Games, 7 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

Mario’s Super Picross Review


It’s time to look at a puzzle game Nintendo released a very long time ago. Thanks to Nintendo releasing a bunch of these old games for free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online package, I’ve now gotten to try it out. It’s definitely fun. I’ve always enjoyed Picross and find it to be a whole lot like Sudoku. The idea behind it is the same at least and I wonder if it’s actually meant to be the same game. Either way you better make sure you know your numbers.

There isn’t really a plot of course so right away you can just jump into the levels. After you complete one world you unlock all of the Wario ones to play as well. There seem to be 8 in total. The Mario worlds are played with standard Picross rules. Every time you make a mistake you lose a good amount of time so you have to be careful in what you select. In the Wario game you aren’t told if you made a mistake so if you do manage to trip up then you could be in trouble. It can be very hard to tell where you went wrong, much less getting back on track. It’s better to take as long as you need here and just not make a mistake in the first place.

So how do the rules work? Basically you need to arrange the tiles so that the numbers in each of the rows and columns make sense. For example the first boards have 5 rows and 5 columns. If any of them have a 5 that means you can check off every box in that line. If a row has 0, then cross out everything there. Gradually you will have created a shape. Once you have filled in every square the level is complete and you will see the artwork. As the levels go on the stages get larger and larger which means you have a lot more variables to consider here. I jumped to the final world after a bit and there you have 15 boxes in each row and column. That results in a ton of boxes overall so you really have to tackle this point by point.

That’s what makes the game pretty fun though. There always is a way to solve the puzzles. You may have to look at the stage up and down a few times to really get it, but you will understand the way out eventually. You just gotta keep cracking down on it until you get to the bottom of this journey. Search for rows with the maximum or minimum amounts first. If none of them exist then look for large numbers and you can try to decipher the final areas based on the corresponding numbers. It works a lot like being a detective here. That’s probably glorifying it all quite a bit but it’s enjoyable which is really what I’m getting at. The levels are pretty quick and direct. You should have a good amount of fun here.

The graphics hold up pretty well. The whole game is in Japanese so you may not be able to read the text but it’s still cool to actually se Mario talking like this. It’s not like it has never happened before but it’s rare enough where it is still very notable. The style used here just holds up very well. The soundtrack is less impressive but I guess for a game like this they were never going to churn out a big soundtrack. That would have been impressive though and I think it’s never a bad idea to throw more themes in there. The bigger the soundtrack the better right?

In terms of replay value I wouldn’t say that there’s much here. The game itself is fairly short. I’d say you can clear around 2 worlds in a hour. So maybe 4 hours would have you completing the whole game and I dare say that you will likely beat it sooner than that. So this is definitely one of those games that you play the whole way through but don’t go back to. That’s just how some games are set up though so nothing wrong with that. I’d say the journey is worth it.

Overall, You don’t really see a lot of games like this anymore. It’s a shame because franchises should dive in and take some chances like this. Who wouldn’t want to play a Mario chess game or something like that right? As long as the game has a good amount of content and maybe even a fun story then you’re in business. If you’ve got the Switch Online then you should definitely check this out. It’s not so major that I would say you need to get the membership just for this game though. If you don’t have it, then I suppose you should hold off.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Tales of Symphonia Review


It’s time to look at one of the biggest RPG titles out there and Symphonia definitely lives up to the hype. It really excels in every area from story to gameplay to music. The game is also quite long. It took me 37 hours to conquer this title and typically I finish RPGs quite a bit sooner than that. The longest ones are still the Final Fantasy titles which tend to put me through the wringer but there is no shortage of content here. Additionally I really didn’t do much of the side missions so there’s a lot of untapped content here.

The plot changes quite a lot but I’ll just leave you with the main synopsis. The game takes place on a planet known as Sylvarant where a kid named Lloyd lives. He’s not known as one of the best students but he has heart. His childhood friend Colette has been selected as the Chosen which is a great honor. She will go around the world and unlock all of the steals which shall regenerate the world. Currently the planet has been in decline due to the mana levels running low. Once Colette has completed her duty then this will end. Lloyd decides to go along with her in addition to his best friend Genis, their teacher Raine, and a bodyguard known as Kratos. There are a lot of seals though so they will have to move quickly. Additionally they will have to watch out for the Angels, Desians, Government, Rebels, and a few other factions.

Right away the game introduces you to the fact that this planet is pretty messed up. For starters, there are human farms that exist on all of the countries. Desians use the humans as slaves in these places and the world just accepts this as a necessary evil rather than taking them down. The humans live in fear all across the globe. Then you have the half elves who are considered less than human and discriminated against throughout the planet. They certainly don’t have it easy and with each group having another one to look down on, nothing is changing. Lloyd wants to change all of this but he isn’t sure where to start or how to do it. Whenever he tries to save someone it ends up backfiring which does hurt his confidence quite a bit.

In game reviews I don’t usually write much about the plot in part because there isn’t a whole lot to say. RPGs are different in that respect because they have such a long story that really goes into detail thanks to how lengthy the game is. You’ll go through several parts in the story that will feel like the climax and then the story suddenly transitions. There are quite a lot of twists and turns here as well as a really large character cast. There were 2 villains that vanished for so long that I even forgot they were in the game. It was almost like a surprise that they returned although of course they had to return at some point. It was only a matter of when and not if they would return.

