Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review


It’s time to look at the recent Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Collection. I’ve played all of the Kingdom Heart games previously but this collection brought a new adventure featuring Aqua and also has a movie which serves as a prequel to the series. As a result, I played those, but didn’t play the Dream Drop Distance remake so my review will not be addressing this one. I also won’t count it towards the score to make it fair despite knowing how the game works. Just a slight disclaimer up front.

Following the events of BBS, Aqua is now in the shadow realm. She been here for many years to the point where she had lost track of time and is slowly falling into the darkness. Still, Aqua has not given up and continues to try to find a way out. Can she escape this place?

0.2 is very short of course as it’s more of a prologue than a full game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was initially going to be included in KH3 as the intro. It would be an ambitiously long one which would fit the series. It’s a lot of fun and also works well as a preview of how the next KH will play. It has a lot of polish in the gameplay and it’s fun throwing out the ole combos. A new mechanic or a least one that I didn’t remember is that you can now charge up a flurry of energy blasts to send at your opponent. It came in real handy during the final boss. The game is actually fairly difficult as you can’t really grind your level up to make it easy. You’ve just gotta roll with the level that is pre set. There did seem to be at least one cluster of heartless that you could maybe stay with to gain levels but it would take a long time and since the game isn’t very long it wouldn’t be all that worth it.

The graphics are definitely excellent and could pass for being a movie. 0.2 still has the best opening out of all the KH titles as well, managing to beat out KH2 from the top spot. The song is definitely on point and I think it works as a good recap to BBS. These openings have always been very recaps and I look forward to seeing KHIII’s. As expected the soundtrack is also very good. I’ve heard the final boss themes many times as it played during the modded Smash 4’s final destination. It’s a 5 star ost to match the rest of the game.

As far as replay value goes, there isn’t much here but you could try to grab all of the treasure chests and such to make sure you get all the trophies. Beating the game on proud mode will also probably be very hard and time consuming. The game thrives on quality over quantity.

Of course we also have the movie which is about an hour. This serves as a prequel to the whole franchise which is cool. Of course we learned about the Great Keyblade War from BBS, but the movie shows what got the war started. There was a mysterious being who could see the future and he quickly got some pupils. He gave them all different tasks which nobody else could know. Then the master vanished. The prophecies quickly start to create a gap between the pupils and by the end you feel as though the war is inevitable. It’s definitely one of those fairly mysterious films where it doesn’t answer too many of the questions you may have. It’s more about understanding the basic premise of the origin and how we got to the war than exploring the timeline.

It does a good job of doing that and each of the characters got a good amount of personality in this stretch in time. Prophecies can make people paranoid so it’s no surprise that everyone started to turn on each other by the end. They definitely don’t have the bonds that Sora and the others possess. The film is pretty fast paced and it will keep you entertained. I think showing it all at once like this is better than just giving bits and pieces through a game as it would probably be jarring to be fighting Sephiroth and afterwards you are suddenly in a flashback.

Overall, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is definitely a great game. 0.2 is another excellent expansion to the Kingdom Hearts series and the movie was pretty interesting. It is fairly short which just barely keeps it from the 9 but keep in mind that this is all by not counting the first game. For those of you buying the game and haven’t played the first one, then this quite easily jumps up to a 9. Either way I highly recommend buying this game and you better hurry since Kingdom Hearts III is right around the corner.

Overall 8/10

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Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse Review


It’s time to look at a retro Mickey Mouse game. The moment you boot it
up the game has a nostalgic feeling to it as the graphics are the kind
that you could only find on GameCube. It just looks really hype, alas
there isn’t much gameplay to support that.

The game starts with Mickey going to sleep but then his ghost wakes up
before his body does. Seizing the opportunity, Mickey jumps out of bed
and heads to the world of the ghosts. Unfortunately, the mirror that
he used to leave his human world had been broken by some tricky
ghosts. He will now have to find all of the pieces before he can
leave…or will he?

This game actually had two endings which is pretty interesting. There
are 12 mirror fragments scattered throughout the mansion. Your
mission, should you choose to accept it is to find them all. That will
unlock the good ending. Alternatively you can find most of them,
enough to piece the part of the mirror together with a gap big enough
to jump through. Then you unlock the “bad” ending.

Naturally when I saw that the portal was open after getting most of
the pieces I jumped through. Keep in mind of course that at this point
you aren’t given any indication that the game will end if you do this.
The cutscene starts and you quickly realize that there is no turning
back. The ending is actually a little tragic, almost dark. As you head
through the portal, the ghost begs you not to go but you decide to
leave anyway, all the while wondering if maybe the ghost wasn’t so bad
and just wanted a friend. Either way it’s too late now as there is no
way back.

