Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time Review


Mario’s certainly had quite a few RPGs over the years. It’s always been interesting to see Nintendo balance having both the Paper Mario series as well as the M&L titles. It used to be that the former would have the darker plots while M&L would have the hype dialogue. Gradually the Paper Mario games turned into the more fun titles without much of a plot and I’m not deep enough in this franchise to see if it’ll go the same way. Well, this is definitely a fun sequel and I would put it above the first game. The story is a little on the short side for an RPG but at around 15 hours I can’t reasonably say that it’s super short either. It’s long enough and gets the job done.

The game starts with the team deciding to time travel to the past for fun. Apparently that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re bored now. Peach heads to the past but when the time machine returns there is a monster in there instead of Peach. The Mario bros are able to barely take him out and head to the past. There they are quickly defeated by the Shroobs. Fortunately they are saved by Baby Bowser as well as Baby Mario/Baby Luigi. Now these guys are going to need to team up to find out where the present Peach is and save her. The stakes are high because this group is also looking to conquer the kingdom in general. They already own the Mushroom Kingdom in the past and Mario must now stop this from happening in the present.

Of course along the way a lot of hijinks ensues and you know Bowser will want to have a word in. Surprisingly Bowser’s role here is rather small. He gets a solid role at the end of the game though which was pretty tense. I was definitely not expecting things to go that way. The game does not disappoint with the climax. It’s pretty high-end as you would expect from an RPG experience. The boss has more than one phase and it’ll take everything you had to win. The game is rather difficult if you don’t stop to get some extra level ups along the way. I spent a few hours just going back to get level ups and the final boss was still pretty tough.

The best advice I can give it to really spam the Copy Flower and the Mix Flower. These are really your best options if you ultimately want to score the win. You can deal hundreds of damage just by using the flower once and at the same level my standard attack would do around 70. I don’t see how you can beat the final bosses without these items. I ran out of items the first time I tried to challenge the final boss and ultimately that put me in a real spot. I wouldn’t lose since I was good at dodging the attacks but I couldn’t deal enough damage to ever win. See, the boss has 3,000 HP and she is protected by a lot of other parts. The idea is to destroy the shields and then attack her but the shields regenerate every few turns. So by the time I would destroy 2 shields another would pop up so I would never get to the actual villain. You need the items for this fight. I can tell you that right now.

Also, it’s important to use the roulette to increase other attributes. Initially I was putting everything into Health but I didn’t realize that the roulette gets worse and worse if you focus on just one stat. You’ve got to increase them all to really put yourself in a good spot. It’s the only way to get far here. I recommend always increasing HP, Attack, or Defense. They’re the only 3 stats that really matter if you ask me. Earning XP isn’t super easy in this game though. Enemies don’t respawn unless you time travel so it can take a while to get anywhere. Additionally the EXP amounts just aren’t great. I beat the game at Level 25 and just getting to that point took quite a long while.

The gameplay is classic turn based although it’s fairly interactive. Pressing buttons at the right times will allow you to extend a combo or deal extra damage. You are also given the option to dodge enemy attacks if you time the buttons correctly. It’s a nice little touch that keeps you sharp the whole time. You can’t just space out as the enemy uses their moves. It’s not quite as crisp as your average RPG but I’ll give Nintendo props for keeping things different here. I do think it’s a pretty good idea.

As for the graphics, I’d say that the game looks pretty clear. The character sprites are on point. The animations are a little limited along with the sound effects so you’ll see and hear the characters do the same things a lot but at the end of the day it always feels pretty in character. The soundtrack is okay but the game was really lacking a danger theme. As a result even during the really serious moments you would have a happy theme play and it could dampen the mood a bit. The game could have really used a dark theme or something with a little rock for these moments.

There isn’t much replay value in this case because there isn’t anything to do after beating the game. You can earn more level ups I suppose but there isn’t much of a reason to do so with no post game. It’s short for an RPG as I mentioned but you can get it for a decent price nowadays and 15 hours is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, the game is just a lot of fun. The dialogue is on point. Now, Luigi does get thrown into the dirt quite a bit as the series always love making fun at his expense. If you’re a big Luigi fan then this could be a rough ride for you. For the most part it’s all done in good fun but you may have doubts.

Overall, Mario & Luigi Partners in Time is a solid sequel to the first game. I thought that the story was a little better and I do love time travel adventures. It’s not a game that will stick with you for long as it’s off to the next thing right away but it’s a solid title nonetheless. I look forward to playing the next one soon. I feel like back in the day Bowser’s Inside Story was known as the best game in the series so I’ll be interested in seeing if that’s the case. I’m definitely expecting another really solid adventure. Mario hasn’t let me down before and I don’t expect he’ll start now.

Overall 7/10

Crash Twinsanity Review


It’s time to look at one of the classic Crash games from the PS2 era. I knew right away that it was going to be time to give this a shot after going through the newer Crash game. It’s always fun to take a peak at the classic games and Twinsanity definitely has that charm. In some ways I would even say that the plot may beat the newer one. It definitely has a lot of fun embracing the crazyness of the series and a certain guest star’s cameo at the end of the game was brilliant. It’s not something that can be topped very easily.

So the game starts with Cortex hatching another plan of his. He dresses up as Coco and is able to even trick Crash with his disguise. It’s not Crash’s best moment but you could also make the case that it’s pretty much par for the course with this Bandicoot. Unfortunately for Cortex there are other players at work here. A pair of aliens have shown up and they want revenge on Cortex for something he did to them as a child. They certainly don’t tend to forgive and forget the way that other characters do. Cortex is basically forces to work with Crash as a result so that he doesn’t get destroyed. Along the way all of Crash’s other enemies pop up including the iconic Dark Crash. Will the heroes be able to win?