The gameplay is a real time 2D fighter. You use magic or physical attacks as you smash away the opponent’s health bar. You can have a team of 4 fighters running around so when it’s one enemy it’s best to completely overwhelm them. Watch out for knocking an enemy down since they will gain temporary super armor to all of your attacks. There’s a good amount of strategy in the fights but if you want to just whack away you can also focus on gathering extra level ups. I made sure to fight quite a lot so that I was over Level 60 in time for the final boss. I’ve noticed that in most games if you’re over Level 60 you’ll be okay and it worked out for me. I lost to the final boss once but I quickly regrouped and won the next time. As long as you have a good plan you’ll be set. The gameplay is very smooth and very easy to get used to. There are also several points in the game where you are forced to make changes that affect the next few scenes which is cool. That part seemed ahead of its time.

If there is any negative with the game it’s just that at times it can be hard to know where to go. The game can be vague with directions and the map doesn’t help for new areas since it doesn’t show up until you visit it. If you don’t know where to go then your only bet is to check the huge hub world and talk to everyone or look it up. Some of the puzzles could also be a bit much as you’ll have a huge dungeon where getting the puzzle wrong means backtracking several floors. I could have done with less puzzles and more focus on just fighting through. I suppose this was meant to be a breather from the action though.

The graphics are very solid. As is the custom with Tales of titles we do have some anime cutscenes here. There aren’t a whole lot of them or anything like that but when they come it’s definitely a lot of fun. The opening is solid and the graphics in game also hold up really well. We get nice voice acting for a lot of the scenes as well which is always fun. On a technical level, it can be hard to tell which cutscenes are on auto play and which ones aren’t though. There is no visual indicator most of the time so you either have to wait a little longer before pressing A to continue or just risk it and click A after the line is over. I think what they could have done is in any cutscene where there is voice acting, set it to auto play.

Then we have the soundtrack which is definitely very solid. The main battle theme is very catchy which is good since you’ll hear it a lot. The “danger” theme as I call it is also really solid and shows up in a lot of cutscenes. Then you have the various boss themes as well. It’s an excellent all around soundtrack that has a good amount of variety. It’s all pretty catchy and works out quite well if you ask me. This is definitely the level of quality I would expect to see.

It goes without saying that the game has a lot of value to it thanks to how long it is. In terms of replay value I would say there is a lot less since by the game it’s not like you can go back to do most of the side missions. Still, if you take care of them from the start then you’ll be well off. As far as I know there isn’t a post game but with 37+ hours at the ready you’ll have definitely had your chance to see the world in the meantime. The writing is definitely on point and the character cast is pretty solid. I’ll talk about them briefly now.

Lloyd is the main character and he’s a solid lead. He’s pretty head strong and jumps right into action. While he blames himself for getting a village blown up and a lot of lives lost, he did make the right decision. Everyone would have preferred he ignore the human farms so it would be less work for them, but ignoring evil just makes you complicit in it. Lloyd may not be the strongest guy around but he does a really good job in taking down the villains and acting right away. He does his best to come up with ideas that work out for everyone as well. You really can’t fault a character like that.

Then you have the heroine Colette who has to suffer with this great burden of being the Chosen. Often she keeps it to herself and never complains. She’s a very solid character who is willing to make any sacrifice if it’ll mean helping the world. She’s a very nice heroine and also a good fighter. Colette is definitely not a character you will forget about anytime soon. Then you have Lloyd’s best friend Genis who is less remarkable than the first two. I feel like he can go a bit too far with constantly insulting Lloyd if we’re being honest. His elemental attacks are solid though and he’s a good support character. He’s just not as strong as the rest of the cast.

Then you have Raine who is the wise member of the group. She definitely gets really into her studies. She is always around although I’d say her role is a little smaller than the first 3 characters. You’ve also got Presea who joins the main cast later on. She is emotionally distant compared to the rest but that ties into her origin here. She’s a fun character and fits in pretty well with the group. She definitely isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Then we have Regal who is a pretty solid fighter. I disagree with his decision to keep his hands chained the whole game but at least he has a reason for it. He can also fight really well which is handy for your ally to have here. You need other capable fighters.

Then we have Sheena who was a ninja antagonist at first but eventually she came around. She’s one of the more entertaining characters. At first her quest for revenge was treated rather lightly as she kept failing over and over again but as a hero she is very dependable. Without her summoning abilities the heroes really would have been in trouble quite a lot. She’s also pretty quick to call Zelos out on his antics. From the supporting characters I would say that she was the best one. The other characters in the party couldn’t quite match up.

Finally we have Zelos who is also a Chosen fighter so he’s pretty tough. He doesn’t take things very seriously compared to the other characters though and loves to goof around. He’s an entertaining character even if I wouldn’t say that he’s one of my favorites. The guy always makes his presence known though and that’s important for a side character. Then we have the mysterious Kratos who is a great character. I would go as far as to say that he is the best character in the game. He has a lot of questionable moments in the title to be sure but he’s definitely solid. The guy gets a ton of hype throughout the game and is certainly one of the strongest fighter. Without this bodyguard around the characters would have been doomed many times over.

Then we’ve got a whole slew of villains such as the Grand Cardinals and other factions. They’re all pretty solid. The only villain who I’d give a thumbs down to was the doctor with glasses. You’ll know him when you see him. The rest were pretty solid and all look pretty good when they’re getting in on the action. King Yggdrasil is the highest ranking villain and he’s definitely solid. For a villain you always want to make sure that their motive at least makes sense and I can get on board with his plan. Naturally it is an evil one as he is a villain but the fact that you can follow the logic of it is what’s important. He’s a very interesting figure and puts up a solid fight. There are many other characters of course but these are the main ones.