There isn’t much of a story but what we do get is pretty emotional I
suppose. The whole world is definitely creative as the house has a lot
personality. Think of any classic room you’d expect to have in a
mansion and this place has got it. The levels are fairly large. The
game is very short but the time can be extended a bit if you try to
100% the title. There isn’t much replay value though as beating the
game locks you out of it as a lot of older games used to do.

As I mentioned earlier the graphics are very solid. The art style is
on point and the game just pops out at you. It’s the kind of title
that you just can’t forget. There isn’t much of a soundtrack though so
the graphics have to hold the game up on its own but it is more than
ready to do so.

So this is all well and good, but what about the gameplay? Well,
that’s the part that sinks the game. It’s effectively an I-Spy game.
As a result you aren’t doing a whole lot of actual playing here. In
fact you can’t even move. You click on parts of the screen to try and
move there. Then you click on objects to interact with them. You get
trick points for scaring Mickey which you can then use to attack the
ghost and get a fragment. There are a few issues with this. The first
is that while at the start you will be able to remember which objects
you’ve already tried out, that will be very difficult by the end of
the game where there are a ton of them. This is a problem because the
object interactions never go away so each time is treated as the
first. Some objects have more than one resolution as well. Some need
specific items to activate but you don’t know which item or how to
find them.

The game has a lot of rooms to explore which is good as it shows that
the developers put some effort into making the game as big as
possible. On the other hand, this makes the game feel a lot slower
than it should have been. There is no way to quickly go from room to
room and you better memorize where each of the rooms are because if
you go through the wrong one there is a chance that you won’t be able
to turn back. Some doors only work one way which is definitely not
what you want to see.

I think ultimately what this game was lacking was quality of life
enhancements. 2 simple things that would have increased the game quite
a lot would have been to have added a map so you know where you’re
going and to remove interactions from items you’ve already done. That
way you know which items you’ve done already because they won’t give
you an option to click them. Put these two in and I think I’d give the
game another star. It’d be a lot easier to complete the game that’s
for sure. Difficulty isn’t a problem, but this is really more of a
developmental flaw than a difficulty issue. After all, you can
eventually beat the game, it’ll just take longer. Even if you have to
see the sad ending you’ll probably think it’s worth it to escape the
house of mirrors.

Overall, Mickey’s Mirrors is a pretty nice game. It’s definitely
something that would be easy to have a kid pick up and play. The
concept of I-Spy isn’t that hard after all. I do think kids would get
lost after a while though. I-Spy type gameplay can work pretty well,
but typically it would need to be for a horror esque game or something
like that. Likewise, visual novels work because it’s like you’re going
through a movie. However, you can’t go with this strategy if there
isn’t much of a story to follow. It’s not a bad game, but you can
barely call this a “game” because there is no movement or actions to
take. All you do is click a button and hope for the occasional mini
game to show up. If you can get a good price then go for it, but
otherwise this isn’t the platformer that you might have been
expecting.

Overall 5/10

Rayman Origins Review


It’s time to look at one of the recent Rayman games. You could make a strong case that this is the one which finally put Rayman back on the map. His games had ceased for quite a bit, but this one made him mainstream again. Although, since the character has vanished once more we will need more games like this one. It’s a fun enough title. While lacking some of the charm of other side scrollers it is nonetheless a solid title for all fans of the genre.

The game starts off with Rayman and his friends lounging around on someone’s tree. The poor old lady can’t even think straight with how much noise they are making so she grabs her buddies and goes to confront Rayman. Rayman quickly turns this into a battle, but the senior citizens defeat him and his friends. Rayman must now save his friends and stop whatever heroic/evil plan the old lady has in store. The question you must ask yourself is if you should root for Rayman…or the old lady?

Naturally the gameplay is pretty fun. It’s your classic 2D platformer with a few unique items thrown in to match Rayman’s style. You can throw punches as well as hold for a charged hit. You can glide with your head that functions as a helicopter and in general have a lot of good movement options. You must get to the end of the level and free whatever fairies are trapped. However, just beating the levels will not be enough as you’ll quickly figure out.

There are a lot of roadblocks in the story that serve as a way to artificially extend the game. You need to collect a great number of spirit orbs in order to beat the game. This means that you must either replay most levels at least once or grab a bunch of them during the level. The latter is easier, however you may enjoy each level a little less with how much longer it takes to complete them. I never like when a game forces you to explore like this. You’re effectively penalized for being too good at clearing the levels. I will say that this does enact a heavy toll on the game and is one of the reasons why it falls short of the other platformers.

The other reason is that the story is just pretty bad. I’m talking Crash levels of bad. Rayman is actually not as likable as Crash which I’m shocked about. He’s quick to violence and the guy doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. It really doesn’t help you think that he is even remotely heroic. I have my doubts after this game. You never get invested into the plot because it is virtually nonexistent and Rayman is too annoying to root for. The game also gets a little iffy with the character designs, adding some fanservice to the fairies that Rayman is saving. I can certainly say that this was not quite how I pictured Rayman to play out.

