Blaster Master Zero 3 Review


Blaster Master’s been a pretty fun series. It has the exploration components from Shankar and then your classic Metroid shooting gameplay. There is some extra variety since you can switch gameplay styles from the ship to fighting as a human too. Throw in an excellent plot and you’ve got yourself a great game here. It’s a good way to end the Blaster Master epic.

After the events of the second game, Eve and Jason are kidnapped by the government. Our lead isn’t sure why this is happening after he already helped save the world in the second game. Fortunately the area is attacked and he is able to escape in the confusion. He meets up with his old enemy Leibniz who was also attacked by the government and they ended up destroying his ship. This means they will have to reluctantly team up now. The only clue Jason has is that the government is seeking to destroy Eve because she may be in league with the monsters. Jason doesn’t believe this and has to get to her before it’s too late.

Game 2 had multiple endings similar to this one and the one I got was not exactly the true ending so this one ended up picking up at a different spot than I left it. There is a quick flashback/explanation of the first two games though so it’s easy to know what’s going on right from the jump. This game also has a true ending and it’s pretty creative how you unlock it. I dare say you won’t get it naturally on your first try but you’ll be ready for the second. I haven’t gone after the secret ending myself but it’s something I could see myself having fun with some day.

The story here is very engaging right from the start. The quest to find Eve is exciting and there’s always a lot happening. The only slow part of the game is when we run into Kanna in the veggie planet. We learn a bit about her and all but this really felt like filler. Once we got back in the chase for Eve then things got really good again. We also got to meet Kane who is apparently the main character of the Japanese version of the original game. He gets a good role here so his fans should be pleased.

For the most part this is a fairly small cast that we’re working with here so the dialogue needs to be sharp. I can say that the game pulls it off and in particular I had a lot of fun with Leibniz. For the longest time I thought he was the main character from an alternate dimension but by now I have to accept that he’s just a guy who was in a really similar situation only things didn’t work out well for him. I can definitely see how the guy got jaded very quickly. Would have been nice to have seen him actually go into the field and help us in battle at one point.

The graphics here are definitely sharp. The game really captures that Megaman ZX feeling throughout. It’s futuristic and full of energy as everything is all happening at once. The attacks look nice and the illustrations for the cutscenes are really good too. These are all amplified by the excellent soundtrack that is playing throughout the game. There isn’t a large variety but each time is great so when you add them up then you have a very satisfying roster here. In a technical level the game never fails and that isn’t surprising since Blaster Master has always been good at delivering on its Sci fi elements.

I also liked the gameplay a lot. 2D shooters are fun and when you also factor in all the sub weapons and movement options, there is a lot of depth to the gameplay. You’re not going to just run in and take names or you’ll lose your energy quickly. Particularly before you learn how to hover you have to go forward with caution. As your machine grows stronger you are able to engage in every fight which is nice since you really feel the character’s progression into being a mighty warrior. Then for the dungeons where the machine can’t fit, you go in on foot and the gameplay becomes more of an overhead adventure with your blaster. It’s a different gameplay style that is still similar enough where you can easily transition between the two. You can also access the VRW world which boosts all of your abilities but it’s supposed to be dangerous to stay in there for too long. I didn’t use this a ton outside of the areas where you have to use it but I like the transformation effects and how everything changes while inside of that world. So in a way you have 3 different styles here and the best part is how responsive it all feels. You’re always in complete control of what’s going on.

The length of the game is pretty good as well. I’d say it’s around 7 hours or so and then you have the bonus endings and power ups to get which should take you to 10+. You can also try to get the Platinum trophy so when you consider all of that, you’re getting a good bang for your buck. Even without the replay value the main story is strong enough where you would be feeling good about this either way.

Overall, Blaster Master 3 is a great game and I dare say it’s the best title in the trilogy. It takes all the good aspects from the first two games and keeps them going with good momentum. The story is as good as ever and the graphics/soundtrack is on point. Hopefully we do end up getting more games with these characters but if not I think we can safely say that it was a satisfying ride. By the end you will feel like the true Blaster Master!

Overall 8/10

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review


Mario Kart 8 is a game I’ve been meaning to get for many, many years but it just didn’t work out. Well, that paid off in a way because then it came out for the Switch so I got to get the updated version there. The Deluxe version brings Link and everything unlocked from the jump. Throw in the smooth online and it really does feel like a Deluxe edition here. You are bound to have a lot of fun while playing through this one.

Now on one hand with everything unlocked from the jump you may feel less incentive to go and actually play through all of the cups but it also means that you can really relax and do everything at your own pace. You can play the tournaments, jump into online battles, play vs mode, etc. There is absolutely a lot of content here so you certainly won’t run out or get bored either. The amount of stages here must be a record. I’m not sure if that is a fact but at least it feels like this must be the case.

I’ve played a whole lot of stages and I’m not sure if I’ve played them all yet. Then there’s also the character roster which is just as impressive. I set a challenge for myself to play as every character before doing that review and so I took them all for a spin. It’s really cool to play as a guest star like Link here. I can definitely understand why people are getting hyped for a Nintendo Kart. You can’t go wrong with guest stars and it just enhances the amount of fun you can have. Characters are mainly cosmetic as well so you might as well throw them in.

It goes without saying that the gameplay is quite excellent here. The controls are really smooth and you shouldn’t have a problem driving around. I notice that the game does try to make it a little easier on you here as it’s hard to drive off the road. The game will usually auto correct for you to make sure that you stay on the road. That’s definitely a very useful feature to be sure. I don’t think it is quite as good as say Double Dash where you really have to be careful to master your vehicle at all times but it does make sense in terms of making the game more inclusive for everyone to have a good time with. Double Dash is still my all time favorite game after all but it’s safe to say that Mario Kart 8 is the next best.