Overall, Tales of Symphonia is excellent and it’s one of the main reasons why I am a huge fan of the RPG genre. By the time you’ve completed the game it’s like you’ve just completed a whole experience. You’ve gotten to know the characters for many hours. In a way it’s like playing through an interactive anime. I’d definitely consider RPGs to be one of the best genres for that reason. I would still put fighting games as the absolute best of course, but RPGs would be second. I won’t go too much farther into it since eventually I plan to have an editorial ranking the genres at some point but of course it’s tricky because there are so many sub genres and such. Regardless, whether you typically like RPGs or not, I would definitely recommend picking this one up. Symphonia is the perfect Tales of game to start you off on the franchise.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets: The Darkest Faerie Review


It’s time to look at an RPG that actually had a pretty solid start. Unfortunately it quickly began to falter near the end and this took away from the beginning. The game lost sight of itself as an action platformer and tried to transition into being more of a Legend of Zelda dungeon type game. You can’t really switch like that without having a lot of gameplay mechanics at the ready. This game just didn’t seem ready for this. You don’t even get the hookshot until the final hours of the game and only have to use it a handful of times so why even bother right? I’d definitely still be down with a sequel as long as this game can learn from its mistakes.

The game starts by introducing us to Tor, a kid who’s always wanted to be a soldier. One day he is told to go into the castle and deliver a letter. Along the way he decides to apply to be a knight and actually manages to get the squire license. Unfortunately his sister goes missing, but after saving her his parents allow him to be a full knight. Tor isn’t able to enjoy this for long though as the Darkest Faerie revives herself and destroys the kingdom. Tor must now find a way to restore balance to the universe and defeat her, but her abilities are incredibly powerful. We’re then introduced to our second main character: Roberta.

Neopets handles this rather well as you play as Tor for so long that it’s pretty easy to forget there is a second main character. She doesn’t appear until Act 2. She’s a diplomat who wishes she was a mage instead. Unfortunately that’s just not how things work around here. Her visit is cut short when the Darkest Faerie shows up and conquers the kingdom, enslaving the residents within. Roberta is forced to beat a hasty retreat and ends up bumping into Tor. The two of them are protected from the mind control by their charmed necklaces. They’ll need to enlist the help of the legendary warriors but they’ve been dead for years so reviving them will be the first step.

Part of the issue for the game is that it’s a little too ambitious. As I said, Act 1 is quite long but it’s not very balanced. Acts 2 and 4 are quite short and then 3 is long again. I’m thinking they wanted to make this a grand epic, the size of the world is certainly big enough for that. Unfortunately there is no map system in place to help guide you along the way which is unfortunate. You’ll spend a lot of time stumbling around until you memorize where everything is. It’s not exactly ideal for traveling. Also, there should have been a quick movement system. Walking everywhere takes a very long time and what’s worse is the fact that there are endless enemies blasting away at you and it’s hard to repel their abilities. You can try but there is no point after a while because they revive almost instantly so it’s just a waste of your health. At the same time if you keep running then the damage will keep on adding up as well.

It makes walking around a bit of a chore as things go on. Then there are the puzzles which are not very good either. They really force you to run around and figure things out with little context. A lot of times you will end up hopelessly lost. It’s part of why I like linear games, you never have to worry about guessing. Of course a well made RPG knows how to make sure the instructions are clear so this is still more of a problem with this game. I’d also mention that it can be quite dark but I think that’s more of an issue with our TV so I won’t really count it.

Neopets just gets a bit aimless after a while. It’s a shame because the actual core story is pretty good. This is definitely the most serious Neopets game I’ve played. One character is murdered by getting stabbed and the body count here is reasonable. Everyone is slowly getting taken out or mind controlled so nobody is really safe. It makes for a very ominous backdrop and you have to give the game credit for that. I also thought the graphics were pretty solid as well. The character models were on point and the different levels were all unique. I’d give the soundtrack less points though because there weren’t really any notable music themes here either. You’ll forget all about them pretty quickly.

There isn’t any replay value here either. Once you complete the game you aren’t able to go back and do much of anything. There is some mild travel available as well but most places are effectively gone and without a post game boss to fight why would you even bother getting more equipment and such? It just won’t help for much of anything as it is. I suppose it is a good way to give yourself a little more to do in the game but that’s about it really. This game is also at a pretty decent length so I wouldn’t say it really need a lot of replay value either way. It’ll definitely take you over 10 hours which is always my bar of when I say a game is reasonably long. When you factor in that you’ll probably get lost a few times then that will definitely add to the time as well.

Overall, Neopets: The Darkest Faerie had a great start but couldn’t sustain it. At the beginning this was an action platformer at its core with a solid plot as you tried to save the kingdom. After this the game slowly became more of a quest title where you had to do a lot of dungeons and this ended up feeling like a ton of filler. We really didn’t need that and the game would have been better off without it. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t always make your game longer just so you can say it has a lot of content. Keeping this game streamlined and to the point would have been a really good idea. In that case the review would have been singing a much different tune.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Rugby 2004 Review


I’m not a big Rugby fan. I barely even know the sport to be honest. Still, this was one of the only games I could find for under 5 on Amazon so I figured it was time for the plunge. It does feel a bit like Football even if it isn’t the genuine article. It’s close enough for me and that’s what counts. I had to figure out the controls on the fly as the practice mode here doesn’t actually teach you any of the controls. I’m not even sure I see the point of the Practice Mode here. It definitely could have been quite a bit better.

