ask me, you shouldn’t have to collect all 120 M&Ms to see the ending. That’s like having to grab all of the Stars in a Mario game. It’s something you should want to do, not something you have to do. Mix that in with the tedious nature of having to replay levels while looking for M&Ms and the game definitely gets hurt quite a bit.

There’s also a glitch where you’ll turn invisible if you try to approach the M&M machine. I guess the game won’t even let me look at the cool candies that I’ve collected eh? Well fine, I didn’t want to look at them anyway. I should quickly mention that each M&M has an ability. Red can fly whenever you see a flight symbol, Yellow can double jump, Green can swing her tennis racket whenever she finds a tennis symbol. Red’s flight levels are the best part of the game so I wish they had appeared more. It was certainly better than the main part of the game.

Overall, This game had a lot of potential, but the gameplay’s just a little too weak. You know there’s a problem when some levels are purely luck based. I almost died at the very end with Green because you have to dodge falling rocks for about 3-4 minutes. I barely survived and since I had 0 lives left that would have been fairly upsetting. I do like the challenge at times as some of them can be fair, but then we should get more lives or every stage should be its own level. That would fix a lot of issues. I died a lot of times on the revolving Ice Cream door which is easily the toughest part of the whole game. Seriously, just try to get out of that one in one piece. It can hold its own with some of Mario Maker’s toughest levels. Having to go back all the way is just too much of a detriment. The game is only about 5 dollars so if you want a real challenge it’s worth taking a look. That being said, it’s not always fun to play and games should at least be fun. I’ll have to give this one a thumbs down and I recommend Mario Galaxy instead. Even the ending was very lackluster.

Overall 4/10

Frogger’s Adventures: Temple of the Frog Review

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I saw that the next Frogger game was only about a buck on Amazon so I realized that I needed to snag it. Who doesn’t want to start off the day with some nice Frogger adventures right? That being said, shipping was 4 dollars so it nearly hit the 5 dollar bin. It’s a very short game so that’s definitely more or less what it is worth. You can beat the game in about an hour if not sooner. The gameplay is fun though and while one aspect worries me, it’s a wholesome game. (Like the 1 dollar pizza stores it will satisfy your craving for a delightful experience)

The game starts with the bigwigs calling in Frogger. They need him to find all 4 of the legendary elements, defeat the bosses who guard them, and liberate the Frog Temple! Frogger’s on board with this since he’s always wanted to leave the swamp but pretends that he just wants to stop the villains. The elders let him go and Frogger gets to work at doing what he does best…knocking out the baddies!

After the interesting (glitchy) PS2 Frogger game, it was nice to see one go back to its routes. This is the Frogger that you’ve likely grown up with as you move from space to space. You’re not dodging cars too often here as you’ll be dodging characters and animals the whole time. You can only move one space at a time usually, but you can jump which lets you cover 2 spaces. You can press B to stick your tongue out, but that’s only good for grabbing butterflies which gives you lives. Use L and R to turn Frogger around. These are the only controls in the game so you’ll be able to master it in seconds. The simplicity is what got Frogger popular in the first place and I can see why. A lot of simple games became masterpieces like Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man, etc. Of course, complex games can also go down as legends like Final Fantasy, but that’s another story.

There are 5 worlds and each world has 3 levels. They range in difficulty from easy to relatively difficult. None of the levels will stump you for very long which is nice. You get 5 lives and if you lose them all you can just hit continue. What worries me is that it said you only have a few continues left and the number started to go down. I completed the game before it hit 0, but I get the crazy feeling that it’ll take you back to the beginning of the game if you lost it all. Surely this wouldn’t be the case…right? I’m going to assume that this isn’t true but if it is and I had lost all of my lives, I’d probably deduct another star from the score.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re decently bright for a GBA game and the sprites are on point. It’s not one of those games that will make you take a step back, but considering that the game feels like it had a low budget otherwise, I’d say that it did pretty okay for itself. The soundtrack is utterly forgettable though and you won’t be able to remember any of the tunes. It’s as generic as it gets and this felt more like the game you’d expect.