The plot is pretty bonkers but that’s part of why the game succeeds so well. Things just happen out of nowhere and the story goes crazy. Dark Crash literally jumps out of nowhere to chase Cortex and vanishes as soon as he shows up. It’s almost like how Shadow just suddenly showed up in Sonic Boom the game. Dark Crash has a pretty terrifying final scene though so he’s still someone you don’t want to mess with. Cortex certainly does look very good here so I can see why he was a fan favorite. We learn a bit about his backstory like in his school days and more of his motivations for dealing with Crash. The guy may not be a very serious Crash villain most of the time but he is still a genius so you really don’t want to be on his bad side. He can deal out quite a bit of pain when he really wants to. Even by the end of the game he still tries his usual tricks.

For a villain like Cortex you do gotta find the right blend of comedy and action for his character to work. Cortex is just skilled enough where you can picture him destroying Crash but a nice enough guy where they could team up on the regular. I’m always up for a team up so that part of the plot was definitely a blast. The ending also leaves a lot of potential for future games even if it’s unlikely. Perhaps the most emotional part of the game is that Crash clearly still wants to be friends with Cortex. he doesn’t let any of this get to him personally as seen by his attempt to be Cortex’s friend in the end. The betrayal hits really close to home as a result and you may even shed a tear.

As for the gameplay, this is your classic 3D Platformer. You jump across obstacles and try to get to the end. While it’s a simple style, the execution wasn’t nearly on the same level as what I’m used to seeing in the series. Some jumps that should be very easy end up being quite tricky thanks to the various camera angles. It’s hard to see where you’re going and in the levels where you’re running towards the screen you better have lightning fast reflexes. The gameplay changes at times when you play as a different character. I was sad that the robot style gameplay only showed up for part of one level but that was certainly fun. Maybe it just comes down to the physics engine not being very good which messes with the jumps. I don’t know, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly but making the experience a little smoother would go a long way.

The graphics are excellent here. The character animations are often way out of model but I believe it’s on purpose. Sonic DX for example was very authentic in the graphics and it just so happened that it would become very humorous in the future. For this game I think they were trying to make it as out there as possible and I would say that it really succeeded. I love the designs and mixing that in with the dialogue is perfect. The scene where Cortex’s voice cracks as he talks to his teacher mixed in with the animation was brilliant.

The soundtrack can also be pretty fun. It’s a really crazy one for sure though. Sometimes you’ll have a very tropical theme and then you’ll quickly switch to something that’s pure rock. The changes happen quite suddenly and you can never guess what the next tune will sound like. The shock value may not be enough to make this one of the all time greats, but I would definitely call it a pretty solid array of themes.

There isn’t a lot of replay value here but enough to keep you going. Each level has some gems which look like Chaos Emeralds. So you can go back to the old levels and try to grab them. The hub world is also quite large so you can have a lot of fun exploring. I almost wonder why the game bothered with the hub world since you never really get to walk around it during the story. It was nice that they put in the effort to set it up though so that’s definitely pretty neat. I suppose I would recommend giving it a shot at some point. The game is pretty cheap so it’s well worth the purchase.

Overall, Crash Twinsanity is a pretty fun game. I do feel like the gameplay wasn’t very polished though and that’s what would keep it under the main 3 as well as the recent time travel story. You gotta have clean gameplay to accompany the rest of the title. Still, it’s a fun adventure. The game may be short but you should die enough times to stretch out the length a bit. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Crash fares in the next installments. It’s not like the enemies are going to be getting any easier so Crash will really have to focus himself. One thing’s for sure, this Bandicoot is never afraid of charging in since he can’t understand the danger.

Overall 7/10

Need For Speed: The Run Review


It’s time to look at the next Need for Speed game in the series. The Run definitely makes things pretty intense here with how high intensity the story is. Unfortunately the story is extremely short though. I was surprised when I initially found out just how short the title was. It just strikes me as odd that you wouldn’t have made the game a few hours longer at least. When you went to all the trouble of setting up the gameplay and locations it just makes sense to put more content in right? Ah well, I applaud the series for trying to do something different here. It may not have ended up being quite the biggest payoff but it was a worthy attempt.

So the main character is in some trouble with the law. A lady shows up and offers to clear his record if he enters an illegal cross country race on her behalf. He’ll earn lotsa of money so it’s a pretty solid deal. The lead agrees to do this and little does he know that this journey is about to get pretty interesting. It’s a long trip across the country all the way to New York after all and some people want to shoot him down. He’ll have to rely on his slick car skills to get through this one and it definitely won’t be a walk in the park.

This Need for Speed game has a lot less variety on the kinds of races you do. Gone are the drifting events and things of that nature. There are now only two real events, racing against people and checkpoints. You also have boss races but they play the game as the normal races. Just make sure you pass the opponent and stay ahead in order to win. Instead of laps the game goes by miles which makes sense since you’re effectively in a nonstop race which doesn’t end until you hit New York. It’s a pretty interesting concept and one I can get behind. The levels are also pretty short as a result so you should really be blasting through most of them with ease.

Honestly the game’s not very hard at all. I was having some pretty bad controller issues and I still beat most of the levels without a hitch. There are checkpoints in each of the levels and you have 6 lives that you can use to clear the game. With all of this at your disposal you can see why winning the races won’t be all that hard. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s no walk in the park. You still need to run a clean race and not bump into anything. The final boss in particular can be tricky as it’s a 10 mile race and you even have to dodge incoming trains at times. That was pretty cool, I definitely don’t think I’ve had to do that in any of the other games.

