7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Phantasy Star Universe Review


It’s time to look at the very first Phantasy Star game I’ve had the pleasure of playing all the way through. The series always looked pretty fun and after playing through this one I can definitely confirm it. The story may not be quite up to par with the bigger RPGs as there are less characters to really get involved with but it could be because this game was trying to be more of an action game than an RPG. It’s a close one because of course you can have action games that are still considered RPGs like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy. At what point does the action game make the jump? It’s an interesting discussion.

The main character here is Ethan Waber. He’s someone who strongly dislikes the Guardians after his father died in the line of duty. One day he and his sister are caught up in an attack by the SEED, mindless aliens who go around taking down planets. He ends up ironically being saved by a Guardian and decides that he had the wrong idea about them. We get a time skip and now he is ready to be a full time member. He will have to pass some tests to get officially acknowledged though. In the meantime the SEED have amped up their attacks and the government groups are split on how to handle this issue. The Endrun Collective wants to simply eradicate the SEED and the planets they have invaded. Effectively destroy everything. The Allied Army wants to destroy the SEED and the areas they inhabit so a slightly less extreme version of the Collective. Finally, the Guardians want to purify the SEED so that we can save everything. With none of the groups agreeing on procedure the stakes continue to ramp up.

Ethan is a solid lead here. He’s definitely quite confident and is ready to pick a fight with anybody. I always appreciate a lead who isn’t afraid to get in there and do what needs to be done. He may mellow out a bit as a Guardian but at the end of the day he still makes all of the right moves which is good. At the end many of the characters start to be okay with allowing for some possible casualties except for Ethan who stands strong. He refuses to lose a single person and that’s really what it means to be a hero. A lot of people can sacrifice the few to save the many but saving everyone is what you should really be doing.

The story is solid even if it’s slightly underwhelming at times. The game lasts for over 20 hours which is a long time to get used to the cast. Despite this, I wouldn’t say that the cast ever really grows on you outside of Ethan and Karen. Everyone else can range from uninspired to a bit annoying. I still don’t get what the game was going for with the plot about Ethan’s sister. It ultimately didn’t amount to anything and just sort of got dropped. The game doesn’t think about this plot so much that you can’t forget how her wallet got stolen by the rogues and they never get it back. This is especially important because Ethan is paling around with them by the end of the game and they presumably still have her stuff. I would have liked a scene where he finally got it back. I lost hope of this happening after the first few chapters but the whole thing was rather odd.

You’re also kind of waiting for the SEED to either reveal that they have a leader or for the Collective to explain their plan a bit more. As it stands, I still don’t fully know what they were going for here. I suppose they just wanted to blow up the planet or something. Their leader definitely knows how to come back to life over and over again which is admirable. At the same time, coming back to life with no real plan isn’t a very smart thing to do. Ethan even takes him out in a cutscene instead of a boss battle which I found to be a bit humorous even if that may not have actually been intended.

The gameplay is solid though. This is a 3D action title where you can choose from a few different weapons. I went with the single bladed sword for my main weapon and a short saber/gun for the back-up. I highly recommend having the gun at least as the back-up. It has to worry about ammo while swords don’t but deals a good amount of damage. I maxed out my gravity bullet early on and it was very helpful. The game is like a beat em up to an extent as you have to beat all of the enemies in an area before you can proceed. Rinse and repeat until you get to the end of the area and trigger a cutscene. It’s fairly formulaic on that point.

Universe has a ton of options on how to fight. Your weapons are determined by your class and you can change your class at headquarters. You don’t unlock the ability to change for a while though so by the time I did I was already pretty comfortable with my current standing. It’s never too late to change though and I recommend training a lot for the final battle. The game makes it rather difficult to train at times. If you die in the middle of a dungeon watch out. I was able to barely squeak through at times but otherwise I would really be in trouble. There’s no way out of some dungeons and you can’t grind and then save. The save point gets shut down once you leave so if you find yourself in such a pickle the only thing to do is grind a ton and then hopefully you’re strong enough to beat the boss or you’ll lose that data each time. I think the game should have allowed for you to forfeit story missions so you could go train if needed. It didn’t quite happen to me but I can definitely tell you that I would be pretty nervous at times.

The graphics are pretty sharp. It’s got that fun PS2 feel about it. It’s a retro style that has aged really well. It has the proper amount of colors and styles throughout the game and makes for a visually unforgettable environment. The soundtrack is also fun enough even if it’s pretty limited. I’ll give the game extra props for actually having an opening like an anime, an ending for every chapter, and then a general opening. That’s quite a lot of cinematics and we get more during the levels. This title clearly had a pretty considerable budget. Mix that in with the vast amount of replay value here and you’ve got a game that will last quite a while. It’s a solid sci-fi game for sure and there’s a lot to like here.

