The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

It’s time for another Legend of Zelda game. You could say I’m on a bit of a roll eh? This is another fairly recent overhead title so it comes with a lot of the quality of life updates you saw in the Switch game as well. I wouldn’t say this one quite beats Link’s Awakening but the story here is better. It’s a really fresh story with fun characters and very high stakes the whole time. You can’t go wrong there.

The story starts out with an intruder named Yuga showing up and infiltrating Hyrule. He starts turning everyone into portraits and even does this to Zelda before Link can stop him. Link is turned into a portrait as well but fortunately his armlet prevented this from being permanent and Link can now use the ability to phase into a wall like a paper character. He must now stop Yuga in his mad quest for power. To do this Link will need to awaken the Triforce, grab the master sword, and keep the 7 sages safe. Can he pull this off?

First off the graphics here are really solid. We get the occasional full cutscene where the animation can really shine but even in gameplay it’s very clear. There are a lot of striking colors all around and the boss designs are good. I won’t say this will compete with the top Nintendo games but it does well on the 3DS. The soundtrack is also a lot of fun with great themes around every corner. You’ll have a lot of fun listening to the game as you go on.

The gameplay is your classic Legend of Zelda style but there is one big improvement here which is that you get your weapons right away. So Ravio sells just about every weapon in the game and you can rent them for cheap. So the best thing to do is rent all of them and you only lose the weapon if you die so make sure you save the game a lot. Now I did this for pretty much the whole game but the only time it is tempting to let yourself die is if you made a lot of progress in a dungeon. After all resetting would lose that data so check to see how much money you have and if it’s enough then I would suggest just going back to the shop and renting everything again. When you get a game over you are given the option to respawn there anyway so it won’t take very long.

There are quick travel teleports all over the map so you rarely have to replay any large part of the game. Money is also fairly abundant and I was able to permanently buy a few of the items later on so then dying doesn’t even matter as much. All of the weapons will be useful at some point in the game so having them all will minimize how often you have to backtrack through it all. Towards the end there is a point in the game where you have the option to pick from 7 dungeons and the fun part is you can basically do them in any order. It’s like the game is part open world which is nice.

It makes for a pleasant experience although you can expect things to get a little tough for the final boss. Now there’s a boss that beat me quite a few times. I still feel like some attacks are almost Rng but hang in there and you’ll be okay. I couldn’t figure out how to get a fairy in the bottle for this game so buy a potion from the witch instead to restore your health. I also highly recommend getting all of the Master Sword materials to max the sword out. This means you need less strikes for the boss which is massive since every hit counts. The boss can beat you in around 3 blows after all, at least with the number of hearts that I had.

Meanwhile with the story you’ll have a lot of twists and turns to get through which are fun to experience. Link and Zelda are great leads as always but for example we meet a princess named Hilda who is a lot of fun. She’s lake a version of Zelda who grew up without a hero and so things have been tough on her. She never gave up though and fights for her planet which is admirable. Then there’s the villain Yuga who is new to the series. He’s definitely powerful and puts up a fight though so you don’t want to underestimate him. This guy absolutely plays for keeps and the ability to turn anyone into a painting is actually really scary. It’s hard to dodge and if not for the armlet then that would have been it for Link right there.

Each of the boss fights are unique and require different strategies. Yuga’s fights tend to have you be very observant to react to where he goes while other fights will require you to throw bombs from afar or get in close for a classic sword fight. Adapt how you fight for each boss and you’ll be fine. It really makes you feel like you’re playing through a true adventure that way as button mashing will not be enough to win here. The going through walls gimmick was also handled really well so it didn’t feel tacked on.

Overall, Link Between Worlds is a really fun game. It’s easily got one of the best Link stories and there is a whole lot of suspense here. It’s a very satisfying journey that keeps you on your toes and the gameplay had a lot of effort put into it by the devs. The dungeons are all long enough to be memorable while not overstaying their welcome. I liked how the floors were used in that switches on one floor could affect things on another. It made even the small dungeons feel big with how they kept adapting and the puzzles were handled fairly. If you don’t have this game yet then I definitely recommend fixing that!

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review

The Legend of Zelda has returned with a pretty big adventure on the Switch. It took me a while to finally get this one but you know what they say, better late than never right? I’ve always preferred the 3D Link adventures to the overhead ones personally. It’s like how for me 3D Sonic beats the 2D ones and 3D Mario beats 2D. Once you go 3D it’s really hard to go back but this one has a lot of quality of life enhancements and fun features that put it above all of the older Link overhead titles. It’s a quality game all the way through so you should have fun here.

The basic plot is that Link was adrift at sea and gets knocked out. When he wakes up he’s in a bright world filed with various Mario villains, evil Kirby, and a Yoshi Egg on top of the mountain. It’s all kind of weird and doesn’t feel like he’s in the real world anymore. An Owl shows up and tells him that he will need to wake the Windfish up and get all of the legendary instruments across the world. All of the bosses beg Link not to do this though or the whole world will be destroyed. Who should Link listen to here? Is he even on the right side anymore? There’s only one way to find out and so Link gets ready to destroy all of the monsters guarding the instruments.