Then this one also throws in some quick time events as the character runs from the cops. It’s been a while since I played a proper quick time event match so that was pretty neat. It definitely adds to the theatrical feel of the story. When the main character starts jumping across buildings you may find that a bit suspect but it just goes to show how athletic he is. There are even some human fights here and there which was intense. The main character isn’t particularly heroic though so you may have a hard time rooting for him at all. That’s a pretty common theme for the Need for Speed games though.

As for the length, the game is only a little over 2 hours long. Even for games which are short this one really stands out. That’s just not a lot of time at all. Now, there is some bonus content here like challenge mode and replaying the story but that’s about it. I suppose there is going for the PS3 trophies but with the servers down that means a Platinum is completely out of reach if you are gunning for one of those. If that is the case then it lowers the replay value down even further. Make no mistake, this game is all about your initial playthrough and then I believe you’ll probably be putting it down. Still, the gameplay is really solid and at the end of the day that’s probably why you’re getting these games right? In that case you have nothing to fear. It’s just a very solid experience from start to finish.

The graphics are definitely top notch. EA always tends to go ham on the graphics which makes sense since their sport games tend to sell a lot and they reuse so many assets that the profit margins should be pretty crazy. It should come as no surprise that they’re able to execute at a high level. The stages also look really sharp along with the cars and effects. There’s definitely no issue here. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which has quite a lot of tunes in it from various singers. It is impressive how EA licenses so many songs for the games. The quality will vary quite a bit so hopefully you like the tunes. They are all pretty fast paced to match the game’s atmosphere.

Overall, The Run is certainly a Need for Speed title that makes pretty big changes compared to most of the usual titles. This one isn’t afraid to go for a rather different feel the whole time which I can appreciate. The quick time events are fun and the story is pretty solid. It’s definitely a serious story with a real plot. Some times the story can go a little while without much of a real cutscene though. I’d say something big would usually happen every 3 levels and with only 10 in the game that does mean there is a lot of dead time as well. If you can find this game for a good price then I recommend checking it out. It may be short but the game is still very high quality when it comes to things like gameplay and graphics which you definitely don’t want to overlook. I’m now one step closer to being caught up with the Need for Speed series.

Overall 7/10

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Review


It’s time to take a look at the new Crash game that just came out. It’s About Time was definitely a title that got a lot of hype because it has been a very long time since we got a brand new Crash adventure. Throwing in time travel is always a good idea and in the press releases before the game they were showing off quite a lot of content. You really couldn’t go wrong here and not surprisingly the game is quite fun. It’s a worthy successor to the other games and continues the series on a solid note. It’s not very long but I’d say it’s about average length for a platformer. Additionally there is a lot of replay value with the various bonus levels and reverse modes present. Those’ll help this game last for quite a while.

The game starts off with the villains working to escape the pocket dimension they’re in. Uka Uka is able to break the villains out but they leave him to die. Nefarious decides to mess with the timestream quite a bit so now Crash will have to gather 4 of the legendary masks to counter this. Fortunately Crash isn’t alone this time. He has his sister Coco and a mysterious new heroine to help him out in the quest. With time travel and alternate dimensions to factor in, this won’t be an easy adventure for Crash. Cortex also isn’t thrilled at how things are going right now so expect some big things to occur as the game goes on.

The plot is fairly simple but does throw some wrinkles at you. I do always enjoy some good time travel so this helped the plot get to the next level. For the most part the game doesn’t use any big trips to the past but near the end there is one chapter that delves into this a bit. It’s also my favorite part of the game because I really liked the banter here. Time travel opens up unique situations like that which are a lot of fun. The Crash games wouldn’t have a whole lot more to bring up since the cast isn’t huge so that helped them pick the best character to do this with right away.

Crash as always isn’t the best main character but I suppose he just isn’t able to think a whole lot. He’s certainly better here than in some other titles I suppose though. It’s hard for me to call him a hero since I don’t even think he knows what he is doing but at the end of the day he does help save the world in his own way so I have to give him some props there. His sister Coco looks good here as well. She is definitely the brains of the operation and being a playable character was certainly cool. The new heroine is the best of the heroes though. She reminds the others that sometimes fighting on your own is the best way to go about things. She’s certainly been through a lot and I would have been game with having her appear more. Perhaps even as a boss fight trying to get the main characters to give up their quest. One thing’s for sure, I’m hoping she sticks around for future games.

Then we have the villains. Nefarious is the main villain here as he definitely gets the biggest role. He’s fun although he doesn’t quite have Cortex or Uka Uka’s charisma. He’s one of the weaker main villains in the series. Fortunately Cortex gets a big role either way. You can never keep this guy on the backburner. He’s always got to force himself into the plot one way or another and he definitely makes sure to do that here. In some ways you may even feel bad for him here. He’s the kind of villain that is almost pretty likable because of the fact that you know he is doomed each time but he always keeps on trying. You have to at least give him credit for his resilience.

The gameplay here is pretty smooth. The levels are 3D Platforming types where you jump past obstacles and take down enemies while approaching the goal. As Crash you can spin and double jump as always. The other characters have different moves though like how the heroine has a grappling hook and Cortex just blasts his enemies into submission. There’s also another character whose moveset is pretty different. The game helps to give you a lot more variety with the movesets this way which is a good thing. They’re all polished as well so none of them were just squeezed into the title.

