James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing Review

GENP69
It’s time to look at the final James Bond game that I own. It’s been a good run, but even this agent has to run out of games eventually right? The games have all been fairly solid thus far though. I may not be the biggest fan of FPS titles, but I’ve warmed up to them over the years. Then we have this game which is a third person shooter so you really can’t go wrong there at all. It’s a fun game even if some parts feel a little cheesy when it comes to the gameplay mechanics.

The plot involves a rogue scientist deciding to team up with Jaws so they can destroy the world. He has a spy working for him who gets behind Bond’s defenses and helps to advance the villain’s plans. Bond must put aside his love for being a terrible agent so that he can finally become the fighter that he always dreamed of being. Can Bond actually pull this off or is it time for him to finally call it quits and take a step back?

Yeah, there’s really not much to the plot to be honest. Although while it is a little on the generic side, I do appreciate the fact that it is an ongoing story that continues throughout the game. That helps it feel more like a proper movie adventure than just having snippets of plot here and there. We have full cutscenes and voice acting so honestly it was actually quite high budget. The graphics are on point, but you’d expect nothing less since this is on the Nintendo Gamecube. Then we’ve also got the soundtrack which may not be the most inspired out there, but it’s not terrible. On a technical level this game succeeded.

Then we’ve got the gameplay which is also solid. For most levels you’ll be running with your guns at the ready. At first you can get away with just running into a room and initiating the fight, but as you get closer to the end of the game you’ll have to switch to a far more tactical approach like hiding behind objects. You can temporarily slow time while looking across the room to spot a path through the villains as well. Then you’ve also got a bunch of tech at your disposal like an invisibility suit, grenades, spider bots, and more. I rarely used them since the villains would be on you in a heart beat, but the thermo suit turned out to be very useful in the final level. Seriously, winning without that would have been almost impossible.

Then you have other gameplay styles like when you have to drive a motorcycle, car, or a tank. The driving levels (Aside from the tank) were a blast and a nice break from the shooting. Of course, adding in alternate forms of gameplay like this can be risky since it can take away from the experience, but the gameplay was just as polished and it was just fun so I can’t say that I had any problem with it. When it comes to the gameplay the only thing I really did have an issue with was the final level. That one was just not executed well.

I’m fine with it being super difficult and riddled with enemies of course. As the final level in the game I’d expect nothing less. What wasn’t good though was the fact that the level was incredibly long without any checkpoints until the actual boss fight. I spent nearly 2 hours on this level. I’d make it so far only for something cheesy to happen or an enemy would get a lucky hit. If every level had been like that things could have gotten dicey for the game. Fortunately that was the only level to not have well placed checkpoints.

As far as the game’s content goes, it’s at a good length. The main story has around 27 levels in it and after that you can feel free to have fun in multiplayer mode for a while. It’s 4 player so that will give you a lot to have fun with. The replay value never really has to end and even without it the main campaign is sufficiently long. I’m not sure what the going price for it is nowadays, but I can’t imagine that it would be all that pricey. It’s so old…unless it’s out of print of course, but I’ll hope that this is not the case.

Overall, Everything or Nothing is a solid James Bond game. It focuses less on the Bond aspects of the franchise and more on the fun action scenes. It’s certainly not perfect, but as far as shooters go it can hold its own against any other realistic TPS. If you haven’t played a Bond game before then this is definitely one that I would recommend checking out. It’s a good way to start off and it’ll allow you to get used to the shooting aspect. Since you don’t have any cool super powers to back you up, you’ll have to train yourself on the fundamentals. Once you’ve gotten those down, this skill will help you for future games.

Overall 7/10

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Black Clover Quartet Knights Review

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It’s rare that I pre order games. Honestly there are probably only around 10 or so that I can think of at the moment. I’m only counting games that I actually paid for so pre orders for Christmas or my Birthday don’t count. Off the top the games that I can think of are Super Smash Bros 3DS, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Pokken, Street Fighter V, Star Fox Zero, Black Clover Quartet Knights, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, Sonic Forces, and Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet. There may be a few more that I’m missing but that’s basically it. Considering that this spans a time frame of around 10 years, you can see that I basically only started pre-ordering recently. It’s definitely fun to get a game at launch, but it’s also risky if the game ends up being underwhelming or just not worth the money. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I actively regret any of these or anything like that, but some were certainly more rewarding than others. I’d probably say that (not counting Super Smash since those would be the easy answers) Pokken was probably my favorite one. I definitely spent a lot of time with that game and the PVP was just a lot of fun. Definitely good times remembering when you didn’t have to pay to go online. Getting off topic though, lets talk about Black Clover.

The story has our heroes head to a cavern after stopping a villain named Mars when they are split up from Captian Yami. Asta and Noelle break through the rounds of enemies and find him, but now he has de-aged 14 years. What could have happened to him in the moments it took them to find him? They don’t have much time to rest though as a group of terrorists known as the Eye of the Morning Star have decided to team up with a mysterious lady from Yami’s past. Asta doesn’t have time to worry about the specifics here as he has a kingdom to save.

The story is extremely short as it is just 10 battles long and you’ll clear it in around 2 hours. I was a little dubious after finishing up the story. Naturally I know that the main point of this game is the online play so I wasn’t going to harsh on it too much, but only 10 levels? Fortunately by beating the game you unlock an alternate route with Yami which adds 8 more levels. After that you also get 2 “extra” levels so in total the game is a little closer to 4 hours which is nice. That definitely makes a difference. There are also other offline modes to play which extends the length. Each character has a challenge tutorial which is fairly easy and lets you get used to the characters. I’ll definitely try doing all of them at some point, but that may not happen for a while yet. Still, it does extend the game’s length.