In a lot of ways the story reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics where the lead is in a fantasy world and has to destroy everyone even though he knows it will destroy their world. Of course there he knows that he’s in a different world and is sure of how to destroy everyone while here Link doesn’t know anything for a fact and has to really tread carefully the whole time. One wrong step and he may make a mistake that he could end up regretting. It feels like the game has a deeper story than most of the overhead ones so that’s a good point in this game’s favor.

The graphics are definitely really high tier as you’d expect from a first party Nintendo game. It just looks really modern and sleek all the way through. The soundtrack is also a lot of fun. It’s got all of the classic Zelda tunes you can picture and they work well with the gameplay. It’s all got a very light atmosphere to it. Link can also move around decently fast so even though the world is rather big it doesn’t take too long to get anywhere. You also have a bit of a sprint option with the way Link does the dash attack even though bumping into anything will still slow you down.

There’s a fast travel here which saves time on going back and forth. You unlock more travel points the more you go through the game. Each dungeon can be tricky but you should get through as long as you’re really inspecting everything. There’s a lot more direction than in the old games and there are a lot of treehouses where you can call someone who will help you out. It’s a great mechanic because otherwise the game would fall into that hole of not telling you much. This way that is never an issue at all.

In terms of game length it felt reasonably long. I forget exactly how long but I would wager you’ll be playing for around 15 hours before you’ve beaten the game and maybe a bit longer. I wouldn’t say it’s super difficult but some of the puzzles will likely take you more than one try to get through. Legend of Zelda puzzles are never a walk in the park after all and each dungeon gets trickier since you have more and more items which could all be an aspect of the puzzle you are trying to solve.

With all of these options you can also ensure that you will have lots of ways to tackle each boss. There will always be a best way but figuring that out is on you. For me I liked using the Boomerang a whole lot because it dealt a serious amount of damage and could also be launched very quickly. It seemed even more efficient than the Master Sword at times which I think is an issue of getting the sword too quickly. It should be an end game weapon so you can make it like 20 times stronger than a normal weapon and have it live up to the hype. By the final dungeon make all of the other weapons completely powerless. It would be a bold approach but one that could make a lot of sense.

I enjoyed using all the weapons though, they were all handled well. The dungeons also have a lot of variety in them so you never feel like you played the same one twice. If there’s anything I’d want more of in a sequel it would be more cutscenes. The ones we got were great of course but I do think nowadays you could probably push things a bit and give us more cutscenes. Maybe throw in a surprise boss during the game outside of one of the dungeons. That would really shake things up in a really fun way. Do some small things like that and the Legend of Zelda series will stand out even more. If not? Well there’s no issue really, the formula has worked thus far so it can keep on working as is.

Overall, Legend of Zelda is back with another solid title here. I had a good bit of fun and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time. It’s really done about all that it can with this gameplay style and there are even some fully animated scenes. It avoid most of the pitfalls I usually give these titles which is impressive. It feels like a very focused game with a good story and at the end of the day that’s exactly what I’m looking for here so I was super satisfied.

Overall 7/10

Detective Pikachu Review

I watched the movie for Detective Pikachu a long time ago and it was definitely a lot of fun. It’s taken me long enough but I finally got to buy the game as well. I do like the idea of the game with solving mysteries and cracking puzzles but in this case I think the premise far outstrips the execution. It’s aimed a bit younger than I expected in terms of the gameplay so it’s a true cakewalk. You aren’t going to die here and at most you may just take some time on some of the chapters because you have to talk to everyone so much. There is very little dialogue here compared to the text you’re reading. It almost becomes a visual novel at some points.

The story follows a kid named Tim who is trying to find out what happened to his father. Tim’s father was working on a very dangerous case when there was a car crash and then he was never seen again. Tim is confident that his father still lives since the body wasn’t found but in order to dig up any clues he is going to potentially have to cross paths with a very powerful criminal underworld. These guys don’t play nice so that means a single mistake can really have you in a jam. Fortunately Tim meets up with an interesting Pikachu who wears a detective’s cap and Tim can even understand him. This Pikachu acts a whole lot like a human too and even drinks coffee. Unfortunately he has a case of amnesia and won’t be able to help out much in uncovering the truths through what he recalls but apparently he was Tim’s father’s Pikachu so at least he was close to the situation. Perhaps his memories will come back later on.

Along the way you meet up with a reporter and her friend as well as their boss and then a bunch of other characters. The cops are here to help and before long you have a lot of suspects to work with. There are 9 chapters in the game and they all help you build up some clues and they each get you closer to finding the mastermind behind the operation. One thing’s for sure, this won’t be easy for Tim.

Now the main issue with the game is that all of the chapters start to feel very similar because there is no variety in the gameplay or the structure. Basically the flow is that you will talk to everyone once and get some ideas/clues for the case that you’re working on. This triggers a new idea/clue and then you have to talk to everyone again. You rinse and repeat until you’ve solved the case at which point Pikachu will start recapping it. Then you get a quick time event to wrap up the chapter and start the steps again. The weakness to this style is that if you solve the case ahead of Tim and that’ll happen often, you still can’t proceed until you officially get the clue.