Still, as I mentioned the core gameplay is fun which is good. The levels are actually pretty solid. If you don’t care about reaching the ending and just play each level straight through you’ll enjoy them a lot more. They only drag on when you have to explore them. As a result, you’ll really look forward to the boss fights which show up during the final levels and the aerial stages. Those are always very short and are fun to get through. It’s the optimal experience if you ask me. Adding in a secondary gameplay style almost always works out for the best so Rayman did a good job there.

Another good thing Rayman did was add the unlimited lives feature. I feel as though this is immensely helpful for the levels given how long they are. You’ll probably die quite a few times so you’ll be glad that you don’t have to backtrack too far. That would get very old very quickly.

I thought the graphics were pretty good. The character designs are on point and the levels are good looking. It’s not as colorful as other games, but that’s likely intentional to get that slightly grittier. I gotta give the soundtrack a thumbs down though. I’m not sure what the game was going for with the various lyrical themes that showed up but they really didn’t mesh well with the game. It got worse whenever you would die since you’d have to hear the theme yet again.

As far as replay value goes, Rayman has quite a bit at its disposal. As you collect orbs new levels open up and you get more unlockables. You get new costumes, characters, etc. Naturally you can also go after all of the PS3 trophies to really try and put yourself at the top. As the story itself is already longer than many platformers this makes for a game with a great amount of content that will last for quite a while.

Overall, Rayman Origins is a mixed bag. As a game it fulfills it’s job of having quality gameplay but aside from that it ends up faltering in the home stretch. It’s not the most complete game so you just have to decide why you are playing it. If you are here for the gameplay then you are all set. If it’s for the overall experience then you may want to look elsewhere. Either way I’ll look forward to the next Rayman title as I feel like it should improve upon the flaws of this one.

Overall 6/10

Owlboy Review


It’s time to look at another one of the Christmas titles. Owlboy is a classic side scroller that you may or may not have heard of. It’s an indie title that managed to make a pretty good name for itself. In this era of nostalgia it’s easy to see how this game could succeed, but even without that element it’s just a sound game through and through. The gameplay is solid and the plot is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients in making a solid video game.

The plot starts with an owl named Otus. He’s had a pretty rough time of it as his mentor constantly puts him down with insults. Otus tries hard, but he just can’t seem to get anything right. He is put on watch duty one day but leaves his post and then invaders show up. The kingdom is quickly taken down and naturally Otus is blamed. To be fair, he does deserve some blame here, but based on how quickly the kingdom went down it would not have mattered much anyway. Now Otus must try to secure the 4 relics before the villains do or the entire planet may suffer the consequences. Otus isn’t really a go getter but fortunately his best friend is here to help. Together, along with a few more allies along the way, Otus is ready to finally make a name for himself and prove that anyone can make a difference.

The gameplay is sort of like your typical 2D platformer, but with a twist. The twist is quite massive as you can fly. As Otus, you can zoom across the stage and your main attack is a spin move. You can also carry your partner around which will give you a new attack based on who you are carrying. Whether you obtain a gun, fire, or another attack it definitely increases your options. You can quickly switch from one partner to the next throughout a level based on who will be the most effective to use. The controls when flying are quite smooth and you definitely won’t hear any complaints from me. I will say that the town is a little hard to navigate with how huge it is though. I couldn’t find the shop to get my health upgrade after the tutorial so I had to fight the final boss with the default stats. I still won of course, but the health would have been nice. My game ended up freezing at the end, but fortunately it was after winning so I could end without any doubts.

As the game is named Owlboy you’d probably assume that it is referring to Otus right? Well, that ends up not being the case and it’s interesting to see who the Owlboy really is. With a limited number of characters you’ll probably be able to guess before long, but it’s a good twist nonetheless. The cast is reasonably solid. The best character for me was certainly the main villain. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that you never get to take him on. He ends up getting his plot resolved through a cutscene so the final boss is someone else who isn’t quite as cool. The main villain’s design was just so solid so maybe he’ll show up again in a sequel or something.

I was less impressed with Otus though. As you may know, I’ve never been a big fan of the more timid characters. I like the aggressive fighters who rush into danger constantly and are always ready for some big fights. That just doesn’t describe Otus even if he does get his big moments at the end. His best friend is also a bit sketchy since he was quick to ditch the cause and tends to panic a lot. I won’t go as far as to say I was rooting for the villains, but I do admit that they were the more interesting characters. Nonetheless, the game will keep you entertained with its story.