The soundtrack is excellent with a huge variety of songs to choose from. Every stage has its own distinct theme and nothing is reused here. You’ll hear a lot of nostalgic music throughout the game and of course modern twists as well. It’s definitely a game that’s very soothing to play with how peaceful some of the songs can be and even the fast paced tunes just feel good. This is a game where you can see how Nintendo put a ton of effort into every aspect. Naturally the graphics are included with that. The game looks quite excellent at all times. The gameplay is sharp and the stage designs really pop out at you as well.

For the online modes you can play in tournaments, single races, battle modes, etc. I tried all of the options and it’s nice to be playing against other opponents in real time. I played a ton of matches and didn’t experience lag in any of them. Imagine if Super Smash had that level of attention to it? Now that would really be something. It’s also fun how you have a little point total next to your name as you play through the stages. It’s not really a ranking since you don’t know where you stack up but it does give you something to aim for as you win more and more races.

As for the battle modes, you’ve got quite a few here. The most fun one is probably the cops and robbers game as you have to dry and get out of the area before you are whacked by the other team. You can free other members who have been captured though. The game seems to favor the team making the arrests here but you do need to have strategy and doing that online can be tricky. There’s also a capture the flag game which is fun. You have to try and hold onto it for a while in order to win. This can be tough if you’re not the first to grab it though. It’s not that hard to buy 20 seconds in the initial skirmish.

There’s also the bomb and balloon modes although unfortunately the balloon one is no longer about survival. I suspect the developers were worried about players dragging the matches out too long so they turned this into a pure score battle but I always liked the idea of a survival mode since it really makes you have to drive carefully to try and stay on top there. With a score system it’s a bit more chaotic. I don’t think you will be spending quite as much time here as in the races anyway though so it’s really just more ways to play the game and you can’t go wrong there.

Overall, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is definitely a great game. There is a whole lot of replay value here which you probably guessed from everything above. This is really a complete game in every aspect. I can’t think of a single weakness that it has and so Mario Kart 8 will really end up leaving a strong legacy behind it. You will be hard pressed to find a better racing game available and of course playing online with others is a lot of fun. The items ensure that you will have a fresh experience in each race. No two races will be identical after all and the item frequency is really quite high. The stages are the right length as they aren’t too short or too long. There really must have been hundreds of hours of research pumped into this and it paid off. The bar for the 9th game is really set quite high at this point.

Overall 9/10

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan Review


Ty and friends are back for another big adventure as we conclude the trilogy. This one takes elements from the first two games which is neat and I would even say that this is the best game in the trilogy. It’s really a good way to end things off and while there is one big quality of life update I would have liked to see, it makes for a very fun adventure all the way through.

The game starts with Ty and friends taking down a big alien invasion and it’s a very climactic opening. Just when it seems like the game is ending before it’s truly begun, Ty gets trapped in the wormhole due to an outside attack. By the time he returns to the real world, 6 months have passed. Bush Rescue is disbanded and the villains have basically taken over the world. It’s a shame how everyone has absolutely no heroic instincts without Ty. One of the members went off to be a professional racer while the world is falling apart! Well, Ty has to bring the band back together one last time to stop the Quinkan from taking over the world. Can he pull this off or is it already too late?

So from there you might expect a really focused plot with constant action but it turns back into game 2 where you have a bunch of stand alone quests from there. Where the game improves from game 2 though is that the missions feel far less like filler this time around. Usually they all end up tying into the story in some way or another. You’re always getting closer to the truth of the invasion and finding a way to stop the Quinkan. The hub world and map appears the same from game 2 so get ready for a lot of exploring. They’ve also brought the shop back but fortunately this time there are mobile vans where you can buy the upgrades at instead of having to go all the way back to base each time.

That does lead into my one main complaint though which is that we really should have had fast travel here. I guarantee that would have been an amazing quality of life update. See, you have to drive back and forth along a really big hub world after every single mission which can get old. The car isn’t super fast so you’ll be driving quite a bit and quick travel would have solved that entirely. I suppose you’d spend less time on the hub world but that’s fine by me. This just makes sense for any game with a hub world this big.

Not a super big deal and the game’s pretty short as it is so you’ll still be finishing quickly. The gameplay has some more combat moves this time around so aside from throwing the boomerangs you can also smack opponents. This does mean that sometimes you’ll punch an opponent instead of throwing your weapon by mistake since it’s the same button though. I would have put the different attacks to different buttons personally but you should be good since both attacks are strong anyway. I found the actual combat gameplay to be rather weak but fortunately it is rarely necessary. You can almost always just skip the enemies. There’s no level up system in the game so fighting them doesn’t really matter much.

The game is split up into several gameplay styles so you have the levels where you are in the ground but you also have plane levels and mech suit ones. For the plane levels, you typically have to bomb enemy installations and shoot at others. Then in the mech suits you have a lot of fights and powering up generators. My favorite levels were probably the mech suit ones, it’s just a lot of fun to be in the suit and spamming lasers the whole time. Now that’s a good way to just barrel through the levels.

The graphics are solid as expected. Some of the night levels can get a bit dark but the game knows how to build the atmosphere up well. The action in the cutscenes is really good too. I question how someone was able to outrun a laser in the final part of the game but sometimes adrenaline will help you pull off some really good feats I guess. Either way it worked and that’s the important thing. The soundtrack is good too, it’s really got that retro platformer feeling to it.