Overall, I may not have been super impressed with the story but it’s still not bad. After 20 hours you tend to get used to what’s going on and will be more invested than you could be in a short game. I think other Phantasy Star games will likely surpass this one but it still doesn’t quite take away from this one either. It’s been sitting on my backlog for an incredibly long amount of time so it feels really good to complete it at long last. If you’ve got a PS2 then I’d definitely recommend playing this one. There aren’t a whole lot of RPGs that take place in space so it’s a pretty unique environment. There’s also so much to do here that you are unlikely to get bored. I personally recommend doing a good amount of training before the final few chapters though.

Overall 7/10

Games, 3 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

The Immortal Review


It’s time to take a look at a recent game Nintendo added to the NES catalogue. I definitely was not familiar with this one before starting it but I’m always up for giving each game its fair share. Unfortunately I can’t say that this one is particularly good. It’s a title with so many gotcha traps that you don’t spend much time actually progressing through the game. Everything in the title is meant to take you out of the picture and while that is pretty fun for how creative it is, it does’t really let you play the game.

You wake up in a dark room with a note from your master explaining that he was bumped off and you have to stop some sorcerer or something. The mystery is that the letter was addressed to someone else, not you. Still, these are the answers you were looking for so you leave the room and head into the rest of the castle which is filled to the brim with traps. Everything in this castle is made for the sole purpose of blowing you to smithereens. Seriously, you can die with every step. Sometimes by walking you’ll trigger a sword that shoots up from the ground and stabs you to death. Other times there’s a trap door or even a random monster in the ground trying to eat you. You’ll be lucky to make it more than a few steps before death sometimes.

Then you’ve got flying energy balls that follow you to the end of your days. I couldn’t find any way to get rid of them and they are much faster than you are. Trying to stay out of their way is virtually impossible so you’ll keep dying. Then you have spears being thrown at you and also shurikens that home in on your general direction. Finally we can’t forget the minions wandering around who will challenge you to a fight. The gameplay style here is very unique. Most of the game is an overhead platformer as you run from room to room trying your best to stay one step ahead of the rest. In combat it turns into more of a guessing game. Both of you have swords and the idea is to take the other one out of the picture. You can stab straight or to the side. Additionally you can dodge to the side as well. Watch out because the opponent can do the same thing. The whole match gets very tactical or you can strike first and wing it. If you keep slashing sideways at full speed then you will always deal more damage than the enemy can. Keep it up and you’ll win the battle although it’ll cost you considerable damage.

There are also a lot of puzzles in the game which is naturally not really my thing as you know. You are given various items as enemies drop them and some have special uses. For example, you can light up a candle which opens up the passageway to the next floor. Enter carefully as if you fall into the hole instead of through the ladder then you instantly die. Also, don’t read the scrolls you pick up since they blow you up which takes out another life. There are also jello monsters running around which absorb you resulting in another instant death. The game really throws everything at you here with no time to catch your breath. In a way it is quite admirable I suppose as the game keeps on showing you that this is all quite serious business.

Fortunately these deaths don’t all take you back to the beginning. The game seems to save after every major floor. I only made it to floor 2 so I don’t know if it stays that way for the whole game. You seem to have 3 lives so if you die once you respawn in the same room. Lose all of your lives and then you respawn back at the beginning of the floor instead which is quite the difference. I’m glad that the game doesn’t set you all the way but it’s a small comfort. You’re just not given enough time to actually play the game and that’s a problem if you ask me. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of trying to explore this dungeon.

The graphics are pretty old and haven’t aged as well as some of the other games. There’s not a whole lot of detail here. While the game doesn’t look all that good, I think it deserves some credit for building such an elaborate level. That is something which is quite a bit less common than you would expect. Usually the NES games wouldn’t have a whole lot of areas to explore just due to the nature of the system. It would have to focus everything into the gameplay while also staying within the disc’s size limit. Once you’re able to get past that then you can worry about everything else.

Overall, The Immortal is definitely not a game that has a timeless feel about it. It’s not a particularly fun game and its only gimmick of constant death is not one that lends itself well to playing over and over again. You’ll have a hard time just beating this game through once to be honest with how many obstacles it puts in your way. Good luck is all I’d say to that because the game is absolutely going to make you work for it. I’m hoping Nintendo continues to add more NES and SNES games though. They’ve really helped me play a lot of titles that I absolutely wouldn’t have checked out otherwise.

Overall 3/10

3 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Natsume Championship Wrestling Review


It’s time to look at another wrestling game. I played one on the NES so it was finally time to try the SNES version. Unfortunately I definitely would not say that this game was very good. In fact, I thought it was fairly bad and has not aged well at all. There are a lot of little choppy animations thrown in and parts of the game where you have to watch what’s basically a small cutscenes. There are just too many breaks in the action and that ultimately ends up hurting the experience quite a bit.

