Samurai Warriors 2: XTreme Legends Review


It’s been a very long time since I played the original Samurai Warriors. I had been focusing on Dynasty for a while but now that I’m caught up with that series it was definitely time to go and check out how this one was doing. Well, it’s definitely a game that has aged really well. You can feel the power behind your attacks and taking down hundreds of opponents all at once certainly never gets old. I definitely look forward to playing the next installment in this series soon.

As with most warrior games you can pick whose story you want to play through. There aren’t a whole lot of options initially but I believe you can unlock more characters as you play through. I played as Kojiro Sasaki. I always like to pick the fire type fighters in these and since Yukimura Sanada wasn’t an option yet I figured this could do the trick. That said, he’s certainly more of an antagonist than I would have figured. Effectively he just wants to destroy a bunch of people but he feels like it’s all a waste. He wants to find someone super powerful to destroy so he goes around on the battlefield until he finds such a person.

I did not warm up to this guy by the end. He’s definitely crazy but would make for a solid antagonist to someone else’s story. At the very least you can’t deny that the guy has some pretty serious skill here. It’s his story so his abilities probably get embellished a bit but he ends up taking everyone out.

The gameplay is fairly standard of course. You go around beating the life points out of all your opponents. You have your standard moves, power moves, and your super attack. I recommend keeping your super on hand for whenever an opponent general shows up because it works as an immediate combo breaker. Just activate it when the opponent lands any kind of hit on you and you’ll be set. The gameplay is very smooth and landing hits is fun. To add some depth here you can power up your weapon at the shop and even buy special abilities that amp up your stats or even control your level ups.

I recommend spending all of your money on this because it’s just a great way to keep your guy ready for action. Your weapon’s important too but the upgrade doesn’t seem to do a whole lot there. The only part of the gameplay where you can tell they haven’t fine tuned it yet is the speed. Your character walks incredibly slow throughout the levels. So it can take a while to get anywhere. I suppose this helps to prevent you from running straight to the goal though. It also adds a little strategy here because moving too far away from your camp is dangerous as a result. After all if your leader dies then you lose the mission instantly.

The game had 5 levels in the campaign I played and I believe it can go up to 7 in some cases as well. It’s fairly short if you’re just playing one character and you should have it beat in around 2 hours. If you do it with all of the characters though then this definitely ought to take a long while. You have no shortage of replay value in this game which is no surprise because that is often the case with any game in the Dynasty franchise. Considering that the games go for around 10-20 bucks now, it’s a good bargain.

The graphics look pretty good here. I always appreciate the fact that there are loads of cutscenes and cinematics everywhere. You’ve got the big budget ones which appear at the beginning and end as well as the mini ones that show up whenever an enemy officer appears. It helps to make these moments feel like a big deal. The attack animations are also on point. As for the soundtrack it’s a little more on the forgettable side but it’s not bad. I’d like to have had more of a signature theme show up at some point. That would have been neat but maybe in the sequel.

The game is reasonably challenging. In particular what makes it pretty tricky here is how long the levels are. If you’ve already polished off about 600 enemies then nothing will be more disheartening than losing at the last second right? There were a few levels where I just had to run for a while to look for health items. The nice sweet spot to be in is when your health is in the red since you can use unlimited super attacks as long as you run a bit. That’s also a good strategy but they take time and it gets pretty intense. You know that a hit could be the end for you. That’s a fun feeling when you come out on top. Fortunately I didn’t end up losing here but that could have been tricky.

Samurai Warriors 2 feels very basic in a lot of respects but it’s part of the charm. You have a pretty direct plot and a lot of good gameplay for each level. In some ways this plot felt a lot more direct than the more extended one in Dynasty Warriors 9. It’s less grand of course but Sasaki’s plot was just interesting and the whole rivalry aspect with Masashi was cool.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 2 is definitely a very good game. I’d call it a great one at that. If you have time then beating it with all of the characters would be a blast since the stories should all be fairly different. I’m far less familiar with the base story here compared to Dynasty as well so it all feels pretty fresh. It seems to take place way after most of the Sengoku Basara anime since the main kings are already gone. The new characters look fun though and I wonder if the rest of the games in this series will deal with the same era and plot like Dynasty or if we’ll be jumping around a little more here. I’m not sure when I’ll get the third game but it shouldn’t be too far in the future I would say.

Overall 8/10

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice Review


It’s been a little while since I played Disgaea 2, but I’ve been meaning to jump into 3 for a while now. The strategic gameplay of the series is always a blast. It really brings you in for a big challenge from start to finish that’s for sure. You have to consider a lot of angles when playing. While the core story is definitely a bit weaker than the first two, it makes for a great game either way and one that you don’t want to miss.

The game starts by introducing us to Mao. He’s the son of the Overlord and his goal is to rise to that position by destroying his father. The reason he wants to do this is because the Overlord broke his video game console a while back. To that end, Mao has decided that he will need to figure out what powers a hero since heroes usually take the Overlord down. Once he is able to figure that out then he will be ready to roll. To that end he captures a hero named Almaz and steals his title. Now, this gets a little meta and the game isn’t afraid to break the 4th wall but bear with me here. So effectively everyone has a title which actually affects how you act and think. Now that Almaz’s title has been taken he is slowly becoming a demon. He has to find a way to get into Mao’s heart (Which is located as basically a department store that you can walk into) to steal his title back. Will either of the characters get what they want?