The graphics here are definitely very good as you would expect. Everything is in HD and the character models+stages really pop out at you. I was glad that classic Crash was a costume option as well. That was definitely pretty neat and as soon as I unlocked that I never went back. The soundtrack isn’t super memorable but the stage themes had a lo of variety. One sad thing is if you die in a level then the character’s dialogue in the background is cut off and you don’t hear it again. I feel like you lose out on a lot of dialogue if you lose quickly. This was probably to make sure you don’t get annoyed by a line playing over and over again if you die a lot but I feel like they should have it set up so that only happens if the line is completed.

Overall, Crash 4: It’s About Time is definitely very good. It’s really a complete Crash adventure and has all of the classic elements from the first games that you will enjoy. The levels are reasonably difficult so you also won’t just breeze past each level without difficulty. You’ll definitely have to work hard at this to make sure you pace yourself and have good fundamentals. Without that you certainly won’t be prepared to conquer this title. Hopefully they keep on rolling new Crash games eventually. There’s always more you can do with the series after all. Maybe we can have the team warp to a dystopian future next time but of course we need to have Cortex on the team for a quick team up with Crash. Then he’ll see once and for all how conquering the planet could put people in danger. It may even cause him to change his ways or at least I’m sure he could trick Crash about that.

Overall 7/10

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the original Tales of Symphonia game. As I recently beat the first one I knew it was time to jump right into the sequel. It’s definitely a very worthy successor. Is it as good as the first one? Well….it’s a tricky one. I do appreciate that we no longer have to worry about big dungeons and there are a lot more cinematics here. On the other hand, the original game had the better story if you ask me. So overall I would say that the original wins but it’s very close and that’s definitely impressive considering how good the first one.

It’s been a few years since the original game’s events concluded. The heroes succeeded in merging the two worlds together but this didn’t result in the perfect utopia that they expected. Instead of war about to break out between the half elves and humans, now there are big battles between the inhabitants of both worlds. The Church of Martel seems to have become more radical as well. The game starts with Lloyd appearing and murdering everyone in the city of Palmacosta. Emil barely manages to escape and saves a girl named Marta as well. We then skip forward a few years. Emil doesn’t remember these events and has had a pretty tough time of it. Nobody likes him as they believe him to be a bad luck charm. One day he meets up with Marta again who is being chased by a bunch of villains. She asks him if he will serve her as a Knight of Ratatosk and since he has nothing to lose, Emil agrees to this and gains a lot of power.

Marta explains her mission. She has to find all of the Centurion Cores and awaken them. This will restore Lord Ratatosk who will bring peace to this chaotic world. There are a lot of questions here to be honest but Emil doesn’t care. He’s finally found someone who needs him and so he has a purpose at long last. Emil agrees to help but he also wants revenge against Lloyd along the way. Emil doesn’t understand why people seem to love Lloyd so much despite the guy being a mass murderer. Most people don’t even believe Emil. Then you’ve also got the Vanguard which is an army of extremists who are trying to murder everyone and Emil’s mentor of sorts named Richter is a part of their group. The heroes will definitely need to take some sides here.

There’s a lot of story going on here and that’s why it’s always interesting writing reviews for an RPG. It’s a lot different from my standard game reviews where the plot doesn’t have to be mentioned much. Even from what I’ve written below, there’s just so much more to get into. Of course, it’s a story that is constantly evolving as you go through the chapters so you don’t want to get into it too deeply either. Needless to say there is a very large cast of characters here along with a ton of plot twists. You’ll need to play through the game in its entirety to really get the payoff here. I’ll still give a few thoughts here.

One of the big plots here is naturally involving Lloyd and how he went from being the main character of the first film to now seemingly murdering a bunch of people. If you played through the first game then I’m sure you’re thinking that there’s no way Lloyd would actually be evil. It would certainly be a bold move though that’s for sure but it would likely be a very unpopular move that would turn the fanbase against you. Well, the game explains why he’s doing all of this by the line but I just don’t buy into it. The whole thing is a huge stretch if you ask me. The guy’s just out of character, there’s no other way around it. It’s great to see him of course but he just doesn’t act like Lloyd.

It is always nice to see the old cast show up when you’re with a new group though. To date the game that did this the best was the second Golden Sun game. It was handled masterfully. Here you aren’t squarely against the old cast although you do get to fight Lloyd a few times which was neat. The game comes so close to making Lloyd the final boss which was impressive. It’s also just hype to see the characters acknowledge that Lloyd and the others saved the world a while back. It’s rare to go back to a world where the heroes are now famous for saving the world from the brink of disaster. Richter managing to fight off the whole original group was certainly impressive.

The game also retroactively shows us why the villain from the first game had some good points. Uniting the planet did nothing to stop the class battles. It just switched the sides. Now people from both planets are getting into even more fights than the old days. The characters are far from perfect and the world is in desperate need of someone saving it once more. The problem is that without a tangible villain to fight against for the most part, this battle is a lot tougher on the heroes. Then you’ve got the fact that Emil and Marta are working for a powerful spirit named Ratatosk who may or may not be evil.

So it’s a very ambitious story and certainly one that I enjoyed quite a lot. As for the characters, they’re definitely solid. Aside from Lloyd, I’d say that the rest of the old characters are in character. I’m glad that most of them are still trusting Lloyd although I don’t blame the ones who stopped due to how shady he is. If Lloyd doesn’t trust them then why should they trust him right? For the new characters, I’ll start with Emil. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of his. He’s just too timid. The guy backs down to everyone and always tends to panic. When the others get in trouble Emil is forced to call out for Ratatosk mode to save the day each time. Emil’s standard form is just in over his head and to save his character he would have needed to get with the program a lot sooner.

