Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes Review

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After watching the anime, I was ready to go back and finish up the Sengoku Basara game I got a very long while ago. I’m a pretty big fan of beat em ups and it’s just very satisfying to blast away whole armies. Hyrule Warriors and Gundam have done the best with the genre because the over the top special effects just make it that much more intense. Still, Sengoku knows something about that as well and its predecessor Devil Kings for the PS2 was one of the most well crafted titles in the genre. This one follows suit and is a must buy for all fans.

As with most beat em up games, you can pick whoever you want and start the story. Each story has 7 battles and there are over 10 characters to play through. I chose Yukimura’s story of course. In his story, Yukimura is now the head of the Sanada clan while his boss is injured and he decides to follow his leader’s last request and take down Ieyasu’s army. Throughout the story he wonders if this is the right call though and if he should start to make his own decisions. He has dreams as a result and does a lot of crying. He even loses to Date Masamune once again. Yukimura eventually finds his resolve though and decides to keep going straight ahead to wherever this path will take him.

I’m not sure about the rest of the stories as I just did one, but Yukimura’s doesn’t have much of an ending. We end up having a draw with Ieyasu and both fighters just walk away. It wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. That being said, the actual story was pretty well done as we got some nice cutscenes throughout. I think the developers put a reasonable amount of effort into it. It’s also nostalgic to see the characters in the style of the anime. It’s too bad they couldn’t get all of the voice actors back, but they got most of them which is pretty impressive.

The gameplay is what you’d expect as you plunge ahead and take down hundreds of opponents. You have your standard attacks as well as your supers. The first levels are pretty difficult since you’re at a low level, but level ups come very quickly in this game so it’s not a problem for too long. It also makes you fight with strategy as sometimes you actually will have to retreat and get some health before going back to the boss. It’s always tough to retreat, but you gotta do what you gotta do right? The levels had a perfect amount of health items and size without it being too much. The attacks are also nice and flashy although they are a big step down from Gundam and Hyrule. The attacks don’t have the same widespread devastation that the others had, but I’ll take it over nothing. It is still trying to be semi realistic I suppose.

This game does also have trophies to collect, but good luck getting them all. It would certainly be a bit of a grind so I don’t plan on getting many more anytime soon. I should try to grab some to boost my rank up, but the Platinum is a little out of reach. This title certainly does have a bunch of replay value though. Playing through each story should take you around 3 hours a piece and then maxing everyone out and getting all of the equipment is another huge hurdle. The game’s going rate nowadays isn’t even all that expensive so it’s a bargain.

The soundtrack is all right. It’s rather forgettable, but it works reasonably well. I can’t recall a single tune but you’ll be so busy vanquishing the enemies in front of you that you won’t really care by the end. The graphics are pretty good as well. I’d definitely say that they’re PS3 level although they can’t shine as much as they could if it took place in a city. Why have we never had a beat em up in NYC? You have to admit that it’d be pretty awesome.

There’s not really much more to say about the game. It’s one of those titles that really just sells itself. The gameplay is really polished so fighting through the levels is a blast. I guess if I had one critique it would be that the story is a little weaker. Devil Kings was a lot more hype because he really felt like a big villain who was behind everything, but I guess you can’t have someone like that every time. Having the main antagonist be someone who’s also trying for world peace is definitely an interesting dynamic after all.

There’s also a lot of depth to the game’s gameplay that I didn’t even get to tinker with much. Not only can you equip better weapons as you go on, but you can equip accessories to them. I believe some give you extra EXP while others are more standard like more attack and such. You can have fun with a lot of experimenting there. It’s probably also a good idea to try out all of the characters to see which one you like the most. I believe Nohime was my favorite in the last one because using two guns in a game that’s usually all about swords is pretty fun. That being said, I always had to go back to my swords at some point.

Overall, This was a really fun game. It really captured the essence of what a beat em up is all about. You pretty much always had a choice of going straight for the boss or sticking around and helping your army take on the generals. I decided to savor the experience and took down all of the generals in each level before going for the boss. What made this possible was how quickly the enemies went down and that the levels weren’t too huge. I think it was a perfect blend in both cases. I played the game on Normal so it wasn’t a walk in the park but it wasn’t a brutal grind either. The map size was also good based on how fast you can fun. A bigger map would still work well as long as you can dash a little faster. Naturally there is also a co-op mode so if you really want to lay devastating damage to the armies with a friend, it’ll make the game that much better. Co-Op was basically made for beat em up titles like this one. If you don’t own this game yet, you should definitely fix that.

Overall 8/10

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Mario vs Donkey Kong Review

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After many years, I have finally been able to play the legendary Mario vs DK game. I actually always thought that it was in the same style as the original Donkey Kong and was surprised to see whole levels and puzzles in this one. The final boss is the only level that is just like the old game. It was cool to see such variety though and it’s a pretty fun game. There is also quite a bit of bonus content to be found here as well. I have one issue with how you obtain stars in this game, but beyond that it’s a solid experience.

The plot is that DK has decided to steal all of the toys for himself. Mario doesn’t take too kindly to this and calls DK a big monkey as an insult several times. Seeing as how this doesn’t work, Mario decides to beat DK down until the monkey finally gives in. Will DK let go of his toys or will Mario have to hit him with a clean uppercut? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the Mario toys are fairly advanced and seem to have some rudimentary A.I. going for them.

There are 6 main worlds to the game and each one has 8 levels. This makes for a decently long campaign. It should take you a few hours to complete the game in total and add a few depending on how difficult the puzzles can get. There is an extensive amount of replay value to be found as well since beating the game unlocks 6 Plus worlds. After this you unlock the X levels. Once you complete those, then you can face the true final boss and unlock the ultimately true ending. I believe you need to get all of the Stars to make it this far so that should really take a while. The game has an unbelievable amount of bonus content in it so you’ll b getting your moneys worth.

Now, I originally thought that to get a star for a level you just had to complete it while holding onto the three bags in the level. It turns out that you actually have to beat the level’s high score to do it which is a little annoying. It’s hard to know how to do such a thing so repetition is your best bet. Just keep playing until you can really ace the level. It’s a little harder than I’d like and I still think grabbing the bags will be enough. It does help raise the difficulty once again though.

The graphics are pretty solid for the GBA. It’s certainly a AAA title as the competitors wouldn’t really be able to match this. It’s that golden era in Nintendo where all of the character models are right. There was only one boss level where I couldn’t even see the ladder so I died a few times. It was more of an optical illusion than an issue with the graphics though. As you’d expect from a Mario game, the soundtrack is quite solid. I particularly like the Fire Mountain themes, but the game has a good variety to it. Most of the level themes are quite good and it certainly amplifies the quality of the game. You’re able to play the level over and over again because you have good beats to listen too. It helps that the loading times here are great so you never have to wait for long.