We have to address the elephant in the room, the game’s short length. It’s hard to justify a game only having 1 hour of content. There is no replay value either since there is nothing to collect. This will definitely be a 1 and done experience so you definitely have to get invested into the game. I enjoyed the gameplay which is why it has a positive score, but if you bought this for full price back in the day you should definitely be pretty upset. I wouldn’t pay 30 dollars for one hour, much less 50. That would be crazy and you’d basically be spending a dollar for every minute that you play the game. No, that definitely doesn’t sound like a blast to me. Keep the length in mind when you shop for the game, you need to get it at a good price.

The story is pretty forgettable, but that’s fine. For a game like this, you don’t expect much. I am glad that the game actually did have some bosses though and slight voice acting at the very end. That was a nice touch. The game was fairly innovative with the bosses considering that they were working with a very limited style of gameplay. It was a good test for my reaction times that’s for sure. The final boss nearly nailed me a few times, but I definitely wasn’t going to go down easy. They had some good designs as well.

There’s one part of the game where it tries to troll you so watch out. It says that you need 50 coins to enter the final world so I went out of my way to grab a bunch. However, you actually need 100 coins since you need 50 for each of the two acts. Luckily, I got that amount naturally but it would have been annoying to have to backtrack at that point. Make sure you earn 100 before you get there. It’s fairly easy if you know to get them, but it’s also easy to just skip them and shave a few seconds off each level. Once you earn 100 then you can fast blast through the levels.

Overall, This is a pretty fun Frogger game. While it is incredibly short, I can definitely say that it’s a lot more fun than the PS2 one. I like the gameplay and it tests your strategic decisions and reaction times. I expect that other versions of this game will likely ramp the difficulty up even further so I look forward to meeting the challenge. The duration is the game’s only weak point but it is a fairly significant one. You have all of the data now so you can decide if buying the game is worth it or not. For what it’s worth, I’d recommend it. 1 hour of fun is better than 10+ hours of repetition right? I look forward to seeing how the next Frogger game plays out.

Overall 6/10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Jedi Alliance Review

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After a long break, it’s finally time to take a look at the next Star Wars game. This title keeps us in the Clone Wars which is the best era in the Star Wars mythos. I know what you’re thinking…how can the prequels have the best timeline? I’ve thought about that myself and it all boils down to the fact that it felt more like a cool Sci-Fi franchise back then. There were a ton of Sith and Jedi fighting it out along with a bunch of other factions who could use light sabers. In Episode IV and beyond, there aren’t really Jedi or Sith anymore so we don’t get a bunch of fights. There are less variables and pieces on the board. That’s why I like this part of the series. Starting from when Anakin became a Jedi to when Darth Vader was in his early days. That’s the best period in the series even if it wasn’t handled too well in the movies.

The Nightsisters have stolen important cargo from the Jedi. It’s a power source that uses the Force and they are going to put it in a weapon that can destroy entire worlds. The Jedi council decides to do something about it so they send in Anakin and Obi Wan. Moreover, they bring in a few other Jedi to assist them when they learn that Count Dooku and other Sith members are involved. It’s a decently large cast and each of the 3 main villains are a serious threat. The leader of the Nightsisters ends up being the most formidable threat as she decides to blow up the planet on her own. Dooku gets some hype since he stays standing after her attack, but he did run off rather quickly.

The game’s cutscenes are a little cheesy when the narrator explains what’s happening. I could have done without him so be honest since he has absolutely no enthusiasm for the game. The actual cutscenes were pretty good though. It’s impressive that the game had voice acting and it helped make the story feel more real. I also thought the actual plot was a lot of fun. Whether these Nightsisters are created for the game or exist in the comics/TV show as well, they were great antagonists. Their designs were really cool and they got a lot of solid lines. Their leader is probably one of my favorite Star Wars villains. I guess I’d put her 4th behind Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Jango Fett. It’ll be hard to defeat those 3. She gained my respect when even Anakin and Mace didn’t want to risk a confrontation with her.