As for his Ratatosk mode, that’s when Emil’s at his best. It’s a similar dynamic to Jekyl and Hyde or Yugi and Yami Yugi. They are effectively different characters. As Ratatosk, Emil is a fun character even if you may not be able to call him a very heroic one. He’s always ready for a fight and isn’t passive this time around. When there’s someone in his way Emil will just blast through them. I wouldn’t have minded if he was in this form all the time. Then you have the heroine Marta. She’s a pretty unique characters. For starters she is constantly flirting with Emil due to admiring him after he saved her as a child. Emil doesn’t remember this and isn’t as brave as Marta expected him to be but that could also be why she was enjoying teasing him the whole time.

Beneath that she has a solid character arc though. Like Emil she has a lot of reasons for being fairly withdrawn and creating an external persona. She wants revenge on some characters but tries to hold this back. At the end of the day she is doing what she can to save the world and does well at this. I would say that she is better than the heroine of the first game. So the these two characters make for a solid duo. Then you’ve got Richter who is one of the major players of the game. He’s definitely a solid villain. No matter what justifications he uses, one of the guy’s first appearances is to try to murder Marta so there’s no way you can stretch him into being a hero. The guy has his goals and the motivations are solid but he definitely goes too far in trying to achieve them. He has the best theme in the game though which makes it extra fun whenever he appears. I also liked his weapon of choice.

The game’s story has a ton of cinematics which is fun because it makes this feel like a movie type event at times. There is always something happening and a benefit of being a sequel is having a lot of nostalgic moments everywhere. Pretty much every town is accurately recreated from the first game including the dungeons. The hub world is gone so now you go directly from place to place. I was definitely pretty cool with that. The graphics are quite solid and the soundtrack is good. While the first game wins with the music overall, I really liked Richter’s theme as well as the various remasters from the first game.

There’s definitely a lot of replay value here. The game itself is over 20 hours long and there are a lot of side quests and bonus cutscenes you can experience during the game as well. Add onto that the various collectibles and this will definitely last you for a while. It’s not quite as long as the first game but still quite long in its own right. There are also some new mechanics compared to the first game like being able to train up monsters. While it’s always sad to see them go back to level 1 when they reincarnate, their stats go quite high. They were super valuable during the final bosses here and they level up faster than the human characters so at least to me it seemed to balance out pretty well.

Overall, Dawn of the New World is a great sequel to the first Tales Of. I definitely recommend picking this up whether you’ve played the first one or not. Either way it’s a great RPG that really succeeds in every area. The fact that most of the dungeons are already completed when you start the game is fine by me. It just means that there’s more time to focus on the story and battles. We get quite a few action scenes in the cinematics like Lloyd taking on Richter or the main duo going up against Alice and her partner. The story gets quite deep at times and doesn’t pull its punches. The ending is pretty tragic in some ways but I was glad that at least some of the characters got a happy ending here. It would have been pretty sad if the game had cut out a bit early. Hopefully they bring these characters back for another adventure some day.

Overall 8/10

S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team Review


Now it’s time to look at the final NES game from the new batch of installments. This one has a pretty cool sounding name. It’s always a little hard to play a SNES game and then go back to NES right after but this one holds its own. There is a bit of a plot which is always nice although good luck remembering it. The gameplay is fairly unique for its time and so when you add all of this together you’ve got yourself a pretty solid experience. I enjoyed the game. It’s definitely quite difficult so you really have to make sure to hone your skills or prepare to rewind quite a lot.

The gameplay is that of a 2D shooter. You are always flying so the idea is to move around a lot so you don’t get tagged by the villains. You can move in any direction but the screen is always scrolling to the right so you want to make sure that you stay in range and ready. If you hang around the edge of the screen too long you may find yourself in a bit of a jam. Your weapon is constantly changing during the game as well. You have a normal blaster, rockets, wave blast, etc. Enemies you fight will drop the various power ups. Due to this, you may not always want to grab the next weapon. Some are clearly better than others if you ask me. For example, I consider the laser to be one of the worst ones. The range is just way too small so no matter how much damage it does you feel like you could do better. That’s why I like the bomb which has a nice explosion or the wave blast. Both of those really put you in a good position to win and at the end of the day that’s really what you’re gunning for right?

There are around 10 levels or so I’d say. Each one has a ton of enemies to get through and then a big boss at the end. You definitely don’t want to underestimate the bosses. Those guys can really fight and it takes a lot of blasts to bring them down. One of the toughest parts is trying to land your hits while they’re throwing out all kinds of attacks. You have to take the hits that you can and then retreat. Rinse and repeat and eventually you’ll have them down. The rewind feature will end up being crucial here though. Without it it’s just very difficult to stay on top of all this.

The graphics are pretty nice. I feel like they’ve aged better than some of the other NES titles I’ve been playing through. It does capture that sci-fi feeling pretty well I’d say. As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely high energy which is good. All in all this game was developed well and the amount of effort here was solid. The game itself is fairly short but that’s to be expected. There isn’t really any replay value here so it’s all just about how much you enjoy the initial playthrough. It’s free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online so you can’t really go wrong there.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this game just due to how direct it is by nature. It’s very simple to explain and play through. The gameplay is very smooth. I guess one thing I’d say is even if you are avoiding the power ups so you keep your favorite weapon, make sure you pick up any items with an R on them. Those are recovery items which give you some much needed health. Your health goes down real quick here so you really want to grab any extra bits that you can.

Overall, S.C.A.T. is a pretty fun title. I’m not going to say it’s great or anything but I had a good time playing it. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t do anything wrong. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly strong in any area so it’s not as high as it could be but I’d still recommend checking it out. Just remember your fundamentals and you should be able to get through these levels. Now I have to eagerly await the next round of games for Nintendo to add to the service. Hopefully the gap isn’t quite as long this time.