This happened to me quite a few times but the most intense was in the final chapter where I missed one character to talk too and that was enough to prevent me from moving forward in the case. It would help if you didn’t have to talk to everyone each time. Additionally whenever you talk to a Pokemon for the first time you get a whole intro for that Pokemon which can get a bit repetitive. The game likes to recycle animations. Also Pikachu will occasionally call to you and usually it’s to give you advice for a case but sometimes it’s just for a little skit. The problem is that it’s impossible to know which is which and some of these clues are required for you to move on so it’s always a guessing game.

Meanwhile I enjoy the quick time events but it would still be nice if there were more I could do on my own. Let me fight as well because otherwise all I can do is move around in the game. A fun tribute to the franchise would have been if it turned into a turn style based combat for the final level of the game. You have to admit that would have been super awesome and it could have helped make things feel special. Instead the final chapter is just like any other.

Now there is still a good amount to like bout the game and that makes sense since the score is still going to be positive here. The game has voice acting at times and fully animated cutscenes. That’s always a lot of fun and makes the game feel more special. You can tell that a good amount of budget was put into this one without a doubt. The graphics hold up really well. The soundtrack also gets surprisingly intense during the quick time events. Suddenly there is a decent amount of rock and roll music going on. It’s nice and fast paced and helps to really take the music to the next level.

In terms of length I wouldn’t say it’s great but it’s long enough. It’ll take some different batches to defeat it for sure. Maybe around 10-12 hours would be how long the game takes. There isn’t any replay value as the game just stops and then you can’t go through a level select or anything like that. There’s no collectibles or anything so it makes sense. You’re playing this one for the mystery and that’s it. The ending does leave a lot of room for the sequel though since they don’t actually wrap everything up. You could say that the adventure is just getting started.

Tim is a decent main character. He wants to save the day and find his father. There admittedly isn’t a whole lot more to him than that but it’s enough to at least use as a starting point. Then you have Pikachu who is very confident in himself and he deserves it. He is actually a really good detective here and lllcan hold his own on any case. That’s exactly the kind of character I like to see. The reporter is good as well and you’ve got a fun cast here. If they ever do make the sequel and just add some more interactive gameplay then I’d say we will certainly have a winner here. I like to see the Pokemon games trying new things but I just think you have to give people a little more than this. I got it for a great price but at full price it just ends too soon and wouldn’t have given you the big experience you were expecting.

Overall, This game wasn’t quite as good as I expected but it was still a good game. It’s fun to see how different it is from the movie. They have a lot of common elements but also really ended up doing their own things in the end and the nice part about that is you don’t have to relive the same story twice. Instead you get to see the characters again but in some new settings. If you’re looking for a fun little Pokemon adventure that is more of a book than a game then this is the one you will want. If that doesn’t sound quite energetic enough for you then you should probably get something like Pokken instead and keep this one on the bench for now.

Overall 6/10

Monster Squad Rush Review

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they see an advertisement for something that looks pretty cool but you know that it’s definitely got to be fake. Still you want to try it out and that was how I was introduced to the Monster Squad Rush. The advertisements for this looked pretty fun as it was an endless runner within the Pokemon universe. Who wouldn’t want to play it right? Well the game has fun gameplay and some pretty neat features but ultimately it is all completely squandered by the unrelenting barrage of advertisements everywhere you go.

The main mode has you running down a road and you will need to grab as many Pokeballs and gems as possible. Pokemon will stand in your way and you catch them by hitting them with the Pokeballs which is automatic as you run forward. At the end of the level you go up against a boss Pokemon and when you defeat him you will gain more knowledge of the Pokemon. Once that’s at 100% you can catch it. If you watch an ad then you can double the initial scan and catch him in less tries. After that you move on to the next level. Rinse and repeat. Its a very simple formula and you just keep on going so this had the potential to be really fun as you keep on going through. I know there are over 160 levels at least.

There is also quite the character cast here. You’ve got Brock from Pokemon, (No Ash despite all the ads) Iron Man, Spider-Man, Venom, and Lady Deadpool from Marvel. Superman from DC. The girl from Overwatch. And finally Naruto himself. Thanks to a glitch I unlocked them all even though you’re supposed to play tournaments and do a bunch of events to slowly get them. Obviously the game doesn’t have the rights to these guys so it’s impressive that they got them all together. It feels like a true superstars endless racing game. They don’t effect the gameplay at all as this is purely a costume change but it’s still cool.

Now the issue here is the advertisements as I mentioned. After each level there is an ad that plays for a while before you can skip it. When you’re starting a level there is another ad that plays. When you beat the boss there is another ad that plays. All new hats, characters, and bosses are hidden behind ads as well. Each of these ads are complete videos for the same games over and over again which is annoying. By the time I made it to the 8th level I knew that was it for me. The ads are just too annoying and frequent.

I know you have to keep the game free somehow but there’s no way you have to include this many video ads. I’ve played my share of app games in the past and this has to be the most egregious yet. There’s just no way to really play the game smoothly. On the way to level 8 I passed well over 10 video ads and so at that pace the game is way too slow. I really enjoy endless runners but not enough to put up with that for very long. So this is a game that I definitely would say to stay away from. It’s not like there is a ton of content to unlock either. I think that’s why it is padded out with ads because otherwise you’d beat the game quickly and then there wouldn’t be much else to do. Sure you could keep playing the endless runner levels but with nothing to unlock that wouldn’t be quite as smooth.

