Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis Review

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It’s been a little while since I played the original Mario vs Donkey Kong so it was finally time to check out the sequel. Unlike the first game which used a mix of Mario and Mini levels, this one double down on the Minis. They’re definitely fun to play around with so while you will probably miss the standard levels, the Minis can hold their own game. It’s a fun sequel that gives you what you expect from this series.

The plot is that Mario dolls are selling really well while nobody wants the Donkey Kong ones. Pauline even grabs the Mario one while DK watches to rub it in. In return DK kidnaps Pauline and Mario was so busy antagonizing him that he didn’t have enough time to save her. Instead Mario sends in the Minis, but can they really hope to stop the legendary Donkey Kong? This guy packs a punch so they will have to use their sheer numbers and skill to put a stop to him.

This time around the gameplay uses the stylus the whole time as this is what allows you to control the Minis and to set off stage hazards. You must guide the 2-4 Mini Marios to the door which signals the end of the level. You win as long as one Mario survives, but naturally you get bonus points if you can get multiple Marios to the end. There will also be vines which you have to lure other enemies to destroy, springs to jump on, and many enemies that you can ride. The levels will usually allow you to get used to the hazards before they throw you in. The game never gets all that difficult though so you should have no problem getting through.

There are 8 worlds with each world having 9 normal levels in addition to a Mini level if you found all of the cards and a boss level as well. Then there are 2 final levels if you have gotten enough collectibles. Interestingly enough all of the boss fights except for the final one are the same fight, but with some added twists. You’re always trying to launch the Marios high up in order to either hit DK or cause something to fall on him. It may have been a stylistic choice to have the bosses be the same or a budget one, but it’s a pretty fun boss concept either way. Bouncing the Marios off the walls while trying to avoid the critters is just as tricky as it sounds.

The graphics look nice and colorful as you’d expect from Mario. The levels are all fairly compact and so the game doesn’t really need to go all out. Most of the objects and enemies are fairly similar so it likely wasn’t too hard to get all of the character models polished. As a result I would definitely expect everything to look good and it does so there’s definitely no issue. Nintendo always tends to deliver here. The soundtrack is fairly bland for a Mario game though. There aren’t really any memorable themes to be found here. You’ll likely be too focused on controlling the Marios to really notice this though.

After beating the game you do have some replay value when it comes to unlocking all of the bonus levels. You’ll want to get gold ranks on all of the stages and collect all of the cards for bonus Mini levels. Grabbing the cards is a fairly easy task, but good luck going for the golds. The game really expects you to earn them as nabbing the gold basically means that you have to play the stages perfectly. I actually think that this is the reason why beating the game was surprisingly very easy. Nintendo decided to make it so that you could breeze through the story and see the ending, but getting the gold medals would be the challenge. A lot of the levels start you off with at least one Mario right by the goal so you would be guaranteed to win, but if you wanted the rest of the Marios to survive then you would have to actually play the level and use teamwork to get through. Moving one Mario is easy enough, but coordinating all of them will likely take some practice.

I do have to quickly say that Mario looks rather iffy in this game. I still say that he was really antagonizing DK in the opening cutscene as he grins while Pauline holds his doll. That’s fine since of course he’d be thrilled, but he’s grinning directly at DK as the ape’s doll is completely ignored. He seems fine at the end and Pauline probably goes a little overboard when trying to make DK feel better, but I just can’t forget the opening. Something tells me that Mario is still holding a grudge with DK over some of the things that happened to them back in the day. I wish I didn’t have to put Mario on blast like this, but I can’t come to any other conclusion.

Overall, Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 March of the Minis is a fun sequel to the original. The original game will still take the win due to not having to rely on touch screen controls and having some normal Mario levels as well, but this one does a good job of operating well with the stylus. You will rarely if ever die because the game couldn’t read your swipe and you’ll probably end up grabbing a lot of cards along the way to beating the game normally. By then you may find yourself wanting to grab the final cards just so you will have truly completed the game. If you’re a Mario fan or just like brain teasers then this is the game for you. It’ll force you to always be thinking 3 steps ahead.

Overall 7/10

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RWBY Grimm Eclipse Review

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As a big RWBY fan I knew that it was about time that I finally got to play the official game. Granted, it’s fairly low budget and a first test of sorts rather than being the next big game, but I still shelled out the quick $15. It’s a fun game and definitely one that is a lot more fun if you play with multiplayer so you can actually grab most of the trophies. You need to go online for the rest as well, but more on that later.

The basic plot of the game is that an evil scientist is using Grimm for some very nefarious experiments. Even the shady Ozpin states that this guy is too dangerous and we should avoid him. Unfortunately, team RWBY ends up getting trapped on the island with the guy and they must now stop his plans and survive for as long as they can. Does the team have what it takes to stop this guy?

The plot is fairly basic and you’re only told what is happening via voice over from various characters during the chapters. It’s cool that we got some voice over even if there aren’t any actual cutscenes. You’ll really be focusing on the gameplay here above all else. It’s a classic beat em up where you have to defeat all of the enemies in order to move on. You have 3 main forms of attacking. There are the standard attacks, the power attacks, and the ranged attack. Your projectiles are fairly weak, but can be used to stun enemies which is handy for getting a specific trophy or just for buying yourself some time. The standard attacks are nice and fast which you will find yourself using for most of the time. The power attacks deal a lot of damage and are your best bet. You can mix and match both of them for some really good combos which will really make getting through the levels a breeze.

