Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

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There are a few games that you see as a kid but simply weren’t able to get because they were too pricey or simply lost out to other games at the moment. This is one of them and I decided that it had simply been enough time of not owning the game. It’s a solid Pokémon adventure but one that keeps the negatives of Colosseum without embracing its positives making this a rather lackluster title compared to the others in the franchise. It’s a relatively weak Pokémon installment but certainly still a solid entry overall.

The game takes place 5 years after Colosseum. Terry has seemingly retired or something as he is nowhere to be found. However a new protagonist has arrived, Terry. I’ll put the older version in bold to differentiate them. Terry is a nice kid who helps out a professor when performing his crazy experiments. This Professor has hit the jackpot though as he has figured out a way to purify Pokémon through your PC. It takes a little longer but this way you don’t have to personally fight alongside each Shadow Pokémon for a while. Of course, buying Perfume is still the easiest way to go about it but it’s only viable if you have a lot of money. The villains over at Cipher hear about this and steal the device. The organization had seemingly been destroyed in the last game but they have regrouped and are stronger than ever. They now want to make the ultimate Shadow Pokémon who cannot be purified. Terry decides to stop them but as the professionals would say, “What can some kid do!”

Terry is a good main character. He gets the job done and is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately he also doesn’t have a shred of character personality. I’m serious here, he doesn’t do anything. He saves the day and beats all of his opponents but he doesn’t really have any expressions beyond his neutral face so it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. Ah well, he’s still a good lead who doesn’t mess around so I’ll roll with it. You just can’t compare him to Terry as that guy really stole the show with his cool motorcycle and trench coat. The character was more of a rebel and was always making the tough calls.

The blame may also lie in part with how low key this story is compared to the last one. It’s fairly short as it ends in only 13 hours so you feel like they could have done more with it. It’s mostly just a matter of showing up to each location and winning. Their big plan of creating a bunch of Shadow Pokémon to take over the world is solid I suppose. It just never felt like as big of an adventure as it really should have. More like a sequel dlc than anything else. It’s not as if it’s a slice of life adventure or anything as it’s still about action but it just doesn’t come across as all that dramatic.

Further supporting this is the fact that the game feels rather low budget. Almost all of the stages in the game are taken straight from Colosseum. I somehow doubt that they were rebuilt from the ground up either. The budget just begins to show itself. Just about every character has the same fall animation and even the length is artificial. If you didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again in battles that are basically 10 minutes long each time, it would be a lot shorter. Honestly if we just look at the plot moments then the game would probably be half its length.

Now Colosseum has this problem as well so it’s not XD exclusive but the long loading times for each battle need to be mentioned as it’s an issue that has plagued the home console Pokémon games for a long time. Even Battle Revolution has this to an extent and Yugioh is another offender. On the portable consoles the battles go by very quickly which is why they’re fun. On the big consoles I guess they want to show off the graphics as every Pokémon gets a big animation for attacking and getting hit. There is no way to turn this off which is why every battle takes forever. I actually ended up marathoning Detective Conan while playing this game. Just pick the two attacks you want to use and read in the meantime. You’ll be surprised (Or not really) at how many chapters you are able to read while waiting.

As a result, I knew from the start that leveling all of my 6 Pokemon was not going to be a good idea. Instead what I did was I just picked two of them and focused on them exclusively. I basically didn’t even use the other Pokemon and if my main 2 died I just knew that it was game over. It was a risky strategy sure, but it saved me a lot of time. I’m definitely glad that I started out with Espeon as well since Psychic attacks are good against just about everyone and Espeon even knows Bite so he can shut down other Psychic types. It’s the perfect starter and I highly recommend using that strategy if you ever play this game.

The soundtrack is decent. A lot of classic themes are in here so those are nostalgic, but not much in the way of new ones. I believe the final boss theme may have been new but since it appears whenever the trio of villains shows up it may have been in the first game as well. Hard to say, but if so then it loses some points for originality. The graphics are pretty good. They haven’t really changed at all since the first one, but I guess in this case you don’t really need to change things up. As long as it looks clear enough where I can tell what I’m doing and enjoy the backgrounds, then it’s all good. The game definitely gets a passing score there.

As far as replay value goes, there is certainly a lot of it. The main game is around 13 hours so that’s already a good length and throwing in all of the Shadow Pokemon that you can catch just makes it all the more impressive. You could stick with this game for a Very long time and still have more to do. With how long the Pokemon battles take I wonder how long it would be to complete the Tower of 100 Pokemon battles. I think the most devastating part would be making it into the 90s and then losing though. Now that would just be tragic and I don’t plan on tackling that challenge. After all, I’d have to level up all 6 of my Pokemon to stand a chance and we know that would take a while. Still, for those who really enjoy this game there’s definitely a bunch to do.

Definitely don’t get the wrong idea, Pokemon XD is a solid game. It may not fare well against the original in any category, but it’s a good game when standing on its own. The plot is decent, there are a variety of levels, and there are a bunch of fights. The gameplay is slow, but it’s smooth and it looks/sounds good as well. The game will breeze by as long as you have something to do during the fights, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Purifying a Shadow Pokemon may seem tedious at first, but once you buy perfume and unlock the second way to purify them then it gets very easy. I’m not sure about some of the extra features like leaving Pokemon some food to try and capture them since it adds luck to the equation and stretches the game out even further, but maybe it’s handy to have around. All I know is that I’m really glad I stopped to read the email and went back to the lab to grab my Master Ball. Without it the Lugia fight could have actually been difficult as opposed to just catching him on my first turn.

Overall, I have finally gotten to play the sequel to one of my favorite Pokemon games of all time. I definitely recommend the game. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you haven’t played Colosseum and if you played it when you were a kid then you’ll also enjoy this game for all of the nostalgia. Just don’t play both games back to back as that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Sequels can’t always beat the original and I’ll have to accept that, but this is one big game that I can check off my list. My Gamecube collection is one step closer to being completed as well as I have just about every interesting game for the console. More are still on the way for someday though, but the next game I review will be a newer title. It involves the iconic Pac-Man in one of his startling adventures!

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Ducktales: Remastered Review

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It’s time to look at a retro game from the good ole days. It’s pretty nostalgic when you start the game up as you still hear the classic Capcom logo and all of the sound effects are very retro. It’s like getting that arcade feeling while still having the polished graphics from a modern game. Ducktales is a solid adventure for fans of the series as well as fans of the genre and is reasonably challenging as well.

The game starts off with Uncle Scrooge’s home being broken into by the Beagle Boys. They capture Scrooge’s 3 nephews, but the old Uncle is more than a match for the thugs. Scrooge then comes across a painting which works as a map and points to some legendary treasures. He decides to go and snag all of them, but the convenience of this map does make you wonder. Is Scrooge merely dancing to the tune of an unseen manipulator or is he simply leading the charge and got a lucky break? Our fearless main character is about to find out one way or the other!

When it comes to the gameplay, Ducktales has a very simple control scheme that is easy to pick up and play, but rather difficult to master. You move and jump as you go from one stage to the other. The main gimmick that Scrooge has is his cane which you can use to jump on enemies or even on spikes. You hold the O button to take out the pogo stick while in the air, but if you decide to play on Extreme Mode then it’s a two button combination of Down and O. You typically have to find a few objects which are labeled on the map. Once you find them, then you can head to the end of the stage and face the boss. I should mention now that I’m glad the objects are clearly labeled. It would just add unnecessary duration if I had to actually search for them all and get lost a few times. It’s not as if the levels are huge, but I think that this is a reasonable accommodation for the player.