Owlboy is fairly short so the plot starts up very quickly. The enemies waste no time in attacking and the plot is always moving. The main game will take you 4-7 hours I’d say but if you try to get all of the gems and such along the way you can extend the time a bit. As a result, there isn’t a whole lot of replay value though. Grabbing all of the trophies in the game will naturally help though and grabbing all of the gems will take a good amount of patience. The game doesn’t sell for $60 though so the reduced price helps complete the package and make it worth the purchase. A good, but quick game is better than a long, but tedious one.

The graphics look pretty nice. The sprites are very clean and polished while the level designs are varied and original. It’s easy to keep up with what’s happening on screen. I thought the soundtrack was decent as well, perhaps not the most memorable but it worked well enough. Owlboy succeeds in its technical merits and as I mentioned the character designs could be quite good. Some nice lighting techniques were used for the main villain to really show how intimidating he was.

Overall, Owlboy is definitely a fun game. While it may not be quite as loud and energetic as something like Shantae, it has its own charm. It’s a very peaceful game to have fun with and the gameplay is pretty unique. Being able to fly almost indefinitely is always tough for the level designers and I think they did a good job of not letting it become too OP. They definitely deserve some kudos there. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. This is a solid game that I could recommend to anyone.

Overall 7/10

Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Brittania Review


Time to look at another game. This time the title in question is Seven Deadly Sins. This game is based on a manga that I have to give a hard thumbs down. Still, I figured that the game wouldn’t have the same issues that the manga has and it is a 3D action game with a duel mode so you can’t go wrong there. It’s definitely fun and while the gameplay does not feel quite as polished as other similar games it gets the job done.

The game starts with the princess of a corrupt kingdom escaping and deciding to seek out the legendary Seven Deadly Sins to help her reclaim it. The problem is that they have been lost to the world for many years. Elizabeth manages to find the leader who is currently operating a tavern and decides to stick with him to find the others. Fortunately he is looking for the others as well so this works out quite nicely. Their opponents are the legendary Holy Knights who have been tainted with power and corruption.

The gameplay is pretty much how you would imagine it. There are less enemies than usual so calling it more of an action title than a beat em up seems pretty fitting. Naturally then the duel mode plays out more like a traditional fighting game. Each character has their normal attacks and power moves. Additionally they can use various super attacks and a final smash of sorts. Using these techniques at the right time will be the difference between victory and defeat. The game can get slightly challenging towards the end but never to the point where you will be stuck for any long period of time. At most you may just lose once or twice.

This is probably the first 3D styled game like this where some of the characters aren’t all that fun to play though. Most of them are good with their traditional attacks, strengths and weaknesses. However, a few characters just seem so bad and rigid that it’s hard to see yourself wanting to play as them. King is a good example of this. He can’t fight up close and is purely a long range fighter. His attacks all use up energy meter as well so sometimes you’ll have to resort to running and hiding until your energy gets back. You can see how this would get old. Fortunately you only have to actually play as him 2-3 times. I’m sure he has some kind of strengths to offset such a massive weakness, but I couldn’t find it. While simpler than other fighting games, you’ll still get to engage in a lot of fun brawls.

The graphics look pretty good. This style has worked pretty well for the various anime fighters. It does a good job of keeping each character model detailed and the game is easy to see at a glance. In particular the ultimate attacks are always fun to see. The soundtrack is on the repetitive side, but fortunately the tunes are quite solid. The danger tune is on point and helps to amp up the tension.

The actual story is fairly short at around 4 hours but there is a good amount of replay value to be had. First of all there is multiplayer mode which always adds in a whole lot to do. There are a reasonable amount of characters to keep the matches fresh and inventive. For single player content the game ends once you have assembled 6 of the deadly sins. As you can imagine there is a 7th one hiding somewhere. To get him and 100% the story you have to go through the various taverns and complete the bonus missions. They’re all very quick so these missions won’t feel tedious. It’s a good way of extending the game and as I mentioned in my tank review, it’s the right way to extend it. Lock some good bonus content behind the extra stuff, just don’t keep the story imprisoned. I could see myself going back to complete these missions at some point in the future, even if just to get some more characters to fight with since I’m currently missing a few.

Overall, Seven Deadly Sins is a pretty fun game. It hits all of the right notes and has a great balance of gameplay and technical merits helping it along. The game’s layout is very simple, as is the world map. Initially I thought the rumor system was rather pointless but as it is just a fancy way of saying that you unlock new levels as you beat old ones I suppose I can get behind that. Might as well differentiate your game a bit right? I’d definitely recommend giving this game a shot. It has a lot going for it and at the end of the day there’s just a lot to like here. Even the main characters here are a lot more likable than in the actual manga so the game did a really good job of bringing out the best in everyone.