Even the story felt like it had more effort to it than you’d expect. Mario talks quite a bit here, certainly more than I expected. He may be a bit meaner than usual as he calls DK a big monkey at times, but this is the plumber who calls you stinky in Mario Party. It’s easy to forget that Mario wasn’t always the very chipper guy that he is today. Even the Mini Marios rub the loss in DK’s face as they laugh at him quite a bit. You end up almost feeling bad for the monkey by the end. He certainly didn’t ask for this. Of course, DK is a robber so he ultimately did bring this upon himself. You gotta just live with the consequences. I only got the first ending, but at least it gives DK a fighting chance as he grabs more toys and runs. Mario’s going to need to hire more security even if it hurts the whole budget cuts angle.

The gameplay is sort of like a 2D Mario adventure, but you’re stuck in a limited space. There are two acts to each level. The first act has you hit a bunch of switches and get past obstacles to bring a key over to the door. In the second act you just need to get to the Mini Mario. The gameplay is actually quite spread out and diverse. You have an array of many different jumps to use. I personally liked spamming the dash dance jump as it would give you a lot of height and you could cheese many levels with this. I’m sure that the developers really thought the level designs through but with this many different options it makes sense that you would be able to cheese parts of it. They just can’t expect to cover for every contingency.

There are also the Mini Mario levels. There is one of them in every world and they’re a nice change of pace. The little guys get lost rather easily so you have to make sure not to go too fast or you’ll leave them behind. I enjoyed the levels in this format that I played and while the main ones were certainly more fun, it’s always satisfying to lead the little guys to the goal. The Mini Marios have heart.

It’s relatively simple gameplay which is likely what makes it so fun. It’s only half brain teaser while the other half of the puzzle is having the ability to physically get through the obstacles. It’s a great blend and a lot of fun to play. The game does a good job of bringing in many different enemies and obstacles so that the levels don’t feel the same. It would have been nice to have seen classic characters like Luigi and Peach, but I suppose even Mario has to work alone sometimes. It’s probably nostalgic for him to be the lone hero like in the original Donkey Kong game.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this title. It’s easy to see why it became so popular. The game’s just a lot of fun and it even has some cutscenes. It’s pretty impressive since the game is so old. The graphics and soundtrack are both on point as well as the level designs. There is a lot of replay value here and my only complaint is that getting the stars in the levels to unlock the final bonus ones is maybe a little too tedious. I’d like to have a clear metric so I know exactly what I have to do in order to clear the level. That seems a little more fair if you ask me. Maybe they’ll implement that in the sequel. I’ll certainly buy that one although it could be a little while until I do. In the mean time, buy this one and let me know what you thought of it.

Overall 8/10

Star Wars The Force Unleashed II Review

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It definitely didn’t take too long to get to the big sequel to the original Force Unleashed. I enjoyed the first game quite a bit so I was excited to see what the sequel brings to the table. Ideally a sequel should always be just as good or better in every way. This sequel managed to pull that off in all areas aside from the plot. Is it enough to get that extra star and nab a 9 or will it continue to elude the game? Time to find out!

The game starts with Starkiller waking up in one of Darth Vader’s training rooms. The Sith explains that this Starkiller is the only clone to have been a success and that the original Starkiller is dead. This clone has all of his powers and memories and Vader will make him destroy the Jedi. Clone or not, Starkiller decides to escape instead and manages to find his old resistance teammate, the blind Jedi. The Jedi claims that Vader is lying and Starkiller is the original. Starkiller’s not sure what to think about all of this, but the main heroine is in trouble so he decides to launch a full scale attack on Vader’s base. Ultimately, his origin won’t matter as long as he can save her.

I don’t really mind the game keeping it ambiguous as to whether Starkiller is the genuine article or not. It adds a little tension and who doesn’t want to see some of that in the story. As long as it isn’t overplayed, it works well. Unfortunately, the story still was a step down from the first. It’s still cinematic and feels like a movie, but it’s a movie that doesn’t have much of a plot. It takes a while for Starkiller to decide what to do and by the time he does, the story is over. You could sum up the game’s story in a few sentences. Starkiller returns and meets up with his old pal. The two of them make it to the resistance base, but it was destroyed. They head over to Vader’s base and blow it up as they save the heroine. That’s really all that happens in this game.

Of course, the game was quite short so it was never going to have the same amount of content as the first game. Still, I was expecting a little more. Admittedly, part of the fault is in the fact that I thought the game was more about choosing between good and evil the whole time like in the Shadow The Hedgehog game. It turns out that only the ending matters like in the first game so it’s quite different from what I had assumed. The game is supposed to be roughly 5 hours long and that sounds about right. Hardcore gamers can finish it in one sitting although it took me 2. 5 hours of straight gaming may have been something I did more back in the day, but that is really a long time to be sitting down.

Granted, the ending is quite great just like in the last game. I ended up obtaining the dark ending. I wanted to make the hero call of course, but then the villain started to goad me on and I decided it was time to end him. A pretty shocking moment occurred and honestly it was all handled beautifully. As always the blind Jedi was supremely annoying, but I suppose that couldn’t be helped. Personally I’d say that the Starkiller in this game is a clone. It’s not really a spoiler since I know people have gone either way with this although most see it the way that I do in this case. That being said, he may have been more likable than the first one.

The gameplay is a lot smoother than the first game and I was hoping that would be the case. It’s the same core gameplay as it’s a 3D hack and slash title where you have other abilities at your disposal as well. You can shoot lightning and harness the force to protect yourself. This time you have 2 Lightsabers and you can switch out their crystals to give the weapon other special abilities. I recommend the extra EXP ones since those really add up by the end. The combos are a lot more fluid and the tutorial is fast while also being comprehensive. You’ll really feel like a Jedi Master as you slice through dozens and dozens of opponents.

There are a lot of cubes to find and trophies to collect which should add to the replay value. It has about the same kind of bonus content as the first game so there’s not much new to be on the lookout for. Just grab all of the cubes that you can and level up. It’s considerably easier than the first game as well I might add and that is probably because of how much smoother it is. I died quite a few times in the first game because my lightning wouldn’t lock on, but that’s never an issue here. With the original’s story this would instantly be a 9. As it is, it is a close call. The gameplay is amazing, but the experience is relatively short.

You probably figured this from the first game, but the graphics are still quite great. They have improved from the first title which is saying something. This is definitely pretty high end even for the PS3. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable though. Surprisingly both games didn’t really have any memorable tunes. I guess this game had to have a weakness somewhere right?

Speaking of weaknesses though, I did think that some of the quick time events were a little too hard. Not in terms of timing as that was pretty normal, but the events where you had to press a button really quickly. I just couldn’t push it fast enough and had to keep trying different ways until I finally nailed it. There were around 3 bosses like this and they just didn’t feel fair or balanced. I can’t imagine how a kid would get through these levels. I definitely have to respect their button mashing skills if they pulled it off.