Another big shot against the game is that there is no music. Not “Barely any music” but literally no music. They couldn’t be bothered to even get free domain songs in there so you’re going to need to open up Pandora in the background so you have something to listen to. There are sound effects yes but that’s it and it’s always eery to play a game with no music but just the sounds going in. It didn’t really work for me tbh. It certainly doesn’t do anything to try and make the game a little more fun.

I’ll say that the graphics are okay at least. I would consider it to be fairly low among app games and doesn’t look nearly as good as any of the official ones but at least you can tell who the characters are. It’s not so bad that everyone is completely off model or anything like that so I can still give the game some credit there. Bright visuals just aren’t going to be nearly enough to get me to stick around either, I need more than that.

Overall, Monster Squad Rush is a bad game. It relies too much on ads instead of developing good game content that will keep you going. It also boasts about paying some money to remove the ads for a while which shows you how greedy the game is. If you want to have optional video ads to increase your points or something then that would be fine. I’ve played many mobile games that had optional ad videos which worked well but the issue is when they are all mandatory. That’s when you really get into quite the pickle and end up sabotaging your entire game right at the jump. If only the game could have played things a bit smarter but as it is I’ve now deleted the game from my phone and it’s back to the Mega Man X Dive/Pokemon Go tag team combo.

Overall 3/10

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Review

Spongebob Squarepants is finally back! I gotta say that my experience with the Spongebob franchise as a whole is very light. Seriously I mostly know it from the memes and all but when it comes to sitting down and watching an actual episode I haven’t done much of that. It always looked like fun though and I do like me a good platformer so I had to jump in and have fun here. The gam elives up to the classic platformer formula. It’s perhaps a bit strict about how many Golden Spatulas you have to grab though. Fortunately you only have to get all of them if you’re aiming for the Platinum though because otherwise that would have been bad.

An army of robots is attacking the underwater country so Spongebob is called in to stop them. He is no stranger to crazy situations after all and wants Merman to be proud of him so Spongebob agrees to help. His friends will also be around as back-up support. The villain here seems like it might be Spongebob’s old enemy Mr. Plankton but he can’t prove that yet so for now we jut have to go in there and get as many quality wins as possible. Each robot destroyed is one less than can cause terror and destruction to the many.

The basic gameplay is that of a 3D platforming so you’re running and jumping as you go through the levels. You can attack and ground pound. In addition each character has their own special abilities. Spongebob can grab onto ziplines and so a super jump. Sally can glide and shoot out her lasso and finally Patrick can throw things really far. So the levels use all of their special abilities and have unique obstacles waiting for everyone. The objective of the game is to obtain 75 Golden Spatulas in order to enter the villain base so you get these at the end of every mission given to you by the other characters and others are also scattered around the worlds. Considering that there are 100 total Spatulas, you can see how beating the game actually comes rather close to 100% completing the title. Perhaps that will be enough to get me in here for the platinum at some point but right now I’ve had my fill of collecting.

The level layouts are good and there is a whole lot to do on each world. You never really feel confined and it’s so big that it’s part of why the collectibles are hard to find. At times the camera angles can get a bit wonky but on the whole it’s good. The worlds are all pretty different and stand out so no chance of mixing them up or anything like that. They always have a lot of variety. I will say that you should try to definitely get as many seashells as possible so you can buy lots of Spatulas from Mr. Krabs. Those will all come in handy towards the end of the game.

The boss battles are all fun here. They each have different rules and objectives towards beating them so none of these are copy and pastes. The developers really got to make the most of their creativity here. Meanwhile the animation is definitely sharp. This looks like a solid PS4 game. I won’t say the graphics are out of this world or anything but it’s all very clear and bold which is ultimately the objective. The soundtrack is a little less memorable though and doesn’t have the kinds of tunes you’d hear in Mario or Sonic.

So on a gameplay level this is very strong and I have no issues. The only part of the game that isn’t quite as solid is the story/characters. This is Spongebob of course so it’s more comedic but the characters can be a little annoying. There aren’t many sound clips here so you’re going to be hearing the characters repeat the same lines over and over again. They’re not exactly great lines either so you’ll mostly just be annoyed after a bit. Ultimately they are fun in small doses but I would say that the cast doesn’t hold up quite as well compared to other comedy casts.

Squidward is always good though and I root for the guy to go far. He really tries to stay out of trouble but it always has a way of finding him regardless. There’s not really a lot of crude humor or anything beyond all the underwear jokes so the game doesn’t go that far. I’d like a game that focuses on Merman back in his prime though. Now that would be really good to see.

Some quality of life updates would be fun like being able to warp to a specific point in the world instead of walking over and hopping into boxes. It’s probably something the devs felt just wouldn’t fit into the world I suppose. The game length is pretty reasonable and this should take you a few batches to complete. Throw in the opportunity to earn a Platinum trophy and that just makes the game even longer which is always good. I wouldn’t have minded if they added more racing levels though, they were some of the highlights of the game. It reminded me of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and I always like racing on slides and rail type surfaces.

Overall, Spongebob has a solid game here. It may not be Mario but it’s still pretty good around the board. I’d consider this to be a AAA platformer and the production values check out. Replace the cast with a more intense one and the game would be even better. At the end of the day if you’re a Spongebob fan then you should love this game and if you enjoy platformers then you should like the game regardless. It’s fairly easy to complete but you will need some talent to platinum it since getting the final Spatulas can be intense. There were a few I skipped over like the bowling ball balancing segment which was really intense. I suppose I’ll get to test my limits against that one when I ever get back to this title.