Overall 6/10

Super Mario Bros. 35 Review


It’s time to take a look at Nintendo’s latest Mario adventure. This one is sadly not going to be around for very long though. I still don’t understand why you need to make it so limited but I guess Nintendo loves making people feel the fear with these things. Now you got to play the game right away or it’ll be gone once March hits. It’s a pretty fun take on the whole battle royale thing. I’d say it’s a bit more limited than titles like Tetris 99 but maybe that’s just the way the gameplay seems. Technically there are more level variations than in Tetris so it may just one of those things that is not as it appears. I played it for about an hour though so had some good fun.

So the idea is that you’re playing through the classic Mario levels as usual only there is a timer now. If the timer runs out then that means you lose. In order to get more time you need to take down some enemies, complete the level, or grab an extra power up. Extra power ups get you 15 seconds so I highly recommend using them. Typically spending the 50 coins at the beginning to start with a fire flower pays off instantly so I highly recommend it. It takes a little time to get used to the old control set up with how the gravity acts differently so by using the fire flower you can bypass that to a large extent. Just spam your fireballs and you’ll be okay. It’s easy to string a lot of KOs together that way and it adds a whole lot of tinme.

You also level up as you play more and more games which is fun. You unlock more icons that way. It may not be a big deal but whenever you have unlockables I feel like it makes the game more fun. You feel like going for another round just go get the crispy items. I made it to around level 16-18 before stopping. I’m guessing the levels will slow down pretty soon but it’s definitely a nice little addition to have in the meantime. As for the levels I’m not sure exactly how they’re unlocked. For now I’ll assume it’s level based as well. I got up to 3-1 so far. Either way the levels seem to pop up randomly though so you never know which one will turn up next. It always keeps you guessing.

The highest placing I got was 3rd place. Usually once it’s down to the 3 people left it becomes an endurance match of who can keep going the longest without tripping. If you all have fire flowers then tripping is the most likely way that you would meet your demise. I don’t expect you would lose any other way at that point tbh, but sometimes even the easiest obstacle can appear to be tricky. For example, I’m still not super comfortable with the jumping mechanics so it’s always possible that I’ll just fall into a hole. I’m so used to the modern Mario games that it can be tricky to get into the more retro mindset here.

The graphics are basically grabbed directly from the original game so don’t expect any super bright colors or things like that. This is a very basic game at its core with the multiplayer part making it more competitive. I guess it would probably throw everyone off if the graphics suddenly turned modern and also the point of this is for the 35th anniversary so I imagine that may not have went over very well with a lot of the fans. As for replay value, you can definitely come back to play this game all the time to earn more levels ups. It’s the kind of game that has unlimited replay value for as long as the servers are up. There’ll always be something to do.

Overall, Super Mario Bros.35 will really test your platforming abilities. The enemies are something you really have to watch out for so you don’t die before your time. It’s always fun to jump in for another round though. The end game phase of the levels can take a little while to be sure, but the gameplay is fun so it’s not really a problem. I’d like to see the game expand to more levels and modes eventually but I suppose that probably wouldn’t happen for a bit or if it did then the game would need to extend its deadline from March most likely. I can’t see myself sticking with this one for very long at the moment but it’s definitely the kind of game you could just pick up and play here and there for good results. I hope Nintendo experiments with more games like this.

Overall 6/10

Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu Review


It’s time to look at a DBZ game that I’ve been working on for quite a while at this point. It was the second big attempt at a card game version of DBZ based on the real one. The problem is that this is the kind of game that works better in person than in a video game. When you’ve got a game that’s completely luck based like this one, you can’t trust the computers not to cheat. Of course they’ll do whatever they can to win and that’s the problem. It’s never an even playing field with them and then that just makes the journey feel futile. 20 hours in and it was time to call it a day on this title.

The game adapts the first two arcs of DBZ. We get to wage our war against the Saiyans and Frieza’s Army in the first and then Cell and the Androids strike after that. I made it as far as the Ginyu Force showing up before I was ultimately forced to call it a day. Those guys are a lot tougher than you would suspect at first glance. There are also a lot of levels to even get that far. This game makes sure that even the briefest of skirmishes in the manga are turned into full blown boss battles in this one. You can expect a very long experience here. Honestly I don’t see how you could possibly complete it in under 30-40 hours. This game is definitely a long one so I do appreciate that the developers were trying to make this a complete experience.

The problem is that it’s long for all of the wrong reasons. One of the issues the game has is that each match takes forever. You have to wait for the cards to load, then you pick the cards and you get a little animation as the cards group up. If you win the encounter then the game plays a cutscene of you blasting the opponent. Rinse and repeat in every turn until one of you goes down. As you progress through the game you’ll deal less and less damage due to your level not going up quickly enough. If you want to fix that then you’ll need to go back and play the old levels again. Also if you lose during a level you don’t keep any of the XP from the fights. This can be tough as some levels can have up to 8 boss battles and if you lose to the last one you have to start all over again from your previous level. That means you’ll be stuck in a loop unless you go to an old level and do more grinding.

It’s not very fun either because in the last level the enemies just aren’t that tough so you’re not getting a lot of XP here either. It drags the game out even further. Still, I worked on doing a lot of grinding because I figured it was all worth it to beat the next level. Eventually I got Vegeta to level 23 to try and handle Captain Ginyu and to my dismay he started pulling out reverse cards. Now to understand how bad this is lets quickly recap the game’s controls. It’s very complicated so I’ll do my best to give a very condensed version of the rules. You have to use power or ally cards to attack your opponent and this works if your attack is higher than the other player’s power points. So if you roll a 7 and they have a 4 then you’ll get to attack and the damage will be based on their defense so for example the opponent may have a defense of 6. So just go for high numbers right?

