Dark Cloud Review


Dark Cloud is one of those games I’ve had on the backburner for many years now. It’s just always around but never made it to the top of the pile. Well, with less than 20 games left to get through it makes sense that it would finally step up to the plate. It’s a very intricate RPG that will take some getting used to but it is crafted rather well. The weapons breaking mechanic was also a lot better than I dared hope.

The basic plot of the game is that a Dark Genie has awoken and intends to eradicate humanity. Toan, our brave hero steps up to the plate….but doesn’t make it in time. Humanity has been destroyed and the planet is an empty wasteland. The only survive is a mysterious old man who tells Toan that he will help the lad save the world. See, the people aren’t dead but merely trapped in capsules outside of time. Toan will need to free them all while finding some way to stop the genie. He can’t possibly do it on his own so he’s going to need help.

For the gameplay, this is a 3D hack and slash. Think of it similar to .Hack where you run around in dungeons and take out the monsters. Some characters have projectile type weapons which are fun to use but for the vast majority of the game I used Toan’s classic sword. Part of the reason for this is you can only really work on powering up one weapon at a time. So naturally I focused on his since he’s always around.

That said, it did come back to bite me during the final boss since you can’t use Toan for a whole section of the fight. You have to switch to a projectile user and both of mine were extremely weak. I spent a few hours grinding up the cat girl to a level where she could fight and then the rest of the boss was pretty easy. Still, it was a tense moment so to avoid that you will want to spread your attention between two characters for a while. Make sure you have a strong ranged fighter as well as a close quarters combat user.

The final boss is also intense just because his attacks can’t be dodged. Yes you heard that right. His clap attack releases a sonic wave that is impossible to dodge or block. Your only options are to eat the attack and use a health item right after or use a stamina drink which gives you temporary invincibility. If you do that then you should be just fine.

The rest of the game isn’t nearly as difficult which is why the final boss took me by surprise. Let me get back to the gameplay though, there’s a lot to unpack here. So every time you use your weapon, part of its stamina goes down. If it hits 0 then the weapon breaks and you lose every upgrade you’ve ever put into it. To stop this, always carry an auto repair in your quick item inventory. It’s expensive but if you ever forget to heal a weapon in time this will ensure that it isn’t completely shattered.

There’s also a water mechanic here so you will die of thirst if you don’t drink enough water. It’s a good reminder to go and grab some water irl too of course. At first this will be a little tedious since they get thirsty very quickly so make sure to find as many water upgrades as possible. These are scattered around town and usually pop up after you help out a villager.

The formula for the game is pretty straight forward. You enter a dungeon and complete all of the floors you can. After a while you will be stopped which is when you need to build the village. It’s pretty easy to build but hard to make all of the villagers happy. I wasn’t able to get 100% satisfaction in any area but you don’t really need to do that in order to get the items you need. The only tricky one is the robot on the moon. I was building him upside down which got tricky.

The game explains everything pretty well though so even though it sounds like a lot of mechanics to keep track of, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It certainly does take a while so the game is around 30 hours as it promises. It took me a little over 28 so that was right up there next to the estimate. The sequel is apparently over 50 hours which sounds insane to me. I wonder how many dungeons are in that game.

There is some replay value here as well. Apparently there is a bonus world at the end which you can try to beat. I imagine that world must be super tough. You can also go back to all of the old villages to try and make the villagers happy which will get you some good items and equipment. So all in all there is definitely a lot to do here.

If I have any real issues with the game it can be that the game can become almost too formulaic without throwing in any wrinkles. For example, the first world has a cool boss fight as Seda showed up and the story started to get intense. Then there are almost no truly relevant story cutscenes with him or the Dark Genie until we approach the final world. I have to admit that I was expecting them to have more of a focus. It’s almost like the story itself went on break for around 20 hours during the game. You still do get cutscenes, but nothing big for a while.

Also, the dungeon exploring can be a bit repetitive. You will need to cross around 100 floors in order to get to the end of the game and each floor is fundamentally the same. You beat a bunch of enemies and then get to head out. I enjoy the gameplay so it wasn’t that bad but if the sequel is double the length because they doubled the floors…that could get painful.