The game has no real story mode or anything like that so you’ll probably just be jumping into the quick “Play now” mode. Once you’re in you pick your team and the match settings like how long the game is and where you want to play. For my first match I made it very cold and overcast but sadly you couldn’t just pick rain ow snow like in the good ole days. I feel like those two should always be an option. How much harder could it be to program those into the match right? I played 3 games in total and saw a lot of rapid improvement. In the first game I lost 59-0.

Granted, I was still learning the controls at this point. I was figuring out how to run, pass the ball, etc. Even by the end of all 3 games I could never figure out how to lateral the ball back to someone else. It definitely made things pretty tough. The only play I knew how to run was what was effectively a delayed hand off. I did enjoy how the player would already start running before he grabbed the ball to pick up momentum. That’s a play I’d like to run more of in the Football games. I may have gotten blown out, but the gameplay was solid so I still had a solid time throughout. I think that speaks to how solid EA Games was at this point.

Then I jumped into my second round which went over better. I lost 8-7 in this one. I was finally figuring out how to play some good defense and of course I could run now. My play wouldn’t work very often but it worked once and so I was at least able to get on the board this time. My defense couldn’t stop them when it counted but I kept it close. Then we had the final match although for this one I toggled the difficulty level lower a bit so I’d have a calm experience. I ended up winning 3-0. Yeah, that’s a pretty low score but it oculd have been worse. At least I had the higher score so in the end I was able to claim victory. It was a pretty solid way to end the game I’d say.

Even now I don’t really get the rules. I do think it has potential though. If I ever did manage to understand how the game works I’d probably be able to enjoy this one about as much as Football or Basketball. It’s got a lot of solid fundamentals to it and that’s all I need. The matches don’t take very long either. I was able to knock out 3 games in about an hour which is a pretty good amount of time I’d say. 20 minutes for what I’d say was a complete experience. The game just goes very quickly since the clock never really stops. It’s just always active. I don’t understand how the end of the timer works though. It’s sort of like Soccer where even once the game ends the timer just stays there flickering for a little while. There’s probably some logic there that I just don’t get.

As for the graphics, I’d definitely say that those look pretty good. They may not be top of the ring or anything like that but for the PS2 era they have aged rather well. The whole thing looks pretty good. You’re able to leap into action and I have to give the game credit for having so many arenas and teams here. That must have taken a lot of effort. Additionally the game has a ton of replay value of course. You can enjoy playing quick games or jump into a franchise. Either way that results in a lot of playing time which is always a good thing. Of course this all depends on you enjoying the game a lot. Naturally if you’re not a big fan then this will probably drag on.

Overall, Rugby 2004 is a solid game. It would likely be higher if I actually understood how this all works. It’s too bad that Rugby didn’t get more installments but I suppose it never really got all that big in the US. Football dominated over here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There aren’t a whole lot of other Rugby games that I haven’t played over here now so I’m one step closer to playing them all. Still, I don’t see myself getting another Rugby game for a long while so it could be a bit before I hit that milestone.

Overall 7/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz Review


It’s time to play a game that relies on 100% complete motion control abilities. As you may suspect this can get a little dicey due to the fact the Wii motion controls can be pretty bad all the time. There’s just no getting around that and since the Monkey Ball games have always been built around having a lot of precision, it makes for a messy experience. Throw in a few poor design choices and this game was ultimately not able to rise to the level of what I would consider “good”

There’s a story mode although it’s incredibly basic. There’s an opening and an ending but that’s really it. The general plot is that a villain has stolen the legendary bananas from the world. It is now up to Aiai and the crew to bring these fruits back. The most difficult part here is going to be the fact that these monkeys aren’t really all that powerful. If we’re being honest here they’re a little out of their leagues. Fortunately the monkeys do have their rolling balls at the ready which should help to bridge the gap here. So long as they roll quickly and with purpose they should be able to claim victory.

There are 8 worlds to navigate through. Each world has 8 levels in addition to a bonus level and a boss stage. The key thing to remember here is that you have to clear all of the levels in one sitting. You can’t quit and then try again later. You do have unlimited lives though is nice. Watch out though, every time you get a game over the game asks if you want to continue. If you hand shakes even slightly then you may end up saying No which will erase your progress. It’s one of those things where it feels like the game just wasn’t play tested enough. Why was something like that not caught earlier? You should be able to quit a different way where you don’t risk the whole world. Additionally there is no way to pause during a level. Yeah…that’s pretty iffy. You can override it by using the Wii home screen at least so that’s a nice workaround. There should be some way to save your progress during a world as well. Otherwise in the final levels you may find yourself stuck for 30-40 minutes and not be able to leave since you don’t want to start over. These are the kinds of quality of life updates that the game desperately needed.

The main gameplay is simple enough. You roll through the levels in hopes of grabbing a big ring at the end. Once you clear it you will have completed the level and moved on to the next one. The first levels are almost insultingly easy while the last ones are criminally hard. I still hold to the stance that the first two games had more difficult levels but the controls here do ultimately make this a lot more challenging. It’s just hard to get the ball where you want it to go at times. Just moving in a straight line while have you shaking from side to side quite a bit. That said, straight lines were never really my specialty. I go with a more custom style of drawing.

The game definitely does get creative with the levels so I will give it credit for the designs. Each world does feel different and the game does take advantage of its unique gameplay style to offer up a lot of different experiences. No two levels are the same here which is definitely a good thing. The most difficult level for me was the large tower in level 8-7. It’s hard to go down the tower and then once you do the final jump is incredibly difficult. You really need to take that at the perfect angle or you ultimately don’t have a shot. Trust me, it’s more difficult than it sounds.