The graphics aren’t amazing, but few DS games are. To this day, Mario 64 DS, One of the Kingdom Heart titles, or Ghost Trick probably leads in this category. Still, it looks reasonable and the game excels during the actual combat. The sword swings are handled pretty well when you engage opponents and the level designs aren’t bad either. This title shines even more with the soundtrack. It has some recycled themes from the other Star Wars Clone Wars games, but also some original one. The cool rock theme that plays when you infiltrate the Nightsister base is really good and gave the level an epic feel. It was my favorite level for that reason and it certainly one of the most hype moments in a Star Wars game.

What hurts the game a bit is the gameplay. The actual platforming can be a little boring since the characters move very slowly. Imagine walking in a Mario game without being allowed to run. That’s their max walking speed in this game and you can’t go any faster. This makes going from place to place a little tedious or at least more than it should have been. There are little minigames that you play to deactivate computers and such like connecting the symbols and connect the circles. They were all right. I don’t think the game needed them, but they were short enough to not really get in the way.

The actual combat is all right although it’s a little repetitive. You keep tapping the screen to hit your opponent and you tap high or low depending where you want to hit. The computer will block everything 100% of the time so you just have to swing until he/she gets tired. Then you actually land some damage and repeat the process. It makes for a fun visual with the constant attacks and I found it to be reasonably enjoyable. It’s just very limited. You have Force abilities but don’t actually use them in combat except for certain bosses who are impervious to any other attack. That was a bit of a missed opportunity since I love wielding the light sabers.

I should mention that you always control the characters through the touch screen. I prefer moving with the control pad myself. This only becomes a problem during the quick time events. Yes, the game actually has a bunch of quick time events which is extremely impressive. I can’t think of any other game that implemented them. Unfortunately, the screen doesn’t always work well. I think this was more on my console than the game as the screen is likely pretty bruised by now. Still, having to repeat an entire section a bunch of times because of that can be a little annoying.

There is some very mild replay value here but not much. You can replay the levels to earn medals, but I don’t really know how you even get the medals. They’re related to challenges in the level I suppose like defeating a certain amount of enemies or something. I can’t say that I’m too interested in trying that. The game’s story was of a reasonable length though. It’ll last you a few good hours and the price is low so it’s not a bad buy.

Overall, The game was pretty fun. It was ahead of its time in some ways, but that also meant that the gameplay styles could be a little rusty like the Quick Time Events. The sword clashing was interesting and while it may not have been the best, it was fun for a while. The game likely benefits from not being too long or the repetition could have begun to really show. I’d definitely recommend buying this Star Wars game. It has likely flown under the radar compared to the more popular titles, but it can hold its own with the solid story it presents and the fun soundtrack that accompanies it. It’s a well made game.

Overall 7/10

Split Second Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Flip’s Twisted World Review

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It’s time for one of the lowest budget, glitchiest games that I’ve ever played. Flip started out as a reasonably fun game, but as the worlds went on it got worse and worse until it was finally sitting at the bottom of the pile. I’ve been working on this game off and on for years and I was finally able to conquer it. It’s a journey that isn’t for the faint of heart and I certainly wouldn’t call it an enjoyable game by any stretch of the imagination. This is one game that should stay forgotten.

The game follows a magician named Flip. He gets into some mischief and is involved with the 7 World Pieces being stolen. His former friend turns evil with power and now we have to find them all before the other kid destroys the world. Flip’s not a very nice guy though and will do whatever it takes to win on the way there. Don’t bother begging for mercy because Flip won’t offer it. He’s after one thing and one thing only…the Universal Scepter. Once he has that, Flip will be the king of the world.

The gameplay tries to be like a 3D Mario, but with a gimmick. Uh oh…here come the gimmicks. Why do games always feel like they need a cheesy gimmick? In particular, why do all Wii games have motion controlled gimmicks? I don’t understand anymore. The gimmick is that you can shift gravity in 4 directions which lets you walk on the walls or the ceiling. It has potential and can be interesting, but Gravity Rush exists. It completely invalidates this game because the whole gimmick was handled so much better. It’s a shame, but the games aren’t even in the same league.