Of course, this may go without saying, but you will enjoy the game a lot more if you have online play activated. After all, this game’s not exactly as mainstream as Naruto or DBZ so if you want to fight a bunch of people online you’ll want to do it right away. If you want until everyone is gone then it will certainly be way too late at that point. The offline content may last you around 6 hours and a little more if you decide to beat every level on hard mode. That may not seem like enough for your $60 dollar purchase, but the quality of the game is high so I don’t think you’ll feel bad about it afterwards.

For example, this game does have fully animated cutscenes which was definitely a blast. Not many games do that so I can only imagine how difficult it must be. We also get a bunch of CGI cutscenes and still illustrations as well. I definitely think that quite a bit of care was put into this game. The story is short but memorable. The graphics are definitely quite solid and are in the familiar Bandai style. If you like how the Naruto/Seven Deadly Sins game looks then you’ll enjoy this one as well. The soundtrack is a little less impressive though as there is only one really rocking theme. The lyrical song for the final boss is all kinds of hype. The other themes are all very forgettable. I think the game should have just brought in a bunch of themes from the anime, that would have certainly worked out well.

I haven’t even talked about the gameplay yet so I should get on that. It’s a pretty fast paced fighting game. It’s in squads format so you go 3 v 3. You want to construct your team carefully as you have mages, fighters, healers, and a different kind of fighter. My favorite characters to play as are definitely fighters and healers are the worst, but naturally you want a balanced squad. It plays a bit like a beat em up I’d say or Dissidia if you are familiar with that game. You have roughly 4-5 attack options so there isn’t a crazy amount of options to use, but this’ll help you memorize them quickly. The game is easy to start while being difficult to master which is definitely a good balance. I definitely enjoyed the gameplay a lot although I am definitely a sucker for fighters. They always just manage to hit the right notes which is why I always try to snag them right away.

Overall, Black Clover Quartet Knights is definitely a great game. It is on the short side which is unfortunate, but it’s a short game that really excelled in its presentation and pacing. For example, I’d say that a lot more effort was put into the actual story than Blazblue. It’s around the same length but ends up feeling a lot more like a complete adventure. I’d still be pretty hyped for a sequel after playing this one. It’s a shame that there isn’t a local multiplayer though. It seems like that would have been really easy to program in even if it would be tough to keep track of everything on only half a screen. Better a crunched option than none at all right? (Well, I guess critics would take shots at it anyway, but the devs can ignore those) If you don’t have the game yet then I definitely recommend checking it out. If you don’t have online and feel that the length is too short, then I get that and you should probably go get a different fighting game. Any of the old Naruto Ninja Storms would work in that case and will be cheaper by now.

Overall 8/10

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Crystal Bearer Review

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It’s time to look at a Final Fantasy title. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous Crystal Chronicles title that I played so I was a little worried when I first realized that I had the next installment. I watched the trailer and quickly changed my tune though since this one actually looked pretty solid and promising. Fortunately it lived up to the trailer and is actually a spin-off that you can be proud of.

You don’t need to have played the first one to get into this title since Crystal Bearers takes place 1000 years after the first. Additionally the first game didn’t really have a conventional plot so you weren’t gonna miss much either way. The plot follows a kid named Layle who is a Bearer. This means that he has special abilities (In this case Telekinesis) and is also built to be a lot more durable than the average human. There are only a few Bearers left since humanity hunted them down and they don’t get along with the humans. Layle is a mercenary who takes whatever job he and his partner are given.

At first this is a simple task but on one protection mission he is attacked by a mysterious robot. This robot is a part of the Yuke tribe which was eradicated years ago. She wishes to bring them back and Layle isn’t even sure if that is a bad thing. The government definitely doesn’t want that though since it would mean conceding power and territory. Either way both sides need the 3 legendary jewels to meet their objectives so regardless Layle is tasked with obtaining them. He will have to outwit a mischievous Selkie in order to do so though. Once he gets the jewels, who should Layle give them to?

I thought the game did a good job of making the plot engaging right from the start. The opening cutscene is a lot of fun and gives more action than the entirety of the last game. This title has fun with the motion controls and uses them for a bunch of different mini game style levels. You could be sure to find many different gameplay styles which always kept the game fresh. Naturally I still prefer traditional controls to motion based anytime but this one was definitely smoother than many others that I’ve tried.

The graphics are pretty solid. The characters appear to be on point and the energy effects look good. The hub world is nice and bright and makes for a pretty good forest kind of landscape. It’s not going to go down as the best looking Wii game but is definitely solid enough to be noted. As for the soundtrack, it is mostly low key, but we do get two hype boss battle themes. I’d also say that the soundtrack never feels dull outside of the hub world so it definitely works well.

The game is reasonably long at around 10 hours. It may not sound all that big for a Final Fantasy type game, but I did skip all of the enemies and certainly didn’t get any powerful equipment. I actually didn’t buy anything at all since naturally I didn’t have enough money for anything good. It did feel satisfying though to just coast through the game at the equivalent of level 1. The reason why this is feasible is because aside from the initial tutorial enemy mob he rest are all completely optional. Aside from them there are only two bosses. That will be the most difficult obstacle to overcome and it will take you many lives but the bosses keep whatever damage you dealt so eventually you will find a way to claim victory.

As per Final Fantasy tradition the final boss does suddenly become rather high tier and cosmic. It’s always a nice treat to get a flashy climax like that as not only does it make the game more memorable in the long run, but it’s always fun to have a space battle like that. It’s good that Layle was so powerful since he could take it in stride. It’s also a fun change of pace to be the overpowered character for a change. You’ll notice right away that he seems a lot stronger than the rest of the cast and you’d be right. By the end only one character can actually give him a real fight and even then Layle still has the edge.