The graphics are solid. This game definitely looks nice with its colorful effects. That may even be the highlight of the game to be honest. The soundtrack is less memorable. It has a few decent themes to be sure but I wouldn’t say that any of them are particularly great or anything like that. They aren’t particularly memorable at the very least. The overall game’s story will probably take you around 5-6 hours give or take. It really depends on difficult you find the controls and levels to be. Technically if you don’t lose much in any of the levels they only tend to be 1-2 minutes long so you can breeze through the game way sooner. I find it pretty unlikely that someone would be able to beat this game without a lot of deaths though so I don’t see it being too short. The game also has a lot of replay value with the minigame modes and general multiplayer here. There’s definitely a lot of content to enjoy as Monkey Ball did not forget that as its core it is a party game that is meant to provide a lot of fun and excitement to everyone.

Overall, Monkey Ball is a franchise that I enjoy quite a bit but this was the weakest installment I’ve completed. Once I get back to Adventure and complete that one it’ll likely reclaim the title but it’s just hard to be weaker than Banana Blitz. This game just really didn’t have a whole lot going for it. the controls just held this game back more than anything else. The story mode goes out of its way to make the bosses not very cool either. Their weakpoints are certainly not very ideal in combat and make things a little on the dicey side. If you like testing your balance then I would sooner recommend playing one of the original Monkey Ball titles. That said, if you see this game on the cheap then it’s not a bad title to snatch up. I think you can get it for under $5 sometimes now.

Overall 5/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kirby Mass Attack Review


It’s time to look at a quick Kirby game from a while back. I say quick, but due to the fact that the game forces you to collect a ton of medals it actually isn’t quite as short as it would appear. Expect a lot of backtracking here unless you managed to grab the medals the first time around. It’s not super likely though as the game forces you to lose your pals every time you go to a new world. It’s not until you have completed the first 4 worlds that you keep your full squad each time. It’s a bit of a dicey mechanic if you ask me. I always feel like grabbing collectibles should be completely optional. Ah well, I wouldn’t say it’s incredibly long or anything like that I guess. At the end of the day the controls are what hold this one back a bit.

The game starts with Kirby trying to enjoy a normal day but getting attacked by a mysterious villain. Kirby has now been split into 10 different mini Kirbys. He will need to regain the scepter and stop the forces of evil in order to emerge as the one true Kirby once more. Is that even possible? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure, Kirby won’t rest until he saves the galaxy once more. While I may write Kirby up to be more heroic than he is, the guy always does have a knack for saving the world at the end of the day and that’s what counts. He’s a guy that you can count on to get the job done. Without Kirby the heroes would definitely have been doomed in this world.

The gameplay is very stylus centered as I referenced earlier. This isn’t your classic Kirby platformer. In fact, you can’t even move without the stylus. How it works is you tap wherever on the screen you want your Kirbys to run to. They follow the stylus and will collect anything that is in their path. To attack an enemy you just tap the enemy and they will do the rest. The more Kirbys you have on your squad, the easier it will be for them to clean shop and take these guys down. 10 is the maximum amount of Kirbys you can have at once. With them at the ready you can activate a lot of different mechanisms in the levels and really have your pick of how you want to complete some levels.

There are around 3-5 medals in each level. You only need to care about the rainbow ones. Those are absolutely critical to getting the final world unlocked so pick up as many of them as you can. You’ll be happy you did this up front so that you don’t have to replay too many levels. It’s also worth noting that obtaining medals unlocks more minigames so those might be something you’ll want to check out. It does help the replay value. If you take away the replaying levels part then this game is probably around 7 hours or so. Throw in the replays and I’d say that this extends the game to around 10-11 hours easy. It’s forced replay value though so it’s not as helpful to your enjoyment of the game as you might think.

I also couldn’t get around the controls even by the end of the game. Why would you have your character controlled by the stylus? It’s way more fulfilling to just control the character yourself. At least, that’s the way I see it for sure. I like to just be able to move the characters and things are a lot more entertaining that way. The characters don’t always respond very well either which leads to some extra deaths that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. At least the game gives you a chance to save them. When a Kirby gets hit, they turn into a ghost and you can use another Kirby to grab them and bring them back to Earth. If that happens then you keep the Kirby. If the Kirby goes away then you lose him until you earn 100 fruits again to get a new one. Obtaining a new Kirby doesn’t take too long but since they’re crucial to obtaining some of the Rainbow Medals you want to take good care of them.

The graphics are pretty solid. This game holds up with the rest in that respect. The level designs are fun and all of the worlds do feel different. I’d say it’s fair to make the case that a lot of effort was put into the game. It’s certainly not a cash-in or anything like that. This game did try its best. Then we’ve also got a solid soundtrack filled with a lot of solid Kirby tunes. I’d say that some are new, some are old, and some are remixes which is a pretty solid balance. I’m not the biggest Kirby fan though so I’m not 100% sure on the music balances.

The bosses are pretty fun and they’re all fairly unique. They have different attack patterns and things like that. The only problem is that due to the way the controls are, it barely matters. No matter how they play, your controls are the same. You just tap the Kirbys onto them and that’s it. Because of that, the best boss is probably one who fades into the background so you have to attack him by jumping into barrels as if this was a DK country game. It was a solid boss fight that tests your reaction times and makes for a satisfying victory once you do manage to win. This game is also a little more difficult than the average Kirby game I should mention. It’s not particularly hard next to the average game but definitely way more intricate than the typical Kirby experience.