Overall, Dark Cloud is a pretty good RPG. I’m glad that you at least have the opportunity to keep your weapons from ever breaking. That mechanic could have easily gone sideways otherwise. As it stands, I was pretty cool with it. I definitely would have liked to have had more of a focus on the story though. For smaller items I would remove the water mechanic and special levels where you are forced to play as 1 character too. A lot of thought was put into this title though and it shows. If you like RPGs, particularly dungeon crawlers then you should enjoy this one quite a bit.

Overall 7/10

ABZÛ Review


Abzu is one of those games where you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring. The very premise of the game is effectively that you are underwater and just trying to have a good time. Unfortunately as things go on you can expect to face off against some powerful foes and this may be a deadlier swim than you had ever intended. The fact that the game has some lore and a bit of a story is always a nice bonus. The game isn’t very long but the time could definitely end up extending if you get lost or something which is very easy since there is no map.

The first half of the game is really focused on just swimming around but there is usually a general pattern. You have to find a way to power up the two chains leading into the main statue. To do this, you will have to usually find either a generator to turn on or have your robot blast through something. Your little drone robots are incredibly handy I should add so if you find one on the ground, make sure to pick it up. That being said, I think it may be mandatory anyway so you’ll find yourself doing that at some point.

The only active button you need to use in the game is the square button which allows you to interact with objects. This is how you progress items and get farther in the game. If you see an orange triangle show up anywhere then you have found exactly what you were looking for. That is your ticket. There are also meditation zones where you can space out for a while. It’s an interesting concept to be sure but….I don’t think you really need to worry about that one for too long outside of trophies.

The soundtrack is fairly mild here as it’s going for a very laidback array of music where you don’t even notice it half the time. I’d love some more rock themes or something of course but I do get why they didn’t go that way. The graphics are good. They don’t look quite as solid as the Thumper levels of course but all things considered I think they did a good job here. The explosions from the enemy squares were also good.

The second half of the game definitely picks up in the excitement factor since we get some actual action scenes and a sense of danger. It’s still nothing too high end of course as the focus is ultimately on exploration but it was a nice way to make things more interesting. There are a lot of paintings to establish some kind of lore and my personal guess is that humanity was wiped out by these robotic aliens. The main character managed to escape but he’s just not sure what to do anymore. That’s why he’s wondering around all over the place. I assume perhaps he has amnesia or something like that which I think would make sense in the context of the story.

I’ll definitely give Abzu credit for having large levels though. Part of why you can get lost in the first place is because the levels are absolutely massive. You can just be running around for ages and ages as you get used to the place. While you are in the water for 99% of the game, there are brief moments where you get to go on land. That was definitely fun and I wouldn’t have minded more sections like that. Land based movement is ultimately still the best if you ask me although 3D flying comes at a close second. Being able to do both kinds of movement like in Superman for Gamecube is ideal.

Overall, Abzu is a very low key game. My first impressions of it weren’t great but the game did soften me up as it went along. It ultimately became a game that could stand up on its own. Slowly but surely it got more interesting and that’s a good way to go out. Better to have an unimpressive opening and a solid ending than vice versa. Things got a little dicey for a minute there when it seemed like something was going to happen to the Shark but fortunately that was not the case. It’s not really the kind of game I would go out of my way to buy personally, but when it’s free like this I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. If you’re up for a game about exploring then this is as good a title as any to check out. That said, if you want something that’s a lot more plot focused involving water then you’re going to want to check out Super Mario Sunshine which to this day may be the definitive water based game.

Overall 6/10

The Witness Review


Next up from the PS Home Catalogue is The Witness. This one’s more of a full on puzzle game but also with the potential lore on the back-end. As the title would suggest you are witnessing something but you don’t know what it is. You wander around a large world as you see stone statues of people and a world that seems to have been thrown into disarray. What has happened here and why is everything so empty? You may get emotional while playing the game or you may just be waiting for some action. This is the kind of game where you know deep down that there won’t be any big fight scene but it would work really well because of how ominous the atmosphere is the whole time.

So as mentioned earlier, you start the game off in the middle of nowhere. You wake up in a chamber similar to Breath of the Wild and get to start solving some puzzles. My only gripe with this is that the game never gives you a hint at how to solve the puzzle or even explain what the objective is. You just have to figure it out on the fly which isn’t easy. Since a lot of the puzzles are in sets at least if you solve one puzzle then you will know how to solve the next 5-6. It’s still not a big help when you encounter a new kind of puzzle though. It’s a big quality of life issue that the game missed. If it did have such a feature then I’m confident that the game’s score would have been quite a bit more impressive. Instead as it stands you feel like the game is really lacking something.