Most of the game takes place at school or on campus as Mao tries to locate how to find a lot of power. Heroes are almost mythical in the demon world because of how rarely they appear. Everything is backwards in this world so to be an honor student you need to keep on cutting class and just being mean while the delinquents are people who attend class and are nice to others. It’s a fun dynamic and there are 3 little minions who show up in basically every chapter of the game to try and cause trouble. They’re always fun to have around for sure.

As a main character Mao is decent. He has his entertaining moments and I do like that he is always trying to set the record straight that he has no friends. The guy has a lot of secrets and a fascination with live experimentation so even by the end he isn’t a true hero. Still, he does end up fighting with the villains so you are at least glad to have him on your side at the very least. Almaz is the other main hero and he’s pretty fun. His plot is about getting Princess Sapphire to finally notice him but he is content to stay in the shadows until he works up the courage. He protects her from a distance and all. A one way romance like this can always be rough but at least the demons aren’t too hard on him about this.

Sapphire is a solid Princess though and one of the better ones of recent years. She has the brilliant idea of going to destroy the Overlord before he even thinks of kidnapping her. That’s pretty proactive so I can certainly get behind that. Princess Peach should consider capturing Bowser next time instead of waiting for the inevitable. She can fight which is always a pretty good skill to have as well. Her super strength punch and Buzzsaw even scare Mao at times.

Mao’s rival is a solid character as well. As leader of the delinquents you’d expect nothing less. One supporting character who could be annoying most of the time was the cook though. Literally all of his lines are using food lingo. I can appreciate good puns and all but I felt like he would never actually get to the point so he didn’t really serve much of a purpose at times. He gets a lot of hype and is apparently super strong but the game doesn’t do much with that concept.

As an RPG there are tons of other characters of course but those are the big ones. You’ll enjoy the story, there’s a lot going on. For the gameplay, it’s the same as in previous titles. You control up to 9 characters and maneuver them through a chess board of sorts. The idea is to take out the opponent fighters. Sometimes this will be straight forward and you just run to take them out while at other times there are a bunch of obstacles to get past. The levels become more like a puzzle as you have to decide how to attack the enemy. A good strategy is just as important as your level ups here.

The game holds nothing back so you will likely need to go replay levels a bunch before clearing the game. It’s difficult to level everyone up here since only the character who beats the enemy gets the level up this time. So by the end of the game I had 4 really strong fighters and my other guys were scrubs. It was worth it though. Then you want to save money to buy excellent equipment. The equipment will really come in handy since it boosts your stats massively. For example you can switch out your weapon with 100 attack power for one with 700 and suddenly you’re blasting through everyone. The toughest part is always choosing between buying a new weapon or new armor. I always prioritized weapons first since it makes the grinding quicker but ultimately you will need armor or you will fall. My strategy is to sell off all the equipment of all my other fighters and only stick to 4 but of course this is risky. It’s a great way to raise funds short term though.

There’s a whole lot of depth to the gameplay as you can also upgrade attacks here. Doing so makes them more powerful but drastically costs more magic meter as well so sometimes getting it too strong can actually be a bad thing. Then you can go to class to have the students give you money or unlock more levels at the shop. There is definitely a whole lot to consider here. The main story took me over 20 hours and there is a sizable post game story as well. This game can easily last you 50+ hours so there is a ton of replay value here. I would definitely recommend sticking with it

Naturally the soundtrack is also pretty solid. You’ll recognize a theme or two from the original game in addition to the new ones. Then you’ve got the solid graphics which go all out with the special attacks as always. It really knows how to make everything look really high tier. I do low key wish you could skip the cinematics on the special moves eventually since it takes up some time but I suppose after putting so much effort into the attacks they don’t want people just skipping them each time.

Overall, Disgaea 3 is a solid way to end the trilogy. The game has a lot of heart and depth to it. It’s a very complete RPG that excels in all areas. While I would say that the first two defeated it, you’ll definitely be invested in the game. It may be very difficult but you always feel like you have hope even if you need to go back and earn some more level ups again. Sometimes that’s just something you have to do. Going back to get stronger is a noble quest at all times.

Overall 8/10

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review


After playing through Dynasty Warriors I knew that it was time to get more classic beat em up games from Kemco. One Piece was the perfect follow up. It’s a terrific game through and through with extremely tight gameplay. Every aspect of the game is just flat out amazing with a top tier soundtrack, amazing graphics, etc. There’s just nothing to dislike about this game. It really delivers and is an excellent tribute to the series. I would highly recommend checking it out whether you’re just a big One Piece fan or like the gameplay in general. It’s quite polished and I definitely look forward to the day they make a 5th installment.

The game adapts 6 of the story arcs from the manga. Naturally there’s no way you could hope to adapt everything from the series so there are a number of big jumps and such as you go through the campaign. They do manage to tackle all of the big stories though such as Marineford and Wano. For the arcs that are skipped the game gives you a quick recap so you know what went on through a set of cutscenes. The campaign is a pretty solid length so there is a lot of detail here. If you list any influential One Piece scene off the top of your head, odds are that it is in this game.

Naturally the gameplay here is your typical 3D hack n slash/beat em up. You pick a character and take down hundreds of enemies as you accomplish the goals of the level which range from defeating enemies to capturing territories. To capture a territory you must beat a large number of enemies in that zone and then take out the leader. This prevents further reinforcements from that area which is a pretty great help in these battles. I always prioritize taking over the area whenever possible. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and specials. There is also a very detailed power up system where you amp your moves up. I really focused on getting Luffy and Sanji to max as their battle styles were already really good so with the extra boost to their abilities it was like cake going through the levels.