The only real flaw that the game has is the map. It’s one of those maps that is really zoomed out the whole time so you never truly know where you are. Honestly I still fail to see the point of it in general since it certainly won’t be helping you get to your objective. You will likely end up wasting some extra time during these moments but stick with it and you’ll be just fine. Of course when the map is the only serious issue that you have you know that the game is quite solid.

The controls may not be amazing but they get the job done. To use your TK abilities you have to point at the screen and then twist the remote in the direction you want to throw someone. This does allow the TK abilities to be a little more intricate than someone like Silver, but I’d certainly be cool with just having one button be what activated the power. Then based on what you press next is where you will throw them. There are also racing levels where you will really want to make sure you turn effectively. The toughest mini game is certainly the one where you have to help the heroine win a game if volleyball though. Those bullies were tough!

I didn’t really touch on the characters so let’s look at the big ones. I didn’t trust Layle’s friend the whole time since you just got the feeling that he would end up being a traitor. Well, it didn’t happen so I have to say that he was quite good. He risked his career for Layle and even held his own against a Crystal user. The guy is often out of the loop but still helps out whenever he can.

The Selkie is a nice character to have around as well since she always provides a lot of witty banter. She may not have powers but she gets by well enough with her wits. You almost feel bad for her by the end since she is searching for someone who doesn’t care to be found. That’ll probably feel like a big let down. I can’t say that the main villain was all that inspired but he isn’t bad. At worst he is just rather generic and doesn’t stand out as much as the others. His abilities are definitely very good though and the guy is persistent. He is absolutely not backing down without a fight. The Princess felt like a waste in comparison though so nothing really needs to be sad about her. She didn’t add anything to the story.

Layle was a fun character as expected. He’s definitely not the nicest chap around but he is certainly very direct and to the point. Layle knows that he is ultra strong and just rolls with it. Nobody ever pushes him around and he only does what he wants to do. He’s certainly not your average main character and that’s a good thing. This guy’s definitely got quite a lot of personality to him. I certainly found him to be a more engaging character than the mysterious Yuke. He will end up going down as one of the more likable Final Fantasy leads alongside Cloud and Lightning.

Overall, Crystal Bearers was a lot of fun. It’s definitely the kind of game that is certainly going to age very well long term. While the map is a bit of a hindrance at least you have the moogles who do their best to put you back on the right path to victory. The gameplay is fun and the story is on point so you really can’t ask for much more than that. You certainly don’t need to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy this game and I’d recommend it to any platforming fan. Even though I played without beating any enemies I would probably recommend beating a few just to stay on the safe side. That final boss is no joke.

Overall 8/10

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent Review

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It’s time for a very interesting game review. The reason why I say that is because this review isn’t 100% complete. This game came in two discs and the only problem is that I don’t have the two discs. I only bought the first and I’m not about to go and try to buy the other one so I’m reviewing the game based on the first half. That’s reasonable though since the first disc has over half of the levels since the second one focuses on the multiplayer aspect of the title. It’s a fun game and feels rather polished. It may not be my favorite Bond game as that honor belongs to one that I’ll be reviewing shortly, but it is definitely a solid game in its own right.

The game manages to bring together most of the biggest villains from the classic Bond films. They have all united to try and take the agent down for good which is certainly bad news for this operative. Fortunately he has the help of Agent Terry, a fighter so powerful that even 007 has to acknowledge his abilities. Together these two agents will do their best to fight against the forces of evil. Can they succeed or will they fail? It all comes down to the skills of you, the player.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You try to shoot the enemies ahead of you and ultimately you have to survive at any cost. Your mission will typically be to activate something after you’ve cleared out the guards. You have your hand weapon when starting a level but you can also pick up weapons that are scattered across the room from the various minions. You can also engage in fisticuffs when you are out of ammo, but I can’t really say that I would advise this. Just try to have some ammo on hands so don’t waste your shots. The gameplay is quite technical all things considered and you’ll want to try and remember as much of it as possible.

Also, it should be noted that this game is quite difficult. I’m not great at the FPS genre so that should be taken into account, but the levels are very unforgiving. Shots from the enemy take up a lot of damage so even with your health being able to regenerate it is hard to proceed through a level. The enemies also bring the fight to you so you can only hide for so long. It’s definitely not a game for newcomers to the genre or kids in general as they won’t stand a chance. It helps the game last longer for sure though so that’ll help it be worth the price you paid. The main game length should take you around 10 hours which is solid. There’s not really anything else in the way of replay value single player wise. There is a nice multiplayer option though so that’ll give you enough fun for a very long while. Be sure that you have the 2nd disc or you won’t be able to play it though.

I’d say that the graphics look pretty good. They’re not super amazing or anything like that, but they get the job done. The levels look good and the game does give us a solid amount of cinematics which is refreshing. You can tell that some real effort was put behind this game and that’s definitely a good thing. It’s also impressive that Bond got at least 3 different games for the Gamecube. Not just any character can pull that off. It’s a little hard to compare FPS titles to each other since they’re so similar so I couldn’t tell you if this game is as good as Agent Under Fire or not. I’m inclined to say that it isn’t but it’s probably pretty close.

The plot was reasonably engaging. It didn’t have as many one liners as the last Bond game, but that’s because Bond isn’t the lead so it makes sense that Terry is a lot more withdrawn. After all, he’s here to help save the day, not to trade barbs. It’s hard to say how likable the main character is either of course since he’s rather silent and doesn’t do anything but fire at the enemies. Not a bad thing, but I like when the games aren’t afraid to give the original character a little more personality than that.