I went around and solved a bunch of puzzles but with no visual indicator of how many are left, hints on how to solve the puzzle, or an accessible map outside of the boat; there are too many uncertainties. As I mentioned in a recent game review I like to see my progression. At least something general telling me that I’m making some headway into the tunnel as I try to crawl to the end. If there is no way to see any of that then it feels like you may be going towards something that is endless. What if it’s like No Man’s Sky where there is an infinite number of planets? This game doesn’t seem like it would do that to be honest but I would still like a ballpark number.

That said, with no true start to the game there probably isn’t much of an end either. As a result you can just play this one as long as you want and complete a bunch of puzzles but then call it a day and head home after that. Effectively that’s how it went for this game. It was reasonably fun solving the puzzles and walking around but then it was time to go. I don’t really think I would be going back to this one.

At least I did enjoy this style of puzzle. It reminds me of Professor Layton and while these aren’t quite as polished, those are the kinds of puzzles that I like solving. You just have to go through a lot of trial and error to get to the right spot but once you do, then you are really well set up for what is to come.

As for the graphics, the game looks decent. I wouldn’t say it looks quite as good as many PS1 or PS2 games that I’ve played but it’s not going for a really detailed look. There aren’t many colorful backgrounds or anything and since the place is basically deserted, it’s all rather empty. It’s not quite as visually impressive as the other Home games. I wouldn’t say the graphics are bad though, they’re just decent. There really isn’t a soundtrack though which is a shame. That would have been really good so you could listen to something as you conquer the puzzles. Without knowing the set length it’s hard to say how much replay value there is, but needless to say this should take you a while.

Overall, The Witness is a decent experience but one that won’t last you for very long. It is missing far too many important pieces for me to really call this a truly good game. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick update though but in the meanwhile this is definitely a middle tier option. You may sit down with it for an hour or two but it won’t hold your attention. It just needs an extra push and incorporating a story mode would be a nice addition.

Overall 5/10

The Mummy Demastered Review


While the Mummy film may not have exactly lit the world on fire, that doesn’t mean the video game can’t be a solid entry. WayForward has always delivered consistent products and this one’s also a blast. It’s a tad short but made in a way that encourages replaying the game and ultimately getting to a speed run level. The challenge of beating the game without dying once definitely sounds like it would be a really difficult one to achieve. This is a good example of how to handle a Metroidvania experience. There’s a precise reward system here that makes exploring fun.

The premise of the game is that the Mummy has awoken and you need to take her down. You are part of a very secret, very low key organization that exists to stop supernatural enemies like that. You have to suit up and find out why nobody is reporting back. Well, turns out they have all been murdered and the Mummy only continues to grow stronger. Surrender is not an option. If we can find the 4 sacred scrolls then we will have the abilities need to stop her. It’s now a race against time!

The scrolls were a good idea here since super powers is really the only possible explanation for how a band of humans can hope to stop the Mummy. Otherwise she would just stomp us all into dust and be done with it. This way you can at least see how we can handle this. The game has a fun idea about the death system too. In this game when you die the character himself doesn’t respawn. You get a brief cutscene where the captain fills you in on the plan again and lets you know that the last agent died. Here’s the twist, the last agent kept all of the gear and power ups. You then have to go find and destroy him to reclaim your abilities. He’ll also use them against you in battle which makes for a difficult mini-boss.

I nearly got myself into the corner on this. At one point I died right before the boss so the issue here is that the save room was pretty far away. To fight your previous agent you have to get back to the same room. The problem is that not having any power ups includes your health bars as well. So getting past the hordes of enemies with only 1 health bar and no power ups was very difficult. I had 13 deaths in the game and I want to say that maybe even 10 of those was to this section. I kept on creating more and more dead versions of myself. I should add that the dead versions stick around until you blow them up so you can have an army of evil main characters after you.

That whole thing was pretty fun. The core gameplay here is a 2D shooter with platforming elements. You have a standard blaster and grenades but as the game goes on you will gain more weapons. The ammo upgrades are extremely handy here as well since a lot of the time the main issue here will be that you run out of ammo while fighting the boss. Your main gun is good but it is weak so if you run out of ammo too soon then you will really be in a jam. Likewise having extra health bars is huge. So you’ll enjoy exploring the world because often times it will really lead you to power ups that help you in the game.