The game likely anticipated this though so throughout the game you will be forced to play as many different characters. Then you have the tricky decision of using some of your resources to power them up even though you may never play them again or try to squeak by with level 1 stats. It can be a pretty hard decision. Also one thing to keep in mind when playing as Sanji is that he can’t do much against female opponents. The game even gives you a warning message if you try to play him in a level where they show up. I ignored the warning the first time and it got tricky. Effectively you can only offer a single strike and then Sanji immediately recoils. So you can imagine that defeating an opponent will take forever when you can only land a single move like that. Without the special abilities I would have been there all day so after that I was careful when to pick him.

The power up system also allows you to learn a bunch of new moves which are handy since a lot of them are better than your starters. You can also use transformations like with Luffy activating Gear 4. It’s a really handy move to have here. In terms of pure gameplay this has to be one of the smoothest that I’ve played in a long time. I would put it even above Dynasty Warriors 9 and Hyrule Warriors 2. Both of which tried adding some new mechanics which were fun enough but Pirate Warriors 4 is going back to basics. Just take enemies down right away. I would beat up to 2500 enemies in some levels. The best attack in my opinion is Conqueror’s Haki. Using that causes many enemies to instantly die and it also ignores any shields the enemy may have up. What can beat that?

Then you’ve also got an amazing soundtrack in this game. Pretty much every tune is amazing. I’ve been listening to the tunes online after playing through the game quite a lot. There may not be a ton of different tracks as I only see around 15 online but they are all just pretty amazing. You can feel the energy in each one of them and they really make you want to jump in and get on the action. You’ve got suitably emotional tracks as well. This has to be one of the most complete soundtracks I’ve heard in a minute. Naturally the graphics for the game are also quite good. The characters are striking and same for the various landscapes which are all unique and pretty accurate to the manga/show.

In terms of replay value there is definitely a whole lot to get through here. Aside from the main story you can also play a lot of stand alone adventures in the Treasure log and experiment with all of the characters. Obtaining the Platinum Trophy will also take a very long time. Right now you can get this game for under 30 so it’s definitely a steal. You won’t run out of things to do in this game for a very long time. The main campaign alone would justify the purchase so with all of that extra content you’re definitely good to go.

Overall, The only thing I could say that isn’t positive about the game is that for their original ending to the Wano arc it was pretty uninspired. I wasn’t a big fan since it felt like more of a cop out than anything. Otherwise everything about this game is just incredible. You’ve got a top tier soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and story. You would struggle to find another game in this genre with smoother gameplay than Pirate Warriors 4. It’s all just so clean and polished that you can’t help but get sucked in to the adventure. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. I intend to play some more beat em up games like this in the very near future so definitely be on the lookout for that. It’s going to be a blast!

Overall 9/10

Dynasty Warriors 9 Review


After many years I have finally made it to the final game in the main Dynasty Warriors series. A while back I had done a bit of a marathon in this series but I didn’t own 9 so it had to go on break. Well, I was finally in the mood to fire it up and it’s a game that’s definitely a lot of fun. The new open world setting takes a little getting used to. Ultimately I prefer the usual structure for how Dynasty Warrior games are set up, but I do appreciate the attempt at something different. It does work well in its own way.

As always the game adapts the story of the 3 Kingdoms so if you’ve played any of the first 8 Dynasty Warrior games then you’ll know how this all plays out. This game is able to go into great detail though and it’s easily the longest title in the series. I decided to follow Cao Cao’s path for my playthrough but you have a lot of characters to choose from here. There are dozens and dozens of playable characters in the game and they all have their own story which is pretty impressive. Some are shorter than others of course. For example Cao Cao’s is much longer than the average story since he is one of the 3 main Kings. That’s why he felt like a fair one to go with.

How the open world setting comes into play is between battles you can run around the kingdom and help people out with side quests or expand your kingdom on hand. One thing that was fun was to finish off skirmishes on the outskirts of the kingdom and watch as the map turned into your color. The enemies will take over the territory after you leave so it’s not like it’s permanent or anything but it is a really good way to allow you to quick travel later on. For example, I had fun taking over a lot of settlements and this saved time later on in the game since you can fast travel to anywhere you’ve been. So instead of crossing half the country to join the next big story fight, I was already there.

It’s really worth it in the long run and since the open world was one of the things heavily promoted about on this game, I’d say it’s worth seeing exactly what all the fuss is about. How I see it, it does heavily help the replay value of the game. The world is pretty huge so the developers did not hold anything back here. There’s also just a lot to do including upgrading your character and getting better equipment. It can all be a little overwhelming if anything so definitely take it one step at a time. The main campaign took me around 9 hours. If you try to complete the game with everyone I’m thinking you’ll be here for at least 40+ which is really good. Then if you work on getting all of the PS4 trophies and exploring every inch of the game you can add even more time to that.

Naturally the graphics look really good as well. All of the character models are on point and the whole thing is just very striking from the backgrounds to the combat animations. It looks like a PS4 title through and through. The series may not especially be known for its graphics but at least for this installment I would say it definitely qualifies as a great showing. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable which is unfortunate because the series has had some really excellent rock themes over the years. This time they held onto the brakes a little more I guess and were going for a much more low key kind of soundtrack. You do still get the occasional rock theme though.

As for the gameplay, it’s pretty similar to most of the other Dynasty Warrior titles although it took a page out of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Well, I guess it would be the other way around) and now you have 4 different special attack options in addition to your normal special attack. It’s an interesting change, and a fun way to spice up the gameplay from just using the same super all the time. I can definitely get behind that. It’s definitely very smooth throughout so you’ll have no problem dealing with the bosses as long as you remember your fundamentals.