While the graphics aren’t amazing, they’re fairly good. The visuals on the game’s cover and main menu are off model, but inside the actual gameplay the characters are on point and the Grimm look menacing. The levels are bright and look really solid. I’d also have to give the soundtrack a thumbs up for the impressive collection of osts from the show. It is an odd decision to have all of the tunes be instrumental, but I guess they thought the vocals would be distracting? I don’t agree with the decision, but the tunes are still good whether they have lyrics or not.

One point against the game is how short it is. You can beat the whole game in around 2 hours. There are only 10 levels and you get infinite lives to help you out. You also keep whatever exp you earned so eventually you are sure to be able to complete the game. There are trophies which help to serve as replay value, but you can forget about getting most of them if you don’t have PS+. It broke my streak of nonstop A ranks in the recent games as I’ve got a D rank on PSN for this game now. Still, maxing everyone out and going for the trophies that you can will make this game last quite a while. It’ll help justify the 15 dollar price, but it’ll only work if you have PS+.

The difficulty level here is definitely intense since it doesn’t seem like the game scales down when you’re playing on your own. As a result some of the final levels are rather brutal with the minions because they can drain your aura away with ease and deal massive damage. I had to rely on one of Yang’s excellent combos to get the job done against these guys. They definitely were not easy, I can tell you that. The final boss is also crazy strong as you essentially just have to keep running as you dodge all of the attacks from the many minions and strike back when you get a chance. There’s technically no RNG to worry about here, but with attacks coming from all sides you have to be pretty fortunate not to get hit by anything. Otherwise you will be taken down very quickly.

There is one mechanic that helps against this though. Instead of a traditional health bar system you have a aura level like in the show. As long as you have aura you can’t really get hurt and the only way to die is to let the enemies get your aura all the way down and then taking a hit. If you notice your aura going down then you should run away very quickly so as not to risk getting hit again. Be careful not to underestimate the Grimm attacks since their claws reach a little longer than you’d think. Being cautious is the best strategy here.

Overall, RWBY Grimm Eclipse is a good game, but one that isn’t quite polished yet. It’s definitely not quite as good as it could be, but I did have fun running through the levels with my button mashing skills. I’ve always been a big fan of beat em ups and at the end of the day you have to forget about everything except the gameplay. The gameplay is good so that’s enough to float the game by. Just take my negatives as warnings so you know what you’re getting into when you get the game. If you’re not a particularly huge fan of the series then this game may offer even less for you as another beat em up would give you the superior experience. It’s just a lot of fun being able to actually play as the title characters from the show. You could also buy the JNPR DLC pack, but considering all of this I think I will be passing on that for the time being. Now I just need to wait for Cross Tag Battle to see the characters again.

Overall 7/10

Power Drome Review

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Power Drome is one of those PS2 games that you likely have not heard of before now. If you do know it, then that’s pretty impressive. I got the game because of how the gameplay looked and I definitely am a sucker for futuristic racers. They tend to be a lot of fun and this one is certainly no exception. The single player mode is unrelenting but at least this helps add to the length of the game. The multiplayer is where you will spend the majority of your time though.

There are 3 main modes for you to have fun in. Single Race is just like how it sounds. You pick a track and then test your mettle on it. You have multiplayer mode where you use the racers you have unlocked to have fun on all the tracks. Finally, there is the championship. There’s no real plot unless you count the quick level descriptions. You are trying to rise up the ranks as an up and coming racer so you enter many tournaments and even some 1 on 1 showdowns. Surprisingly the showdowns are the easiest ones and since you unlock racers that way, it definitely works for me. You can earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal based on how well you do.

The difficulty continues to accelerate more and more as you play through the championship. I beat around half of it with the main character before I had to switch to one of my unlocked fighters. Even then the final tournaments proved to be a little too much when it came down to speed. My opponents were just so much faster than me that it was scary. They would leave me in the dust as soon as the race began. The final stages also had a lot of turns so it was difficult to actually gain any ground on the opponents. You can drift in the game, but I found it hard to do reliably and without crashing so I ended up bumping into the walls either way. If I could turn better then defeating these later levels would be considerably easier.

Aside from accelerating and braking, you have two more gameplay additions. You can boost your way through the race by using up some meter. You do get a nice burst of speed, but it’s rather minimal and usually isn’t quite enough to let you get past the opponent. Alternately, you can use your meter to heal your car to prevent yourself from blowing up. This is extremely handy although your speed will take a nosedive temporarily.

The graphics look reasonably sharp. The level designs are good and the cars look high tech as they should be. I wouldn’t say that the graphics are anything to write home about, but they are bright and fairly colorful. You can always tell where you are on the track which is crucial. You do move at really high speeds which can make it tough to start turning on time, but they do have constant signs to let you know where you have to stop so it really comes down to your reaction times.

I’d say that the soundtrack was reasonably solid. Again, you probably won’t write home about it as there’s nothing amazing about it, but the music selection works well as background noise to the races. It’s certainly not slow music so it won’t force you to slam on the brakes.

This game does have some voice acting but it’s mostly just to show off how edgy all of the characters are. Perhaps they aren’t all edgy as I only played as two characters, but as part of their taunts they give the birdy. One guy slams his head on his car repeatedly and the girl shakes her fist at the other racers. I suppose this does seem to take place on more of an underground racing circuit so of course they don’t get along, but it’s almost funny to be doing this during a race. I guess they can drive these incredibly fast machines with one hand. That’s got to take a lot of talent.