Overall 7/10

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge Review

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a fairly iconic film so I suppose it makes sense that it would get a game at some point. Games based on movies or around movies typically don’t have the greatest rep but a lot of times they can still be fun in a basic sense. You’ll have your classic platforming as you go from level to level and that’s enough. Unfortunately where this game falters a bit is perhaps in trying a bit too hard to be more than that. We’ve got power ups and different weapons as well as a bunch of puzzles but they aren’t all connected quite well enough. In the end this makes the game jus end up falling short.

The game starts off with Oogie Boogie making his big return. He wants revenge on Jack and so he has stolen the masters of every holiday. They are all gone now and this is really bad news for Halloween Town. Jack has to try and save them but is this actually a trap? Jack has a new whip that he can use to strike at his opponents and manipulate in all kinds of ways so he will have to hope that this is enough to get the big win in the end.

First off what I do like about the game is the combat system. Being able to swing the whip around is actually really fun and it’s a lot more action oriented than you would expect. There are many sections in the game where you just have to keep on swinging and take down enemies in droves until they all go down. It’s basically part beat em up and who doesn’t enjoy that? Additionally you have alternate forms in fire Jack and Christmas Jack which come with their own special abilities. The Christmas form doesn’t typically damage opponents as it’s more about throwing presents to stun opponents but the fire form actually does burn opponents to a crisp. So that one is handy but it runs out of ammo almost immediately.

When I’m bashing away at enemies then things are going well. Meanwhile the graphics are also pretty solid here. It certainly captures the classic feel of the movie with the very memorable designs. This is still Halloween Town of course so everything is appropriately decorated. The game knew what it was trying to do and did it well. It’s also surprisingly long and should take you nearly 20 hours to complete. I can tell you now that this is very rare for movie-tie ins. You do not typically expect to see one of these games take nearly so long.

Now for what didn’t work, the game’s soundtrack is incredibly limited. There are basically 2-3 songs that are constantly looped as you play through the game. They just keep playing that Halloween song and for the boss they have the song with the kids. You have to end up hearing this song over and over again. Hey the songs ae catchy but after a while the spamming is just a bit much. You want something more and this is a game that could have stood to have been a bit quieter. Maybe at least change it for an instrumental version for some points which would have broken things up.

Additionally back to the puzzles, a lot of times you have absolutely no clue where to go. There is a map but it is completely unlabeled so it’s really not all that helpful. You can be lost for ages until you memorize all of the locations. By the time I completed the game I had a rough idea of where everything was so I started to move a little faster but until then I was getting lost constantly. This is not a fun game to be lost in because if there is an enemy around then you won’t be able to use your whip to climb so you have to beat them again. You at least get some money from them in order to buy more upgrades but it will take a while because the upgrades are expensive. They only drop a handful of coins. The only effective way to buy all of the upgrades is to go to one of the towers where there is a big gold coin that will randomly give you up to 250 coins in one shot. Grab that and then you are absolutely set. The fastest method is to grab it, enter a house, leave and the coin will appear again. Keep doing this over and over until you have enough money to buy everything. I did this for around 2 hours and that was enough to let me beat the final parts of the game.

This is a game where you have to grind. Grinding is not bad, I tend to enjoy it but the problem is that this game was not really set up for it so as a result you have to do a whole lot of extra stuff. Meanwhile the boss battles can be a bit fishy as well and usually getting back there if you lose requires a lot of moving around. There is a “Continue?” option when you die but all it does is steal your coins and put you back to your last checkpoint. It’s almost always a better option to quit out completely and just reload your game instead.

This game probably needed a little more time in the lab to iron out some of the kinks. I think the beat em up approach was good in theory but the game probably went a little too hard in adding the grinding elements without building a true system around it. Even at max level I just barely beat one of the time trial challenges which almost felt like luck. I had to spam all of my best moves and even then I just barely made it. One thing that would have helped a whole lot would have been fast travel. Aside from the final boss area the only place to replenish your health and extra bottles is back at the main hubworld. These bottles are important because you can immediately replenish your health back to full with each one. These enemies take up a ton of health so you will want to have those bottles for sure. Without them you likely aren’t going to go far here.

That does mean that you will have to run all the way back to the hub world on multiple occasions and this is usually quite the journey. We’re talking several areas back which is sometimes over a whole chapter into the past. It’s not a journey that you really want to be making much but at the same time it’s not like you have much of a choice. So adding in a fast travel would have solved all of that immediately.

Overall, This game was probably just a bit too ambitious considering the budget. It can happen when you go too far in the wrong medium like the first Sword Art Online game that I played on mobile. There is a rhythm based aspect of the gameplay though which was neat since I’m seeing that everywhere all of a sudden. When you’ve dealt enough damage you get to activate your song abilities. It deals heavy damage to the boss but the timing is definitely tough so you will have to really get the hang of it. During the final boss I messed up quite a few times so the boss battle took forever. Make sure your reaction times are on point or you’re in trouble!