One aspect that was also interesting is that in each mission you could head straight for the boss if you wanted a challenge and he would be at a super high level. Or you could weaken defenses and put some plans into motion. This acts like a more realistic strategy if you were fighting a war and so the boss’ level would drop accordingly. Usually I would always run straight for the boss but it was a fun way to have multiple options and also a good way to allow players to challenge themselves a bit or just have fun at a steady pace. This is definitely an element I’d like to see return in future games as well.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 9 is definitely a great game. I admit I do like just being able to jump into the battles right away but the open world approach was still fun. If you like exploring that should add a little extra boost to the experience as well. You do wonder if the series will eventually try something new with the story or if it’ll always adapt the same one though. I suppose it’s a classic story that never gets old but it would also be fun to see the characters in new situations. If you liked the previous Dynasty Warrior titles then I expect you will definitely like this one as well.

Overall 8/10

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review


I have to give Nintendo props for finally adding some full free games to their menu. Now, it’s not quite the same as with Sony or Microsoft where they give you a slew of games that stay completely free every month. This one was time limited so it was only free for a week or so but it’s nice to have this. It also adds a level of urgency since you have to try to clear the game in that time. It was awful close but I did manage to clear this game right at the very end of the trial period so I have to admit that I felt pretty clutch at that point. Crash Team Racing is a lot more difficult than you would expect so you definitely don’t want to underestimate it.

The game’s story involves an alien showing up on the planet and deciding that he will destroy everything. He will give the heroes a chance though. they must all compete in a bunch of races and once we have determined who the strongest racer in the world is, then the villain will fight that guy. It’s a fairly basic story that’s just so we can have some context for the races. You can tell that it wasn’t exactly top priority to have a big involved story or anything like that. I do appreciate the game giving us several cutscenes though because it does make the story feel more authentic. Each world has 4-5 races that you have to conquer before fighting the boss of the world.

The gameplay is that of a 3D racer and of course the objective is to get to the finish line first. As you drive through the maps there are items you can grab which will help you in this endeavor. Most of the items you should recognize from Mario Kart like the Paratroopa, Green Shell, etc. They are all slightly altered of course so it’s not literally the same weapons but they have the same effects. The main difference here that makes the game more difficult than your average racer is how the boost system works. In order to attain your boost you have to intentionally drift while on the map. Keep on drifting in order to boost as well as increase your base speed. So for example, if you are just driving straight in a normal way then you will be moving fairly slow. If you keep on drifting over and over as you race then your overall speed will be greatly improved. So the more you master drifting the better.

In fact, winning the game would be 100% impossible based on my experience without drifting. Even with it some races would take me over 20 attempts to conquer. I can only imagine what the game would be like on hard mode. I was impressed with the difficulty setting although at the same time it does feel like the A.I. tends to cheat at times as their cars are naturally faster. I do understand programming a racing game like this is no small feat though as you would have to either have the A.I. be too weak or too strong. I suspect it’s not a super adaptive learning process here as that would be a lot of work for a racing title.

The graphics look very good. It’s definitely a very modern game with all the trimmings. The character designs are on point and the level backdrops are all different and have a striking look to them. We also have a hub world which is a nice idea although it could have been handled a little better. You have to manually drive to each world and there are no real big checkpoints so expect a good amount of driving between worlds. It’s a super small thing to note but one of those times where a fast teleport system would have been a good quality of life upgrade.

As for the soundtrack, that part is fairly forgettable. All of the tunes are super standard to the point where they could pretty much be free domain music in a racing game. Part of this is due to the fact that most racing games do have good soundtracks though so the bar is already high. To be standard for a racing game isn’t a bad thing but I do feel like they could have added an extra tune or two that you could really sink your teeth into. Now that would have been really good.

There’s a good amount of replay value although it could definitely be in an annoying way. There are tons of characters to unlock here. The way to buy them is to use your coins at the pit shop but only a few characters are displayed a day. It’s not like the classic shops where everyone is always there to be purchased. So you may have the coins but it could take a while to get everyone. I am impressed with the scale of content though. It may not be easy to get them but there is so much to buy. I’m not even familiar with half of the Crash characters in this game, they just squeezed everyone in here. Between doing all of that and trying to unlock the secret ending there is a whole lot to keep on doing here. Naturally the online multiplayer is a factor as well.

Ultimately what holds the game back when compared to the other big racing games like Mario Kart and the Sonic ones is that the gameplay being so heavily reliant on the constant boosting can hurt. You don’t want to always have to be turning at every moment and that’s what this mechanic forces you to do. It’s a lot less peaceful than the game could be and between that with all of the items it feels like you aren’t getting to actually “race” for a good chunk of each level. This is still a good game, but I could have done without the boost mechanic.

Overall, it’s clear that a good amount of effort was put into this game. It’s nice that we have a real story and the amount of characters in the game is crazy. The gameplay may not have been my favorite but it’s still a racing title and the kind of game which will be amplified when you play with others. If you’re looking for a good racing game to check out then I would recommend buying Crash. It’s not exactly my top recommendation in the genre though so if you want an even grander title then I would recommend Mario Kart. Of course…I have yet to buy the latest game in that series myself but it’s on the list.

Overall 7/10

Blaster Master Zero 2 Review


After playing through the first Blaster Master I knew that it was definitely time to dive into the sequel right away. Blaster Master 2 definitely ups the stakes with more of a detailed story and more areas to explore. Rather than be stuck on one planet you can now travel across the universe. With the graphics and soundtrack being on point there is absolutely a lot to enjoy here. You just can’t go wrong with this classic gameplay.