There is a good amount of replay value to be found here. Unlocking all of the racers of course, but also clearing Career mode. Both should take a considerable amount of time unless you are a master at this genre. Even then you will still have to get used to this game’s gameplay in particular. Then multiplayer also unlocks a huge amount of replay value. Racing with A.I can be fun but it isn’t quite the same as racing against an actual person.

Playing this game reminds me of why we need more F Zero titles. GX still ranks as one of the greatest racers out there and the futuristic racing genre is just a lot of fun. I’d say that Wipeout does a better job of capturing F Zero’s essence than Power Drome, but as Drome only features a boost and no items, the actual gameplay is a little more similar. You can even boost ram into other cars to try and take them down for the count. Unfortunately it isn’t permanent though. I prefer when you are only given one life in a race. It increases the stakes and really reminds you not to get hit. It’s why F Zero is one of the only racers where I would actively target the other racers as I tried to take them out of commission.

Overall, Power Drome is a fun game. It does have a little more personality than other racing games with the characters being distinct and at least having some kind of career mode. The difficulty is a lot higher than you might expect, but with enough practice I’m sure you will be able to clear the game. At the very least, you will want to do it to unlock the extremely fast racer. If this game got a sequel with more of an actual plot behind it, then I’d be all for it. That would definitely have potential.

Overall 7/10

Batman Dark Tomorrow Review

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Batman has had quite a few video games over the years. I’ve yet to play one that was truly spectacular though. The other games were fairly solid but I’m waiting for a game that will be the next big thing. I got Dark Tomorrow in the hopes that this would be it as the comic driven plot and early 2000s aesthetic would be just what the series needed. Unfortunately a truly dreadful opening ends up severely limiting the game’s potential even though the ending is fantastic.

The game starts off by spoiling the final twist as we see very obvious silhouettes of Ra’s Al Ghoul and Talia. They plan to cleanse the world of humanity. To proceed with this goal they free all of the villains in Arkham to distract Batman. Batman also has to deal with a turf war going on in Gotham and the fact that Commissioner Gordon has also gone missing. Robin and Oracle are ready as backup but Batman decides to handle this alone, that’s how dangerous these villains are.

There’s always a debate about which is more important, gameplay or story. Well, gameplay will always be the most important part of a game and it is certainly what holds this game back. The game just doesn’t tell you anything about the controls and puts in so many red herrings that you aren’t sure what to do. You have extra gadgets that are basically pointless like the flashlight. You can barely move while that thing is one and the light it emits is comically small. You’ve got night vision goggles which are good for a small handful of segments when trying to dodge the trip lasers but you don’t even need to bother with them. I ran through all of the lasers for fun and honestly I didn’t notice a big difference in the amount of enemies that popped up. Then you’ve got the bat grapple 2 different times as one lets you swing and the other lets you shoot up. They are also used quite sparingly. This really feels like the game was meant for pure hand to hand combat and the gadgets were only added since someone in development thought Batman should have them. The Batarangs never get useful and the same goes for the smoke bombs which really don’t fool the villains for a second. The health packs are great though.

The game uses an interesting auto save feature. Basically, you have an unlimited amount of lives and typically wake up in the area that you died instead of going all the way back to when you last saved. However, while the game keeps a local record of your progress, you do still have to save on your own if you want to turn the game off. So just don’t make the mistake of thinking that the game is auto saving even if it does seem that way.

So, why is the gameplay so broken? Well for starters, the game has some really bad puzzle sections that just don’t make sense. The first level has most of these. In one section of the burning street you will try going forward but are quickly riddled with bullets. It doesn’t matter what tactic you try, you will never be able to get through there. You have to instead go through a side road and walk through some burning cars. There’s a small gap there that just seems cheesy. In another level, you are stuck next to a fence and your lock pick inexplicably does not work on the door. The lock pick is another negative as it’s called an ultimate something instead and the game doesn’t even tell you what it does. You will just find out that it’s a lock pick once you use it towards the end of the game. Here’s the problem, the game makes a big deal about it during this gate section as if you are supposed to use it, but you never do in this level. Instead you have to jump on a car and then jump on the roof with perfect precision. If you are slightly off or the game glitches again then you will miss the jump. Due to this, you will likely believe that the jump isn’t possible unless you know beforehand that it is.

Even the combat system is hidden from you. You have two attack options, punches and kicks. You use them to knock the enemies down and then you handcuff them. If you don’t handcuff them, then they will simply keep getting up forever. It’s an odd mechanic especially since you can’t skip the long handcuffing cutscene. What the game doesn’t tell you is that if you hold onto the L button you will unleash a series of rapid kicks and punches which deal a considerably higher damage output and make the bosses child’s play in comparison. You can certainly beat the game without this knowledge and sometimes it’s actually better not to go for a combo since it leaves you vulnerable if the opponent blocks it. I do think that information should be somewhere in the game though.

These are the reasons why the game got off to a rough start. The design of the opening levels where you are stuck in a death loop and the jump over the gate mixed in with the rather choppy combat controls if you don’t know how to combo the hits. However, once you get past the level and master the combat system, then things get fun. The second half of the hand feels like a whole different game. The Arkham level in particular is a lot of fun as you go through a marathon of bosses including Mr Freeze, Killer Croc, Szaz , and Poison Ivy. The bosses are a lot of fun. This is one time where the poor camera angles and the overused cutscenes can be quite fun. It’s pretty satisfying to knock the boss down since you get the full cutscene. Of course, it’s also fun when he knocks you over as well. Once you learn the combos the combat system becomes genuinely fun as well. It’s like an old school arcade game.