There are 6-7 stages I believe. You can choose any of them to start out with first after the tutorial level and not counting the actual final. I went in order from top to bottom but the difficulty will really depend on which boss you find the most intimidating. They are all pretty tough the first time around, but gradually you’ll learn the patterns and do better the next time. Quite a few of the bosses took me two tries. It’s hard to sit back and memorize the patterns without getting hit, but this way it’s a life well spent. Surprisingly the final boss is one of the easier ones as out of Dracula’s 3 special abilities, one is really easy to dodge and the other two are pretty manageable. He does have more health than the other bosses which helps to balance that though. It’s a good amount of difficulty that tests your strategic thinking without being overly grindy. It’s a good balance.

You start the game with 3 hearts, but there are 5 upgrades that you can find in the levels. Grab all of them and your health will really be ready for the boss fights. Upgrades are really key in this game and the last parts would have been a lot tougher without them. I found 3 on my way to the goal, but I’ll look for the other two someday. The toughest part of the game actually isn’t a boss though, but the running challenge after it. In a scene much like a Mario game, you have to outrun the lava that is quickly creeping up on you. I died quite a few times during this part as the level is quite difficult. Make one mistake and you’re done. Even if you don’t make any mistakes you can still lose if you weren’t quite moving fast enough. Just keep on doing the level and eventually you will be able to clear it.

The main campaign is pretty short so you’ll have it beat in around 3 hours or so. Add in a bit of time depending on how often you die. There is replay value as you can keep clearing levels to buy all of the collectibles and earn trophies. The trophy collecting may lose some incentive since there are no Gold or Platinum trophies in the game. It’s a little surprising. Also, you have to beat the Game on Extreme, which means beating the whole game in one siting with only 3 lives. That sounds crazy hard so I already know that I won’t be getting all of the trophies in this game. Still, I got most of them so I’m still pretty satisfied in the long run. This is really a game that you complete once or twice and move away from it so it’s just important that you enjoy the initial run.

Fortunately I can say that I did enjoy the game. The story is quite solid and the writing is great as Scrooge has a lot of witty dialogue. He’s certainly a quick talker and always has a quip for the situation. His rival also made for a good antagonist. His constant insults during the last level are enjoyable for sure although Scrooge still gets the last laugh. The witch was a good villain, but a little overpowered. Since she can just stop time whenever she likes, I don’t see how the heroes can ever truly defeat her without plot hax. She just seems to be way stronger than the rest of the cast since everyone else is powerless. They’re just ducks. Count Dracula had a nice appearance even if he was completely used as a pawn here. He didn’t even get any lines in defiance!

The soundtrack is pretty solid. The level themes are memorable and in particular the final level has a great theme. It’s definitely a soundtrack where you can tell that a lot of effort was put into it. I do miss these retro soundtracks from back in the day and Ducktales definitely hit all of the right notes. The animation also looks really good as it’s about as HD as you can get for an old side scroller. The levels all look very clear whether they are in the light or in a dark cave.

Overall, Ducktales Remastered is definitely a very fun game. It’s a short one, but an enjoyable game nonetheless. You’ll have fun mastering all of the levels and making your way to the end. It’s a game that rewards your effort and each death will only lead you closer to victory. I’d love to see another game with Uncle Scrooge since he’s such a lead. The game’s ending just proves that point all the more as he’s just a nice uncle. He helped the nephews feel like the celebration was their own as well. Just don’t ask him for any money and you’re all set!

Overall 7/10

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

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It’s time for the latest app game that I decided to check out. Given that Sonic Forces was basically hype confirmed I was thrilled to hear about the mobile app. On the surface Sonic Forces is just another free runner so there’s nothing really special about it. Sonic already does have a free runner game when you think about it and that one has many more levels and characters. At the same time, I’ve never played any of those before so it all felt fresh to me. It’s definitely a fun game but one with diminishing returns unlike Pokémon Go which only gets more enjoyable as you level up. It’s a fun game but one that won’t last for very long.

There is only one mode, free run. If you were hoping for 1V1 battles or mini games/a story then you’re out of luck. Every race brings 4 random racers together and you race for the goal. 1st Place will give you around 10 trophies and it typically takes 500 to level up. As you can see it takes a lot of races to level up towards the end and especially when you are fighting tougher opponents who won’t let you take 1st. You start out with 2 stages to play on and as you level up you unlock better stages and better rewards. The rewards are the points you get towards unlocking a specific character. It’s randomized and the characters are divided into rarity tiers so you’ll see how eventually you will have far more cards for characters like Sonic than Metal Sonic for example. Since this is the only mode in the game you will want to really enjoy it.

The game suffered from bad connection errors for a little while but eventually it was able to fix itself. Now there are no issues with the gameplay which is certainly good since that is the entire game in a nutshell. There is definitely a lot of skill involved as you jump over obstacles and slide under others. You want to optimize your run and figure out the fastest way to clear a level. Given that you will be playing the stages very often, that shouldn’t be hard at all.

There are three different levels in the game. The first is your user level. Upgrading this will help you with rings and your special attacks will be stronger. You get the exp for it by leveling upyour characters. Second is your online level, this is what gets you the better loot boxes and allows you to play more stages. You level this up by winning battles online. Finally there are the individual character levels. You beef these up by getting their cards from treasure chests. They amplify the character’s abilities by a small amount but it’s enough to rip the scales your way. As far as I can tell each character has 16 levels total. I can’t confirm that of course as I don’t have anyone who is over level 8 but it’s based on a little guide they have in the game on what you unlock with each level. I’m sure the exp requirement skyrockets by the end so only the most serious of players, or the ones who pay a bunch will reach that point.

The graphics are really sharp. The character models are really well done and the backgrounds are a blast. It at least does feel like a lot of effort went into the graphics. I also enjoy the music but it’s just the one theme which can be a bit repetitive at times. It’s the inspirational version of the main Sonic Forces theme so it’s fitting for any fast paced race I’d say. They should definitely add more themes in as you level up though. Each stage should honestly have its own theme and I can’t even see how that would be tough to implement. Shouldn’t they just grab the songs they need from Sega and put it in?

There’s definitely a lot of replay value to the point where it’s infinite but how fun is this replay value? After all, there’s no point if you’re not going to try and collect everything. As I alluded to in the intro, the game slowly loses the joy that it had from the start. I think the biggest detractor is how you will actually lose points once you level up if you get 3rd or 4th which is unfortunate since the competition does get a lot stronger do it will be tough to get in the top 2 after a while. The sheer repetition of playing the same level over and over again will get to you. If you think about it, most mobile games effectively have you doing the same things over and over again but they cleverly mask this or the gameplay is so fun that it doesn’t even matter. You can say that Pokémon Go is incredibly repetitive but at least it is also a blast at the same time. That’s not to say that this game isn’t fun though. I think it’s the kind of game that is best in small doses. Just play a few races every day and you’re set. I’ll give it some props for being lenient on how long you can play as well. Some games have an energy meter so you can only play a certain amount each day. Fire Emblem has that but it’s so lenient that it barely ever matters. Forces limits how many chests you can get in a day, but that’s all. You can keep playing to your heart’s content.