Overall, Kirby Mass Attack is a pretty decent game, but one that is limited by some of the choices the developers made. The main two things holding the game back are the controls and the fact that you have to go back to get the Rainbow Medals. The latter decision is particularly the one that really doesn’t help things out. It’s just not something the game should have done. It only hurts the game by a star though. Ultimately if you can find a good price for it then I would still recommend Mass Attack. It’s definitely a unique Kirby game and it has a real story as well so that’s always fun.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Games, Live Action Movie Reviews, Reviews

Need For Speed Undercover Review


Looks like the Need for Speed marathon is finally at an end. I’ll play through the next one at some point but at least for right now this will be it. Undercover is definitely a very solid installment in the series though. Not only does it have a lot of content to go through but it also takes us back to the more plot driven direction of the earlier games. It could stand to have more of a focused story but even just having boss battles is a big improvement over the last few. It’s just hard to top that and I wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

The game starts with the main character being tasked with the assignment of going undercover in order to take down a bunch of renegade racers. Gangs are popping up everywhere and you have to stay undercover until you find the big boss. The tricky thing is that you start to sympathize with some of these racers who are just trying their best to live and survive in what is considered a pretty frightening world. Is there any way that the hero can let them off easy? He’ll have to also avoid attracting too much attention since some characters already think that he’s probably compromised. It sure is difficult to keep getting these guys arrested while the lead is somehow safe.

I feel like the villains should have known something was up the instant we busted an entire gang, leaving the main character as the only guy left. At this point we joined another gang and did the same thing but really? That’s super suspicious. The main character doesn’t get to appear all that much and even gets censored during the quick cutscenes with the cops so we don’t see him all that clearly. I suppose he seems like a nice enough guy but also a very gullible one who is easy to manipulate. His driving skills are second to none though and the villains learn that the hard way. The ending has a lot of things happening so you’ll need to pay attention to that.

Unfortunately the sound mixing wasn’t very good. The gameplay and music while in the race are much louder than the actual cutscenes. What this means is that you’ll be playing normally when suddenly a cutscene occurs and you need to raise the volume. If you don’t then what ends up happening is you won’t be able to hear what’s going on quite as well. I don’t really get how something like this would make it past the play testing since it seems like a quick fix. Beyond that, it has the usual EA soundtrack. There are a lot of songs here and they’re all pretty fast paced so I’d say that you’re bound to find at least a few that you’ll like. I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The ending song is definitely a pretty intense one and ends as if this was a theatrical movie. Pretty epic if you ask me.

Then you’ve got the graphics which are solid as always. EA has never disappointed in this area and I wouldn’t expect them to start now. The cars look excellent and so driving through the city is a lot of fun. It’s all or mostly all in the daytime though so surprisingly we’re still not getting a lot of night levels. I know those can be risky since it can be hard to get the night look while not getting too dark but I think they can pull it off. Regardless, the hub world is quite huge and the fact that you can drive around the whole thing and pick up missions is a blast if you ask me. The cutscenes also look really good like the big boss battle at the end where the car jumps off the road. It helps really get you into the swing of things.

The gameplay is easy enough to describe. It’s the same 3D racing that you’re used to and is as fun as always. Using your nitro to get away is nice or quickly spinning a 180 and zooming away as the other racers get confused is just as satisfying. You really can’t go wrong with the gameplay here. There are no bonus competitions like drifting or any of that this time. It’s all about racing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This makes the most sense in context after all. You will get new cars as you go through the game and can upgrade them but the process has been very simplified compared to how it was in other titles. I think this game has pretty much nailed down the formula so they should really stick to this going forward. You still need to take a look at your car every now and again but not constantly. Aside from free roam you can also use the GPS to jump straight into a race. You can tell which events are story ones because the icon will be wrapped in a circle which looks very fancy.

If you complete a level very quickly you will have “dominated” it which allows you to permanently increase a stat. You don’t get to choose which one but they certainly add up. I recommend going for the dominate as much as possible because the stats and discounts add up very quickly. Without them I imagine that this would be considerably more difficult. The main game’s campaign took me a little over 10 hours so when you add up all the extra events that should probably take you to around 14-15 hours. Pretty good deal for the game if you ask me. You certainly won’t be wanting for content by the time you’re done with all of this. Undercover is really the complete package for a Need for Speed title.

Overall, I’ll definitely miss Undercover. It’s definitely the most complete game in the series I’ve played since Underground. If you like racing around the city and enjoy Free Roam then this is definitely the game for you. It’ll remind you of Driver with the added danger of having to run from the cops. The cop chases here can definitely be very intense. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the hellicopters and their vans really smash your car out of the way. The game runs well and the graphics are sharp. I only encountered one glitch where I seemingly won a level too quickly which was odd so it didn’t count. It seems like that’s not something you would typically need to worry about though so I wouldn’t sweat it. Could be a while, but we’ll see where the series goes from here.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Icey Review


It’s time for a look at a beat em up I wasn’t really familiar with. I definitely hadn’t heard of it until the game arrived. Pretty neat cover though and right away you can see the fun sci-fi/anime aesthetic they’re going for. The game also has a lot of breaking the fourth wall moments and has an Undertale kind of vibe. It’s definitely on the short side though as you should beat it in about 2-3 hours but the difficulty helps it from getting much shorter than that. The enemies absolutely don’t mess around in this game.