The game starts with Jason and Eve attempting to find a cure for her mutant corruption. The first game ended with her deciding to destroy herself to prevent the spread while Jason was unaware but there was a true ending so I suppose in that version he was able to save her in time and this is continuing off of that. Due to this illness, Eve is unable to leave the ship so Jason has to explore on his own. He is determined to heal her and then they can destroy the mutant plague once and for all. Many planets have been affected already though and there’s a mysterious fighter who keeps getting in Jason’s way.

The gameplay is pretty similar to the first game. You pilot the tank and fly through the levels as you blast through any opponent in your way. You can also get out of the tank and go through dungeons as the pilot which takes more of an overhead approach to the shooting gameplay. As a tank you have a whole lot of defense so as long as you play things out carefully you should be able to take your opponents down. There is a greater emphasis on switching weapons to combat the bosses so some weapons are better for some occasions.

Your main blaster is always handy though so I definitely recommend it. As the pilot I like his L8 and homing variations as well but for most of the bosses I would just stick to the standard gun. It does a whole lot of damage. One thing that’s important is to really learn the boss attack patterns. Towards the end there is a big boss rush like a Mega Man game where you have to take down multiple bosses without gaining any health. That was pretty tough and definitely took me a few shots to get through.

Pure gameplay-wise I would say the game is a little weaker than the first one. It’s only really noticeable in the tank where it’s harder to hit enemies with how fast it moves. That said, it’s a very small difference. Also, it’s worth noting that this game is considerably harder than the first one so you need to take that into account as well. It’s definitely not exactly going to be a walk in the park that’s for sure. I would recommend at least grabbing some of the optional upgrades and power ups since they make a difference in a pinch. Without the extra health I would have certainly lost more fights since a lot of bosses literally came down to my final health point which was pretty intense.

For the story you should definitely be engaged from the start. The fact that we’re expanding the lore with other mech pilots running around was pretty neat. We run into 4 of them. 3 who are allies on different planets and then one who is out to murder us. The whole time I was expecting a plot twist that this guy was from the future where things didn’t work out for the lead. The game doesn’t go in that direction but I still like the theory and it hasn’t been ruled out so that’s my head canon for now. It explains why he really can’t stand Jason and keeps on trying to destroy him. Makes for a lot of great dialogue and boss fights too of course.

As good as Jason and Eve are doing in their campaign though, it does feel like they’re outmatched at the moment. For every villain they take down more show up. Even some bosses from the first game have returned along with the same name so I assume the mutants revived them? This game has a few bosses who are recycled so I won’t count the second versions of them but at least for the initial ones it does seem like they are back from the grave. With the heroes being away from Earth for so long as well you know that the main planet won’t be doing so well either. Hopefully if we get a third game they get some backup because otherwise they may be doomed.

The graphics are really solid. The sprites all look very good and we get more illustrations here for the story. Jason’s outfit is like something out of Kamen Rider or Power Rangers and he’s even got a cool cape. The main rival/villain also has a pretty great design as well. You’re always in store for something visually cool as you go through the levels so that’s certainly a credit to how solid the game is. For the soundtrack, it’s definitely got a nice Mega Man vibe going. All of the tunes were solid and definitely kept up the solid sci-fi themes.

The game took me around 6 hours to conquer. Outside of that there is a lot of replay value here as you try to assemble all of the maps, weapons, and bonus items. Then you can go back to conquer the true final boss and along the way collect the rest of the PS4 trophies. I imagine that this should extend you to at least 10 hours of play time by the time this is all over. You’re definitely getting good value for your dollar here.

Overall, Blaster Master Zero 2 is a great follow up to the first game. The ending is also pretty surprising although of course there is a true ending so you can always play through some more to get that as the more satisfying climax. It depends on what kind of ending you’re looking for of course. The sheer suddenness of this one was pretty intense though and you can also see how it would work as a real ending because there are still some glimmer of hope here. This would definitely make for a great anime someday. Well, I definitely recommend playing through this game, you don’t want to miss out on the hype.

Overall 7/10

Blaster Master Zero Review


I remember playing Blaster Master recently thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online game selection. It’s a pretty classic game with a fun dynamic between switching from the pilot controls and over to the tank. Well, Zero is a modern take on this while keeping the core gameplay intact. It definitely works out quite well and it’s why I say a lot of these old NES and SNES titles have a lot of potential with modern reboots. If you just bring them up to date with the graphics, soundtrack, and all of that then you will be in a good position. I’m ready to play the sequel to this later today.

The game starts with Jason working on his machines when he meets a frog named Fred. The frog is pretty interesting but then he falls into a portal so Jason jumps after him. He’s now in an odd world where everything just looks foreign. Fortunately there is a tank lying around and it has sensors which can detect Fred. Jason is determined to find this guy but it does mean that he is going to have to do a lot of legwork in order to find him. He’ll have to traverse across the entire planet to locate this guy and the sensors keep picking up a lot of false readings as well. When he runs into a lady named Eve who is in a rough state Jason knows that things are about to get complicated.

For the gameplay we have two main styles here. When you’re in the Tank you progress as a 2D shooter/platformer where you look around the area and use the maps to get to the next world. You’ll come across caves and caverns along the way. At these points you exit the tank and as the pilot head through these labyrinths. The gameplay style changes a bit at this point as it becomes more of an overhead shooter. Think of the original Legend of Zelda and it’s sort of like that only you have a gun here as well as your sub weapon. From all of the sub weapons I got the most out of the grenades to be sure, but once you unlock the tank weapon that is incredibly handy to have at the ready. It would have certainly been a lot more difficult without it. You can only use the tank once but it can even take the final boss down to half his health so it’s a must have.