I also enjoyed the story. I think it would be even better if you would just continue the story each time without having to go through the missions structure, but at the same time it is really nice that every single cutscene is voice acted. I can’t state enough how impressive that is and it always makes me feel like the game had a good budget behind it. This makes the whole game so much more immersive than if there was no voice acting like that. Ty’s parents also get to step in near the end of the story but their role is super small so I wouldn’t blame you for wanting something more this time.

So in all this was just a fun all around game. The gameplay is fun and while the combat may not be the best, it is almost never necessary so you don’t have to worry about it. The level designs are fun and I liked the various bosses. The final boss in particular is quite a bit of fun even if I bluffed my way through most of it. I would definitely be up for a new Ty game someday. The boomerang gameplay would lend itself really well to some modern mechanics with that. I think they would be able to do a tremendous job of taking things to the next level.

Overall, Ty 3 is my favorite game in the trilogy and even has an emotional ending. If you are looking for a fun platformer or just want to see Ty and the gang again then you can’t afford to miss out on this game. It’s really got everything you could be looking for here and then some. There is also some replay value as you can buy the rest of the boomerangs. There aren’t a bunch of other levels to play but still enough where you can have fun running around the island and checking out all the sights.

Overall 7/10

Mario Sports Mix Review


Mario Sports Mix is a game that definitely fell to the backburner on my wish list for a while. It always looked like fun but at the same time not fun enough to buy. I think it’s because when Mario focuses on one sport you know that you’re going to get something amazing. When it’s a bunch of different sports in one game then you assume they will probably be a lot weaker. Still, I finally bought this game and I would say it’s pretty fun. It’s certainly not touching most of the other Mario sport titles but it’s a game you can certainly have fun playing with some friends. The replay value will be considerably lower if you play by yourself though.

So lets talk about each of the sports here. First off is Basketball since that’s definitely the biggest draw here. At least it’s the sport that pops out at you from the cover. It’s pretty fun even if it may not be quite as strong as Hoops 3 on 3. You do have all the rules in and making the shots is satisfying. I think making the block a little more complicated by having you shake the Wii remote is unnecessary but I’m sure they wanted to push the motion controls a bit. The game is fun but one issue here is how long each game takes. You can be playing the same game for a very long time as there is no mercy rule and each score shuts down the clock. After I was winning by a massive amount I just started running around to waste some time. I think a mercy rule should always be enabled to prevent that. It’s not the standard though so I suppose I shouldn’t expect this game to have that necessarily.

Part of why the game feels so long is because the computer A.I. just isn’t very good on most of the settings. Either they’re broken hard or extremely easy but there’s not much of a middle ground. Then you have Dodgeball which may be my favorite from from the 4 sports. It’s never really gotten a big video game before and it’s fun to run around the field and try to hit someone. The controls can take a little getting used to but once you’ve got them down, you’ll be doing well here. It’s a game that is easy to understand and makes a lot of sense the whole time. It can also be a bit on the longer side but if you’re dominating the opponents then you can make the game quicker. There’s no big time limit you have to wait on after all, just knock everyone out instead.

Next up is Volleyball and that one’s fun. I would say that the minigame for it in Mario Party is still better but it’s hard to top that one. The Mario Party version is fairly iconic after all. This one has the motion controls to worry about as well, but it’s still fun to coordinate your moves and try to land a spike. You’ll be thinking of Haikyu while playing as you remember those hype volleyball moments. It may not top the first two sports for me but it’s another fun one into the mix.

Finally you have the Hockey game. It’s the weakest of the 4 but still makes for a good time. The controls are good and while it may be hard to score, that’s true for all hockey games. You get used to the goalie being super powerful after a while and just come to accept it. Either way the computer won’t be doing much against you so you can keep landing hits until you finally win. At that point you will have completed all 4 of the games.

Aside from the main sports there are also some minigames that use the same gameplay but switch things up a bit. They’re effectively using the game’s gameplay without the time limit. They’re fun and it’s a nice little touch that shows how the developers were trying to add some more content and variety in here. I appreciate that and the minigames are good so you can certainly have fun spending time there.

In general I would say the game has a good amount of replay value. You can play the sports in exhibition mode or in tournament mode. You have the minigames and of course the multiplayer content as well. So that’s enough to keep you playing for a very long time. Most multiplayer games by default have a lot of replay value for that reason. I’m still not prepared to put this up against most of the mainline sport games since I think they’re just on a different level, but this is a very capable game from start to finish.

The graphics are solid and will remind you of the classic Mario games for the Gamecube. It’s definitely got that kind of artstyle going for it. It’s also really nostalgic to see the characters one more time. It feels like a while since we’ve gotten some big Mario sport titles. Golf doesn’t really do it for me and the latest Tennis titles have gone in too hard with the gimmicks. We need a return to basics like this. The soundtrack is also good although it doesn’t really stand out the way it does for Mario Kart. Maybe next time they’ll be able to get in some really iconic tunes to go along with the game.

Overall, I enjoyed Mario Sports Mix. It’s a fun game and you can get it for a pretty decent price nowadays. If you enjoy Mario games and like your sports then this is one game that you don’t want to miss out on. If we’re lucky then maybe they’ll make a sequel at some point. Without the Wii Remote holding it back, I suspect the next ones will really be able to go all in on the fun gameplay. The sky’s the limit there and of course the game I’m really waiting for is Mario Football. One day they’ve gotta come out with that right?

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning Reviewv


This game started Spyro off on a whole new adventure. I’ve certainly had this on the list for a very long time and now I can say that I’ve finally checked it out. It doesn’t really stack up to most of the other Spyro games though. While I do enjoy the combat aspect of it, the game ended up being really repetitive most of the time so even the story doesn’t totally make up for that. Still a good game in its own right, but I’m not ready to put this at the top.