Overall, GoldenEye is a fun Bond game. It’s a shame that I won’t be able to see the ending, but rebuying the disc just doesn’t seem worth it and I’m not interested enough to look it up on Youtube either. It’s just going to have to live with the knowledge of only being worth half a playthrough. Honestly that’s not such a sad fate though right? Half a game is still better than none and at the end of the day at least you could say that the game was interesting enough to get through that. If you like FPS titles then this is a good game for you but otherwise skip it. Your enjoyment depends entirely on how you like the genre because it doesn’t try for much more than that. That’s just the kind of genre an FPS is.

Overall 7/10

NBA Ballers: Rebound Review

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NBA Ballers is a game that I’ve been working on for quite a while. It was never quite interesting enough to become the main game but was a nice side project. It’s a very unique Basketball game and while I probably would not put it above any of the other titles, it’s definitely a solid enough game in its own right. Who hasn’t wanted to be able to go 1 on 1 in this sport before? It’s not a mode that I remember being featured in the mainstream NBA games so it’s cool that it finally got some time in the spotlight.

There are several game modes in this but the main one is naturally the Rags to Riches mode. You start out as a kid playing by the local courts and gradually move up until you are a pro. There are numerous tournaments and each one has around 8-10 people. Between tournaments you get to see your buddies or a rival may show up to put you on blast. The audio isn’t great so don’t expect to actually know what anyone is saying. Focus on the gameplay, that’s the important part here. It’s basically where I spent all of my time anyway.

The unique part of the game is the fact that all matches are 1 vs 1. You don’t have any teammates to back you up so if the opponent gets past you then it’s all over. The match’s are first to 11 and best of 3. The matches can be a little long depending on how good the opponent is but for the most part it is all a reasonable amount. A very important part of the gameplay is your juice meter. Build it up to spam the opponent with style moves that will build your house meter up so you can use a final smash. I never got to do the latter, but using the juice meter to run is an easy but effective way to score anyway. I also like bouncing the basketball off of my opponent but that play is a little risky since sometimes they will just keep the ball.

As you play through the tournaments your stats will increased based on your gameplay. It’s a nice touch although with the opponents also getting better you probably won’t notice the change all that much. You can then use money to buy new abilities or upgrade your current ones. Money is definitely very important here. As a casual player myself, I can’t say that I made the most of it though. Even by the end I couldn’t really use most of the abilities so I had to win with pure fundamentals. I was able to pull through of course since that’s what I do, but mostly each match would be neck and neck. It was hard to stop my opponent from scoring so the best of 3 set would always go to the last game.

The story campaign is already fairly long so it’s clear that this game has a lot of content to it. There is a multiplayer mode as well where you can have endless fun. Becoming the best and buying everything will take an extremely long time as well. Considering that you can probably get this game for a few bucks, you’re really getting a great deal here. In general sport games do excel at content since from a developing point of view it’s easy to make it long. Just keep on adding more opponents and slightly altering the character models. It’s even easier for Madden since you just fight the same teams over and over again in fresh environments. It’s sort of like how a fighting game never gets dull. You can just keep on playing over and over again with no worries.

The graphics aren’t bad. There’s not really much the game can do to show off though since the whole game takes place in very realistic environments and it’s not like there are any superpowers or things like that. Everything is clear so that’s basically what I’m judging the graphics on. It succeeds at what it is trying to do, showing a good game of Basketball. I can’t say much for the soundtrack though, it’s fairly generic as with most sport games. You won’t recall any of the tunes and I’m still waiting for these games to branch out a little more. No reason why we can’t have some hype opera themes while shooting hoops right?

Overall, NBA Ballers is a fun game. It’s definitely a title that flew under the radar, but one that I would recommend to any serious NBA fan. It’s a fresh take on the franchise and that’s what you want to see in a spinoff. Still, if you have to choose one or the other, I would certainly say that you’re better off getting one of the main installments. At the end of the day Basketball is still more fun when it’s team against team as opposed to 1 vs 1. Maybe I’ll be able to play another game in this series at some point although I doubt that would be anytime soon. As it is I’ve got a bunch of sport games on the back burner already.

Overall 7/10

Bubsy The Woolies Strike Back Review

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It’s time to greet the return of Bubsy! I admit that I never got to play the original games back in the day but this one looked fun enough. Plus, it was the only game where I could make the most out of my Amazon mobile app. I’m definitely glad that I didn’t get it for full price since it’s only around 1 hour long, probably even less than that. It is a fun game and the sad part is that the gameplay is actually completely on point. What ends up hurting it is really just the length.

The plot starts with Bubsy’s favorite yarn getting kidnapped by some aliens. He decides that it’s up to him to get it back and gives chase. You then fight through 15 levels of platforming and boss fights as you make it to the end and get the yarn back. It’s a pretty low key plot when you think about it. There are only two real cutscenes, an intro and an ending. After that it’s just about making your way through the levels.

Each level is around 2 minutes long. You can glide and double jump which means that you are able to enter Kirby levels of cheese here. You can just glide past everyone and you’re set. You rarely have to ever stop so just go full speed through it all. Bubsy is really overpowered but to make it fair you also die in one hit to anything. The main advice I can give you is simply don’t get hit. Even if you do, there are checkpoints every 5 seconds and you get 10 lives per level. The odds of you actually getting a game over are incredibly slim. So it’s fair to let you know that this game’s difficulty level is at rock bottom. There are no challenges to be had here, it’s just about enjoying the game.