Additionally, the map system is very clear. You can see what parts of the game you have not explored yet and there are also a few copters that serve as shortcuts. I ended up searching through almost all of the map because it was satisfying to do so. I’d be tempted to go back and get the % to 100% since that will net me a few more trophies along the way. It’s the kind of game where you feel like the Platinum is absolutely attainable. Perhaps not too quickly but it can be done. The replay value also helps to make the actual story length longer. I got lost a few times which bumped my own play time up but I can see people knocking this one out like clockwork.

The graphics are pretty good. It’s a more retro sprite style and while I wouldn’t say it’s quite as polished as some others, you can always recognize everything and know where you are going. The best effects would likely be some of the flashier attacks from the bosses or even the little color effects so you know what their health bar is like. The redder the opponent gets the less HP they have left in the bank. The soundtrack is also solid, it’s got a very sci-fi kind of edge to it. I’d say it reminds me a bit of Prince of Persia as well, sort of that relics, sand of the gods kind of vibe mixed in. All in all that’s a good combo.

Mainly I would recommend always keeping at least one bomb handy when going through the game. Almost every power up is behind either some debris or a gate where you need the bomb. If you use them all up you’ll have to take down enemies until you replenish so if you always have at least 1 on hand then you can just quickly grab the power ups without having to worry about anything. At the same time you shouldn’t be afraid to spam your super gun ammo on the minions. You’ll get it back quickly and a lot of times it helps you save your health since otherwise the enemy attacks deal a lot of damage. Re-obtaining health is a lot more difficult especially once you have 8 bars or more. One strategy you can do is to die on purpose next to a save point since destroying your previous agent will always replenish your health completely. Now that’s a tidbit I would remember if I were you.

Overall, The Mummy Demastered is definitely a fun game. The various gameplay controls and mechanics are all handled very smoothly so you never feel bad about backtracking. You can cross the whole map in a short amount of time so if you need to look around it’s not like it’ll take hours. Titles like Metroid can learn a thing or two from this. Additionally the power ups feel substantial. One of the things I really liked about this is with every new upgrade you feel a lot stronger than you were before. This is something I’ve always praised the Shantae series for so I’m not surprised to see it be the case here. At around 3-4 hours you will breeze through the game but I’d definitely recommend picking the title up. Those will be hours well spent and the replay value helps things add up as well.

Overall 7/10

Astra Lost in Space Review


I remember reading the manga for Astra a while back and it was a lot of fun. It’s not every day that you get a space exploration manga like this. It’s sort of like an anime version of Star Trek only all the exploration is for one singular purpose of getting back home. Part of what really makes the series succeed is the quality character roster. I like almost all of the characters and even the weakest ones still bring something to the table. The story here is very character focused so if the writing wasn’t on point or if the characters were forgettable then this could have easily been rather lackluster. Instead, it’s a great anime that I could easily recommend.

The series starts off with a group of kids getting ready for a field trip to space. Aries is excited for this since she can make some new friends. The trip almost comes to a screeching halt when a pickpocket steals her bag but Kanata shows up to foil this theft and introduces himself as the captain. The other kids don’t agree with this proclamation but quickly allow him to take the title. The heroes do some exploring on the first planet but before they can head home a black hole sucks them up. Fortunately a spaceship was nearby and the heroes manage to get inside. They are now many light years away from home. Their only chance to get back it to go from planet to planet grabbing supplies and doing what they can to survive. There’s only one problem…this was no accident. One member of the crew is attempting to murder everyone on board.

Including the bit about a murderer on board really helps to take the series to the next level. It’s just a great plot line because it also gives you extra reason to really look at each character. Every character gets at least an episode to themselves and they all have distinctive personalities. None of them appear to have a motive but of course they’ve only just met each other so technically they don’t even know a whole lot. Each character could easily have a motive here. This extra layer of danger is always present on the journey which changes this from potentially being more of a slice of life to a high stakes adventure. You’re always assuming that the murderer will help out while the heroes are stranded in space but of course at any time this could change. With that said, lets talk about all of the characters.