Beyond that, I am still a big QTE fan as always. Personally I think it makes the boss fights more epic. I know some don’t care for it and I can see the negative side (Losing near the end of a long QTE sequence and having to do the whole thing over again) but it’s certainly still a positive in the end. As for the story which I keep taking subtle shots at, I just felt like the writing for Starkiller was a little all over the place. At times he was fairly quiet and treated like an experienced veteran. Then he would suddenly talk and then he wouldn’t stop as he panicked about everything and did a ton of yelling. The former is what I expected of Starkiller while the latter just feels out of character. He’s just a lot more emotional than I would have expected at times although he still makes the rational choices in the end.

I did say that I liked him more than the first Starkiller though and that’s because he’s just a little more intense. He makes the controversial decision to abandon the alliance so he could save the heroine instead, but it’s a move that I can go with. The rebellion is always falling to pieces anyway and they were okay with sacrificing her so naturally that was not okay. Starkiller made the right move. The game’s ending is quite dark no matter which ending you ultimately ended up going for. Naturally mine was incredibly dark but probably the more hype ending. It just seems like Starkiller can’t catch a break. I’d love a sequel to this game, but it seems like it isn’t to be.

Overall, The Force Unleashed II did everything you could ask for from a sequel. It tightened up the already solid gameplay to make it even better. It improved the graphics and still gave us a full cinematic story. There’s also a good amount of replay value here and none of the trophies are too crazy. You’ll have a blast from start to finish. Even if the story isn’t quite as intense as the first game, you’ll still be pretty reasonably hooked during it and the climax ends the game with a bang. Now if only we could get a multiplayer mode.

Overall 9/10

Rabbids Go Home Review

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It’s time to delve back into the world of Rayman. The first game for the GBA didn’t work out so well but I’m still trying to fix it. In the meantime, this spinoff seems like it will do just fine as a little filler. It actually has some pretty tight gameplay but it is limited by the rather lackluster story and certain elements of the game that just weren’t really thought out. Ironically enough, the bad/cartoony graphics actually help the game from sinking any lower. Sword Art Online level graphics for this game would have made it quite disastrous indeed. As it is, the game actively mocks you throughout.

The general plot is that the Rabbids want to get to the Moon. Apparently that may even be their home. They hope to collect enough trash to let them reach it. By their estimation, you’ll need 23000 feet of trash to get that high. This means they’ll have to do things like say “Nothing personal kid” and teleport behind the person to steal their stuff if necessary. More likely, they’ll end up mugging the person. The Rabbids have no inclination to work with local authorities and have decides that they’ll take down anyone who gets in their way. So begins the mission.

Each level is about grabbing a lot of junk and snatching a big object by the end. You may steal a plane, a dying person, a wheel, a boat, etc. It all becomes trash once the Rabbids grab it. You then make it to a dirty toilet and flush your way back to base. The game spares no expense with the crude humor as the toilet is quite dirty each time you use it. Their base is under the toilet which isn’t very sanitary and then you go back to the hub world (It’s like New York City) and find another one to use. It’s pretty formulaic with most of the levels being pretty similar.

The gameplay is like Super Mario Galaxy meets Mario Kart. It’d a 3D adventure and you control a Rabbid who is pulling a Shopping Cart. You put all of the junk in it by making contact with objects. You can swing your Wii remote to attack and you can also use the boost to get through larger jumps. Enemies will attack you so shake the Wii Remote to take them down. The actual gameplay is incredibly simple so you’ll know what to do almost immediately. From there, it’s just a matter of getting through the levels.

Each level has 1000 pieces of junk in it and on average you can expect to get somewhere in the 800s. Do your best to get a lot since you can theoretically hit the 23K mark a lot sooner than way. I got to skip quite a few levels myself using this method. There is some replay value as you can naturally keep collecting junk until you reach the secret ending, but lets be honest…who wants to do that. Since the story is one of the weak parts of the game, that’s the last thing I’d be tempted to do. This is a game where you turn it off as soon as it is completed. The main campaign is reasonably long and should last you a few hours regardless. It’s a pretty easy game and you’ll likely only lose a small handful of lives. By and large there isn’t much of a challenge.

All right, here’s where the game gets iffy. The Rabbids strip anyone who is in their way. You literally snatch their clothes off and leave them in underwater. You do this to absolutely everyone that you pass and it gets pretty tricky. Everyone panics and gets cold after doing this, but the Rabbids don’t seem to care. When you hit an animal, the same thing happens only you take the animal and 2 pieces of meat. It’s rather disturbing. The whole game is pretty disturbing at times if you really think about it. These guys are not heroes either as you see them defying authority and picking fights for no reason at times.

As I mentioned earlier, the game also mocks you with its cutscenes. You get the same recycled animations quite a few times after they initially debut. I suppose the developers couldn’t be bothered to come up with 31 different animations. Several of the levels start to get copied off of each other as well. Maybe the budget was just a little more limited than I thought. There certainly wasn’t much of a soundtrack as the themes started to repeat as well. I will give it some props for actually having lyrical songs though. That was unexpected even if I can’t really remember much about them even though I just beat the game. It’s not a very memorable array of songs.

As I also mentioned, the graphics aren’t good and that’s a good thing. You can probably guess now why having good graphics would have been a problem. The game tries to make everything seem as ugly as possible. While that’s a pretty sad goal, the game is good at achieving it so I suppose I have to give them that much credit. Then the Rabbids start laughing and yelling at you again and you wonder what the game was thinking. You can’t even skip most of the cutscenes so get ready to see them quite a few times.

It’s really a shame since the gameplay actually isn’t that bad. Finally, a 3D Wii game where the controls were actually tested quite a bit. I’m not saying that it’s a AAA game, but the gameplay never glitches or anything. It feels fair throughout and you can turn on a dime. The controls are the highlight of the game and as I always say, the gameplay is the most important facet of the game. The levels went by pretty fast because the gameplay was pretty solid. Even the Hub World is pretty well thought out. The place is laid out pretty well so you can get anywhere with ease. It’s simple, but effective.

Overall, Rabbids Go Home had potential but it’s not like I ever had high expectations for a Rabbids game. They are some of the worst main characters in all of video games. At 2 bucks the game was too cheap to pass up, but it showed its true colors right away. The gameplay could have given this game a 7, but I have to deduct 2 points for the really terrible story. The crude humor and stripping mechanic were both just pretty bad ideas. This is one of those games that would have been better without having any cutscenes or a plot. The game also comes across as a rather mean spirited title at times. The Rabbids end up kidnapping people who are seriously injured after all and hijacking a plane which led dozens to perish. The body count in this game is rather high and while it is cartoony so the game certainly isn’t violent or dark, it just doesn’t work well. There’s nothing likable about the Rabbids and you just end up rooting for the humans even if you know that they are doomed.