Some aspects of the game also shined from the start like the graphics. They are way ahead of their time and look considerably better than any of the other GameCube Batman games. It has a certain comic aesthetic that just works really well with the character models. The first cutscene sets the game on a positive note as it just feels very theatrical. You would not be blamed for thinking that it was a clip from a film. I can’t say as much for the soundtrack unfortunately. I suppose they didn’t put in quite as much effort into this section of the game compared to the others.

The level designs are really large and well thought out. You can be wandering for quite a long time from room to room. Fortunately the game remembers who you have handcuffed until you turn the game off so you don’t have to worry about beating them every time. Unfortunately you aren’t always able to appreciate the levels because of the really bad camera angles. It just keeps on turning whenever you move which really causes you to stop in your tracks or take more hits than you would have liked. It’s pretty distracting and I died a few times thanks to that, but at least there are constant checkpoints.

Then there is the plot which is probably the best plot from any Batman game. We get to see an onslaught of Batman villains throughout and Ra’s can make for a good villain. As par for the course Batman certainly does give him a whole lot of credit but I don’t consider him to be quite as impressive as many of Batman’s other rogues. Oracle did doubt Batman quite a bit in the cutscenes and it was too bad Robin couldn’t help out more, but I suppose the developers really wanted to keep this as a Batman solo game.

There isn’t any real replay value to be had in this game. It’s the kind of title that locks you in next to the final boss so you couldn’t go back and get collectibles even if you wanted too. You could play the whole game again for that, but that’s a little drastic. The value in this game will be in the main story which is really a 50/50 gamble. It’s tough because the climax is so amazing, but I just can’t forget the opening.

I should also mention that the game has around 4-5 endings. I actually ended up with one of the bad endings as I ran into the villains and knocked them all out, but I didn’t deactivate the apocalyptic machine. Apparently that was in the next door over. I also lost to Ra’s once so I actually got to see both endings. Getting to the good ending wouldn’t take very long but I was rather satisfied with the ending I got so I stuck with this one. It’s actually a fairly realistic look at how the situation usually goes if your opponent has a deadman‘s switch.

Overall, Dark Tomorrow is going to have to stay squarely in the middle. The two parts of the game neatly cancel each other out. Dark Tomorrow certainly seems to have divided its team up into various sections and some worked harder than others. If you’re a big Batman fan then I’d recommend checking this game out. Just watch out for the burning level and try to find the truck right away. It’s the best chance you’ve got!

Overall 5/10

Lollipop Review

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Time to look at the first connect 4 app title I’ve ever played. It’s pretty impressive how much the genre has exploded. There are hundreds of apps on the market just like these. Candy Crush is really what started this segment of the market and it has since grown into something pretty impressive. It is definitely a really fun genre but just playing one or two of them is enough for you to have your fill. Taking on more would just be overwhelming. For me Lollipop was the first and also the best.

You probably already remember the gameplay from my Fruits Mania review so I shall be brief. The goal of the game is typically to match a lot of candy. You can do this in pairs of 3 or greater. The longer the match, the better the reward. A match of 5 will get you the rainbow orb which can destroy all candy of a single color which is extremely handy. Other levels have you trying to match near cookies or getting a cake from the top to the bottom. There are certainly quite a few variations for the levels. I’d say that the best kind is when you have to break a large number of crackers. Those are just the most satisfying to play. You still need strategy but you can just jump in and start marching.

The worst levels are the ones that pop up really late in the game where there will be prisons outside the level and the only way to hit them is to detonate a row bomb in just the right row. It just feels like you need a lot of luck to clear a level like this and the game is basically just telling you to buy the item that you want. This is the kind of game that is definitely pay to win as buying an item like this will really come in handy.

The main game mode is the only mode in the game as you would expect. The replay value is in the sheer number of levels that are included as getting through all 1000+ will be considerably tough. Not to mention that the game is still going as well. You’ll burn out if you try to go through them too quickly so it’s important to just go through a few at a time. Naturally if you are a huge fan and don’t think this will happen to you then you should go ahead and play to your heart’s content.

There isn’t much to say about the graphics or the soundtrack since it is all the most generic themes you can think of. They certainly feel like they are all free domain themes and there isn’t any real variety. It would be nice to have something more than that, but it isn’t entirely unexpected considering that this is a pretty low budget game anyway. The company must have a huge profit margin here because they have 10 games of more that are exactly the same as the others, only they are slightly altered visually. A unique mechanic here or there, but it’s likely not hard to maintain compared to other games. I do think the game looks a lot better than Fruits Mania though because of the color scheme. Blue just pops out and the island esque theme just looks more impressive. It’s definitely quite subjective though.

The app market has really taken off and after laying some of these games I can see why. They certainly are no replacement for console games and if given the option I would choose the latter every time. However, it’s the times where a console game isn’t available that these really shine. Since the levels are quick it is ready to be played at any time. The levels are quite fun as well so it will always remain a tempting option. I could easily see a more dedicated app player beating all of the levels and moving on to one of the other versions just to get more levels.

Naturally as this is a very mainstream app game there are a bunch of pay to win mechanics. You can buy whatever items you want with real world currency. They are fairly cheap but once you’ve bought enough the total will definitely start to spike. Any level can become a cake walk if you buy enough items. It’s one thing Pokémon Go has always done well. You can’t buy candy, stardust, exp, or Pokémon. Without the option to do those things, it effectively prevents the P2W strategy. You will still have an edge if you spend money but it’s not quite as immediate or obvious as in other games. Sonic Forces is unfortunately like this one in that regard as you can just keep buying more loot boxes until you are maxed out with your level.