The game starts off with Spyro being raised at the dragonfly village. He is the legendary dragon foretold by the prophecies but he doesn’t know that and so he just hangs out with Sparx and has a good ole time. The two of them are goofing off when the area is attacked and we find out that the entire world is in danger. There’s no time for the dragon elders to explain everything to Spyro just yet but he needs to awaken all of the elders so that together they can stop Cynder from waking up the ultimate evil. Is Spyro really ready for such a tremendous responsibility?

Right away there is one thing I do like a lot about this game and that’s the banter with Spyro and Sparx. Sparx is a character right out of an old, cheesy kind of film where every line has to be a joke about something. It’s a huge change from how he acts in the old games and it’s an improvement. This time Sparx is actually rather memorable. In general the game’s dialogue is a lot more fun than usual and that’s good since this game was all about having a deeper story than the rest. The big voices they got for the game were used well and it enhances the story. I would say this has the best story for a Spyro game.

That said, there is something which keeps this from matching up to the other Spyro games and that’s the gameplay. Initially I was pretty happy to see that this was going for more of an action approach. Gone are the collectathon days. At the same time, this means that the levels feel a lot more constricting as there isn’t free roam around the place now. Additionally, the gameplay is very limited. It’s more repetitive than you’d expect as you use the same two moves over and over. You either smack opponents in close range or you use your breath to attack them. You can level up by beating enemies but I would always skip the ones I wasn’t forced to fight because of how many there are.

At one point I thought I was stuck or not supposed to be fighting the enemies because I beat dozens and new ones kept spawning. I had to check online and it wasn’t a glitch I just had to keep fighting. After a long time they all went down. It just seemed to pad out the time for no real reason. That said, you’ll still have enough energy to max out at least two of your elements by the time the game is through. I would recommend maxing out electricity first because then you can cheese almost the whole game. See, the electricity allows you to throw enemies like telekinesis and almost every level has a ledge where you can fall off. Just park yourself by it and throw every enemy over. They instantly lose all health and that speeds up a lot of these never ending fights.

Additionally, even a small fall will destroy most enemies so if you see some stairs or small drops you can use them as well. Just keep on throwing the enemies and you’re good. As for the bosses, each time you take out a third of their health it’s considered a check point so if you lose one of your unlimited lives then they don’t recover that health again. So just make sure you land some hits and you’re good. Most of the bosses will end up being easy as a result. The only really tough one was this fire train you have to fight. It moves so quickly and there are so many constant explosions that it can be tough to even see what is on the screen half the time. It just all blends together as explosive smoke which makes it difficult to aim. That boss took me several tries to defeat before I was able to get a win out.

It would have been even more difficult without having the fire attacks maxed out so focus on fire and thunder in the game. You’ll never need the other elements that you get. A little more variety in the gameplay would have just been nice or more depth to the combat system. With a good combat system you can have me fighting enemies for hours and I’d be good. Of course while this doesn’t match up to the other Spyro games I would still call it a pretty good one. I had a good amount of fun and the game isn’t all that long anyway so you’ll be done in a flash.

In terms of replay value it doesn’t seem like there’s much. I suppose you can try to get more exp but there’s no post game or anything. This is really the kind of game where you are playing for the story experience and you probably won’t pick it up again. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable but I thought the graphics were really good. I liked the artstyle here as it really pops out at you from the start. The colors are sharp and this has aged super well in that respect.

Overall, I’m looking forward to the sequel. Even if the gameplay wasn’t perfect, the story was a lot of fun. I’m hoping they can keep the good writing and solid enemy threats at the ready. It’s a shame that Cynder won’t be as powerful in the next installment but I’m hoping she will still get some action here. I don’t know how long it’ll be until I get the sequel but it’s definitely a title that’s on my list so I will get to it. The Spyro legacy cannot be left uncompleted. If you have not played this game yet then I would definitely recommend it!

Overall 7/10

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered Review


I was never all that familiar with the Ni No Kuni title. I had heard of it since Level 5 games always get a good amount of publicity but I can’t say I knew anything about the plot. Well, it was definitely a very satisfying RPG and a rather long one as it took me a full 30 hours. After playing it I can definitely say that this is a winner and a really solid title. It’s also unique enough where you can’t call it quite like any others. I would certainly like to see more games in this series.

The story introduces us to a kid named Oliver who decides to go out one night to try out his friend’s car. Unfortunately he ends up crashing and while Oliver’s mother is able to save him, she dies in the process. Now Oliver is broken inside as he blames himself for this happening. One day his stuffed animal Drippy becomes sentient and lets Oliver know that there is still a way to save his mother. See, there’s a parallel world where everyone has a double. If Oliver can save his mother’s double then he will also be able to save her. Oliver agrees to do this and stop the evil wizard Shadar. Along the way he meets several allies and friends who will help him out. If Oliver can spread joy to many, he can begin to save lives and souls wherever he goes.

I will say that from the start this does seem a bit suspect though. So as we play through the game you see that if one person is sad then their double in the other world is sad as well. Emotions and everything transfer. If you die in one world then you die in the other. Wait a minute……lets focus on that last part. So if Oliver’s mother died in the real world then she would have died in the other world too so there’s nobody left to save right? Oh nooooooooooo. I mean it’s impossible not to be thinking about that immediately. The question is just if Drippy is intentionally misleading Oliver or if there’s some reason why this would be an exception. Naturally you’ll have to wait until the end to see what is really going on here but I remember thinking about this right from the start. If both souls are linked throughout then that’s bad news for Oliver’s chances.