In that sense it’s very much like Snoopy. For the record, this game is better than Snoopy. Both games are at a similar length, but the gameplay is smoother here. The levels are very high so you have a lot of freedom to run and jump. Too much freedom probably but the landscapes do look nice. Jumping on the enemies is always the way to damage them so the game doesn’t make you learn much. If the game was longer this would be an easy 7. With a hype plot/cool characters it would be an easy 8. Alas, smooth gameplay isn’t enough to reach the big leagues, especially when you’re only 1 hour long.

While the gameplay is very fast, the title does force you to slow down quite a lot when the boss fights occur. That’s because the bosses are only vurlnable after they do a combo of attacks and the villains aren’t in any kind of hurry. As a result you just keep dodging and dodging until you can counter. These opponents are easily longer than the level and the 4 bosses that you face are likely longer than the 11 normal platforming levels in the game. Food for thought. The bosses are long, but not difficult though so you’ll mow em down.

Even for 10 bucks this doesn’t feel like it has a lot of value. For replay value you can go back and try to collect all of the gems/beat every level without dying. I’ll give the game credit for not making this mandatory, but I just don’t see myself going back and doing all of that. It just doesn’t seem worth it but it’s nice for people who are huge fans I guess. It’ll make the length at least a little more reasonable.

The graphics are really good though. It looks like a PS4 game. Granted, the game goes for a very simple look intentionally so it’s hard for it not to look great. With few character models to come up with, they can work on making them all sparkle. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t quite up to snuff. The tunes are very generic and I heard the complete OST after completing the game. It just won’t do anything for you and will be forgotten almost instantly. It’s a shame but not every game puts a lot of effort into this area.

As for Bubsy himself, he’s a reasonable character I suppose. He definitely does talk a lot throughout each level but since recording time was limited prepare to hear the same phrases over and over again. It can be fun in an ironic way I suppose. There are also references to other series like Mario and Sonic during the levels which is nice to see. At the end Bubsy hints that a sequel could come out someday. I’d probably get it, but like this one I’d wait til I could get it for a good price. Especially if it’s this short.

Overall, Bubsy is technically a pretty fun game. If you just want a fun experience and don’t care about the length then go for it. However, I can’t really recommend it all that much because of how short it is. You’d be better off getting one of the Mario games instead as those are fun and long. It’ll be interesting to see how this one compares to Yooka Laylee since that’s another modern revisit to the old era. This one seems like it would win in gameplay but if that one wins in everything else then either way Bubsy is doomed. If only Bubsy had invested more time into coming up with cutscenes to pad the length.

Overall 6/10

Sonic Mania Plus Review

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It’s time to look at a Sonic game that is generally known as one of the best of all time! I remember hearing all the reports of how good it was, but I was too busy experiencing the amazing Sonic Forces story that I couldn’t buy it. Well, the game is finally out physically on console so now this was the time to snag it. It is definitely a lot of fun. While I think Sonic Advance 2 is still the best of the 2D games, I would definitely say that this is the best of the home console 2D titles. The original classics just can’t top this one.

The basic plot is that Eggman is back and he plans on using the Gems to destroy the world. This also leads the gang into an alternate world where a bunch of robots are up to no good as well. Sonic decides to foil their plans and he enlists the help of Tails and Knuckles as his drivers from time to time in order to do this. The villains may have a bunch of tricks up their sleeves, but that won’t deter our hero! There aren’t really any big cutscenes so for the most part the game just shows you this visually through the levels and quick little moments after each zone. You can grasp what the plot is pretty easily.

There are 13 zones which each have 2 levels. The average level takes about 4-6 minutes so each zone is close to 10 minutes. Make sure that you travel through each level carefully because if you lose all of your lives in act 2 you will have to start from scratch at the beginning of the zone again. It’s not something that will likely happen all too often, but it can be brutal in the later levels where each zone takes a while to complete. Dying near the end will result in a lot of lost gameplay. Aside from the main Mania mode there is also an Encore Mode which is effectively the same thing, but now you get to use Mighty or Ray. Whoever you don’t choose at the beginning will get abducted.

The graphics are definitely on point with the modern retro designs looking pretty crisp. The levels are very easy to see and so you always know where you are going. I also enjoyed the soundtrack quite a lot as we got many really solid themes. The final levels had the best soundtracks out of them all as they were quite epic. At 3 and a half hours the story is also at a reasonable length considering the price. It’s almost as long as Sonic Forces so if you bought both games as intended then you have more of a normal sized game length.

As for the gameplay, it’s fairly good. In general I’ve never been a huge fan of 2D Sonic gameplay though. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s actually some of the weakest in the genre mainly because in Sonic games like this you never really get to use his speed. In fact you are actively penalized for it. That’s why Sonic has always worked best in 3D. Just try going full speed in Sonic Mania, all that will do is cost you a bunch of lives and all your coins. You’re encouraged to make your way through the levels at a reasonable pace as you look before you leap. Ironically as a result you typically have a faster pace of gameplay in Mario and Kirby than Sonic. I think adding more checkpoints and allowing you to restart from the second act after getting a game over would have definitely helped to make your loss not feel so bad each time.

The gameplay is definitely more streamlined than the retro part of Sonic Forces though. In that game you never wanted to jump because the physics were just off. In this game that is never an issue. At most it can just take a while to build traction so when you get hit sometimes you aren’t able to chase your coin down. That was probably an intentional choice to prevent it from being too easy. It did make the bosses more challenging even if the game had to resort to cheesy mechanics. I died against a boss in the glitchiest way possible in one level as I beat him, but because I was on the right side of the screen it counted as a loss. There’s also one part where you have to move across various elevators and it would always stop you just long enough to get squashed. As long as the character model was even close to the part being squished together you were finished.