Overall, your enjoyment of Lollipop will likely depend on how many of the other clones you’ve already played. If this is your first one, then that’s perfect. It will feel really fresh and you’ll be absolutely engaged with the game. If you’ve played others, then this will just seem like more of the same. There aren’t any bells and whistles here. It’s just the gameplay, take it or leave it. At the very least, I know it’s an app that I can easily use to pass the time by, but more often than not, I have other options for that.

Overall 7/10

Fruits Mania: Elly’s Travel Review

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a mobile game. This time it’s one that isn’t a franchise title so you may be wondering why I picked it up. Well, the game was recommended by a few colleagues and so I quickly made it my mission to get reasonably far in it. After completing over 150 levels, I can definitely say that I have achieved my goal. I actually started this one after Lollipop so I will make some references to it but that review will be coming after this one.

The gameplay is very basic but there are a few advanced rules that you have to find out on your own as the game keeps them from you. The objective of each level varies but typically you have to destroy a certain amount of blocks in various colors or the crackers underneath them. Sometimes you will have to escort candy to the bottom of the level. You do all of this by matching colors in groups of 3 or greater. Groups of 4 will allow you to destroy a whole row or column while 5 will let you destroy a whole color on the board. Use these combos strategically in order to clear the level. Luck does play a large role in this game, but there is still the skill aspect as well. You can’t just blindly blow up blocks and expect to win. Some advanced techniques you can do are to merge explosion blocks or any kind of special block really for intense results. Hit a line block with a rainbow and it will cause a very large chain reaction. This resulting explosion can really change the landscape of the entire level and grant you a swift victory. Of course, it is incredibly difficult to accomplish such a feat.

There is nothing else to do here except the main levels so you really have to enjoy the gameplay if you want to keep playing. There are over 1000 levels though so you don’t really need to worry about running out for a very long time. I don’t care how good you are at this game, clearing it will take time. I’m fairly close to level 200 but the game is getting to be quite difficult now so my pace has slowed considerably. You do get special items every now and then, but it seems to be based on your play time so it doesn’t come as frequently as in Lollipop. Use your items wisely as you will certainly miss them once they are gone.

One thing that is unique to Fruits Mania over Lollipop is that it has actual boss fights. You attack them with your blocks. It’s really just like a normal level, but don’t underestimate it. The toughest levels are still when you have to escort fruits to the bottom of the screen as you have to either plan out your moves and their effects to a very high degree or just depend on RNG.

There isn’t really a soundtrack of course. There are some decent sound effects, but that’s really it. As far as the graphics go, it’s nice and clear. The art style isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t give it much praise since it’s not like it has much to do anyway. It’s just the same fruits in each level so I doubt it takes too much time to set it up. The game is a brilliant idea from the developers because they can just keep on generating new levels which are just the old ones, but switched out a little. It’s most impressive if you ask me. From the gamer side you won’t even mind this much because the core gameplay is what’s fun. It’s not like there is a whole lot more they can do with the game without possibly damaging the formula. They do add new mechanics from time to time, but they have to be careful not to overdo it.

The replay value goes without saying here since 1000+ levels will take forever. Each world has 50 levels and I’m only on World 4 I believe. This app succeeds in what apps are intended to do, make the time pass by quickly. It doesn’t need the internet so you can play the game while in the subway and if you’re stuck in a level you don’t have to worry as the game will give you powerful items before you know it. The best items are the capsules that take out whole rows and columns. They are just so overpowered. .

Overall, Fruits Mania is certainly an addicting mobile title. It’s a step under Lollipop but that could very well be because I played the other game first. As the levels are quick it is easy to pick up and play at any time. I doubt I’ll ever complete all of the levels, but it’s a fun game. I’d recommend checking this out if it’s up your alley but if you already have a game that you like to go too in this category, then there isn’t much point to switching.

Overall 7/10

.Hack Part 3 Outbreak Review

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The .Hack series continues with this next game. Getting Outbreak was no easy task given how expensive these games are, but I knew that it was time. It took a little while to relearn the mechanics and weird element system (Fire beats Water?….) but once I got those out of the way I was ready to dominate. It’s a really fun game even if it’s the shortest one.

I can’t give a great previously segment since I’m hazy on that myself but more and more people are starting to behave oddly. The World appears to be having an impact on the players’ minds. The Mods have decided to shut it down, but doing that would ensure that the people in a coma stay that way which would be unfortunate. Kite decides that the team should strike one last offensive at Cubia and the army of Databugs, but the only way to succeed is to have Helba, Wiseman, and the Mod on board.

Beyond the main plot there are a ton of subplots looming in the background. The Cat user from the previous games is deteriorating more and more as the games go by. At this point she doesn’t have long until she is completely corrupted. Her friend is worried but there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do about this situation. Then you have other characters who are trying to get treasure or other rare items and want Kite’s help with this. One character is even planning to leave the game which would be tragic. I did a few of the side missions. They’re not all that long so it wouldn’t be a problem to do them, but I’ll just put them off til the final game. Then I may have fun saving all of them if I need more rare items or I’ll just try and take the final boss head on.

The gameplay is exactly as you remember it with the unique mix of real time and turn based combat. As I mentioned, it will take you a little longer to get used to it if you haven’t played the game in a whole because there are certain nuances that make this game more complex than others. You will have to keep switching your party tactics since your A.I. Allies are completely dependent on this. Then you’ve also got to remember the types. Basically there are many pairs of two elements and both elements are good against each other. Water beats fire but fire beats water. Using the elements is absolutely required and will help you take down bosses. If you don’t use the elements then I’d say that you are really in a pinch.. It’s just such a massive game changer.