Overall 5/10

Mario Party Star Rush Review

All right do you know what time it is?? It’s Mario Party time!! Yessss…well at least Mario Party used to be a super hype series like that. It really started to fall off slowly but surely as the games went on. Mario Party 4 is where the series peaked but I would say that Parties 5-7 were all still really great. It was in 8 where the cracks started to show and then beyond that into the Wii U era is when things really got fishy. I cut the portable games a little more slack in the sense that they usually don’t have any iffy gimmicks they’re just more limited by what the console can do. Star Rush not having any kind of a story mode is a little shameful though. Cmon you couldn’t give me anything? This one also introduces a gimmick that I’m not a big fan of. The game is saved by having a good amount of modes to play and ultimately it’s a good title.

So in the game the main party mode is something called Toad Scramble. Everyone plays as Toad and the idea here is to defeat 3 bosses in order to end the game. Each boss is holding onto the power star. Now here’s the kicker. No matter who bumps into the boss first, all 4 players are pulled in to enjoy the boss fight. The only disadvantage is that if you are rather far then it will take you a few seconds to join the fight as you see your character flying over. The character to do the most damage earns the star and getting the final hit gets you a lot of point. There are 3 different lengths to the mode so you can do 3 boss fights, 5, or one with an unknown number.

I’m not a big fan of the game trying to force all of this teamwork on you though. Can’t I just get the star myself? You also have to land on the exact space where the star is or you won’t get it. So unlike most of the games where you can keep on going, this means you will sometimes have to keep walking in a circle until you can grab the star. You are able to move backwards for once though which is interesting. You don’t have to just go forward like in the other Party titles. These two gimmicks just feel a little pointless though and don’t add to the experience.

There are no turns in this game so you also don’t get consistent minigames to play. Only happens when people bump into each other on the same square. There’s also a mechanic where you see Mario and friends scattered across the field and can recruit them. They all have different dice blocks and help you out during the fights. This one is an interesting idea at least although I don’t know if it was worth only having Toad as the playable character. Once you have the allies you can switch so they are the ones running on the field so I guess in a way it’s like an alternate way to play as someone else but that just seems a bit convoluted.

I wasn’t a big fan of that mode but there was another mode which was a lot of fun. This was the coin battles. Basically this is a one on one duel with another opponent and you are both put on a track and field course. A minigame will start and they all involve collecting a lot of coins. Each coin collected is one step closer to the goal and the first to 300 coins wins. As you get further into the mode the challenges get tougher and the amount of coins you need becomes larger but I really liked this mode. It was super fast paced and so something was always happening. It was a unique mode while also not feeling like it was just a gimmick that was thrown in at the last second. Oh yeah I definitely enjoyed that quite a lot.

There’s also a rhythm mode which I can’t say that I was expecting. You have to press the buttons in sync when the characters are playing classic Mario songs. It’s a fun test of your reaction times and is just a peaceful mode in general. It’s difficult to lose but it’s also really hard to ace them with an S rank because getting a single great instead of an excellent can be your downfall. Still, that was fun and so I give the game credit for having different modes like this. There is actually a reasonable amount of content for someone even without friends.

For example, there is a level up system here. You can exp for just about every mode like winning a Toad Scramble or a coin battle. Each level up tends to unlock either a new mode or a new character. I wasn’t at the highest level yet so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were even more modes that I hadn’t unlocked yet. It’s a nice feeling knowing that the adventure can still go on further. You can get this game for rather cheap now so it’s something you should really try to have on your radar. You definitely don’t want to miss out on it after all.

The graphics are really solid. It’s not surprising since this is Mario after all but it’s still worth noting. The 3DS does well with all of the characters looking crisp and of course the soundtrack is on point as well. This doesn’t feel low budget which is good. At the end of the day it’s hard to see people picking up this game instead of the home console ones but for the people who do play it, you want the game to be as good as possible.

Overall, Mario Party Star Rush is definitely different but it’s still a fun game. While the party mode may leave some things to be desired, the coin mode has you covered. It’s a lot of fun trying to grab a whole ton of coins and just getting through as quickly as possible. The minigames themselves are also really solid. I didn’t notice any that were really recycled and there were a lot of good ideas here. It does make me think about buying one of the ones that I’m missing one of these days. At this point there are a handful so I should probably start on that. Either way I would actually recommend buying this one. You’ll have a good time with it and won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020 Review

It’s been a while since I played one of the Madden rivals. This one I hadn’t even heard about before I bought it and well…it is definitely the low budget version to be sure but it’s always nice to have more Football options. If it could just clean up a lot of the bugs and glitches while giving us more options that could really do the trick. As it stands, it’s a pretty good game but there is virtually 0 reason to ever play it because Madden and NCAA just offer better products. You can buy a Madden game from 10 years ago for a dollar or two and it’s better than this one.

So the game has 8 teams that you can play as. I thought they were made up at first but it seems that these are college teams. The play now mode was disabled for some reason but you can jump right into a season to have fun there. The drawback is that unlike most season modes, you don’t actually get to play as a team and automatically go through the season. Instead you have to manually select the team and game each time, then simulate the rest. The annoying thing about this is that’s a lot of extra clicks each time and it turns what should have been a completely automatic process into something that’s super manual.