As far as replay value goes the obvious option is grabbing all of the Chaos Emeralds. You find them through giant coins in the levels and then you have to catch the robot holding the Emerald. I managed to snatch 2 of them. The levels aren’t easy and there’s no quick way to get to them aside from replaying the whole level again so that will add a lot of time. You can also try beating the game with all 5 of the characters if you want. There are also the various PS4 trophies to be snagged. All in all, there’s a lot of content here.

Overall, Sonic Mania is definitely fun. Fans of the 2D Sonic genre are sure to enjoy it and it’s definitely a big homage to the classic games. I’d probably say that it’s the best classic Sonic game. (Not counting spinoffs like Sonic Fighters) It was definitely nice to see some of the classic characters like Metal Sonic get their moments to shine. The cameos for Fang and Bark through the illusions were also pretty solid. I’m definitely ready for the next big plot based Sonic game to come up soon but in the meanwhile it’ll be good to have the retro Sonic games continue as well. Hopefully the next one adds a bit more of a plot though and the perfect way to kick things off would be to have Fang return in person. As a bounty hunter there are a lot of ways that they can set him up as the antagonist.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword Review

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It’s time to look at another one of the MyNintendoReward games that I got recently. With this, the only one that I haven’t completed yet is the Legend of Zelda one which admittedly could be a while. It’s been a fun ride and these small games have been a nice break from the big ones. To say that this game is short would be an understatement, but since it was only 2-3 dollars that really isn’t bad. Naturally it isn’t quite as spectacular as Freedom Planet, but it’s a very unique game with a gimmick that works quite well.

The plot is fairly basic as the princess is kidnapped by some villains. The poor Kappa is the only one who remembers her getting kidnapped, but he isn’t a fighter so he waits until someone can back him up. Hundreds of years pass and no one is worthy, but finally a samurai shows up. The Kappa gives him petal powers which allow him to slice and dice the zombies. Finally, a hero has emerged. Still, will this kid really be able to stand up to the evil armies that are before him?

The gameplay is a reaction game which is the first of its kind that I’ve played. I don’t even know of any others. Basically you are in a 3D environment surrounded by enemies in each level. You have to wait for them to attack you and then you either dodge to the left/right or backwards. After you dodge you rush in and land a counter blow. If you time the dodge right you will get to strike back twice. However, if you attempt a second strike but didn’t dodge quickly enough then your sword will take damage instead. Mess up too many times and your sword will quickly become worthless. Sharpening the sword is pricey so if you aren’t sure about going for the 2nd strike just be satisfied with 1. The more you fight the enemies the more you will master the timing.

You can also buy kunai which you can use to preemptively attack with or a frog that distracts the enemy while you strike. The best items in the game are the rice balls and revive though since they can help back you up against the stronger enemies. There is also a gold cloth that works the same way as in Saint Seiya and it will give you absolute protection against any attack. It won’t last forever though so use it wisely. Each level typically consists of around 5 enemies, but the boss level on each land is comprised of 6-8 rooms with the same amount of enemies so bring a lot of health items for those.

The final boss is definitely very tough and the game jumps a few levels there. The game is never easy but that’s likely the only part where you will have serious trouble. I had to do some minor grinding to quickly stock up on enough gold to buy the maximum amount of every item. Even then I just barely won. If this doesn’t work out for you, try to complete a bunch of the side missions in town to increase the amount of health items that you can hold. This game is pretty fair in how it rewards repetition so as long as you keep playing you will definitely be able to vanquish the boss sooner or later.

The graphics aren’t the best, but they’re not bad. I just don’t care much for the main character’s design as it has the crushed nose look which hasn’t aged well. The villains look reasonable even if none of them are all that memorable. I do like the petal effects whenever you hit an opponent. I can’t really recall the soundtrack all that well either so you’re mainly in this for the gameplay. Of course, at the end of the day that’s the reason you’re playing any game right? The gameplay holds up quite well and makes the 3 hours fly by. I ended up playing the whole game in one sitting except for the final boss where I had to put the game down for a bit.

There isn’t much in the way of replay value though. You can beat the challenges as I mentioned, but that’s about it and it won’t take you very long at all. You also unlock some survival modes in the main menu which can be handy. They’re pretty simple tasks like beat 30-100 enemies and shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for you. Maybe the 100 one depending on how strong they allow your sword to be. Pro tip, upgrade your sword as soon as possible whenever you get the chance. It makes slicing through the armies a whole lot quicker and in general it is just more convenient. It’s a permanent upgrade so it’s better than buying something that will just go away. Don’t be afraid to lose either, whenever you fail the Kappa appears to help you earn some gold.

Make sure to go into town and save from time to time as well. I couldn’t figure out how to save the first time around so I made it to the castle and then ended up losing my progress. It won’t delete your data unless you attempt to go to the main menu, but that’s still not something you want to risk. Going into town is always handy in general as well. If you land a good combo without getting hit you can sell the combo to the local shop for some money as well. It’s a good way of rewarding your dodging skills.

Overall, Sakura Samurai was a pretty fun game. It’s definitely short, but at a rate of an hour per dollar that’s not bad at all. I’d recommend checking it out even if just to test your reflexes. Are they as sharp as you think they are? If so then this game will be a breeze, but if not then you could be in for some trouble. Now it’s going to be time to finally check out the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania. I’m ready for those fast paced levels!

Overall 7/10

Paper Mario Color Splash Review

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It’s time to look at a big Mario game from back in the day. This was the finale for the Paper Mario franchise and Nintendo wanted to end it with a bang. Crossovers and the like would still happen but we weren’t going to get another Paper Mario game for a long time. Supposedly the ending was so sad that you would be crying in the end. Well, I knew that this wouldn’t be the case, but I was hopeful that this meant we would be getting a super crazy awesome story. Unfortunately that was not the case and the game started off better than it ended.