There’s no story mode so right off the bat you can just jump into some exhibitions or the tournament mode where you fight off everyone at once. Definitely a pretty reasonable structure for a fighting game but then you need the gameplay to be on point and this one was not. You have 3 basic moves when you start to fight, you can punch, kick, or go for a grab. You can also try running blows but they are unlikely to land even when the computer is on easy mode. When you throw an opponent to the ground you can follow up by kicking them where it hurts, getting them into a submission, or picking them up to get a free hit in.

My favorite option was the free hit because it seems like a no brainer to me. You get the free hit and then knock him down to repeat the cycle again. It can be tough to time the first punch though so that you are in a position to grab again after that. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds after all. The annoying part is when you go face to face with an opponent and they grab you. There’s basically nothing you can do about it and I tried many different options. I would rewind and take just about any action but it wouldn’t matter. Once the opponent wants to grab you they won’t stop until they do. It triggers a cutscene of sorts where they make you run back and then forward into their punch. They then follow it up with all of the counters I described above.

Eventually they will try to pin you. With good button mashing you can break free almost every time but it’s still annoying to have to keep doing this over and over again every round. Then when you pin them they also break free so each match drags on for an incredible amount of time. You spend more time messing around on the ground then you do actually fighting and that just feels like a mistake to me. It takes away from the entire point of wrestling doesn’t it? I want to actually be interacting with the game. The problem is that while you’re on the ground and they jump on you there’s nothing you can do for a little while. Dead time like that doesn’t work in game format.

At least the graphics are okay I guess. They’re clear enough. The game is very down to Earth so it’s not like they’re going to be able to show a whole lot anyway. What we do get works well enough I suppose. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though. It’s to be expected as Wrestling isn’t about the music anyway but I still would have liked to have had a few good themes. I think it would have been a good idea. Anything to give this game a bit more life. As it stands there isn’t much in the way of replay value aside from fighting more people in wrestling matches I guess.

Overall, Natsume Championship Wrestling just isn’t fun. At the end of the day that’s one of the last things you want to hear about a game. When you pop a title in to play a few rounds you’re expecting to have a fun time and to be entertained. This game just doesn’t let you do that and I would sooner go back to the NES version which was at least a bit more fast paced. I don’t really buy wrestling games in general but I’m confident that the Gamecube ones would have better gameplay. Just call it a gut feeling but I think it definitely is a reasonable assumption.

Overall 3/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Metroid Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Metroid title. It feels good to have finally knocked all of these titles out of the way. I was not a big fan of the first two titles in the series that’s for sure. This third one is considerably better than the first two. It’s still not good enough where I would have been a big fan of the series back in the day but the improvements are quite massive so you can tell that a lot of effort was put into this one. My main issues with the first two games were definitively resolved here.

The game starts off with your ship crashing which was pretty intense. You now have to travel the planet and slay all of the big monsters in order to find the Metroid that you saved from game 2. I like the idea that there is some real continuity here and you also have an opening skirmish with Ridley as he kidnaps the Metroid. The stakes are high and it’s also personal now. Fortunately Samus is ready for the adventure and as soon as she grabs all of the scattered power ups in the world then she will really be ready to take the fight to the dragon.

Here’s the biggest improvement that Super Metroid made, we finally have a true map system! You add to the map as you walk around and if you find the map station in the world then you will unlock the whole area at once. It really makes a world of difference to actually know where you are instead of guessing. You are still responsible for finding all of the secret passages on your own of course but since you have something to go on that makes it a lot easier. When you had to blindly guess you could be stuck for hours just wandering the dark caverns. I couldn’t ask for much more out of a map system than what we have here. Mind you, the game is still pretty tricky with how it hides power ups and such though. You’ll still have to go through a lot of trial and error here so don’t expect to beat the game very quickly.

It took me around 8 hours so even though the speed runners tend to beat this very quickly, I wouldn’t expect to complete the game much quicker than that on your first shot. The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and shoot as you go through the levels. You will also obtain more and more skills are you go through the game like bombs while rolling, missiles, and even x ray vision. They help a lot in the platforming efforts. It seems like the x ray vision is the only one that’s not mandatory but you absolutely need the bombs and missiles if you want to clear the game.

One nice thing about the setup is that it does feel very satisfying when you finally get the next power up. You’ve suddenly opened up a whole new range of possibilities for yourself which is always good. It may not be fun to be stuck for a while but it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than the last few games where it would feel purely annoying. I think a good deal of this is due to 3 main factors even aside from the map. The first is that we have more of a real story here. I’m not going to say that the first two games didn’t have a basic plot, but this one has more of a narrative. You have to save the baby Metroid you rescued in the second game. Right away that makes the stakes much more personal than in the first two games so you’re willing to do what you have to in order to win.