Overall 5/10

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review

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I’ve been waiting to play this Star Wars game for quite a while. It got a lot of hype when it first came out and I’ve owned it for quite a few years but was blasting through the older games first. While the gameplay may not have aged incredibly well since it first came out, I quickly got into the swing of things and enjoyed the game quite a lot. Ironically the beginning of the game was more difficult than the second half of it since the upgrades really helped to change the course of battle. I just wish I had realized that I wasn’t logged in to my PSN because of some network issues as I missed out on the trophies. I’m still a little salty about that. With this review done, I’m also ready to begin the sequel to see how it improved upon the original!

The plot focuses on a young padawan named Starkiller. Darth Vader decided to train him as an apprentice in the hopes that the two of them could team up to destroy Palpatine. To this end he has Starkiller go around hunting Jedi to improve his abilities until he is ready. The problem is that Palpatine becomes aware of the plot so Vader has to take some drastic measures, but this ends up being a fatal mistake by the end. Honestly, Vader should have just taken the opportunity and fought right there. That definitely would have been his best chance.

The gameplay is 3D where you have total freedom to use The Force, Shoot Lightning, or attack with your Lightsaber. It’s one of the best gameplay styles out there and it was cool to play it. A lot of games like this I don’t really get to play like Infamous or Grand Theft Auto. You can level up the skills and get a lot stronger during the game. By the end you can really feel the difference in your abilities which was handled really well. The boss you had trouble with at the beginning is nothing more than a minion by the end. Now that’s what I call character progression.

One issue that I do have with the title is the lock on feature though. It’s really not helpful as it always locks on the wrong thing. You tend to miss with your attacks as a result at times which can really be annoying. You learn to work around that by the end, but the gameplay just could have been a little more polished in this angle if you ask me. I shouldn’t have to work around it. I’m sure this will be fixed by the end though.

The game is reasonably challenging, but it’s not unfair. You get to keep your EXP from the minions so just keep retrying the level until you win. Use strategy and try different tactics, you’ll get through eventually. I had some trouble with the first mini boss but it all went well after that. Once I had mastered the controls, it was on to the races. At only 9 levels the game is a little on the short side, but it should still last you about 4-5 hours. There is also some good replay value in finding all of the collectibles and obtaining your shiny Platinum Trophy. It seems like a bit of a grind as well as being reasonably difficult so it should take you quite a while to grab them all.

The graphics are really good and the game spared no expense with its cinematic cutscenes. The game feels like a big movie at times without limiting the gameplay. You have a good amount of quick time events for all of the bosses which always adds a thematic element into the mix. This is really the definition of a AAA game and we need more Star Wars games like this one. The soundtrack is also on point with most of the iconic film themes making it into the game. I can’t say much for the original music in the game as the film ones are the only themes to really stick out.

Starkiller is the protagonist here and he starts out as an evil follower and eventually becomes a hero. He even makes the tough call at the end to spare Palpatine instead of destroying him. Same for Darth Vader. He may not be quite as intense as I thought he’d be, but he’s pretty solid. I like him more than Luke Skywalker and some of the other Jedi. He probably is one of the best Star War Jedi either way though if that’s any consolation. He reminded me a lot of Cole from the Infamous series. I definitely also think that he’s one of the most powerful Jedi as he was able to hold his own against Vader and Palpatine, no easy feat.

The rest of the supporting cast was all right. The main heroine was good and took the plot twists in stride. The only character who was annoying was the blind Jedi. I believe Rogue One’s character was basically taken from this one. While he technically gave some good advice like telling Starkiller not to destroy his opponents, he was incredibly weak for a Jedi. He spent the entire story getting beaten up and being a liability. Starkiller actually could have made it through this game if not for him.

Still, it was an epic story no doubt about that. This could easily be adapted into a movie and I think it would be a really epic one. The cutscenes are movie quality as it is and the story could easily fit into the universe. Vader’s whole plan maybe felt a little extra convoluted and training Starkiller so well may not have been a good idea, but it made for a good excuse to have a character be so strong. I imagine Vader would be a pretty good teacher since he is so ruthless.

Overall, The Force Unleashed absolutely lived up to the hype. The only thing holding it back from a 9 is that the camera work/lock on feature is a little too unreliable and the game is perhaps a bit too short. There aren’t any real negatives, but to get to the 9 Star rating you just need something extra. Perhaps the sequel will be able to make it all the way up there, but at an 8 it is still a great title that you should get at all costs. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll be able to appreciate the game all the more. It lets you utilize every Jedi/Sith power seamlessly in the gameplay. You’ll feel like The Force is with you.

Overall 8/10

Dragon Ball Fusions Review

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It’s time for a big Dragon Ball game. The concept of fusing characters together to form even stronger ones is certainly nothing new. People have thought about that for years with Marvel and DC even getting in on the act. Until now fusions were quite limited though, but this game changes things on that regard. It’s finally a game built around the concept so you can fuse everyone together for quite a lot of interesting results. While it’s a very different kind of Dragon Ball game compared to the others, it certainly ends up working out quite well.

The story follows a Saiyan Warrior named Terry. (At least that’s his name in my version) His rival is Pinich and they have decided to enter the Intergalactic tournament. Fighters from across time and space have been invited to attend but each group must have 5 members. Terry decides to form his team with Goku from the original Dragon Ball series, Pan from Dragon Ball GT, Goten, and Trunks. It’s a pretty potent team and they will be the ones who appear in all of the cutscenes but you will be able to switch them out pretty early in the story. Alas, getting to the tournament will be difficult as the heroes must get a lot stronger to prove that they are ready. To this end, they must recruit a great number of fighters and shatter all of the sky barrier preventing them from reaching the tournament. Legendary villains like Broly, Omega Shenron, Frieza, Cell, Buu, Janemba, and many others seek to block their way. Fortunately Terry has more potential than the whole franchise put together so there’s no way that these guys could hope to stop him. Will they win the tournament or does Pinich have a good plan up his sleeve?

The stakes may not be very high until the end, but the story is still fun. The game certainly chose some unique members to be on the main team. I can see why Goku and Vegeta didn’t make it since they’d probably be a little too strong. The series seems to take place around the Resurrection F arc of Dragon Ball Super. It’s cool seeing Terry have allies from the various Dragon Ball titles. We got to cover the original, Z, and GT. I suppose we didn’t get any Super characters because most of them are still technically DBZ characters. The climax is pretty fun as we get a really cool super form for one of the fighters. It was also a very challenging boss fight. The real final boss wasn’t quite as difficult compared to that one since nobody had healing abilities, but it was still tricky.