The gameplay is classic turn based although you are able to move while attacking. In that sense it’s the most similar to .Hack which also had turn based combat but you could move around to gather energy, items, and try to make the other player miss. It’s a good way to add some energy to the usual turn based combat although I tend to enjoy it either way. You can fight as Oliver or you can play as one of up to 3 creatures you control. You can switch in and out at any time though which is really good for strategy. Let me tell you now that you will want to be switching in and out a whole lot here. You can’t stick with any monster for too long anyway since there is a time limit. So I would usually go to my monster for the fighting and would switch back to Oliver when it was time to heal.

You can also capture monsters later on to add them to your team like in Pokemon. For about 80-90% of the game I didn’t use Oliver almost at all aside from healing but then towards the end you learn 2 spells that are extremely powerful. At that point I stopped using the monsters and would play as Oliver exclusively. Trust me when I say that the spells are that good. Use your two allies to draw enemy fire while you charge them up though as the spells take a while to work. Your allies will probably lose a lot though as they have a hard time blocking. You can tell them to go on defense mode by pressing square but they’ll ignore you half the time since they’re already in the middle of a spell.

Don’t worry about them so much but make sure you end up blocking the attack. It reduces the damage by around 90% and also causes the enemy to drop some health/mp bubbles and sometimes even a full recovery that gives you a final smash. You don’t want to miss out on that. There is a lot of strategic elements to keep in mind here but you’ll have all of the mechanics down before long. The game is rather difficult either way though so don’t expect to just breeze on by it. I had to grind out a lot of EXP throughout the game and even then the bosses were challenging. On the final boss I lost on the final phase when the health was in the red the first time which stung. You just have to keep going at the enemies though and get your guys into the mid 50s for level. If you go higher then even better but I wouldn’t really try if your guys are too low. Just hang back and train for a bit longer.

The graphics are really solid here. We have full anime cutscenes, cgi rendered cutscenes, and then classic text boxes with voice acting. The game is very well polished and it’s clear that a lot of budget went into this one. The world looks really good even when you’re not in a cutscene. I definitely had no issues with how the visuals looked at all. This is a winning title. The soundtrack is also good even if it’s not super memorable. It does the job of getting you through the game. I do have a bit of an obscure issue with the sound mixing though. There are 3 styles of cutscenes as I mentioned and each one has a different volume level. The problem with that is that it’s hard to have the volume set up since some cutscenes will be too low one way or too loud the other. It’s a rare issue that has only popped up in a handful of games but it’s worth mentioning. It’s not something that should really hurt your experience at all though, especially considering that all of the cutscenes are subbed.

After completing the game there is a good amount of post game content to challenge. More islands, enemies, missions, quests, etc. Additionally you also have the PS4 trophies to grab and those seem to be reasonably challenging. I expect you will certainly have to take a while to conquer those. Considering that the base game with no sub quests is 30 hours, this game will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

As with most RPGs, the story is also really good. The benefit of a story being long is that you really get to hang out with the characters for a while and get to like them all. Naturally as always I wouldn’t mind if Oliver was older but he does well by the end. His team did well in protecting the universe. It was fun to see everyone with british accents as well since you don’t see that so often. The main heroine Esther is good and always has solid banter with Swaine. Droopy has a lot of confidence and his manner of speaking always makes his sentences memorable.

For the villains, we had Shadar of course who is a tough threat. All of his dialogue is rather intense and the guy is not lacking in confidence. The battles with him are suitably tricky. The White Witch takes a while to actually take the stage but the wait is well worth it. I also liked her design. The game gives out a lot of plot twists before things are over and they all help to really change the experience. Each twist is a rather big deal and none of them felt pointless. While I would have handled the ending a bit differently, you’ll have a satisfying ride from start to finish.

Overall, Ni No Kuni is definitely a great game and I would recommend checking it out. It’s a difficult RPG that will require more grinding than in others but by the same token, the extra level of detail means that this could be the reverse for you. If you really master the mechanics and type advantages then perhaps you could beat this at a much lower level than I. Of course I’d like to see you try though as I would argue I did really well with the mechanics. It does mean that there are countless ways to approach each boss though so feel free to experiment. Always buy the latest equipment and you will be in a good spot here.

Overall 8/10

Crash: Mind over Mutant Review


At long last it’s time to play the next big Crash game. It keeps the monster hacking from the last title but changes the mechanics of how it works a bit. The gameplay is solid but the game is held back by some questionable design choices like the fact that you can’t actually fast travel between lands. So effectively you have a giant hub world but have to actually walk back and forth between each level. I’m still wondering why they would do that but we’ll go into it in a moment. For now I’ll just say this is certainly the weakest Crash game but still a decent game overall.

The game starts with Cortex coming up with his latest scheme to take over the world. He has these VR goggles that will put you into an environment that is so realistic and top tier that you can’t help but get sucked in. Even Crash’s best friend Crunch and his sister Coco were not able to resist. Crash and Aku must now try to stop Cortex before it’s too late but what can these two do without some kind of backup? It’ll be tough but either way they will aim to give this their very best shot. After all if they can’t win…who can!?

So the gameplay is your average 3D Crash style for the platforming elements. You can run, jump, spin, and even dig in this game. You have to typically get to the end of a level or beat up enemies to proceed. There are quite a few sections for combat here but the battles are never too hard. It’s the kind of game where if you die, you appear close to where you died, so you never have to backtrack a whole lot. I definitely enjoyed that at least. Nothing’s worse than having to redo a large section. For the monster jacking, you can store up to 2 monsters at a time and switch through them at will. The downside to having two monsters is that you can’t play as Crash which makes some of the platforming impossible. So typically you will want to stick to one monster which is the perfect setup. Particularly if you pick the Hedgehog as one of them since he’s so fast.