Overall 8/10

Tank! Tank! Tank! Review


It’s time to look at a game I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. The cover and screenshots looked pretty good and it has a 3D multiplayer option. You can’t really beat that. Alas, there’s a reason why this game isn’t getting the critical acclaim that you might expect. The reason is that the game is quite limited in content and won’t last for very long. At full price this would be quite dicey.

The basic plot is that you are fighting off an alien invasion. We don’t know why all of these Kaiju and robots are attacking but it’s up to you and your tanks to fight them back. Show these guys that Earth is not on the menu. Defeat is not an option so fortunately you will have quite a few tanks to choose from by the end. The story is also co-op enabled or you can have an A.I. jump in.

The basic gameplay is probably just as you would have imagined it to be. You control the tank and drive around 3D environments as you take it to the monsters. You have your main weapon and you can also grab 2 other temporary ones during the level from enemies you defeat. You will naturally be driving around during this as well to try and dodge as many shots as possible but be warned that some tanks have a very hard time moving. Sometimes it’s best to just find a good spot and hold your ground. It definitely looks and feels like the arcade game that it is which adds a nostalgic twist to the title. The gameplay may not be quite as smooth as you would like but it feels natural.

The graphics are nice and bright with colorful designs for the monsters and the levels. It all looks pretty solid even if not groundbreaking. It’s a game that is very nice to look at visually. The soundtrack is less impressive as the game has a very small amount of tunes which keep on looping. The tunes aren’t bad but more of a selection would have been good. You can only hear the same tune so many times before it loses some impact.

Now lets talk about what hurt the game quite a bit. It’s the fact that the title really tries to artificially extend its length. There are around 35 levels in the game but at first you can only play around 8. How do you unlock the next batch? You have to beat all of the levels again with a different tank. The game runs on a star system. You get 1 star every time you beat a level. To complete the game you need dozens and dozens of stars so you have to complete each of the levels over and over again. It’s done to a very tedious degree.

I understand that the game wants you to play it a little extra, but you can’t lock the main story behind such a thing. What that shows is that the developers were nervous and thought people wouldn’t willingly replay the levels purely for the tanks. They have to trust in their game or put some good unlockables in. I played their game for a while and did the replays, but when I saw that I had to replay the 20 levels again deep into the game I just put it down. There’s just no way I was going to do that many levels just to play a few more reskins.

Yes, towards the end of the game you started fighting the same bosses and opponents over and over again. The stage limit is limited and same with the character models. As a result you can tell that this should be a short game. It just didn’t have the production values to be extended so much by just reusing the levels. The game could have been clever with shifting the levels or the goals a bit to make it more unique, but didn’t do any of that.

So, Tank Tank Tank is a fun game, but it is stretched out to the point where it loses some brownie points with you. It does have a good amount of replay value though I suppose. Beating all of the levels with all of the tanks will take quite a while. Each level is fairly short at only 1-2 minutes, but beating it over and over again just isn’t the most enjoyable experience. You also have to take into account the short cutscenes that play before each level which cannot be skipped. They’re short, but it’s the little things like this which hurt a bit. Fortunately the game does have a multiplayer option which is where most of the real replay value will come in. Now that’s a mode where you can play for a long time without getting bored.

Overall, I would still recommend this game. It goes for bargain prices nowadays so that will help with the lack of content issue. It’s a good low price option for getting in some multiplayer fun. You also have to give it some credit for the cool monster designs. The whole thing feels like a big Kaiju homage at times. You have characters like Ghidorah and King Kong running around and again, the core gameplay is fun. That’s still the most important part of any game and this one nails down that part so you’re still going to have fun. It’s best in short batches and if you follow that you’ll be entertained for quite a while.

Overall 7/10

Splatoon Review


It’s time to look at one of the biggest new Nintendo IPs. When this game first came out it was getting a lot of buzz. After all, it seems like Nintendo hadn’t had a new IP in a while as typically we just got more games for the established series. This would also be a shooter which is very different from what they usually churn out. After playing it I can see why this game was such a big hit. The multiplayer is definitely the big appeal for this title but it does have some single player content to keep you busy as well.

The basic plot of the game is that the big electric fish has been stolen. The main character is quickly brought into a secret task force in order to combat this threat. He has to find out who is responsible and put a stop to this madness. The kid is up to the task and is equipped with an ink gun. As he is part squid, he can use this to his advantage. The actual story isn’t particularly long. It’s a little under 3 hours so you’ll breeze through it. Still, it works as a pretty good tutorial. You’ll learn all the basics in terms of shooting and movement. The levels aren’t too hard, but are challenging enough where you will need to use some strategy. Prepare to get destroyed when you first go online, but you’ll pick up on the controls right away.