You can actually miss out on some power ups if you skip dungeons so watch out for that. In particular in World 3 you’re supposed to get a light bomb of sorts which lets you see through the pitch black dungeons. It’s not easy to complete these with no light although if you missed it, it’s not the end of the world. You can still complete the dungeons, it’ll just be a little trickier. If you manage not to get hit much and store up a lot of weapon power then as the human fighter you can use different guns. You lose them when you get hit so keep that in mind.

There’s a lot of solid platforming going on here and a healthy amount of save points and health items so you can confidently challenge the unknown and go as hard as you can. The main thing to watch out for is the minions. If you shoot one make sure you keep going until you destroy it because otherwise it is definitely about to become a big handful and you will have a hard time dealing with it.

The game looks very good graphically. It’s definitely got a nice Mega Man vibe to it with all of the sci-fi backgrounds and the energy attacks in general. Then you’ve also got a solid soundtrack here including a classic Warning message that pops up before bosses like something in Mega Man as well. There are also illustrations that appear from time to time so you can really see how the characters look outside of their sprites and the overall world landscape. You can see how an anime would work out quite nicely with this concept since there’s a lot to explore.

The game has a bit of a cliffhanger ending although it’s also the kind of climax where a sequel isn’t really needed. It depends on how you interpret the ending. There’s also a True Ending which can be unlocked and a sequel that was already created so there’s a lot of ways to take it. Of course you all know my position on this is that everything should get sequels and keep the franchise going while you can. There’s a lot the sequel can dive into so I look forward to seeing what the plot is.

The game took me around 5 hours to conquer. If you intend to grab all of the power ups and beat all of the dungeons I’m thinking you could probably boost the time to around 8-10 hours. Some more replay value can also be found by trying to get the Platinum Trophy in this game. I got quite a few of the trophies in this title but definitely not all of them. That would take more effort to be sure.

For the characters we’ve really got 3 main ones. Two if you don’t count Fred since he’s more a part of the story than actually being a character especially since he’s gone most of the time. Jason is a solid lead. He’s pretty determined to follow Fred and is also quick to help Eve out. He’s your classic protagonist who is always willing to do the right thing and takes the whole portal situation in stride. I liked his focused nature here. Then you have Eve who is a solid heroine. Certainly a very secretive one and there are a lot of moments where the game shows her as being a little shady or at least cryptic to an extent. I can see the sequel delving more into her character. Eve’s certainly a solid assist character though and it does make a difference having someone with you when you’re isolated in a strange planet with tons of creatures out to get you.

Overall, Blaster Master Zero is definitely a solid game and one that I would recommend. There’s a lot of action going on here and various worlds to explore. It’s the kind of game that rewards searching quite a lot as well as the more power ups you get, the easier it is to move around and fight. Minions which took a lot of hits to beat early on could be taken down in a single blast by the end of the game. I certainly made my tank nice and overpowered so it was tough to beat although I had a little more trouble as the human form. If you’re looking for a modern shooter title to check out, this is definitely the one to get.

Overall 7/10

Knack II Review


It’s been a very long time since I played the original Knack. It was a fun game but not exactly anything to write home about. Well, it was only a matter of time before I would eventually head out to get the sequel. Knack II certainly improves upon the first one. Elements like the gameplay are quite similar but more streamlined. Graphically the game has improved as well and I would say that the story is better as well. With all areas of the game improving, it’s no surprise that the sequel manages to hold your attention the whole time.

The game starts off with Knack and Lucas being under attack by a bunch of robots. Knack manages to take most of them down but just when he is about to be destroyed we cut away to a few months earlier. Knack and Lucas were having fun exploring with Uncle Ryder when all of a sudden a lot of robots start to come back to life. These robots used to belong to the goblins back during the Crystal Wars but for some reason they are active again. Lucas will need to team up with some scientists as well as the government leader Xander in order to stop these guys. One of the head monks is a girl named Aya and she is always ready to help Lucas and friends. They’ve got a pretty good system set up here but will they really be able to conquer an entire army? One thing’s for sure, they’re going to need Knack to bring his A game.

The plot is fairly basic of course with robots ready to take over the planet. You can probably predict all of the twists and turns that will commence fairly early on into the game. One thing the title does effectively though is the various time skips that happen during the game. The characters will be in a jam one minute and the next 4 months have passed. The villain definitely got a whole lot done in that time so the heroes really cut it close. I wasn’t able to buy into the origin of the Crystal Wars though. I’m not really bale to buy that a bunch of humans with swords were able to take on an army of giant robots. That’s just hard to buy.

It’s a fairly minor plot point though I suppose. Some of the characters here do not look great this time around though. First lets take the main scientist Vargas. For some reason here he just does not trust Lucas in the slightest and it ends up forming quite the rift between them. You get the feeling that if he had been at least a little supportive then things would have played out differently. I don’t really get why everyone was telling Lucas he needed to get serious and accusing him of being distracted by Ava. The game never showed for a moment that he wasn’t serious.

I wouldn’t say Lucas looked great either though. He definitely gets very emotional during the game and makes some questionable decisions like deciding to hand the orb away. He’s also very slow on the uptake during someone’s speech later on. It has to be completely spelled out for him to understand what’s happening. That’s definitely not the ideal hero that you’ll have been looking for. Knack is okay but he still doesn’t have a whole lot of character. He follows orders and is a nice guy. That’s about it. I like his confidence but you just get the feeling that he is as unoriginal as they come. If he had more character moments that would be good.