Next, the graphics are worlds improved from the last two games. This really wouldn’t look bad on the N64. The graphics are quite solid for sprites. They’re very bright and there’s a lot of details in everything that’s going on. I was pretty impressed at least. Finally, you’ve got the soundtrack as well. A lot of the themes in this game would go on to become quite iconic. The game starts you off with some pretty ominous music and it just keeps on going as you go through the film. It really makes this feel like a very legitimate Metroid experience and one that is not dated. There may not really be any replay value after beating the game but the campaign is long enough where that’s not a problem.

The gameplay is smooth and the technicals are on point. The only thing keeping this game from being higher is that there is a lot of backtracking and it can get dull after a while. If you don’t know where to go next then you have to explore the darker parts of the map. Pick the wrong one and it could take 15-20 minutes to get back to where you were and try another route. I would have liked some kind of fast travel option in this game. I think that would have been a fantastic quality of life upgrade that would have made the game a lot more fun. Make it like Breath of the Wild where you can only go to places you have been. It stays fair while also keeping you engaged the whole time.

Overall, Super Metroid is definitely a big improvement and I would call it the first quite solid Metroid game. The series would only go on to bigger and better things from here like Zero Mission and Fusion. It’s been a very long time since we had a Metroid platformer so I’d be up for that returning at some point. I feel like this franchise has a ton of untapped potential and it shows. Even in Super Smash we still only have 3 reps from the series despite it being about as old as the Legend of Zelda and Mario. What we need is a big budget Metroid game that introduces a lot of new characters. I’ll definitely be there ready and waiting for when that day finally does come.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Metroid II: Return of Samus Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Metroid series. As you may recall I was definitely not a big fan of the first game. The maze system is far too vague and you can get lost in hours. Major props to people who beat this game back in the day without save states or guides. I don’t think I would have been completing that game. This one improves upon the original for sure, but I still wouldn’t say it’s quite at the level where I could give it a positive score either. I like that the game is a bit more direct with the structure and the goals of the game but we don’t yet have a good map system in play.

The game starts with Samus landing on another planet. It’s time to exterminate all of the Metroids on this planet and there are quite a few of them so it won’t be easy. You’ve got a Metroid counter on the screen letting you know how many enemies are still on the planet. Gradually you have to take them all down. After you’ve beaten a good number of the metroids you unlock new paths to find the rest. Needless to say, without a map you could be here for a very long time. Another tricky thing is when you run out of missiles. Without missiles you can’t defeat the Metroids so you will have to backtrack and find a refill machine or beat a ton of enemies. The drop rate on the enemies isn’t too great though.

It’s always interesting playing a game in black and white. I haven’t played may of those at all so it’s really very different. Kind of cool in a nostalgia sense although I definitely miss the color. The graphics are okay but I can’t say they are particularly good in this state. The soundtrack is also pretty limited, the series didn’t hit the next level until Super Metroid. At that point is when we got an incredible soundtrack with all of the iconic tunes. This is right before that hype era.

The campaign is fairly short, but again that’s not considering that you should get lost quite a few times. It took me close to 6 hours to beat the game and that’s considering that I had a map with me. The game does have a real ending which ties into Super Metroid which is cool though. I like how the game is structured even if it is ultimately held back by how the game mechanics work. If this game had a real map then I dare say it would have been pretty good right off the bat.

It’s very challenging though so gamers who like to really work for their wins will definitely appreciate that. Some of the Metroids take numerous hits to take down. You’ll really have to be strategic here as even with a lot of life tanks you may quickly end up getting overwhelmed. You can’t really just run in and start swinging. Admittedly that’s usually how I like to roll but you gotta roll with the game sometimes and this is definitely one of those times. You either fight strategic or you lose.

There’s no real replay value to be found here. Once you beat the game that’s it. There’s no true post game. I suppose you can try to beat the game with a quicker clear time to get a different ending but that’s about it. It’s not personally enough incentive for me to go back in but if you really like the gameplay style then it’s a nice way to challenge yourself.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s a very similar game to the original Metroid except it’s less of a maze adventure as you’ve got more of a solid goal to achieve. You know from the start that you have to beat all of the Metroids so you find and blast them. Metroid is one of those series that I like a lot but mainly thanks to the later games. I’m still not impressed with these early titles. I’ll try out Super Metroid soon though and that one should be a big improvement. If you really like Metroid then maybe check this one out, but I’d recommend getting the 3DS remake instead. I imagine that the enhancements should help fix some of this title’s issues.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Streets of Rage 4 Review


It’s time to look at the new Streets of Rage title! The original games came out a bit before my time so I never got to experience them in their time. Well, now I’m in with the party this time and it’s definitely a fun beat em up. You’ve got to take back the streets from the gangs that have taken the city over. Everyone is against the 4 lone heroes so they definitely can’t let their guard down.

This time Mr and Ms Y have taken over the city. It seems like last time Mr X was the villain based on the dialogue. This pair of villains work pretty well in the story. They have intimidating designs and since they did take over the city that means that even the cops are on their side. It makes for a pretty intense dynamic here because the heroes really have no backup. They seem to usually be vigilantes anyway though so I don’t think they take it all that hard here.