First we have the fearless leader Kanata. He’s a world class athlete who doesn’t believe in giving up. A friend of his died a long time ago when he fell off a cliff and Kanata wasn’t strong enough to hold on. He blames himself for this even now and it’s his motivation for becoming strong. He has a lot of survival tips and sayings that he utters throughout the series. They’re all rather basic so the other characters make fun of him but at the same time they are quite true. Kanata’s easily the best character in the series and that’s always the ideal situation for a show. When your main character is great then the show’s already off to a brilliant start. Is all this bravado and heroism just an act to bump everyone off?

Then you have Aries who is the main heroine. She can be a bit of a space case at times and her main quirk if that she sometimes can’t hear what someone says and instead thinks they said something that rhymes with it. Like if a character tells her “Go get some help” she might think they said “Go and fry some kelp” which leads to some tricky situations. It doesn’t happen very often though. She has a photographic memory and wants to be friends with everyone so she is always very nice to all of the characters. Aries is a fun character and is quite useful on the team. Having a photographic memory is no small potatoes after all. Of course that ability would also make it easy to systematically take down every character.

Next up is Luca. He’s got a quick wit and likes having fun with the rest of the characters. He’s the only person who can easily approach Ulgar. He quickly figures everyone out and as a result is able to connect with everyone. Luca’s got a pretty sunny disposition but of course that could just be his way of coping with guilt for blowing everyone up. Luca’s definitely a solid character, you really want to have someone like that on your team to keep people from feeling too tense or anything like that.

Following Luca is Charce. He’s really into science and all of the foreign wildlife in these planets is fascinating to him. Charce is a good cook and just a man of many talents. He can also be a bit of a flirt at times. From the main characters I would say he is one of the weaker ones. The science angle isn’t quite as interesting as some of the other character quirks. Of course by cooking a lot of the meals he could potentially poison everyone so that’s something the gang will have to take into account.

After Charce is Zack. Zack is the genius member of the group. He remains rather emotionless at all times and is ready to repair whatever gets broken. He tends to find out a lot of the clues for the mystery going on and always reports to Kanata. Of course discovering the clues should not make him any less of a suspect as it could be a way to deflect suspicion. Zack makes for a very solid right hand man to Kanata and may be the most important member of the crew. He’s definitely a very high quality character and the show wouldn’t be the same without him. It’s nice to have a genius character who isn’t a jerk or anything the whole time and is actually quite reliable when it counts.

Quitterie is the next heroine on the ship. She’s definitely more aggressive than Aries and being friends with everyone isn’t her goal in the slightest. She has a colder disposition to the rest of the crew initially including her younger sister. Quitterie just isn’t good with people so she always has a wall around her emotions and is quick to dish out insults. You can probably guess how her character arc will go and she is a very necessary member of the crew. You always need a character like her to balance out all the super friendly ones. She just tells it like it is and serves as the ship’s doctor. Of course that means it would be easy to give people the wrong treatment intentionally.

Then there’s her younger sister Funicia. While she may seem too young to be a suspect, that could be what she wants you to think. She also has a toy bear she talks through which always acts a little meaner. Based on the show’s explanation it seems like the Bear acts out her thoughts which explains the different personality but at times you get the feeling Funicia is just messing with everyone. She’s a charming little kid and doesn’t get in the way you might expect one too. That’s the main reason why she is pretty fun here. She does her best to contribute. She may get in trouble at times, but who doesn’t on this ship right?

Ulgar changes things up and makes Quitterie look nice in comparison. This guy gets set off by anything and doesn’t even want to talk to the other characters. He makes it clear that he’ll only help out when it’s life or death. Of course there are 100 reasons to suspect him but one big thing against that would be that it may feel too obvious. Ulgar is a solid character and I enjoyed him on the show. He talks a good game but I wouldn’t say he’s ever overly mean or anything. The closest is when he piles on Yun-Hua with everyone else and you wish she would speak up a bit. Ulgar helps keep the crew on edge.

Speaking of Yun-Hua, she would have to be the weakest character in the series. Her main gimmick is that she’s super timid and is afraid to ever speak up. She feels like she has no particular talents and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as her hesitant nature causes her to mess up at times. Perhaps she wants to bump everyone off so that she will have accomplished something. By the end of the series I don’t feel like she ever really left a big impact though. Even her big moment basically involved singing while everyone else did the work. I wouldn’t go as far as to call her a bad character but I admit that I just didn’t like her. Substituting her with another person for the final member would have worked out well.