Well, starting in this level the opponent has a reverse so if you have an 8 and they have a 2, it flips and they get your high number. The issue with this is that you’re now never sure of what to do. Do you try to go for a number higher than the opponent or lower? It’s a big issue because the computer always manages to somehow guess the correct number to dish out. I was far stronger than him at this point in the story yet he countered all of my blows until I eventually lost. That’s when I realized that there wouldn’t be much of a future in this game. It took the card mechanics one step too far to the point where there was just no return. You can’t use card game tactics like this and then also throw in a reverse card. If you’re not sure how to even aim your points then the whole thing feels futile.

It’s a shame because I do like the idea of the various characters having their own stories so you keep on alternating. The game has 4 main characters: Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Gohan. Each character has their own fights and because of that you can also see why Arc 1 is so long. Some of the stages are also very long and can last for 20 turns or more. Each turn takes a while too. On average I’d finish a level in around 20-30 minutes I’d say. I’ve seen games with longer levels but that’s still a lot of time for a card game. It’s why the best Yugioh games are the ones that have low loading times since you’re really able to get into the action without having to slow yourself down.

The graphics are okay. They’re classic sprite animations which look fun enough. It’s got a very retro feel to it. The soundtrack is less impressive though. It’s not bad, the game is clearly going for a bit of a peaceful theme that you won’t mind hearing over and over again. I definitely see the logic in this approach because with this gameplay you can bet that you’ll be hearing the theme effectively on loop forever. So I’d say the game succeeds in that respect. I’d like more tunes but if this is the one we have to have it could definitely be worse.

In terms of replay value the game technically has a ton of it. The main campaign is huge and then after that you’ve also got extra leveling up you can do and things of that nature. You won’t be finishing this game anytime soon but with the gameplay as it is you’re unlikely to want to play through the whole adventure. This game really should have just tried being more fun. I should mention that you are able to exploit the quick save mechanic so that you are actually able to save within the levels. It’s extremely handy because this game would be even trickier otherwise. 2 quick fixes the game could and should have done would be to add actual save points and also to allow you to keep your XP when you lose. Those two things would have made a world of difference in the game.

Overall, The game’s design just isn’t very good. It makes a whole lot of mistakes and ultimately is not able to come back from them. DBZ games need action and excitement. If you’re going to go for a card game format then you need to make sure it’s fun. Dragon Ball Heroes uses cards to a much greater effect. This one still beats the GBA game though. That one had similar controls but the execution was ultimately even worse than this one. At least this one tried a lot more with the story and such. There is a huge amount of dialogue in this game. I recommend playing Attack of the Saiyans instead.

Overall 4/10

Mighty Switch Force! Collection Review


It’s time to look at a collection of platformers that now have a physical release all bundled together. I’ve seen images of Switch Force before very briefly but I can’t say I knew the first thing about it. Well, now that I’ve played all of the games I can say I’m a seasoned pro. It goes in on the puzzle genre and mixes platforming into it pretty seamlessly. It’s a fun bundle of games to play through. You should be able to complete them all pretty quickly although the last levels get pretty difficult so you don’t want to take them lightly. Each game ends with a final level or two and a big boss that definitely isn’t playing around.

There are 4 games here but effectively 3 when you consider that the first game is here twice in its normal state as well as an enhanced version. Each game uses a different mechanic to keep things fresh to Switch Force lives up to its name in switching up the experience each time. Lets tackle the first game to start with. You play as a police officer trying to put a lot of criminals back in jail. Each level has 5-6 prisoners who have escaped and you have to navigate through the level and save them. The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer but the levels aren’t linear. The prisoners are scattered in random places so you have to solve puzzles to find them.

You have a blaster that you can use to help you here. Aside from running and jumping you also have the unique ability to get the blocks to fall out of alignment. For example, you’ll cross a bridge that has 3 red blocks and 3 blue blocks. Every time you activate your skill, the red blocks will become intangible while the blue ones appear and vice versa. That’s a very basic example, the game definitely goes all in with the strategy here. Your reaction times will be especially key since you often have to make the switches rapidly and without delay. The last few levels of each game always get very difficult with this. It’s a fun take on the puzzle approach. Some of the Mario games have a similar gimmick with blocks appearing and disappearing but you could never control them. Since you have full control here that really lets you experiment.

The second game has you play as a firefighter. The gameplay itself is the same though with the difference being that instead of blasting enemies you are using your water hose to hit them with water or put out fire. The boxes remain your main obstacle as you try to weave in and out of the levels without letting yourself get caught in the trap. It’s a difficult endeavor but not one that is impossible if you tackle it calmly. I should mention that you have 3 health points in each level. If you lose them all then you are sent to the start. I can’t say that it happened to me very often but it’s still something to be aware of. Make the most of the health packs the enemies drop so you are always prepared.

Finally the last adventure has you playing as a cadet in what is seemingly a simulation for most of it. It’s like the first game but the main difference is that this time the screen is super zoomed out. The walls are also like some of the classic NES games where instead of dying if you fall through the ground you’ll come out of the sky. Likewise you can go off screen from either side and pop out the other. This gives you a lot of new variations to the puzzle as you have to use this to your advantage. The game also uses more of the cannons in a DK sort of way so you’ll need to incorporate that into your platforming.