You can play as any of the original 4 characters and I believe you can unlock a few more later in. There are 12 levels and each one is around 10-12 minutes so the main campaign should last you around 2-3 hours depending on how well you do. The levels are reasonably difficult so don’t expect to just be blasting through them. Even I died once or twice in some of the big battles. The bosses really go in and it can be difficult to deal with the minions if you let them overwhelm you. A common theme in the game is to make sure and divide your enemies so you can conquer them a lot easier. If you let them group up then your chances of victory will continue to grow slimmer and slimmer.

I found that the most difficult enemies to deal with were the ones that would jump kick you. You really have to plan your gameplay around them or you will take heavy damage. The damage really adds up and you want to have a good amount for the boss at the end of each level. One thing I would say is to make sure and break anything that seems suspicious. A lot of objects are hiding health items or money. Even if you have full health make sure you use the health items since they increase your score, same with the money. When your score is high enough you will be able to get another life. My score was never high enough to get 2 lives in one even but apparently it seems that this is possible.

The gameplay is that of a 2D beat em up. You have your standard attacks and can move up and down to be in a different lane than your opponent. Always move around because it makes it a lot more difficult for the enemies to really do anything against you. Additionally, I would recommend using the power moves sparingly. Each power move drains your health. You can earn that health back if you land some hits on other minions but if they hit you just once it will crush your combo and you will lose the health for good. It still comes in handy for the bosses though. I wouldn’t have been able to deal enough damage in time without it.

Memorizing the patterns of the bosses can be tricky. I beat quite a few levels with just about no health left. I beat the final one with literally no health showing on the bar so that was really close. I was pretty proud of that win though because I was able to perfectly memorize the boss movements. I have 0 health for most of the fight but once I took out one of the opponents I was able to deal with the other one well enough. You’ll be at the edge of your seat for most of these battles.

The graphics definitely look real nice. I like the hand drawn style they use for the illustrations. I wouldn’t say that the cutscenes themselves are all that animated though as it’s more like a comic book. The soundtrack is also pretty fun. It’s got that retro arcade feel to it which works well for the retro aesthetic the game is going for. It’s all like a blast to the past so you should have some nostalgia here especially if you played the first ones.

There’s also a decent amount of replay value here. For starters you can beat the game with all of the characters. Obtaining all of the trophies will probably take some time as well. This still won’t end up being one of the longest games out there but there is definitely enough content to keep you busy once you’re out there. If you have someone to play with that will also boost the playing value as you can have fun one upping each other and trying out the different characters.

Overall, Streets of Rage 4 is definitely a game worth checking out. It’s a bit on the short side so you should check the price before going through, but the gameplay mechanics and story are on point. You will definitely have a good time here and I’m up for some more Street of Rage installments. There’s still a lot you can do with the city since there is no end to the amount of gangs that want to terrorize the city after all. There will always be a need for these vigilantes.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce Review


It’s time to look at a Dynasty Warriors spinoff. The concept behind this is pretty interesting. What if you took the usual Dynasty Warriors setting and then added a bunch of supernatural elements to it. I’m talking full dragons, super forms flight, energy blasts, etc. It’s definitely going in a different direction here. You’ve also got a few different crossover missions you can tackle and even a whole new section after the credits. Unfortunately a game is only as good as its gameplay and that’s where this one faltered. It was ultimately unable to live up to its true potential.

The story follows the same plot as the rest of the Dynasty Warrior games. You are tasked with uniting the kingdom under your rule using whatever tactics you need too in order to do this. I went with the classic Team Wu of course since those guys are always pretty neat. From there you’re off to the races. The game has 5 main chapters which each tend to have around 7-10 levels in them. After the credits you unlock a 6th chapter which which I would assume probably has another 5-7 levels in it but hard to say. Looks like you need to beat at least some of the request levels before you can tackle the story one. Not sure I’m a fan of that concept but it applies to the other chapters as well so the game is consistent.

As mentioned, my main gripe here is with the gameplay. Gone are the classic beat em up controls where you would go around and take down whole armies. This one plays out more like a mobile title as you have to take down enemies in small locations. Once you beat all of the enemies in one square then you can go into another room. Mind you, you don’t have to always beat everyone in the room. It depends on the mission and sometimes you can bypass rooms all together. I’m not sure if this would be a different genre or still just called your usual beat em up. There’s a lot more platforming in this game to be sure though as you have to jump around a lot and dodge the water. No swimming in this game.