Overall, Speed Battle is a good app. I think it’s definitely a title that you can have fun with for a little while. I don’t think you will enjoy it quite as much if you’ve played any other free runner though as then this one won’t even feel fresh from the start. Even aside from the fact that there isn’t much variety in the gameplay, I’d at least like for the rewards to be more reasonable. You’d have to win hundreds of races to get to one of the higher levels and I just can’t see myself doing that. It would be such a large time commitment and at the end of the day these apps are fun for playing a little here and there. Not for big play sessions. I’d recommend checking this game out as it is free and all so there’s really nothing to lose but don’t expect the game to hold you over for very long. That’s just the kind of game it is and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot of missed opportunities here though. (No Infinite?)

Overall 7/10

Ingress Review

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It’s time to look at the game that came before Pokemon Go. Not many people know this, but Pokemon Go was actually copy and pasted from another game that Niantic made first. Copy and paste may be strong, but both games are quite similar and you can see how Ingress is essentially the beta version. As a result it’s pretty fun, but it really lacks the key aspects that make Pokemon Go so addicting and thus you’ll find yourself bored before long.

In the first place I picked up Ingress only because I wanted to be able to submit ideas for Pokestops in Pokemon Go. That seemed like a pretty fun goal to me, but then they said you had to be at least Level 10 to do so. That was when I stopped playing. I made it to Level 7, but each level doubles the EXP you need so it would have taken me a year at the most but at the minimum probably 8-9 months. That would be time that would have taken away from Pokemon Go and it was simply too much of an investment and I’ll let other players handle that one.

The goal of the game is to take over various points in the world for your team. There are the Green and Blue teams in the game so I went with classic Blue. Each location is essentially a Pokestop. (A little circle with a picture) You can drop off shields at the place and little generators to claim it as your own. If someone else owns it, then you have to destroy their generators before placing your own. If you take over multiple locations, you can use a Field Link to merge them and control a larger area. Nobody can take over a space that is in your area so it’s a good way to shut the opponent down. There isn’t really an end to the game but like Pokemon you can effectively say that you’ve beaten the game when you’re Level 16. That would take a really impressively long time to accomplish as well.

It’s tough going when you’re in the early levels since your weapons and defenses are weak. It will be impossible to take down any barrier that a high level has placed so stick to visiting all of the stops and getting what EXP you can. It’s really a game that is meant to be played while you’re exploring since there’s not a lot to do otherwise. There’s nothing to do if you stay in one place unless you live on a stop. (I live on two which is helpful but after spinning them then you’re stuck again) It’s a good game on the road and I may enjoy it more if Pokemon Go didn’t exist. This game is Pokemon Go, but without the Pokemon or the Gym Battling which makes it quite a bit less encicing.

Once you start playing you’ll get hooked on it, but eventually the fad will pass. I’d say that I lasted quite a while all things considered. Maybe I’ll check out the game again someday if they lower the level limit, but all mobile games stop eventually and this is just my time for checking out. The graphics are okay, but it’s not as if there is much to show. There are no creatures or anything, just a few simple animations. There is no real music in the game. There may be a main theme although I can’t remember it, but it won’t be earning any stars in that regard. As far as replay value goes, it’s essentially infinite so that’s a plus I suppose.

The game is at its best if you’re playing it with a few friends. Since it’s about taking over the neighborhood, it’s naturally fun with a group. On your own, you’re outnumbered and you’ll just have to really enjoy the process of playing the game since anything you do will likely be undone by the time you go back home. This will depend on how busy your area is of course, but at least in mine there are a ton of active players. Then there are also the likely bots and spoofers running around as well.

Overall, Ingress is a well made game, albeit a limited one if you’re on your own. It’s just very repetitive and while you can say that for just about every mobile game, it’s not quite as enjoyable as those. The game is also very vague on everything so if you want to learn what you’re actually doing it is advised that you look for the information online or go straight to Reddit. If you’re outside a lot and like visiting places then it’s a good idea to download this app and have fun getting the points. On the other hand, I’d recommend doing the same with Pokemon Go. At the end of the day, you need to decide which game is more fun and just pick one. You can’t have both open at the same time with one phone so if you play both then one is always missing out. That’s why I ended up choosing Pokemon. Ingress definitely wouldn’t rank as highly as most of the other Mobile games I’ve played, but it is tragic to an extent since it probably would get a much higher score if Pokemon Go didn’t exist. It’s just how it goes and you can’t help but compare the two as you’re playing. Maybe one day they’ll link both games with rewards or something, that would definitely be interesting. I am also interested in the new Harry Potter game that the company is working on as well. That should definitely be fun but like Ingress I’d probably only check it out for a little while. Ingress lasted a month and a half before I called it quite, we’ll see if Harry Potter can even last that long!

Overall 6/10

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Review

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Telltale has always churned out a lot of pretty cool titles. The idea of having your choices affect the ending has always been really cool. It brings me back to the “How to Choose Your Own Endings” books from back in the day. I’d die in most of them, but I’d always enjoy the experience. Well, this is what they do for video games and it’s certainly fun. As a result, there’s not really much gameplay so it’s more of an interactive movie where you get to put your own influence on the characters. I got the physical edition when it first came out so then each chapter of the game would come out gradually. It helped extend the game and make you wonder what would happen next. Some games certainly do a better job of making the decisions count than others. An infamous example is X-Men Destiny where the choices that you make really don’t matter.

The basic plot is that the Guardians have destroyed Thanos once and for all. They now have a mysterious artifact that looks like a cup and it may be all powerful. The team has to decide if they want to keep it or not while Starlord just uses it for beer. It turns out that this artifact may have the power to bring back the dead so naturally the whole team wants it for themselves while Hala wants it for her own purposes. Can the team get it together in time to stop this madness or will the Guardians finally end up disbanding? The ball is in their court now.

You play as Star Lord for the most part although occasionally the others have a choice to make as well. When you’re not making decisions you can walk around a bit to inspect things. Sometimes you get to fly around and investigate other layers as well. I actually got mildly lost with that during one of the earlier episodes but just keep inspecting everything. Eventually you will find the clues. The gameplay isn’t the smoothest, but that’s because the main focus is on the choices. It’s not as if the gameplay is all that extensive anyway. The main parts are handled through quick time events which I’m always game for. No matter how many different games use them, they are always just as awesome as the first time they popped up. I’m certainly convinced that quick time events are a good thing and should basically be in every game to be honest.

The graphics are good. The Telltale games always have a very distinct look to them. Everyone is a little more rugged and battle tired. It may not look shiny but it gets the general atmosphere across. It’s definitely good enough. Unfortunately, the soundtrack isn’t quite as good. When booting up the game you always have to hear this annoying song that pops up and I am absolutely not a fan. You’ll want to put the main menu on mute. Beyond that, the rest of the tunes are pretty good and we do get a better insert song for the end. The game did a good job of giving us a pretty climactic battle as well. Every member got to get their shots in with a lot of teamwork throughout.

There isn’t any replay value though but that comes with the territory. You automatically get the Platinum trophy for completing the game and there are no collectibles or anything. I suppose you could replay each episode to go for different paths and all, but part of the fun is sticking with the route you’ve taken. The only exceptions to that are when you unlock a true ending or something, but otherwise you don’t really want to go back. I’d say that the game is around 8-9 hours long as each of the 6 chapters at least an hour. The final one is certainly longer than that and some of the others were likely a bit longer as well which is why I rounded it up. I believe the game started out at 40 as opposed to 60 which helps, but either way it’s a reasonable length. Not quite the 10 hours but close enough.