The game starts with Icey waking up in her tube. Her mission is to destroy Judas since he wiped out the planet a long time ago. It is now a desolate wasteland overrun with monsters. Icey won’t stop until he is destroyed but is this really the right thing to do? Icey has started to lose track of who she is and her true goals. Is she after Judas because it was her idea or is someone manipulating her? The truth seems to fade in and out now to the point where everything is brought into question. The narrator of the world himself offers up suggestions and talks to her quite a bit as well. A common theme in the game is, will you listen to this guy or make your own choices?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this game already has a lot of theory videos out there. There’s definitely a lot to explore within this game and there’s certainly room for a sequel. I didn’t actually go and try out one of the other endings but the game makes it all very accessible. You can use the level select to go back and try something else. There are only two main decisions with regard to the ending as far as I can see but throughout the game you can choose to ignore the narrator and do whatever you want. I did that a lot early on but it would usually backfire as I would just get a few coins or something. It can be worth it just to troll the guy though. Sometimes he would also be right and by disobeying him you would end up going up against a boss that was too powerful or something like that.

As I mentioned, the game is definitely very difficult. Be careful how you answer the opening questions as that determines the difficulty level. Initially I ended up starting the game on hard mode as a result and quickly had to restart so it would be on normal. Even on normal I lost quite a few times. The checkpoints are pretty nearby at least. Grinding isn’t the easiest thing in the world here but it is possible through the level select. I recommend amping up your health and attack power first. Those will come in handy right away and you feel the immediate benefit which is why they’re good picks. They’re attacks you can count on but there are a lot of different attacks you can go for as well so at the end of the day it’s up to you.

There isn’t any hitstun in this game so when you get hit prepare for the opponent to combo you for a little while. Button mashing helps you get up a little faster so I recommend it. Mainly just try to make sure you’re never in between two enemies. You can dash so I recommend using that a lot. It’ll help you evade attacks and even counter strike if your timing is on point. It’s definitely something worth spamming. By the end of the game I did quite a lot of button mashing to activate combos. It has always worked well for me in Marvel vs Capcom and the same was true here.

The graphics are definitely fun. It reminds me of Gunvolt or at least that style although there aren’t sprites in this game. The attacks are pretty flashy and the backgrounds stand out. There’s always something going on in the screen which is good. The whole thing has a lot of detail which is good. As for the soundtrack, that part’s a little more forgettable. I don’t really remember any tunes. I think a little rock could have been a nice touch to the game. I think it would have worked rather well especially with all of the bosses running around. Those guys command respect as it is.

For a sequel I’d like to see Judas either return and try to fight back a little this time or maybe have the narrator try and do something. The guy seems about as shady as they get so he should definitely have a good influence here. A prequel could also work but I almost prefer not knowing how everything went down. Why ruin the mystery when we’re so deep in right? If we never know how this all started it allows for quite a lot of extra possibilities. It also lends itself well to online theories in the meantime.

Overall, Icey is a fun game. It’s definitely going for a unique vibe which is fun. I like a good mystery and the whole plot is fairly shrouded. The gameplay is naturally pretty hype as well. I love a good beat em up and mixing that in with Sci-Fi is a good combo. Ultimately the only thing that holds the game back is the length. It really feels very short. It only lasted as long as it did because I kept dying and even had to restart the game once. Otherwise you would likely beat it even quicker. It’s sort of like a boss rush though so you do get your share of fights in the meantime. If you get the game for a decent price then it’s definitely worth it. Will you take the enemies down or spare them? Only time will tell.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need For Speed Nitro Review


I’ve really been making great headway on these Need for Speed titles haven’t I? Nitro is the only Need for Speed game that I have on the Wii and it makes for a very different experience. All of the other Need for Speed titles that I’ve played have felt a lot more on the realistic side compared to this one. Maybe at most you could say that Hot Pursuit II was closer to Arcade style but even that one wasn’t to the same extent. This one’s definitely going for that retro feel and it works out quite nicely. While I would have to say that it’s probably the weakest Need for Speed game by default, it does understand the series a lot more than Drift.

You start the game by being introduced to the main campaign. There are 3 cups, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Effectively they are all the same game but just with different difficulty levels. You have to do them in order though. When you enter the Bronze cup you are given around 5-6 cities. Your goal is to earn 100 stars which will let you enter the Grand Prix. Once you win that, you will unlock the Silver Cup so rinse and repeat until you’ve won them all. Not a bad deal right? The star system is very similar to Drift. It means that you don’t necessarily have to win every race but it does help. There is less margin for error here compared to Drift as you do need the majority of the stars in order to qualify. I believe there are 128 stars in each world so you can only miss 28. I recommend not losing.

On a more serious note, this game does introduce a certain amount of RNG within the game that means you can’t always guarantee yourself a victory. Sometimes things will happen that you just can’t control. For example, a new mechanic to this game is the Shield weapon that you can use. What this does is it summons the cops to attack a player of your choice. It’s a pretty powerful attack because there’s not much you can do. They run you off the road or if you’re really unlucky they’ll keep spinning you in a circle so that you can’t reset. It’s a fun way to include the cop presence here since there’s no free roam available. Drift probably should have done something similar although I’d say in just one kind of mode. For the most part I still like my normal racing.

This is the kind of thing that’s good as a side gimmick because of how it’s a change of pace. I don’t know if it would work quite as well if this was happening constantly. As the title suggests, this game also focuses a whole lot on the Nitro mechanic. So you’ve really got to make sure and boost a lot. It’s also crucial for a lot of the bonus stars which are score related. When you do a super boost it really has a noticeable impact on your points. I dare say that getting some of these bonus stars would not be possible otherwise. Boosting is fun though so I recommend it either way. It really gives you a jump on the competition.