Ava is a solid new character at least although she definitely makes the wrong decisions a whole lot. She ends up seeming a bit naïve with how she didn’t realize what was going on until the very end. I dare that during one of the multi month time skips there would have been a lot of red flags everywhere. Meanwhile Xander’s okay if not just a bit generic. He doesn’t have any of the witty dialogue you need his character to have in order to stand out so that was unfortunate. He’s a big improvement over the goblins from the first game though.

As for the gameplay, Knack II is your classic 3D action game. You can rush in and mess enemies up with hand to hand combat as well as your other tools. During the course of the game you learn new moves like a boomerang, the ability to pull opponents to you, and things like that. Once you unlock the boomerang I recommend using it as often as possible. It’s definitely got to be the most useful ability in the game and it’ll never steer you wrong. There’s actually a decent amount of strategy to this combat style as you can’t just run in trying to punch everyone. That’ll end up with you being defeated very quickly most times. Learn to use your boosts to dodge a lot and you’ll be fine. There are also upgrades you can unlock to strengthen Knack using EXP from enemies and you also have a lot of quick time events to master as well. There’s just a good amount of depth to the title so you’ll be in good shape for taking on the enemies. Make sure you always stop to open the crates for bolts since improving your size is incredibly handy and makes all of the combat moments a lot easier.

Unsurprisingly the graphics in the game are pretty good. This definitely looks like a modern game with a lot of great visuals throughout. Whether it’s the characters themselves or some backdrops Knack II does not pull any punches here. The soundtrack isn’t as impressive though. None of the tunes ended up sticking out. It’s unfortunate because an action game like this should have a lot of great rock themes or something but this title avoided those. Well, that’s something it can shoot for in the third game.

The main story took me a little under 9 hours. For replay value I suppose you can play through hard mode in order to get the rest of the collectibles as well as aim for the Platinum Trophy. That should take some time to be sure. I saw you also get to unlock Colosseum mode at the end so that should be a fun mode. Sounds like it would have a lot of battles at the very least. Right now the game tends to go for cheap so now’s a great time to take the plunge and go all in.

Overall, Knack II is a pretty fun game. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a solid action game to play through. It’s definitely not going to win any big awards for its character or story but the gameplay is strong which is definitely important. You won’t grow bored during the game and the trial and error tends to be enjoyable since each section is quick so you never have to replay a whole lot. I’d be game for a third Knack game coming out someday although it looks like the odds of that happening are not great.

Overall 7/10

Nightshade Review


We have made it to the final new NES game added to the service by Nintendo. It’s definitely a very complex title with a whole lot of mechanics and such to learn. Unfortunately the idea was a little ahead of the technology in this case. It’s just not easy to seamlessly use your many items and the puzzles just don’t work as well as you would hope. The game isn’t all that fun and I would ultimately have to give it a fairly low score here. I just don’t see it being all that fun even if you were to progress further.

The main plot of the game is that you’re a detective on the trail of a villain. Unfortunately he caught you and tied you to a chair. I will admit that the opening of the game is intense as you literally start out strapped to the chair and have to slowly try to escape. The way to do this is to back up and cause a candle to burn through the ropes. It’s pretty interesting and not really something you see a lot. From there you work on escaping the castle and once you’re in the town it’s time to find where the villain is. I played the game for around an hour as I looked for the elusive villain. Let me tell you, that guy’s not easy to find. There are a lot of areas to explore and items to inspect.

The main gameplay style here is a 2D platformer but you are able to move up and down so I suppose it’s close to 3D. If you press the A button you can move a magnifying glass to inspect all kinds of objects. From there if you have a good hint of an object looks useful, press the B button to take out your other magnifying glass and inspect again. You get a different message that way. At this point if the object is even more interesting then click the select button to take out one of your items and try it out on the object. You can also pick it up if the thing you are inspecting is a loose pipe or something like that.

You’ll have a ton of items at your disposal by the time you finish getting out of the castle. The game doesn’t really explain any of this though so I recommend looking up the guide online for the controls. It makes a big difference knowing what you are supposed to do next as opposed to just stumbling through the levels hoping for the best. Not that’s a scenario that can get pretty dicey pretty fast. So I do applaud the fact that the game crammed so much in but I do think it comes at the expense of the actual user experience. At the end of the day you want these levels to be fun and you just don’t get that feeling of excitement from the game.

There’s even combat elements thrown in and I don’t feel like they were all that fun. It was pretty surprising though as a cop ran into me and then suddenly the game turned into a 2D fighter. The controls are really difficult though. It took me around 20 minutes to beat a female ninja that showed up. Apparently there are combos though so if you master those then that may make a good difference in the long run. Normal blows are easily blocked and countered by the A.I. here.

One more touch that the game added which was pretty nice is what happens when you die. When you lose a life you suddenly find yourself on a conveyer belt with the villain mocking you. Based on how interactive the whole time is I suspect that there is a way to break free but every time I reached for the lever the game told me I was too far away. I figure it was worth a shot at least. Then we get some images of the villain hanging out at a rooftop as some sad music plays. It’s all very atmospheric and works rather well.

When it comes to the graphics I would definitely give this game a thumbs up as well. It’s aged quite beautifully with the character designs being on point and the backgrounds looking quite nice as well. The music is good and so on that level the game succeeded. At least those background elements help to offset the gameplay. I think this is the kind of game that could do really well if it were ever remade in the modern day.