Level ups are important as well of course. While I was still relearning how to play I quickly focused on level ups. I got about 20 right away and that left Kite at level 70. That’s high enough for you to beat the game. Perhaps not easily, but it is achievable. You’ll still be a bit of a glass cannon without good equipment, but that is hard to get. I barely even notice the difference to be honest so just get used to carrying a lot of potions and revives around. You’ll absolutely need them and when your partners are running low on inventory you should give them some as well. Sharing is caring after all and if everyone is properly equipped it will make the whole journey a lot more manageable. The game’s difficulty is intense, but not unfair. Just have every element on hand even if it means lugging around extra equipment that you could have sold for more money. You can always find more ways to get money, but good equipment is hard to come by. Data Draining powerful enemies is probably the most efficient way of getting effective inventory.

The graphics are about the same as the other 2 which makes sense since it’s practically the same game from a technical standpoint. It looks good and the graphics have aged quite well. The glitch effects that occur when a databug shows up are still genius. It looks as if an actual glitch has appeared as the screen will go crazy and it sounds like a computer shuts off. It’s all very meta and really well executed. I’d like to see a modern game take a stab at something like this as well. With other big data games like Digimon and Sword Art Online still going, one of them should try to have an interface like this. I think it would work really well. There aren’t really any new tunes here or maybe there are and they just weren’t memorable. Either way, it’s very nostalgic. You’ll certainly remember hearing these themes from the first two parts and they’re still a lot of fun. I would like to have an extra theme or two, but the ones in the game are satisfying enough.

When it comes to the story length this game is a lot shorter than I was expecting. The first game was 25 hours long, the second was 15 and this last one was 12. I guess we’ll see how long the 4th game was but if it’s any shorter then it’s really going to breeze by. I also think I did more of the bonus content in the 1st game which helped its case. After beating the game there are a bunch of side quests to do here so there’s a ton of replay value. Leveling up and getting new equipment isn’t exactly a fast process either. It’s certainly worth the normal price. Granted, this game goes for around 50-80 dollars nowadays so you’ll want to think carefully on if it’s worth it or not. The game’s a lot of fun so I’d say it is, but don’t spend too much on it. Know your limits. It’s why I likely won’t be getting the final game for a while since it’s well over 100 dollars. That’s just way too much money for a single game and hopefully the price will go down at some point.

I have to mention one last time that it’s really cool how the game feels like an online MMO. There’s just so much to do here and the game keeps track of every little thing. How many objects you break, enemies met, etc. It gives you an incentive to just keep playing the game and you could easily cross 100 hours just by doing all of this. One slight improvement the game could make would be to allow you to get to the main menu without having to log out every time, but I guess that is for the added realism of being on your computer. It’s definitely pretty meta.

Overall, Outbreak is a solid addition to the .Hack series. While it is a little on the short side, the gameplay and story are on point as always. We’re one step closer to the climax now and I can definitely say that I’m a big fan of the franchise. I’m also looking forward to the GU titles as those definitely seem pretty action packed. Who knows, maybe I’ll do some of the side quests at some point while waiting for the 4th game. At least I leveled up a bunch ahead of time so when the 4th game comes out I should be ready to rock and roll. I just need to remind myself that type advantages are key and by putting that in this review I will definitely be prepared.

Overall 8/10

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Review

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Whenever someone yells “MARIO AND SONIC AT THE OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES” you can’t help but get very nostalgic. I rented this game a long time ago and had quite a lot of fun with it. While the games are more limited than in the first one, it has improved in every other area. This title feels like the high budget Olympics game that we had been waiting for and the soundtrack is certainly one of the all time greats. My main character that I use in this game is Shadow of course but there is a solid roster of other characters to use as well.

Unlike the last one, this Olympics actually has a story mode of sorts. Essentially you have to play in the Olympics to try and secure the gold trophy. To do this you will have to prove that you are a well rounded athlete who can excel in many different events. You play the Olympics one day at a time. At first there are 2 events per day and then 3 for the second half. You also get 2 break days to relax and go to the shop. It would be pretty sad to play the whole thing and then lose so the A.I isn’t too crazy. Not to mention that many of the events are training so you can’t actually lose. It’s a way to get free points and move up the ranks of you were beginning to lose. You still need to win most of them if you are going to succeed though. As I hinted at earlier though, most of the mini games are rather similar so you shouldn’t have a problem after you’ve gotten used to them.

The best mini game is probably the Snowboard one. It’s very simple and straight to the point. You have to drive down a slope as fast as you possibly can. No gimmicks or anything like that, it’s just a pure bout of skill. You just can’t top it. There is a similar mini game where you are on Skis, but you have to utilize the motion controls more. It’s really the same thing but slower and with more stuff going on to distract you. Nothing wrong with that, but it just can’t compare to the style of the board.

We’ve also got Ice Hockey which would usually be in first place but it’s really hard to move much at all without getting slammed by the other team. That part makes it tough to enjoy the game because you don’t actually get to be playing it much. Good concept though. The game that seems to be the main attraction in this game is the figure skating. You have to pull off moves with the utmost precision at just the right time of you want to get the maximum score. While defeating the computers can be pretty easy you will want to do your best if you’re fighting a human opponent. It’s not my favorite game since it’s very slow paced, but it’s not the worst either.

The worst mini game is the one where you have to slide the discs across the floor. Many party games have this and I can never get any since it has never been good. The very concept ensures that it won’t be good if you ask me since it is a very slow paced game by nature. I’m sure it has its fans, but I am not one of them.