The gameplay is that of a third person shooter. You use your ink gun to blast away at the enemies. The objective of the match is to paint the stage in your color as much as possible in multiplayer and to simply make it to the end of the level in story mode. As the game is very team based how you perform will depend on your teammates. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a single player option for online, but I guess the point of the game overall is about teamwork. If you decide to try and do everything on your own then it simply won’t work. That being said, I was able to get a lot of players in my second round when I tried that tactic. I still wouldn’t officially advise it.

Of course, this game has been out for several years and the sequel is already in stores as well. As a result, finding a match can be pretty hard now. It took a little while for the game to put me in a fight and the first time it actually kicked us out since we only had 7/8 of the players needed. Once you do get in it’s a blast but this is definitely the kind of game that loses a bit of its appeal as it gets older. You’re better off just jumping right into the second game which is certainly very active and will stay like that for a very long time.

The multiplayer automatically adds a bunch of replay value and there’s more stuff to do in single player mode as well. Try to grab as many orbs as possible in order to level up your equipment and continue on your goal of being maxed out. In Multiplayer each match gives you coins which you can then use to buy new clothes and such. It’s a nice incentive system and Nintendo clearly put in a lot of work here. Nothing about the game feels like it was given anything but their best effort. It’s a shooter that is easy to pick up but there are enough mechanics where training will feel like it pays off.

The soundtrack is very lively and energetic. I don’t think I would put it in the same conversation as something like Mario of course, but it’s reasonable to say that it will age fairly well. I look forward to seeing what tunes are in the sequel although they may start to blend together. The lore around the universe is a little less interesting to be honest. I don’t really care much for the setting and the plot could be a bit dull. This is a game that lives or dies on its multiplayer so make sure that you have a good connection before playing.

The graphics definitely look really good. The sharp colors have aged very well and this is the kind of Wii U game that can try to pass for a Switch title. You won’t have any complaints with the technical merits of the game. Again, if I had gotten this game a little sooner I think it would have had a very strong case for being an 8 star title. Alas, I have to dock a point since there aren’t nearly as many people playing it now and that will only grow more apparent as the days go by.

Overall, Splatoon is a fun game. I’m glad that I finally got to experience this title to see what all the hype was all about. It’s certainly deserved and I’m sure that I’ll probably grab Splatoon 2 a little sooner than it took me to get the first one. Maybe now this will give me more of an incentive to play the Inklings in Smash. Regardless as I mentioned several times, while I recommend this game you should probably just go and get the 2nd one. This game will probably be dead before you know it. The fan base is loyal enough where I’m sure some will stay with this one for years, but not enough to consistently get a match whenever you want. That won’t be a problem with the sequel.

Overall 7/10

Rango Review


It’s time to look at a cash-in for a movie that I haven’t even seen yet. Rango is one of those games that I wasn’t initially planning to buy, but Gamestop had a B2 G1 Free sale and I needed a third game. The gameplay seemed reasonably fun and these titles are typically short so what’s the harm right? It’s a fun game even if there isn’t a whole lot to it. You can feel right away that this isn’t a AAA title and while the premise for the gameplay is good, it just isn’t very polished. It makes for a fun game for a one time playthrough.

The story involves a lizard who is the Sheriff of a village. One day, one of his friends runs into his bar and gets vaporized as he takes out a mysterious stone. Everyone at the tavern is shocked, but Rango calmly explains what has been going on. His story takes up most of the game as each level is a different experience that he had in the previous week. He doesn’t remember everything too well and likes to throw in some hyperbole so the viewers have to keep things real for him at times. Still, with aliens involved it does seem as if Rango is their best chance for survival. Can he do it?

The gameplay is pretty simple. It’s a 3D platformer game. You move and jump across the obstacles. You also have a gun on hand which you use to blast away at the enemies. Alternately you can engage them in hand to hand combat, but there is little reason to do that since the gun is simply better at all times. You’ll get the hang of the controls in mere moments. Jumping is important while shooting at all times to keep your counter combo up by not letting your opponents strike. You want the counter high because you get extra money that way and that’s how you get upgrades to all of your skills. The gun upgrades are definitely good to have. By the end you’ll be shooting so fast and the reload will be nonexistent. Of course, this game isn’t meant to be challenging anyway, but you’ll progress through the levels quicker which is always good.

There are around 9-10 levels in the game and most of them are quite short. You’ll be done with the game in 2-3 hours I’d say. It’s a pretty short amount of time, but at least there are trophies to obtain which helps a bit with the replay value. You’ll also be buying the game for a pretty cheap price at least which helps. I do have to still give it a thumbs down in the replay value department though. This is the kind of game that you play once, but typically won’t go back to. That’s just the way it’s built.