Flip also gains a new ability in each world. By the end of the game, you’ll have Thunder, Water, Fire, Ice, Metal, The Book, and another ability that I’m probably forgetting. You’ll rarely use some of those abilities, but others like Water are always useful. Ground Pound is underrated as it’ll help you get through all of the obstacles. It’s your best option in about 90% of the tasks that you’ll be faced with. For most of the levels, you just have to get to the end, wherever that is, and find the Chapter Stone. Each level is extremely long and has around a dozen rooms which all function as mazes. Suffice it to say, you’ll be here for a very long while.

Lets talk about why this game was bad. First of all, the level designs are terrible. When you walk into a room and have absolutely no idea what you’re supposed to do, that’s a problem. The game also lets you go back through the door you came from for no reason. It’s never helpful as there is never a point in the game when you have to backtrack and the worst part is that you’ll typically have to clear the trial again. For example, I was in one of the last rooms in the final chapter when I fell through an old door. (Gravity shenanigans) and it took me to the start. I now had to clear about 6 mazes again to get through. One of those I initially cleared through a glitch so it took a while to figure out. You should never have to redo what must have been 30-40 minutes of work just because you took the wrong door.

There is also an infamous cave level that is pitch black. The point of it is that you use your fire abilities to light the way, but they barely give you any light at all. You’ll still be stumbling through the dark the whole time and as always, the old doors are around so if you go through them by mistake, you have to find the 3 switches again. This is the level that had me stumped for months and after a while I was too triggered to even watch the Youtube video on how to escape. I had to conquer the game so I grabbed a few bottles of Water and a lot of big dinners and months later…I did it. It wasn’t fun though, it was simply a challenge and that level alone doomed the game to a negative score.

The boss battles are also tough to figure out at times. You don’t know when they are actually taking damage and it’s just a lot of testing until you find the right strategy. None of the bosses were designed very well. The final boss is the only one that at least came with a cool character and stage design. Still, it wasn’t a fun boss either as he kept spinning the stage and glitching through it so you’d have to die and come back again. The good news is that jumping off of a stage doesn’t count as a death, it only counts when you lose to an attack. That’s nice since the game would be that much tougher without such a feature.

The audio is also pretty iffy here. Sound effects rarely ever occur except for a very long end cutscene. Most of them just have music and sometimes even the music will cut out. There isn’t much variety either as the game maybe has 5 different tracks that it plays. The standard one keeps on ringing for quite a while. I don’t know how long it took to beat the game, but I’d wager that it’s around 20 hours or more. It’s a long game so I can’t even say that I’ll breeze through it. Nothing’s worse than a long game that is boring and not fun to play. It’s a bad combo.

It almost goes without saying, btu the graphics are very bad as well. Flip’s always wincing or using recycled footage for his celebration. His level “celebration” is that he clenches his fists, closes his eyes, and looks at the ground. Then the screen starts spinning around him while he remains as still as a statue. He does this for every chapter, which gets old fast. The glitches make things even worse on the graphics and overall, the less said on this the better.

I feel like the game wasn’t even trying with the plot either. You’ll have characters talk to you and stuff, but it all feels like empty fluff. Nobody is actually doing anything and after a short while you’ll forget what they’ve said. It’s just a very empty game and one that probably isn’t even worth the 2 dollars that I got it for. There’s nothing driving you to this game at all and I don’t know what the developers were thinking.

Overall, Flip’s Twisted World is a bad game. There is replay value technically as you can go collect all of the maps and silver coins, but I can’t picture anyone actually wanting to do that. It just wouldn’t be fun and it would simply be a grind just so you can say you completed the game 100%. While it may have tried to be a big 3D adventure like Mario or the others, Flip failed miserably. Even without the glitches, the levels just weren’t thought out very well. They feel like they were slapped together with no heart or thought put into them. I can safely say that I consider this to be the worst game that I have ever played. While I probably wouldn’t give it a 0 overall, I can’t imagine what a 0 star game would be like. Rather, I can imagine what it would be like, but I can’t imagine myself ever playing one like that. While a 2 may seem generous for good ole Flip, at least it was a game. It still had platforming, levels and the like. I think giving it a 0 would be harsh, but we all know where it stands.