Overall, Nightshade is a very different kind of NES title. It’s a game that wants you to do a great many things. The fact that it originally came out with a part 1 in its title shows you just how ambitious the game was to start with. Clearly the developers had a really good plan in store for the series even if it ultimately didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s just not really any fun and that’s definitely one of the biggest negatives I would hold against a title like this. At the end of the day you have to be fun.

Overall 3/10

Mario & Luigi Dream Team Review


Mario & Luigi has been a fun series to play through. Each game throws in some new elements and adds in another villain for the heroes to go up against. Dream Team doesn’t manage to capture the amazing dialogue of Bowser’s Inside Story though and the plot isn’t quite as hype as Partners in Time. It gets close at times and the climax is great but ultimately the game drags itself a little too long to reach that elusive next level of gaming.

We start out with the Mario bros and Peach being invited to a resort for a vacation. It sounds innocent enough but it turns out that there are some shady circumstances at work here. On the island all of the Pillows around are actually sentient creatures from hibernation. A villain known as Antasma intends to bring the world to darkness and cause everybody to go into an endless slumber. Clearly he is not the kind of villain you want to mess with. Starlow is back to help out but the heroes will need more than that if they are to win. This villain manipulates dreams but fortunately Luigi is good at going to sleep. Now the heroes have a fighting chance.

It’s a pretty interesting plot at face value and this is also a perfect way for Luigi to contribute. In the real world he may not be as skilled as Mario but there is nothing to say that the same would be true in the dream world right? There Luigi’s power is matched only by his imagination and he gets some pretty solid moments. At times you have “Mega” boss battles like in Inside Story. Only this time instead of Bowser turning giant it’s Luigi who does this. It makes for some fun visuals like when Luigi and Bowser have an actual fist collision. Luigi’s also a lot more confident in his dream world as he consistently steps up to help Mario out. Imagine if he was always this secure, I think Luigi would be a great ally to have around.

In the real world he is still as nervous as ever though, but at least this allowed him to showcase some more of his skills. In the dream world Luigi also has a lot of extra skills such as the ability to turn into a wrecking ball, tornado, etc. The game uses this as extra gameplay mechanics as you use these abilities to solve puzzles. The gameplay in the real world is a straight forward platformer with turn based gameplay while the dream world adds a lot of different styles like the ability to slow down time roll over enemies, and things of that nature.

It’s pretty fun how both worlds have such different gameplay methods. Both are pretty enjoyable to be sure. The actual combat is also as good as ever. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of were the motion control aspects of some of the attacks. You can’t exactly play lying down when you have to be spinning around. Still, it’s not very often and you can always choose not to use those attacks and stick to non motion ones. The game’s difficulty level is considerable though so you may not be at liberty to do that. Dream Team does not pull any punches, especially with the final bosses.

This is where you really need to make sure you are good at dodging, have a good badge setup, and are at a high level. I had to do quite a bit of EXP grinding near the end of the game and it still got close. The best badge set to have here is either the one that makes you invincible for several turns or the one that just freezes Bowser for multiple moves as well. He can’t go on healing himself if he isn’t able to move after all so it’s definitely a tactic that works nicely.

As with previous Mario & Luigi games my one main negative here is just that leveling up can take so long. I wish the enemies were a little more balanced with the EXP. It’s something that the game series has always struggled with next to most other adventures. Not sure why but the pattern definitely stuck so leveling up can definitely hurt to an extent. At least you’ve also got the Beans to collect which amp up your stars permanently. Also, there are some extra variables to consider because when leveling up you are given the option of advancing one stat in particular by a few points. Depending on what you focus it on will be key. Even the equipment have a lot of variables since you can choose to wear items that boost attack, defense, or something else.

I do like the fact that there is so much to think about. The gameplay is also very smooth for travelling the worlds. I had fun running around and trying to locate all of the beans and Pillows. I nearly completed the game 100% as I was close to grabbing them all but it wasn’t to be. The various warp pipes around definitely help for convenience and I also like that you can save at any point now. That’s a big positive. The game also has some bonus activities which were pretty fun like the puzzle assemblies. It’s been a while since I had to try and connect puzzles together so that was definitely a blast.

The soundtrack is also dynamite. There are a lot of great tunes here. Danger themes, villain themes, and the whole thing feels like an RPG. The boss themes go all in and you can easily forget that this is a Mario soundtrack early on. It would fit right in with something like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. Additionally the graphics certainly look very good. You can definitely tell that this is a modern adventure with all the trimmings. It’s a fitting way to continue the series.

Naturally the story will take you a long while. It took me close to 40 hours and if you intend to grab the rest of the beans and pillows then this will easily take you over that milestone. It’s a long game and that’s definitely pretty admirable. You will not be finishing this game in the blink of an eye so you’ve got a lot of content. As mentioned, the story is a bit weaker than the last two though so that part might make you shake your head a bit. Until the climax occurs it can just be rather boring. Bowser steals the show whenever he appears so you’ll be waiting for him to arrive. He gets a ton of hype here so the writers must clearly like the character a lot.

Overall, Dream Team takes a major step back in terms of story but the rest of the game’s areas are all handled quite strongly so this one is still a great title that I would recommend. While Antasma gets consistently outshined by Bowser, I would still say that he is a pretty solid game. His best appearance was probably in a dream near the beginning of the game. I was glad Peach also got to contribute in the climax. She’s done well in this series. I’ve already talked about how Luigi and Bowser look really good here and Mario’s a solid lead as always. If you want to see the Mario gang fighting it out in a pretty serious context then this is definitely the title to check out. You won’t be forgetting the ultimate dream team. I’m hoping Paper Jam can keep up the great gameplay even if the story ends up faltering as well.

Overall 8/10