I would also note that the games are much longer than Madden but I’m sure you can alter the settings somewhere (Hopefully) so that’s not really a negative. But to put it one way, one game took me around 2 hours to complete while the average Madden game is closer to 30-40 minutes. It’s because there is no accelerated clock running or an easier way to run back and do your next play. You can speed it up with the hurry up offense but the game is just missing all of the bells and whistles that really allow you to move quickly. That is what the game is lacking here without a doubt.

I mentioned glitches earlier and those are very noticeable throughout the game. You’ll have characters teleporting as if they just fell through a portal and there is actual lag sometimes which is weird for an offline game. When you are controlling the defense it doesn’t feel like you have complete control with how the characters will move and miss obvious interceptions. It’s like you’re always a few steps too late no matter what you do. Now there is a slight positive here which is that you can actually throw deep balls here without worrying about being picked off all the time.

Now your receiver won’t always move to catch it so that’s a new worry but still it’s a part of the game that I have missed. One thing’s for sure though, running in this game is incredibly overpowered. Your players are always faster than the defense. It doesn’t matter if you use a WR, RB, or the QB, you will be able to run at will. Once I scored over 100 points in the game and it was still the 3rd quarter I decided to run out the time by running around the field. You’re so much faster that you can keep running the defense in a circle to just waste all of the time out. It is a lot of fun since I love to run but they should probably make the guy a bit slower.

Of course your QB is Doug Flutie himself so maybe the game just wanted to make sure that his stats were through the roof. They definitely succeeded if that was the aim and I got quite a few trophies while playing as him. There may not be a ton of replay value here due to the limited amount of modes but I could see this being fun if you have someone to play it with. Then the shaky mechanics and low budget nature of the game would become an endearing part of the experience instead of something that holds it back.

You can see the players stop moving in the distance once they are further than what the game processes and it looks funny at least. Everyone just gets frozen and it certainly makes it easy for you to really take your time and pick who you want to throw the ball too. If the game did really well maybe a sequel would get a higher budget. I do think it needs some kind of explosive factor to get this on the map. Until then people may not like Madden but it still offers the better Football product so people are going to gravitate to that. That’s just how this works, you want the game that better simulates the Football experience.

While the graphics may be very sub par, at least it does work in a retro sense. It looks like a PS2 era title and one thing those did have going for it were the really bright colors. There’s something nice about seeing the uniforms without a whole lot of detail, all of the colors really contrast. There isn’t much of a soundtrack but you don’t really want music while playing much anyway. For the menu I didn’t even notice it much but you should probably have something very energetic there to really keep people on their toes.

Overall, Considering that the game is only a few bucks to buy I had a good amount of fun with it. The fact that it goes for $5 is a warning bell in itself but if you’re looking for something a little different than Madden then this is the game to pick up. You can march up and down the field at will and just relax with how easy it all is. Then when you go back to Madden you’ll have more appreciation for how much work was put in there. It’s certainly true that they haven’t innovated in a very long time but even just having the amount of features and quality of life updates over the years still makes Madden a definitive product that I really don’t see being overtaken anytime soon.

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure Review

When I saw this as one of the games on sale at GameStop I knew I had to grab it! While I may not have kept up with the latest My Little Pony series….pretty much at all since the movie I still knew this would be a very wholesome adventure which is perfect for Christmas. It’s a very short game though and you can tell that there wasn’t a whole lot of content put into this one. It’s absolutely not worth paying full price for but when the going rate is around 15-20 you have to snag it.

The game involves a pony mysteriously defacing a lot of posters all around the festival. The Ponies are just trying to have a good time here with all kinds of events going on like fashion shows and aerial tricks but this is putting a damper on things. Sunny has to stop this pony but when the evidence begins to point to her friends she has to wonder if she really should solve this mystery. Her friends should have no cause to spoil such a grand day for her right? The time is ticking as the case gets more and more serious.

On a fundamental level the game is very sound. It doesn’t try to do a whole lot but what it does do is very smooth. I would say this game is aimed at a very young crowd, even more so than the Mario and Sonic games at least from a difficulty perspective. There is no way to lose or take damage in this game. There are a few events like herding animals and running but they are given to you with very generous timers to make sure you can clear them. Even obtaining the Platinum trophy is something that you can do very quickly. You should get it within 15 minutes of completing the game since you just have to complete one post story race.

It’s good for there to be some games for the kids. I think this one does the job well but the only sore spot is the length. Short games are nothing new of course but it just feels like they did the bare minimum for this one because they figured most people wouldn’t be playing it. You’ve got a really big hub world here but most of it is just empty. There isn’t really anything to do outside of the story. So as a result by the time you’ve completed the story there aren’t other side missions to finish.

The story itself is fun though with full voice acting and solid cinematics. The graphics here are absolutely top tier with the CG looking just like the real character models. They do have that CG gimmick where the eyes appear a bit distorted so the characters almost look scary at times but all in all I thought it was rather sharp. The graphics continue to look good during the game as well. I’d say some of this can also be attributed to the art direction which was really on point. The soundtrack is a lot more bland though to the point where large chunks of the game are completely quiet. It’s a little eery since you think of music when thinking about MLP ordinarily.