For the choices I had fun making Starlord as mean and unlikable as possible. I didn’t become a villain or anything, but I kept it real with the team. I reminded them that I’m the one who took down Thanos and constantly call them out when they’re being dramatic. When threatened I quickly take the opponent down. Peaceful negotiations could wait for later after all. It’s definitely satisfying and there would almost always be a good option to pick. If you don’t like any then you can go with silence, but that’s just usually not my style. I want to say something, whether it be a quick burn or a declaration of war.

It’s hard to say how much my choices impacted the ending without seeing other people play through the game, but I’m satisfied with how it feels like I made a decent enough difference. It can’t get too drastic either since they’d have to program in a bunch of completely separate events otherwise. As long as it does make a tangible difference, then I’m set. It’s also a nice change of pace to essentially be watching the game unfold as opposed to blasting everyone myself. It does remind me that a 3D Guardians action game would be quite awesome though. There’s definitely a lot of potential there.

Overall, This was a fun game. Due to the nature of the Telltale series you can’t call it great because it’s basically a movie game and as such won’t have the thrill of fighting a good boss or platforming through a difficult section, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s basically like watching a Guardians movie. The plot is pretty solid throughout and while I’m not always the biggest fan of the Guardians because Groot and Drax hold them back, Starlord makes for a really good main character. It’s great to take the wheel and just make the characters as intense as you want them to be. If you’ve never played a Telltale game before then I definitely recommend it so you can see what it’s like. If you have, I still recommend it since it’s just fun to make the decisions. Hopefully it does get a season 2 so I can keep the decisions rolling. In case you’re wondering, Yes, I did disagree with the majority on a bunch of decisions. That’s just to be expected though.

Overall 7/10

Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive Review

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It’s time to look at a Naruto PSP game that I have owned for many years. It’s really been sitting in the closet for a long time, but at long last I got to finally complete it. It’s certainly one of the weaker Naruto games thanks to several game mechanics that hold it back. It’s a shame because you can see the potential lurking in the background, but in the end it simply wasn’t enough to make the game as solid as it can be.

It has an original story where Naruto is framed. The Hidden Dreams village believes that he transformed into the Nine Tails and destroyed it, eliminating the leader of the village in the process. As such, they have decided that it is time to destroy Naruto and the rest of the Konoha ninja once and for all. Naruto has to defend himself and take these guys down at the same time. Meanwhile, Sasuke and his allies are closing in on Itachi. They won’t take kindly to anyone that gets in their way. Who will come out on top!?

First off, I’ll give the story kudos for being pretty interesting. The original characters weren’t all that bad. There were 5 new characters. Enzo, the leader of the group for the majority of the game was fairly decent. He wants to avenge his village and leader which works well enough and his design isn’t bad. He makes for a good opponent. Two of the weaker villains were Taiso and Yomito. I didn’t care for either one of them since they never felt all that formidable and you knew that they were going down. While all of the villains were gullible, their individual personalities just didn’t help their case at all. Ryuka easily had the biggest role from the villains and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to bring in the Three Heads monster to destroy the world. The heroes were definitely nervous about fighting such a beast so it was a fairly good move. Of course, Ryuka was also being manipulated by the ultimate mastermind. She would probably make for a pretty good hero to have around.

The big villain behind the shadows was fairly generic. He’s old and presumably wise so he strings everyone along with ease. He doesn’t play around, but his end goal makes it feel like he was since he didn’t really think it through. Even with the 3 Heads, I don’t see him destroying the world since the main characters defeated him pretty easily. If they had lost then the Akatsuki would have done the job themselves. He’s pretty good at getting the cheap shots in, but that’s really the extent of his abilities. Without the monster, he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

I have to give the game some credit on the cutscenes though. There’s not a whole lot that you can do with still shots for the most part. This game does everything it can to make them exciting despite this. You have a lot of quick cuts through the images and sharp sound effects. It can also be pretty funny since the game takes itself so seriously the whole time, but I appreciate the effort. Most games would have settled to have the images stay on screen with dialogue but nothing happens. This one at least simulates an actual fight.

The soundtrack is also pretty decent. The themes are certainly limited, but they’re catchy and memorable. I doubt you’ll be forgetting the themes anytime soon once you start playing the game. I would have liked more tunes, but as a whole I feel like the budget for this game was incredibly low. You can see this through the gameplay as there are only a few different bosses and minions. They all end up being reskins that are copy and pasted from each other. It’s pretty lazy and also very noticeable by the end. It makes playing the free missions not quite as fun. At least the game did scrounge together enough budget for an intro and end song. The lyrical song was done very well and at least ended the game on a high note.

What hurts the game is really the gameplay. The actual style isn’t bad as it’s your average 3D fighter. You get one attack button and one for jutsu. You can mix and match the two to use various combos. Dodging and platforming also come in handy. There are no level ups in this game, but you do get scrolls after every mission which amp up your stats. They are incredibly useful and I believe mandatory as well as completing the game without a good set of scrolls would be impossible. Here’s where the game goes too far though.

The bosses have massively large health bars which go down at a very slow rate. It just keeps on crawling and crawling. The levels give you a full 30 minutes to fight the level and in two of them I nearly got timed out by the villain. Levels shouldn’t be that long if it’s a small circle where you just keep pummeling the boss and he won’t go down. The only way to put yourself in a better position is to replay old missions to get better scrolls. The problem is that if you go too far back then the scrolls will be really bad and not useful but if you do the mission that you just beat then you’ll barely be able to beat it and it’ll take a while. Naturally you have to do the latter, but it just feels like artificial padding when you have to beat it again.

There are the free missions you can do instead of the scenario ones to earn the scrolls, but it’s a grind all the same. It took me a while to get past some of the early bosses for that reason since through RNG I kept getting underwhelming scrolls. Towards the end of the game I finally got really good ones that carried me through the game, but it took longer than I would have liked. The A.I. doesn’t help either since it feels like your allies are programmed pretty badly on purpose at times. They attack and heal you as you fight but often times they won’t get out of the boss’ attacks and will get trampled. Once they are out of the way it’s up to you and you won’t be able to deal enough damage. Some bosses also cannot be harmed like the Beetle that you have to trick into crashing into a tree (Which your allies will try to prevent) or others that you have to knock down. These are easily the worst bosses since it takes forever to beat them. I much prefer the opponents that you just fight until you get their health bars to 0.

An easy fix that could have helped the game would be to make the ninjutsu stronger. You know there’s a problem when it’s usually better to spam your normal attacks than to use any specials. Only Naruto had two really great attacks which I spammed forever. The other characters were completely out of luck so I always got worried when I had to play as another character. I couldn’t even look forward to playing as Sasuke. At least Kakashi’s level went by quickly since for some reason Itachi couldn’t fight back. I feel like it was a glitch but it’s possible that they just didn’t program him very well. It’s definitely a real possibility.

The game just padded itself out as long as it possibly could. I ended up finishing the game after around 14 hours and since it only had 17 levels, that’s pretty scary. I wish I could say that the grinding was fun, but since every level is effectively the same and they’re all so long, it definitely wasn’t the most enjoyable experience. It’s hard to see myself going back to this one. Technically it did have a lot of replay value though. You can go back and try to beat the rest of the Free Missions. There are a bunch of other jutsu, ninja tools, and one other thing left to collect that I can’t think of at the moment. Getting all S ranks in the game might help to unlock something as well I’m sure.