Naturally there isn’t all that much to say about the graphics either. It’s not as if they are downright bad or anything like that, but they just don’t stand out. They are as average as the graphics can get. Still, as long as the levels are clear that’s what counts. Likewise the soundtrack isn’t anything special either. It’s around, but you won’t remember any of the tunes once you have finished. Again, this is just a very average game, but I’ll take average over bad.

This review isn’t exactly all that positive, but you have to understand that I enjoy the average game. As long as a video game doesn’t make any big mistakes I’ll probably have fun with it. That’s the case with this game. Rango provides some fun levels with good gameplay. We also get a few racing levels and the fact that we get an actual story with cutscenes helps the game as well. It’ll keep you entertained throughout. One thing I have to warn you about is how often you shoot though. R2 is the trigger button which is normal but your finger will probably be sore by the end with how much you have to spam it. It’s because this is like in the Wild West so you have to keep pressing instead of holding the button down. I was ready for the game to be over by the end so my hand could get a break.

Overall, Rango is a good PS3 game. It is exactly what you would expect it to be like. These movie tie-ins rarely try to mislead you into thinking that they are something that they are not. This is a very basic 3D platformer game. It’s no Mario or Sonic nor is it trying to be. It’s just trying to earn some extra cash while giving you some good levels. If you tend to like these movie tie-ins then I would recommend checking it out. If you need something more from your gaming experiences then you can safely skip this one since it won’t give you any of that. At least we do get a retro arcade type level as a nice homage to the old days of gaming by the end.

Overall 7/10

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Review


It’s time to look at one of the new Christmas games! I’ve always been a really huge fan of Mario Power Tennis for Gamecube and in many ways it was incredibly ahead of its time. The gameplay was exceptional and there was a good array of characters to choose from. There were many modes and the replay value was off the charts. Since then the series has struggled and unfortunately Ultra Tennis does nothing to escape from this. It ends up being a vastly inferior version of Power Tennis.

Right from the start you will realize that something is off as there is no Tournament Mode. You really only have 3 options here. Vs battles with the CPU, Mega Rally, and Online battles. There are some nuances here like Simple Tennis, Standard Tennis, Mega, etc. These are just different versions of the battles though. Gone are the minigames and such. You’ll just be playing a lot of Tennis so get ready.

This game really tries to get you to play around with the new Mega options. So much so in fact that this is the default Tennis game and is used in the survival mode rumble. Get ready for this to extend every match as it is hard to lose when you are big. The only real way to stop the computers is to also turn huge and at that point it’s just a lot of back and forth. I can tell you now that I am not a fan of this mechanic. It’s a very forced gimmick. I don’t mind having it as an option, but certainly not as the default. You just can’t get around it for most of the game.

The actual gameplay aside from that is unfortunately a step down from the last game as well. You now have a bunch of different shots that you can use based on the color of the circle next to the ball. I guess this is a way to let newer players know when the proper time is to use each one. The main problem with this is that it makes the game easier and makes those shots more effective. You’re now letting the game tell you what to do. Power Tennis had it perfect so why change the setup? Nintendo really went overboard with all of the extra gimmicks during this era. I would say that the new Mario Tennis for Switch could fix it, but I played a bit of that one and it seems like a step below Ultra so that’s worrisome.

Again, if you want to have fun you should go to the Simple Tennis mode. That one plays the most similar to Power Tennis and is just a far more rewarding experience. The matches are quicker without the turning huge part and it just feels a lot more natural. Still, if you like the new additions then you’ll be able to experience that everywhere else. Not for very long though as the game is quite short.

So I mentioned that there is no tournament mode so why are you playing anyway? Well, there are 25 achievements in the game. All of them are meant to grind the experience even further. You have to beat 15 opponents in a row with a bunch of different characters to get their Star form. You also have to play 10 games of each mode, get to 100 in the Rally mode, and make it to round 40 in survival. They’re mostly fairly easy or at least achievable with time, but you can tell that they just take a really long time to do. That’s easily well over 100 games if you want to do them all. Fortunately you can buy the achievements with money that you earn from the matches. It still takes a long time and I lost count of how many matches I completed, but buying them all is definitely the best way to go about it. I finished the game with 3 hours and 39 minutes of play time so it is considerably short. That is 100% of the single player content done. At that point all there is to do is online and local multiplayer. A good multiplayer game can last with just that, but this isn’t exactly Super Smash and there is virtually no reason to play it if you still have Power Tennis. As a result, I have to give this game the thumbs down there.

Still, to give it a bad score just because it isn’t as good as a previous installment just isn’t enough of a justification for me. If Power Tennis did not exist then this game would probably be more fun. I’ll acknowledge that the game could and should have been a lot better, but at its core it is a reasonable tennis game. The gameplay is still fairly entertaining and you’ll be able to play it for a few hours at least. The price isn’t that bad nowadays either. I recommend playing the Mega Ball rally a bit just because it’s at least a slightly different way to play here. It’s the only minigame that survived but what wrecks this one as well is the fact that you can lose if you beat your opponent. You have to keep the ball going back and forth so if you or the CPU loses then it’s all over.