So the silence is almost deafening. We do get a song for the end credits though so that was neat but the game should have embraced this a bit more. I appreciated having a real villain here but I’d say for the sequel they can take it a little farther while still keeping the game as kid friendly. Friendship is Magic had a lot of big villains after all and you could also have the characters have some disagreements if you don’t want to go the full villain angle. This will help extend the game and if you can get the sequel to more like 6 hours then you’ll really have more bang for your buck.

There’s a case to be made that the longer the game went on, the more the cracks would show. That’s certainly possible so it is a risk but at the same time you have to throw the players a little bone. When they can complete the game in an instant like this it just overshadows all of the work that went into the animation and gameplay here. It doesn’t matter how smooth it all is if there’s just nothing to do after a while. Give us a bunch of extra minigames and story content and you’d have yourself a winner. As a result there’s not a ton to talk about here though.

Overall, My Little Pony is always a fun franchise and it’s nice that it got this game. It just would have been nice if the devs challenged themselves to add some more content here. If this was sort of a trial game to see how things would work then I’d say it succeeds. The gameplay is really on point and it succeeds in all technical aspects but I can’t imagine buying this one on day 1. I would say the company should still want to maximize sales and for this game to do well you really need to put a little more effort into it. If a sequel were to show this then I’d definitely be glad to pick it up. Until then I’d only recommend this game if you see it’s still on sale or the price has been permanently lowered. Then it’s a good amount of fun.

Overall 6/10

He-Man: Power of Grayskull Review

It’s time for a classic He Man game! It’s been a long while since this one came out so you could say that it’s about time I got to play it. The franchise has so much potential for video games so it’s a shame that it doesn’t have more. This one’s fairly short and I wouldn’t say that it’s the highest budget GBA game out there but it still does the trick. I had a good time with it at least. You may finish it at turbo speeds but you’ll have a good time and there are no slow parts in the game.

The basic plot is that Skeletor is up to no good and He Man has to stop him. I mean that may be oversimplifying a bit but that’s what is boils down too. Different characters like Cringer and Teela get captured so you have to save them. Along the way you get to face off with all of the classic He Man villains as our hero takes them down one at a time. Nobody is ready to handle the Man of Might as He Man just keeps going to town on everyone. There is a reason why he is known as the strongest in the 9 realms after all. His power just never stopped rising and with the sword he is unbeatable.

It is nice that they got some voice acting here for the iconic “I have the power!!” moment. That was really cool and I’d like to see them keep that up. That is the only real voice acting here but it started the game on the right note. Now when it comes to sound effects the game is a bit lazy because there is only a single damage effect used for every minion and it’s not the most flattering one. It’s not a deep growl or anything but more of a whimper. Surely they could have switched that up a bit.

The graphics are pretty solid though. I thought they looked good for the GBA era. Each character is clearly defined and you won’t have any issues navigating through the levels. The soundtrack may not be very memorable but it’s not bad either. It’s just a little limited which is what holds it back here. I’d like to throw in some more songs, maybe even the opening to the TV show for the final level but I realize that is pretty much unheard of so it’s not something you’d expect.

The game has 13 levels and they are split between normal platforming levels and racing ones. Racing levels are extremely easy so you shouldn’t have any trouble there. Just keep on moving and you’ll make it to the end eventually. It’s an overhead racer so you’re just moving side to side and jumping. You don’t need to worry about going fast since you’re automatically moving as it is.

As for the platforming levels, usually you have to get somewhere which means beating up a bunch of villains. The villains are limited and don’t respawn so don’t worry about fighting them. Sometimes it’s nice to get them out of the way so you can concentrate but other times you can just keep it moving. Each level lets you know the full stats and what you may have missed there. There isn’t a lot to each level so you could 100% complete it if you want to. The game shouldn’t take you longer than 2 hours and you’ll probably beat it well before that.

The only really tricky boss would be the final one I’d say. Skeletor hits hard and he can also heal himself by using the green orbs in the room. Each orb restores your full health and does the same for Skeletor. So the trick here is to position yourself in front of the orb. When you are going low on health, just use it first so that he can’t. Then run to the other orb and repeat the process. You can win this with pure button mashing as a result and it only gets tricky if you let him get to the max health. That’s when it’s all a bit dicey. So long as you keep outsmarting Skeletor then you should be in good position.

Of course the length is the main drawback against the game so that’s the only thing to consider here. If the game is a lot of money then you may want to wait since 1-2 hours is all you’ll be playing this for. There aren’t any unlockable levels or post game to extend the timer for either so the main story is it. Once you’re done with that then you are done with the game. Also there are no save files so you actually do need to put in a password when you turn the system off. Fortunately someone wrote down the passwords for each level online so you can do that if you forgot to write it down. People are definitely dedicated with writing things down which is always appreciated. Trying to write it on your own would be possible of course but it’s nice to not have to worry about that.

Overall, He Man is a fun game. It may not last long but the fundamentals are there. With more of a budget I’d like some more attacking options and more sound effects but it does well enough. There are no parts that dragged on and of course I like the He Man franchise so that part was definitely a plus. If you’ve still got a GBA or a DS lying around then I’d recommend picking this one up. You can probably get it for a fairly decent price and it’s unlikely that we’re getting a big He Man game anytime soon so you have to enjoy it now while you can. It’s also got that retro GBA overhead fighting game feel that’s hard to replicate.

Overall 7/10