Lets talk about the gameplay. Instead of the typical beat em up DBZ style, this game is more of a strategy title. Think the Mario/Rabbids game coming up or Yu Yu Hakusho. You move the characters around and attack. When you attack, you decide what direction to launch them in and the opponent gets to guess which way he should block. You always have to tactfully decide which direction is best based on where you think the opponent will block. Bouncing opponents off of each other will get you bonus damage. YOu also have an Ultimate Fusion attack which can defeat most foes in a single hit, but be warned that it means all of you teammates lose a turn so you have to fend off 5-10 consecutive attacks. I’d recommend only using it when you know it will defeat at least one character. You also have Zenkai Attacks which quickly turn the game into a 3D Brawler like Tenkaichi 3 for 10-20 seconds. It’s pretty neat although it clearly wasn’t the game’s focus so it feels hastily put together. You must defeat an opponent with this attack to recruit him/her to your team.

What makes the gameplay a lot more exciting than other tactic styled games is that you aren’t limited to moving your characters one turn at a time. You can attack from anywhere with a few exceptions so the game is very fast paced. The weakness of this style is typically that battles can take forever, but this one feels more exciting. Yes, the battles still can be quite long so you’ll have to have a lot of patience with the game, but it’s usually very fun. The only matches that I don’t really enjoy are when the opponents have instant regeneration. Then you have to win in one turn which can take a while to set up. Sadly the later levels started spamming this quite a bit, but the battles like this are still few when looking at the grand scheme of things. I definitely got hooked on the gameplay by the end.

The graphics are quite good as well. There are a lot of character models in the game and they did a good job of making most of them look unique. The made up characters do look like rip offs at times, but some of them weren’t bad. It was cool seeing so many characters from Dragon Ball history as well. Everyone’s chibi style worked well without being too cartoony. I can’t say that I was as impressed with the soundtrack though. It’s pretty limited and since the game isn’t too short you’ll hear the tunes a little too often. It would help if I liked the themes, but I didn’t for the most part. I liked the epic theme for the final boss though. (Not the actual final boss, but the one that threatened the multiverse)

There’s a lot of replay value here so you’ll have a lot to do. Doing everything in the game should easily take you 40-50 hours I’d say. The main story mode is about 18 hours long. After that, you can get to work recruiting everybody. There are a ton of actual characters to recruit and then all of the NPCs as well. Then you can fulfill all of the training requirements, buy all of the clothes, and beat all of the secret bosses. I wouldn’t bother with some of these things, but recruiting everybody sounds like a lot of fun. I recruited over 50 people by the end of the game, but no named characters. I didn’t actually do any side quests although I imagine most of them will be quite easy at the moment. I certainly would have done it already if there were trophies involved and as it stands I’d probably like to go ahead and do some more of the bonus content someday. Likely not anytime soon though.

It feels pretty good to play a high quality title like this one after a lot of average-below average games lately. This one I would play for fun to level up and prepare for future bosses or just recruit extra people. It’s a game that I would look forward to playing each time. It may not be up there as the best DBZ game because there’s just too much competition but it may be the best DS/GBA/3DS DBZ game aside from Extreme Butoden and even then this game could claim victory. That one had the better gameplay but it was a little limited due to the 3DS control scheme. Fusions was just handled really well and having a full original story certainly helped. While Terry didn’t have much of a personality, Pinich felt like a real character by the end and he wasn’t bad. Perhaps a tad generic and lacking in honor, but at least he never went down the dark path or blamed Terry for anything. He took his losses better than expected. There are some power level issues in the story, but we’ll just say that Goku and friends were holding back so they wouldn’t hurt Terry’s feelings. Then everything makes more sense. I am a little upset that Terry never became a super saiyan though. That was a huge missed opportunity since everyone else basically could by the end.

If there’s such a thing as too much content, I’d maybe say that there are too many attacks in the game. It’s not such a bad thing, but you get to learn new attacks after every fight. You can save them for later, learn them, or just drop them. I usually learned the ones that looked good and dropped the rest because saving them felt like such a hassle. There are various loading screens for each action and I just didn’t feel it was worth it. The problem is that each attack has a ton of different variations. There can be over 10 different Kamehamehas that have different special abilities. That isn’t even counting other versions like the Super Kamehameha. It would be nice if you could just level up your abilities instead of hoping an enemy can drop you a better one at some point. It’s not a big deal though because you can ignore this for the most part and do quite well. It’s not really something that you have to worry about.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Dragon Ball Fusions. It may not look like it would be your thing from afar since the whole strategy turn based combat thing isn’t for everyone, but it’s pretty fast paced. I think they did as good a job with this game as they possibly could have. The huge amount of content in the game is also quite impressive as well as it assures that you won’t run out of stuff to do. It’s going to be a little rough not having a DBZ game to play for a while, but maybe it’ll be time to finally go back to the Card games that I own for the GBA and DS. That gameplay may not be quite as good as Fusions, but maybe it’ll have aged better than I gave it credit for. Perhaps…..

Overall 9/10

Hail to the Chimp Review

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Hail to the Chimp is like the roughest of waves. It looks fun to play from a distance but once you’re on it you start thinking about how much more fun the kiddie pool would have been. The game had a lot of potential since it is effectively a 4 player fighting game with various themes built in to make the gameplay diverse, but it ends up falling flat. This is because the controls aren’t all that well thought out and the gameplay wasn’t very polished. I’ll give it some props on the unique premise of the story, but the way it was executed wasn’t great.

So, the plot is that a bunch of animals are trying to be President. Each level has you play as one of them as you become President I suppose. It was hard to tell if it meant that you won the primaries and could be President now or if you actually became President. I’ll go with the latter I suppose. Either way, it was a pretty intense moment as each character got a commercial first and then an interview after completing the level. I like to think that this must have been some kind of political satire as all of the candidates were really bad. One of them couldn’t even talk in a way that we could understand since it only knew alien talk. I wonder how it won so many votes. Anyway, that’s the main campaign. The Monkey got the last level so I’ll assume that he is the President. It is called Hail to the Chimp after all. The story was fairly amusing even if getting to the cutscenes could be a drag.

There isn’t really a lot to do in the game. The story will last a little while, but after that the only thing to do is Vs. Mode. I did unlock various videos during the story so I suppose that replaying the stories could help you get more. The problem is that the game is super vague about how or why you unlocked the videos so you wouldn’t know exactly what you would need to do. Furthermore, this came out before trophies so those can’t help the replay value. Vs. Mode is nice in that regard, but I have a sinking feeling that you won’t be playing it for very long. The game is only a few bucks to purchase though so at least it won’t set you back all that much.

The graphics aren’t anything special. The colors actually make it difficult to see the characters at times. It certainly doesn’t look like a PS3 game at all and the PS2 titles from the good ole days had more heart. The soundtrack is pretty bad as well with no good themes. I can’t think of a single catchy one and that’s too bad. I’d expect nothing less from Hail to the Chimp though. In theory the gameplay can save it so lets talk about that now.