Then there are the graphics which are quite good. The game still does look very modern. The colors are vibrant and the character designs are on point. That’s certainly what I like to see in a big Nintendo game. I’ll also give the soundtrack a thumbs up even if it isn’t the most original one out there. It sounds nice while you’re playing and that’s the important part. Even if the replay value isn’t high, the technicals are on point. It’ll be a fun game for a while even if the time is limited.

Overall, Mario Ultra Tennis is not the game changer that you would hope it could be, but it’s not a bad title. I do think the developers spent a reasonable amount of time with it. They just tried to be too inventive with the controls. It’s a Tennis game, they really don’t need to be doing anything too fancy with it. Just nail the fundamentals and the rest would come into place just fine. If you haven’t played the other Tennis games then this is a reasonable pick. If you still have a Gamecube/Wii though then I would recommend picking up Power Tennis instead. Trust me, I’ve put in over 100 hours on that game and it is legendary. You would not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 7/10

Road Rash Jailbreak Review

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It’s time to look at another old PS1 game. This is the last one on my to do list with the exception of Tarzan, but that game hasn’t been working. I’m always up for more racing games and this is a motorcycle one which is certainly unique. The game does have its weak points though which prevent it from being quite as good as it should have been. It’s a decent game, but there are better alternatives in the genre.

You play as a thug who wants to go from being a grunt to a captain. To that end you have to join one of the two gangs. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose as they are both basically the same. You then have to win in a lot of underground races. There are 30 races in all with the difficulty spiking after each 10. So….try to beat them all! There aren’t a whole lot of cutscenes to be found here and that might even be a good thing since the ones we do get are not very good. The story is definitely one of the weak points here.

I also have to give the soundtrack a big thumbs down. It isn’t often that you need to turn off the music but that’s what I did for this game. I lowered it to the bare minimum because the songs were all pretty lousy. It’s extremely loud and obnoxious the whole time. Better to just listen to the sound effects or put on some background music yourself. The music makes sense since you’re literally playing as a gangster but that doesn’t make it any better. Unfortunately the graphics aren’t much of an improvement. The level can’t even load fast enough to beat your car at times. You’ll have to watch out for cars by just looking out for any kind of pixelated object in front of you. Those are the ones you need to avoid at all costs.

So why is this game any good? Well, the gameplay is still pretty solid. It’s a 3D racer and you have to get to the end. There are 16 racers in each level and you can try to take them out with punches or weapons. The game doesn’t explain any of this so just test it out in game. You also apparently have a nitro option. I didn’t know any of this while playing which explains why I was having a tough time. That and the fact that this game actually is pretty tough. You have a health bar and if your opponent gets it to 0 you’ll have a long crash animation and will likely have no shot at winning the race. If you don’t crash you win. The levels are typically simple like that, but it’s easier said than done. By the second wave of levels the enemies can crush your health with ease. Even if you brake to try and avoid them they’ll match your speed.

You also can’t slam into any cars, trees, or poles. Do so and it’ll be like you lost your health and the crash animation will show up. If you crash next to a cop then you lose by default. The only way to proceed to the next level is to come in the top 3. Technically each batch of 9 levels has no order so you can do whichever one you want first, but in that case you may as well go from the beginning. Driving’s definitely a lot of fun, but admittedly the fighting aspect does not seem well tuned at all. A lot of the time it ends up feeling luck based which is the last thing you want.

In terms of replay value the game is decent at best. I don’t imagine the 30 levels will take you very long to complete. Each level is roughly 3-4 minutes long. So that’s only around 2 hours of content. I think you should expect to lose each level quite a few times though which will certainly extend your play time. Beyond that, there isn’t much reason to play the other modes though. You can work on your driving ability I suppose. If you have other people around who want to play then there is multiplayer which is technically unlimited replay value.

I will give the game props for not being too dark for my TV at least. Not enough to help the score further or anything, but it’s still a nice touch. It is tempting to give the game a 5 but between the multiplayer and the gameplay actually being good I think a positive score is warranted. Just try to avoid the soundtrack and then you’ll really be all set to go.

Overall, Road Rash is a reasonable driving game. It just falters next to most others because even if the gameplay holds up, the rest of the package drags it down a bit. After all, most racing games at least have a reasonable soundtrack. If you’ve still got a PS1 then by all means go for it. Otherwise, I’d recommend something a little newer like Sonic racing or Mario Kart. Both of those games completely destroy this one. Now that I’m done with Road Rash I really can’t see myself coming back to it. It’s almost sad.

Overall 6/10