The enemies are all pretty difficult including the minions. They’ll readily interrupt any kind of combo you try to use. The minions in level 1 have a higher A.I. than the minions in the final levels of the main games. So that’s pretty impressive but when you couple it with how unrefined the gameplay is then what you get is a scenario where you’re never actually able to cut loose. Everything you try to do is interrupted by the opponent without missing a beat. It makes the combat not very satisfying at all. You don’t even have a parry system or anything like that to stop them. You just have to eat the damage or waste a super. Unlike the main games the minions will never drop items either so restoring health just isn’t done unless you can find the rare vases scattered around.

In the end I had to resort to some cheese tactics. I bought the best bow money could buy and loaded it up with poison orbs. Poison deals a percentage of the opponent’s health which is incredibly helpful for bosses since it effectively bypasses health. It’s also good for staying afar since going up close is just asking to be completely wrecked. I was able to buy a bow with 268 attack power at the end and that was able to get me through the end. I did need to stock up on 30 potions and 10 Max Ether type items in order to do it though. You’ll be going to the shop quite a lot to make it through.

Strikeforce has a full hub world which is different from the others as well. You are able to manage a bunch of shops in the city and you level them up after waiting a while. Time passes in the game whenever you finish a level so the quickest way to get time to go by is to start a level and immediately surrender. Rinse and repeat as you watch the levels go up. Once a level is maxed out you have to use some items to upgrade the store further. Try to have the stores to at least level 3 so you can get some good items to buy. For the weapon shop, the higher level you can get it the better. I think you can’t get the 268 bow until it’s at level 4 so keep that in mind. There’s a lot to watch out for.

If you opt to fight with a sword instead of cheesing through with an arrow then just know that you’re going to need a lot of level ups. Earning levels isn’t the easiest thing in the world but by the end of the game I was nearly at level 50 which is the max so I guess it wasn’t so bad. The first level is the easiest one to grind. Just make sure you defeat 1000 enemies there and then clear the level. If you do it on hard mode then you’ll get 1000 EXP each time you do it. Not a bad deal right? Still, I can’t really picture beating some of these guys using a sword. In particular the various dragons and monsters you fight seem like they’d be a nightmare or the levels where you have 4 bosses running at you at once. Divide and conquer is always your absolute best strategy as long as you have some items with you.

The graphics are pretty good although they’re definitely a cut under the main games. It also feels a bit lazy at times because they actually reuse animations from the older Dynasty Warrior game for the cutscenes. They actually play the same cutscene after each chapter except for the final one where we get a new one but no voice acting from the characters. For that you have to wait until the after credits scene which is admittedly pretty hype. Now that’s a good way to really get the blood pumping I’d say. The soundtrack is pretty good. Maybe not too memorable but it gets the job done.

In terms of content this game will last you a while. The story mode took me around 10 hours and I didn’t do the extra chapter at the end. Trying to beat that game should add quite a bit more time into the playthrough and same for maxing out all of the shops. Achieving 100% completion status in this game definitely would not be very easy. Still, that means it’ll be around for a while at least and the going rate is pretty low. I’m confident they would be able to improve upon this one quite a lot if we ever got a sequel.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce is definitely one of the weaker ones in the series. It really takes out a lot of the positive elements from the series. It’s a spinoff though so I suppose that’s the best place to test out these new gimmicks. They didn’t work out but this was the right way to do it as opposed to risking it on a main installment. If you want to see a very different kind of Warriors game then it may be worth a shot. The gameplay just isn’t all that fun to me which is unfortunate as a beat em up but it can be satisfying to finally get the feel of the bow and start launching some counter offensives of your own. I also like the whole superhero aspect they went for here with all the powers being thrown around.

Overall 6/10

Games, 8 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 8 Review


It’s time for another Dynasty Warriors experience. It’s definitely a step down from the last one which is unfortunate but it’s still a great game. For some reason they just stripped out most of the voice acting and story that made the 7th game so good. Perhaps fans felt that the story was too expansive and overshadowed the actual gameplay. Maybe there were time constraints. I don’t know, but it’s definitely noticeable when playing the games back to back. For once I changed sides over to Wei this time just so I could get more of a fresh experience this time around.

So you’re playing the same story as usual as you try to unite the country. Most of the key battles are the same as always but it’s interesting playing as the side that is often treated as the “bad guys” of the story. Of course each faction sees each other as the enemy so it’s hard to really say who the true heroes are. That being said, I’ve always been partial to the fire group which is why I would side with Wu. The story has around 14 battles and after completing them you can unlock some what if stories based on if you completed all of the objectives along the way. If not then you’ve still got free mode and a bunch of other options to work with as well.

The gameplay is largely the same as in 7. It’s not quite as crisp but it’s hard to say exactly why that is. I think there may be a slight time lag in switching weapons or something. It’s hard to quantify but otherwise this is still one of the cleanest beat em ups I’ve played. It’s still very smooth and every hit is pretty satisfying. I actually took out 1200 opponents in one level this time which is now a new record for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever top that because that number is just too crazy to think about. My favorite character was one of the new power types since you can use an axe and it just shreds opponents.