The story begins with Mario and Peach deciding to take a vacation since their last outing in Mario Sunshine did not go so well. Unfortunately Bowser shows up and kidnaps Peach. He also steals all of the paint from the world. Mario meets up with a Paint Can named Huey who explains that the only way to bring the color back into the world is to grab the 6 legendary Paint Stars. Once they do that they can worry about saving Peach. Mario isn’t thrilled about putting off his quest to save Peach, but he quickly gets on board just in time!

As you can see this game probably has the weakest plot among the Paper Mario games. The 3DS game gives it some competition but considering that this game basically ripped the plot from it, I’ll have to give the original the edge. The thing is, Paper Mario’s usually been solid because it could have ambitious plots and threw in things that you would never see in the main series. It’s just a shame that this has been taken away from it and now it’s just like the main games, but with the gameplay not being as good.

Yes, this game decided to follow Sticker Star’s example. The only difference is that instead of using stickers you have stamps in this game. For all intents and purposes they are quite similar but the main difference is that obtaining the stamps is a lot easier here which is good. We even have the “Things” back from the 3DS game which are large objects that you use to interact with the levels. You better grab them all since the game forces you to put them to use right away.

What wrecks the boss fights in this game is that they each have a moment where it is impossible to hurt them. The only way to clear each boss fight is to have a very specific thing in your hand to overcome the villain. If you don’t have it then you are doomed to lose and the game will never tell you that you need it until you are near the end of the fight. That can be a little annoying since by then you’ve already spent quite a lot of time on it. The levels suffer from this as well since the same thing happens a lot. You spend a great deal of time in the game just travelling back and forth among the old levels when you just want to proceed. Some also force you to redo obstacles whenever you go back which throws you into a bunch of extra fights.

The core gameplay isn’t bad, it’s just that these puzzle aspects really hold it back. Running around the levels is fun enough as it’s just like a traditional 3D Mario game. The turn based combat also works as well as ever. The paint is what’s unnecessary along with the stamps. I just want to be able to fight like the good ole days of the Thousand Year Door. There are too many limitations in the newer Paper Mario game and the puzzles punish you for moving too quickly and not finding every possible Thing in each level.

Now, what I will give the game a lot of praise for is its stellar soundtrack. This is easily the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a Mario game and it can hold its own against any title. The boss themes are a lot of fun and so are the various remixes like the one Bowser gets as well as a certain Kaiju one. The music is always very fast paced and works well for what is happening on screen. It’s just very lively and is really what you want to see in such a game. The graphics are also fairly good. They’re not great since the game is made to look like paper so everything is slightly worse than it could be, but it’s intentional. The character models as well as the stages are still quite clear.

Huey is the game’s original character, but he’s definitely no good. He’s essentially given the personality of a very little kid and is Nintendo’s way of trying to play to the audience. He always exaggerates every emotion and seems to be feeling what you are supposed to feel during the game. When something bad happens he gets super upset or he’ll start crying when it’s something sad. He’s just unrealistically emotional and is just annoying the whole time. He can’t even be straight with everyone at the end of the game. Huey is super dramatic and not in a good way.

How about that super sad ending Nintendo talked about? I wouldn’t say that it was very sad at all. Again, it’s ripped off from the 3DS game, but not even handled as well. Sticker Star’s ending was more emotional but also a lot better and still kept in the sad element while not being overly tragic. This one was just less emotional and also came across as rather forced. It also makes Peach look pretty bad because she doesn’t care at all and Mario’s the only one who shows any emotion the whole time. The ending should have just been the gang inviting Bowser over for tea and biscuits.

At least the dialogue can still be pretty fun like in the other Paper Mario titles. There are a lot of parodies or homages to old Mario titles throughout. The characters all have more personality than normal and the writing can be clever. As I mentioned some of the writing is just a little too obvious with Huey but everyone else seems pretty reasonable in comparison.

After completing the game there is still a bunch of stuff to do. There is one more star you can obtain and there are also the 8 Roshambo temples. Since those temples are purely luck by the end you’ll need a lot of tries to complete them. You can also build up your paint meter in the meantime as well. Actually, I guess the replay value isn’t amazing when you think about it, but it’s a start and since the main story is so long you don’t need much of a post game.

Overall, Paper Mario is really just held back by its gimmick. If you take away the Things and the paint then this would be a very solid title. As it stands, those aspects make it very hard to enjoy the game. Every time you have to go back to an old level to find something it completely destroys any momentum you may have had. The game is over 20 hours long which is usually great, but instead the game seriously starts to drag on in the second half. You’re just ready for the gang to claim the win already. I’d recommend checking out the Thousand Year Door before this one. That game will be more fulfilling in the end.

Overall 5/10

Freedom Planet Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly recent side scrolling game that I was able to nab for free on the Wii U thanks to the MyNintendo Rewards. I can’t say that I had ever heard of the game prior to getting it, but it’s considerably better than I expected. It’s not that I expected it not to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for the game to have such a satisfying plot with so many cutscenes. The voice acting also helped it excel to the next level. It’s a very complete game that has a solid amount of difficulty while always remaining fair and balanced.

The game starts off by assuming that you are familiar with the characters and the setting. That’s always a good approach and even though it would be impossible since this is the first game in the series, it shows that the writers already have a pretty good idea on the background behind the characters. I’m sure we’ll be learning quite a lot about them in the sequels. For now, what you need to know is that Lilac is the main character. She’s a powerful dragon who has the ability of super speed at her disposal. In an instant she can cross large distances like Sonic. When an alien crash lands on the planet and warns her that an alien invasion is coming Lilac prepares to help. The problem is that both kingdoms on her planet refuse to co-operate and her friends aren’t strong enough to help her. It’s time for Lilac to save the world!