When you’re going through all of the back tracking, it’s very helpful to have someone like this at the ready. When you defeat an enemy you are given the option to take control of it or keep on going. Don’t worry about not taking the right one, any area that needs a specific ability will warp an enemy to you in those instances. So it’s a fun enough gimmick although it feels like we’ve gone far away from the original Crash structure. It’s fun getting to fire off energy blasts and slow down time so the monster abilities are always fun. The slowing down time aspect is quite powerful so they make sure you don’t get to control those monsters until the end of the game.

So lets talk about the backtracking since this mechanic did not work. Basically the island is so huge that it connects to around 6 areas. I want to say in real time if you had to travel the whole island it would probably take you around an hour or so. Fortunately you never have to do that in one time but say you beat the desert world, you’ll be told to go back home. From there you have to head to the school then home, then back to the desert, etc. Most games would have a teleporter or something which would be incredibly useful here. Unfortunately this was not included for a gag. At the very end of the game one of the villains mocks Crash for running around the whole game and quickly whips up some teleporters.

Yes, you gain the ability to fast travel to any point at the final level in the game. By this point it’s so late that it doesn’t actually help out a lot. I suppose if there are some good post game content to play through then it would be nice but this should have been around for the base game. Trust me when I say this would have been incredibly useful to have had a lot sooner. It’s just tedious to run back and forth as well as being very time consuming. You’ll spend more time running around than actually playing the game which is really an issue here. The decision just doesn’t make sense to me.

There’s also a level up system built into the game which doesn’t seem to have much of a point. You get a little stronger and unlock new moves but I never noticed the difference and it takes a while to get level ups. So by the time you are stronger you’ll have beaten the game. I forget at what level I completed Crash but I think it was around 5-7. The game is easy enough where it won’t make a difference and so the whole mechanic may as well not even be here. As they say, if a mechanic doesn’t actually affect anything then you may as well have not had it in the first place.

Well, the graphics are good. During gameplay it all looks solid at least. The levels are colorful and everything is on point. My only issue is with the cutscenes that are going for a more experimental look this time around. Sometimes the cutscenes look like drawings where everything is as low budget as possible. Others use designs like something out of Jacob Two Two. The designs are always changing from cutscene to cutscene, Crash even looks like a Super Saiyan warrior at one point. Now that was definitely something that was a different experience. I’m not really into the experimental techniques myself so personally I think the best thing to do would have been to go with more traditional artwork. It would have just looked better.

At least you can say it does match the crazy plot though. The whole game is rather bonkers with how everyone falls for these goggles. A lot of the dialogue is so self aware it almost threatens to break the 4th wall. The characters aren’t very smart here and even the villains get humiliated by Cortex. The evil mask is certainly on the backfoot here. The scene where he is literally being milked by a machine while Cortex gloats and laughs is rather intense for the guy’s fans. Cortex is really the only villain who keeps his hype here. Perhaps this will even solidify him as the ultimate Crash villain for most. At this point, none of the others seem like they can keep up with him.

Overall, Mind over Mutants is a step down from the other Crash games but I would still call it a good game. Beyond the lack of fast travel, the rest of the gameplay is good and that’s the important thing. The soundtrack may not be too memorable but it works well enough. While the graphics aren’t very good, the story still has a good amount of funny moments and a lot happening at all times. I may not like Crash as a main character but Cortex has enough good lines for the both of them. If you need to complete your Crash experience then this is a good entry to check out. Otherwise you’re not really missing a whole lot though.

Overall 6/10

Jumanji: The Video Game Review


I’ve completed my first game from the Christmas batch! Jumanji was quite a bit different than I had imagined. There is no story mode to be found in this game and the offline content is minimal. Ultimately I can’t imagine buying this game at launch but at least I got it for cheap so it wasn’t a big loss here. You probably won’t be coming back to this one after you beat it though.

So the game has 4 levels which you can play online or offline. That’s the extent of the game which….is quite small. So offline you play with 3 A.I. controlled characters while online you play with 3 other people. Unless you really love the gameplay that means you’ll be feeling that repetition almost immediately. There is no challenge mode, minigames, or anything like that. It’s just 4 levels that you can play by yourself or with friends. I’ve seen mobile games with a whole lot more content than this one. Jumanji definitely ended up falling under expectations here.

Lets talk about the gameplay though. So this is really a third person shooter where you go around blasting away at the enemies who try to take you down. Each stage is divided into several areas. Each area has you either protect a totem pole from the enemies or gather 4 relics. For the relic levels, you just run around until you find them. The levels are just big enough where this can take a few minutes so try to really look around so you don’t miss any and have to run backwards. For the totem levels, you have to stand around the amulet to power it up and the idea is to stay near until the meter fills up. If the enemies chase you out of the area then no more energy will go through until you get back in there.

I don’t really have a problem with the gameplay itself. It’s actually rather fun and I’ve always liked third person shooters. The gameplay has no real glitches or bugs in it. You do have to reload a lot which can hurt your momentum but as long as you grab ammo a lot then it won’t be a problem. Aside from your blaster you also have grenades and your character’s signature attack. The attacks don’t seem all that balanced though. There are 4 characters here. One has a stomp which destroys all nearby enemies. It’s easily my favorite attack in the arsenal. Another character has a boombox which deals damage to all nearby enemies and lasts for a while. Now that’s another pretty good attack.

The third character has a little healing ray that builds up health…this is a pretty bad one. There are health packs everywhere so you’re either at full health or dead during a battle. There’s no real need for this ability at all. Then you have the 4th character who has a monkey of sorts and I’m not even sure what it does. It might help lead you through the map but it’s not like you would really get lost so I don’t think this is all that good either. Perhaps there is another skill that I was missing when playing as him but I was not impressed.