The actual gameplay style had a lot of potential. It’s an overhead 4 player brawler so it’s similar to TMNT Mutant Melee. You swing at each other with your standard attacks and can use parts of the environment to hurt other players as well like cranes. You can even decide to do a link attack with another player if both of you press the team up button. Use this move strategically though since another player can quickly steal your teammate by running in first and also pressing the team up button. It’s incredibly overpowered and will always net you a few KOs. One issue that you’ll notice from the get go is that the controls are very limited. Every character only has one combo…that’s it. That sort of limits your options quite a lot if you think about it. Furthermore, the game rarely has you actually fighting it out with your opponents in a Last Man Standing ruleset.

The game gives you a few different goals depending on the level. In some you have to rig the voting machines by destroying them and others have you paint the machines. The vast majority of the levels are in this style and that’s the problem for me. I only really liked the combat ones. The others are all heavily luck based since the opponents will team up and sometimes they won’t. If you fall in the wrong place then you’ll waste a lot of time or all of the computers will gang up on you. There really isn’t much to look forward to during these battles and the fact that you have to play them over and over again really doesn’t help. I wouldn’t have minded the gameplay as much if it stuck to being a fighter, but the problem is that it wanted to be a party fighting game. That blend only works for the best of titles and this one lacked the budget as well as the gameplay to complete such a move. As a result, the game grows tedious very quickly.

Multiplayer mode is the only reason this game should even deserve a glance. It fixes most of the game’s issues as you can simply limit yourself to playing the survival mode of combat and the luck/cheese factor is eliminated for the most part. You may still grow bored of doing the same combat for so long but it’s a slight improvement. Beyond that, I suppose the videos will give you some chuckles. There are quite a few of them after all and the game wasn’t too popular so you may have a hard time finding them on Youtube unless you just skip through a walkthrough to nab them all.

Overall, Hail to the Chimp is not a game that you’ll want to play for long. The story mode wasn’t thought out too well as each minigame is way too long so nobody wants to play a 7 round tournament. Losing at the very end is also devastating because then you have to do it all over again. It’s quite telling that you’ll be hoping there is no secret final level just so you can finish the game already. That’s just sad. Since the soundtrack and graphics aren’t quite up to snuff either, there’s not much holding this game afloat. If you see it for a few dollars then I suppose you can’t go wrong, but you should still question whether you should do such a thing or not. It’s not worth it if you ask me. Just go buy a Mario Party game instead.

Overall 4/10

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet Review

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It’s always a little unfortunate when having a story mode isn’t a positive for a game. It’s not as if it’s bad enough to lower the score (Although it was close) but the game doesn’t benefit at all from having it. That being said, this is Super Hero Squad so you have to enter the game with reasonable expectations I suppose. I didn’t mind the show too much when I watched it although it is certainly one of Marvel’s weakest titles. I played the first game a while back so it was about time that I got to try out the sequel. It’s about as good, maybe slightly better. The gameplay is more diverse, but it doesn’t really do a whole lot to make a name for itself.

The plot is about how the Infinity Stones have surfaced. Iron-Man tells the Sqauddies that they cannot let the villains take them so they decide to collect them all. Unfortunately for them, Dr Doom and his army of henchmen are after them along with Loki and his cabal and even Thanos and the Skrulls. With 3 different factions after the stones, the heroes will have to keep their guard up at all time. They’re not too good at that though.

I mean, it is a comedy storyline since it’s in the Super Hero Squad universe so I never expected anything serious. That being said, the characters talk a lot during the game. I don’t mind this when it’s witty banter like in Spider-Man or Sonic, but when it’s these characters it just isn’t quite as fun. They all only seem to have 2-3 phrases as well so they end up repeating them over and over again. I think some more variety could have helped them out. The comedy is also pretty weak so the game won’t be getting any laughs out of you. The only scene that I actually thought was pretty fun was the final one where Thor puts on dancing boots and is forced to dance for everyone’s amusement. It was pretty mean of the others to just let that happen, but it is what it is.

The gameplay is your standard Ultimate Alliance/Lego style where it is mostly overhead as you dish out the pain. Each character has their standard punch and projectile. You can charge up these attacks and also use Ultimate Attacks when you have enough meter. The meter builds rather quickly so you can use the super attacks constantly. Button mashing your standard attack will work for just about the whole game as well since the enemies will just run into your attacks. It’s a pretty simple, but repetitive style since all of the enemies start to be the same after a while. I don’t really mind that per say as I love beat em ups and button mashing is one of my strengths.

What is annoying is that all of the bosses and big enemies have super armor so they hit you as you hit them. When your character is launched it takes a few seconds to get back up and the bosses also deal a lot of damage. You can expect to die a lot if you’re rushing through the bosses but it doesn’t count as actually losing unless both characters die at the same time. The A.I. is terrible so this may occur once in a while, but usually it’s not a big deal. So I like the actual combat for the minions, but the bosses weren’t really a lot of fun to beat up. I did enjoy getting a chance to spam my projectiles for such a long time though.

The game was clearly developed with co-op mode in mind. When playing single player there are some levels that just don’t work well. The ones where you have to shoot at objects approaching from the skies comes to mind. The A.I. couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn so you end up having to hit both sides on your own which gets really tricky. It made these levels tougher than they should have been. Same with parts where you have to use both character’s skills as the A.I. will follow you and forget what they’re supposed to do. It’s not really a problem if you choose to play co-op, but be warned if you’re a solo fighter.

The graphics aren’t bad even if they don’t look quite up to par with what you’d expect from a PS3 game. The character models look good enough and the level designs aren’t bad. It looks like a mobile game if I had to make a comparison so take that as you may. It’s acceptable while not being impressive. The soundtrack is less impressive as we get the classic theme song, but not much else. I wasn’t expecting much in this category to begin with though.

One part of the game that is pretty mild but annoying is that if a character is blocking your way, you can’t move. The A.I. has a habit of cornering you if you go into a tunnel so if you want to back out the only way is to switch to the other character and move him out of the way. It’s such a random little thing that you may have to do a double take at some points. Just one of those things that they probably should have picked up in quality control if they had been playing the game more.

The main campaign is 11 levels long and they vary in length. It’s not a very long game so I think you could reasonably complete it in around 5 hours or so. Perhaps a little less but the cutscenes do make a difference. The replay value here are the Challenges you can tackle and the large array of trophies available. I don’t imagine that this would be a very difficult game to Platinum if you were ever so inclined. There is certainly enough here to give the game some reasonable replay value.

Overall, Super Hero Squad was a little glitchy and the story wasn’t particularly engaging, but not everything can be Sonic Adventure 2 Battle right? I think the game could have used some more quality control, but it worked well enough. It had its issues, but I’d still say that it was a good game in the end. If it had dragged on too long that may have been an issue, but it didn’t happen. The gameplay is good and I did enjoy throwing everyone around with my special abilities. I think what makes this game seem a little worse than it is at times is how good most other games are. Comparatively speaking this game isn’t great, but if you look at the game on its own then it works pretty well. That’s a win in my book. So, buy this game if you want some classic Marvel action, but you should probably just grab Ultimate Alliance instead.