One thing that’s a little different here are the command grab supers. Before now your super attack would always be some kind of massive blow that dealt a lot of damage to everyone. Now you have more personal supers which target one enemy but do a ton of damage. You could effectively one shot even whole bosses using this technique. That was always a blast but it can be hard to effectively aim at the guy you want. There’s also a new mechanic where you somehow trigger a mini animation where you start swiping at a lot of enemies. I never got exactly how I would do this but I was always glad to see it because the damage was massive and even does more than your super move. You really can’t go wrong there.

As with the last game I also like the way they managed the horseback riding. It’s so much smoother than in the old games and makes navigating the level a lot more convenient. It’s hard to imagine going back to the days of having to run everywhere. Now that feels a lot more tedious in comparison. You can’t even compare the two speeds and it’s also handy for tracking down opponents who are trying to make a break for it. Now you just jump on the horse and you’re all set for action. A lot of quality of life upgrades like that have stuck since the last game which is great.

As always the graphics and soundtrack are on point. All of the super attacks and combo moves look incredibly flashy and high-end. Then you’ve got the solid soundtrack which the series is known for. There are a ton of great rock themes to enjoy here and they fit in quite well as you take down all the armies that try to oppose you. You won’t particularly remember any of them but the fast beat is really the important element here and the game definitely delivers on that.

There’s just a lot of content to enjoy here. You can play as all 3 of the usual factions and then you also have an extra group. I’m wondering what they do or how they factor in. Should make for a pretty fresh take. After you complete all of the story modes you can work on gathering all of the PS3 trophies or playing free mode and maxing everyone out. There’s a lot of replay value here and the game goes for pretty cheap nowadays. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth here.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 8 is a great game. In some respects it can feel a bit lazy though. I don’t see why they had to get rid of the voice acting. It’s part of what made the last game so ahead of its time. Going back to text boxes just feels like it’s a pretty big step back even if we did get some cutscenes still. It’s definitely not quite on the level of 7 but it’s still great so I recommend checking it out. The series has definitely come a long way since the olden days. It’s also pretty cool to know that I’m finally almost caught up with the series. One more game and I’ll finally be at the end.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Princess Peach Review


This game has definitely been on my list to buy for quite a long time. Well, I finally took the plunge and did it live up to the hype? Well, the gameplay is pretty solid but there are some aspects that ultimately hold it back from being nearly as good as it could have been. At the end of the day just focus on getting this at a reasonable price and you’ll be good. It’s also nice that Peach finally got her own game instead of being kidnapped this time around. It’s a nice change of pace.

The game starts with Bowser’s minions storming the castle and easily taking Mario and Luigi down. This was made possible because of a scepter they obtained that can manipulate emotions. How can the Mario bros hope to stop someone while they’re sobbing right? That’s basically the concept here and it works out quite well. They leave Peach though which proves to be a fatal miscalculation. She enlists the help of a talking umbrella and together they fight off Bowser. No road left but the one to victory. Peach is going to prove once and for all why she is the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom.

As far as original characters go the Umbrella’s not that bad but he’s very forgettable. He barely talks at all and has the same dream at the end of each chapter. That part’s a bit on the repetitive side because the scenes are just too similar. It’s like the Paper Mario Color Splash cutscenes although even those had a little more detail added to them. In this game get ready to see the same stills over and over again. At least they look decently solid I suppose.

There isn’t really a story outside of the opening and ending anyway. You’re really here for the gameplay. So part of the game plays out like your traditional Mario game although you can whack people with your umbrella. Peach also gets more abilities as the game goes on which you can buy from the shop like energy blasts and a ground pound technique. I also recommend buying the floating ability right away because it helps quite a lot with the actual platforming. It saves you a ton of time if you have this at your disposal. Be careful about going through the levels too quickly though as the game will absolutely try to penalize you for it.

That’s the main thing that holds the game back. It all goes pretty smoothly as you breeze through all of the worlds until you hit the final one. That’s when the game reveals that in order to challenge the final level you actually need to have collected all of the Toads in the game. Are they serious? Unfortunately yes. There are a ton of Toads in the game as well with 16 in each of the first 7 worlds and 15 in world 8. I skipped just about all of them initially so I had to literally replay every level. Most of the Toads aren’t really all that hidden but it’s still the concept of the thing. This turned the game into a 10 hour experience when it should have really been far lower. I never like when a game artificially extends the playtime like this and it felt pretty unnecessary. Collectibles should never be mandatory for the main ending. If you are going to go that route, then you really need to let the player know right away. This ended up shaving a full star off of the review.

The graphics are pretty solid though. It’s definitely got that Nintendo flair to it. The worlds have a lot of color and energy. As always Nintendo does a good job of making sure that each world feels very different. It makes the experience a whole lot more convincing. Unfortunately the recycled cutscene at the end of each world does make the whole thing feel a bit lazy though. It’s not really something I would expect from a Nintendo game to tell you the truth. You expect Nintendo to crank something new out each time so that was a bit disappointing. As for the soundtrack, it’s not as memorable as the big Mario games but I thought it sounded well enough. It’s just pleasant background music as you ride on through the levels.