Likewise, the graphics are nothing to make you look at twice either. It looks like something from the PS2 era and even then it has much less personality than a lot of those games. The level designs are decent but nothing is all that detailed and it just looks as generic as possible. There doesn’t seem to be any real effort put into the graphics here. The soundtrack is also pretty much nonexistent. I mean it’s okay but it’s just not very good or anything like that so I would still not put this as a big thumbs up. It’s not a thumbs down but I doubt you will remember any of the tunes by the end.

The game does have some unlockables so I suppose I should say that there is some replay value here. If you play each character long enough you will unlock alternate outfits and weapons. Each character starts at level 1 and by completing levels and earning exp you will get them to higher levels and each unlockable is blocked by a level requirement. The 4 characters each have their own level requirements. It’ll take a while to get everyone maxed out so that offers you something to do…if you are playing this game that long.

I can’t stress enough how little the content is here. There’s just nothing to do before long and it’s pretty much unheard of that there are only 4 maps. I feel like they were planning DLC if the game did well to add more stages or something but otherwise you’re going to have played all the levels in a single day. There’s not enough progression rewards to keep you going here. So even though I enjoyed the gameplay, it loses a lot of points for just not putting anything in here. The levels are decently long at around 20 minutes but that still means you will have beaten all of the levels in under 2 hours. From there on you are just replaying the same levels over and over again which is no good. It’s too bad because there is really a lot you could do with this franchise otherwise.

Overall, Jumanji is really not a good game. In fact I would go as far as to say that it’s a bad game. This could work as a free to play mobile game or something but certainly not to purchase. There is no incentive to buy this game at all. Even if the gameplay was amazing, 4 levels is not enough to do anything. Certainly not without a fighting mode. See, the game would completely change if there was a vs mode both offline and online. If even either of those styles of play had a vs mode that would help a lot. That’s where you get a lot of replay value but bashing enemies over and over will get old extremely quick. I would say to skip out on this game for sure.

Overall 4/10

DK: King of Swing Review


It’s time to enter the world of DK once more. This game was one that was on the backlog for the GBA for many years. Unfortunately my GBA console no longer works and the DS has L and R buttons that aren’t really responsive. So at that point it was time to finally just get this one on the virtual console. The Wii U E-shop doesn’t shut down for another 2-3 weeks so this was really my chance to get in there and make a difference. The game was short though so I ended up conquering it in around 2 hours which is pretty good. The controls are very unique and I would say they work out well. I feel like the Wii U does give it a bit of a buff over the portable version though as the controls feel smoother.

The basic plot here is that DK and friends were getting ready for the big race but unfortunately King K. Rool showed up to steal all of the coins. Now nobody can have fun racing so it’s up to DK to stop him. He won’t have any backup support on this one so he’s truly alone this time. Still, nothing will deter DK from getting out there and saving the day as only he knows how. Can he prove that he really is the King of Swing or is this game over?

So the controls are what makes this game stand out from the others. It’s not your typical platformer as you use the L and R buttons in order to grab onto platforms and swing yourself through the air. You then use the momentum to jump from place to place. You only use the control stick on the ground which is around for the first instant of each level and that’s it. You jump by holding down both L and R. Bosses are taken down by jumping in their direction by maneuvering on the blocks. This is one of those games where it’s probably a lot better to just see visually as opposed to hearing about it since it’ll be hard to get a solid visual due to how unique the concept is.

It’s not a bad concept. It’s original but at the same time I have to say that a traditional platformer would still have been way better. You want to be able to control the character the whole time, not just hold down L and R like this. It even does a number on your wrist because it’s hard to hold the controller like that. In part it’s probably due to the Gamepad being so large though, I think it wouldn’t hurt the wrist so much if it was your standard DS or GBA console.

The levels are very short and there are only 25 in the game. That’s including the 5 bosses by the way and 1 level which is effectively just there to give you more lives. See, in this game you don’t have traditional lives. Instead you have 3 health points and you gain a health point back by eating 10 Bananas. You can also use 20 to temporarily become invincible and blast through enemies. That said, you keep the totals that you had when you end the level. So if you just had 1 heart left upon clearing the level and 3 bananas, that’s how much you will have when you start the next one. Of course that does make things really difficult if you are up to a boss. So what you sometimes need to do is go back to an old level that was easy and beat it with extra bananas.

It may feel a bit tedious but it’s often quicker than trying to beat a boss with only 1 heart or something like that. I had to replay levels around 4 times by the end of the game but they’re short so it really isn’t a huge issue. Once you make it to world 5, you should only use 5-1 for the Bananas as it’s extremely hard to lose that level and you can grab 50 bananas in an instant. That’s effectively 5 heart points per level and it’s one of the shortest in the game. You’ll want to have those for the final boss against Rool which is a really creative boss fight as well. I like how that one was handled.

Beyond that, I wouldn’t say there is a ton of replay value. The game says that something good will happen if you grab all of the collectibles though so maybe they do have something nice in store for you. There aren’t a ton of collectibles either so it may not be a bad idea to try and grab all of them. What do you have to lose right? The game is short but it’s also very cheap on the Eshop. It’s normally $7 or you can grab it for $5 if you have some coins and get the discount. Either way, for 2 hours plus some replay value that’s a good deal.

As for the graphics, I’d say they’re good. The game has a very colorful art style at the ready here so all of the levels pop out. It looks a little overly zoomed in on the Wii U so you can see the pixels but it adds to the nostalgic nature of the game. Nintendo has always been many years ahead of the competition in this regard so even now the game looks good. The soundtrack is even better with a lot of really classic DK tunes. You’ll probably remember them from the Super Smash games. DK’s soundtrack may not be at Mario’s level but it certainly gets the job done.