Overall 7/10

Star Trek Encounters Review

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It’s time to look at a game that I got a very long time ago. I found this one at an obscure Gamestop on a random day and thought it looked interesting enough. It’s not exactly what I expected and had a bit of a slow start due to the game not explaining things very well, but it picked up quite a bit as the game went on. It’s not the ideal Star Trek game but if you’re really just interested in the space aspect then this is certainly the game for you.

The story mode features 3-5 levels from each of the Star Trek shows. Classic, Enterprise, Voyager, Star Trek, Next Generation, and probably some others. There are also two final levels which crossover the whole franchise. Maybe more like 1 to be honest as the first one just sets the stage for the event. There’s not much of an actual plot as each mission or series of missions are essentially stand alone adventures. You get some text at the very beginning which tells you what is happening and mini cutscenes during the level. Only very small parts of the game have any real voice acting.

You figure out early on that you need to be playing this game for the gameplay and not the plot. You never get to see a single character as the ships are then only things on the screen. As I mentioned, the gameplay isn’t explained too well as it’s actually fairly complex and intricate. It’s an overhead airplane shooter. Of course you’re a spaceship and not a plane. You explore the universe, fight aliens, and help people out. You have your primary weapon which you can switch from two different options and your sub weapon. The sub weapon has around 6 options and some of them are not actually meant for combat like your tractor or energy fuel. They all serve a purpose though so you’ll want to know what they are when tackling a level. You can use R2 to target an enemy so that you can transport some of your crew aboard or to shut down their engine without destroying the ship. You can alter your ship’s stats during the level as well by putting more power into shields at the expense of weapons or vice versa. Throughout the game I always kept weapons and engines on maximum with shields and scanners on minimum. It’s just the best call for me as otherwise the weapons take a really long time to load up.

After you get the hang of the controls, the levels start to feel a lot easier. There is also the occasional race level which is a nice change of pace. When the Borg Queen attacks you are not strong enough to stop her so racing through a bunch of portals is your only way out. The races can be reasonably difficult as missing more than a few portals can be fatal and crashing into enemy ships is just as lethal. They were some of the most fun levels in the game as I do like racing quite a bit. The most tedious levels where the ones where you’d have to do the same thing multiple times like transporting bombs. Plus, I just don’t like having to protect things (Like the bomb) as I prefer to just fight and knock everyone out. It lets me just go all out.

So the difficulty is pretty reasonable and the game’s length isn’t bad. I could usually only complete 4-5 levels in one sitting and there were around 20 if I’m not mistaken. It should last you around 6-7 hours if I had to make a ballpark estimate. There are a lot of checkpoints throughout the levels and you have infinite lives so you don’t have to worry about replaying a large segment or anything like that. One unfortunate thing is that you cannot skip cutscenes. If you lost in a place where the cutscene is particularly long, you have to watch it over and over again.

The graphics for the game are pretty nice. They may not pop out at you quite as much as in the cover, but it’s aged really well for the PS2. The colorful levels towards the end like being in the pink monster were really intense and I liked the last level’s design as everything would keep spazzing out to show you that you were in a time loop. The soundtrack is quite bland though. I feel like there were only 2-3 songs that just kept repeating over and over again. None of them were catchy either so that’s a little disappointing.

There’s a little replay value here, but not much. You can try to find all of the collectibles which honestly weren’t that hard to find. I grabbed about 80-90% of them without even trying during the normal play through. Hopefully it tells you which levels have the rest though since it would take a while to go through all of the levels. I can’t imagine that the reward is really worth the time to be honest so it’s not something I would pursue. There is also Skirmish mode which sounds like endless fighting and multiplayer so that definitely helps the replay value quite a bit. It’s no Star Fox, but I can see you having some fun here.

On a final note I do have to say that the final level was a little anticlimactic. There wasn’t a final boss or anything which was a little disappointing and the level just ends. We were actually losing against the legion of enemy ships, but the time stream just ends up warping them away so everything is happy again. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that a full win would have been a lot more satisfying than the villains simply being whisked away. The only true boss in the game was probably the Borg Queen which was handled well. The final level should have absolutely done the same thing.

Overall, Star Trek Encounters is a fun game. I really think it could have used more of a plot but at least the gameplay was solid. The final level was pretty epic as it was great to see all of the Starships from the Star Trek franchise team up. We may have only been all together for the final part of the level but it felt like a really good payoff. Since this was a crossover Star Trek game, I would have felt a little cheated if this didn’t happen. The game did a good job of including all of the iconic Star Trek enemies like the Klingons and the Borg as well so it had a nice attention to detail. I’d recommend checking the game out, I think you’ll like it more than you’d expect. You should play it straight through though as forgetting the controls can be fatal in a title like this one.

Overall 7/10

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

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I don’t buy games on Day 1 too often. When I do it’s typically for a big franchise that I follow like Super Smash or Dragon Ball Z. If you asked me a few months ago if I’d buy Crash day 1, I probably would have chuckled. Crash always seemed fun enough, but I’ve never played any of his games so I couldn’t call myself a big fan. That being said, the collection got a lot of hype and just about everyone I talked too had also pre ordered it. I decided that I needed to see what the hype was all about. It’s not the greatest game of all time as I’ve heard some say, but it is definitely a very solid title. The fact that it is 3 games in 1 just makes this even more of a bargain!

Lets start with the first game. There isn’t much of a plot, but Cortex has decided to destroy the world. Crash must stop this mad scientist’s quest for power while he can. The problem is that Crash isn’t very smart so he just mindlessly runs around and beating people up. He’s a force of nature and fortunately he is acting on the side of the heroes. The 3 games have some similarities as they all have around 25 levels and in the same format. You have 5 worlds and each world has 5-6 levels. That’s where the similarities start to end. The first game is easily the hardest of the 3 and relies less on gimmicks than the others. All of the levels in the first game are classic platforming challenges in 2D and 3D.

One of the level styles is the overhead water ones. They were my favorite levels but they were admittedly the easiest as well. I found them to be pretty bearable as I jumped from platform to platform. There were also the boulder chase levels where you have to rely on your reaction times to jump when a pit appeared since you couldn’t see them. (You’re running towards the screen) Surprisingly, this is the one aspect where the sequels were a bit tougher..or maybe my reaction time just slowed down.

The meat and potatoes of this game are the sky levels where you have to get past crumbling bridges. Apparently you can cheese parts of the level by running on the rope, but I didn’t notice that so I had to beat them the old fashioned way. I must have gotten 30-40 game overs on this level style because I just couldn’t get past some of the obstacles. Finally completing them was always a very satisfying experience. There were quite a few levels that I just barely completed and can’t imagine going back anytime soon. The game is merciless with the difficulty and it’s no walk in the park. I usually would only beat 1 world every time I turned the game on because it wasn’t easy to beat them in large batches like the sequels.