There’s one other important character in Paulina, but she doesn’t appear until near the end of the series. She’s a nice enough character. I wouldn’t say she does enough to really leave much of an impact though and is mainly here for some more plot twists. Paulina may panic a little too much with her fainting spells though. You can cut her some slack for just being really surprised I guess. Eh, she’s basically just around so she doesn’t change much of anything in the dynamic.

Naturally we do get some meanwhile scenes on Earth. You have the classic round table meeting type scenes with a bunch of the hype characters. These discussions were always very interesting and naturally they are quite crucial to the plot. You definitely need them around and this is one time where I didn’t mind when we would cut away from the main plot. For a mystery like this you want to see other points of view so this worked out quite well. The parents of the kids naturally have to appear as well and this was a good way to do it. Naturally Kanata’s father was the most interesting member of the group to me. The guy just has a very cool disposition.

The show also did a good job with its pacing here. Pretty much every episode ends with some kind of plot twist. As a result there is a final scene (Like a movie’s after credits scene) quite often where the twist is unveiled. You may feel bad for Kanata in each case as it almost always happens when he’s getting ready for bed. I haven’t seen a show consistently dish out so many hype twists like this in each episode before so it was quite nice. This show was just built really well for the 12 episode format. It pretty much lines up perfectly with each episode.

As for the animation, it’s pretty good. There aren’t a lot of chances for the animation to really shine for a show like this since it isn’t very action packed of course, but the character designs are on point and the level backdrops work well too. There’s definitely nothing to really say against it. The soundtrack is relatively low key. You won’t be finding any standout tunes here but nothing holding it back here. It’s basically just a sci-fi 101 kind of ost.

I already talked about the writing and naturally it is great. The question is, was it enough to make you sympathize with the traitor once that person was outed? Well, I would say no. To me the traitor still loses a lot of points in the end. I can more or less get over the original attempt from episode 1 because the character didn’t really know the others yet and the backstory covers this really well. I can’t overlook the issues from the last episodes though. By that point the traitor has absolutely no reason to go through with this particularly because of everything they know at this point. The character would have been redeemed in my eyes if they had just admitted to the whole thing or even not made any more attempts. Let the whole thing be a secret to the end. So acting on this and trying to murder everyone again is why this character was no good.

With as many plot twists running around as Astra had, naturally you may not be able to buy into all of them. For me there was just one that I find to be super sketchy. Lets just say it involves historical revisions. The sheer scale of this one just makes it impractical to me to the point of being impossible. If it was hundreds of years or something then I can buy into it as things can easily be suppressed in a long enough period of time. It was all too recent for it to be this complete though. I think the only way it would work out is if we were introduced to the world as some kind of closed off dictatorship where information is heavily funneled. That would then work out quite nicely because even in modern days we see that countries or areas where information is regulated leads to a lot of misinformation. It wouldn’t be beyond the pale for this to happen here. The issue is that Astra’s land functions as a very well run place with a lot of safety and access to information. They can bump people off when they find out the truth but they would have to have done it a lot more often. So, I don’t really buy into this twist but I wouldn’t say that it hurts the show either.

Each planet was fairly different which helped the adventure angle. So you could look forward to the heroes hanging out at the ship but also all the unique dangers that each planet would bring. Whether it would be not having enough food to survive or giant plant monsters trying to eat everyone. The show always had a good contrast going which was nice to see. The episodes just really fly by because they’re all just very interesting. It makes for being a very complete show and one that could have easily been stretched into 26 episodes and I’m sure it would have worked out quite nicely.

Overall, Astra Lost In Space is definitely a great anime. Fitting in a classic adventure story with a good deal of mystery is always a good idea. The genres support each other really well and you’ve got an engaging watch here which is really what you were hoping to find. It’s a self contained anime that you can really watch at any time so I’d recommend it to fans of all genres. Of course I’d be down for a sequel even though there aren’t any real loose plot threads left. Just seeing the characters again would be fun and with space exploration there is naturally a whole lot that you could do with it if you really wanted too. We can see how Kanata would handle future situations.