Overall, This wasn’t a bad game, but the padding and poor game design prevents it from being quite as good as it should have been. The gameplay and levels were extremely limited and the bosses were poorly designed. Having to try and get new scrolls to get through the game is already bad, but making them completely luck based is even worse. It prevents the combat from being fun when it really should be. It’s a shame since the story is really good along with the visuals. The graphics are on point during the gameplay and cutscenes and the music is memorable. I’d recommend this game, but only after you’ve played all of the other Naruto games and you want something fresh. Otherwise, they’re all more polished than this one is.

Overall 6/10

Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review

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Paper Mario has always been pretty ambitious for a Mario series. The plots could get pretty serious and were certainly darker than the main series as they selves into Luigi’s psyche and had Peach turn evil. The Thousand Year Door was the peak of the series and could hold its own as an rpg against the mainstream ones like Final Fantasy. Then….this game came out. It’s basically a Mario game masquerading as a Paper Mario title.

The plot is paper thin compared to the old ones as Peach is kidnapped. Bowser has taken her away to his castle and Mario is going to need some help if he wants to save her this time. Fortunately he had a pal named Kersti who is some kind of Princess I think. I can’t remember to be honest but she talks a really good game and insults anyone who gets in her way. She reminds Mario that he will need to obtain the 6 World Crown Stickers to save the world and stop Bowser’s evil plan once and for all. Can Mario do it or will he end up panicking throughout the entire game!?

Right away the game’s main problem presents itself in the form of the stickers. Not only is the entire game built around them, but the mechanics aren’t even fun. You need them to perform any kind of action in combat from jumping to using your hammer. This means you really do need to take the time to pluck them off the walls or you’ll run out during a boss fight. The stage will throw you a few extra ones when you’re empty but only cheap stickers that won’t do a lot of damage. This gets very tedious very quickly. It doesn’t help that the bosses have an enormous amount of hp so the fights drag on for eternity. That’s also why running out of stickers becomes a legitimate concern since you will need a lot of stickers to finish them off.

The final boss in particular has around 5 phases and keeps healing between each phase. This just drags on the fight more and more as opposed to being exciting. You can’t jump on this opponent either so even though I made it to the final phase with a lot of stickers left, I couldn’t do anything. None of my jumps would do anything but hurt me and so I had to watch as my efforts went to waste. The game is built around trial and error to a large extent which is certainly not how a game should be if you ask me. You should be able to reasonably guess what to expect and win if you thought about it enough as opposed to just needing more stickers from the shop.

You’ll likely need to farm some coins at one point or another so I’d recommend 4-1 for that. There’s a shiny goomba right when you enter the level and a ice flower in the box next to him. Grab the flower and you can beat him in one hit which will get you around 100 coins. You can do this very quickly so just keep at it. I saved to about 2500 coins for the final boss and it was certainly worth it. The super stickers do have cutscenes that are unskippable which is unfortunate but they are worth it for the damage they dish out.

Another massive problem with the game are the puzzles. You probably know this if you’ve been reading my reviews but one thing I’m really not a big fan of are poorly made puzzles. It’s to the point where they can easily lower a game’s score on their own like Final Fantasy VII, Metroid, and Majora’s Mask. The same thing happens here but to a larger extent. Some puzzles require you to go all the way back from world 5 to 2 for example as you look for an ice sticker that can freeze the volcano. I had to resort to Gamefaqs a few times here because these puzzles are absolutely terrible. How could you possibly think to search a new world? Why would the ice be in the desert world instead of…..the ice world? The game is actively trying to troll you which I don’t appreciate and there are so many puzzles here that don’t make any sense. I think the only way you would figure some of these out is if you were planning to 100% the game anyway so you investigate every book and cranny. Even then, the same thing happens with the bosses as you have to try and figure out how to deal with them. My sticker “pal” mocked me after every fight as she pointed out that I used too many stickers so certainly don’t use my tactics.

This game just wasn’t all that fun and it’s a shame because the gameplay minus the stickers was good. Some of the levels had a little platforming so you would jump around and try to reach the goal. It gives you a small glimpse of what the game could have been like without the odd gameplay style. It also makes you wonder what the point of the stickers was because at the end of the day it is still basically a turn based style of gameplay. It’s just far more limited than the usual ones since you always have to worry about running out of stickers which is a really pointless feature. Throw out all of the many, many puzzles and this could maybe will be a good game even with the sticker system. Of course, then we are looking at a completely different game since this one was really built with all of those puzzles in mind.

As far as the characters are concerned, this Mario game plays it by the books. Mario is your classic lead who is always ready for a good time but really does panic at just about everything. Peach gets kidnapped as per usual, but gives a pretty nice speech at the end so that was cool. Bowser essentially gets controlled by the stickers so it wasn’t his best appearance. Seeing all of the old bosses was pretty cool like Gooper Blooper and Petey Piranha. Bowser Jr and Kamek also has pretty solid roles. The main heroine Kersti was also pretty decent even if she was rather generic the whole time. The big sacrifice at the end was certainly a pretty emotional moment when you think about it. Mario didn’t really put up much resistance to the plan but I guess we can assume that he knew about the true power of the stickers and figured it would all work out. The climax was pretty intense and in a main Mario game it would have looked awesome since Mario effectively got Super Saiyan mode at long last. If you ask me, it’s about time.

As far as the presentation goes, Paper Mario’s graphics hold up pretty well. They’re certainly. not amazing or anything like that, but they are good enough and get the job done. The character models are solid and the level environments are pretty striking as well. It’s a oh as good as I’d expect a modern Paper Mario game to look. The soundtrack is certainly less impressive compared to the average Mario games but it’s not bad. At the very least the main menu theme is quite iconic after hearing it so many times. I’m not likely to forget it anytime soon.

In terms of the replay value Paper Mario is fairly decent. There is a set amount of large stickers to obtain so gathering them all would be an accomplishment. You can also try to find Luigi in his 5 appearances which will hopefully trigger some kind of cutscene. The main game is around 15 hours of more if you get stuck so that’s a very good amount right off the bat as well. So technically there is a lot to do here but you probably just won’t be all that tempted to accomplish all of this since the fun factor isn’t quite there. The post game is st least more enjoyable than the main game since the puzzles are already taken care of. It becomes a little more of a straight job from start to finish while you complete everything. Prepare for a lot of back and forth either way.

Overall, it’s rare for me to say that a game is actually bad. Over 90% of the games I’ve reviewed at least make it to 5 and most are over 6. This one just goes way too far with the sticker mechanics and the problem that the game isn’t fun. It’s not really a title that you look forward to playing which is the problem. It has its moments but every time you think the game is hitting its stride it comes back at you with another puzzle. They just keep on coming and never stop so the game could not save itself. I highly recommend playing the other Paper Mario games first as this one will really give you the wrong impression of the series. I can only hope that the next Paper Mario game has improved a lot from this one.

Overall 4/10

Sonic Forces Review

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There has been a lot of hype and negativity surrounding this game ever since the first trailer. Some thought the idea of a dark Sonic game would mark the return of Sonic 06 (Great game btw) while others thought it could finally be the next big Sonic Adventure title. For me, this was a good sign because the plot heavy Sonic games of the GameCube era were amazing. While Sonic Forces is a great game, it’s not quite as downright amazing as I had expected. A few areas hold it back from that.

The story starts off with a bang as Sonic heads to the city to help the others take down Eggman as per usual. Instead, he is greeted by all of his old foes and a new one known as Infinite. They defeat and presumably destroy him. A level or two later you find out that Sonic is alive and has been kept prisoner for the last few months. Classic Sonic also shows up from a portal to help out. Meanwhile, Terry (The name of my avatar) has decided to realize his potential as the ultimate life form. He frees Sonic and basically leads the charge against Infinite. Can the heroes defeat this opponent who effectively seems unbeatable?