There are also some mini games called dream events which have items included and can get quite chaotic. The Snowball fight game is probably the most memorable one and it’s definitely a lot of fun. Your teammates may actively sabotage you as they get blasted, but it’s a pretty balanced game in that respect. Who doesn’t like a good snowball fight right? Another monk game has a glider where you have to fly and catch rings as you make it to the end. Naturally you’ll want to aim for small rings for maximum rings, but your opponents may have the same idea which will make things tricky.

After a while you will probably grow bored of the snow theme, but at least you can basically say that the game tries out every possible idea. Some mini games may seem like slight rehashes of each other but at least do have things that make them unique. Other party titles just make all of the games the same and don’t even attempt to hide it.

The presentation of the game as a whole is quite impressive. From the main menus to the shops and the levels, this game looks quite great. They spared no expense on the visuals. All of the character models are on point and the level designs are great as well. We even have a Challenger Approaching icon that is sort of like Super Smash which is pretty neat. It shows up before each boss battle and feels quite thematic. Then there is the soundtrack. It’s quite impressive as it takes many of the best Mario and Sonic themes and then throws them into the games/bosses. Listening to the Sonic Adventure themes is always nostalgic and naturally the Mario ones are good as well. I haven’t played the next Olympic installments yet, but I think it’s fair to say that they are going to have a very tough time surpassing this one.

There’s a lot to do in this game so length is certainly not an issue. The main campaign isn’t very long but that’s only the tip of the iceberg as you try to earn enough money to buy everything. You can also go for new records in individual events as well as challenge friends in multiplayer. Multiplayer mode certainly adds a lot of replay value to the game. You really need this in any sport game and in particular, offline multiplayer is a must.

Overall, it’s impressive just how much the series stepped it up with this installment. The game is just a lot nicer to play, listen, and look at. Boss battles was a real good addition and I like having a ceremonial story mode even if it is relatively small. It’s certainly better than nothing. The game’s only weakness is its limited amount of games, but at least the one that we do get are really fun which is certainly the important thing. I’d definitely recommend getting this game. While it may not be as unheard of as it used to be, a crossover with Sonic and Mario is always worth noting.

Overall 7/10

Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed Review

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Katsuma Unleashed is one of those games that I got on a whim. When I’m at GameStop I always like looking at the games that are 5 dollars or less. It is especially rare to see a 3DS game go for such a cheap price so I knew that I had to get it. I don’t think I even knew the genre at the time and only learned that it was a classic side scroller a little later on. It’s a fun game but it’s pretty clear why it is so cheap. The game is incredibly short so you can power through it with ease. Still, it’s a fun game and that’s what counts.

The plot of the game is that all of the happy monsters have been captured by a nefarious scientist. I don’t think this guy is an animal but it’s hard to say for sure. He doesn’t exactly seem human either as his neck is too long and his eyes are too high up. Fortunately for the animal kingdom, the Doctor was unable to catch the main character. It’s time to liberate the animals and show the Doctor that when you take on one monster, you take them all on.

As I mentioned, the core gameplay is basically like Mario or Kirby. You traverse through the levels, taking on enemies and obstacles along the way. At the end of each level is a capsule that you step on which unlocks the next level. That bit is pretty similar to Sonic . Of course, every side scroller has something to keep it unique and this one is no exception. You gain a new power after each world until you have all 5. You gain the ability to make an indestructible barrier which can endure several hits. It is by far the most useful ability. You also gain the ability to fly for long periods of time which is best for trying to speed blitz through the levels. The worst ability is your super punch. You’ll never end up using it except when the game forces you to do so. There are also your eye lasers, those are fairly fun and useful. Your final ability is that you can slow down time which is usually great, but there just isn’t much reason to use it here. As all of the bosses go through their normal patterns where you have to wait for an opening, using time stop would just slow you down.

This game is just one of those interesting cases where your base moves are so good that there is rarely a need to use your powers except flight and the barrier. Why use a punch or energy blast when it’s quicker to just spin and win? The main character’s spin move is incredibly useful and never gets inefficient to use. I mainly use flight so I can just keep running and jumping without fear. If I start plummeting just activate flight as a save. The barrier did come in handy against the final boss which was actually a fairly tough fight.

So the levels are a lot of fun. They are made quite well and you do need a level of skill to get past all of them. The game is fairly easy so I mean that quite lightly. You also have unlimited lives and many checkpoints so you will no doubt beat the game at some point. There’s no real pressure like this which is nice. While easy, that doesn’t make the levels any less enjoyable.

I only have one real problem with the game. It’s not the story. Barebones as it is, the story was basically nonexistent, but at least it wasn’t bad. What hurts the game a little is how short it is. Each level is typically 2-3 minutes with a small handful of 5 minute levels in there. There are 24 levels so you can do the math. This game isn’t very long at all. It does it’s best to add replay value though as there are a bunch of collectibles to nab. If you grab them all then you get the true ending. After all, one of the lead scientists is still captured in the normal ending so you can tell that the quest must go on. It wouldn’t take too long to get to the secret ending but it’s certainly better than nothing. I wasn’t quite a big enough fan to go for it myself, but it’s nice to know that the option is there.

The graphics are pretty nice and a little better than I had expected but this is a 3DS game so I suppose that makes sense. The levels are very bright and colorful and the character models are on point. At the very least I don’t think they skimped out on this part of the budget. The music is less impressive. It’s not bad, but it isn’t memorable either so I think you will forget it rather quickly. There also aren’t any real cutscenes and not even text bubbles pop up. That would have been fun, but I suppose you can’t win them all.