Overall 8/10

Pikmin Review


Pikmin is a game that I’ve owned for a long time and didn’t actually play through. The reason for this is despite being a big Nintendo game the gameplay never looked all that fun. I had briefly played the game in the past and it just didn’t work out for me. I tried it again now and am still not a fan. The exploration gets old pretty quickly and the mechanics are really hard to use. I’m hoping the sequels tighten things up a bit as that would help quite a bit.

The game starts with Olimar crash landing on a planet. The citizens of this planet are little creatures known as Pikmin and they have various elemental abilities. Olimar must use them to try and locate the broken parts of his rocket so he can get back home. He’s only got 30 days to do this so time is not on his side. There are 30 parts to collect and 30 days to do this which is a pretty perfect blend. If you average 1 part a day then you’re pretty well set. Olimar will have to be careful not to mess with the other aliens wandering this planet though. Those guys mean business.

One thing I will say in Pikmin’s favor is the overall story is pretty good. Every day Olimar updates the journal with his discoveries as things start to piece themselves together. We learn that the Pikmin are actually quite violent so it’s good that he’s on friendly terms with them. The game also gets pretty dark as Pikmin that are left by themselves seemingly get eaten by the monsters. Olimar also can’t breathe in oxygen which makes you wonder where he is actually from. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure.

I also do like the graphics. Those hold up very well to be sure and the levels/world design in Pikmin is very impressive. I only got to play through 2 levels because my Pikmin were not helping me in the slightest but what I saw was quite good. The controls are smooth for moving Olimar around and it makes you think that the gameplay for this could have been quite amazing from the start. If the game had played it straight without the Pikmin angle then I do think this game would have been quite great. The soundtrack is also pretty good. It’s quite peaceful without being dull because you still feel a good amount of energy in it. The soundtrack holds up quite well to this day.

Now lets go into what didn’t work for the game. I have to go right to the Pikmin. How it works is that you lead the Pikmin where you want them to go with slight commands or by running in the direction. The range is quite small so in most cases you’re better off just running over anyway. So you run somewhere and have the Pikmin pick up things or attack enemies and objects. When they find a piece of your rocket you escort them home and hope they don’t get eaten by a monster. It’s not ideal but I can work with this. The problem is that some obstacles require different Pikmin to tackle and they rarely co-operate. For example, you need yellow Pikmin to pick up bombs.

The problem is that getting Yellow Pikmin can be really difficult. Even when you lift up a yellow piece so they can come out the Pikmin will keep bringing it to the red spaceship. I couldn’t figure out how to stop them so what would happen is that I had a ton of Red Pikmin by the end of the game and almost no yellows. That was pretty rough since the Reds can’t really do anything except fight a bit. I do appreciate their tenacity and all but I wanted the Yellows. Then you’ve got the fact that if the Pikmin jumps a little too far even once they will get stuck behind the wall and that’s game over for them. You’ll have to wait til the next day if you’re out of the Yellows.

Pikmin also uses a day system which is not ideal. I haven’t liked that system in any game. Essentially the game has 30 days that pass by and when they’re all over you get to see a happy cutscene or a sad one depending on if you got the parts or not. As I only obtained 3 it was pretty sad to see him launch up and then fall down. It doesn’t actually delete all of your data though as it just re-starts the final day over and over again. I’m not really sure what you can do in one day to be honest, but maybe it still saves so you can eventually win. The problem is the unskippable cutscene you’ll have to sit through each time.

A day system like this just encourages you to rush through the game and that’s why I’ve never liked it. I prefer to play the game at my own pace and some days I may just want to run around. In Pikmin this is especially true because of how long it takes to find where you have to go and all. The game is fun at first when you’re exploring but when you actually try to progress and see that nothing is working then it gets old real fast.

Overall, Pikmin is a Nintendo game that has not aged well. The mechanics just aren’t very fun and I don’t believe that they are explained very well either. You’re left to your own devices which isn’t a bad thing if you have all the time in the world but with the days flying by that just isn’t the case. You’ll quickly be hit with the feeling that the end is near and you’ll even start jumping through days when you realize that no progress has been made. I already own Pikmin 3 so I’ll need to buy 2 at some point but I can definitely tell you that it is not very high on my list. Pikmin is probably the only Nintendo franchise I can think of that I actually dislike. I suppose even Nintendo had to have at least one series that didn’t work out for me.

Overall 3/10