The game can be a little tricky at times but really just because of the controls. I played this one through the Wii U so I wasn’t able to use the adapter to play it. As a result, I had to use the ole Wii remote. Surprisingly they don’t let you hold the remote sideways, you have to use it pointing at the screen and tilting which is an odd way to approach this. I suppose I’ll give the game some credit for going in a different way but I dare say that it was the wrong way. In particular this gets tough for the drifting levels where you have to try not to hit too many objects as you get to the goal. Not to be confused with the Drift levels where you max out your score. I believe the former is officially called Time Attack here.

I do like the graphic style though. It’s definitely going for a bit more of a cartoony hand drawn style. You have little cutscenes before every world which I appreciated. It at least makes the game appear to have more of a story. It may not be much but it’s a start I suppose. The game isn’t particularly long if you stop after 1 cup but playing all 3 should stretch the time out to around 7 hours which is pretty solid. Once again, the cars you buy are important here. There’s no upgrading so just focus on buying. I say try to survive on your present car for as long as possible and then upgrade. It can be a difficult thing to do of course, but it really pays off in the end.

Overall, Need For Speed Intro is definitely very original and in this case it worked out in a good way. Perhaps total free roam would have been a little too much for a quick Wii game so going full on arcade racer was the next best thing. With non motion controls this game would be even better. I like how fast you can drive around and the level designs were on point. I feel like this game had a good amount of energy behind it which really makes a difference here. It didn’t feel phoned in or anything like that. If you’re looking for a more upbeat kind of Need for Speed title then this is the one for you. It’s very easy to just plug and play which is probably the idea.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need for Speed Shift Review


It’s time to look at another Need for Speed title. This one takes the series in a much different direction compared to the rest of the titles in the series. For starters, there is no actual running from the cops in this title or anything like that. You’re actually racing on a pro track the whole time as you work to become the best. It’s interesting that the series would go in this direction but it doesn’t work particularly well. By doing this, the game becomes “Just another car game” which is not something that a franchise wants to be. It had such originality and creativity before this. Still, I can’t deny that the game has quite a lot of content at its disposal and the controls are good so it’s still solid.

The main campaign mode here consists of you jumping into a bunch of different races and doing your best to obtain stars. These stars are what allow you to unlock more races to get into. Once you have obtained enough stars then you unlock the championship where you can race to be the best. The star system means that you don’t necessarily have to complete every race in first. You can also skip some if you’re not confident. The important thing is getting as many stars as possible so that you qualify. An average race will usually have 5 stars, you get 3 for coming in first, 1 for breaking a lap record, and one for some kind of miscellaneous achievement. On average if you’re placing first in events then you don’t need to worry about the bonus stars but this way if you come in second or third a lot then you should be okay.

You will definitely still need to play a lot of races though. The game may give you extra stars to work with but it’s not like you can take that as an excuse to lose every race. You want to realistically still win quite a lot. The game can be difficult, but I wouldn’t call it crazy either. A lot of the races are very winnable since your car can keep up. I’d say it’s once you go around 2 tiers higher than where you start that the game really starts to jump the difficulty up pretty high. It gets hard to deal with and you have to upgrade your car quite a bit to stay ahead of the game. Money gets to be a concern because you run out of it very quickly. So you always have to balance out upgrading with buying a new car. It’s also best to stay with the older car as long as possible because that’ll allow for better cars to be on the market.

Personally I’ve always preferred just having 1 car so you don’t have to worry about all of that but I understand that this does make things more realistic. I suppose it increases the replay value as well as you have fun customizing the car to your liking. It’s definitely something that it vitally important to the career mode so keep that in mind. The game is fairly long and I imagine it’ll take over 10 hours to complete. That’s due in part to the difficulty but also because there are just a lot of races here. You’re not going to finish it too quickly to be sure and that’s a good thing. It’s always nice to have a lot to do in a game even before you consider the replay value. Need For Speed tends to always deliver on that front.

So there’s not much to say about the gameplay but it’s your standard 3D racing title. You speed through the streets in one of the cars you’ve chosen and try to stay in the lead. There are also other kind of events like drifting where you keep a turn for as long as possible and other such events. The Nitro is always a fun boost as well. I definitely have no problem with the controls. It’s all very smooth and on point. Meanwhile the graphics are also top notch. The backgrounds are rather limited so it’s not as impressive as some of the other installments but I think the studio still did a good job of keeping it as smooth as possible. Then of course you’ve got a pretty big soundtrack although not all of the songs will be great. I recommend keeping the music low so you can focus on the driving.

At its core my main problem is that this just doesn’t really feel like a Need For Speed game. There are no cop chases throughout the game nor are there any night levels with fun backgrounds. As a result you feel rather closed in the whole time. I also don’t like the new mechanic that causes you to lose a level if you go off the track too often. That limits your freedom even more and the game should let you explore. If I see a shortcut, why shouldn’t I take it? That’s always been the spirit of the series. While minor, I also didn’t appreciate the new realistic collision mechanic. Now when you bump into something the screen gets really dizzy as you recover from the concussion. It’s definitely realistic I guess but you can actually get pretty dizzy from that. I tend to crash a lot as well which doesn’t really help matters.

Overall, Need For Speed Shift is definitely a very different kind of game for the series. It was an experiment, but one that I don’t feel worked out very well. It just feels a little soulless and if you want such a game there are many others to choose from. You should always have a real story to back a title up even if it’s brief. If you really enjoy racing games then I suppose this is a good one to go for, but otherwise I would say to give it a pass and pick just about any other up. It’s true that this is a very solid game, but at the same time it doesn’t offer you anything that the others don’t even improve on. As a result there is little reason to go back to this one.

Overall 7/10