Overall, King of Swing is a pretty good game. It may be short but it’s just a lot of fun to play. You can just sit down and knock the whole thing out in one session since it’s hard to pull yourself away. It’s not going to be one of the more memorable games and it does get overshadowed by almost all of the other DK titles but it is still good in its own right. I’d rather any potential sequel goes for more classic/standard gameplay though since that would enhance the game further. It really has been a while since DK got a big game to himself.

Overall 7/10

Miden Tower Review


Miden is the latest Kemco game and goes back to the roots of their original rpgs. It has all of the solid gameplay customizations at the ready like skipping battles you don’t need and things like that. I’ll go into it more later but mix that in with one of the best plots I’ve seen in a while and you definitely have a winner here. This is one of those games that would be nice to see a sequel for.

The story starts with a village being burned to the ground as most of these RPGs seem to start off with. The government in this game appears to be on the evil side as they slaughter everyone and so the last remnants of humanity quickly build a tower and hide in there. Using teleportation technology and magic to prevent people from warping in, the people have lived in peace for a while now. Well, one day the villains start appearing in the tower. Peace is no longer a guarantee and so the heroes must find the villains and the source of their entrance to put a stop to this.

We then cut to our main character who is quite unique. Valen had to personally watch his friends and family get destroyed, he has sworn revenge on the army. Every day he heads out to destroy a bunch of them and head home. His entire motivation and reason for existing is revenge which is definitely not healthy. One day he bites off more than he can chew and comes near death only to be saved when he summons a sentient wall to save him. Her name is Leila and she is different from most magic creatures in this land. See, most of them have to listen to the summoner at all times and don’t have creative thoughts or the ability to resist. None of that applies to Leila though. She has control of her own and makes her own choices. Still, she does want to protect Valen even if she does not agree with his whole quest for revenge. She aims to get him to mellow out by the end of all this.

The graphics are classic Kemco from start to finish. You have a lot of bright character designs and different level designs. They all appear very familiar so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are starting to reuse assets from previous games. I can’t really blame them if that is the case though since it’s efficient and ultimately it doesn’t affect the story. As long as the story is good that’s the important thing and the graphics are solid either way.

As for the soundtrack it’s nothing all that special but the tunes are always fun. These games always have a very specific style to them where you can recognize the music immediately. That’s the case with this game as well so you feel rather pumped to be starting on the adventure. The soundtrack isn’t large but we do get a new theme for the final boss which was nice. All in all the game succeeds massively on the technical side as expected.

As for the gameplay, there isn’t a lot to explain here. It’s your classic turn based RPG. You attack with physical blows, magic, or special skills. You keep on fighting until you take the opponents down. On the hub world you run around until you get to the very end. You also have a pot where you can throw ingredients in to get other items from time to time. There are several trophies for making a lot of items so I recommend always having a bunch cooking at the same time since it helps a lot for later on. Ultimately you’re doing this more for the trophies than for its effects.

Now I mentioned the gameplay customization before. So here’s how it goes, first off you can turn off battle effects. When you have to level grind, it can feel a bit long to see the attacks over and over again in each battle. When you turn the effects off, you just see a flash for every attack but they keep on attacking. That saves a lot of time right off the bat. Then you can also increase the speed of combat from X1 all the way to X3. That makes a difference too. Following up on that, you can turn off battles against enemies that are weaker than you. You know how in most RPGs you have to keep getting encounters with level 1 monsters and beating them is only a formality since the victor is never in doubt? You don’t have to worry about those here.

These are gameplay improvements I’d like to see more games pull off but Kemco seems like the only ones who have done this to date. It’s why I consider them as masters of the RPG genre. There are also orbs in each area that you can activate after beating it to stop encounters all together. Need to back track for treasure chests? Well at least you won’t have monsters jumping out at you all the time. Considering that one trophy is for walking 50,000 steps, I thought this was a very considerate option of the game since it at least makes this feat rather painless. Otherwise that would just take forever. Even now that is one of the only trophies left that I haven’t obtained for that reason.

Then what really helped the game get to the next level for me was the solid story. Lately some of the Kemco games have had more down to Earth stories with slightly smaller stakes. Well, this one goes back to being a grand story. The character development for Valen is good as he goes from only wanting revenge to being more of a reasonable guy. It’s an effective character arc. Now some scenes can be a bit cheesy with him but at the end of the day he does his best. The origin is also quite sad so you can see how he became so revenge driven.

Leila is also a good character and I thought she handled the situation well. She didn’t suddenly jump in and tell Valen to start saving everyone but gradually got him to escape from the cycle of violence. It’s very Naruto style with how the characters point out that murdering people will just continue the cycle. Ultimately this allows Valen to be the bigger man here and look the other way when it comes time to make a choice.

As for length, the game is a bit on the shorter side. I would definitely say it is one of Kemco’s shorter titles as you should blast right through it. There isn’t much of a post game as you should have that beaten in about an hour or so. Granted, it went by so fast in part because I grinded my character levels to over 500 so I was able to beat most opponents in an instant. The secret ending is good though and way more satisfying than the normal one. That wouldn’t have been a great way to end the adventure. The platinum trophy is quite easy to get so I recommend trying to give it a go.

Overall, Miden Tower is definitely a very solid game. I think it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a game on the Asdivine Hearts series. That is still my all time favorite from Kemco but this would certainly be in second. It’s just got a great story and of course a lot of amazing video game mechanics. Kemco certainly brought out the A team here and I look forward to seeing which adventure they churn out next. If you don’t have this game yet, I’d recommend purchasing it asap!

Overall 8/10