There’s ironically not a whole lot of replay value here since the game makes you grab the collectibles anyway. Most likely the only things left might be to find a few music tracks of puzzle pieces you didn’t find over the course of exploring each level. Additionally there are a lot of things to buy in the shop but you should have finished purchasing almost everything by the time you wrapped this game up. 10 hours is a pretty solid amount of content even if it is pretty forced. Your whole perception of the game will depend on if you know about the collectibles so I recommend just trying to grab them all right off the bat.

Overall, Super Princess Peach is a fun enough game. If you like platformers then it’s worth checking out. I liked some of the new additions to the classic Mario gameplay like being able to fire off energy blasts. I was not a fan of having to grab collectibles though. That was a mistake from the game. I could do with or without the emotions system. As far as gimmicks go it’s not really in your face nor does it hamper the gameplay so I’m okay with it. I don’t think it’s all that necessary though. The game did a good job of bringing in all of the classic Mario villains so if we get a sequel someday I’d like them to continue on with that theme. There are certainly a lot of other good Mario bosses that you can bring into the mix and we already know Peach can fight thanks to Super Smash. She’s ready for some more action.

Overall 6/10

Games, 9 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 7 Review


It’s time to look at the next Dynasty Warriors title. It’s been fun going through all the installments from 2-now in this prolonged marathon. The series has come a very long way. I feel like the biggest gap was probably between 4-5 and then from 6-7. 7 is definitely the definitive Dynasty Warriors in my eyes. I’m still working on 8 so it’s not like I’m caught up with the series but at least right now 7 is going to be really hard to beat. It takes every mechanic of the series to the absolute height of where it’s ever been.

As always the story is basically the same and you get to pick from 3 different factions. I always pick the red team which I believe is Wu and so I get to really compare the stories. That said, I’ll be switching for 8. So to make things a little different here this game has a lot of cutscenes and cinematics. There is full voice acting on all of the lines. This ranges from the cinematic cutscenes to even just talking with the guards. It adds a whole new layer of immersion that you just didn’t have in the older games. We get a lot of character development and the story is also more in depth than the others. Some battles are so famous like the war of Chibi that you’ll recognize it while other side battles are finally given more screen time.

Now, none of this would be quite as powerful without some great gameplay behind it and 7 delivers on this front as well. The gameplay is the most explosive that it has been yet. There is now a dual wielding mechanic where you can switch weapons and keep your combos going. It helps keep things dynamic quite well while also working as a combo breaker. It also feels like this is the point where the series begins to feel a lot more like the other spinoffs such as Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors. Gone are the days where you had to watch out for minions. Now you’ll be taking them out by the hundreds. There was one level where I took down over 1000 warriors. It’s all just great and the gameplay is incredibly smooth. It’s hard to see the others improving upon it just because of how responsive it is.

I guess the flip side of this is that the game becomes easier as a result. That’s not really a big deal because you can increase the difficulty if you really need too. It’s also not like it’s a walk in the park either. You still need to make sure you follow the plan and don’t just do your own thing. Otherwise you may beat the enemies but your captain will die which will still result in a game over. So you want to keep a lookout. I didn’t notice any morale system here which would be a big change since the rest of the games had it. I always felt like the system never really helped you out though so I don’t mind losing it if that’s the case.

The graphics are pretty top notch. The attacks are all very flashy and really stand out. The levels have a great amount of detail within them as well which all works out pretty well. The cutscenes are excellent as I mentioned as well. The soundtrack is also great. That’s no surprise though as this series has always been particularly great with this. There are constant rock themes running around to pump you up and get you ready for the action that’s about to unfold.

The campaign should take you a few hours at least. There are 15 levels and assuming you beat each level in around 20 minutes then that’s about 5 hours give or take a bit. Since there are 3 campaigns you’ve got a 15 hour game then and there’s a ton of replay value. You can work to max out your characters or engage in a bunch of bonus levels. As long as you do that then you’ll be pretty much set. The game’s also very cheap at the moment so it’s not like you’ll have to be shelling out a lot to get it. For such a low price it’s absolutely worth it.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 7 blew me away with how much of an improvement it is over the last few games. Now this feels like a true PS3 experience and Kemco really outdid themselves here. No matter which faction you choose you are in for a great time. Fans of the beat em up genre need to get this game even if it may raise the expectations to an almost unfair level for other games. This is how you do a beat em up and it reminds me of how great this genre can be. I’ve played many beat em ups in my day and while this one won’t be able to climb to the top due to the story not being as strong as others, in pure gameplay it definitely holds its own with them.

Overall 9/10