Aside from the main story we also have a 3 level Shadow The Hedgehog prologue. It’s pretty fun as we see Shadow head off to help Omega fight Infinite. We also learn Infinite’s origin story. It’s very short since there are only 3 levels and they are pretty fun since playing as Shadow is always great. That being said, after playing the main game it can seem a little lazy. They reuse at least one of the levels from the main story as well as the final cutscene. There also aren’t any boss battles to be found here. It’s extra content and context for the story so I can’t complain about it too much but the story aspect also doesn’t make sense.

Many spoilers on the story will follow from here so skip the next 7 paragraphs if you haven’t played the game yet. Shadow is talking to Rouge towards the end of hiss prologue and she tells him not to bother going to help Sonic since he has the situation under control. That’s fine. Then she tells him to forget that because the situation has changed and Sonic is up against a squadron of lethal foes. The cutscene ends here and presumably Shadow dashed off to help. Despite this, in the main story he doesn’t show up until months after this event as he helps Sonic against a fake Shadow. Why did he not make it in time with his speed? At the very least he should have been informing the team about Infinite and had a more active role in the story. I feel like with his prologue they created it after the story so they were stuck by that point.

The main story is also a little…strange. It’s not like there are a bunch of plot holes or anything but the random time skips have you feel like the game is on fast forward. For example, Sonic loses and suddenly 3 months past. Why does everyone immediately assume he is dead? Why did it take 3 months for anyone to do something about it? The characters act like Tails has gone crazy or cracked since Sonic left but he seems perfectly okay to me. Classic Sonic popping up was also one of the most random moments in the game. He doesn’t have any real reason to be here and while I don’t mind crossovers for the sake of crossovers, I feel like he doesn’t even look that good. He clearly has no idea what is even happening and just goes after Eggman like it’s the good ole days. If they could have squeezed in a fight with Infinite that would have been awesome. Otherwise it’s really just a waste.

A cool part of the story was when Silver fought Infinite. Now that was a really cool battle and it’s a fight that was always fun to think about. Silver got wrecked of course but it was a cool visual. Of course for every positive, there is another limitation that pops up. The fights in the game are all made up of a singe homing attack of a bump. At the end of the game we get to see everyone taking on the army of Sonic villains and Shadow is just swerving from side to side and somehow he is knocking his opponents out with his hips or something. Keep in mind that these clones are supposed to be as strong as the real ones and yet, Shadow beat his clone in a single hit. I think the writers just added that line to add some drama and suspense but it didn’t make sense.

I think the first moment I knew something was wrong was when Chaos got one shotted by classic Sonic. Not only is this disgraceful to Sonic DX fans, but it was a perfect chance for a boss fight. The fact that they didn’t do so was rather alarming. Then the same thing happened with Shadow as mentioned above. It gets to the heart of the issue which is that Sonic Forces’ story feels like clickbait at times. You’re waiting for something really awesome to happen and then it never does. The only clone who really got a good role was Zavok since at least he got some hype lines and talked a good game. I would have been pretty upset if he had actually defeated Sonic though. I just wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around that. Another example of this is at the end when you beat Infinite. He starts yelling about how he can’t be defeated and flies off….never to be seen again. Yes, there could be a post game mission to solve that, but I wanted him to show up in the main story. Why did we not get Super Sonic? He should be a staple in the series and yet he hasn’t made the cut lately. I thought for sure that he would show up here since Infinite was so powerful.

Another very odd moment was when they said that Eggman had been torturing Sonic for months. That came out of nowhere and was there purely for edge. Sonic still makes one liners and walks out of his cell like it was nothing. It’s cool that Sonic never lets things get to him, but the torturing reference should have been cut out, especially since the game barely acknowledges that it even happened. Another weird moment is when Eggman has Infinite hit Sonic with a new Null weapon which will trap him inside of an indestructible void. Sonic…then breaks out so fast that it’s not even a level. It’s practically back to back cutscenes where he’s out instantly. It hints even further that a big chunk of the game was simply cut out. I feel fairly confident that this isn’t the original Sonic Forces that we were supposed to be getting.

Lets talk about the Avatar. Terry is legitimately amazing. I gave him a really cool design so he looks like an evil Sonic. He takes charge of the situation and even holds his own against Infinite. The cutscene where he stands his ground is handled excellently as well as his quick save towards the end of the game. He’s a great character and while it may be a little cheesy with how he is the chosen one and all…I could get behind it. Pro tip, don’t switch away from his flamethrower. You can beat levels really quickly with that one although the whip isn’t bad.

Infinite is also really cool, but admittedly not as great as he could have been. I felt like his origin story was actually made after people started making fun of him. He basically gets wrecked by Shadow and starts trembling. He tries to psych himself up by yelling about the whole thing, but it doesn’t work and Eggman kidnaps him later on to give him the new power. With it Infinite talks a good game and has a great voice so I can get behind that. All of his lines are quite awesome as well. The origin story could just have been better, but I’m glad we got to see a glimpse of his old self. Surprisingly we didn’t see that in the main story, but budget cuts and all that. I hope he appears again someday because the character has a lot of potential. We just should have seen a fight between him and the Super Hedgehogs. Maybe the Shadow vs Infinite battle since they teased it in the prologue and the two have a history. It makes no sense why Infinite wouldn’t fight him. Of course, it makes no sense why he would let Sonic live every time aside from plot convenience as well.

There are 3 gameplay styles in the game. Lets start with the best one, Modern Sonic. The levels are really awesome and you’re always moving at a high speed. I actually really like the boost mechanic since it feels good to actually enjoy using the speed that Sonic is famous for. The levels are unfortunately a little on the short side as a result and you can finish basically all of them in under 2 minutes. There are some annoying traps where a hole will suddenly pop up thanks to spotty level design but it’s not enough to really hurt the style. That’s why we need another fast Sonic game without a gimmick. No Werehog, No Wisps, No Classic Sonic. I just want a 3D Sonic game where you can zoom from start to finish the whole time and enjoy yourself along the way.

Then there is the Avatar levels. They’re actually quite good and are basically what people would have wanted Sonic Boom’s gameplay to be like. He still feels like you’re playing as Modern Sonic half the time, but you also get a weapon now. The controls are pretty smooth unless you’re using the thunder wisp in which case you’re doomed. Using your grappling hook is always very satisfying and it’s just handled great all around. It’s another reason why I am ultimately glad the character made it into the game. If his inclusion is the reason why the rest of the game suffered then I’ll take that back, but otherwise I am all for it.

Unfortunately there was one gameplay style which did not work. That would be Classic Sonic and he is the only character where I would actually get disappointed if I saw his level coming up. Whoever added on his gameplay style did so at the last second as it isn’t polished at all. The controls are slippery and the levels aren’t all that fun. You can’t go fast because you’ll just fall and you’re left wondering for the 100th time why he is in this game. He just should not have been here and you can tell that the developers didn’t care by this point.

To point out some more laziness on the game’s part…they reuse boss battles. Yes, you heard that right. One big example that is impossible not to notice is Metal Sonic and Infinite. Both of them are the same boss fight and they simply recolored Metal Sonic to make him look like Infinite. It’s why Infinite also looks huge during the whole boss fight for no real reason. The game also reuses level designs throughout under the guise of Classic and Modern as well as the Avatar. Honestly this just doesn’t feel like a AAA game would would be double at the most. It explains the reduced price, but I fully expected and wanted my Sonic game to be as high budget as it can get.