The gameplay is your classic 2D side scroller. You run and jump as Lilac as you attempt to get through the level. These stages aren’t always linear though as you may have to go back and forth to find card keys or find where the true path is. Most games of this style put in a lot of pit falls to trip you up and that’s actually the main area where the 2D Sonic games tend to falter. This one makes no such mistakes and the only level where you even can fall is the final one. The rest are fine so you can just focus on speed blasting through it. As far as attacks go you can trow out a slicing attack, skyward uppercut, ground dive, and even a super charge. The charge gives you invincibility against almost any kind of attack and is really handy against bosses.

However, the best attack in the game is certainly your helicopter move. Just double tap the jump button to activate it and deal heavy damage. The move does have a lot of end lag though so against the final boss use it with caution. The bosses are all quite diverse with a lot of different attack patterns to memorize. The game doesn’t bother with recycled animations or levels the way that some games do. This one has a lot of heart and you can tell that the developers did everything they could with what they had on hand. The gameplay is just a blast and it’s easily one of the best 2D games I’ve played in a long time. In terms of sheer gameplay it even dominates popular franchises like Sonic, Kirby, and Yoshi. Mario’s still the best in the genre, but I dare say that this has a solid shot to be 2nd. Of course, it’s a little soon to be saying that after one game so we’ll see how the sequel holds up. Hopefully it is ported over to the MyNintendoRewards shop soon.

The graphics are very solid as well. The character designs are on point and the sprites are very polished. It’s the kind of game that is easy to look at and everything is clear so you always know where the obstacles are. The enemy designs are also a lot of fun. Even when there are a bunch of enemies on screen the game rarely lags which is quite impressive as well. We can’t forget about the soundtrack and that holds up just as nicely. The themes are all very fast paced and really get you into the heat of the moment. On a technical level this game doesn’t falter.

Then we get to the length of the game which is reasonable. It’ll take you around 4 hours to complete the game. Of those 4 hours around 1 hour will be comprised of cutscenes. As I mentioned earlier the story is quite extensive to be honest. Some levels have huge breaks in between them with the multiple cutscenes and they do a good job of getting you invested in the characters. There’a good amount of replay value here as you can play as Lilac’s two friends who have unique levels and a different story perspective. Maybe it would help you like them as much as Lilac although that seems doubtful. You can also try to collect all of the badges and cards which would likely take quite a long time to do.

Time to quickly talk about the characters. Lilac is a selfless hero who is always charging into danger. She feels that by jumping into the fray like this her friends won’t have to, but they aren’t happy about this since they have to bail her out. I agree with Lilac’s logic here even if the friends aren’t really on board. Every time they try to help they get taken hostage or something so Lilac taking point makes sense. Her dragon abilities also make her considerably powerful. She’s definitely the best character in the game.

Then we’ve got her best friend Carol. Carol is more about having fun than saving the world, but she’ll tag along with the lead to keep her out of trouble. Carol’s a decent character, but she does crack midway and basically ends up proving Lilac’s point about why she shouldn’t be involved in this. Carol can fight reasonably well though and makes for a good assist when she has finally calmed down. The only member of the trio that I didn’t care for was Milla. Milla is more of a kid than the others and gets rather scared by what is happening. The game may have plans for her, but she doesn’t have as much potential as the other two.

Torque is the alien who crash landed in the first place and I can’t say that I’m a fan of him either. The guy is constantly yelling at the natives to work together, but his planet was the first to lose so he can barely talk. He always seems prepared to destroy anything to stop the villains as well so I can’t really call him a hero. Add that to the fact that he isn’t useful in a fight and the guy is basically just around to slow everyone down.

Spade doesn’t get to do much here, but considering that he is the big rival I’m sure he will do more in a sequel. He seems to have a history with Lilac and his speed is on her level. I look forward to seeing him appear again soon and he is probably the only character who could possibly surpass Lilac. Finally we have Brevon who is the main villain. He’s certainly a brutal antagonist as he rips his opponents to shreds. I even feel bad for the prince that he mind controlled since the heroes never actually find this out so they end up beating him up and possibly destroying the prince since they thought he was just another villain. Brevon is certainly thorough when he conquers planets and is a very legitimate threat. He made for a great final boss, but getting on Lilac’s bad side was probably a big mistake here. There are other characters like the two governments but they weren’t quite as noteworthy. The body guard who was always talking back to Lilac seemed cool though. She would have made for a solid boss fight.

For one last point on the gameplay, I also liked the game’s continue system. Some games force you to restart the whole level when you get a game over, this one just sends you back to the check point. That’s definitely a good thing if you ask me since some levels are over 25 minutes long and doing the whole thing over again would have been quite the chore. Likewise if you die to a boss’ 3rd phase when you come back that’s the phase that you will start with. It helps make the difficulty a fun challenge as opposed to a tedious chore. With no huge punishment for losing you are able to experiment more.

Overall, Freedom Planet is definitely a really fun game. The plot is a lot of fun and I’m still impressed that there was full voice acting. Admittedly the sound did fluctuate quite a lot though so sometimes it was rather difficult to make out what was being said, but fortunately there are subtitles. Learning how to beat a boss through repetition is fun here and the game rewards defensive play in the meanwhile. If you rush in without a plan you aren’t very likely to succeed. Slow and steady wins the race. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend doing so. You will never look at the genre the same way again.

Overall 8/10