The bosses are all unique which is impressive as some big games are quick to reuse them to save budget. (Sonic Forces) The boss levels are fairly intuitive so you will quickly find out what to do while still feeling like you picked up on the weakness yourself. Just another reason why this game is so solid. The final boss came very close to defeating me which was quite impressive but I got the barrier up just in time.

Overall, Katsuma Unleashed is probably the definition of a solid platformer. It is very easy to pick up and play with the gameplay being polished enough for you to think that it’s an AAA title. In pure 2D gameplay I would even rate it over Sonic. Of course, the budget limitations do begin to show in other areas like the duration and lack of a story. If you are playing purely for the story then you should probably skip this one. If like me you are really playing for the gameplay then you must buy this one. It’s only a few dollars which is a bargain and also offsets the negative of being a short game.

Overall 7/10

Legend of Kay Anniversary Review

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It’s time to take a look at the Legend of Kay Anniversary game. I never really knew about the original Legend of Kay, but I suppose it had to at least be moderately popular in order to get a remake like this. It’s essentially the Legend of Zelda, but with a weaker plot/main character. It’s a fun enough game, but odd level designs and the story are probably why it never became all that popular. Still, it’s a fairly fun game that is worth your time.

The plot follows a kid tiger named Kay. Unfortunately, Gorillas and Rats have teamed up to take over the world so not even his village is safe from this. He quickly decides to liberate the village and this way Kay can show off his warrior abilities as well. In order to stop them, he will have to defeat the commanders and also assemble the legendary Cat statues in order to proceed to the villain base. Lots of other animals have also been captured so Kay will try to save them all on the way.

As I’ve already stressed, the plot isn’t all that interesting. It’s probably because the villains are rather inspired. Neither the rat nor the gorilla seem to be much of a threat if we’re being honest and the supporting cast is basically nonexistent. As such, it’s all up to the main character and the heroine. Kay talks really tough and does have a fun personality so I’d definitely say that he is a very solid main character. The villains talk smack all of the time so why not have the main character respond to it for a change right? Well, Kay can certainly dish it out just as well as the rest of them. The heroine is also one of those characters who talks really tough. It’s a little less deserved as she doesn’t actually do any real fighting, but it’s better to talk tough than not to do so I suppose.

The romance is fairly weak though. The two characters keep cutting each other off and it pretty much comes out of nowhere. Why couldn’t they just be friends? I think that’s always more of an admirable goal from the game’s view as it defies expectations and even shows restraint on the game’s part. All right, with the plot and characters out of the way let us look at the most important part of the title. The gameplay.

It’s a fairly standard 3D platformer. You wield a sword, hammer, and claws as you fight your way through enemies. The sword is the most fun to use, but the claws are the quickest weapon and the one that you’ll want to use to overwhelm smaller enemies. The hammer is great for when you’re outnumbered thanks to its wide range and great attack power. You’ll be able to upgrade these weapons as you progress through the game. You can also shoot a blast of thunder by charging up an attack although it’ll cost you some magic meter. The combat here is very fun and it can also be quite challenging. You’ll definitely have to utilize some strategy here as opposed to just rushing straight at the enemies.

Most of the bosses are fairly easy, but the final boss can be difficult. He has 2 phases and while you may have the edge in health, if he knocks you off of the tower you lose a life and respawn without any items that you may have used. It can get pretty dangerous as you can arrive at the fight filled with potions and armor and then have to start the fight without any of that if you fall. It’s high stakes and I managed to beat him on my 3rd try on my final health point. It’s always nice and dramatic when that happens. Basically, that’s when I activate my Ultra Instinct.

The platforming is a little weaker. Basic jumps can be a little difficult because of the camera angles. It’s hard to adjust the camera and it simply can’t keep up. While the game has a map, it’s not very good and you can actually get lost and not know what to do. That happened to me for quite a while in the fire level. Toning down some of the puzzles within the levels and making the routes a little more straight forward would certainly go a long way. It certainly could have been far worse though.

There isn’t much replay value to be found here as once you fight the final boss you can’t go back. You’ll just have to start a new file if you want to do anything else. Aiming for the platinum trophy is the only reason to keep on playing the game and to get that one you will need to complete the game on Nightmare difficulty. That should certainly be a real challenge so good luck on that one. Still, the base game is long enough where you can still justify the price in the end. It’s a good amount of content.

The graphics look pretty good. The fire effects in particular are pretty nice. Unfortunately most of the big cutscenes are story book style which is still one of my least favorite formats. There just isn’t much that you can do with it and there’s no real animation there so it’s like the game is taking the easy way out. At least the cutscenes during the gameplay are animated normally and have voice acting so that was certainly nice. Part of the fun throughout the game is Kay’s banter which works a lot better when you can hear what he is saying. As for the soundtrack, it’s a little limited, but certainly doesn’t sound bad. You’ll definitely recognize the danger theme after a while since it plays so often. It’s not the most memorable soundtrack, but it’ll get the job done.

Overall, The Legend of Kay is a good game. It’s not a great one by any means and you can tell that the developers were still finding their stride as far as platformers go, but it’s still good enough where I can recommend it. Just play the game for the gameplay as opposed to the story and you’ll be good. Truth be told, you should always be playing for the gameplay anyway so it’s not as if this should be anything new. I’d be up for a sequel coming out one day. There’s more they can do with Kay as a character and I’m always up for more action platformers. Maybe the enemies in a sequel could be wolves, those guys are threatening.

Overall 7/10