I definitely enjoyed going through these puzzles. Switch Force shows us how games should present the puzzles. You’re never wondering if you’re going the right way or doing what you’re supposed to. The answer itself is made obvious but the path to getting there is what will likely trip you up. You can’t let your guard down but also don’t overthink what you should do. A lot of times the best way forward is to just give your plan a shot and if it doesn’t work out then you’ll only have lost one health point. The toughest level in the game involved doing a double jump with two switches in the air. At one point I wasn’t sure if I should maybe be trying a different tactic but in the end it worked out. You just really needed perfect platforming.

The graphics for all of the games are definitely pretty solid. They’ve definitely got a very modern look to them and have that Mega Man sci-fi vibe. Everything is very futuristic after all which isn’t really a surprise. These guys are future cops and firefighters tackling next generation’s issues with their blasters and other tech. I’m always up for a future setting so I was definitely on board with this. If you ask me it’s the best setting the game could have possibly chosen here. The soundtrack is pretty solid. It’s got a quick beast and is meant to be solid background music so it’s not really distracting. You’ll be totally focused on the actual puzzles after all so you won’t be noticing the music quite as much.

Overall, Mighty Switch Force is definitely a fun collection. I can definitely see why the games would have all gotten their fans and been well enjoyed by the players. The level designs are on point and there’s enough variety where you always feel like you’re in for a new experience. The puzzles can be difficult but they’re never unfair. Since the controls are fairly simple it all comes down to your hand eye coordination at the end of the day. Once you have that on point then you should be just fine. Fortunately in the boss levels you have a checkpoint since solving the puzzle and surviving would be a difficult ordeal. In the final game in particular I died quite a few times. If you enjoy platformers and trying to reason your way through a level then this is definitely a game you should be checking out.

Overall 7/10

Spellbreak Review


It’s time to look at a new free to play that finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch. It’s effectively Fortnite with magic. Instead of 100 players it seems to be in the 40s per match. Initially I thought maybe there just weren’t enough people logged in but I played 3 battles and it was always around there so I’m thinking that’s just how it was set up. It’s a pretty fun game for sure. In some places you can tell that it’s not super polished with menu layouts and such but the gameplay is on point which is what counts here. You are sure to be in a good spot if you choose this as your next big title. While Fortnite exists I feel like that’ll still be the go to game but this could be a nice change of pace option.

When you enter the game you are thrown into a tutorial on how to learn the moves. It’s not possible to skip this but that’s fine since its fairly short and there are a number of things to take note of here. You have two main attacks, your quick magical spell and your wide range one. Additionally aside from that you’ve also got the ability to fly briefly and can obtain a technique. These techniques range in rarity which determines how often you can use them. I highly recommend using the teleportation technique. It’s incredible handy since you can just vanish a little whiles away and it’s tough for people to catch you. There are a lot of abilities like invisibility, flying, super jump, but teleport is definitely the best if you ask me.

So when the match is first starting you can decide where you want to land. I typically pick somewhere in one of the corners. You are also able to see if anyone else has chosen that spot which is pretty neat. So you can decide to land somewhere where there will be an instant firefight or go somewhere else. Of course people could switch at the last second so that puts you in a tricky spot. You just have to go with your gut and be ready to run and hide or stay and fight. Either way you should be in a pretty decent position if you think about it. Each element has a different set of strengths and weaknesses so choose the one you will be riding with very carefully.

Surprisingly I went with Ice instead of fire this time. Typically I like fire because it makes for a very aggressive style but the summary for ice sounded too good. Effectively you shoot slower but massively powerful strikes at your opponent. If they take a direct hit from an ice move like that then they are going to lose a whole lot of health. It’s far too early for me to say if it really s the best element but at the very least I found it to be highly effective and that’s exactly what I was looking for. You really just can’t go wrong here and that’s what I like to see. Other elements include poison, rock, and thunder.

One worrisome part I would say is that the game’s prices are rather crazy if you plan to spend money here. One of the DLC packs I saw in the Eshop was 120.00 bucks. There’s no way any DLC should be that amount of money right now and you can’t help but feel like it’s a ploy to get people to buy it accidentally. It’s just very slick to me. Spending that much money in one shot would really be something. Hey, if you enjoy the game that much then that’s good but otherwise I just can’t imagine how you would spend so much so quickly. Maybe it’ll go on discount at some point.

The graphics are definitely on point. I would say it looks around early PS3 level which is good for a F2P. The energy effects are good and you can always tell what is going on. The field you’re playing on is quite large so there’s definitely a lot to explore and chests to open. I recommend opening a lot of chests since they help with XP. In this game XP actually effects your abilities to a degree so I highly recommend leveling up when you can. Wins should help with the XP as well although I can’t say that I remember the breakdown.

There’s a solid amount of replay value here of course. That should be no surprise though, free to play games always tend to have a lot of content. It’s how you ultimately stay relevant after all so it’s basically necessary to do this. With the online features and future updates this is one of those games that never really needs to end. It can just keep on going and going for as long as you need it to. I’ll be curious to see what it does to try and stay in the spotlight since it’s brand new and already you don’t see people talking about it all that much. Perhaps it just needs some time for everyone to start finding out about it and getting on board.

Overall, Spellbreak is a pretty fun game. I didn’t play it a whole lot but enough to get the right vibe from it. It’s one of those cases where I doubt you could balance both this one and Fortnite for very long though. That means you will have to make a choice before long. I hope the game does well though because the more battle royale games we have the better. It’s a fun genre and there’s just so much you can do with it. I love the idea of using magic blasts and the other elements to fight through. I did win 2 of my 3 battles also so that definitely feels good. The game is very well balanced and I imagine it’ll continue to add more and more content as it goes on.

Overall 7/10