The gameplay is simple as you just run, jump, and spin. It’s easy to know the controls, but the levels are still tricky because you have to be very precise. If you don’t time your jumps perfectly, then it’s game over for you. I have to give the game credit for never being unfair though. The challenges were tough, but they weren’t luck based or anything like that. The more you played the levels, the more you got used to the obstacles. Also, you would only have to restart the level so the penalty for dying wasn’t absolutely terrible or anything. It was an intense way to start the collection.

The sequel adds some more plot and cutscenes into the mix. Cortex has asked Crash for help because an asteroid is going to crash or some other villain is messing around. Anyway, he demands that Crash find all of the gems once again and gives them to him. Crash’s sister consistently warns Crash that the guy is lying, but Crash doesn’t seem to understand and after being threatened, gives them to Cortex. I may as well say it now, I don’t like Crash. He’s not smart and not endearing. He makes all of the wrong decisions time and time again. He’s just lucky that Cortex isn’t much of a villain either. He’s certainly no Eggman or dare I say even Bowser? At least Bowser was threatening for a time. Cortex is just a second rate Wily.

This game is noticeably easier than the first. I only got the game over screen a handful of times and in particular the first level of the final world. Part of why the game is easier is because they added a new dash mechanic similar to DK Tropical Freeze. You don’t have to be as precise with your jumps anymore because the dash grab can cheese almost any obstacle. All of the villains are slower now so it is easier to time when you should spin. The final boss takes this low difficulty to the extreme as you can beat him in about a minute. He literally can’t attack you so you just chase him down 3 times which is incredibly simple. I was shocked at how fast he went down. There was no final form though so I guess that was that.

The second title experiments with the game a little more as you get airship levels and other gameplay styles. This meant there was a little less time for the traditional Crash levels which plays a big part in why the game was easier. Although, the normal Crash levels have also been nerfed from the first game so it’s probably a moot point. While the first game may be more satisfying, I can safely say that the second one is better since it had more of an actual plot and I did like the gameplay variety.

Finally, we make it to the third game. This one ramps up the gameplay variety even more as you get racing levels, water racing, underwater submarine combat, Star Fox simulator, and then the occasional Crash level. This game easily has the fewest Crash levels which may be a little sad for gamers who had to wait until it came out back in the day but since this collection already had a bunch of those I was pretty content. This game is even easier and I only saw the Game Over screen once. Admittedly that was kind of my fault for underestimating the game. It got so easy that I allowed myself to get a bit sloppy for a while there.

The plot for this game is that Uka Uka has returned and is commanding Cortex to destroy Crash. They also halfheartedly try to trick Crash again, but don’t seem too committed to that as they flip flop around the issue. I doubt Crash figured that out anyway though. Despite the hype, I can’t say that I care much for the mask. I can’t really take him seriously and his design isn’t all that good. Honestly the Crash series needs a better supporting cast. Who knows, maybe I’ll like them more as I play more games though. There are definitely a bunch of others to get at some point right?

There is a lot of replay value here and that’s an understatement. Even after beating the three games, there are many collectibles to get in each. Obtaining the 3 Platinum Trophies in the game will also take a considerable amount of time. Games 2 and 3 are easy enough, but part of getting the Platinum in the first game involves completing all of the levels…without dying. That sounds pretty insane to me and I just can’t picture pulling that off without an incredible amount of work. I don’t think I want to spend quite that much time since the deaths will really get to me, but this is certainly great news for Crash fans. You’ll have a shiny trophy to prove that you’ve overcome all of the odds.

The graphics are pretty good and it is nice that the game completely redid them from the ground up. They have certainly modernized Crash and friends with the new designs. The soundtrack is also surprisingly catchy. Some of the themes are pretty memorable like the final boss tunes and some of the factory ones. Crash 1 certainly has the best array of songs, but they’re all pretty good in their own right.

I do have one big criticism with the game though…the unskippable cutscenes. You can’t skip the Gameover screen which is the saltiest part of the whole losing experience. You have to watch the Mask laugh at you a few times and there isn’t anything you can do about it. The cutscene isn’t incredibly long, but it is definitely long enough to make you wince and take a step back. It feels quite bad. You also can’t skip the opening credits to the game. Every time you boot it up you have to watch all of the logos fly by and the narrator try to hype the game up. I can understand doing that the first time, but I don’t want to have to watch it every time. That’s just a little too much product placement.

There are no other real negatives to the game, but I did find a glitch during one of the boss fights. If you hit the scientist who throws the bottles at you too soon, he’ll forget to drop the bottle and just stay in a permanent electrocuted position. You then have to get out of the game and retry. It’s a mild thing as you can easily beat the boss another way, but it felt like I was being punished for being too fast. Did the quality testers never see this because they weren’t fast enough to beat him that way? Not to toot my own horn or anything. I do like the fact that there is an auto save for the game active and that you can save at any time as well. It’s just a nice quality of life addition that makes the whole package better.

As for the bosses, most of them were pretty easy. The only challenging ones were in Game 1 as you’d expect. It took me a little to realize that I could jump on the first boss so that took a bit. Any boss that involved aerial combat was a breeze. The final boss in Game 1 was reasonably difficult since dodging the energy bolts was tricky. Game 2’s was easy as I mentioned and Game 3’s was also very simple. It wasn’t all that hard to dodge his attacks. There was a lot of variety in the bosses so the game did good on that front. Very rarely was a boss similar to a previous one.

So, how does Crash stand up next to the all time greats? Clearly he is no match for Mario or Sonic, that one’s a given. I’d also give Ratchet and Clank as well as Jak the edge. Crash does surpass Sly and Klonoa though. I think that’s roughly all of the main platformers. I’d mention Rayman, but I haven’t actually gotten to start that one yet. One of these days though, it’s just around the bend.

How do the 3 games stack up? Well, as I said Crash 2 is the best, then 3, and then 1. I do appreciate Crash 1’s challenge and difficulty of course, but you can see how the games got a little more polished after that. As I mentioned, I like how they shifted the gameplay a lot in the sequels. The first will always be a classic, but the addition of a plot is just too big of an advantage to miss either. I will say that the first does give you the most bang for your buck since you’ll be there a while.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend picking this game up. It’s quite a bargain considering that you’re getting 3 full games for the price of 1. They are all classics as well so it’s not like you’re getting Flip’s Twisted World or anything like that. They have a seal of quality on them with solid level designs. It’s an all around pleasant experience. The 2nd and 3rd games are great for relaxing as you can breeze through the levels with minimal effort which lets you enjoy the scenery more. Then the first game helps wake you up every day as you have to bring your A game to conquer it. I suppose I may buy the next collection day 1, (After all, the 3rd game does end with a cliffhanger!…even if you can’t take it seriously) but it likely won’t be an issue because I plan to buy the sequels way before such a collection comes out. Gamecube/PS2, here I come!

Overall 8/10