As expected the graphics are really solid. The colors may not be as striking as Adventure 2 Battle but it has some pretty solid moments. Any scene with Infinite usually has a pretty good color palette. I don’t think the game looks as good as it could have, but I still can’t really complain about it either. It’s at a high enough level where I am definitely still satisfied.

The soundtrack is also really solid as we get a bunch of remixes and lyrical songs. Not all of the lyrical songs are a hit, but most of them are. There are definitely a lot of up beat ones in there and the intense Infinite theme also shows up. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of the sound didn’t really do a great job as the effects will often drown out the actual music. This can be pretty unfortunate when you want to hear the tune but can’t focus on it with all the background noise.

Well, the main area that does hurt the game somewhat is it’s lack of replay value. The main story isn’t very long as it is so not having a multiplayer mode doesn’t do it any favors either. You can get all of the S ranks and clothes for your avatar but if you actually try that shouldn’t take very long either. That’s because there is a new system involving daily missions. Essentially you clear the mission and unlock a score boost which makes it easier to get S ranks. I don’t even know what you get for obtaining them all but hopefully it’s something epic. Grab your Platinum Trophy on the way back of course.

I could go on for quite a while, but lets get this into perspective. Sonic Forces is still a great game of course. The gameplay is tight and the technical aspects are on point. The story is awesome and epic even if it feels like someone cut out 80% of the game to speed things up. There are a number of weaknesses, but many of them are only so large because I’m a big Sonic fan. It also couldn’t have had many of these negatives if it had chosen to go with a retro plot of Sonic simply stopping Eggman with no real cutscenes throughout and then we wouldn’t have expected so much out of it. The main menu interfaces are really clean and sleek. They’re some of the best out there and Sonic always sets a high bar for this. The game feels modern in many ways like that. You just won’t be playing it for a long time compared to the average game.

Overall, Sonic Forces is better in concept than in the execution. It’s just a little too short and you can’t help but think that it got rushed out of the gate or was given low priority for some reason. There were so many reasons why this game should have been just about perfect which is why it is disappointing that the game didn’t live up to its potential. It’s still a great game so at least it’s not like Star Fox Zero or anything. It’s a small consolation at least. Infinite and the Avatar were good additions to the cast. Maybe Sega will take another shot at this game in the future and get it perfect this time around. I’ll still hold out a lot of hope for the next Sonic game and I eagerly await seeing what Sega will do from here with the 3D titles.

Overall 8/10

Super Mario Odyssey Review

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It’s time for a legendary game. This one got hyped to no end as the big Mario game to end all Mario games. It was in development for ages and the developers were putting a ton of effort into it. That being said, could it live up to the hype? Well, I definitely think Nintendo really outdid themselves this time and it really is one of the best Mario games. It’s probably the third best platformer, after 64 and Sunshine. It has all of the elements that you’d want in a Mario game and even does its best to add in new features.

The plot is fairly basic as Bowser has kidnapped Peach once again and Mario tries to save her. Mario doesn’t act as if it’s an emergency though as he looks rather calm and happy during the cutscenes. Even when he occasionally gets serious, Bowser just one shots him once more and the cycle begins anew. Mario spends a surprising amount of time getting defeated by Bowser in this game. Still, he never gives up so Bowser better prepare for a big confrontation.

There’s a lot to cover here so lets start on the technical side. The graphics look absolutely great. The colors pop out and the level designs are fantastic. There is a little something for everyone here. Whether you want bright, green hills or a more realistic Final Fantasy esque level, this game has got it. There are many worlds and the game makes sure that no 2 worlds look the same. The Switch may not be as strong as some of the other modern consoles, but the game reminds you that you can always make a game look good regardless. A big piece of the puzzle are the character designs and how much time was put into the levels.

The game also has a pretty solid soundtrack. There are many remixes here from the Mario 64 game as well as many of Mario’s older titles. The intense theme for the final Bowser battle was also really good. We can’t forget the big lyrical song during the climax either which was excellent!  There is a lot of music to listen to in this game so make sure you hear it all. While it may not be quite as hardcore or rock based as some other titles, it makes up for this with variety and skill. I’d definitely say that it passes with flying colors in this aspect.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, it plays like your classic Mario platformer. You run, jump, and interact with the level in order to reach the end and get your Stars. (I still call them Moons but all Stars are Moons apparently) One of the big focus for marketing in Odyssey was the cap. With it, Mario can take over anyone, whether it be Yoshi, A T Rex, or a Goomba. Each transformation has a special ability for you to master and they will allow you to get more Stars. It is pretty fun to take control of the enemies which is good since it is often mandatory to complete levels and take down bosses. The game was built around this system and it worked out well. I dare say that as a gimmick it probably does beat Fludd, even if Fludd was the more likable character.

That being said, you will also feel relieved whenever you have a mini level without the cap. It feels nice and retro and you have to rely on your platforming skills. There are also actual retro levels where you turn into your 16 bit version and play through more small levels. They are a nice distraction from the main levels and the different gameplay styles are all handled quite well. I can’t say this enough times but Odyssey was clearly developed with a lot of passion and effort.

The world variety is quite strong. There are a few spooky worlds like the Ruined Kingdom or the one with the Large Dragon. Then you’ve got the amazing Mario 64 homage which does an amazing job of recreating the classic Peach castle. There are also a few post game worlds that I have yet to unlock which are sure to be a blast as well. Start saving up your money from the start because it will really come in handy for buying all of the stars that are at the shop. There are likely hundreds of them to buy there.

There are also fun mini games to play like jumping rope, Volleyball, or connecting a puzzle. Going for a high score and trying to master them is sure to be entertaining. They’re pretty fun games.
Since there are over 900 stars, you’ll want to inspect every part of each world. Stars are basically around every corner and it’s up to you to find them all. Toad is available to give you a hint for 50 coins but I recommend not doing so until you’ve bought all of the stars and not until you’ve gotten as many stars as you could for the world. It would be a shame to waste 50 coins on a game you probably could have found yourself.

I suppose I should reference the ending right? Well, there isn’t a whole lot to say on that end for me. It’s a classic Mario ending although longtime fans may not appreciate it. It’s essentially Nintendo’s way of reassuring fans that they will always get the Mario that they grew up with. It won’t change and get older as they do and in a way that’s what a lot of fans will also want to see. At the very least, Mario got a good shot in at Bowser.

Well, unlike some games that are overhyped to no end, I can definitely see why some would call this the greatest game of all time or why they would at least put it into the conversation. I mean, there’s really not much more Nintendo can do with the concept or the genre. It’s basically been taken to its absolute limits here and that’s pretty impressive. While I personally don’t put it in the conversation for best game of all time since Super Smash has that without a doubt, I can definitely say that it should be in the conversation for best platformer of all time. I’m fairly confident that Nintendo also won’t be able to top this for quite a long time. Perhaps not until the next console.

There is a ton of replay value here. While you’ll beat the game with around 200 stars or less if you didn’t travel much, then you still have around 700 to go. It’s an incredible amount of stars to be sure. While a lot of them you have to purchase from the shop, money isn’t an issue. I suppose if you’ve been buying a ton of hints then it’ll be a little difficult for you though. Try not to buy them until you’ve gotten the easy ones first or the hint will essentially be a waste. You can also try to get high scores in the minigames and on the way to getting all of the stars you’ll get a bunch of costumes. I have no doubt that this is a 20+ hour game when you consider all of this and that might be severely low balling the amount.