Overall 2/10

Spongebob Boating Bash Review

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It’s time to finally delve into the world of Spongebob! I must admit that I actually haven’t played a great deal of Spongebob games before. This is one of the first ones for me, but it’s a pretty good way to get back into the franchise. This title is a racing game mixed in with a little vehicular warfare. It makes for a good dynamic and the game even has a plot which is an added bonus. Especially considering that this game goes for only a few dollars, you do not want to miss it!

The game starts off with Spongebob failing to get his license once again. It’s a pretty emotional moment since he had been doing so well in the training, but he randomly decided to accelerate and hit every obstacle. I feel like his short term memory had just ended when the exam started so he forgot everything that he learned. He feels bad about it, but then a shark comes along and offers Spongebob a chance to get a license through…other channels. He simply has to complete the Shark’s D.R.I.V.E. school which teaches you how to be a bad driver, that way you know what not to do on the real exam. Spongebob figures that this is easy enough and decides to pay the high entry fee to join. The rest of the characters get in on the action as well.

After you finish singing the Spongebob theme song to yourself and get back into the game, you’ll see that the DRIVE chapters have now opened. There are 5 chapters in the game along with a final chapter where you must use everything that you have learned. It’s graded report card style, but fortunately you don’t need all As. The levels are mostly pretty easy. A few of them may have taken me 2-3 tries, but ultimately you’ll have it down pat. The controls are easy enough as you just accelerate, turn, and brake. That’s it. You get to choose which vehicle you want as the game goes on and once you unlock the big boat, there’s no turning back. One good hit from that car can total just about any other. It’s only drawback is that it’s slow, but that’s not a problem in bumper cars. Just don’t pick it for the races.

The different game modes are: “Smash The Cars” “Race The Cars” “Smash The Cars and pick up the pieces.” My favorite is certainly the first mode, but they’re all reasonably solid in their own right. I haven’t played a great deal of car games with this gimmick so that was definitely a lot of fun. The gameplay is actually pretty smooth and I’d say that the game got a pretty decent budget for a title based on a TV show. There are even a lot of sound effects as you’re driving where the characters hurl some pretty personal insults at each other. Lets just say that their friendships will be a little strained after this event is all over. It’s the price that they have to pay for victory!

Graphically, Spongebob delivers. It may not look great, but the levels are very clear. If anything, the only part that bothered me was the loading screen as Spongebob would get a very weird facial expression. They also added too much color to his cheeks which was odd as well. So when you ignore the loading screen, then the whole thing comes together quite nicely. I should also mention that the game has fully animated cutscenes with voice acting which was a really good bonus to have along. The music is also pretty good. The main theme is very catchy and I still remember it which is a very good thing.

There is a little replay value to be found here. Once you obtain all A ranks in the game, you’ll unlock the final vehicles and game options. It probably wouldn’t take long to get the rest of them. I got a bunch of A ranks without even trying so it’s not like you’d have to redo all of the lessons. Still, I can’t say that I’m too tempted to get the rest of the cars since the ones that I already have are pretty good. I suppose it still does help to make the overall game longer and more worth your dollar though.

You definitely do need to enjoy the gameplay though since the game is very formulaic and can be seen as a little repetitive. There are roughly 35 levels sprinkled into the game and since there are only 3 game modes, you’ll be seeing them quite a lot. I guess you could say that it’s set up like Mario Kart, but with far fewer levels so you’re usually just on the same roads. The game did its best to shift things up a bit, but the level designs was certainly its weakness. There are no colorful levels as they all look the same.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Spongebob’s Boating Bash. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure and one of the only underwater racing games that I can think of. What really gives it an extra boost is the story mode since it’s pretty engaging. Spongebob is definitely a little more naive than I remember, but at least he’s portrayed as a good kid. He’s always acting pretty modest and addresses everyone as Sir. His friends all seem a little more mean spirited though as they all join just to beat up Spongebob. I forgot how much the whole village resents his success. I look forward to trying out one of the Gamecube games at some point, but it’ll likely be a long while before then.

Overall 7/10