Now for some miscillanius thoughts. I didn’t care much for the Broodals. They’re not bad I suppose, but they feel like absolute throwaway characters. I dare say that the Deadly Six from Lost World were cooler since at least the leader was good. That’s a start in the right direction. I didn’t talk much about the boss battles but they were all pretty solid. The Mario vs Bowser ones in particular are very satisfying, but another really good boss battle is when you’re zooming through the air with your water powers and stopping the fire octopus. The only missed opportunity in the game is that you can’t play New Donk City at night once you stop the monster. The scenery was awesome in the dark and the rain just amplified this affect. You just can’t win them all though and day-time New Donk is still as hype as it gets.

Overall, Mario Odyssey is certainly a must buy. I’m definitely glad that I ended up grabbing a Switch so I could pick this game up. I know that it might be fighting with Breath of the Wild over the Game of the Year award but personally I think Odyssey destroys it many times over with no real effort. you can’t even compare the two in my mind, but granted I didn’t enjoy Breath of the Wild quite as much as most. I only thought it was a good game while I consider this one to be an elite. If you haven’t checked Odyssey out yet, then you should fix that right away!

Overall 9/10

Fire Emblem Warriors Review

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After all these months I finally went and got the Nintendo Switch. Now I’m playing with power! I’m still not a big fan of the console, but it’s not bad or anything. I do like the fact that it’s essentially a portable console that you can stream to the tv. It’s one of those brilliant ideas where you can barely believe that nobody has thought of it before. Mark my words, if Sony ever makes another portable console they are going to borrow this concept. Let’s take a look at my first Switch game.

I became a big Fire Emblem fan pretty recently after downloading Heroes. Its a franchise with a lot of potential and has a fan of sword fighters in general it was right up my alley. The plot focuses on a prince and a princess. Their kingdom is attacked by an army of monsters and everyone is imprisoned within its walls. Only the two main characters and their reliable friend manage to escape. Before they return, the heroes will need to uncover the 5 legendary Hero Gems. Since dimensional rifts are opening up everywhere, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them, but time is of the essence.

It’s a really fun story. I probably would have preferred the game to have focused on characters from the older games since I know the modern characters pretty well, but the crossover aspect still makes it all a blast. There’s also a lot of room for a sequel as a result since they could explore the rest of the universe. The original characters made up for the game may have been rather generic, but they weren’t bad. Monster fans will love the Chaos Dragon and I didn’t mind the guardian of the main characters until he basically cracked. Not much to say about the blond heroes, they’re super heroic and that is their personality in a nutshell. Even with 20+ chapters, the story never feels like it’s stalling for time or going nowhere. It’s pretty well paced.

There is also a History/Legend mode. I forgot the exact name, but essentially the overworld looks like an old 8 bit Fire Emblem game. You have to move across the field and whenever you bump into an enemy it triggers a level. There are challenges like beating 500 enemies in 20 minutes. It seems like a decent mode, but I can’t say it’s too appealing compared to the main story mode. I’d probably use it for grinding level ups and at least it does help the overall replay value.

As expected of a new Switch game, the graphics are quite good. The interface is also cutting edge so everything feels very smooth and streamlined. There’s a lot on the menu at any given time but the game does a good job of not letting it get overwhelming. The final smash attacks are also very satisfying to unleash. The soundtrack is also really good. Longtime fans will remember most of the sound effects. In fact, they are the same as in Heroes so I wonder if it’s just a Fire Emblem staple or they’re aiming for a lot of synergy with the new games. Either way it can feel nice and nostalgic at times.

One of the aspects of the game that was promoted before the game came out was how it was a beat em up, but it was going to incorporate Fire Emblem mechanics. The game does this by bringing in the weapons triangle where Sword Fighters beat Axes, Axes beat Spears, and Spears beat Swords. Unless you play on hard mode though, it won’t make much of a difference. You will have the enemies begging for mercy very quickly regardless. You can also give orders to your allies for retreats, advancing, or just ditching them in the middle of nowhere so they won’t get hurt. It’s definitely useful if you think they are just going to hurt themselves. They typically can’t hold their own against opponent fighters after all.

If you’re familiar with the genre then you’ll definitely know what the gameplay is like. If not, essentially it is a 3D fighter where you destroy hundreds of opponents in each level as you head for a boss somewhere in the map or secure a retreat route. You have quick attacks, power attacks, special moves, a grab, final smash, and an awakening mode. As a result you can see how you have a bunch of options. This means you can have fun mixing up your attacks. Sometimes I even forget to use my awakening since I’m waiting for the right moment and just end up beating the level before it occurs.

I feel like there are 3 kinds of beat em ups. There is the Dynasty Warriors style where you beat a lot of enemies, but it’s not an insanely large amount. It’s slightly more realistic and also the worst of the 3. Next there is the Sengoku Basara/Anime titles like Bleach or One Piece which have a lot of enemies and you take them down. They are essentially the beat em games that come to mind. Finally there are the crazy good beat em ups like Hyrule Warriors and this game. Somehow Nintendo really gets the company to take it to the next level. The amount of enemies around at one time is crazy. I thought Hyrule Warriors was just about perfect and this game manages to improve on it even further. One incredible feature that this game brought to the table is that you can now switch between allies instantly. This makes it much easier to attack and defend. For example, you can order Lucina to attack a base, Marth to stay and guard yours, and you go after the boss. If your ally starts to lose the battle, you can quickly become the ally and fight back while the character you were controlling earlier will continue the mission. It’s brilliant since one of the only annoying aspects of the genre is that protecting all of your bases can be difficult since your A.I. compatriots just hold you back. Now you can really feel like you have complete control of the battlefield. It’s also perfect for when I go maverick and just disobey direct orders. They want me to retreat or protect the base? Nonsense, I’m heading straight for the big boss!

The game also did think up more ways to prevent you from essentially cheesing the level like that though. Sometimes the areas can’t be accessed without using a flying ally to go past the pits and activate portals. Other times the base is simply locked down until you beat all of the bases. I do think it’d be nice to have more levels where you were just able to rush up the middle but I can kind of get why the developers wouldn’t want you to just rush through everything. As it is, I went through the story at a normal pace and I still didn’t get to explore most of the customizing options. It can all seem rather overwhelming since you have crests to level up and actual level ups to buy. I’d definitely be content with the game sticking with Level 100 as the cap and not raising it. It would be quite the grind, but at least I can actually imagine getting everyone to level 100 at this point.

Overall, There is a lot to love here. This game is basically a masterpiece and I’d consider it to be the greatest beat em up out there. It would be very hard to improve on the gameplay at this point. The patch that the Switch got even allowed me to play the game with the greatest controller on Earth, the Gamecube controller. The story was impressively long for a beat em up and a lot happened along the way. Lucina got to look really cool in her debut appearance and the other heroes had their moments as well. There’s a ton of replay value here as you can tell like beating all of the levels on all difficulties and getting everyone to the max level. I think there is actually one possible way that you can top this game within the genre. Imagine this game, but multiplayer where the 2nd player plays as the opposing army. That would be a blast as you both try to take over the map. I do think it’d work best online so that you wouldn’t know who each player is playing as. That would add to the depth as you wonder which base to protect. I can’t imagine that would be an easy game to product since it would probably take a lot of memory and be tough on the A.I., but it’d be awesome. Well, with LoZ and FE done, I’d like a Metroid beat em up next. It’d be cool blasting through waves of Metroids, but the developers will have to get creative about which other heroes to have playable.